1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
  2. white souse, n.1: A blog for literature, politics, science, and the occasional cocktail.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From the Madmen files

I watched a documentary last night called Salesman with the Talented Videographer. So. Awesome.

From an IMDB user:

"Salesman" is funny in parts, but taken as a whole it is one of the saddest films you will ever see, a document of the quiet desperation of this lifestyle. The directors of the film make powerful statements, but do so subtly, almost unobtrusively, allowing the viewer to fully engage themselves in the almost routine feel of the film. It is a crime that, despite its strong reputation, relatively few people have seen this essential film from possibly the very best documentary filmmakers there have ever been.

It's about a group of door-to-door bible salesman in the mid-60's, and it's just amazing. There's a quiet to the film -- lots of time spent watching the salesman smoke over lunch silently, or cruise around neighborhoods searching for prey, or watching a televised boxing match that night in their motel room. And it's punctuated with the ferociousness of their profession -- the incredibly competitive electricity that ripples between them and other salesman, that dominates the room when they walk into a house. My grandpa was a tractor salesman (not quite the same thing). But I can see bits of him in these people, and bits that are just unrecognizable, alien, and riveting. For me, this seems most clear when revisiting what things were like only two generations ago (this was Walter Scott's great invention -- let's take you half a century back and show you just how f'ed things were). My parent's past really is another planet.

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All your white daughters is belong to us

Yes, Amanda, it's true (Via Sullivan):

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008


Type the beginning of the post here. And type the remainder here.

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Go 'Bama!

Another marker of history: this NYTimes graphic that shows voter shifts from the previous election. More blue means more democratic, more red, more Republican. Let's see, what do Oklahoma, southern Louisiana, East Texas, Arkansas, and northern Alabama have in common? It ain't fear of a black cat. On a more cheerful note: go Mississippi! Guess the fire's out.

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The Ends (and Means) of History

This week is every bit the world-changing event I had hoped it would be. The girl and I went out last night and watched "W." to get a sense of the what we're leaving behind. It's not a very good movie, but it does do a nice, if cartoonish job of summing up Bush's approach to foreign policy and the Team of Ribalds he surrounded himself with.

On a more somber note, as ecstatic as we are for Obama and what he represents, I think his true story, and the story of his presidency, will be much more somber. The death of "Toots" the day before the election was fitting, a mark of what all of this will mean for him. I don't think there has been another present who felt as profoundly the weight of the office since L.B.J. And it destroyed him. When Obama is not speaking -- when he's just walking, or standing there, looking down, I think you can see how much it weighs on him, and how much he senses that he's become a vehicle for history (because at his level, no one is the driver -- ask Carter).

I think he will be a glimpse of the great leaders of the past. I think his administration will prove just as talented (if also, as driven by history and crisis) as his campaign was. As someone put it on N.P.R. the other day, he's the kind of guy who's likely to end up on some money. But I think he'll probably remain a mystery to us, always reserved, always, in some sense, with a foot inside that pantheon of great leaders, and hence, set apart.

The folks on his team are almost fanatical in their devotion (read this amazing post about his campaign and its people). He's a movement for them first, a man second. Even for those (outside Michelle and his family) who've known him the longest. And what that really means, is that among them, he's alone.

I don't know how to describe what I'm trying to express here -- how I feel about it. It's a mixture of respect, and sadness, and hope. He's not exactly a tragic figure, but behind all of the worship, I think, is a sad truth he's come to terms with: his life will never be his own. There's a good line in "W.," where Bush senior turns to junior and says, "maybe you should stay out of the barrel." 43 bridles at what he takes as his dad's preference for Jeb. But later he comes to see it as a reflection upon just how hard the Presidency is, and his dad's wish that his son would live a life he could enjoy. The great ones never have a choice. But they feel what they gave up.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Hey -- Sorry I haven't been posting as much. I've been busy today and especially tomorrow helping out the Michael Skelly campaign in Houston (if you're free tomorrow, come in and help out). So here's some SNL skits that had me rolling. First, Vincent Price meets Sunset Blvd. and Lolita:

And Olbermensch:

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