Unconventional

I have little to say about the conventions because I regard them as little more than Hollywood productions designed to win over people who haven’t already read enough about the candidates to make up their minds. I find the media coverage of such things embarrassing — the best quote I’ve read about the coverage is that they take an emotional event and strip it of emotion. (I’ll have to dig up this quote, which goes on to compare it to describing the grandeur of the Grand Canyon by saying the trail has a gradient of 15 percent or something like that.)

I’m happy to say I’ve taken all my coverage of the Democratic convention from the best source possible — The Daily Show. And in the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

Except this: Bloggers, get a life.

Grumpy Old Man on TV

I’m tired of all this explicit violence on TV. In my day, our sci-fi epics didn’t show men getting their legs cut off or women being impaled by alien insects. Anyone who died was shot by a laser and died painlessly. That’s the way it was, and we LIKED IT! We didn’t show a poor girl coughing up blood and gasping for air as she died. They either fell down without a scratch or said some eloquent last words before nodding off to sleep. And we LIKED IT!

OK, seriously — I understand and appreciate the point of Starship Troopers, which is that war is essentially made possible by propaganda that pumps us up so much that our only reaction to seeing stomach-churning violence is to get back out there and keep killing the bad guys. But I think that point probably went over the heads of the kids who saw this movie and said, “Whoooaaa, man … that dude just got his legs bitten off.”

This movie was on prime time on FX when I came home from the doctor about my back. (See what I mean about getting old?) I saw five minutes of it and darn near threw up. Sure, the medication didn’t help, but now it’s several days later, and I still get a twinge in my stomach just thinking about … excuse me … BLLECCCCCCHHHH!

Forget the warning labels for kids. We need warning labels that say, “Warning: This movie might make people who don’t normally throw up toss their cookies big-time.”

EDIT: Forgot to mention something that shows how sick American sensibilities have become. I asked Jen if they’d edited this movie at all for television. She said they blurred out a brief shot of a topless woman. Oh, thank heavens. That might have — oh, I don’t know — made teens want to have sex. Much better to see people impaled.

Religious red over liberal blue? Hold it a second …

A couple of interesting reads today. First, the Post’s David Von Drehle shows how the Democrats and Republicans have traded political positions back and forth over the country’s brief history. (He followed up with entertaining and educational chat.

Now, let’s add the religious aspect. Is it a given that we’re in some sort of latter-day Awakening in which we’ll all be fundamentalist by the end of the decade? Guess again. As it turns out, Protestants — not just the fundamentalists or my fun-loving Episcopalian brothers and sisters, but the whole lot put together — are losing ground in this country.

So maybe we won’t wake up in a theocracy in a few years. We can only hope.

End of the Tour

I’m always a little sad when the Tour de France ends. It’s fun to get up each morning and switch on OLN or go to the official site to see what’s going on, all with the dry wit of Phil Liggett. It’s such a quirky event with such colorful stories. And then there’s the question of the last week of eack Tour — what is Lance doing today? And how?

This year, it hit me especially hard, in part because Nike had another brilliant ad that put me into a dream state (Video). You’ve probably seen at least one version of it — no voiceover, just laid-back guitar and piano, with occasional gospel-style “heeeeyyy” on top. He’s cycling alongside a train, under a swarm of geese, next to a herd of buffalo, through a city street, etc. Like Nike’s 2002 ad that seamlessly integrated Olympic athletes like Apolo Anton Ohno with ordinary folks running and playing, it captures the grace of sports. It’s absolutely beautiful.

It also makes me a little sad that I’ve reached the stage of my life at which I can also undo so much of the damage that aging has taken. I don’t need to be an Olympic athlete (which is good, because I have no desire to take up shooting, archery or equestrian, the sports in which 40somethings can compete), but I’d like to make it through a 30-mile bike ride without feeling the strain in every muscle and organ.

Me on the radio

WHYY in Philadelphia talked with me for almost 20 minutes about the Olympics. I’d give myself a B — I get a few good lines in, and I think the analysis is sound, though I need to work on my radio voice (which isn’t helped by the fact that my phone headset, which makes me sound like I’m reporting from a hurricane). It’s a public radio station, so they didn’t cut me off every time I rattled on past 10 seconds.

You can find the audio through the Radio Times home page (go to July 19), or go straight there. If you have a recent RealPlayer and can fast-forward, skip to 35:00 to hear me.