Conversations about culture

Bayer Asparin for Coronary Health

The ad promotes taking Bayer Asparin to prevent heart attacks. There is an older middle-aged woman who says what is surely one of the most inane things ever: "I never thought I'd have a heart attack, but I did!" Really? You never thought you'd suffer from the most common form of death in America: heart disease? I could buy: "I didn't think I'd have a heart attack" or "I thought I had avoided the scourge or heart disease." But "I never thought" I'd have one? That's simple stupidity.

Liberty Mutual's Responsibility

The second nominee is: WALL-E (2008, director: Andrew Stanton, starring Kathy Najimy, Fred Willard, and Jeff Garlin)
In what is unquestionably their best work to date, the CGI team at Disney/Pixar lands a well-deserved place on this list.  One does not normally think of the post-apocalypse when one thinks of Disney--Way to break the mold!  The story of the lonely little robot with his cockroach little buddy, left behind on an Earth devastated by consumerism and waste is remarkable--made even more so by the fact that the film is still essentially a children's movie.
You cannot help but feel the authentic sense of loss that Wall-E feels as he rolls across the devastated landscape.  The visuals are outstanding.  The picture painted of a future humanity, where Walmart is the government, no one gets out of their power chairs and every meal comes out of a cinema big gulp cup is both comic and tragic.

Having destroyed the Andean region of South America and the inner cities of North America, US drug policy is now marching like a wildfire through Central America and is now raging through the border regions of Mexico.  There is a shooting war going on south of the border.  A civil war is being fought between various poly-drug trafficking organizations and between them and the government.  The situation there is looking more and more like the situation in Colombia.  American drug policy has allowed organized criminals to amass huge coffers with which they can engage in even more nefarious activities.
It was 1987.  Ronald Reagan ruled the land with a palsy-ed, yet iron fist.  his domestic team had taken Thatcherism, given it an SUV, cut its income tax, raised its payroll tax, given it private healthcare, deregulated its savings and loan industry and unleashed it on the Ranch of the American homeland.  Abroad, the party that had given us the Shah of Iran and the Contras, brought us the Iran-Contra Affair.  Into those heady times, Alan Moore injected The Watchmen.  It was nothing less than the greatest comic/graphic novel of all time, imho (in my hubristic opinion). 

30 years ago, American conservatives were in the ascendancy.  The devil-worshipping hippies were banished to the fringes of American culture, selling organic food and practicing yoga.  The former liberal mainstream of the Democratic party had suffered the body blow of the Kennedy assassination and had seen their great society eaten alive by the war in Vietnam.  Incredibly, they had escaped the shadow of Watergate and elected their most promising president in decades.

This World Series promises to be epic.  The best two teams in the league face off and there are almost too many back stories to list.

There are the cities.  One is the faded former center of American political and economic life.  One is the megalopolis capitol of the world.  One feels the shadow of the other.  One has too many threads flowing to pay more than a passing glance to the other.

There are the teams.  One is the most successful sports franchise in history, with 40 pennants and the beneficiary of the most famous curse in baseball.  The other has a history of winning that has been over-shadowed by another curse and the all-time record for losses.

The Mad Max Trilogy (1979-1985; Director: George Miller; Starring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner and Bruce Spence)