Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday to Monday: Random Runnings

The merely-gray Sunday promised us by our weather mystics (whose work, admittedly, is nastily complex in the autumn and spring around here - form does not hold in the Northwest between April and June and then again between October and early December) appears to have slid sideways into a drizzly and chilly morning. The small ones are mesmerized by something on the phosphorescent screen (called "Winx Club" and involving, I believe, fairies, though the title clubmembers appear indistinguishable from standard-issue television glamor girls so far as I can tell) and my bride appears to be stirring restlessly, though to what end I cannot tell.

I sat down here with the intent of writing some sort of post, but I have spent at least fifteen minutes just farkling about, so I am coming to the conclusion that an actual coherent post on a specific subject is not in me. All the same, I do feel the urge, like a chum salmon swimming through the barest purl of fresh water in the cold darkness of the Humbolt Current and feeling the neural spark of need to return to its natal freshet, to write something.

Sadly, the cool, sweet inspiration of blogging is not upon me.

Part of this is pure frustration. I cannot think of what earthly good I am doing talking about politics or military affairs. Based on the state of U.S. politics and foreign affairs we seem bound and determined to find a meatgrinder labelled "Return to the Gilded Age" and jam our collective (insert pendulous body part here, depending on your gender, dear reader...) into it. Better bloggers than I have pointed out the Madness of the Republic Party in insisting on a return to the social and economic paradigm of 1895, and the craven fecklessness of the other political party in refusing to shout "Fire" as the teabaggers set the social contract we have lived with since 1932 alight.

And the preceding post is a speaking example of my frustration with our supposed foreign policy. The U.S. 2012 is a de facto empire. A "soft" empire, but, still, we share a lot of similarities with the imperial Great Powers of history. So I think to just assume that we will NEVER intervene in places around the world where our "leaders" believe that U.S. interests demand or will benefit from military intervention is unrealistic.

But ISTM that our rationales for many of our more recent interventions has been increasingly iffy. Libya baffles me - what was the point there? Even a "successful" intervention, as it was organized, wasn't going to do anything but decapitate one side of a civil war. How we figured that would end well - when the OTHER side was a mixture of shambolic, vicious, and Islamic - completely eludes me.

I understand that there will always be mistakes - the government of the RVN probably looked no worse in 1965 than the government of Lebanon looked in 1958. But some situations are clearly impossible; look at 1983.

One the one hand you had a "perfect case"; Grenada was tiny, isolated, and weak. It was an irritant, no more, but an opportunity to remove that irritant with minimal cost, and it worked as planned.

On the other hand, Lebanon was clearly a mess; open intervention from untouchable foreign powers (Syria and Israel), an utterly incompetent "government", a multi-sided civil war that we were somehow going to "stabilize"...who the hell COULD have thought that was a good idea?

And ISTM that our recent run; A-stan, Iraq, and Libya - share a lot more with Lebanon than Grenada. Just seems like we've lost the ability to think coherently about how to parse these out, lately...and I have no idea how my writing anything more about this clusterfuck is actually "helping".

And here Sunday has drifted into Monday, and I'm still adrift. So I will turn to the last refuge of the outmatched blogger, the random free association. So.

My little girl had a birthday last month, remember?
Err, maybe not - I'm not sure I blogged it. Anyway, she did and is now a proudly grown-up six-year-old.

For her birthday several of her little girl friends gifted her with Barbies. Those Barbies, I am proud to say, have already been tossed into the lascivious tangle of naked Barbies heaped in the bath toy cistern. The Girl is frou-frou in some ways, but Barbies are not one of them.

Although this particular Barbie made me grin;
Oh, speaking of kiddos, I have been remiss in my update of KidVid tastes. The big news is that the Star Wars Era is now officially Over. We're done with all things Lucas. The latest faves are; My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic and The Legend of Korra.
Here's the most awesomest cool part about that, though; both of these are actually fun for adults, too. Yes, I'm admitting it; I likes me some ponies.
The thing is, these aren't your and my ponies. A freelance graphic artist named Lauren Faust reimagined the old Seventies ponies (that really WERE an awful, helium-and-cotton-candy-stuffed atrocity right up there with the other eye-gougingly-cute Seventies crap like the SmurfsTM and Care BearsTM) and came up with a witty, fast-thinking take on the earlier fucking disaster.

