The dark side of It’s A Wonderful Life

I’m always slightly confused when the movie It’s A Wonderful Life gets lumped in with other “sugary” holiday movies, because it is anything but. Oh, to be sure, it has it’s share of gooey sentimentality, and of course in the end Carpa goes rigth for for the marshmallow moment and, I think by most any standard, hits it dead on, but there is also a serious dark side to this movie that it seems to me most people tend to ignore or perhaps block out, maybe because it ends on such a feel-goody moment. Of course, that moment wouldn’t nearly have the impact that it does if it wasn’t for what directly precedes it. I’m talking about George’s descent into a kind of madness that comes into full view in a close up shot of him staring directly into the camera after encountering his mother, a once warm and wonderful woman turned bitter and cynical and distrusting, who does not recognize him, her own son. For me that is truly one of the most terrifying moments in cinema.

This article explains more.

The author of the piece writes:

Lots of people love this movie of course. But I’m convinced it’s for the wrong reasons. Because to me “It’s a Wonderful Life” is anything but a cheery holiday tale.

I’ve always thought pretty much the same thing, which explains may explain my attachment to it for years, even as a younger man when I was rather cynical about Christmas. Of course, in many ways I still am, but I realized some time ago that no one wants to hear my laments. Also, I have a daughter who is not quite eight and I don’t want to be the one to disillusion here. Life will do that soon enough, I fear, and expect.

Anyhoo… the truth about this so-called happy holiday movie is this:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

What could be more disturbing? Seriously, I want to know.

The author of this article points out an irony that I’d never really considered before:

Take the extended sequence in which George Bailey (James Stewart), having repeatedly tried and failed to escape Bedford Falls, N.Y., sees what it would be like had he never been born. The bucolic small town is replaced by a smoky, nightclub-filled, boogie-woogie-driven haven for showgirls and gamblers, who spill raucously out into the crowded sidewalks on Christmas Eve. It’s been renamed Pottersville, after the villainous Mr. Potter, Lionel Barrymore’s scheming financier.

Here’s the thing about Pottersville that struck me when I was 15: It looks like much more fun than stultifying Bedford Falls — the women are hot, the music swings, and the fun times go on all night. If anything, Pottersville captures just the type of excitement George had long been seeking.

Perhaps because I disagree that what Pottersville is is what George really wants. True, he wants the shake off the dust of that sleepy little town and see the world, which may include honky tonks and dance clubs and even prostitutes, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want Bedford Falls to stay exactly the way it is. He does. He just doesn’t want to be stuck there all the time. But he does want it there to return to, you know, when seeing the world becomes tiresome, making him weary for a saner, more pure world. George might not be able to articulate it but that doesn’t make it not so. After all who of us have left home and returned haven’t been at least slightly disappointed at any changes that have occurred in our absence. It doesn’t just seem not right, it feels like a person slight.

The author also points out that just because a bunch of people show up at George’s house with enough dough for him to account for the missing $8,000 doesn’t meant he wouldn’t still got to jail. I’ve always suspected as much myself. But I figured, you know, since everyone in town basically loves George that they’d be willing to simply look they other way blah blah blah. Problem solved. Besides, it’s Christmas….whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Perhap I am even more warped than the author of this article, but I can’t help wondering about the implications for the future of George and Mary’s marriage. It seems to me it could be headed for trouble. There’s nothing to indicate that George and Mary are particularly religious. They’re married in the Bailey Boarding house after all. Mary isn’t wearing a gown but rather a skirt suite, thought that may just be out of convenience so that they can bolt town for their honeymoon after the ceremony. Still, even George admits in his most dire moment that he is not a praying man. In any case, one can assume that they aren’t particularly bound by rigid church tenants regarding marriage, not that one has to be particularly religious or even religious at all to take one’s marriage very seriously anymore than being religious is a guarantee that one’s marriage will be more solid. That’s only part of my point. What I was considering is that even thought Mary is wonderful wife and mother and homemaker, not to mention attractive and passionated woman — shit, they have four kids — one has to consider the possibility for,uh, extra-marital shenanigans on George’s part with Violet Bick deciding to NOT leave town. It’s clear from the time she’s a young girl that she’s got a thing for George Porgie and has not compulsion about throwing over whomever she happens to be with at the time to tempt him with her allure. Not to mention she’s not friend of Mary’s. In fact, on can easily imagine that Violet might even take a certain kind of pleasure in luring saintly Mary Hatch’s husband away from their marital bed. I know I can. Surely I’m not the one. Come on people, don’t leave me hanging by my twisted rope alone.

