Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Yes, this is dumb, but it’s a slow evening.

So I read this over at one of my favorite blogs, Pam’s House Blend:  one of the Christian “news” sites is running a story about Ben Jones being upset about the new Dukes of Hazzard
movie because, as he puts it, the Dukes never really hurt anybody and
the good guys always won in the end whereas the movie is, one would
assume, largely a study in cleavage.  In the comments to Pam’s
post, a commenter took great pains to dissect the notion that the Dukes
were good role models or that the show – the old one – had any
redeeming value.

OK, I have to step up to the plate on that one.  I say The Dukes of Hazzard had a strong and very important message, and like my love of Dawn of the Dead as the 2nd best ’70s/’80s transition movie ever made, I will defend this one in detail. 

I do not believe that we have to look for a “moral” in everything we
watch, but if one chooses that as the crime to prosecute I think Dukes of Hazzard has a respectable defense to be assembled.  My comment is below:

I’m afraid I have to disagree with sticker-shock.  Yes, it had
“light sexuality” in every episode, and yes, the town was controlled by
greedy & corrupt locals.  But the show’s heroes, the actual
protagonists, were of high moral calibre.  The show had a very
strong subversive element.  The Duke Boys and Girl – raised and
living in (oh yes, I will say it) a non-traditional family –
generally saved the day by figuring out a clever way to get around the
arbitrary and unfair rules imposed on them by their local authorities
and, in so doing, set right some otherwise tragic misdeed.  They
had no qualm with those whose religion, skin color or sex were other
than their own and they would work to aid anyone in need without first
making sure they fit any profile of what was acceptable or unacceptable
in their local culture.  Also, in an era when the token woman on
an “adventure” show would be nothing but eye candy, Daisy was a very
powerful female character who was often smarter than the Dukes, often
more clever and completely unafraid of her own sexual power.  She
was much more than just a sex object – she was bringing down villains
in her own right.  As a relic of the past, it’s easy to view her
as nothing more than talking T&A.  At the time, she was about
as close to Buffy as the ’70s weekly adventure series could get.

Yes, there were crimes in every episode, commited by villains and
heroes alike, but the Dukes always had fairness as their guiding
principle, not the letter of the law, and their infractions were always
more minor than the wrong they sought to right.  It was more
important to them to see someone else saved from suffering or given a
fair chance than to say they had never gotten a wreckless driving

As for ol’ Cooter, he’s a former Congressman, yes.  He’s a progressive Democrat.  Last year he wrote a pretty fabulous editorial piece
about Zell Miller after Emperor Millpatine’s performance at the
RNC.  He described Zell as “Zig-Zag Zell” and derided the thought
that anyone could take Zell seriously anymore after Jones spent his
whole life watching Zell switch positions at will in an effort to climb
the ladder of Georgia’s government. 

Are there still Dukes of Hazzard fans?  I hesitate to call myself
a fan – I’ve tried watching it again a few times and had to do so
through half-closed fingers – but as a child I was fascinated by a show
set in a place that looked like the place where I lived. 
As a teen, learning just how corrupt were a lot of the local authority
figures around me, I would remember their example.  I don’t TiVo
it every day, now, but I’m still a fan of the strong moral messsage of the show and, clearly, CMT thinks it’s worth rebroadcast. 

It sounds corny, sure, but the moral of the story in nearly every
episode was that even if the local sheriff or the county commissioner
are on the take there are still ideals worth fighting for –
worth going to jail for, if necessary – and the greater crime would be
to sit idly by and let corruption wash away everything one values about
the place one makes a home.  Their whole daring-do schtick never
made them rich and it ruined a few cop cars, but at the end of every
episode the message was clear:  do what makes the world a fairer
place, reach out to another in need, and let no puffed-up blowhards in
fancy cars or wearing shiny badges or holding big sacks of cash coerce
you to do otherwise.  If you ask me, very post-Nixon. 
Which message would you rather have broadcast in your living
room?  That, or the “lessons” in yet another episode of The Simple Life?

So okay, here I am, crazy queer leftist, defending The Dukes of Hazzard on
one of my favorite blogs.  What a strange day.  At any rate,
“Cooter” is no conservative and I have to agree with him that the
movie’s message will almost certainly be inferior to that of the
show.  One will tell kids that it’s a good idea to stand up for
equality and thumb their nose at corrupt and arbitrary tyranny every
chance they get, while the other will probably say they should try to
get laid as often as possible while on the run from the cops.  One
is a moral; the other, amoral.  To me, it’s as simple as that. (more…)

Lightning strikes – Twin Peaks pilot – gardening update – I do some driving.

