Saturday, January 23, 2021

An Even Dozen

 Some thoughts on each of the first 12 Doctors, leading up to a separate post about Number 13, Jodie Whitaker.

1. William Hartnell: The "grumpy grandfather," always finding his traveling companions lacking (even his own granddaughter), but not without affection for them.

2. Patrick Troughton: The "jolly grandfather," always good for a laugh, but ready to defend his companions to the death.

3. Jon Pertwee: The "daring uncle," full of tales about his adventurous past and taking his companions on equally exciting trips.

4. Tom Baker: The "madcap uncle," incredibly intelligent and incredibly wild, you're never sure if he's being brilliant or just crazy.

5. Peter Davison: The "big brother," just a bit older and wiser than his companions, but protective of them.

6. Colin Baker: The "critical uncle," his disagreements with his companions never seem to come from any sense of affection.

7. Sylvester McCoy: The "screwball uncle," not as physically wild as Number 4, but more given to absurdities as part of his plan.

8. Paul McGann: The "heartthrob," Lord Byron in an alien's body with a time machine.

9. Christopher Eccleston: The "reformed bad boy," ready to drag you into something you really aren't ready for.

10. David Tennant: The Doctor as "Mr. Darcy," the brooding, handsome guy every girl falls for...but who deliberately keeps them all distant.

11. Matt Smith: The "daft best friend," the one guy in every circle of chums who maintains a platonic relationship with all the girls--except for the one who he can never quite keep hold of.

12. Peter Capaldi: The "cranky neighbor," always on the verge of saying "Stay off my lawn," but in reality the neighborhood watchman, keeping an eye out for the dangers you don't know are lurking.

Next time, a more extensive look at Number 13, Jodie Whitaker and why she's so disliked by one very vocal segment of fans (and no, it's not entirely just because she's female).

Friday, January 22, 2021

Jeopardy's Future

 Let's get off politics for a while (at least a day). 

Tonight completes Ken Jennings' two-week "try-out" as host of Jeopardy. Overall, I think he's done a good job. He's somewhat chattier than Alex Trebek and he certainly doesn't have the professional polish that Trebek brought to the position, but he keeps the show moving, and he hasn't made any egregious missteps that I've seen. I'd be happy to see him chosen as the permanent host.

Reportedly, for the next two weeks, the show's executive producer, Mike Richards, will step in as the more famous "guest hosts" gear up for their 10-day auditions. Apparently, the first of those will be Katie Couric, followed by former quarterback Aaron Rogers, Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes, and Mayim Bialik, late of The Big Bang Theory and now starring in Call Me Kat on Fox.

And those four may not be the last of the try-outs. It looks like we might go through the rest of the season--which ends in June, I think, before a permanent new host is announced.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Twelve Months From Now

 Where will we be a year from now?

I believe in one year we will be about two months from having celebrated a normal Thanksgiving, one month from celebrating a normal Christmas, and a few weeks from celebrating a normal New Year's. We will be anticipating a normal Easter and Passover season.

But our entertainment will still be different. Most live entertainment will still be just gearing up to restart; the few venues and productions that managed to open in the closing months of 2021 will be struggling to attract an audience that remains wary of gathering in closed spaces. Movie theaters--those that manage to re-open--will be short of material to show and remain so probably until the spring.

Our politics will be different and yet the same. Governing by legislation (rather than executive order) will have made a return, thanks to a Senate that does not operate as a dam to all bills coming from the House...but there will still be Republican opposition to a lot of what the Biden administration wants to do and the filibuster will let them block some of it (but not all--they will no longer want to be seen as the party of "no").

The extreme right-wing will still be with us...but much diminished by criminal trials and convictions, as well as general public recrimination. The fear is that they will go deep underground, back to where they were a decade ago, only to occasionally burst out like some horror movie monster in violence.

I remain optimistic but realistic of our future.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A New Beginning

What we saw today was in part a study in contrasts. In the space of under four hours, we heard two Presidents for his last time in that office (we hope) and one for his first time. The differences could not be more stark.

Although President Trump reportedly had prepared remarks for his farewell, he apparently tossed them out and decided to "wing it" in his usual disjointed, incoherent, self-aggrandizing style. His brief speech said little about anything but Donald Trump himself, extolling his non-existent accomplishments of the past four years, once again lying or exaggerating about the economy and the pandemic. 

