Friday, September 28, 2012

Everybody comes to Rick's

A college student named Lawrence Dai watched the movie Julie & Julia every day for a year, and wrote a blog about it:

The Lawrence / Julie & Julia Project
His inspiration seems to have been seeing Julie & Julia, where the real person Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams in the movie) cooked her way through Julia Childs' Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in a year, and wrote a blog about it.

So he decided he was going to watch that movie every day, for a year, and write a blog about that.

It's kind of similar but not so much, because Julie Powell didn't cook the same dish every day for a year -- she moved through the series of recipes, cooking all the different foods....

Lawrence Dai, on the other hand, is -- or rather was -- watching the same movie over and over again.  Each day for a year.

The cooking blog-challenge was cooking something new each day.
The movie-watching challenge was -- finding something new to say about the same film, each day.

The film-watching and blogging amounts to a
R-E-A-L T-H-O-R-O-U-G-H
study, of this one movie.

Sometimes I read from Lawrence Dai's blog & it's very funny -- it makes you laugh (However -- curse words -- college-student humor - the easily-offended might want to avoid)...and I also get sort of an uneasy, iff-y, "nibbly" feeling around the edges of my mind where I ask myself if

I

might want to watch the same movie every day for a year and --
(surprise! -- original idea!) --
...Write blog posts about it - !

And sometimes I try to imagine, What movie would I choose, in the whole world, if I was going to watch it every day for a year?
And various movies float into my consciousness, perhaps none with the steady regularity of --
Casablanca.

-------------------
I have often speculated on why you don't return to America.  Did you abscond with the church funds?  Did you run off with a senator's wife?  I like to think you killed a man.  It's the romantic in me.

It was a combination of all three.

And what in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?

My health.  I came to Casablanca for the waters.

Waters?  What waters?  We're in the desert.

I was misinformed.

-------------------------------
-------------------------------
No one can state, "I was misinformed" in as much of a conversation-closing style as Humphrey Bogart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NARRATOR (V.O.)


With the coming of the Second World
War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe
turned hopefully, or desperately,
toward the freedom of the Americas.
Lisbon became the great embarkation
point. But not everybody could get
to Lisbon directly, and so, a

tortuous, roundabout refugee trail
sprang up. Paris to Marseilles, across
the Mediterranean to Oran, then by
train, or auto, or foot, across the
rim of Africa to Casablanca in French
Morocco.

Here, the fortunate ones,
through money, or influence, or luck,
might obtain exit visas and scurry
to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the
New World. But the others wait in
Casablanca -- and wait -- and wait --
and wait.

[The narrator's voice fades away...]

---------------------------- Instead of "wait -- and wait -- and wait," it would be "watch -- and watch -- and watch"...365 days of "Casablanca"-and-Comment.  I could do that.
But I probably don't need to.

-30-


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Time out of mind

When did I discover "old movies"?  Sometime during elementary school - into - junior high years, there was a sort of dawning realization that there was a whole treasure-trove of movies -- in the world -- and that you didn't have to be limited to whatever film turned up in your local Something-Plex.  There was other stuff out there -- but you couldn't get it, you had to wait and see if it would be on TV sometime, late at night, or during the day on "UHF" channels -- (very smushy and snowy usually, and hard to see // hear....)

I could read about it -- from local library, I took a couple of big, thick books which told you about history of the movies & had black-and-white photographs from the movies.  I experienced the iconic images in still-photo form, years before getting the opportunity to see the movies -- first on big screens at second-run theaters in Boston, then on classic-movie channels on TV, & videoes, then DVDs....

I still haven't seen all of the movies that I want to see.  There's like an unending -- well not unending, because there are only so many movies, but on the other hand, there are --
SO - MANY - MOVIES! -- that the potential for future pleasure and enjoyment and inspiration and discovery seems endless.

It's like a vast, thick, luxuriant Wealth of Life Richness and Cheer and Fun and Meaning and Fashion and poetry and Music and...it's available to just about Everyone on earth, now, with technology.

-------------------------------------------
I don't watch a movie because it is new, or because it is old; I watch because I think it is going to be good.  The writer E.M. Forster, in his book Aspects Of The Novel, writes about what he feels is the necessity of removing chronology as a way of looking at literature:

{excerpt}-----------------Books have to be read (worse luck, for it takes a long time); it is the only way of discovering what they contain.  A few savage tribes eat them, but reading is the only method of assimilation revealed to the west.  The reader must sit down alone and struggle with the writer....

That is why, in the rather ramshackly course that lies ahead of us, we cannot consider fiction by periods, we must not contemplate the stream of time.  Another image better suits our powers:  that of all the novelists writing their novels at once.  They come from different ages and ranks, they have different temperaments and aims, but they all hold pens in their hands, and are in the process of creation.

Let us look over their shoulders for a moment and see what they are writing.  It may exorcise that demon of chronology which is at present our enemy and which...is sometimes their enemy too.  "Oh, what quenchless feud is this, that Time hath with the sons of men," cries Herman Melville, and the feud goes on not only in life and death but in the byways of literary creation and criticism.

Let us avoid it by imagining that all the novelists are at work together in a circular room.  I shall not mention their names until we have heard their words, because a name brings associations with it, dates, gossip, all the furniture of the method we are discarding....

All through history writers while writing have felt more or less the same.  They have entered a common state which it is convenient to call inspiration, and having regard to that state, we may say that History develops, Art stands still.-----------------------------------{end excerpt}

He says it for literature -- and I say, Same for movies.

----------------------------
{Aspects Of The Novel, by E.M. Forster.
Copyright, 1927.  Harcourt, Inc.
Orlando, Florida.}

-30-

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

no such request

Re-reading the interesting Comments from a Reader of The New Republic, about current movies -- phrases stood out:

