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Matthew Perpetua Pretends to Understand Conservative Politics, References Ron Swanson…

Slate never fails to underwhelm.

Swanson, played by Nick Offerman, is essentially an optimistic fantasy of a conservative politician. He’s stoic and deeply hostile to the very notion of government, but ultimately kind-hearted and genuinely concerned for the well-being of other people. He’s a throwback, in some ways, to the Teddy Roosevelt image of conservatism—hyper-masculine, outdoorsy, self-sufficient. (Swanson probably would not have created any National Parks, however.)

I suppose, if I didn’t know anything about what conservatism is, that I might think Teddy Roosevelt was a conservative, too. I also might say that Gingrich isn’t enough like Teddy Roosevelt, if Gingrich didn’t just admit his man-crush on the Roosevelts.

I’m not going to say that this is one step removed from a semi-ironic Chuck Norris for President poster. He had to type out all those words, so that’s another step.

Christmas Music: Songs of Hate

The Byronic Man has a post typical of this kind of year: Christmas Songs You’d Like To Punch In Their Stupid Faces. Something about the inevitable schmaltz of the holiday season brings out the rage in people.

But Christmas is a time of charity and love. So I have reduced my hatred of Christmas music to only four songs, in descending order of hatred:

  1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, by Whoever. I don’t know if I hate this song or am just sick of it. On its own merits, I suppose it’s not that offensive. But I’ve heard it at least a thousand times, and that will do, pig. That will do.
  2. Happy Christmas (War is Over), by John Lennon. I will offend many, no doubt. But I cannot dissociate this song from the UNICEF ads featuring poor emaciated Africans that it used to provide the background for. I get the sense that the song tries to be “Hey Jude” at the end, but doesn’t quite pull it off. No tune this miserable should involve the word “Happy.”
  3. Wonderful Christmas Time, by Paul McCartney. Yes, I am fair, and will not denounce Lennon’s bad song without pouring out a generous dollop of hate upon this excreable dreck (however, if Ringo has written a worse Christmas song, I will not attack it, because c’mon: it’s Ringo). This song exemplifies everything people hate about holiday music: the dull exhortion to have a good time just because it’s the time of year that we’re all supposed to, the plodding saccharine synth line that sounds like it was written by a Furby, the bland vocals. In fact, I would put it at the top bottom of the list, were it not for…
  4. Last Christmas, by Wham! Leaving aside the notion that Wham! was basically Culture Club with better hair, this song commits several of the same crimes as “Wonderful Christmas Time” while adding a final felony: it’s not about Christmas. At all. It’s about getting your heart broken, and hoping to do better this time around. That’s it. That these events happened to occur during the holiday season does not make it about the holidays. If I wrote a song about how I finished my Christmas shopping while observing Hanukkah, that doesn’t make it a Hanukkah song if there’s nothing in it about menorahs or dreidels or oil or eight days of presents or anything. This song is dreadful, and it’s not about Christmas, but for some reason I can’t escape the season without it inducing several boredom headaches in public places.

What songs weary you? That’s what the comment section is for.

The Rum Diary Sinks Like a Rummy in a Large Pool of Rum

I was wondering how this film was doing. Over at PopCrush, the inestimable James Lileks lays it out for us:

Meanwhile, heads are scratching: why did it tank? Bad week for small films? Depp’s appeal on the wane? People like him only when he’s piratical? Perhaps because word of mouth was like halitosis: The movie got a C minus from people who actually saw it, and Hunter S. Thompson’s appeal may not be as universal as some suspect.

The last part is undoubtedly true. I’ve long considered Thompson to be massively overrated, bordering on the laughable. But then, I’m only going by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and his excreable column from his later years (“The Vikings struggled back like a drunk who doesn’t know who just hit him, but the deep dark doom was upon them…” ad infinitum). However, I just plain doubt that your average moviegoing audience even knew that this was a Thompson book. To make a film of The Rum Diary is, cinematically speaking, to make a prequel to F&LILV. Yet the studio didn’t market it as such.

Curiouser and curiouser.

They also didn't offer a free rum runner to every patron over 21. Which would have been fun.