On other hand, President Biden spoke from a prepared speech...but still far more from the heart than his predecessor had or ever has. I couldn't, of course, transcribe his entire speech (and that will be available within minutes from the media, I'm sure), but here are the sentences and phrases that caught my attention:

"This is democracy's day...."

"The American story depends on....all of us...."

"The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer...."

"My whole soul is in this...uniting our nation...."

"Without unity there is no peace...."

"Disagreement need not lead to disunity...."

"We must end this uncivil war...."

"We will not lead merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example...."

Beyond the new President's own words, I was moved by two other things. The first was Lady Gaga's incredible rendering of the National Anthem. She did not simply sing it, she performed it...with grand gestures and powerful emotion. The second was the poem by Andrea Gorman, the poet laureate, and her reading of it. It's clear her style develops from rap and hip-hop--the rhythms and rhymes of her work all reflect that--and yet it was also clearly not merely an urban, ethnic opus. Like Hamilton, it uses those tropes to speak to a wider audience.

This was an inaugural ceremony for our time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Inaugurating the Future

 Yesterday was a post of predictions of long-term events. Today we'll deal with the short-term--what to expect tomorrow, Inauguration Day.

1. Joe Biden's speech will not be particularly memorable. He is not a Lincoln, FDR, JFK, or even an Obama-type orator. There will be no phrases like "the better angels of our nature," "nothing to fear but fear itself," or "ask not what you can do...." (unless he quotes from those, of course). It will, also, I think, not be a laundry list of what he hopes to accomplish; he'll save that for his first State of the Union speech in a few weeks.

2. Someone, somewhere, will do something stupid and/or dangerous in protest...not necessarily in Washington and not even at one of the state capitals. They've telegraphed those and know they will be too well guarded. Where? How about at one of our national monuments? A massive demonstration at Mt. Rushmore? Will the "second Civil War" types decide one of the battlefields of the first one is an appropriate place to wreak havoc--Gettysburg, Antietam, Bull Run?

3. Some GOP representative will immediately file a lawsuit against one or more of the executive orders Biden intends to put in effect tomorrow--most likely anything pertaining to immigration as that is their go-to issue to rile their base.

This time Thursday we'll know how good a prognosticator I am.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Return to Normalcy?

 Will noon on Wednesday mark the beginning of a return to normalcy? And not just for our political lives, but everything else--shopping, entertainment, social life in general? I hope so; I think so.

Note that I say "the beginning"...I don't expect it to be like flipping a switch and all the lights come on, the engines start turning, the doors unlock. It will be more like when you start your car on a cold morning and the heater comes on--the first air that comes from the vents is cold and then slowly, over a period of ten minutes or so, it begins to warm the air. In fact, after 20 minutes or so, you'll probably have to turn down the system, because it gets too hot.

Certainly, politically, we will see the end of gridlock for the most part. While Republicans may still vote against most Democratic proposals, we will no longer have the situation of the last two years, with every bill passed by the House sitting and rotting on the desk of the Majority Leader in the Senate. That was not normal.

As for the non-political, I hope the change in atmosphere in Washington will engender a change in the rest of life--that wearing a mask will cease to be a political statement, that arguments about health restrictions will return to a debate about the science and not be a debate about "tyranny." I hope that those changes will lead to others--that more people being sensible about the restrictions will lead to more sensible restrictions (when you don't have to assume that a sizeable part of the public will not obey the rules, you can make the rules less strict).

BTW, a niggling note: Before Warren Harding used "normalcy" in his Presidential campaign, most people would have said the noun form of "normal" was "normality." "Normalcy" was a purely mathematical term, for the most part.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

I've Got a Little List

 This isn't a bucket list; it's a "what I'll do as soon as I can post-COVID list." In no particular order:

1. Go to a movie in a theater.

2. Go see live theater (probably only local community theater, but still).

3. Direct and/or perform in live theater.

4. Play trivia in a bar.

5. Sing karaoke.

6. Go to a restaurant and not rush to get out.

7. Visit friends in person.

I'm sure you have a list as well--what's on yours?