A "Mash" Made in Heaven I was doing some YouTube research today and made the fascinating discovery that it is apparently en vogue to for fans to edit Disney animation to match up with Hamilton songs (I suppose it wouldn't HAVE to be Disney animation, but so far all the examples I've seen are). And even though I'm kind of down on Disney at the moment (understatement), I find this to be irresistibly brilliant.
Here's one that I found particularly effective, with Mulan as Alexander Hamilton and Shang as George Washington:
(I particularly like the part about stealing the British cannons.)
If you've ever wanted to ask Yoda a question, here's your chance.
(DISCLAIMER: I don't know if Frank Oz will be willing to answer questions as his characters. I know he doesn't like to do his characters' voices on demand, but as I understand it, this is text-based, so that might not be an issue for him, but I don't know.)
I'm kind of surprised that Hamilton has been so warmly embraced on the other side of the Atlantic, but I'm nevertheless delighted to see it. I don't remember who said it, but I seem to remember hearing or reading once that the more particular a story is, the more universal it is, and that is certainly true of Hamilton.
We're all in the same boat now, fighting back against tyranny and demagoguery, and so Hamilton's words and the example of his life are equally applicable (and useful!) to all of us now.
However, I was surprised and embarrassed recently to find out that Hamilton's popularity has unfortunately not spread throughout the entire commonwealth. I kept making enormously clever references to it directed at an Australian friend of mine, who finally just said, "I really need to find out what Hamilton is...." Turns out all my enormously clever references had been wasted on her the whole time. Alas!
According to this video that went unavailable literally the same minute that I tried to post it on my blog--which would trouble me if I were the kind of person who was inclined to paranoia--the Mueller investigation could go on for another year, and as much as I admire their diligence, I must admit that, on hearing the news, I was filled with dismay.
A year? A whole other YEAR?!? I'm not sure we HAVE another year!
(Of course, I said the same thing last year, but still...)
"Come on, Bob!" I said in response, "Pick up the pace! Let's snap it up!"
So then I started channeling Hamilton, as I often do during these difficult times, and came up with some alternate lyrics to "Yorktown":
"We gotta go! Gotta get the job done! Must redeem our nation! Gotta thwart Jong-Un!"
I know what you're thinking, and yes: "Gotta thwart Vladimir (Putin)" would probably be more apt, but that doesn't rhyme.
First of all, I guess we got our answer on Marco Rubio; as of this morning, he was still a "no," but sometime between then and newstime, he flip-flopped like a soggy pancake.
Second of all, I think Paul Ryan is being penny-wise and pound-foolish here. If, as is my dearest hope, we can impeach and convict both Trump and Pence and get rid of them at the same time, Ryan's next in line for the presidency. So if he was smart, he would (a) stay the course, and (b) file the goddamned articles of impeachment already.
Look around... So today I turned over the last page of my Hamilton wall calendar. Each month has a picture of a cast member (in character) and a quote from one of their songs. The page for December has a picture of Phillipa Soo as Alexander Hamilton's wife, Eliza, and her quote is "Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now."
Eliza (and calendar-makers who were probably putting the finishing touches on the calendar in summer of 2016)...you have NO idea.
There was at least a part of me that sincerely believed that if Donald Trump took office in January, we would all be dead by March. And yet, here we are. Almost a year later, and we're still alive. We live to fight another day.
It makes me want to sing the fourth verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner":
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation! Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I don't think that prayers are worthless. But it would be nice to see those prayers married to an action, for once.
It's not fair for those in government--or anyone else, for that matter--to try to slough off their responsibilities onto God. God is not a magical wish-granting creature to cater to your commands, nor a hypercompetent personal assistant to whom you can assign the tasks with which you don't want to be bothered.
Donald Trump, God is not a scapegoat onto which you can project your own inadequacies.
Paul Ryan, God isn't Speaker of the House, you are. Therefore, this is YOUR problem. Deal with it.
At what point does "for the good of the country, let's put aside our differences and support President Bush," become "if you criticize the president, the terrorists win"?
