Top Gun!

Chicagoboyz haven’t seen the new movie, but who wouldn’t leap to see 60-years-young Tom Cruise reprise his original Tom Cruise-like performance with a supporting cast of stereotypes upgraded for current sensibilities, including the bad guys of the day? (Actually we prefer the Halston biopic on Netflix – despite the gratuitous gay sex scenes, and the decline-and-fall plotting of the final episodes that make it feel a bit like Scarface with lawyers.) In any event the first Hot Shots movie was an entertaining parody that has held up well.

When juries nullify and comedians comment

We sought something to entertain my enlarged family; Tim suggested Norm McDonald’s last  monologue, “Nothing Special,” done the night before surgery.  Then, a group of comedians reminisced with stories of his eccentricity and gentleness from their days in standup and casino venues.

We watched SNL in its first years, when my daughters were infants; their generation had been, I think, more McDonald fans (we stopped watching as years went by.)  I had only heard after his death of the O.J. jokes that got him fired.  But my son-in-law remembered the shock, before the “woke” and “me too”  shame environment, when funny lines weren’t enough against political favorites.  Humor juxtaposes what we claim and what we do sometimes, it is often about the elephant in the room, the emperor’s illusory clothes.  The humor of SNL, is of skits and stand-ups, often topical; its “bite” may be sharp but we laugh because it is, in some sense, true.

Did the Sussman trial have its jokes?  It has no gore, no glamour, but a joke or two is helpful in sustaining truth and our sanity. It is a release valve so a society doesn’t blow up, it can pull a crazy back to reality, give a moment of wry self awareness much more easily accompanied by a laugh than a tirade.

The jurors felt the case shouldn’t have seen a courtroom, lying to the FBI is not, after all, a big deal.  (Not surprising in terms of how the FBI has conducted itself of late nor considering how seldom we do face and tell truths, but given the number of people who have been locked up for that act, it seems a bit brazen for a jury to take that stance.) I’d like some jokes about the obvious context, the blurted out mention of Hillary’s blessing on the whole sleazy project.  Jokes rest in our minds, they remind us.

A Stylish Diversion

David Foster’s discussion of the numerous analogies – some helpful, some not – that have been spun from the Titanic disaster reminded me of an essay’s  rather lovely job of spinning out for two pages a simple analogy.  The verbal play within it does bring home a point.   By Pico Iyer, it was one of those two-page essays in Time, when people read it.  (Clint’s uncle still subscribes to it – I didn’t know anyone did – but bed ridden and in his eighties, he uses it mainly to rail against modernity – or what passes for it in Time.)  Anyway, here’s “In Praise of the Humble Comma” – a short read but I’ll tempt you with the opening:

The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said — could it not? — of the humble comma. Add it to the present clause, and, of a sudden, the mind is, quite literally, given pause to think; take it out if you wish or forget it and the mind is deprived of a resting place. Yet still the comma gets no respect. It seems just a slip of a thing, a pedant’s tick, a blip on the edge of our consciousness, a kind of printer’s smudge almost. Small, we claim, is beautiful (especially in the age of the microchip). Yet what is so often used, and so rarely recalled, as the comma — unless it be breath itself?


Something Light from Ukraine

Netflix is streaming Servant of the People; we’ve been enjoying it.  A sit com juxtaposed with the daily news of death and destruction is trivial, but few cultural artifacts are more interesting than those that reveal what a nation laughs at, what it likes.   The series satirizes corrupt government but also reflects daily life and asserts values that attracted its public.

The charismatic Zelensky we see on the news has a touch of the honorable, naive history teacher he portrayed just a few years ago;  we’ve only seen the first few episodes, but the ghost we might most want to represent our own history – Abraham Lincoln – appears to advise him as he nervously goes over his inaugural speech.

Some of you may be (quite understandably) opposed to Netflix, but I’m not sure if this is streaming somewhere else. If anyone knows  of other outlets or where the second season or the film produced between the two is showing, please comment.