Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Ramble Through the News

Today, the New York Times quoted the most widely-circulated newspaper in Spain, El Pais: ''A grave infection in the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications have left the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave prognosis.'' I tittered. Just before Christmas Castro’s doctor said. “Mr. Castro could make a full recovery, but required muscular rehabilitation and a strict diet.” I tittered then, too, even though he wasn’t described as being “in a grave condition”. Ever since my hometown newspaper referred to someone who was sick as being in a grave condition, I have tee-hee’d at the phrase. I was about ten years old the first time I read it. The Editor of the Paxton Daily Record realized the word had two meanings, so he put grave in quotes. Heh! Heh-heh! When I read the NYT piece about the hanging of Saddam’s brother-in-law, I noticed John F. Burns had written it. This Brit has been embedded in Iraq since Bush started his ego-war. He is a reporter for CNN. Why doesn’t he cut his hair? I can’t stand looking at him. I mean his hair is very gray and curly and very long. It’s not that he doesn’t get his hair cut at all. If he didn’t cut his hair ever, it would be sticking out four feet from his head. So his hair does get cut. But it’s kept uniformly untidy and unkempt, as though the man is just too busy keeping alive in Baghdad to get a haircut. But he does get his hair cut. It’s cut to look unkempt and untidy to match Burns’s mental image of a war correspondent. Fah! Anyway, as I read the Burns piece that the hanging of Saddam’s half-brother resulted in a decapitation, I was reminded of an old Hitchcock Presents episode. It was the horror of the scene that took me back to the TV show. I could not imagine watching a man’s head fall off. The hanging would be barbaric enough, but the accidental decapitation was beyond barbaric, it would be so macabre as to be Grand Guignol, in the French theater tradition. My memory of the Hitchcock show was that a ventriloquist was actually the dummy and the dummy was the ventriloquist. A woman falls in love with the ventriloquist because she comes to every performance. Finally, the ventriloquist invites her to his hotel room. When she comes into the room he’s sitting in darkness. They talk. She reaches out to touch him and he falls to the floor and his head falls off. In desperation she tries to stick the head back on But when I looked up the episode, (Hitchcock Presents-“The Glass Eye” with Jessica Tandy and Billy Barty), the head did not fall off, a glass eye fell out. Oh well, I like my version better. Finally, I have never seen an unfunnier movie than “The Devil Wears Prada”, but Meryl Streep won a Golden Globes comedy award for it last night. And even though “30 Rock” is one of the worst shows on television, Alec Baldwin was awarded a Golden Globes for it. You want funny? You want weird? You want horror? Watch the news.

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