And finally, at what point does "sure, Donald Trump is a loose cannon, but I'm sure he'll calm down eventually" become "although I find Trump's words and actions disgusting, I continue to support him because this election is about issues." That last example courtesy of Representative Kristi Noem, whose sanctimony is outstripped only by her hypocrisy, circa October 2016, in response to the Access Hollywood bus tape. I should mention that I haven't been able to find the exact quote, so the above is a paraphrase, but the phrase "this election is about issues" is 100% pure, uncut Noem.
Seismic shift in the Muppet world (now with annotations from the future) A couple years ago, I stopped my compulsive reading of Muppet fansites and Muppet news and such because it was getting to be a strain on, and a distraction from, my real life. I decided to temper my Muppet-related consumption and bring things back into balance. However, there has been a recent development in the Muppet universe that I must address because it is as significant as it is shocking.
The facts, as they were initially reported, are as follows: Steve Whitmire is no longer working with the Muppets, and Matt Vogel will be taking over performing Kermit the Frog. The lack of details regarding the reasons behind the upheaval (who cut ties with whom, and why) is as ominous as it is perplexing.
What is most upsetting to me is that, with all the other bizarrely ominous things going on in the country and the world, particularly with regard to a certain reality TV star and his sham presidency, I had to learn out about it through this disturbing and ill-conceived bit on the Stephen Colbert show. Moreover, initial reports implied that Whitmire[*](Annotation from the future: It's so quaint to me now that I was so intent upon not assuming familiarity by calling him "Whitmire." It's interesting to see, upon becoming at least slightly acquainted with him through his blog, the speed and ease with which I began unself-consciously referring to him as "Steve," both when addressing him directly on his blog and when writing about him on my blogs.) was leaving of his own volition, which was ominous in itself, because I know that he would never choose to leave the Muppets unless he had some sort of personal problem or issue that would prevent him from performing.
Methinks that something is rotten in the state of Muppetdom.
Fortunately, Steve Whitmire himself started a blog in order to set the record straight. Probably. Here's the thing: we don't really have anything but the word of the blog author to confirm that he is in fact Steve Whitmire, and the sad truth is that we live in a world in which any random Internet weirdo can start a blog in which he claims to be Steve Whitmire, so we do have to take it with at least a small grain of salt. However, as of now there is no reason to believe that he is not the author either; the author is well-versed in Muppet lore, and the voice, tone, style, etc. is consistent with Whitmire's. Therefore, I will take the blog at face value unless I have a very good reason not to.
Whitmire goes into a bit more detail about his premature departure from the Muppets. He asserts that Disney cut ties with him rather than the other way around, informing him via phone as early as October 2016 that his services would no longer be required. He is still rather vague on the reasons for the dismissal, however; he makes reference to "their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call," but he doesn't get any more specific than that.
Every Muppet fan is going to have their thoughts and feelings, opinions and theories about what happened; what follows are mine.
I know that what happens in the real world is more important than what happens in the Muppet world, but what is happening in the Muppet world is, I believe, sort of a microcosmic parallel to what is happening in the nation and the world at large. I mean, the date that Disney allegedly gave Whitmire his walking-papers phone call: October 2016. Just before the election. October 2016. How odd that the Second Muppet Era was coming to an end at almost the same moment that our nation began facing the greatest threat to our democracy since the Alien and Sedition Acts.[*](I feel like I should cite something more recent than the Alien and Sedition Acts, but when I think of the greatest threats to our democracy, that's one that immediately comes to mind. Moreover, the Alien and Sedition Acts have a lot of parallels to the current situation, because they made it illegal to criticize the government and also made it legal to deport immigrants for essentially no reason...sound familiar? Also, that happened fairly soon after America's founding--during John Adams' administration--so I kind of like to remind people that that almost ended our democracy before it even really got started, and yet we survived it, so we ought to be able to survive what we're going through now.) Is that how they're going to frame it in history books? "In October 2016, Kermit the Frog secretly died,[*](or, arguably, suffered a fate worse than death by having his soul ripped away from him, poor little green guy) and a month later, in November, vulgarian TV star Donald Trump, who stood in direct opposition to everything that Kermit represents, became president. Coincidence? Break into small groups and discuss."