...Mainstream movies today, it seems, have not only abandoned story, and character, and photography -- in short, both style and substance, the entire art. They're downright cruel, besides. They're vicious, vulgar, sadistic, inhuman.
[I started to notice that over a period of years -- and I am a person who goes to "the movies" to ENJOY the movie, not to criticize.  It was like the quality of the "product" just drove me away.  I asked a co-worker in 2005 or 06, "Are movies getting stupider, or are my tastes becoming more sophisticated?"  He said probably both -- I don't agree, though, my taste is probably same as always....]
-------------
...or some action-movie atrocity that would be beneath contempt if it weren't so profitable.
[Profit is irrelevant; dehumanizing schlock is beneath contempt.  But he references profit because he believes that's the reason a movie co. makes a movie -- however the claim that, "This is what the public wants" is incredibly WRONG, wrong-all-over-the-place, that's why they SAY it so OFTEN -- no one in Hollywood has EVER asked me what I want in movies and I'll bet they haven't asked you either. 
It makes me think of an early episode of "Bewitched" -- within the first two or three seasons, when it was in black-and-white -- Uncle Arthur plays a trick on Darrin, getting him to think he will have magical powers to "zap" Endora back with, if he sings a magic chant and rings some bells and blows into a ka-zoo.  "Yagga-zoozie, yagga-zoozie, yagga-zoozie, ZIM!!"  (ring-a-ling-a-ding, mmffphooo!!)
He sings it in front of Endora and Samantha, & interrupts his magic singing long enough to bellow in frustration and imminent revenge, "Sam, your mother's been asking for this for a long time!"
And Samantha turns to Endora and deadpans in a voice that is flat but for a tiny hint of a perplexed tone, "Have you been asking for this?"
LOL
When movies come out that are advertised, indeed touted, for having A LOT OF VIOLENCE, I think of Darrin Stephens' silly song, and of Endora, & I think to myself, "No.  I have not been asking for this."
"It's what-the-public-wants" -- bull-roar.]

And his analysis of "The Godfather" and the tidal wave of Mafia movies it inspired for the next THIRTY years -- "They're criminals because they've never risen above their heartless, illiterate upbringing. And there's nothing, absolutely nothing, romantic about it."

[And] --
The Godfather … the gangster picture as oil painting with gilt frame  
-------------------------------
Thinking of "The Godfather" made me think of "Last Tango in Paris."  I was thinking, "I think they both had Marlon Brando in them, and I think they came out around the same time...."  When I was old enough to be aware of these movies, but not old enough to go to them.

Professor Google lets us know, Yes, Marlon Brando was in both of those films, & they both came out -- same year:  1972.
Marlon Brando.
His name was always familiar to me, through my whole life, from the time I was a little child. 
"Marlembrando" was how I used to hear it -- like one word.
A brand name, perhaps.
Cigarettes, maybe -- like Marlboro.

No thanks, I only smoke Marlembrandos.

Marlon Brando.
Called, by Roger Ebert, "the greatest film actor of all time."

-30-




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the Why in the How

"All that despicable Hollywood trash with its boring body counts" is how one Reader / Commenter describes the present state of Film, at the end of a New Republic article by David Thomson.

The Reader goes on to Comment, {Quote}:
Not every movie can be great truth-telling literature.... I'd more than settle for decent escapism -- slick entertainment with a gleam in the eye, a heart in the right place, and maybe even a little food for thought. For that, I have to go to the DVDs, because I'm not seeing it at the theaters anymore....

Our mainstream movies today, it seems, have not only abandoned story, and character, and photography -- in short, both style and substance, the entire art. They're downright cruel, besides. They're vicious, vulgar, sadistic, inhuman. What used to be called thrillers, like North by Northwest, have given way to the mainstreaming of horror shlock -- the dubious pleasure I'll never understand in seeing young, pretty people butchered or tortured or, most benignly, "dragged to Hell." They made perfectly decent "Hitchcockian thrillers" with some regularity right up through the 90s. It was the default dramatic genre for the adult audience. Now, the whole genre is gone, and Brian De Palma gets laughed at whenever he tries to resurrect it....
So, we adults can no longer rely on a steady stream of stylish suspense movies or sweet romantic comedies,... the best of which transcended their genres but not too much, and gave us great memorable moments that were great because the audience was involved. Now, it's horror or [a current actress], the adventures of [awful people] as chronicled in films like The Hangover, or some action-movie atrocity that would be beneath contempt if it weren't so profitable.
{end Quote / Comment}
----------------------------  And he answers another Reader's Comment which discusses the greatness of The Godfather, saying that one 'never gets tired' of watching it -- OK, ya set up Comment Man now...! --

{Quote / Comment}---------I don't know.... I get tired watching The Godfather every time I try -- the gangster picture as oil painting with gilt frame. It's so serious, heavy-handed, long-winded, and I don't like a single damn character in the whole damn epic saga. And, when I say "like," I don't mean, "Oh, he's a nice fellow I'd like to know." I mean, appreciate, empathize with, become involved with -- like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, still the best gangster picture for my money, and a pretty honest one. When I watch the Godfather, though, I keep wanting someone to say, as Annabella Sciorra did in another honest gangster movie, The Funeral, "'They're criminals because they've never risen above their heartless, illiterate upbringing. And there's nothing, absolutely nothing, romantic about it."
{end Quote / Comment}

If he could only learn to form an opinion.

I was actually thinking about some of this -- I saw a documentary about movies & it said that when Sound was introduced in 1929 it caused seismic change in how movies were made, content, who could star in them -- (some of the stars of the earlier silent films had funny voices or accents and couldn't "translate" into the new movies that included sound, nicknamed "Talkies") -- and it said the way the MGM studio responded was to start putting singing & dancing in, like, every movie.

It became a constant formula, for a while.  They showed a clip of Clark Gable singing and dancing to "Puttin' On The Ritz" -- atypical, to say the least, & the narrator said his fans didn't like it -- it was not what they paid to see, and to look up to.  But that was how it was -- for a while the studio pushed almost every performer to sing and dance.  Theory:  Now that we have the technology, we have to use it.  ALL
THE
TIME.

The studio, and the industry, outgrew this limited vision eventually.  I was thinking a few years ago that some movies have so much cutting -- from one scene to another, one image to another -- cut cut cut cut cut until I'm thinking -- OK, I can't see anything I don't know what's supposed to be happening.  The super-fast cuttingcuttingcutting is -- well -- fast, but -- it isn't helping me or the story....

And then I read something in a magazine that said something new ("digital technology" I think) had allowed them to fit more cuts and skips into film than had been possible before, so it was kind of like when Sound was invented -- they have the technology, so they have to use it. 
All The Time And A Lot.

Use the Available Technology FOR something, not for its own sake. ...

-30-

Monday, September 24, 2012

stronger walls than yours

I hear Bob Dylan's new album has a song about John Lennon on it, called "Roll On John."

In September 17 TIME, Eric Pooley wrote,

--------------------- It was a delicious coincidence that songs from Bob Dylan's new record began flying around the Internet in the days between the two national political conventions.  You couldn't ask for a better remedy for such empty-chair posturing than a stiff dose of Tempest, Dylan's 35th studio album, set for release Sept. 11 -- 50 1/2 years after his first.

