Not all who Wanda are lost

“Consider the claims about a left ‘monoculture’ that have recently become fashionable in right-wing circles. Fancy new terminology aside, anyone who pays attention to discourse on the right should instantly be able to recognize this as a superficial variation on a line of criticism that has been in circulation for years: that Democrats, socialists, communists, liberals, progressives, and so on are basically all the same thing. This is not some groundbreaking new insight; it’s what your grandpa has been posting on freerepublic.com for decades. So we should not be surprised that the standard responses to criticism of the DemoCommies still apply to the new “monoculture” phrasing: liberalism and communism are in fact very different and oppositional ideologies and it is just a game of semantics to conflate them. More to the point: there are millions upon millions of people who would fall into this super-category, and it is both unfair and unreasonable to take all of these individuals with their idiosyncratic perspectives and ideas and shove all of them into the same box. If it’s wrong to say that everyone on the right is (for example) a fascist, then for the exact same reasons it’s also wrong to say that everyone on the left is guilty of fascist-jacketing.” Carl Beijer from Hippie Punching 2021

“If it was not clear already, one stinging lesson from 2020 is that our countrymen are not buying what the online activist class is trying to sell, no matter how morally righteous their doctrine may be. Whether this will somehow change, and the country can be governed like a graduate seminar on critical race theory, remains to be seen. What is apparent is that, should that profound shift come to pass, significant and growing numbers of nonwhite, non-straight, non-Christian people will ardently oppose it.” Thomas Chatterson Williams, Harpers Feb 2021

“For Trump and his allies were running their own campaign to spoil the election. The President spent months insisting that mail ballots were a Democratic plot and the election would be ‘rigged.’ His henchmen at the state level sought to block their use, while his lawyers brought dozens of spurious suits to make it more difficult to vote–an intensification of the GOP’s legacy of suppressive tactics. Before the election, Trump plotted to block a legitimate vote count. And he spent the months following Nov. 3 trying to steal the election he’d lost–with lawsuits and conspiracy theories, pressure on state and local officials, and finally summoning his army of supporters to the Jan. 6 rally that ended in deadly violence at the Capitol. The democracy campaigners watched with alarm. ‘Every week, we felt like we were in a struggle to try to pull off this election without the country going through a real dangerous moment of unraveling,’ says former GOP Representative Zach Wamp, a Trump supporter who helped coordinate a bipartisan election-protection council. ‘We can look back and say this thing went pretty well, but it was not at all clear in September and October that that was going to be the case.’ This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.’ That’s why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it. And they believe the public needs to understand the system’s fragility in order to ensure that democracy in America endures. “ The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election, Time Magazine Feb. 4, 2021

“What Trump recognized was that there are millions of Americans who do not oppose or even care about abortion or same-sex marriage, much less stem-cell research or any of the other causes that had animated traditional social conservatives. Instead he correctly intuited that the new culture war would be fought over very different (and more nebulous) issues: vague concerns about political correctness and ‘SJWs,’ opposition to the popularization of so-called critical race theory, sentimentality about the American flag and the military, the rights of male undergraduates to engage in fornication while intoxicated without fear of the Title IX mafia. Whatever their opinions might have been 20 years ago, in 2021 these are people who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, accept pornography, homosexuality, drug use, legalized gambling, and whatever GamerGate was about. On economic questions their views are a curious and at times incoherent mixture of standard libertarian talking points and pseudo-populism, embracing lower taxes on the one hand and stimulus checks and stricter regulation of social media platforms on the other.”I have come to think of the people who answer to the above description as “Barstool conservatives,” in reference to the popular sports website, especially its founder and CEO, Dave Portnoy. For many years the political significance of Barstool was implicit at best, reflected mainly in its conflicts with Deadspin and other members of the tacitly liberal sports journalism establishment.” Matthew Walther, Rise of the Barstool Conservatives

Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?

Jules: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty. But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.

Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?

Jules: Well we’d have to be talkin’ about one charming motherfuckin’ pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?


“I have, indeed, not found among any part of mankind less real and rational complaisance than among those who have passed their time in paying and receiving visits, in frequenting public entertainments, in studying the exact measures of ceremony, and in watching all the variations of fashionable courtesy. They know, indeed, at what hour they may beat the door of an acquaintance, how many steps they must attend him towards the gate, and what interval should pass before his visit is returned; but seldom extend their care beyond the exterior and unessential parts of civility, nor refuse their own vanity for gratification, however expensive to the quiet of another.” Dr. Johnson

Can I keep ‘im, Pa?

