Monday, January 4, 2016

#201 - Random Thoughts

Hope everyone has recovered from the festivities surrounding the ringing out of 2015 and the ringing in of the new year. I wonder whether the ringing referred to is actually ringing in the ears caused by the fireworks some people insist on setting off to mark the beginning of the year. I do know my dog doesn't care for that tradition in the least.

This weekend, I watched the documentary "Best of Enemies" on Netflix. The film documents the use by ABC News of conservative pundit/commentator/publisher William F. Buckley, Jr. and liberal author/commentator Gore Vidal to help it make its mark during coverage of the 1968 Republican and Democratic Presidential conventions.

"Best of Enemies" does a good job of making the case that ABC's daring decision forever changed the way in which political conventions are covered while also serving as a harbinger for the future of television news and what has come to pass for debate. It goes on to also make the arguement that much of the foundation for today's sharp political divide and the resulting "culture wars" was laid during the 1968 election. Very interesting film.

I also finished reading "Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink," the compelling memoir of my favorite singer and songwriter, Elvis Costello. A few people have complained that the book is rambling and indulges itself too much in name-dropping, but I found the book fascinating and the "roaming" style perfectly lent itself to the conversational style of the writing, much in the same way that something said in a conversation might trigger the memory of something else.

In the book, Elvis does not let himself off the hook easily for mistakes made, although he does gloss over a bit the events that led to the demise of his backing band The Attractions and his falling out with original bassist Bruce Thomas. Perhaps that history is covered elsewhere, but hearing it from Elvis' own lips would have been welcome.

Now that the warm glow of holiday joy and half-hearted wishes for peace and love has subsided, I see that Facebook has returned to its usual stream of political bashing, snide remarks, and sophomoric insults that passes for civil discourse and debate in our 21st-century electronic society. I get the sense that some people feel their point is best made by a steady stream of similar posts that bombard the senses rather that a single, well-chosen, articulate post making their point. Debate by sledgehammer, I call it.

While finishing that last paragraph, I happened to glance up at my 2016 Grumpy Cat desk calendar. As is often the case, Grumpy Cat had what seemed to me the perfect way to punctuate my feelings about Facebook these days. From today's calendar entry: "I thought I couldn't be more disappointed. You proved me wrong." Funny, sad, and true all at the same time. You are wise beyond your years, O Grumpy One.

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