...Dylan doesn't write anthems anymore.  He writes fever dreams.  "Narrow Way"...contains what may be the only topical political reference on the album -- and it hails from 1814.  ("Ever since the British burned the White House down / There's a bleeding wound in the heart of town.")  And yet, like every other song on Tempest, "Narrow Way" has plenty to say about 2012:

This is hard country to stay alive in
Blades are everywhere, and they're breaking my skin...
It's a long road, it's a long and narrow way
If I can't work up to you
You'll surely have to work down to me someday

This is the method to Dylan's septuagenarian magic.  With his skintight road band (joined by Los Lobos multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo) repeating a simple hypnotic riff, he matches his original verses to a chorus filched from "You'll Work down to Me Someday," a 1934 song by the Mississippi Sheiks, and comes up with bloody gold.

It's the method that saved his career.  A half-century ago, young Bob found his muse by turning his back on the news of the world and digging into chilling folk songs from a disappearing America.

And after he reached his creative nadir 25 years ago, middle-aged Bob revived his muse in the 1990s by returning to those songs.  He recorded two albums full of them, then wrote a set of great new ones -- built from shards of the old folk blues -- that became his comeback record, Time Out of Mind.  Playing roughly 100 nights a year in his traveling medicine show, old Bob honed a crack road band and used it to produce the most remarkable string of late-career records in rock history:  Love and Theft, Modern Times, Together Through Life and now Tempest.

...What sets Tempest apart is good humor.  Dylan picks his way through the carnage with a jaunty step to balance his jaundiced eye.  In "Soon After Midnight," a floaty rumination that recalls 1997's "Not Dark Yet," he coaxes a Louis Armstrong croon from his blown-loudspeaker voice and declares:

My heart is cheerful, it's never fearful
I've been down on the killing floors
I'm in no great hurry, I'm not afraid of your fury
I've faced stronger walls than yours

{end TIME excerpt}--------------------------------------
I like the part at the beginning of the article, with "empty-chair posturing," and I like how the author calls this new collection of songs a "record" though when we go looking for it, it'll surely be in CD-form....

-30-

Friday, September 21, 2012

I understand levity

And speaking of Fashion, the Sept. 17, 2012 issue of TIME magazine includes a one-page feature about a clothing designer named Prabal Gurung -- a laughing (in the photograph) man from Nepal.  (Right there between India and China....) 

First Lady Michelle Obama has worn several dresses by Mr. Gurung. 

He wears jeans and a white tee shirt.  Always.

(I read about another designer who always wears the same outfit -- black, or something.  They want to keep their own clothing utilitarian, and focus on innovation and imagination in the clothing they make for others....)

TIME asked him,
Is it true that you decided to move to the U.S. because you watched an Oprah special about living your dreams?  Are you still a big fan of hers?
P.G.:  "Yes.  She's very aware of the platform she has.  A lot of celebrities just earn.  Nobody says you have to give back.  You do it out of choice, and that decision makes her who she is."

TIME:  You have one of the most highly anticipated shows at New York Fashion Week.  Why should the rest of the country care?
P.G.:  "It's a billion-dollar industry that affects the country economically, socially and culturally.  I make 98% of my collection in New York City and am generating jobs, so fashion isn't just frivolous for me.  I understand levity about it.  I also understand the depth of it."

TIME:  What do you think about Ralph Lauren's outsourcing the production of the U.S. Olympic uniforms to China?
P.G.:  "There must be a reason they did it, and I can't speak on their behalf.  I just hope the reason was good enough at the end of the day."

TIME:  Paul Ryan has caught flak for his ill-fitting shirts.  How would you make him over?
P.G.:  "It's a fun question, but I'm conflicted about answering it.  I wish people would pay more attention to who he is and what policies he supports."

TIME:  Fashion is cyclical by nature, but what's one trend you never want to see come back?
P.G.:  "It saddens me to see the reality-television shows that are getting so much fanfare that are a celebration of stupidity and the degradation of women.  And those women are consistently wearing too short, too tight dresses.  I hope the trend of aging gracefully returns."

---------------------------------
"It's a fun question...."
"...I can't speak on their behalf.  I just hope...."
"I understand levity about it."
"I make 98% of my collection in New York City."
"It's a fun question, but I'm conflicted about answering it."
"I understand levity about it.  I also understand the depth of it."

(A "politician" as well as a designer....)

-30-









Thursday, September 20, 2012

YOU, again??!!

...and when I "Google" that song, "Wagon Wheel" -- turns out it was
originally
written -- ("sketched") by --

Bob DYLAN -- "Hell-oh??!!!"

everything I like seems to trace back to this Source

all roads lead to Bob Dylan

lol

-30-

kids write the darndest things

There's an interesting and fun blog which I admire:

Style Rookie,
or
Tavi Gevinson's Blog.

She began writing her fashion-focused site four years ago when she was twelve.
(A precocious young human.)

She references many cultural influences that I don't know about or relate to, and many that I do!  (I always have this moment of being startled and -- 'how does this kid know my favorite Bob Dylan songs, and whatever...' -- but of course with the internet, now, people have access to things....And am guessing she has hip, thoughtful parents.

One of her posts was unexpectedly titled,

"caught a trucker out of Philly, had a nice long toke".

"Caught a trucker out of Philly"...
Caught me by surprise....!

Hmmh, I thought.  I never heard the song that that's from but I like it --
not to promote the smoking of anything illegal, but just the
cheerful, jaunty rhythm of the phrase.

song:  "Wagon Wheel"
band:  "Old Crow Medicine Show"

phrase: 
Walkin' to the south out of Roanoke
I caught a trucker out of Philly had a nice long toke.

It swings.
It rolls.

Ms. Gevinson writes more about fashion and style than I ever thought I would read anywhere -- what draws me to read it is actually the author's ENTHUSIASM for her topics and creativity in exploring ideas and concepts.  Very independent thinker.  I find inspiration there.

-30-

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the commodity of confidence

Was considering and contemplating how -- sometimes when someone with authority seems aggressive or unreasonable, the choice of tactics could be rooted in insecurity.  Then I ran across this passage in Robert Dallek's JFK biography, An Unfinished Life:

Robert Kennedy, who was working as an attorney at the Justice Department, was reluctantly persuaded to take over managing the campaign [Congressman John F. Kennedy's 1952 campaign for Senate].  "I'll just screw it up," he told Kenneth O'Donnell, who was one of Jack's inner-circle advisers, objecting that he knew nothing about electoral politics. 

But he agreed to take on the job when O'Donnell warned that without him the campaign was headed for "absolute catastrophic disaster."  Bobby worked eighteen-hour days, driving himself so hard that he lost twelve pounds off a spare frame. 