Of course, in her despair over such a betrayal, one can imagine Mary her pique running into the arms of Sam Wainwright, who might feel that he is due something in return for the 25 grand his office forwards to The Bailey Building and Loan. And what better compensation than a tumbled with sweet Mary who threw him over for George in the first place. And things would only spiral out of control from there. And then what would become of Bedford Falls? The possibilities are frightening, and I think would make quite an interesting sequel.

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Bush’s role in the housing crisis

During the Presidential Campaign I got an earful one evening about the Clinton Adminstration’s fault in bringing on the credit and housing crisis etc., how they put pressure on the industry to give loans to people who couldn’t really afford them. I didn’t really argue the point, because for one thing I wasn’t that hip on the details of the Clinton Admin.’s involvement, but also because it wouldn’t have surprised me to discover that Bill and his crew were at least in part to blame. My point was, even if Clinton set up rules for this kind of thing to happen why didn’t Bush do anything about it? I mean, Bush was supposed to be the MBA President, the Commander in Chief that new about such things blah blah blah. Clearly he didn’t.

An article on the front page of today’s (Sunday’s) front page explores significant depth Bush’s role and that of his cronies in this crisis. It begins with a quote from our MBA President himself early on in his tenure in the White House:

We can put light where there’s darkness, and hope where there’s despondency in this country. And part of it is working together as a nation to encourage folks to own their own home.” — President Bush, Oct. 15, 2002.

After which it jumps to the present:

WASHINGTON — The global financial system was teetering on the edge of collapse when President Bush and his economics team huddled in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for a briefing that, in the words of one participant, “scared the hell out of everybody.”

After having the impending economic shit storm spelled out for him, how does Bush respond:

“How,” he wondered aloud, “did we get here?”

Discouraging to say the least, but still a legit question, which is more than it seems one has come to expect from this President.

Of course Bush came into office with the idea of making it easier for people to buy and own homes, a noble intent one can suppose, although one can also suppose that the intent was also significantly if not mostly politically — you can win support among poor Blacks and Hispanics if you help them to buy their own home. Perhaps….if ultimately if effort hadn’t made matters worse. Too many of these people have had their credit severely damaged thus lessening the possibility of ever owning a home in the future.

There are plenty of culprits, like lenders who peddled easy credit, consumers who took on mortgages they could not afford and Wall Street chieftains who loaded up on mortgage-backed securities without regard to the risk.

But the story of how we got here is partly one of Mr. Bush’s own making, according to a review of his tenure that included interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials.

And that is what this article details in full, to pretty damning effect.

I’d like to pass this article along to the parties that pissed in my ear about Clinton’s culpability, which I still do not refute, if for no other reason than to sort of say, suck on that, Bush is to blame too, although I’m inclined to think that it would be a pointless effort.

Clinton may have laid a path toward the brink but Bush and his ilk rustled the cattle and drove them over it. Move along little dogies.

Cool web site

A friend hipped me to this web site, that details actors that were either turned down for or turned down themselves roles in different movies. You know, like how John Cusack was originally cast as John Bender in The Breakfast Club only to be dumped by John Hughes for Judd Nelson, who was good and all in the role but of course has since pretty much flamed out, although I suppose Suddenly Susan was a relative hit until the one dude committed suicide. Didn’t that pretty  much kill it? Anyhoo, my point is. Cusack’s got the more impressive career to date.

This web site, not staring, could become a new regular for me, right up there with imbd, wikipedia, etc.

Memo to Liberals: Quit your whining about Obama’s cabinet choices!

Oh, my: Barack Obama is still more than a month away from assuming the presidency, and already there are reports about “the left” being dispirited about change they no longer believe in.

B-O-O! H-O-O!

There is nothing new about anxiety among progressives that the candidate they just elected is destined to break their ideological hearts. In his journals, no less a loyalist to John F. Kennedy than the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. expressed dismay during the 1960 transition period over Kennedy’s apparent attraction to “a collection of rather respectable and conservative names for the Cabinet.”

However….

Schlesinger concluded that Kennedy was seeking “an administration of conservative men and liberal measures,” an intriguing notion to apply to Obama.

Read full article here.

This strikes me as a good balance. It’s pragmatic.

