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Sunday, May 30, 2010
The Horror Incorporated Project

This week marks the launch of a new blog called The Horror Incorporated Project.

It's all movie commentary, built around an old creature-feature show that ran in the Twin Cities in the 1970s.

Funny thing, I have essentially been the sole proprietor of The Lost City for six years now, yet still think of myself as temporary help while Nemo is on hiatus. I live in hope for his return to these pages, as you do.

In the meantime, please give the new site a look when you are able.

Saturday, May 29, 2010
R.I.P Dennis Hopper

He was a pretty good actor who seemed doomed to play psychos and losers; and a very good director who might have been great if he'd been able to keep it together.

Still, what a fascinating life he led. Hopper was his own man and I've always admired him for it.

Seems to me the best work he did toward the end of his life was on the album Demon Days, by Gorillaz.

Check it out.

David Welna: A Man Lost In The Mists Of Time
NPR's chief congressional reporter David Welna filed a story the other day that made me wonder about him. Is he 21? Did he just start his career as a reporter? Does he have an editor?

I wondered these things because of the curious way he started his report on the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal the other day. First, here is the intro that All Things Considered host Robert Segal read:

A 1993 law that's forced more than 14,000 gay service members out of the military may itself be on the way out.

Welna's report starts like this:

It was an act of Congress at the start of the Clinton administration that made "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" the Pentagon's official policy, barring openly gay people from serving in the military. At the time a majority of Americans opposed having gay service members.

What Welna omits -- either through laziness or mendacity -- is that gay service members in 1993 were already barred from serving in the military. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a reversal of the military's long-standing policy of actively ferreting out gays and lesbians, even the ones who were quietly serving in the military. A service member who was suspect of homosexuality in those days would be followed, investigated and harassed. Their friends would be interviewed. Their contacts would be scrutinized. Once enough evidence had been accrued, that soldier would be drummed out of the service. And that evidence could be something as simple as the soldier seen entering or leaving a gay bar, or marching in a gay pride parade.

The idea behind DADT was that a gay or lesbian would be left alone, as long as they didn't draw attention to their sexuality.

DADT was derided by liberals as a mealy-mouthed compromise -- which it was. And it was an early example of the sort of political triangulation that Clinton would use throughout his time in office.

But the NPR story -- in fact, much of the current media coverage -- now depicts DADT as legislation that was designed to bar gays and lesbians from serving. In fact, it was the first step toward ending the existing ban.

That wasn't lost on conservatives of the time. Shouting from the rooftops that Clinton had pushed through a provision to allow "gays in the military", the Republicans painted the provision as a dangerous cave-in to the gay lobby. That helped them gain majorities in both houses in the 1994 mid-term elections.

I'm glad the DADT policy will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history. But the same Senators who are now saying what a great policy it is were the same ones painting apocalyptic pictures of Adam and Steve in the foxhole 17 years ago.

Saturday, May 22, 2010
In Kentucky, You Can't Be Too Rich Or Too Thin -- Or Too Conservative
Josh Green is convinced that Rand Paul's senate campaign in Kentucky is "flailing" because once he got the nomination, he stopped talking about bread-and-butter issues and began pulling out the more crankish items in the libertarian bag of tricks:

What Paul spoke about on the stump was mostly the size of the deficit, his desire for a balanced budget and term limits, and his belief that a lot of what Congress does has no basis in the Constitution. Paul's favorite example was health care, not civil rights. But the interesting thing to me, as I wrote on Monday, is that he took care to emphasize those parts of the Tea Party agenda that appeal (he claimed) to independents and moderates. There was no talk of race, civil rights, secession, birtherism and general Fox News lunacy.

I would say this is more or less the conventional wisdom on the gaffe-prone week Rand Paul has just had. And if the Paul campaign's abrupt cancellation of his Meet the Press appearance is any indication, his handlers are buying into it too.

But I think they're wrong. They are forgetting that this isn't a normal state we're talking about: this is Kentucky. Their idea of an effective senator is Mitch McConnell, though they suspect he might be a bit too liberal.

I suspect Rand Paul's contempt for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and his sympathy for the corporate hooligans at BP fall well within the mainstream of his fellow Kentuckians.

I don't believe this will hurt him in the polls; if anything, he'll get a bump. And end up winning by double digits this fall.