He put in place a Kennedy organization that reached into every part of the state and stirred teams of supporters to work almost as hard as he did.  In addition, he took on difficult, unpleasant jobs Jack shunned.  When he found professional politicians hanging around the Boston headquarters, he threw them out. 

"Politicians do nothing but hold meetings," he complained.  "You can't get any work out of a politician."  When Paul Dever's organization, which began to falter in the governor's race, tried to join forces with Kennedy's more effective campaign, Bobby shut them off.  "Don't give in to them," Jack told his brother, "but don't get me involved in it." 

Bobby had a bitter exchange with Dever, who complained to Joe about his abrasive son, with whom he refused to deal in the future.

--------------------------
He wades in, p---es  off some folks, makes at least one life-long enemy, and why?  The answer lurks in his own statement before he even gets involved:  "I'll just screw it up."

That doesn't make him a bad person, & doesn't mean he didn't do a creditable job, in many aspects.  His brother got elected Senator.  The only point I'm thinking about is the fact that when someone's being all intense & going, "You get me that thing I need right now before I run-in-and-raise-cain-with-your-boss-yadda-yadda!!" one gets the feeling of -- Help! This person's attacking me!
when probably the fact is, the person is
running from their own nervousness and worry about their authority and ability and others' confidence in them.

..."I'll just screw it up."

-----------
{An Unfinished Life.  Robert Dallek.
Copyright, 2003.  Little, Brown, and
Co.  Boston.}

-30-

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

work the phones 'til you go

HARRY ROSENFELD surveys the scene from his office doorway as


WOODWARD approaches, hangs his coat at his desk, not far

from where ROSENFELD is standing.

ROSENFELD
Where's that cheery face we've come
to know and love?


WOODWARD
You call me in on my day off because
some idiots have broken into local
Democratic Headquarters--tell me,
Harry, why should I be smiling?

ROSENFELD
As usual, that keen mind of yours
has pegged the situation perfectly.

(chomps on some Maalox
tablets)

Except (a) it wasn't local Democratic
Headquarters, it was National
Democratic Headquarters--

(WOODWARD is surprised--
he hadn't known)

--and (b) these weren't just any
idiots, these were special idiots,
seeing as when they were arrested at
2:30 this morning, they were all
wearing business suits and Playtex
gloves and were carrying--

(consults a piece of
paper)

--a walkie-talkie, forty rolls of
film, cameras, lock picks, pen-sized
tear gas guns, plus various bugging
devices.

(puts paper down)

Not to mention over two thousand
dollars, mostly in sequenced hundred
dollar bills.


WOODWARD

Preliminary hearing at Superior
Courthouse?


ROSENFELD

(nods)

Two o'clock, work the phones 'til
you go.

-------------------------------------

{excerpt, All The President's Men script, written by William Goldman}

-30-



Monday, September 17, 2012

the trick

Friday of last week I was reading all these Comments that came in ("Incoming!") to the New York Times about the oil companies' anti-Obama ads, and I felt like -- Oof, what-do-know-about-pollution?  And (the ever-present) "Environment"?

Issues of protecting our environment have been going on, for my whole life really, and I'm not altruistic enough or intelligent enough or learned enough in the Science areas to

Know A Lot About Environmentalism,

so -- I -- uh -- don't litter.

You know, I do my best, but what can one person do? -- Don't litter....it's like religion, BE-NICE-DON'T-KILL-PEOPLE.

--------------------
I sort of developed a Point Of View when I was maybe in my 20s where I thought that some of the people and groups that were bringing Environmentalist issues forward, were maybe sort of in attack-mode on "big business" and I used to think, Let the businesses figure out how to tone down pollution -- the government will insist that they (the businesses) do things right,  if the business doesn't already do it right.  That's what we have the E-P-A for.

Plus, I thought, the people who run the big businesses that pollute, and the people who own and run the oil companies, etc. -- they have to breathe the same air and drink the water, the same as all the rest of the citizens, so, I figured, they aren't going to pollute our world to the point where we cannot live in it.  That wouldn't make any sense.

And that's been my Idea that I live by -- my belief, I guess.  And then reading this one Comment from NY Times, Fri. -- I placed this comment first at the top of the Comments I included here because it caused me to think of something I would not have thought of when I was younger....
[comment, from East Hampton]: 
"In their infinite wisdom, the fateful five on the US Supreme Court gave "free speech" rights to corporations. Of course as we all know, speech ain't free. But with their deep pockets these corporate "persons" can buy a whole lot more speech than you or me. Problem is, when they've done something wrong you can’t lock a corporation in solitary confinement. They don't have a beating heart. More to the point, they're heartless and will rule the rest us heartlessly. We can count on the fossil fool industries to speed us all toward unbridled climate destabilization. In the end they're cutting their own throats as surely as they are cutting ours. But like I said, they're heartless which means they don't care."
-------------------..that last part was what got me reconsidering my Optimistic Trusting Point-of-View on Big Business naturally wanting to protect the environment, for their own good, as well as for their children and grandchildren in The Future...where he wrote,
"They're cutting their own throats as surely as they are cutting ours.  But...they're heartless which means they don't care" -- that made me think of a scene in the film, All The President's Men, where Woodward's source "Deep Throat" is in the Washington D.C. parking garage at night and he tells the reporter Woodward, as background to describe an attitude -- "I saw Gordon Liddy once at a party -- he put his hand in the flame of a candle and kept it there, until the flesh was burned.  Somebody asked, 'What's the trick?' And he said, 'The trick is not minding.'"
Bob Woodward (played by Robert Redford), like me, had no answer to that.
I saw that film when I was 17 -- at that age I didn't get the full meaning of that remark, or description.  Now after more life experience I understand that he was trying to get across the point that -- there are people who will do bad things to harm other people, and they'll even harm themselves as well -- and they don't -- care...as the NY Times reader said, "they're heartless which means they don't care"...Terrorists with explosives strapped to their bodies would be an extreme and obvious example of that.
People like the terrorist, or the guy with his hand in the candle, or the mischief-maker who has nothing on his or her schedule for the day except what they could possibly do to someone else -- these folks will do stuff that regular people "read" as Crazy and convince ourselves they won't do it because we wouldn't do it, but they're -- reading from a different sheet of music than the rest of us.  They aren't going by our rules, our expectations, our version of simple common sense and daily effort and behavior.

They've got their hand in a candle.

I mean...what can ya say?
Their elevators don't go all the way to the top.
They're several sandwiches short of a picnic. ...
They.  Don't.  Care.
Their goal is not the normal
Do-a-good-job-be-successful.  It's something else. ...