Radical politics of any kinds is not good. We got that for the last 8 years. What do these piss mouths think, that swinging far in the other direction will somehow put all right with the world? It won’t. It will only cause a host of different kinds of problems.

This is largely a centrist country. Center-right, center-left, whatever. You can argue over that. But you can’t argue that it is near the center somehow.

It’s funny. During the campaign I was maligned with the label left wing liberal, a moniker I would have refuted but didn’t because the right wing Fox-propaganda-guzzling hack that slung at me wasn’t interested in a rational debate, but only to tell me to shut the fuck up. So I did. And Obama won anyway. My point is my politics aren’t that simple. And I don’t believe I’m unusual in that respect. People aren’t just one thing or the other.

Also, I can’t help wondering if many of these disillusioned lefties aren’t Millennials who were expecting some kind of grand sweeping revolution. If it is, there will be no revolution. I know your Boomer parents tainted your thinking with that concept, and for that I am sorry, though mostly I’m just annoyed, as a GenXer who wants to vomit every time I hear some fucking exhippy 60 dipshit utter that phrase. In any case, you’ll just have to get over it. You want revolution, got help overthrow a government in some unstable part of the world. Pakistan comes to mind, but then you’d have to convert to radical Fundament Islamic extremism and you don’t want to do that now, do you?

My point is this: the circumstances we face today requires pragmatism. Revolution will not fix things, it will only make things worse. You can’t change everything all at once.

Obama operates from a position of progressive idealism but moves forward pragmatically. And that is right.

What do Republican(t)s do when they have their asses handed to them?

They dig elbow deep into their smelly crack of tricks and pull out as much political shit as they can and smear smear smear!

Dec. 12, 2008 | Questions are raised. Connections are drawn. Conspiracies are theorized. Guilt is imputed, implied, asserted and very widely associated. And more of the same feckless fingerpointing is exactly what Barack Obama should expect from the Republicans, the right-wing propaganda machine and their enablers in the mainstream media — even after Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has met whatever fate he deserves.

From the kooky obsession with his place of birth on WorldNetDaily to insinuations about his Chicago pedigree by the Associated Press, all of the attacks launched lately on Barack Obama give off the same familiar smell. Even a quick sniff is enough to bring back memories from a decade ago, when no perfidious accusation against Bill or Hillary Clinton was too crazy to deserve attention.

Read full article here.

GenerationXpert post on Millenial whining in the workplace

I knew reading this post would only serve to irritate me but I read it anyway. It wasn’t GenerationXpert that irritated me. We’re both Xers and that seems to keep us rather sympatico.

It was rather the articles/posts that she links to. I suppose there is not escaping the whiny blathering of some Millennials (in addition to Boomers.) The shit of it is the Millennial chatter is only going to increase in volume and frequency, as that generation swells and ages, bloating like corpse left to rot in the sweltering heat (ew!). And while I’d like to believe that the Boomer blathering will gradually diminish, somehow I don’t really believe it. GenX is being surrounded.

Still, what really offends me is not that these Millennials have issues with GenXer in the work place (they wouldn’t be Millennials if they did NOT have issues of one kind or another and did NOT verbalize that at every freakin’ opportunity — chatter chatter chatter) as the lame way they make their arguments.

Check the lead in on this article about GenX vs Gen Y (the authors terminology; I find Gen Y to a pretty soggy label, worst than most, I mean) :

We all have stories about a loss of our identity to a Gen X’er.

Beginning with such a generalization is enough to dismiss the remainder of the article out of hand. But I figured I’d read on anyway. Of course, I was rewarded with this whining line of reasoning:

Whether they squashed our ideas, sabotaged our projects, or just simply bad-mouthed us for no apparent reason, they can always find something to deter us from success. This is not true of all Gen X’ers, just like not all of us are lazy, spoiled brats. Not all Gen X’ers feel threatened by us; there’s getting to be less & less every day. However our motivation and tech knowledge seem to make many of them squirm. We are their replacements; we are a threat to their job. No longer is the workforce built around “working your way up the ladder.” It is based on who can provide the best ideas, knowledge or sales volume. When it comes down to it, who is more valuable to company’s functionality and profitability?

Sounds to me like someone can’t take criticism. Of course not; we’re talking about a generation that was applauded for pooping in the potty until they left for college. Hell, they probably got trophies and ribbons for it, not to mention the weekly email or text from mom and dad, once they were at college, complimenting them on a weeks worth of sussfull BMs — that’s mommy’s good little pooper!

