Friday, August 17, 2007

A Few Words On Southpaw, Art, and Patriotism: Wherein the Ways and Means of Blogging are Also Evaluated According to the Highest Possible Standards

Recently one of our Board Members, Southpaw--a best-selling novelist and the man recently voted one of the "Sexiest Men in America" by What Women Want Magazine(see his picture above to understand why)--complained to Harrogate that much of The Rhetorical Situation's history has been very deep in YouTube.

Undoubtedly, this is a Fair and Balanced™ criticism. And Harrogate would be the first to aver the all-too-unfortunate danger of a blogger getting lazy, leaning heavily on images and videos instead of doing the hard, creative work it takes to craft the kind of multilayered posts to which Harrogate's readers, for example, have grown accustomed. Think Rocky, and how soft that saga's hero has gotten by the beginning of the third installment.

Still, Harrogate much appreciates and fully stands behind the merits of YouTube and it's capacity for illuminating the intellectual and moral principles which his posts are designed to throw into relief.

Take this clip Harrogate here provides for his devoted readership: the movie performance of "America" from West Side Story , which as a play and as a movie occupies its own set of kiosks in Harrogate's personal iconic bizarre of human achievment. West Side Story operates as a tribute to Romeo and Juliet, while at the same time standing on its own as one of the most deservedly famous, and beloved, pieces of American Stagecraft and Cinema.

"America" is one of those songs that make Harrogate stop and incline his thoughtful head until it is over, much like Elaine's boyfriend whenever he hears the Eagles song "Desperado." "America" in many ways exemplifies Harrogates kind of patriotism: so much of what is to be loved about this country is celebrated not only the ladies' side of the argument, but also in the music and the overall spirit in which this piece is performed. At the same time, the gentlemen render a series of pointed critiques designed to remind us of America's very real problems--this too is part of being a Patriot, so far as Harrogate is concerned.

In terms of the eterenal Mars/Venus wars, Harrogate finds the performance very intriguing as well. That the women are seeing America through rose colored glasses while the men see the concrete jungle side of the equation: ie the virulent nativism, the economic despair, and the seemingly inviolable tendency towards balkanization that immigrants to this great country must face. And during the current immigration hysetria, it occurs to Harrogate that this song enjoys even greater humor and relevance.

This is an awesome video. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some Thoughts on Big Love: In Which are Also Featured Pictures of Daveigh Chase (Rhonda Volmer) and Matt Ross (creepy Alby)

As Big Love moves into the homsetretch of its second season, Harrogate has come to realize he has perhaps never been so fascinated, nor quite so disturbed, by a television program. While this is not the time to fully disquisit on the subject, using details, citing academic sources and the like, here are a few evaluative tidbits.

What really gives this show its wings is the top-flight quality of the acting. Across the board, every damned character is being brought out with extreme vividness. And best of all, this quality of acting, combined with the remarkable roundness of the characters, makes it almost impossible to get comfortable with how one feels about a given character. Harrogate likes that, in narrative. He likes it a lot.

Featured in This Post: The scheming, detestable, and yet thoroughly, tragically victimized Rhonda Volmer. Played by singing-phenom Daveigh Chase (depicted above), Rhonda has become something of a cult figure for You-Tubers and on the internet more generally. Which by the way is perfectly understandable, indeed precisely as it should be.

The first clip Harrogate provides here is an "Ode to Rhonda," of sorts, pretty funny in Harrogate's estimation: produced by an anonymous member of our thriving internet democracy.

The second clip briefly exemplifies something else: this woman is sporting one of the most amazing voices Harrogate has ever heard, period. This past Monday's episode closed out with Chase singing "The Happiest Girl" (also, fittingly,the title of the episode): her performance helps catapult the last three minutes of the episode into the kind of sublime, spine-tingling experience one rarely associates with television (Monday Night Raw being an obvious exception).

Sadly, Harrogate has not yet found a link to those final moments of "The Happiest Girl": But when he does, oh Readers, verily shall the clip be delivered into thy hands.

Until then, be tided over with her spooky Carly Simon cover.

How To Wave The Bloody Shirt With Verve: "The Two Things to Know Before Your City is Nuked By Terrorists"

Harrogate was unwinding with a little right wing punditry when he encountered this stunner by Douglas Mackinnon.

In what follows Harrogate provides the article's opening and its conclusion. He wishes he was currently prepared to offer commentary and analysis, but right now he's just sad and doesn't know what to say. Right now, more than anything, Harrogate just feels like it's important that people read this article and know that it exists, that this kind of stuff is being routinely distributed into the contemporary American soul.

What do we make of it all? What can we do?

Anyways, here is how the piece begins:

Tragically, horrifyingly, but quite predictably, it’s going to happen. The only question being which American city or cities?
In a recent conversation with a former high level intelligence operative of our government, I raised the possibility of terrorists successfully detonating a nuclear weapon within the United States. His response was sobering in its hopelessness.

MacKinnon closes with a Rhetorical Haymaker:

[the anonymous, and therefore unaccountable source] talked of critical infrastructures like water, electricity, fuel, banks, our food supply, medical services, police and firefighters, being unavailable for weeks or months. He warned of the blind panic that would follow such an explosion. Of the looting, of neighbor turning on neighbor to take what they don’t have for their own survival. Of our economy suffering an economic loss in the trillions of dollars.
Knowing this, are you prepared? Can you and your family ride out the frighteningly unpredictable weeks or months following the loss of an American city and its inhabitants? If you are not in the city hit, can you survive?
You must ask yourself this question. For, unless there is a miraculous epiphany about to be visited upon our self-centered politicians, then such an attack is certain.
If our politicians and the voters continue to suicidally put party and partisan politics before the welfare and security of our nation, then the terrorists will find the opening to hit us.
Our government and media are failing us. Prepare for the worst.