Are people of that mentality running our big oil companies and large industries that pollute?  BP, for example?  That mining company in West Virginia where the guy would rather pay fines and let people get killed than to conform to the safety standards that others in the industry live up to?
([Sigh....] Will continue to Not Litter.)...
-30-

Friday, September 14, 2012

welfare

"Fossil Fuil Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign"
headlined a N.Y. Times article which attracted reader comments...
East End

o East Hampton, NY
In their infinite wisdom, the fateful five on the US Supreme Court gave "free speech" rights to corporations. Of course as we all know, speech ain't free. But with their deep pockets these corporate "persons" can buy a whole lot more speech than you or me. Problem is, when they've done something wrong you can’t lock a corporation in solitary confinement. They don't have a beating heart. More to the point, they're heartless and will rule the rest us heartlessly. We can count on the fossil fool industries to speed us all toward unbridled climate destabilization. In the end they're cutting their own throats as surely as they are cutting ours. But like I said, they're heartless which means they don't care.


 fuller schmidt


 Chicago
Coming next: the Supreme Court rules that money is a human being and that bribery is free speech.

------------------------

o Sept. 14, 2012 at 7:28 a.m.
Recommend 77

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1.     You know, a smart, independent person who believed in freedom and American democracy would look at the megainternational fossil fuels industry, with their minimal taxes, public subsidies, record profits while gas prices go up, and a stunning track record of corruption, and think "I'm going to look at what horse these guys back in this race and then vote the opposite way."
------------------------
Don't gasoline prices traditionally fall after Labor Day? One would think that with lower demand the prices at the pump should be on the decline. Am I being too cynical when I wonder if the oil companies aren't manipulating the prices upwards to create a campaign issue? Their ads wouldn't have much impact if the price of gas was falling.

-------------------------
Record profits for Big Oil Companies, consumption is down in the US and supply is up. You should always question why gas prices are up, particularly now that there is a presidential election in 53 days. People need to fight for alternative energy and buy a fuel efficient vehicle.


---------------------------
1. Oil companies are "denouncing Mr. Obama’s proposal to eliminate oil industry subsidies. " They have no shame whatsover. Further, the Repubs always yell about how they are the fiscally responsible party but yet endoese these tax give-aways to the most profitable corporations ever to exist. The hypocracy is mind-blowing

---------------------------


It is disheartening to note, in the aftermath of a summer that has been one of the hottest and driest in recent history, the fossil fuel industry, likely the industry most responsible for this negative climatic change, is again dominating the policy dialogue, due more to the stagnant economy than any other factor. Ultimately the habitability of our planet, among other things, is being sacrificed for lucre. How is it we have become so self-destructive, or is it just the social Darwinism inherent in our economic philosophy? Eventually the truth must be faced, the only question is who will be left to face it.

-----------------------------
PaulB

Cincinnati, OH
Criticize Obama for being tepid on energy, but save your ire for Congress, where the fossil fuel industries exert the strongest influence on national energy policy. Which is to say, they pay handsomely to insure that the United States has no energy policy.

--------------------------
o Rick Crammond


o Victoria BC

Oil is obsolete. It causes cancer, according to recent UN research that now claims diesel exhaust is a "Known Human Carcinogen". UN says up to 4.5 million good people die each year due to burning fuels. Shame, shame.

It's very expensive to burn oil. New technologies are thousands of times more efficient, with fuel-less and pollution-free generators becoming readily available soon, all over the planet. Why pay more?

Only fools burn fuels. The only question is, "Will North America fall back to the stone age because of its oil and coal addiction?"

-----------------------

We're not dependent on energy from the Middle East. Most of our oil comes from Canada and other western hemisphere sources, including a lot from our own land. It's really truly true!


The fact is that it doesn't matter how much we drill here. It won't have much impact on oil prices. Oil is a worldwide commodity, and priced accordingly, like gold or silver. The world is totally oversupplied right now, but what are prices doing? See, it's not about supply at all. There are so many other factors...

----------------
o Max


o NJ

Without fail anytime a president is trying to do any actions that are threatening the fossil industry profits there is a whole barrage of actions to defeat and get rid of that person. It started in the 1950s and continues until today. Today when we are dawning in oil, you see the gas prices spike (refinery manipulations), than the price of the crude trying to be propped up, and the gas at the pump going higher and higher, without any reason, even when the driving season is over. The price manipulation is really a criminal action, but it is very difficult to prove, so the oil companies get away with them over and over again.

Today, all the refineries are back in bushiness, the price of oil is around $97 , but the gas price price at the pump is the highest it ever been. There are not real causes for such high prices except the political pressure the oil companies are putting on the public's purse to make them vote against the incumbent president.

The oil companies take no prisoners, for them it is do or die and the war has started. They are fully aware that in the long-term they cannot survive with fossil energy that pollutes and destroys the earth, but until they are ready to transition themselves, they are making sure that their profits are maximized at any costs, and people be damned if they stay in their way.

1. So:

Fuel costs rise--industry makes record profits--blames White House for causing consumers' bills to rise--industry charges consumers more because of all the money they spend telling consumers that their costs are going up because of the White House--industry still takes home record profits.

That about it?
Which is worse--health insurance companies or oil companies?

-------------------------
o Bob Burns


o Jefferson, Oregon

I think the Supreme Court killed democracy in this country. The damage they caused is incalculable.

We either need to reform our election system *and* declare that only individual living, breathing people should be accorded constitutional rights, or just admit that we've lost what the framers had in mind for self-government.

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o Randy M

o Texas
The endorsement of Big Oil is like having the endorsement of the Tobacco industry.

Only worse.

---------------------
o Alex


o New York
Citizen's United essentially decided that money is speech and people have the right to speak freely and without financial limits.

But shareholders are not necessarily of monolithic voice and opinion. You can own stock in BP or Exxon and still want those companies to shift to greener energy.
One possible antidote to Citizen's United could be to give shareholders more control over the political lobbying of their corporations. The company's board of directors should have to announce to their shareholders any plans to lobby and run political attack ads, and reveal the dollar amount they wish to spend. Every shareholder should then have the right to decide whether to allow their money to be spent on political expenses, or whether to instead opt out and receive an additional dividend check. If money is free speech then publicly traded companies are infringing on the 1st Amendment Rights of their shareholders by withholding free speech that is rightfully theirs.

-------------------------------
o pixelperson


o Miami, FL

It is very obvious that the oil, gas, and coal industry had decided to spend millions to buy political influence rather than research alternative energy.

Sad.

If the short-sighted leadership in these corporations would use thier millions of taxpayer subsidized funds toward energy alternative rather than to meddle in politics they - and the rest of our country - would be much, much better off.

o Sept. 14, 2012 at 12:04 p.m.