But it was so nice of the author concede that not all GenXers are cynical jerks. Thanks. We appreciate that. Sincerely. It means so much coming from an award-winning pottier.

I don’t actually know of any GenXers who feel threatened by Millennials. That is a notion that lives the folklore of Millennials minds. We are plenty comfortable with technology. In fact, we invented much of it that you utilize so regularly — facebook, Myspace, Google, etc. And just because you can facebook, twitter and operation your iPhone all at the same time does not mean you deserve the GenXer’s job in the Technical Support department. Get over yourselves already — a wasted lament on the bulk of Millennials, I know, but still it needed to be said.

Millennials might just want to consider, just consider the possibility that just because their mommies and daddies think their idea are good does not mean they really are. Just put it in the background there, is all I’m saying. Something to think about. Also, they might want to give just tiny bit of credence to the experience that GenXer have on them. It does, it turns out, count for something.

Of course, Millennials, virtually lacking in experience at this stage in the game, value other things:

However, as Gen Y’ers, we love to rock the boat – stir everything up a little. It helps us get the ideas flowing. When we see an opportunity, we go for it.

Wow. I thought Generation X was supposed to be the sound bite generation. What the fuck does any of that mean, anyway?

The author admits that “Of course it backfires many times…”

Really? I’m shocked.

She further states that: “…we are not afraid to go straight to the top with our opinions and ideas, and that is what makes us indispensable assets to many companies.”

I’ve heard this is true, but I’d venture to guess it was what makes them annoying and obnoxious to many companies. Perhaps she didn’t get to that word in her word-a-day calander that she got from her Boomer rents on the last anniversary of her kindergarten soccer trophy award, which was given to her just for showing up and running around in circles on the field. Yipee!

“Change is what our country was founded on, and change is what we love,” the author writes.

Really. I thought it was freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She’s thinking of Obama’s campaign slogan. And needs to be reminded that change for change’s sake is bullshit, something GenX is very good as detecting. Like this load here:

We have a knack for seeing opportunities where others don’t, and if we don’t see any, we make them. This is what infuriates some Gen X’ers. They feel they have put in their time, paid their dues, and should live out their remaining time reaping the benefits of their hard work. I’m not going to deny that many of them deserve this privilege. My parents were incredibly hard workers and deserve some residual reward, but they expect me to take the same approach that they did.

First, your sense of over-inflated self-esteem is showing. Might want to tamp that down before you– fuck it, you’re not listening.

Generation X isn’t so much infuriated by Millennials as we are annoyed. Don’t listen to us if you don’t want to. That’s fine. But if that’s you tact, then you can fuck off with your ideas as well!

Of course, it is so nice of this author to concede that many of Generation X deserve what we have worked for. Now it is fucking official. Bite us. Hard. And with relish. Or mustard. You can pick the condiment. We don’t care.

But clearly there is no stopping this overly enthusiastic Millennial, ramped up on her own sense of self-worth:

When I see what I want, I go for it. If I see an awesome opportunity, I take advantage of it. And I have very little patience for those who try to stand in my way. The result: I sometimes crash and burn because of my intense enthusiasm, but sometimes I create amazing things that no one else was able to do.

Note: no example of an awesome opportunity taken advantage of is described. Why not? It would only take a sentence or two. Not to mention I assume were talking about the average corporate, cube land, Dilbert-esque office experience here, in which case there is no such things as an “awesome opportunity.” It’s just not possible.

The crashing and burning is entertaining, though. So keep right on charging that bull, baby. You’re gonna make it after all!

In any case, the author doesn’t get Gen X. When she states that Gen X is loyal to the company, she’s wrong. We’re loyal to ourselves and our families, our friends too (real friends, not the 700 people you’ve “friended” on facebook). Fuck the company! Any company.  We’ve long since lost any naive belief that any company is worth pledging total loyal allegiance to. We show up. We do our jobs, and do them as well as we can, so we can support our families and our lives. But of course portraying us as otherwise fits neatly into the author’s little fiction here.

I really loved this argument:

How about the job where the project manager was terrible at communication or the place where the bookkeeper was disorganized? Remember how that messed up your ability to work effectively?

