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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Auklets And Manliness

This is not really encouraging. Rhinoceros Auklets are washing up dead on the Oregon coast:

Beach observers say the birds started washing up this month off southern Oregon, and hundreds of carcasses, as many as 20 to 30 per mile, were reported last week.

Rhinoceros auklets live most of their lives at sea. They are scrappy, constant flyers and look like little footballs, almost pointy on the ends, black on top and white underneath.
The colonies further south are reported to be in good shape. I hope they are testing for possible H5N1. I have written before that the raptors (hawks, eagles) seem to be much diminished in my area. Late Sunday night my bulldog showed up joyfully with a hunk of what Chief No-Nag said was buzzard. Naturally I took it away from her. She got it out of the field, I believe.

Turning to a totally different topic, I hardly even know what to say about Ruth Marcus having a fit about manliness in the Washington Post. She appears to be auditioning for the next Maureen Dowd job opening:

I have a new theory about what's behind everything that's wrong with the Bush administration: manliness.

"Manliness" is the unapologetic title of a new book by Harvey C. Mansfield, a conservative professor of government at Harvard University, which makes him a species as rare as a dissenting voice in the Bush White House. Mansfield's thesis is that manliness, which he sums up as "confidence in the face of risk," is a misunderstood and unappreciated attribute.
This is an administration headed by a cowboy boot-wearing brush-clearer, backstopped by a quail-shooting fly fisherman comfortable with long stretches of manly silence -- very "Brokeback Mountain," except this crowd considers itself too manly for such PC Hollywood fare. "I would be glad to talk about ranchin', but I haven't seen the movie," Bush told a questioner.
As to a couple of Marcus' other "points", you definitely don't want introspection and self-doubt in a commander while we're at war. The Dems voted to give the President the authority to go in. They didn't have to. Bush made his case to the UN with partial success. It was not a unilateral type of thing. Whether Marcus can stand to face it or not, we were engaged in a military operation in Iraq when Bush took office. He didn't start this, and I don't think he even had the option to continue with the status quo. Would Marcus prefer that we bailed and hung the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south out to dry?

Bush gave a speech recently in which he presented a solid critique of some tactics used earlier in Iraq, and discussed how tactics were changed. Non-introspective? How about someone trying to get a tough job done with the minimum loss of life? One thing about Bush - he does seem to have some real sympathy with actual real live Iraqis:

Just put yourself in the shoes of the citizens of Tal Afar as all this was happening. On the one side, you hear coalition and Iraqi forces saying they're coming to protect you -- but they'd already come in once, and they had not stopped the terrorists from coming back. You worry that when the coalition goes after the terrorists, you or your family may be caught in the crossfire, and your city might be destroyed. You don't trust the police. You badly want to believe the coalition forces really can help you out, but three decades of Saddam's brutal rule have taught you a lesson: Don't stick your neck out for anybody.
Marcus seems to view the Iraqi war as a political football. Minh-Duc of State of Flux is as manly a man as I can imagine. He embodies manly virtues such as courage, self-sacrifice, gentleness and courtesy. I would love to see a debate between Ruth Marcus and Minh-Duc; it would rapidly become clear who was self-serving.

It is not the president's job to respond personally to hurricanes. He is not the Marlboro Man, and those who thought Bush could ride in on his white charger and magically make everything better are carrying some sort of completely unrealistic John Wayne movie type of scenario in their heads. I can't even imagine what Marcus is thinking on this topic.

As for Bush's nefarious manliness in not commenting on Brokeback Mountain, you are not going to get the average heterosexual male to see that movie, much less comment on it. There is a thundering silence from decent, kindly guys on the topic, which I will break to educate Ruth.
1) Guys are not really into relationship movies. If they go, it's usually because they are hoping for sex from their girlfriend afterwards. Somehow, your average straight guy does not think that a movie about gay cowboys would be as effective.
2) Most guys are really not into other guys having butt-sex. It's not a draw for het guys. Lesbians getting it on = YES, homosexuals getting it on = NO.
3) What your average guy thinks if he has read the story, which is available online, is that the movie is not about a homosexual love story, but about men behaving badly. Men being dishonest. Men sleeping around on their wives. Guys with any tinge of gentlemanliness are not going to comment on the movie because they think it reinforces every nasty thing anyone has ever said about character defects in gay men.
4) It's a mark of Hollywood/PC culture's deep divide from the American people that they do not realize that Jerry Falwell would be proud of having made "Brokeback Mountain". Your average guy is really not naturally monogamous. To them, being faithful to their wives represents a sacrifice required by fairness and decency.

(Somewhat of a digression: Howard of Oraculations has written a series of posts about the movie industry. His latest addresses some emails asking about the economics of politically correct movies that are really not a huge draw at the theater. I didn't know the stuff about packaging, for example.)

as far as Brokeback Mountain goes, it's a chick flick without the chick, the only attractive part of most chick flicks.
Many women liked the movie, many men didn't or didn't see it. I was at the park yestewrday with my male dog. Another dog tried to mount him, and my dog as most male dogs will, turned on him with fangs bared.
This was not a case of life imitating art.
Tommy, that's what it is. Men are staying discreetly and genteelly silent about this, but it was never going to attract your average guy.

Mike, I think you are pointing out that men and women are different! And they are. I read the story, and I don't get out to see any movies, so I don't know whether I would have liked it.

The story struck me as quite tragic. I find it very interesting how many man are willing to express in PRIVATE that they don't regard the movie as pro-gay. Not that I blame you all for not wanting to get the next round of hollering about rigid gender stereotypes should you be honest in public.