 ----------------------------------------------


 Gray

 Milwaukee
Very true but they really aren't interested in the country being better off. It's all about $$$$$$$$$$.

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o Lee Howley


o Morristown, New Jersey

Now that money equals free speech, all of these energy companies have a lot more free speech than I do. It's sad when you can measure it too. This essentially is now a legal form of bribery. I know lobbyist have always been there, fighting for their company's/industry's interest, but in a pre-campaign setting I can't help but feel that promising that much money must get them something in return. Is our country blind to the fact that money now controls politics more than ever? What ever happened to running on a platform of what a candidate actually believes in rather than siding with guy who has the most money in his pocket?

---------------------------

o Patrick


o Long Island NY
I call it On-The-Highway-Robbery.

The next time you are in a gas station, look around and ask yourself, who's really ripping me off? Is it Obama, or this gas station?

My breath is taken away at the gall of Exxon Mobil who once said they owe no allegiance to the U.S., while they now try to manipulate who runs it and to get their way and Billions of dollars in profits.

The price of oil over the last decade trashed the world economies. This advertising is more to reinforce the image of big oil than an election because the oil companies must know that whoever wins the election, they will get their way anyway. We are their captive hostages, all of us.

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 omalley69


 Toronto

Leadership often involves doing things that not easy, but are the right thing to do. Obama has done what I think is the right mix of initiatives, which is opening up some new drilling (and America is under an undeniable energy boom) while looking to spur the development of renewables, which is absolutely where America needs to go long term. Obama will eventually approve Keystone and really, the goal of energy independence which every President since Nixon has talked about but not really gotten far on, is looking feasible (if it's defined as continental independence - i.e. US & Canada). I look forward to the last of Saudi oil imports. Energy independence will contribute greatly to American security and will no longer necessitate participation in the constant geopolitical games around securing energy resources.

----------------------------

o Helen


o NYC

Why do oil companies need so many government subsidies anyway??

----------------------------
 MD in NYC


 New York, NY
Because they demand them and get them. It would be extortion, except that they own congress. But yes, it is ultimately extortion upon the citizens. It's a good scam: screw 'em at the pump and screw 'em when they pay their taxes too.

-----------------------------------

o Thom

o Connecticut
Yet another example of money over logic and reason. Responsible production and consumption of oil and gas is essential. The future is what must be balanced. There is nothing wrong with clean air; simply ask any coal miner with 'black lung' or look to the horizon and see the layer oily brown over our cities. Money will always protect money; government is the only counter weight to protect ourselves, our children, our air, our water and our future.

Make no mistake: Responsible production and consumption of oil and gas is essential; the key word being RESPONSIBLE.


--------------------------------------
o Alan Gregory


o Williston VT
Wow, startling discovery. Polluters actually give cash to the election bank accounts of politicians? And, on the reality side, they expect results for doing so. After all, polluters, like fossil fuel giants, don't just hand out campaign contributions to be nice Americans. No sir. They expect results. And, more often than not, that is what they get. Money talks, democracy and every vote counts are secondary, "nice" things.

o Sept. 14, 2012 at 7:28 a.m.
Recommend 54

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o Arthur B. Treadway


o Madrid, Spain
The fossil fuel corporations in the U.S. have always been major receivers of welfare for the rich and have always behaved like gangsters with the public and with government. Our government subsidizes them and they use taxpayer money to lobby and corrupt our politicians and now to publish ads to persuade us to vote for more of this same immoral behavior of theirs. Maybe sometime we will wake up to the elementary principle about advertising (except maybe classifieds in papers): If it is advertised, don't buy it!
Recommend 46
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 Privacy Guy
Actually what troubles them is any talk of cutting off corporate welfare.

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o Robert Lion

o Connecticut

3. The question is when, not if, we will break our dependence on fossil fuels. We are not there yet, but if it were up to the oil companies and their henchman/lobbyists, that day will forever be pushed back in a selfish attempt to protect their own gravy train.

-------------------------
o Michael


o Fleetwood, NY

Yes, we see the greedy polluting lobby all in to defeat common sense. They want free reign to pursue fracking without those pesky environmental responsibilities, burn coal, ship tar sand oil to China (not to us) and destroy our land for their profit. They know they can't even hope to defeat President Obama without a massive propaganda wave.
The same people that complain about having to pay taxes to support our infrastructure, education, and defense have no problem spending millions to pursue their own interests. Its about time those suffering through the worst droughts in 75 years wake up and do something about the damage the fossil fuel industry has wrought for their own profit. Change in the energy industry is coming. Let's own the future, not cling to the past. Or we'll be the fossils.
Just say no to the corporate takeover of our democracy. The USA is not for sale.

o Sept. 14, 2012 at 7:10 a.m.
o Recommend115
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 Kalidan

 NY
But USA is for sale.


We may be one of the least corrupt nations, but we are definitely for sale.

Every loophole has a lobby behind it, ready to go to war at imaginary threats. AARP rules, and has produced the the largest gerentocratic plutocracy in history. Every polluting technology has a lobby that makes lawmakers tremble. Every outdated weapon system has a lobby that makes the chicken hawks in our congress wet themselves. Every corrupt ideology has a well oiled propaganda machine ...

George Will famously asked, while denying prospects of global warming: "What temperature should planet earth be?" In any intelligent environment, he would be laughed out of the room for being unaware of the notion of variance, and alarming variance. I don't think he is corrupt, just a damn fool. And foolishness and corruption are indistinguishable because they produce identical results: A nation united against reason, united against science, united against a clean environment, united against new technology, and united in favor of instant gratification and large scale profits.

We believe nonsense such as "organizations are people." We stand silent while the supreme court enables unfettered PAC money. In the name of free speech, we are for sale to the Koch brothers, Adelson, big oil, big energy, big pharma, and the unions.

Sorry Mike, we are definitely for sale.

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 MD in NYC

 New York, NY
Um, yeah, about that "The USA is not for sale" tagline.... I think the horses left the barn already.

----------------------
 Irene
 New York
Commenters who replied that the country's been sold let me tell you it's not too late. Laws can be amended, repealed. We need to get rid of Citizen's United, so join with Sherrod Brown or any of the other campaigns trying to rid us of this blatantly corrupting decision. There is so much that is in our hands if we'd get active and be in the face of the representatives who are selling us down the river.
If you lead the fight Michael many will follow. But can you do it on the weekends as I have to work Monday thru Friday?

--------------------------
 Linda
 Phoenix
And America is contributing to global climate change more than any other nation except maybe China

what do these guys think they are rich enough to buy another planet to live on? What will they tell their grandchildren who can no longer breathe the air or drink the water?

