Dispatches from Wolf Country — Quick Hitters

Well, that's one debate settled. America and Great Britain are both largely populated by fools and apathetic mouth-breathing xenophobic cunts.

Cygen PostApocalypse New York, detail, Integrafix

Wait what the hell just happened!

Obama tells Trump “Don’t make Flynn NSA Chief!”so He did! A bitter Hilarity ensues!

Fifty Years of Blonde on Blonde!

Irish Taliban Investigates Stephen Fry for Blasphemy !

You really can’t make this shit up!


Well, that’s one debate settled. America and Great Britain are both largely populated by fools and apathetic mouth-breathing xenophobic cunts. I use the word in the British and Irish sense, of course. The French have gone down the Fascist road at various times in the past when the UK and US have resisted it. Like a stupid hat others wore in the past, we decided to give it a shot this time…where the French have figured out what a terrible idea it was the times they put creeps like that in power and don’t want to do it again. Yes, America, yes UK — The Republicans and the Tories both make your asses look fat and your heads fatter. Viva La France!

Oh, and La Marseillaises is a helluva lot better anthem than God Save the Old Lady or the Star Spangled Banner! That’s settled!

This is not an endorsement of Marchon as savior so much as far less awful than the alternative.  The problem with voting Le Pen as with voting Trump or voting “Brexit!Brexit!Oi!Oi!Oi!” is that when you put the intellectual and moral equivalent of British Football Yoboes in charge, weird and bad things inevitably happen. Let me point to Theresa May’s casting of herself as Boadicea and Jeremy Corbyn, the British equivalent of Bernie Sanders only without personality or political chops to match, as the Roman invader-tyrant. Hardly works under any stretch of the imagination, so she calls an election because she’s about to ruin Britain and take Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland down with her.

Americans – Figuring it out eventually!!

Or our only US President, promising his constituents the world and since nobody around him can explain honestly to him what the hell the House just passed on Healthcare, will find his popularity with his “base” going through the tubes. Realistically, Trump wouldn’t want any of his base even on the grounds of any of his properties except maybe as living statuary to applaud him whenever he rides by in his chariot or golf cart! Roaming  free, they’d scare Melania and terrify Baron!  You can screw over Americans in a lot of ways and get away with it, but if you rub their noses in it enough, they’ll figure it all out eventually.

Politics may be a zero-sum game, but policy and the safety of the nation are definitely not zero sum issues. Obama sits down with Trump, scares the hell out of him on lots of topics, and then tells him not to make Mike Flynn his NSA chief. Trump thanks the President, and doesn’t so much think as has a repeated brain spasm and hires the illegally working agent of not one but two foreign powers one of whom is inimical to the US and NATO, to run his national security program. Hilarity ensues, except it’s a bitter hilarity.


If you haven’t been able to get your head around American Gods on Starz yet, or haven’t tried, I recommend doing it soon, but taking care. It’s got it’s moments of hilarity, but it’s not a comedy. It’s got some moments of sheer horror — Working girl turns out to be the Bilquis, Queen of Sheba and the goddess of sexuality and fertility. She’s a lot like Melinda, Dylan’s “Goddess of Gloom” from Desolation Row, only instead of taking your voice and leaving you howling at the moon as she climaxes, consumes you whole like a python her prey. Ian McShane plays Mr. Wednesday, aka Odin, the All Father making his way through life now as a con man and an agitator.

Neil Gaiman is the author of the book, and in addition to being a unique artist and  very smart author, Gaiman was also a collaborator with Terry Pratchett on one of my personal favorite allegorical jaunts into fantasy and myth, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. In that case, they decide to examine the Book of Revelations and ask “What would happen if the Anti-Christ were to be raised not as the Anti-Christ but as a normal kid who plays football and rides a bicycle and has a pet dog? How’d he get along with the Four Horsemen? What would happen then?” Well, that is an absolutely hilarious book; seriously, if you’re depressed because you had the over/under on Le Pen wrong at your favorite Dublin bookie’s sheet, this will make you laugh until you cry. Pratchett and Gaiman are great that way.

 

I think that Gaiman was influenced by one of Pratchett’s Discworld books, Small Gods in writing American Gods. The underlying conceit is the same; the old Gods were real. However, if a god loses all it’s worshipers, it will die. Small local gods are most at danger of vanishing completely. However, even major Gods are at danger if they cease to maintain worship. In Gaiman’s book, Odin enlists the assistance of a human, Shadow Moon to act as his driver and aide, and sets out across the United States to enlist the other old gods in an different version of Ragnarok, the final battle of the Gods. He intends to take on the new gods, Media, Television, Print and all the other things we worship and adore. 

