Friday, November 17, 2006

Not Yet Feeling It In Our Fingers and Toes, But Getting There

Dido - Here With Me

In the Spirit of the coming Christmas Season, Harrogate offers this great Dido Song, made famous by Love Actually, one of the finest holiday movies ever made.

And yes, in the weeks to come, the Supreme Song from that movie, which is possibly the greatest pop song ever recorded and which Harrogate foreshadows in the picture below, will be posted right here on The Rhetorical Situation.

Call for Papers: Otherness in West of Dese Nuts

As you know, Southpaw's most recent novel, West of Dese Nuts, remains #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, comfortably outdistancing Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior by several million copies.

But now the academic establishment has begun to take interest in this hot, steamy look at life in urban Idaho. Given the novel's scathing look at how Idaho's dominant corporate culture suppresses the liberating voice of Love, this is not surprising. And, through it's examination of how Idaho's Vietnamese block is routinely feminized in myriad ways, Southpaw's novel is a treat for feminists, postcolonialists, and ecocritics as well.

We are issuing a CFP for a conference in Boise to be held on July 4, 2007. Send cover letter and abstracts to

Thursday, November 16, 2006

In Response To Mommy PhD, Church Signs Revisited

True to her magestrial form,Mommy PhD has posted an excellent disquisition on the style and substance of church signs. Harrogate went here to make the sign you are presently ogling. So get thee there, make thine own proclamations; for verily, you have as much authority to do so as the people making the "real" ones.

Update: Claymation's brilliant rejoinder reminded Harrogate that perhaps he's playing favorites with the Catholics. So, in the Spirit of Religious Multiculturalism (which only applies to different versions of Christianity of course):

The Rhetorical Power of Cartoons: Skewering O.J., Regan, Harper Collins, and FOX

The blood splotch covering the word "If" is particularly devastating. Wow. Wow. Wow. Can this book really be coming out? For real? It sounds a lot more like something to be dreamed up on Pete's Couch while listening, perhaps, to Danzig or Skinny Puppy, but not really something that could really happen actually for real. But anyway....

This cartoon by M.e. Cohen nicely taps into the growing discourse rippling throughout America for the last 24 hours, regarding this book.

For Harrogate, Cohen's piece illustrates just how powerful the cartoon is, as a rhetorical device. Just think about how much is being channelled, and argued, in this one frame.


Tar Heels; Harrogate Joins Oprah on Snub List; OJ Sucks Even More Than He Did Before; A Learned T.S. Eliot Reference; Fair Weather Fandom Considered

Though all are based in Texas, 2/5 of the Editorial Board here at The Rhetorical Situation--Harrogate and p-duck-- understand the wonder and beauty that is Tar Heels Basketball.

Last night Harrogate tried not to think about the fact that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes snubbed him on their wedding invite list, that O.J. Simpson is back on the scene in the crassest way possible, and that Harrogate himself still hasn't finished a dissertation chapter. Thankfully, he found a delectable distraction on ESPN as UNC crushed mighty Winthrop in a barn burner, with Carolina only pulling away at the end on the strength of their superior depth and athletic ability, and of course Tyler Hansbrough, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds. There are so many young players on Carolina's roster that Harrogate at one point complained to Mrs. Harrogate that he couldn't keep them straight. Ginyard he knows, and loves. Same with Green, Terry, Frazer, Hansbrough, Miller. But what of Brandan Wright jumping through the roof and throwing it down with authority, Alex Stephenson all over the glass with that big body, little Ty Lawson with the acrobatic kiss off the glass and the sweet dished down low?

Indeed, in the spirit of T.S. Eliot, what are the roots that clutch (line 19), and what of these players and and the others, waves of powder blue and white pouring off the bench and onto their opponents with unrelenting intensity and the kind of unmitigated partisan joy that only college sports make possible ? Oh, gentle Readerss, we shall indeed see what this new breed of Tar Heel, led by commander Roy, is made of.

Right now they are ranked #2 in the nation, which makes Harrogate happy and nervous at the same time, kinda like a first date. This is not college football where the rankings really really matter and where you schedule as many creampuffs as possible and, if you don't play in the SEC anyway, that might be enough to sneak you into the BCS title game. This is the Big Dance, where if you're not careful a high ranking will get you whacked by a mid-major like Winthrop, George Mason, or Butler. But in any case, Readers, do not fret. Harrogate will be covering Carolina Basketball, and the landscape of the sport in general, all year long, bringing each time the kind of analysis that has made him the award-winning blogger that he is.