The story struck me as being very human, unrealistic as to the sex part, and ended tragically. It didn't seem like any sort of gay love story to me. If Hollywood wants to make a pro-gay movie, perhaps it should do one about GayPatriot or someone like him.
Both you and Tommy are right. Brokeback was made for men like ballet lessons are a part of the male experience.

That said, manliness is easy to understand.

Men look at a problem and then fix the problem. We do not talk about the problem, discuss the problem with friends or let the problem interfere with our feelings.

We may be wrong- in which case, we will go back and do it again, the right way.

Men want to take a stand and solve problems. Women want to talk about problems and look for guarantees.

In other words, 'manliness' isn't about men only- it is about attitudes.
MOM, it was tragic. I think the story was done with greater effect in "Same Time Next Year" with Alan Alda. That one brings me to tears every time I see it!
My "Girl" friends call it a tender love story. I saw nothing tender in the interactions between the two men, just a lot of pain and in their wives and their children.
I saw Brokeback. My girlfriend took me to it (in retaliation, I think, for dragging her to see one of my movies). There, I admitted it. And what did I think? I thought it was UNBELIEVABLY BORING. It was slow and monotonous, nothing got blown up, there were no witty one-liners and no hot chicks carrying rocket launchers. Utterly uninteresting!

But, of course, the real reason I didn't like the movie, according to Frank Rich, is that I'm homophobic.

(By the way, my girlfriend thought it was pretty boring as well. Like most liberal projects nowadays, it took itself WAY too seriously. Is this one of those pieces of art that everybody has to pretend to like because it perfectly fits the current state of PC culture, but deep inside everybody knows is kind of empty?)
SC&A, I think you are right about that description from a man's point of view. From a woman's point of view sometimes it veers into excess. But men do seem to be focused on solving one problem at a time. I think that is usually a great, great strength.

There are no guarantees in life. Anyone who thinks there are needs some sort of therapy.

Anyway, I learned something from the article - I'm going to buy the "Manly" book that caused Marcus the hysterics as a birthday present for my brother. Somehow I doubt he'll have hysterics over it.
Pedro - your "no hot chicks carrying rocket launchers" is pretty much how one of my brothers described the ideal movie to me.

Earlier I was going to use the book "Pride and Prejudice" as an example of men not liking relationship stuff. I love that book. I have never met a guy who thought it was worth reading. To them it seems to be an agony.

So I understand your reaction. I even sympathize with it. The story was interesting, but tragic. But I did wonder how it would look played out over hours.

What gets me is that Hollywood seems to intensely believe that this movie is some sort of epic blow for justice. I don't see how it could be. I think they are just out of touch with average people.

Of course, marital fidelity is apparently an unknown concept in show biz. How would they understand how many people would see this story? I don't think the average male HAS ANY VOICE in Hollywood.

And Mike is right. It is tragic.
Of course, marital fidelity is apparently an unknown concept in show biz.

And from what I see around me, it's also an unknown concept outside of showbiz. (I think that's why I write the kind of fiction I do; the only way I can see a female as capable of virtue is if she is clearly *NOT* human.)

IRL, I look for a place where I could find a virgin bride who'll stay faithful, and I always come to the same conclusions: The Handmaid's Tale and Islam.
I don't know where you live, but I can guess.

Around here, marital fidelity is not an unknown or unpracticed behavior either in men or women. I have noticed that male/female relationships seem to be a lot better than in the metro areas. Around here most people would probably think "metrosexual" meant promiscuous.

On the other hand, I would bet than in most areas in the entire US the average married person is not sleeping around on his or her spouse.

There is a lot of quiet, unspoken virtue in this country. You don't see it on TV; it exists in the lives of the people.
I don't know where you live, but I can guess.

Southern California.

Ground Zero of The Sexual Revolution (TM).
Same Anon as the last two, outing self.

1) Where I'm profiled on a Wiki:


2) Sample of art & link to my only fiction on the Web:


Have been posting anonymously on a lot of your blog & like the freewheeling. Would have preferred to out self via private email, but could not find any address on your blog pages.
Ground Zero indeed. Somehow everything is always taken to excess in CA.

Do you think the sexual revolution has worked out for men? I don't.

Also, all the proposals I have seen about how to fix the inequity seem to end up assigning even more responsibility to men. These ideas about "child support pools" are frightening.
Anon Writer - (your new name here, abbreviated as AW), that's an interesting story!

I haven't read all of it but this:
"You created me, Monsieur, and in creating me you condemn me to death," she continued. "What crime have I committed to deserve la guillotine, to 'sneeze into the sack' before a cheering mob?"

"N-none; you're - innocent."

reminded me about what I see as the problem with our media culture. We are largely debating about fantasy constructs, and in the process we are hurting ourselves.
Anon Writer - (your new name here, abbreviated as AW), that's an interesting story!

Yeah. It just wrote itself back in '99, when I was doing some French Revolution-themed pieces for the AnthroCon art show. Figured any story that could do that had to have power behind it.

The story itself is very autobiographical -- you could make a case that the only element in it NOT based on actual reality IS the unicorn mare.

I couldn't find a publisher (not even among the fanzines), so a friend (with whom I'm working on a novel-length collaboration) agreed to post it up on his site. (I met said friend -- who has to use the pseudonym "Heavy Horse" in that context -- through that same unicorn. He saw the pic at the art show, got hit up side the head by it, and looked me up. At which point he read the accompanying story and got the same baseball-bat-up-side-the-head reaction. We used a dramatic reading of it to kick off a panel presentation on "Transcending the Animal".)
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