Her Ponies are still cute. But they're cute in a smart, funny way. Pinkie Pie is delightfully, completely, nuttily utterly random, Fluttershy is painfully shy but occasionally mad butch, Rainbow Dash is waaaaay too cool, Rarity is the complete Drama Queen, and the other two pals are there to be the ballast. They can make me laugh until I cry, and that's pretty damn rare for me outside Young Frankenstein and a handful of old beach movies.
And that's not even going into the fun that other people have with the New Ponies.
Ponies. Heh. Good stuff, and you can say I said so.

Now, Korra...
I think I mentioned the last time we talked about the kiddos' viddy stylings Avatar; The Last Airbender? Okay, well, Korra is by the same people who did the original Avatar. It's not in the same broad style. It's darker, more grown-up. There's (yuk!) kissing.
But outside those it's just as well-written and entertaining as the old Avatar. It's exciting without being vicious, gentle without being sappy. And the writers have already hooked me with their incredible cunning five minutes into the first episode; what the hell was the incredible story that happened to Zuko and Asula's mother!?!
And - just off the top of my head - who the hell thought it was such a good idea to make a movie, a ginormous, full-length feature film, of the forty-year-old board game Battleship?

I mean, really?

Speaking of awesomely shit movies, we caught another kaiju movie the other day; Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.
(Reeeeally bit, just for the record, and I say this as a lover of kaiju movies and the Big Green Guy in particular, although I can't not mention the incredible "kaiju ferachio" scene where the G puts this ninja move on the evil Megaguirus just as the big meanie is about to spear him with his protuberant tail-stinger and clomps down on Mega's poker-pecker and...well, let's just say I winced at the big finish. Yeeowch.)
But I can't just pass this one by without giving a shout-out to the leading lady, boss of the G-Graspers played by one 田中美里 (Tanaka Misato), and, specifically, her ears.

Because this gal has one frigging ginormous set of cranium fins. Seriously; this picture give you an idea but just doesn't do them justice. I shit you not, Ms. Tanaka has one prize-winning pair of earflaps.
Like sails, this girl's listening lugs. Worth the price of admission, if you ask me. Amazing ears. Really. Life of their own, those ears. That and kaiju ferachio, with biting.

Joe Bob says; check it out.
Speaking of women who can do amazing stuff, the trickster above is Patty McGee, a giant of the early skateboarders and the first woman to make national news for riding the asphalt waves. The website at the link has this brilliant telephone commercial (remember when landlines actually advertised?) with Patty skating through the house.)
I think what I like about the whole magilla is the homemade feel to everything, from the crude skateboards to the bare feet to the do-it-yourself story of how Patty pretty much invented her own craft.

The other interesting thing, to me, anyway, is how fragmented our culture has become since 1965. I mean, there are LOTS of skateboarders today; you see skateboards everywhere. But there's no broad impact on us, skateboarding, like so much else we do, is a subset of something and for some people - it's a little cul-de-sac of pop culture. By professionalizing and sleeking down and mainstreaming Patty's craft it seems a lot more...trivial. Does it, or is it just me? But I can't think of a skateboarder making the cover of People magazine or USA Today or getting his or her own commercial.


For some reason my hip has chosen to be vindictive today.

It always aches, at least a little, but that's pretty much a given when the ball-and-socket at the top of your right leg is fairly thoroughly rusted out. But some days it just seems to enjoy giving me a little extra kick in the ass.

And I mean that literally; my right quad, and hamstring, and gluteus, ache and burn like...well, like you'd think your leg muscles would feel when your bones decided to quit on you. And deep inside the little fucker roars and hammers and does its level best to make me sour and angry.

I think I'm starting to understand what chronic pain does to people. It' be happy and friendly when your ass is aching.