Speaking of the other sports, Harrogate has recently realized that in everything except College Basketball, he is the stereotypical fairweather fan. In the NBA, he rode with the Pistons for a few years, then dropped them when Big Ben left and now he's riding the Phoenix Suns, whose offense reminds Harrogate of a Coleridge Poem. Who knows what team he may be loving, by the time we finish things up in June? In Baseball, well, you never know. Harrogate pretty much likes all teams except the Yankees and, to a lesser extent, the Dodgers. As with the NBA, he just winds up pulling for whatever team manages to capture his imagination at the time. This principle of the captured imagination, Harrogate believes, is the hallmark of Fair Weather Fandom. But when it comes to Tar Heels Basketball, Harrogate is not swayable. Why this, and only this? Because of nativism, because Harrogate grew up there, went to school there, breathed it from the time he was a small boy. And so it is with fans everywhere. If you grow up in a town with a Pro Sports Team, it is so easy to identify with them; so too with the nearest colleges, etc. Of course there are exceptions. But generalities nevertheless merit discussion.

All of which is to elicit from Readers an answer to this question: Is nativism and/or staying true to one team superior to Fair Weather Fandom? Or vice versa? And in what ways? As one who experiences both, Harrogate has some evaluative suspicions, but would prefer not to share them until he has gotten a little feedback.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cartoons VS Elections and Veterans' Day PART DEUCE

Despite Harrogate’s fascinating RAW and Hasslehoff’s postings and Oxymoron’s post about men, fruit, and beer (more limes for me and my coronas!), and Solon’s Moonie post, I’m still focused on politics and cartoons and still concerned with timing.

In Sunday’s Simpsons’ episode, Homer joined the Army. Briefly, the episode acknowledges the low salaries of enlisted men and the heartache in leaving one’s family, but then it switches gears to a rather negative portrayal of the military and a critique (albeit via Springfield) of the situation in Iraq. As with in the Family Guy episode, the Army comes across as desperate (accepting suicidal teens and Homer Simpson), incompetent (Homer outsmarts the military), homosexual, dispensable (front line infantry in particular) and as a brutish occupying force. All these points are perhaps valid – recruitment is down, standards for enlistment have lowered, “don’t ask don’t tell” has always been controversial, front line soldiers are dying daily, and there have been countless cases of questionable military brutality. As I’ll discuss later, it’s not so much the subject as the timing. Anyhoo…when the Army finally surrenders to Springfield, Lisa wonders when “they” will learn that “an occupational force can never defeat a determined local populace.” Just in case the connection to Vietnam wasn’t clear enough, Lisa makes the connection.

As with many Simpsons’ episodes, the cultural, social, political, etc references are rich – this episode was no exception (the Bugs Bunny parody was particularly amusing). However, the timing of this episode left me feeling saddened. The situation in Iraq, the struggles of the military at home and abroad certainly belong on the public’s radar and make easy fodder for satire, but the appropriateness of airing this episode on the weekend of Veterans’ Day I question. Appropriateness I realize is a matter of taste and opinion, but I can’t help but think that the airing of these three episodes (see my earlier cartoon post) within a 7 day period that sees not only an election but also Veteran’s Day seems to suggest a larger and more disturbing narrative.

Despite Solon’s valid observation that the writers likely had little to do with the timing of the episodes, I feel like the timing is not accidental. Each episode had strong messages (brute force=bad, occupying Iraq=bad, military=not bright) relevant to the elections and to the current situation in Iraq. Had the episode aired a few weeks from now or a few weeks earlier, I may not have flinched, but airing 3 episodes that are so critical of the armed forces during the same week that we should be honoring those who have served undermines the comedy.

PS - A clip of the episode is available on but as it's 10+ min. long I haven't posted it.
Another ode to the recently departed...

UPDATE: Not thinking about the load times when I posted. I have removed the longish clip. You can, however, find it...well I was going to say here but YouTube is down for maintainence. Will link when it comes back up.

Disclaimer: I am no fan of Chris Matthews or Hardball.

That said, I must say that I enjoyed watching him and Paul Hackett destroy recent Republican Congressional candidate, Van Taylor. For those of you not in Texas, Van was the Republican's attempt to de-seat Chet Edwards (the only Democrat to survive the Republican re-districting of Texas prior to last election.) As this longish clip shows (8-9 mins), Van had all of the talking points down but was all hat and no cattle.

