10.27.08: culture blotter {W.}

does anyone remember what life was like before this election season (back in, what, 2006)? i shudder to think of what might rush into the media vacuum created when it's over and i stop gulping down coverage for hours every night (and bouncing around political sites for hours on top of that). there's nothing inherently wrong with following this stuff, of course, but the feedback loop gets intense (especially when i get absorbed in my current stealth craft project and don't realize i've been stuck on MSNBC for a few hours: at the end of last week, when rachel maddow sat down to talk about keith olbermann and chris matthews's coverage of brian williams's comments after his mccain/palin interview, my head nearly exploded).

so we detoxed this weekend with W., which is about totally different elections. note: the weekend before the weekend before a national election is not the best time to roll up to a theater on the upper west side sans advance tickets for an oliver stone movie. the 2:50 show sold out years before we got there, so we had to dash through the rain to times square, where liberals of a a certain age fear to tread (and a bunch of guys sitting behind us nearly got into a seat-kicking-related fistfight). the popcorn was terrible, but the movie was entertaining. josh brolin is reasonable in the title role, although he's a bit larger and more dapper than i think he should be: the real dubya is kind of chimpy, and i've never been sold on the manly-man, texas cowboy vibe he's supposed to emit. i feel a bit sorry for this fictional dubya; he's stupid and charming enough that i have a hard time blaming him for the terrible things his minions have done to our country. elizabeth banks as (parker posey as) laura is equally winning: she obviously loves her husband, and his scenes with her feel much more authentic than (most of) his scenes as commander in chief do. a brief guide to other key players:

ellen burstyn (barbara bush): formidable.

james cromwell (bush senior): not a lookalike, but effective as a chilly father figure.

richard dreyfuss (dick cheney): will get a best supporting actor nod. really, really great.

toby jones (karl rove): good, but an evil lawn gnome; the real rove is an evil baby, as we all know.

thandie newton (condoleezza rice): should've settled for looking like condi. her one-note impression stole and destroyed all of her scenes.

jeffrey wright (colin powell): should've tutored thandie newton; looked and sounded nothing like powell, nailed the character anyway.

joe appreciated how the camera followed a character as she stepped on a corncob just before introducing laura to george at a backyard barbecue; i loved it when barney hopped into the presidential bed to steal bush's warm spot (joe has similar problems). those little moments of "authenticity" kept the movie from sinking under the weight of its umpteen Bush Moments. i appreciate stone's research, to be sure, but every time a well-known phrase rolled out of brolin, we were forced to remember that we were Watching a Movie About Our Crappy President (meta phooey). i preferred forgetting that i hate bush, though i hate myself for the preference. does that make sense?

how are you counting down, internets? how are you holding up?


enjelani said...

if the usually-so-on-top-of-it-it's-spooky obama campaign ever calls to tell me where i'm going, i'll be (gulp) canvassing in pennsylvania nov 1-4. or giving rides, or handing out hot cocoa in line at the polls, or whatever. i have no day job, so no excuse not to go the extra mile (or 200) in an election year like this one...

kudos on braving the times square cineplex, you two. you are made of stronger stuff than i.

lauren said...

that's fantastic, e - do send dispatches from the front (speaking of, tom, how's it going in wisconsin?)! you're clearly out-braving us: i can weave through a bunch of lumbering tourists like an eel, but i still haven't picked up the phone for obama (i tell myself that i'm making up for it by donating regularly, but i know i should be doing both).

tom said...

Back to Wisconsin for me -- Madison this time for the final weekend and polling-place observing. (My good friend Andy and, just as important, his Sleep Number Zero floor, have moved.)

This, on top of door-knocking trips to Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Fort Wayne, Ind. (good God -- three hours and thirty minutes... one way... but that's where the Obamaplex told me to go so I went) in the past four weekends.

Meanwhile, to your point: it is a bit of info overload with all of the compulsive TV/internets scanning. And my inner Democrat is fretting something awful about what the McCain campaign has in their bag o' tricks. I like where Obama's been on this whole polling thing -- less Yoda, more Yogi. It ain't over 'till it's over. Hell yes.

(BTW: People here have been asking about whether I would miss being in Grant Park for the finale. In a word: no. Standing out in the cold for six hours -- two of those in an interminable security line -- to get a viewing position a hundred yards from the stage where I can see, in person, a mini-Obama about a half-inch tall? Pass. Besides: I'll work my ass off on Tuesday and party on Wednesday.)

tom said...

As to your insta-question (tom, how's it going in wisconsin): Wellish.

The trip to Milwaukee had me knocking on doors in this tony enclave right by the lake. Not McMansions, but actual, honest-to-God mansions. A few "no trespassing" signs. A hearty welcome from most everyone else.

The Racine walk was in a suburban subdivision. Less hospitable, but a couple of hard-core supporters.

Kenosha (last Saturday) was more fun -- lots of Obama supporters... plus a couple who did not know about EARLY VOTING (yes! score!) and who were glad to get the info. (BTW: tell everyone... if you can vote early and you haven't already -- do it.)

But perhaps the most heartening was Fort Wayne two Sundays ago, in a mostly black, small-scale urban community. Good support, as you might expect. But at the end of the line was an old white guy, about 70. I knocked on the door, he answered and I asked him if he had made up his mind. He had, and had already voted.

I gently asked "for who," and he said -- "the guy you're talking about... no way was I going to vote for the other sumbitch." Out of politeness, I stammered that I wouldn't exactly call John McCain a sumbitch, but I was glad to know he voted for our guy.

The one thing that I am getting a lot, however, is exhaustion. Ads on TV, mailings, earnest doorknockers like me are grating on people something fierce. I get really freaking nervous before precinct walks -- it is necessary, but I am asking a very personal question and interrupting a perfectly-good weekend for them. And this is more or less confirmed by the door slammers.

But, it is necessary work -- if you move one vote in one precinct, and if that happens state-wide, that could be the difference between winning and losing. (Or, so they say. They also say that every piece of constituent mail gets read by the Member of Congress. Not exactly true.)