Category Archives: Alexander Stephens

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday

THE QUOTE

Dave: “Did you ever go to confession?”

Moocher: “Twice.”

Dave: “Did it make you feel better?”

Moocher: “Once.”

— Dialogue from “Breaking Away

Publicity Still from "Breaking Away"

TERROR ALERT!

We really haven’t given much thought to the idea of domestic terrorism since the financial crash of 2007/08 — which, by the way, was a government-sponsored, systematic terrorist act all its own.

In the weeks following 9/11 every single one of us was scared to death that mad Arabs would be flying airplanes into skyscrapers of every big city and parking trucks full of fertilizer-based explosives outside public libraries from Bedford to Skokie.

Bedford (IN) Library

A Target?

Even I, the World’s Smartest Man, who was telling people within hours of the Twin Towers falling that the attack was a one-off, that nothing even remotely like it would happen again within the foreseeable future, still harbored in my heart an irrational, petrifying fear that we were in for it.

Then, of course, we flexed our muscles and marched headlong into a bizarrely truncated war in Afghanistan, with our president, who was being compared to Churchill in the aftermath of the attacks (no lie), deciding to cut off the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and send our soldiers into the meat grinder that was Iraq.

Before long, and after toppling the governments of two sovereign nations, we began to think of ourselves less as victims and more as the people who ruled the world.

And we were, militarily, culturally, economically — just about every which way you cared to look at it. Then the investment bankers and their pimps in Washington saw their double-downs and double-crosses blow up like…, well, like a terrorist’s bomb. With a recession bordering on depression staring us on the face, we had zero time to think about crazy Arabs attacking us.

Blankfein, Dimon, et al

Domestic Terrorists

Still, this holy land spends hundreds of millions of dollars — nay, billions — on blue-uniformed, inadequately trained, cheap labor to protect our airports, and bureaucrats, pencil-pushers, and wonks to man our Department of Homeland Security.

You’d think we’d just spent the past decade-plus enduring attacks from every side.

We haven’t. Not only that, we have been living, fatly, in the safest country in the world, in terms of wild-eyed outsiders coming here and blowing us up. Never mind that our own citizens are shooting each other up like those of no other nation in the history of the Earth.

It’s beside the point that crazy Arabs are as gnats compared to crazy Americans who prey on their fellow citizens.

Anyway, Reason magazine has run a compelling piece on terrorists and us. Here’s a taste: Did you know that fewer than 500 citizens of this holy land have been offed by outside terrorists since 1970? That, of course, is not counting 9/11, which many might counter is like saying the Hoosier men’s basketball team beat Coppin State by 87 points Saturday night if you just disregard the 51 points the Eagles scored.

On the other hand, our entire Homeland Security apparatus is based upon the outlier. It would be like Saint Tom Crean revamping the whole IU team and developing a new style of play because Coppin played tough in the first half and scored a few points.

Who knows, maybe the tens of thousands of people employed by DHS, the draconian Justice Department practices, and the PATRIOT Act have protected us from untold numbers of 9/11s. It’s impossible to know.

Read the piece, though. You won’t get any answers but, more importantly, it’ll raise questions.

COPPIN COACH’S COOL HANDLE

I know next to nothing about college basketball. Oh, I know that IU’s big gun is named Cody Zeller (did I spell his name right?) And, let’s see now, um, the Hoosiers are ranked Number 1 in the nation.

How could I live in this town and not know these two things?

Other than that, college hoops is played by somebody else’s kids, ergo I don’t care.

So I had to do some research to find out what the Hoosiers had done this weekend.

In doing so, I discovered that the coach of Coppin State has the coolest name imaginable: Fang Mitchell.

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun

Fang Mitchell

Fang Mitchell! The only other human being I’ve ever heard of with the name Fang was Phyllis Diller’s husband. And that was a gag.

Oh, and one of Soupy Sales’ animal buddies was named White Fang. Here’s a description of White Fang from Wikipedia:

“‘The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA,’ who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt ‘claws’ jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie-thrower when Soupy’s jokes bombed.”

From "The Soupy Sales Show"

Soup Sales & White Fang

Fang Mitchell’s got quite a moniker to live up to.

THE KID FROM BLOOMINGTON

Speaking of Hoosiers, The Loved One and I went out on a movie date Saturday night, while the rest of Bloomington humanity was crammed into Assembly Hall to watch IU crush Coppin State by 87 points (again, disregarding the 51 the Eagles actually scored.)

We saw “Lincoln” and T-LO cried at the end, natch, even though we already knew how it would turn out.

Anyway, we remained in our seat during the credits so the tomato could stem her leaking and, lo and behold, we learned that Jackie Earle Haley had appeared in the movie.

You remember him, don’t you? The geeky, short kid who played Moocher in “Breaking Away”?

Scene from "Breaking Away"

Moocher, Between Cyril (Daniel Stern) & Mike (Dennis Quaid)

Poor kid, he went and got married in the movie even though he was just a teenager. That scene of him going into the Monroe County Courthouse with his girlfriend sent a shiver down my spine.

Funny thing is, JEH actually did get married in 1979, the year “Breaking Away” was released. He was 18 that year.

Haley plays Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, part of a trio of emissaries who seek to negotiate a peace with Lincoln.

Scene from "Lincoln"

Haley In “Lincoln”

Moocher was the perfect role for him. Haley was born and raised in suburban Los Angeles but, honestly, he should have been a Hoosier. More specifically, he should have been a son of Bloomington. Or, better, Ellettsville.

I’ve lived in these parts for more than three years now and I’ve seen several dozen Moochers around and about. The first time I saw “Breaking Away” (only last year, by the way) I felt certain JEH was some local kid the producers had discovered to play the part.

It turns out Haley was a child star with credits going as far back as “Marcus Welby, MD” and “The Partridge Family.” Still, he screams South Central Indiana for me, the way Peewee Reese screams Louisville and John Belushi screams Chicago, the other towns in which I’ve lived.

I suppose if I had to pick an actual Bloomingtonian to scream Bloomington for me, it’d be Hoagie Carmichael, and that wouldn’t be a bad choice at all.

He edges out that man about town, Leo Cook.

Leo Cook

Leo Cook, On Vogue In An Alternate Universe

ASTRO-FIZZIES

From Science Is A Verb, via I Fucking Love Science:

Science Is A Verb

If you missed it this morning, try to catch it just before dawn tomorrow. Take note, though, that people are spreading this viral piece of misinformation about the event. As usual, reality isn’t enough for Americans so we have to concoct nonsense to entertain ourselves.

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