Umberto Eco

Dangerous Minds: When Cuckoo‑Bird Conspiracies Become Real Menaces

It would seem that I’m getting paranoid myself with two back-to-back posts about conspiracies. In truth, it’s merely a coincidence, or synchronicity if you’re in a California state of mind: I was already midway through Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery before I saw and reviewed The East.

It was at that midway point that I tweeted, “No historical novelist can touch Umberto Eco. How does he do it?” This was before I got to the end and realized, to my horror, that how he did it was by fictionalizing a true story,

Just How Gay Was Abraham Lincoln?

‘Tish says, ‘there is a Bucktail soldier here devoted to the president, drives with him, and when Mrs. L is not home, sleeps with him.’ What stuff!”

— Virginia Woodbury Fox, November 16, 1862

Without having seen the Oscar warhorse that is, apparently, Spielberg’s Lincoln, if I were a gay activist of any kind, I might take issue with the fact that the film’s writer, Tony Kushner, has overlooked what to me is pretty clear evidence that President Lincoln was one of them there closeted, bathroom-stall toe-tapping Republicans.  Given the quotation above from the diary of the wife of Gustavus Fox, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War, I’m not sure he was even that closeted.

The reason I would take issue is that Kushner is a highly political Ghey, the author of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, a brilliant epic about the early years of the AIDS Crisis, for which he rightly received the Pulitzer in 1993.  Kushner has been married to his partner, Entertainment Weekly Mark Harris, for nearly ten years, a fact that might have pleased the teen Lincoln when he penned this ribald poem:

I will tell you a Joke about Jewel and Mary
It is neither a Joke nor a Story
For Rubin and Charles has married two girls
But Billy has married a boy
The girlies he had tried on every Side
But none could he get to agree
All was in vain he went home again
And since that is married to Natty
So Billy and Natty agreed very well
And mama’s well pleased at the match
The egg it is laid but Natty’s afraid
The Shell is So Soft that it never will hatch
But Betsy she said you Cursed bald head
My Suitor you never Can be
Beside your low crotch [slang for big penis] proclaims you a botch
And that never Can serve for me

Ben Affleck Details Magazine

REVIEW: With ‘Argo,’ the Film’s the Thing

As of this writing, Ben Affleck’s Argo is exceeding expectations at the box office, which is great news; this is probably the most important film about American foreign policy, specifically our devolving war with Islam, in recent memory.  No, scratch the ‘recent.’  Make that just ‘in memory.’

Right from the start, using semi-animated storyboards and old photographs to aid exposition, Affleck ensures that both sides of the struggle between Iran and the U.S. are given a fair hearing.  As the film flitted through images, guided by an Iranian-American woman’s voiceover, I was as impressed as ever at Hollywood’s ability to condense so much complexity into a series of pithy loglines that can be instantly understood even by those with no knowledge of what Iran’s modern history has been or, more importantly, what our nefarious role was in causing the Islamic Revolution.

Frank Ocean

People Saying Dumbass Things

Remember the ancient times, before Twitter, when celebrities needed reporters and unintentional open mics as vessels for saying stupid shit in public?

Props to R&B legend Stevie Wonder for keeping it real, then. This week, Wonder chose the classic route to go public with stupid shit, telling The Guardian’s Paul Lester that some gay people only think they’re gay. When discussing recently out-of-the-closet musician Frank Ocean, Wonder implied that Ocean was not necessarily homosexual, but simply “confused.”

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder sings his latest hit, “What the Eff Was I Thinking?”

Laura Dern Enlightened

‘Enlightened’: The Dark Side of Spiritual Awakening

Before I launch into an appraisal of Enlightened—part of my on-going series about HBO dramas while we wait for cinemas to recover from the summer crap fest and play something worthy of reviewing—let me say a few words about the season finale of another show of theirs I reviewed a few weeks back, Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom.  In an ideal world—the sort of upright, conscientious world Republicans dream of and fancy they can create if, like characters in an Ayn Rand novel, they stubbornly resist the misperceived evils of liberalism for long enough, but which in reality is a world that will forever elude them if they keep up these shenanigans—the last episode would be mandatory viewing at the RNC this week.  It would be just an hour taken away from all of the tacky hoopla while conventioneers turn their sights from willfully deluding themselves that Romney is worthy of being the President and focus on what that episode has to say about who they have become as a tribe, spoken from the point of view of Republican In Name Only (RINO) Will McAvoy.

Of course, few conventioneers will watch it, and only RINOs among the GOP like David Frum will agree with the message, I hope with wistful tears of remorse for where their party has gone, although I suspect they will be more like the tears my father shed when Richard Nixon resigned.  As I commented on HuffPo today with regard to the “Jewish” Hurricane Isaac upsetting the convention: “This has gone from a traveling clown show, to a farce with duplicity as its core theme, to a classic Greek tragedy complete with Athena and Poseidon making a pact at the beginning to teach the Republicans a lesson for their crimes against reason and for denying global warming.”

Dave Mustaine Crazy

Headbangers for Jesus

The entire planet officially jumped the shark in February of this year, and hardly anyone noticed! It happened when Megadeth guitarist and singer Dave Mustaine endorsed Rick Santorum for president. Tell me, in what kind of world-gone-mad does the famously debauched frontman for a thrash metal band tell us to vote for the stick-up-the-ass, hardcore conservative evangelist?

Since the script for our lives is now being written by monkeys stomping on typewriters, nothing should surprise us anymore, including the lunatic rants of a neocon headbanger. To demonstrate my point: Apparently Mustaine has gotten tired of Donald Trump and Ted Nugent hogging the demented right-wing paranoid schizophrenic spotlight, so he decided to do them one better by claiming, during a concert in Singapore last week, that the mass shootings at the theater in Colorado and the Sikh temple in Wisconsin were staged by President Obama in an effort to build support for a gun ban.