To be clear, I am NOT saying that the Disney-Whitmire schism is directly related to the vagaries being committed by the Trump administration, nor am I suggesting that it is a crisis on par with the constitutional crisis that this so-called administration has forced us into. However, I do believe that the ruthless, greedy, unwarranted, shortsighted, self-serving stupidity that caused Disney to cut ties with Whitmire is related to the ruthless, greedy, shortsighted, and clumsily self-serving stupidity that prompted Trump père to fire James Comey and that prompted Trump fils to meet with the lawyer from the Kremlin. Perhaps that kind of ruthless, greedy, shortsighted, self-serving stupidity has always been endemic in our culture, but it seems like it is becoming increasingly virulent with every passing year, and it's heartbreaking to see it tainting Jim Henson's creations, and it's frightening to see these two worlds bleed into one another when they should be entirely separate.
You know...let me just play devil's advocate for a minute--literally.[*](Just kidding. I don't actually think Donald Trump is the devil. I think the devil is probably a whole lot smarter than he is. But I do think that Trump is the devil's pawn.)
Given the fact that James Comey provided the final straw that tipped the election in Trump's favor and essentially handed him the presidency, I can understand why Trump would deduce from that that Comey was on his side. I can understand why he would think that Comey would be receptive to a demand for loyalty from him. It makes sense when you look at it from Trump's point of view, because that's the way things work in Trump's world.
I didn't watch all of the testimony today, just a bit at the end, but I sure as hell hope that at least one of those senators asked Comey where the hell his loyalties actually lie. I can see that it's in Comey's interest, as a former spy, to play his loyalties and motivations close to the vest, but the way he kept moving the goalposts around with regard to when to discuss or not discuss an ongoing investigation was positively infuriating.
It's interesting to see how Comey gets colored in the press as this whole drama unfolds. Immediately after the election, he was the fascist stooge and traitor to democracy. Then, once he got fired, suddenly he's the patriotic martyr and savior of democracy. As for me, I will never forget Comey's past sins, but if his testimony serves to bring Trump down, I might be able to forgive them. It would be an ironic yet fitting turn of events if the man who elevated Trump to the presidency is ultimately the same man to depose him.
You know what? I think that I just figured out to whom or what Comey is actually loyal: the FBI. I just realized that every time he's been asked to account for why he did or didn't comment on an investigation, his answer always has something to do with how it would reflect on the Bureau.
So that's something, I guess. He is loyal to something. I just wish I had confidence that he is also loyal to our country.
So, my first thought on hearing James Comey was fired was, "Deserved and long overdue." He was a lousy FBI director with rotten judgment. He is nauseous, and he makes me feel nauseated.[*](It's a linguistic pet peeve of mine when people confuse the words "nauseous" and "nauseated", although even doctors get it wrong. "Nauseous" describes something so horrible and disgusting that observing it makes one feel sick to one's stomach. "Nauseated" refers to the condition of being sick to one's stomach, i.e. having nausea. To illustrate with a sample sentence, it would be correct to say, "The nauseous sight of his hand after it was mangled in the industrial accident made me feel nauseated.")
But my second thought was, "Why?" Then they tried to feed us the line that it was because of the Hillary e-mail investiscandal thingie, and I immediately became skeptical.
In the first place, why would Trump fire the person whose fatal step ultimately led to his "victory"? And in the second place, even if Trump did want to punish him for such a thing (which would be completely out of character) why would he wait nearly four months after taking office to do it? That literally makes no sense whatsoever.
Whereas Trump firing Comey for not playing the company way on Russia--i.e., for investigating the Russian connection to the election, campaign, etc.--would be completely in character and would make perfect sense according to Trumpian logic.
The only thing I'm not sure about is if this would represent the greatest treason. I suspect this may just be the tip of the treason iceberg.