The change to renewable non polluting energy now is essential - just take a look at the midwest today.

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 Irene

 New York
If we had listened to Jimmy Carter we would be the leaders in the clean energy field now - on par with oil and gas. Maybe the problem is us, we don't push hard enough, make enough phone calls, write enough letters to our representative and to the editors. We are complacent while the tin foil hat wearers are active and LOUD!

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o    Downtown Verona NJ
We all recognize we consume a massive amount of fossil fuels, but to just blindly contitine to do so and think that pumping trillions of ponds of CO2 waste into the atmosphere will have zero effect is high ignorance.

To vote for lazy ignorance over creativity and hard work is a reckless, self-destructive choice.

We should use our minds to solve our problems, not energy company and GOP propaganda to close them.

Voting for the GOP and Big Energy is a wonderful way to ensure that America becomes a toaster oven for the air-conditioned rich.

o Sept. 14, 2012 at 7:09 a.m.
o Recommend131
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1. So, basically, nothing has CHANGEd in U.S. politics: oil industry, big banks, war corporations and such vested interests -- along with the almighty federal reserve (which is "as federal as Federal Express") -- have taken over.


Plutocracy rules. The one percent creates and perpetuates the illusion of democracy.

Media could have helped us cut through the clutter. They decided not to do it. They were complicit in this game.

Now, why do I feel depressed? Any clues, Mr. Obama?

-30-






































Thursday, September 13, 2012

never minded standin'

Mystery author Linda Barnes wrote this:

Thank God for the series novel....Cherry Ames,...Penny Parrish, and Nancy Drew....What I learned from those books was simple.

There is life after the last page.  Life goes on.  Books do not end at the happily-ever-after-orange-blossom part.  Indeed, there is infinite possibility before us....The peril of immersing myself in a nonseries novel is formidable.  I'm afraid to get involved with characters because they might die gruesome deaths.  I wept through far too many books as a child.  I don't have the psychic strength to keep reading Jayne Anne Phillips.  I do read her, I read Jane Smiley and Alice Hoffman and many others who threaten my happiness, but I come back to those who write series books because I know the main character will not die and that is very important to me.


[Chapter 25, in Rediscovering Nancy Drew, Copyright 1995.  University of Iowa Press, Iowa City.]
--------------------------------------------
I could relate to that -- was thinking recently that the pleasure of reading the Nancy Drew books was not necessarily that each one was so great, in and of itself -- no, it was the happiness, expectation, and security of knowing that there were a lot more!

The Ghost of Blackwood Hall
The Haunted Bridge
The Clue of the Tapping Heels....

And -- as Barnes writes, Nancy wasn't going to die.  Like on our favorite series TV-shows.  The star can't get killed because there has to be another episode next week.

One of the things that "series books" get criticized for is that they are written according to a "formula." 
Good literature should be original, creative, smart, deep, etc.  It shouldn't be by a "formula" -- i.e., same number of chapters in each book, every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, certain elements are included at certain points to keep a familiar rhythm going, in each book.

Well, there's nothing wrong with great literature, and there's nothing wrong with series books written by a formula.  They are just different kinds of fun and inspiration.

The outside-the-box country singer David Allan Coe has a song where, in one verse, he discusses the use of a "formula" in country music -- the idea that one must include certain topics....

Well it was all that I could do to keep from cryin’


Sometimes it seems so useless to remain.

And you don’t have to call me darlin’…darlin’
You never even called me by my name.

Well you don’t have to call me –
Waylon Jennings
(“Hello – Hello”)…
And you don’t have to call me –
Ch - arley Pride.
And you don’t have to call me
Merle Haggard,
anymore.
Even though you’re on my fight-in’ siiiiiide,

And I’ll hang around as long as you will let me
And I never minded standin’ in the rain.
You don’t have to call me darlin’…darlin’
You never even called me by my name.

Well I’ve heard my name a few times in your phone book
And I’ve seen it on signs where I’ve played.
But the only time I know
I’ll hear David Allan Coe
Is when Jesus has his final judgment day.

So I’ll hang around as long as you will let me
And I never minded standin’ in the rain.
You don’t have to call me darlin’…darlin’
You never even called me by my name.


[spoken]
Well a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song
And he told me it was the perfect country and western song.
I wrote him back a letter and told him it was NOT the perfect country and western song because he hadn’t said anything at all about

Mama, or

Trains, or
Trucks, or
Prison, or
Getting’ drunk.

Well he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me.
And after readin’ it, I realized that my friend had written the perfect country and western song.

And I felt obliged to include it on this album. The last verse goes like this here:

[back to singing]
Well I was drunk…
the day my mom …
got-outta prison.

And I went
to pick her up
--in the rain.

But before I could get to the station in my pickup
Truck,
She got runned over by a damned old train.

And I’ll hang around as long as you will let me.
And I never minded standin’ in the rain. No,
You don’t have to call me darlin’…darlin’
You never even called me –
Well I wonder why you don’t call me –
Why don’t you ever call me by my name?

[backup chorus: “Ooh—ooohh.”]

-30-

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

every heart beats true

Last night, putting the flags back up after their day spent at half-staff -- felt like, Man, this would mean more -- be more meaningful -- if the flags had not been lowered to half-staff so often, & on such a regular basis for about the past 6 or 8 years or so.

Pre-9/11 it seems like flags were flown at half-staff only on a Select Few days.  It was unusual.  And we always noticed.  And realized the significance.

Nowadays it's gotten to be --

all the time, and all the time,
down and up and
down and up and
down-and-up,
down - up
down - up
down - up.

The Significance and Gravity that used to invest the flying of the American flag (and state flag, etc.) at half-staff,
has eroded,
apace with the increased frequency of Half-Staff days.

And it felt a little bit "off" yesterday, to have the flags down becaue of 9-11 -- I don't know why.  Another worker at my place of employment expressed it:  "It's like we [America] -- it's like we're on our knees"...and when he said that I realized I'd been feeling kind of like that, too -- like, "Let's not fly the flags at half-staff and bow down to what those terrorists did.  Let's not let them get us down, & keep us down, 11 years later...."

And thought about it later at night, and -- it's probably like -- the tradition of flying flags at half-staff on certain solemn occasions is an old tradition, from earlier times, and maybe the modern personality, with its modern perspective, has kind of "lost" the point of that, in our way of thinking.

Like my co-worker said, "We got him!"  [Bin Laden]...and he added, "I'm over it."
And when he said that, I realized I kind of felt the same way....