I learned as a kid, and have always believed, that difficulties and pain are to be endured, at best, with dignity and at least with silence. And, really, what good would a long whine of complaint do for me? There's nothing to be done, short of surgery, and that best left until this can not be endured a moment longer. And it's not to that point yet. The good days are decent and the bad days not unbearable.

But when the damn thing decides to be miserable it sure tends to make for a long, long day.

Mojo, too, has had a bit of a long day.
She's caught the griping cold that has been meandering through the kid's school, smacking a kid here and there and a parent or a teacher unwary enough to forget for a moment that elementary schools are the Industrial Age version of the pesthouse, full to bursting with pathogens of the rankest sort.

She managed in her usual undramatic way; fetching kiddos from school, entertaining, disciplining, feeding, and supervising the small ones until I got back from a long day at work. But then she pretty much folded, and was a wan shadow of her usual self until collapsing into bed.

You have to feel pretty tender towards a sleeper not to feel at the least, a trifle superior to them. Sleeping humans are not generally lovely objects. Movies lie; the most gorgeous woman and the studliest man are ridiculous in sleep; they snort, they twitch, their faces are slack and uninhabited, an open invitation for the waking being to feel a nasty little desire to tweak some part of them or play cruel tricks on them.

If we feel any sort of human empathy we feel no such pettiness in the presence of the Big Sleep of death. We are, most of us, silent, humbled, and belittled by the end of all things, the terminator of delights.

But sleep, the petty cousin of death, brings with it no such awe. A stranger sleeping is a hand waiting to be dunked in a pot of warm water, or a nose to be pinched, or at the very least a buzzing snorer to be afforded an irked glance.

But the sky changes when the sleeper is someone dear to you.

My little girl is a very neat sleeper. She is usually curled into a comma, her wild tousle of midnight hair at one end while the other is lost in the tangle of soft blankets she demands. She seldom stirs, and never, to my knowledge, makes noise.

The Boy, on the other hand, is a sprawl, all long arms and legs buried amid the mountain of stuffed animals that share his bed, or, rather, dominate it. He mutters and tosses, restless even asleep, his limbs moving in the slow locomotion of dreams.

My bride is neither graceful nor akimbo but, rather, like her waking self a very compact, purposeful sleeper. She has recently made a soft, plush throw for herself and is swallowed within moments of unconsciousness, a small bundle of warm blue velvet.

Tonight, though, her sleep is troubled; perhaps the effect of the cold medication, or perhaps some random uneasiness sparking the cold synapses inside her dreaming head. I sit with her for a moment, and speak quietly, and she settles quietly, whatever the trouble was receding, her breathing slowing and deepening.

For just a moment I sit beside her. All that is visible is the curve of her head, the perfect bowl of skull softened by her short dark hair, all scattered by her tossing and the shot-threads of gray shining in the light from the kitchen across the hallway. The faintest hint of jawline disappears into the welter of blankets and sheet below.

For that moment I'm seized by an enormous tenderness, a deep and passionate shiver of desire for her; not as a woman but as this woman, my wife of a decade and mother of our children, this woman sleeping next to me, her unruly shock of gray-black hair, her sharp nose and pale-fire eyes that are already beginning to look like her mother's at forty, her sure, short, slender fingers and skin like pale satin that tans poorly and burns like flash paper. With her touchy need for respect and the way she jumps and shrieks at sudden sounds, with her strength and her fears, her rough desires, her uncaring of the immediate and the transient, and her deep well of knowledge.

On the top of the blue plush blanket her hand twitches once and relaxes into the motionlessness of deep sleep, her fingers releasing the passing evening. As I turn to go she sighs, sinking into the smooth black river of night and drifting through the darkness towards tomorrow's daylight.


Leon said...

All they had to do to make Battleship successful was to set it in the near future, stick a ginormous spinal mounted gun in Missouri, make it fly, come up with a kick-ass theme song ( and an enemy alien leader with 10pts in style.

And they screwed that up. I mean if you can convince me Rhianna is an actor I could believe you could make a battleship fly.

Pluto said...

