Monday, February 22, 2010
I am one of those folks who never really thought of Grover Norquist as being the face of evil. At least not evil in the Hellfire and Brimstone sense. And I don't think that Paul Krugman really think's he's evil either. But, Norquist and his ilk, despite having backed away from the deregulation fiasco--and none have yet acknowledged their policy advisements were in any way, shape, or form irresponsible or disastrous--do still represent a dire threat to our economic future.
He isn't evil. He's just educated beyond his means of comprehension. Which is true for a good many of the Ivory Tower Elite who make up the NeoConservative "movement." Impractical idealists who are insulated from the effects of the very policies that they endorse, and insulated from the people that these policies affect. He is "evil" only in the petty, mundane, and all too common variety of selfish arrogance that allows folks who have never really had to struggle or work for that matter, to figure that they've managed this because they're so much brighter than everyone, and then figure that they can experiment with peoples' lives.
Insulated and unaffected, they don't see real consequence to the policies that they've endorsed, and thus, they really can't see where these policies will lead us. It is all theory and idealism, and if they are evil, it is a petty, blind, and banal ignorance of cause of effect sort of evil. They aren't dumb, they're just not bright enough to connect their policies with effects on real human beings. Just numbers, just theories.
Which, indeed can bare a great deal of sorrow in the world, and that they are ignorant to consequences doesn't absolve them of responsibility, but I can't call them Evil. Just a lot dumber than advertised.
Even Grover Norquist has backed away from the policy suggestions he gave the last Administration in order to dull his visibility, because the sad thing is, I think that many are beginning to realize exactly how wrong they were, but their ego won't let them leave it alone. Instead, you've got AEI fellows advising the Tea Party, to give them further deniability.
And until we take their toys away from them, these Boy and Girl Children will play until they break the economy, and the nation. And it is up to us to strip them of their fictional raiment of "small government" and "personal responsibility" while at the same time driving up our budget for nearly a generation, and supporting policies that violate our privacy, and infringe on citizens' freedom of religion, and actively supporting policies that will bankrupt our childrens' futures.
Crossposted to The Motley Moose.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman has been taking up a fair amount of my time lately, thanks to Hulu.
I grew up on these movies. Shintaro Katsu made this role his own, and turned these movies into his own legacy. Blending chambara and Yakuza movies into a seamless and both touching and brutal whole.
The Blind Swordsman, or Ichi the Masseur, is a wandering gambler and sometimes masseur. A bakuto, a gangster and unlikely hero. He embodies much of what makes Yakuza film great. Ichi has accepted his role in life, but he does so with dignity, grace, and without compromise. He is both a figure of rebellion, and lynchpin of justice. Which makes him classic Yakuza film goodness.
Yet, the films are chock full of the chambara, or samurai film conventions too. Tales of honor, but seen through the eyes of a wandering gambler and rapscallion. An honorable gangster, Ichi gets into trouble, and fights his way out of it with a heavy heart. Not heavy for the fools who throw themselves at him, but for the waste of it all.
There is the heart of the Ichi films right there. Ichi desires only to gamble, and drink, and maybe enjoy the company of the odd good time girl who finds his blend of wry humor, and self deprecation to be sessy, and somehow, trouble finds him, and those who want to use his prodigious skills with the sword.
Shintaro Katsu played this role for years. 26 films in total. He pretty much owns the franchise. Played with a tenderness and often subtlety that Beat Takeshi's simply titled, Zatoichi, missed, it is a series of films, and even a television series that took the Blind Swordsman to adventures across Japan, and even to meet Yojimbo and the One Armed Swordman of the Shaw Brother's fame, I can't dislike the homage that Takeshi Kitano made in 2003. A big budget film, it still had the spirit of the Katsu films, of the reluctant swordsman, the gambler and wanderer.
And, to be entirely fair, Takeshi Kitano's film has one of the best dance scene end credits of any film that I know of.
And while Rutger Hauer may not have had Katsu's grace, I did like his Blind Fury.
If you get a chance, check out what Hulu has pulled together for a collection. They are a great series of films, and a great blend of styles, fun stories, touching performances, and a huge ball of fun and joy in film making. And check out Takeshi Kitano's homage when you get a chance too.
Me, I'm deep in The Tale of Zatoichi Contiues...