So, if you’re going to watch the show, I recommend buying the book either in paper or hardcover, and reading it. The show is set to run at least three years, and there are tons of material in the book that will keep it going. Did I mention Mad Sweeney, the tallest Leprechaun in the world who, when asked by Shadow Moon how he, at 6′ 8″ or so can be a leprechaun says, “Typical. Sterotyping…”


Fifty years ago, Bob Dylan and various players including most of the Nashville Session folks, Al Cooper, Robbie Robinson and a variety of other people wandered into the Columbia studios in Nashville and did Blond of BlondeA two album blues rock masterpiece with some absolutely amazing tracks, lyrics and performances, Dylan’s promotion tour turned out to be the great motorcycle accident and so it never really got as far as it should have. However, I got my copy for Christmas from my folks, and I wish I could put my hands either on it or around my brother’s scrawny neck for giving it away along with the sheet music book I bought the next week. 

Dylan’s various anniversaries didn’t get the play of the Beatles anniversaries or the Stones or the Archies, for that matter. How exactly would you keep up? But, the Old Crow Medicine Show has a kind of unique relationship with Bob. Ketch Secor, one of the founders and a huge Bob fan was taken by an outtake from Billy the Kill on a English Bootleg, and expanded on it. Somehow he got to Dylan, who is not all that excited about collaboration, but was impressed enough by  Wagon Wheel  to propose a 50-50 split on the royalties with a co-writing agreement.

Darius Rucker had a hit with it, and OCMS had another hit, with it ultimately going Platinum. I’ve heard it sung by the crowd at a number of Rugby Games in New Zealand — something about a halftime show where the crowd sings along with an American alternative bluegrass band’s forty-year old updated Bob Dylan song that says something about them, Dylan and Rugby Crowds in Christchurch New Zealand and Wellington. Dylan thought it was great and sent the band a demo of another song fragment; they took it and turned it into Sweet Amarillo, and he loved it but made some production comments. Great song.

So, Secor and the boys thought that it would be fun to commemorate the Nashville Aspect of Blonde on Blonde and decided to do it with a live concert in the Ryman. Which of course they recorded, and which of course sold out and well, things happen. Secor gives some idea of the challenge by saying

“We’ve been in the business of rewriting and re-appropriating old music for a long time. There are 43 pages of lyrics on this album and we memorized them all.”

It’s a superb collection and I had never actually listened to Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands before and paid attention to the lyrics. It’s still too long, but it sounds incredible...I’d recommend having this album queue as background while reading Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens.


So, we have the President babbling insanely about “Fake News!” which seems to mean “Anything I don’t like!” Reince Preibus makes a stab at saving his job by saying that they are looking at the First Amendment and libel laws to see if they can corral leaks and anti-Orangutan statements. Kevin Kallaugher has a marvelous cartoon yesterday — talk about a great birthday present! – that sums up the situation of the free press today. 

Of course, our only President chooses to show his ass by demanding at his rally in Pennsylvania that a protester be taken out. A silent protester with a sign and a ticket to the rally…pretty totalitarian mindset at work. Then we learn that Jeff Sessions has had someone who laughed at him during his confirmation hearing — and I can’t see how you could listen to the dweeb pretend that he wasn’t for sale to the highest bidder and a racist without laughing — tossed into jail and now facing a two year term for disruption of Congress or something similar. Laughing at a sheet-wearer wannabe is in itself not a crime…yet.

This aggression will not stand. And, as a citizen of Great Britain, I’m not concerned about him spending the two years in a Republic of Ireland prison for it, but Stephen Fry is under investigation by the Irish National Police, the Gardia, for blasphemy. Blasphemy, in this case, was the crime of being a compassionate, rational and thinking human being with more than a third grade education in response to a question. In an interview on Irish TV, he said this:

Because the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?

Ah, and this investigation driven by a law originally written in the days when the Republic of Ireland was run by Eamon De Valera, a treacherous and vile man in Irish Republican History, in cahoots with the worst of the Catholic Taliban of the Irish Hierarchy, reminds all of us of Irish descent why it’s been so hard to have nice things…the Law was updated in 2009, letting Eire stand together with Pakistan in violation of free speech rights. Sure an begorra, what a debacle!

Stephen Fry is a thoughtful, humorous and unusually gentle man, though capable of wit so caustic as to remove coats of paint, varnish and skin. If you only know him from his appearances on The Great Outdoors, where he plays the adventurer father of a beautiful young girl who runs his magazine for him while he philanders and drinks, prepare for an overdose of irony.

The question of how the God of Abraham, Mohammed and Paul can allow such horrors to occur has been part of the debate in philosophy and theology since they moved from the realm of myth; I do not believe that they have ever been adequately answered. God’s answer to Job was fairly unsatisfactory as I recall; it was basically “Because I can!” And, his response to reward Job looks suspiciously like a bribe.

I remember talking to a neo-natal oncologist a decade ago and asked why he had moved from practice to research and regulatory review, and he was comfortable enough with himself and with me to show a bit of emotion as he said, “Neo-natal oncology…why? Why is that in such demand? Couldn’t face it anymore — my god, the parents! And the baby…”

Fry’s comments seem relatively mild given the subject. I suggest that if you are offended, you need to take your head out of your ass and take it for a walk and a bit more air.

 

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