One more change on that broadcast of the panel of contributors (including me) to the book Proud to Be Right: according to C-SPAN2's official webpage for the event, their Book TV airings of the panel will now start tonight (Sat. the 16th) at 7:30pm (not 8 as previously announced), and it looks like it will still re-air tomorrow (Sun. the 17th) at 9:30am and 10pm, but check that webpage to be sure.
My thanks to Chuck Blake for noticing the change, as if he hadn't done enough work in the past several days helping me resurrect ToddSeavey.com.
It has been a tumultuous time, as many of my acquaintances know, with the falling-out with my co-panelist Helen Rittelmeyer, a trial run of daily episodes of Freedom Watch, the transfer of my blog over to Blogger, the end of the Debates at Lolita Bar (mainly for time reasons), the release of my essay in Proud to Be Right, the C-SPAN2 panel itself, and another ailing Seavey family dog and, more important, Seavey family grandmother (both doing all right now) all hitting at about the same time.
Of the aforementioned falling-out, which online I've mainly just alluded to but which my acquaintances know I could say much more about were I a less merciful man, I will just say that it was not the sole reason for my comments on the C-SPAN2 panel about Helen, which, just to avoid keeping those of you without that channel in suspense, revolve largely (and very circumspectly, all things considered) around the fact that her often brutal-sounding philosophy really is, when you dig through the layers, a brutal philosophy, genuinely aimed at hurting people, which has spillover effects in practice in everyday life, as one perhaps should have anticipated, but who thinks people are being serious when they praise cruelty, especially if people are about 5'4" and look like harmless librarians?
Helen often writes, in a fashion veiled by irony, of course, about thinking suffering yields excellence and about thinking empathy is overrated. What she may be genuinely psychologically unable to perceive is that empathy, for most of us, is the closest thing the real world has to telepathy -- it's what makes most of us, thank goodness, natural utilitarians (even if few people use that term), made happy by others' happiness in the world's most wonderful ongoing upward spiral of mutual aid, a process all too quickly halted by the introduction of a few sadists who derive their joy from dragging that spiral back downward into animalistic cruelty and petty vandalism (in her case, I owed the world -- and her and me -- a public warning, especially since for some people public shaming is the only viable substitute for the empathy-driven morality on which most of us rely).
Of course, if you were Mr. Spock, ostensibly near-emotionless, you could use actual telepathy instead of empathy to discern what ails others and how to please them -- usually a happy process, as suggested by Spock's alarm when he mindmelds and instead of happiness and harmony finds: "Pain!" (the dance remix version, pointed out to me by Andrew Corsello). Of course, some sadists might consider that incident the finest use Spock ever made of his telepathy (especially the notoriously sick literal sadists of DC, a friend with kinky connections tells me -- no surprise that a place built around wielding power is genuinely turned on by power, not just by tableaux suggestive of power, as with your garden-variety perverts elsewhere).
By the way, I never thought I'd find myself typing these words, but: there is a glut of kitschy retro sci-fi on the off-off-Broadway stage these days, often in serialized form, with mid-century-inspired robots and zombies and the like. It pains me to say it (pain!), but: enough already, people. Still, I do not begrudge L.B. Deyo the aesthetic victory he won recently when the character he'd been playing in one such theatre serial (the cream of the crop in this subgenre, Intergalactic Nemesis, out of Austin, TX) was replaced by a robot after L.B. had to leave the production...and in a lovely homage, the robot was named L.B.D.O. (Come to think of it, they could nickname the construct "Libido" for faster pronunciation, but perhaps that's inappropriate.)
I should note that, yes, the 7:30pm C-SPAN2 panel does conflict with one of the four airings of this weekend's episode of Freedom Watch -- a humdinger of an episode featuring Jesse Ventura, Christine O'Donnell, and more. But with the Freedom Watch episode airing four times this weekend and the C-SPAN2 panel airing three times, I hope you can catch both, whether tonight you pick O'Donnell vs. the establishment or Todd vs. Helen.
Either way, by weekend's end you should be able to see the ritual confrontation with a witch -- disguised as an old-fashioned Catholic moralist -- to whom I am tied via romance, conservative politics, and punk -- all topics I'm tempted to give a rest for a while after today, so bear with me if it's all gardening tips and discussion of balsa wood sailing models from here on out. It's been a purging sort of time.
There are countless topics to explore. And in the real world, best understood through sober rationality -- by economics and science -- there is an election to watch in just over two weeks, after all. As I say in my panel remarks, I hope it will not only bring us closer to fiscal sobriety but closer to a conservative movement (and broader culture) rooted in econ instead of delusional religious claims. Why not kill many birds with one stone? I am getting very tired of those damn birds.
Since I mentioned punk, some rock videos may be in order, and I just noticed
that the wonderful Metric has a real (and disturbing yet good) video for their song "Stadium Love," a TV-show performance of which I've linked to before. The video captures some of my mixed feelings about animals, love, and 80s retro tropes quite well. Fight it out to wow the crowd indeed.
If that video's too intense for some animal lovers, though, here's the more straightforward site CatsInSinks, which definitely delivers what it promises (much like Snakes on a Plane). By contrast, notes Lainie Frost, this video suggests that some cats probably do not want to be anywhere near sinks or tubs. And even a flat-out sociopath could probably take pleasure in this video of hedgehogs happily floating on their backs in a tub.
Another Metric note: their lovely video for "Gimme Sympathy," one of the subtler rock-about-rock songs out there, ends on a glowy and feminine note that reminds me a bit of the moving "Love and Anger" by Kate Bush (which also takes the prize for least-expected David Gilmour cameo -- and seeing this now makes up for last week's Wall performance being Roger Waters solo, but it was a fantastic concert nonetheless -- and coincidentally, you'll hear Pink Floyd's "Money" in this weekend's Freedom Watch).
On a vaguely related note, the first video Helen ever recommended to me, almost exactly two years ago, was Florence and the Machine's "Kiss with a Fist," and in retrospect, as is so often the case, I should have known from the beginning how combative the end would be. Cool song, though. Onward now, I promise.
Speaking of political-yet-personal combat, you have to love the New York Post piece about notoriously sleazy libertarian Republican political activist Roger Stone appearing half-naked in a gay pride parade while consulting for the Paladino campaign. All sounds good to me. As Paladino campaign head Michael Caputo put it, if that's the worst thing you have on Roger Stone, you aren't really trying.
On a loftier political note, my friend Abe Greenwald -- who can sometimes be found at the monthly Manhattans Project social gatherings for political and media folk that I run at Langan's bar -- will definitely not be attending the one taking place this Monday starting at 7pm, since (as Gerard Perry reminds me) Abe at that same time will be on a panel about the mosque-at-Ground-Zero controversy. The panel is at Wagner College on Staten Island.
Abe and I had an impromptu debate on an even more important topic several days ago, as it happens: whether The Wall is awesome. Despite some reservations about its pretensions and flirtation with fascism disguised as anti-fascism, he may be coming around to my point of view that it is the best album of all time. I don't care if that doesn't sound punk. As I said, I may be moving on to new topics.