I loved your post about your family, Chief. I have made similar observations and reached conclusions about my own family but you write much better than I do so I will spare everybody my random musings.

Your comments on the ridiculous national situation are spot-on. Even Fabius Maximus, who has been determined to save the republic from itself has finally thrown in the towel and is now just trying to prepare his readers for the future. He seems a bit wiser and yet also a bit happier.

FDChief said...

Leon: Yes, but that only works if you start with the HIJMS Yamato. The rest will fall in from there. And, yes, I loved "Star Blazers" when I was a kid, too!

Pluto: I honestly have no idea where the force to pull our republic out of it's crony capitalist/oligarchic death spiral comes from. The last time it was the Progressives and the New Deal Democrats. That coalition is shattered; the malefactors of great wealth are just too powerful, and they have a massive advantage that their late Gilded Age and Depression-era predecessors did not in our utterly worthless and paid-for electronic media.

Nope, I'm increasingly convinced that WAJSF.

Lisa said...

I liked your thoughtful ramble.

Libya baffles me, too -- there didn't seem to be a point. It was either a wag the dog moment, or are we that naive now as to think every uprising portends something good? The brutality against the Bad Guy in which we were complicit seems so antithetical to all the things we supposedly hold dear, our Secretary of State so callow and crude at the point of his death.

Per the skateboarding: you observe "how fragmented our culture has become since 1965." It seems we are just inured to novelty, or disenchanted, maybe? We expect the next FB or iPad with a barely veiled ennui. We are no longer fascinated as our technological wonders abound. Slack-jawed, we are content to read about why Billy Bob had to leave Angelina.

I hope your hip is feeling better. I have heard that in addition to the Chondroitin and Glucosamine, that red krill oil is an esp. effective Omega 3 for reducing the pain and inflammation.

FDChief said...

Lisa: I think that it was a sort of "Rwanda-deal", in that people who genuinely wanted to "do something" about the Bad Evil Dictator but didn't want to get involved in another Mess in the Third World managed to conveniently gloss over the fact that while the reality we saw was bad we had no real idea what would happen after we got done bombing and strafing. The fact that the probability was that it would be about fifty-fifty that it would be "better"...but the other half-chance was "worse" never really came up. And now, here we are.

I suspect that our blase' response to the 2012 equivalent of skateboarding is a combination of your explanations, combined with a hearty helping of the massive influence of passivity that our consumer/watcher lives encourage. It's nice that we don't live in rural squalor, as most people did for most of human history. It's kind of sad, though, that with the increased possibility to make of ourselves the sorts of lives once reserved only to the rich, the well-born, and the able that so many of us are content to live vicariously through Billy Bob and Angelina.

And, sadly, the hip is what it is; the deterioration is down through the bearing surfaces and into the bone itself - there's just less bone left and nothing to regrow it (i.e. the C&G has nothing to work with...). Like I said, mostly it's just there, a little nagging irritation, as it is today. IT's only so often that it jumps up and bites me like it did Sunday.

But thank you for your solicitousness. I kiss your hand, my dear; you are the soul of grace, and I am the better and brighter for your consideration.

Leon said...

Chief, have you seen the recent live-action version of Yamato? There's no cheese like Japanese live-action cheese. Not a terrible film, some nice bits, but hollywood's not in any danger.

Lisa said...

Yes per, "the massive influence of passivity that our consumer/watcher lives encourage." I heard an NPR program Thurs. which mentioned that 4-year-olds should be kept to ONE hour on the computer; by 5-6, they can have more time as they will want to surf the net. Also, most children spend almost every waking hour hooked into some kind of technological media. Ditto adults.

Our real world experience is dwindling, and I know I am concerned. How to access/express emotion when all is done vicariously in the silence of the cyberworld?

I notice the blase attitude all about. RAW mentioned how the annual unveiling of the muscle cars used to provide such excitement. With the homogeneity of the unibody and no chrome, there's little to get excited about.

You are so kind, but my concern is that of any caring friend. I am sorry to hear no supplement will help, but will hope the pain stays in abeyance.