Paul Hackett, you may remember, was the Iragi War veteran who nearly upset Republican, Jean Schmidt in a special 2005 election in Ohio and in hindsight could have probably beat her this year had he not gotten greedy and ran for Senate--losing in the primary to now Senator-elect Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Douchebag Montage Guaranteed to Make You Feel Good; In Which Bloody-Handed Republicans Fade Away and Maher Rocks da House!

Farewell Douchebags
Once again, and forevermore, just as it is indeed true that Germans love David Hasselhoff, so too is it indisuptable that Harrogate loves--loves!!!!!--Bill Maher. Ever since Friday night, Harrogate has been waiting for the opportunity to post this clip, and finally, its availability is upon us. Goodbye, Douchebags, bounced from the Midterm Elections and the Arms of Britney Spears in one fell swoop of a sensually brutal Tuesday this hallowed November, 2006 AD.

And, can we finally get the ball rolling on nominating Bill Maher to host the next Oscars? Hey, Harrogate knows! Maybe Maher and Harold Ford could really make Tennesseans feel better about their lame decision by coming together, each escorting one of Hefner's (screamingly white) ladyfriends as dates. 'Twould be delish!

The Finger Game With American Cinema

A game Harrogate has enjoyed for some time. You'll catch on. Please contribute:

Fingers of the Carribean
The Finger Strikes Back
It's a Wonderful Finger
Four Weddings and a Finger
Finger of Dreams
Fried Green Fingers
Fingering Miss Daisy
Who Fingered Roger Rabbit

and Harrogate's favorite.....

A Finger Runs Through It

Raw Review 11/13: WWE Exports to Manchester

What most stood out about last night's Raw has to do with what Kenneth Burke referred to as Scene. 'Twas interesting, to say the least, to witness the Raw spectacle taking place in Manchester, England. The fans were excitedly rotating signs in front of the cameras all night long, rather than holding only one consistently, as we see fans do in American cities. What this showed was that Signholding as the Wrestling Fan's Mantra is a signature trademark of Vince's show that is recognized throughout the world. And moreover, Mrs. Harrogate was a bit appalled, and rightfully so, to see a little boy, who couldn't have been more than 8, doing John Cena's "You Can't See Me" Hand-Wave. Indeed, Vince's diplomatic move seemed overall a huge success, as the building was sold out, the fans performed rowdiness in a convincing way, and the seventeen foot WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sign they stretched across the front row during Ric Flair's match was, for Harrogate, a testimony to the imperial power of low culture that even McDonald's cannot match.

Yet by just about any account, Readers, last night's installment of Raw was one of the worst in a while. In terms of actual wrestling, there was only one good match, wherein Jeff Hardy reclaimed the Intercontinental Title from Johnny (A-List) Nitro. There was a more significant title change, as the nostalgiac run of Roddy "I'm all out of bubble gum" Piper and Ric Flair came to an end at the hands of Edge and Randy Orton(depicted here, left to right.

This "match," like the majority of the program, reached heights of stupidity that exceeded even Harrogate's increasingly tenuous expectations of what Vince will bring on a given night. There is nothing wrong with ring interference and shenanigans as this is after all part and parcel of the sacred ritual--but knocking Piper out of the match before it starts, then having Flair double teamed and pinned, was pretty lame. And then, after the match, having DX storm the ring and beat up--not on Orton and Edge but on Security Guards!!!!--well, it was just so petty it hurt. Throughout the night we had to endure at least 45 minutes of DX skits, some of which Harrogate admits were almost funny: but there ought to be a point to all this attention, and the point ought to culminate in more than beating up security guards.

Which brings us back to Burkean Scene. The only aesthetic justification for last night's program would be that Vince determined that DX is the most popular, most recognizable tradermark, and that as WWE is exporting, the only thing that matters is for Brits to get lots of DX. To hell with the program itself, just pander to your expectations. It was bizarre, Vince. Harrogate loves Triple H and Shawn Michaels as much as the next wrestling fan/literary critic, but really, let there be a point next time. Just putting DX out there to put them out there is Bush League. And we all saw what Americans think of Bush League these days.

UPDATE: Immediately after issuing this post, it occured to Harrogate that as a New Historicist, and as a 21st Century literary critic/rhetorician in general, he is not supposed to believe in distinctions between "High" and "Low" culture. Nevertheless, Harrogate does indeed believe in such distinctions, and will invariably carry said belief to his grave. He does not offer a GOP-like soundbite definition of these distinctions, however. He winks, and defers instead to the Kerry model of "nuance." Or perhaps the famous Supreme Court Justice's declaration re pornography, paraphrased here as "I knows it when I sees it," applies best of all.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Inappropriate language from the NFL

During the Bills & Colts game, the announcer said of Dwight Freeney: "He finally has a full sack." I think everyone is happy it finally happened, though shouldn't this have happened much earlier in his life? And why should the announcer challenge Freeney's manhood? By the way, how did the announcer know?