This was the week that I got an email from a cousin who was born about a half dozen years before the arrival of the Boomers. His note read, “Pardon me for saying this, but I can’t help noticing that your wife doesn’t use our name professionally.”

Sent a short note back that said, “She doesn’t use it unprofessionally either. Truth be told she’s been using the name she came with for as long as I’ve known her.”

Befuddlement ensued.

Over the next few days and an exchange of 10 or so emails I had to give up and send this article as an explainer.

You might want to have a look at that last link as it will come in handy later because it’s time to talk about that Wanda show.

Did you see The Wanda Show?

I came to it late which meant I had to go into the basement and find Mom’s old laptop and the older iPad. Once those were rounded up I switched on her new laptop and this computer. I had six screens going all at once so I could bird watch it like the kids do.

Why come to it late?

Trepidation.

Growing up in the middle of nowhere meant that we got ONE whole channel of television. That channel was an affiliate of The Tiffany Network, CBS which meant a very steady diet of Lucy, Dick van Dyke, and Andy Griffith. Not that I had any expressed vehemence at the time, but it is true – familiarity breeds contempt. Not only were they on at night, they circled back around every morning starting right after Cap’n Kangaroo and winding up just as the soaps started. Before I was 10 I could watch as little as 30 seconds of any Lucy episode and say, “It’s the chocolates one.”

The one with Lucy in the football helmet?

We’d never seen Superman.

The classic sitcom aspect made me, as Mom says, hinckey about wandering into WandaVision. I had fears that sooner or later we’d have to see Ellie May fetching Ultron out of Miz Drysdale’s rose bushes or an Easter egg featuring Arnold Ziffle as The Herald of Galactus. Adding to that was my disgust at the last episode of Lost. After all those years the very special two hour finale turned out to be little more than Sister Perpetua’s first-grade pep talk about Limbo, a theological concept based on mid-20th Century dance craze.

Why put the time into these long form series if you’re only going to be pissed off at the end?

Why not spend the time taking a nap or watching something like the old Mission:Impossible or the original Hawaii 5-0, shows that had to good manners to finish up after only an hour?

What turned me around was Emily VanDerWerff’s review,

She writes:

We live in a world that is dominated by the belief that we can come up with one single theory that unifies everything so that we no longer have to worry about mystery or figure out some stuff for ourselves. From “the ending, explained” videos to QAnon, we are living amid a paucity of mythos and an overabundance of logos. Our culture is spiritually and morally empty, and one of the foremost ways to refill those reservoirs in our very core beings is through storytelling and art. We have increasingly lost sight of that, and I don’t know how we’re going to get it back.

That WandaVision was a sometimes-meandering journey through the ways art can help us heal has been held against it by too many viewers. But maybe that was the point. Art is so often a message in a bottle, something an artist or group of artists makes to say, “Hey, here’s how I’m feeling. Do you agree with that?” WandaVision rediscovered that quality in the sitcom reruns that made us feel joy and solace and community, then tried to pay it forward. After all, what is art but our spirits, persevering?

Here’s where clicking on the Generation Jones link will come in handy.

Being Generation Jones and growing up with only one tv channel created a great many problems in junior high. By at least the eighth grade you’d get parked in some airless room with a city slicker born on the front end of the Boom who knew what it was like to have so many tv stations that you couldn’t count ’em on only one hand. Having grown up with a front row seat on Hogan’s Heroes, Gilligan’s Island, and My Favorite Martian we were more than a little incredulous when the teacher said, all creative effort is art and all art has a message – art is here to teach us something about ourselves.

At first I was willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt because for all I knew they might be talking about the game shows. That all went out the window when they’d started passing around mimeographed sheets full of Simon and Garfunkle lyrics as we were about to go on a search to find out exactly where Joe DiMaggio went. That lead to the eventful moment a couple of days later when Colleen Callahan thought she’d jump ahead of us. She raised her hand and said, “My mom says he married Marilyn Monroe!”

Proving that Sister Charles Loretta was right when she said to never let your parents do your homework.

Where were we?

If we accept Ms.VanDerWerff’s premise that WandaVision is an examination of grief then WandaVision might be the most subversion piece of pop culture to date. Here the sacred Marvel continuity has been weaponized. The average Comic Book Guy winds up getting immersed in the works of Elizabeth Kuber-Ross. Either it blows right past him or he has to go deal with – what Mom calls – his butthurt.