Monday, May 17, 2010
And Stay Outta The Woolworth's!
Meet Dale Peterson, an emissary from this "real America" we've all been hearing about. He is running for Alabama's Commissioner of Agriculture. Dale has a horse, a gun, a cowboy hat, and a pair of mom jeans, and he shouts unhinged statements at the camera with a lack of self-conciousness usually found only in small children and mental patients.

"Responsible for five billion dollars -- I bet you didn't know that."

Hell, Dale, I didn't know Alabama had five billion dollars.

Sunday, May 09, 2010
Hey! Hey! Keep It In Your Pants, Willya?

I found it interesting that in 1999, when journalists were busy compiling lists of the biggest technological advances of the 20th century and / or 2nd millenium, the birth control pill was rarely mentioned. Neither were things like automated looms, or electrolytic capacitors (or soap, for that matter) -- because these are all things we take for granted.

But the still-capitalized Pill is getting press this week because it's celebrating its fiftieth birthday; and sex-symbol Raquel Welch, who is turning seventy this September, doesn't think it's necessarily been a good thing.

One significant, and enduring, effect of The Pill on female sexual attitudes during the 60's, was: "Now we can have sex anytime we want, without the consequences. Hallelujah, let's party!"

It remains this way. These days, nobody seems able to "keep it in their pants" or honor a commitment! Raising the question: Is marriage still a viable option? I'm ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.

In stark contrast, a lack of sexual inhibitions, or as some call it, "sexual freedom," has taken the caution and discernment out of choosing a sexual partner, which used to be the equivalent of choosing a life partner. Without a commitment, the trust and loyalty between couples of childbearing age is missing, and obviously leads to incidents of infidelity. No one seems immune.

Look, I don't want to pick on the woman too much. She's an actress, not a sociologist. But her argument doesn't even make sense on its face.

She says that the Pill has led to a lack of sexual commitment, which has led in turn to infidelity. Seems to me that you can't have infidelity without a commitment in the first place. Moreover, I suspect that infidelity pre-dated the advent of the Pill. I can't prove this -- I was born into this nightmarish post-Pill world -- but the word "infidelity" seems to have been coined before 1960. I tend to read a lot of old books and watch a lot of old movies, and damned if the word doesn't keep popping up.

I'm pleased that Welch is self-aware enough to acknowledge her own four marriages, as well as her own role in creating the highly sexualized culture we inhabit today.

But the fact that she acknowledged these things don't make her any less a hypocrite. The truth is, a woman who's been married four times isn't in a position to lecture the rest of us on how to "honor a commitment". And a woman who spent her career trading on a pretty face and a big pair of gazongas should not be lecturing America's youth on the virtues of modesty and chastity.

There is no question that the birth-control pill helped to throw our society's sexual norms and expectations into chaos. Sorting it all out took decades, and it wasn't always pretty. But the good thing -- the truly wonderful thing -- that the Pill did was to make it possible for a woman to make her sexual decisions not out of fear of an unwanted pregnancy, but for her own reasons and on her own timetable.

There is nothing more immoral than a "morality" enforced by fear; and it is amazing that fifty years after the Pill's introduction, there are still people out there who want the fear back.

Monday, May 03, 2010
Death By Deconstruction

Like Evel Knievel attempting to jump sixteen buses because last week he successfully jumped 15, manic film blogger Arbogast guns the throttle, releases the clutch, thunders up the ramp, arcs across the sky, and explodes in a shower of charred logic and twisted verbal wreckage:
In his misguided altruism, in his presumption that God cannot or will not provide sufficient sustenance for his flock, Deemer has spawned the monstrous personification of appetite, of wanton, non-phallic and therefore female sexuality existing outside of the context of propagation, an eroto-antonymous hellspawn whose greedy, filament filled maw is itself a grotesque parody of female sexuality even as it soils the heartland with seminal pools of venom. Is this the true legacy of Science Gone Wrong, that it has fused seed and womb into a single predatory behemoth whose very existence is a mockery of man's dominion over the lower forms?

I had to check the top of his post again to make sure. You still talking about the 1955 giant bug movie Tarantula, Arbogast? You are? Okay.

No Jack Arnold picture could withstand deconstruction that brutal. It's no use, Johnny, I try to stay with ya but I can't.

Arbogast would probably get the reference. When you see him, tell him I got the Martin Landau one.

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