It’s always somebody else’s fault isn’t it. One can only hope (beyond hope perhaps, but hey, if Obama, a GenXer, can win The White House then all of Generation X can hope for something) that Millennials will not prove to be a generation refusing to take responsibility for their mistakes while grubbing for the limelight and credit, even when they don’t deserve it. But I ain’t holding my breath.

The articles wraps up thusly:

Enter, The Freelancer.

Rather than hiring someone for a permanent position or risking the failure of someone who is not well-qualified, the company can hire a freelancer for a certain project or period of time. You can get a freelancer for almost any position – project manager, consultant, designer, office work, etc. Freelancers often work on several “jobs” at one time depending upon the requirements of each job. You can hire them once or repeatedly. Gen Y’ers are often great freelancers, because we like change so much, and we have high-level skills in a small number of areas, whereas Gen X’ers sometimes have a slightly lower level of skills, but their knowledge base is much broader.

This is why, in theory, Gen Y and Gen X work well together. It´s when you add in resistance to change or an attitude of superiority that the mixture gets a little sour. If we can learn to understand and respect the Gen X’ers patterns, and they ours, maybe the workplace would mean profit for our efforts and not punishment. Change will undoubtedly happen in time, but anything we can do to smooth the road on the way there will benefit all involved.

Yeah, Generation X called this being a temp. And it sucked. No job security. No benefits. Still, we were good at it. What choice did we have? But apparently not as good as Millennials will be, or so they think. The thing is most temp work, or freelance work if you want to call it that, is shlep work and not very interesting or rewarding. That’s just the nature of it. Why would you hire someone you don’t know and can’t be sure is as super-qualified as she think she is to take charge of something really worthwhile and important? You want someone you know, you can trust, with a track record that you’ve witnessed. Forget the freelancer who can up and jump to another company a month down the road. Go with the loyal employee that you’re invest in and that is invested in the company.

FYI: Gen X isn’t resistant to change. We’re just skeptical of change for change sake. It’s a waste of time, money and resources, and companies can’t really afford any of that, especially in this economy, just to validate the fragile egos of  over eager Millennials.

Also, don’t kid yourself Millennials, many Gen Xer are not interested in working well with you. We’re interested in you doing your job as detailed in the job description presented to you when you agreed to take the fucking job. Do it. Do it well. And stop annoying everyone with the legend of yourself as uber-corporate super star. We get it. We do. You have no shame. But while you’re grandstanding we’re doing the nitty gritty work that needs to be done to get the job done. You’d know that if you stopped chattering long enough to realize what it really going on around you.

Thus endeth the lesson.

It’s not every day you can make your child’s dream come true

But I did just that yesterday. My daughter, Addy, said so.

Yesterday was Dad’s Eat and Run at my daughter’s school. Addy was so geeked about it that she up and out of bed first thing that morning. Normally, she whines about being tired or sick or having a headache or ucler or whatever comes to mind until we have to holler at her to get her little fanny ass perpendicular and get ready for school.

I hit Jimmy Johns, because that is Addy’s fav, and brought it to her. I was one of the early dad because I work only about ten minutes away, and I waited in the cafeteria for her, along with a couple of grandfathers who were substituting for the dads. Several of Addy’s school chums’ father couldn’t make it so I played stand-in dad for Zoey, Julie, Ellie and Xavier. We chatted and ate. Somehow we got on the subject of puking and told them the story of the guy in middle school that we got to drink of mixture of milk, ketchup, mustard, and mashed up PBJ, and he barfed all over the place. The thought that was pretty cool, and as the teller that made me cool, of course.

After we ate, we went outside to play on the playground. Because I work in a library I can wear jeans and sneakers to work, as I did that day. But some of the dad’s are professionals that wear suites and wingtips etc. They sort of hung about, chatting with the other office dads. Meanwhile, I was playing tag and getting pummeled with snowballs, and helping to fortify the burgeoning snow fort that the kids were constructing. That made me feel pretty cool too. I may not be able to talk “business” but I can play like a mudderfudder!

All it was pretty much a blast! But that wasn’t Addy’s dream come true, at least not by her words. Although I think she had a fairly rocking time.

Later, when I picked her up from school, we walked home. While I was opening the front garage door she ran around the back door of the garage and knocked on it. When I went into the garage to the back door to open it, she was gone, appearing moments later around the front of the garage. This was hilarious as far as Addy was concerned. In fact, by her own admission, it was her dream come true. It seemed a strange dream to have, but who am I to argue.