That means WandaVision might be the most subversive piece of pop culture since Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Moving along –

Mommie Bloggest

Unlike many of my ilk I have no trouble surfing right-wing media because – unlike them – I do not fear that a mere glimpse of such things will turn me into a pillar of stone. About the only RWM I won’t look at is the NewsMax channel since those people look like they got their lighting gear off a clearance table at Best Buy.

There’s a difference between happy, shiny people and really shiny, shiny people.

You shouldn’t have to put on #5 welding googles to watch tv in your own living room.

From Jonah Goldberg’s Friday newsletter:

Let’s talk about blogging.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to take a seat on the porch next to my rocking chair as I regale you over mint tea about the Golden Age of Blogging. Suffice it to say it was a big deal for a short period of time. The first big disruptor of traditional media was probably Craigslist because it derailed the classified ad gravy train. But, on the content side, blogging was almost as significant.

I have a lot of fond memories about the blogging era. I’m very proud of the fact that The Corner over at National Review was my idea. But then, earlier this week, I had the opportunity to record an episode of Jay Nordlinger’s Q&A (coming out soon-ish, probably). It was a fun conversation, and it continued for a good while after we stopped recording. During the post-pod discussion, I had a small epiphany: Blogging deserves its fair share of blame for much of the craptacularity out there in the media space today.

For people of my generation, this is pretty counterintuitive. The debates of the blogging era feel like witty intellectual badinage around the Algonquin Roundtable compared to the poo-flinging, boorish brabble of the Twitter age. But if you think of “microblogging”—the dumb technical term for sharing your worthless thoughts on platforms like Twitter—as a natural evolution from blogging, its sins become apparent.

Not that I really want to sit and recall those days either since I was frequently mistaken for what was then known as a “mommie blogger.”

No, really.

Despite the many posts about politics, football betting, and the arrival of newer and more obtuse French postmodernists, what little readership I had was fixated on my time as Mr. Mom since I used to write about my ongoing battles with the student teachers back when Alaska Wolf Joe was only a puppy. Back then the student teachers were all childless, but they knew far more about parenting than I did since they had masters degrees.

Listening to Mom holler loud enough to bust all the windows in the maternity ward? Staying up with him all night with him when he was sick? Getting up hours before dawn to get to the mall to get that one present Santa just had to bring?

Piffle.

What did I know?

I only had a BA.

Fuck me.

Compounding this forced march down Memory Lane was not one, but two articles about mommie bloggers that surfaced in the past few weeks.

From the 2/8/21 edition of The New Yorker:

(Glennon) Doyle, who is forty-four, has always espoused experiencing vividly all that is beautiful and brutal in the world. “Life is brutiful,” she wrote in her first book, “Carry On, Warrior,” in 2013. At the time, she was married to a man, and “Christian mommy blogger”—her least favorite sobriquet—was a pretty accurate description of her job. Her blog, Momastery, offered readers a look at her life as a progressive Christian raising three children which was intimate, unguarded, self-revealing. “I found my thing: openness,” she wrote. “I decided that’s what God wanted me to do. . . . I was going to make people feel better about their insides by showing them mine.”

From Graydon Carter’s AirMail:

In the wake of her hit show Desperate Housewives, Felicity Huffman was making a name for herself off camera as a counter-intuitive D.G.A.F. (“Don’t Give a Fuck”) mom expert. Her vehicle was the Web site What the Flicka? (Flicka was Huffman’s nickname growing up), which she’d started in 2012, just after Desperate Housewives—for which she won an Emmy—went off the air. Huffman realized how many women out there sympathized with her character on the show, Lynette Scavo, a harried working mother. Why not cater to that crowd and give herself a new marketing platform, not to mention a place where she could vent and wax on about her own real-life parenting woes?

Everybody pretty much knows what became of Ms. Huffman. Ms. Doyle OTOH divorced her philandering husband, overcame a substance problem, became a hot topic in Oprah and Elizabeth Warren’s inner circles, while marrying the former forward for the US Womens National Team, Abby Wambach.

Nice to know one of us mommies is doing well.

Please don’t get me wrong – while being mistaken for a mommie blogger was annoying there was a great deal to be learned from the other mommie bloggers who followed my page.

They had lots of great skin care tips which came in handy.

Dragging your knuckles in the winter months can leave them all rough and sore.

But enough of all that.

Let us now stick our asses in the snow and dance in the way of my people.