I'm thinking now, that the act of flying the flags "At-Half" is
not
supposed to be "bowing down" to the terrorists, or letting them bum us out,
it's probably supposed to be more like a
solemn
expression of
sympathy, honor, and respect,
toward the
Americans
who --
served,
helped,
lost their lives,
due to that bizarre and incomprehensible attack.

Symbolic, solemn remembrance and respect, done in a dignified, old tradition.

But I really had to think about it & remind myself of that.

The last two, or three, or four or five times we've been told to fly the flags at half-staff for a day due to whatever-it-was, I thought, Geez, we're going to have to put 'em down At-Half AGAIN for 9/11, can't they give-it-a-rest, this gesture is losing all meaning....

---------------------------------------------------
You're a grand old flag,

You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.

You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.

Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

------------------------------
-- George M. Cohan

-30-

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

stronger

Nine Eleven.  At 8:00am our time, 9:00 New York time, I was on the phone, re work, and had TV news on (maybe MSNBC, don't know....).

Watching the fire in the top of the North WTC tower and puzzling how a plane could run into that -- well accidents happen -- and about 60% of my thoughts said, "Accident," about 10% of my thinking said, "Possibly terrorism," and the other 30% was Stating Firmly and Hoping Desperately -- ACCIDENT -- NOT terrorism.... 

Then at :03 the second plane hit the other tower,

as I watched,

&
the newscaster's sentence raced up the octaves into a screech
and

the certainty that it was terrorism filled up my head.

------------------ There's that empty, flat feeling, then, that there isn't anything you personally can -- do....I went to my desk and worked.

----------------------------------------
At the time, NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said,

"The city is going to survive, we are going to get through it, it’s going to be a very, very difficult time. I don't think we yet know the pain that we're going to feel when we find out who we lost, but the thing we have to focus on now is getting this city through this, and surviving and being stronger for it."

-30-

Monday, September 10, 2012

pleasant Sunday

A lot of times on Mondays people might think to themselves, "Where did the weekend go?" because the time goes fast, & many times the plans and ideas we have for what to do on the weekend exceed the time and energy we realistically have to do them....

Instead of "Where did the weekend go?" author Witold Rybczynski discusses

"Where did the weekend come from?"

in his 1991 book, Waiting for the Weekend.  {Viking Penguin, New York}

[excerpt]----------------- Saint Monday was a reflection of old habits, but it was also a premonition of what was to come.  The "small holiday" prepared the way for the weekend.  First, because it accustomed people to the advantages of a regular weekly break that consisted of more than one day.  Second, because it served to popularize a new type of recreational activity -- travel for pleasure.

Until the coming of the railway in the 1830s, modes of travel had been basically unchanged since ancient times.  Short distances were covered on foot; longer trips were undertaken on horseback (although only by young and fit males) or in a horse-drawn carriage.  Both involved bad roads, mishaps, and, for a long time, the perils of highwaymen.  By the early 1800s, the last was no longer a problem, but travel continued to be something undertaken out of necessity, rarely for amusement. 

In Jane Austen's Emma, Mr. Knightley frets about the "evils of the journey" that he and his family are about to undertake from London to Highbury, and about the "fatigues of his own horses and coachmen."  The modern reader is surprised to discover that the journey is a distance of only sixteen miles.  But sixteen miles, by coach, took almost four hours, and it would have been an exceedingly unpleasant and uncomfortable four hours, swaying and bumping over rutted, muddy country roads.*

{footnote:  *Emma was written in 1816.  It wasn't until the 1830s that metaled roads became common, at least between major cities, and coach travel, in turn, became somewhat more comfortable and more rapid.  On a good road, with frequent change of horses, a coach could attain the unprecedented speed of ten miles per hour.}

In the same novel Emma's father, Mr. Woodhouse, has a horror of carriages and hardly ever travels -- except on foot; Emma's sister visits Highbury from London, but she does so infrequently.  Most houseguests in Emma stay at Highbury for at least a week or two, since the slowness and discomfort of coach travel makes shorter visits impractical.

The time involved, as well as the expense, ensured that travel was a luxury, if not exactly enjoyed by, then at least restricted to, the moneyed and leisured classes.  But the railway and Saint Monday changed all that.  According to Douglas A. Reid a historian at the University of Birmingham in England, cheap railway excursions in that city began in the summer of 1841. 

The custom established itself quickly, and in 1846, twenty-two excursions (many organized by workers' clubs) took place; more than three quarters of them occurred on a Monday.  The train furnished the workingman and his family with a rapid and cheap means of travel, and the weekday holiday provided an entire free day to indulge it.  "Eight hours at the seaside for three-and-sixpence," announced a contemporary advertisement.  The Sunday-to-Monday holiday also meant that people could leave on a trip one day and return the next.  This was not called "spending a weekend," but it differed little from the later practice. 

It only remained to transpose the holiday from Monday to Saturday.

The energy of entrepreneurs, assisted by advertising, was an important influence not only on the diffusion and persistence of Saint Monday but on leisure in general.  Hence a curious and apparently contradictory situation:  not so much the commercialization of leisure, as the discovery of leisure -- thanks to commerce.  Beginning in the eighteenth century with magazines, coffeehouses, and music rooms, and continuing throughout the nineteenth century, with professional sports and holiday travel, the modern idea of personal leisure emerged at the same time as the business of leisure.  The first could not have happened without the second.

-------------------------------------------
Saint Monday had many critics.  Religious groups actively campaigned against the tradition which they saw as linked to the drinking and dissipation that, in their eyes, dishonored the Sabbath.  They were joined by middle-class social reformers and by proponents of rational recreation, who also had an interest in altering Sunday behavior. 

They wanted their countrymen to adopt the so-called Continental Sunday, a day on which French and Germans of all classes mingled together in easy and decorous intimacy in promenades and pleasure gardens -- the kind of civilized Sunday in the park that was depicted a little later by Seurat in [the painting] Grande Jatte

These were the sorts of Sunday activities that were promoted by such improving societies as the newly founded Young Men's Christian Association, the Sons of Temperance, and especially by the P.S.A., or Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.  For all these groups, Saint Monday, and the popular working-class entertainments of which it was an integral part, was an enemy.*

{footnote:  The religious reformers and the proponents of rational recreation were not always on the same side, however, for the latter called for Sunday museum openings and band concerts, which were anathema to the Sabbatarians.}

----------------------- [end excerpt]
Oh! - the wild and crazy behavior displayed by those museum-goers and concert-listeners!  What will society come to?!

(It's like the old joke: 
Q.  What is the definition of a Puritan?
A.  A person who goes through life troubled by a persistent, nagging suspicion that -- somebody, somewhere, is having a good time. ...)

-30-