So, we had a pretty full weekend.  For one thing, remember me
saying on Friday that I was having a slow day at work? 
Yeah.  About that:  I ended up here until 5:30am on
Saturday morning when something blew up in my face.  Turned out to
be unrelated to what I was doing, one of those Oh the universe simply hates me moments, but honestly, after Pants Wilder’s weekend of work, I can’t bitch.  OK, I can, but it’s largely hollow.  The best part of it was when The Boyf
messaged me around 3am wondering where the hell I was and my pocket
started singing “Hey Boy” in a soft, muffled voice.  Everyone
stopped talking and looked at my pocket and we just stood there in a
diorama while it played.  “I’ll check that in a minute,” I said
and then we went back to what we were doing.

Saturday was spent running errands and going to KJ‘s going-away party.  This was, simply put, one of the best parties I’ve been to in a long time – perhaps since Katastrophes‘ and Mr. Pink Eyes
engagement party.  It was awesome.  Lots of wine and grilling
and this guy (brother of a brother, so a sort of brother-in-law) being
hilariously and stupendously disconnected from reality via
intoxication.  I will forever remember this enormously tall man
extending his arm towards… I don’t know, someone and
no idea what that means – the dude had exposed absolutely nothing, I’m
almost certain – and all I could do was laugh and laugh and laugh.

Sunday consisted entirely of a failed attempt to go to Fallen Orc
(they were at Trinocon for the weekend) and a leisurely drive through
the backroads to get to D&D.  Suffice to say, I had hoped I
could find a Borders or the like where NC 55 and US 64 meet, as I was
already in the neighborhood, more or less, and instead discovered that
the back way to Russ’ place for D&D was much shorter, from there,
than any other way I can possibly imagine.  Plus it involves
driving across parts of Jordan Lake on a beautiful day and, hey, bonus.

Monday I ran a few errands, and here’s the thing: I came home to find
“splinters,” and by “splinters” I mean “two-to-six-feet in length
shards of wood” in a thirty foot burst around my back yard.  The
source?  A tree got struck by lightning.  Two, actually.

Let me just say that shit is freaky.

I took a few pictures, but I need to assemble them into
composites.  I first noticed the smaller lightning strike when I
realized there was a giant, red gash down the side of one of
the oak trees in our backyard grove.  I walked over to investigate
and was shocked at the scarring and the pulverized wood fanned out
around it.  As I walked around I noticed the real scary
strike, the one that starts twenty or thirty feet up a tree and runs
all the way down to the ground, gouging a huge strip of the tree out
and leaving the earth around the bottom of the tree blown out – dirt
literally pushed up and away as though someone had set off a cherry
bomb at the base of the oak.  That one left me standing there
going Duh… a-duh… for a while.  Yes, exactly like James Hurley when he’s being “thoughtful.”  Yowza.

This morning I think I spied from the bathroom window the part of the
first-noticed tree where the lightning entered it, just one little gash
about eye-level from the 2nd floor.

Yesterday also involved a trip to the gardening store to try to resolve
my vines-but-no-fruit issue with the zucchini, squash and, to a lesser
degree, the peppers and tomatoes.  I asked the lady at The
Nameless Gardening Store near our house if she could recommend some
plants to attract bees and she took me out to their yard to show me a
couple.  The first one she pointed out, we both noticed, was in
fact crawling with bees.  “Well, there’s your advertising photo,”
she told me, and I bought two of them immediately.  So, fingers
crossed, I’ll have a more fruitful garden now.  Even if I don’t,
at least I’ve got a couple of pretty bushes to go with the
garden.  While up there, I picked a bunch of new, ripe peppers
including the first jalapen~o of the year.  Woot!

Last night was spent watching the pilot to Twin Peaks with Katastrophes, Mr. Pink Eyes, Mr. Saturday, The Boyf, Pants Wilder, Andy, Angel and boomtownrat.  We cracked open the copy of the pilot episode I’d bought Way Back When at Borders, when the 1st season box set
came out, for the very first time.  I was indescribably pleased to
find it wrapped in plastic, and even moreso to find that the DVD
version does NOT include the extra 15 minutes of nonsense
tacked onto the VHS release of the pilot.  As I was prepped to
pause it to end it in the proper place, we saw the credits roll. 
Angel and I were high-fiving over this grand discovery.  Twin Peaks delivered as it should be?  Delicious. (more…)