All credit for this one goes to P(hyphen)D.

Don't Fruit the Beer Redux

Man Law No Fruit

To Clarify Oxymoron's earth-shaking annoucement, it is no longer permissible for men to put lime or orange slices in their beers. Harrogate hopes men everywhere enjoyed their experiences with this now banned procedure.

And notice the prominence of Triple H in crafting this legislation.

Dawkins v. Haggard

Since I have been publishing on the same theme this morning, here is an interesting clip between Richard Dawkins (advocate of evolution, skeptic of religion, and arrogant scientist that cannot speak to "the people") and Ted Haggard (does this man need an introduction?).

But please, as you watch this...don't be arrogant. I mean, Pastor Ted is not arrogant throughout the interview.

There is a good debate halfway through about evidence and contradiction. Dawkins misses the opportunity to attack Haggard's position and I wonder if it is because he, Dawkins, does not know the Bible. But it does raise the question: when your audience sctrictly adheres to a cetain world view (religion) can you have a debate with them over science? These are two separate argumentation fields with separate rules for evidence. How can you bridge that divide?

Here is a little history: the evangelical movement begins with the break between the "fundamentalists" and "mainline Protestants" in the 1920s. The Fundamentalists created a revivalistic movement in response to the growing concerns over modernity,especially WWI, Darwin, industrialization, and the corruption of culture. Religiously, The Fundamentals accussed the mainliners that they focused too much on the social world and no longer followed the Bible-- the figurative interpretation strays to far from the actual text. They asked: how can you have a religion based on a sacred book if you do not follow the book? They believe in the literal interpretation of scripture and the inerrancy of scripture, though I am not sure how the role of interpretation, especially from one language to another, alters the art of interpretation and the inerancy of scripture. For example, in Greek the "virgin birth" translates to birth by a "young woman." To say the least, this is an improtant discrepancy. Also, the belief that Moses composed the pentateuch seems odd since his death occurs before the end of the the fifth book.

After the Scopes trial, the fundamentalists disappeared from the social scene only to return in the 1960s & 1970s. Schools used textbooks that contianed evolution, though the teaching of evolution was not widespead until the 1950's. After the USSR sent up Sputnik, the Federal Government and the ruling bodies of science decided if the UNited States were to take the Cold War seriously, then science in Schools needed to change for the better and the teaching of evolution was one of those improvements.

Of course, this did not sit well with the fundamentalist and they sought the the teaching of creationism and creation science to balance out evolution. A few think tanks sprouted up that focused on developing Genesis as scientific theory (and then had nasty loyalty oaths-- To study creation science at the Creation Research Center, a member must accept "that the account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truth." Further, if you closely read the first five books, there are multiple characterizations and personalities of G-D, which some scholars suggest that there are multiple authors of the pentateuch (the authors are known as J, E, D, & P.) These examples are important since they alter the debate in the literal or figurative interpretation of the Bible.

This debate rages today, usually in the form of Evolution versus Intelligent Design. Many commentators state that this dspute is between science and religion or science versus Christianity; however, it is only certain sects that possess the literal view of the Bible that interferes with the teaching of evolution.

Easy prey to Moonies

My best advice: Choose your parents wisely.

Science, Religion, and Home-Schools

Here is an article that discusses religion and science in home-schooling, especially as it applies to Evolution and Creationism.

What is interesting about this article, the push for Creationism, and the push for Intelligent Design is that the advocates for these positions do not engage the scientists through argumentation but try to advance a "scientific" line of thought (without or with very little evidence). The main foci is to say (1) look there are two world views; if I disprove one then a prove the other; (2) and to engage in straw arguments ("evolution is a theory, not fact," which neglects the specific scientific connotations of the word theory and "I or my grand-daddy did not come from a monkey," which does not even make sense (or in Mr. Garrison's case-- "I am not a monkey, I'm a woman;" an argument by authority- evolution is not true because it conflicts with the Bible.

Usually these anti-evolution advocates do present enough evidence to discredit evolution and, by refusing to teach Evolution, they do not provide students with a means to critically examine evolution.

Unfortunately, scientists seem to lack the ability to speak to the public and address meaning in our lives.

If you are depressed by the article, then watch this clip. Even in its absurdity, it will brighten your mood. Except maybe at the end.