Amoeblog

Happy Missouri Day! - Yup, It's aready been a yurr since the last'n

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 15, 2008 12:42am | Post a Comment
MISSOURI DAY

The 3rd Wednesday of the October, this year the 15th.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Missouri


In my experience, when you'ins tell people you’re from Missouri, most people reply self-satisfiedly with "don't you mean Missouruh?" or, alternately, "where is Missouri? I don’t think I’ve ever been there."

Whether Missouri is Lower Midwestern or Upper Southern (or the Border South or, the Upland South, or less commonly today, the Yeoman South) is a somewhat common debate amongst Missourians... at least on the internet.

In my experience, Missouri's Midwestern neighbors, centered along the Great Lakes, (haters) tend to disparage Mighty Mo as a hick state whurr test scores are low, the accent is ugly and you'ins can buy fireworks, liquor and ammo... all in the same place.

Missouri's neighbors in the Deep South (also haters) usually don't consider it to be Southern because Missouri didn't side with the South in the Civil War (well, that's complicated-- thurr were 30,000 gray and 109,000 blue) and because South Coasters love to equate the entire South with just the Deep South aka the Lower South aka the Plantation South.

As far as Southern credentials go, Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, Thomas Hart Benton all seem fairly Southern, do they not? On the other hand, natives like T.S. Elliot, William Burroughs and Maya Angelou don’t so much, huh? Cultural cringe I reckon, plays a part in this confusion, as do geographical overlap and historical shifts.


Happy Valentine's Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 14, 2008 12:51pm | Post a Comment

      

It's Valentines Day. Pshaw! A Hallmark Holiday, you say. Singles Awareness Day, another jokes. I guess every holiday has its Scrooge. I have my Ngoc-Thu. My friend Nick Pinto would gripe about Valentine's, Christmas or (especially) 4/20. He doesn't need holidays to legislate his behavior. And yet his love of Halloween never once carried into the rest of the year. Why not don a Boba Fett costume and go door-to-door stating "Trick or Treat!" in March, you rebels? Despite what cynics claim about the supposed commercial origins of Valentine's Day, the oldest known association of St. Valentine's Feast Day with romantic love occurs in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules which was published back in 1382. In it he wrote,



For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chesehis make.

It was written to commemorate the engagement of the 13-year-old Richard II to 14-year-old (cougar) Anne of Bohemia. The "volantynys" or "valentine" is variously assumed to be either Valentine (Valentinus) of Rome or Valentine of Terni, who may've been the same person or, more likely, never existed. Valentines, from at least that point on, have held special significance for lovers. By the 1850s, Esther Howland was mass-producing and selling Valentines after taking her inspiration from an English Valentine. Hallmark, the Missouri-based mass producer of greeting cards, began producing Valentines 532 years after Chaucer's remark, making accusations that they're behind the holiday somewhat less than likely.

       

I suspect that the roots of the holiday go back further, since nothing of St. Valentine's legend makes any mention of love, chocolate or sexy underwear. I can't find any support for this on the internet but I recall Hillbillies marked the day peculiarly. I think Valentine's Day was the day that birds supposedly chose mates and Hillbilly farmers would rise out of bed and wordlessly (lest they decrease the fertility) sow seeds with nothing on but a gourd tied around their waist, placed in front of their crotches.

Before you laugh, non-Hillbillies engage in their own rituals, some with less obvious purpose:

Flowers. For example, nothing says "My old lady will henpeck me if I don't do this" like the passionless chore of buying a dozen red roses. At Valentine's Day, due to the demands of masses who care enough to send the very least, you can be assured that you'll pay top dollar for the worst roses South America has to offer. Lame variations I saw in my days as a delivery guy: 13 red roses (i.e. the extra mile), two dozen roses (you've got money to waste, twice the ego and zero imagination) and a dozen roses of mixed color (how wacky). Any version of rose-giving ensures that this Valentine's Day will be indistinguishable from every other, and you from every other lame ex. You could get a trumpet vase full of tulips that look much nicer for much less cash. And they don't have to be red. Or you could get something erotic and suggestive like an arrangement with antheriums. 
 

Continue reading...

Summer of Sequels Presents -- Jason Bourne

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 13, 2007 10:05pm | Post a Comment





Jason Bourne
is a guy who's trying to remember his past and figure out who he is because he suffers from amnesia. In the course of his quest he was informed that his real name is David Webb and he was born in Nixa, Missouri but he seems to totally ignore that, or at least they don't depict him trying to glean anything from this. 

So I'm here to help fill in the blanks, like it or not. No spoiler warning.

"Webb" is an occupational family name meaning (in Old English) "weaver." OK, so at least the paternal branch of Jason/David's family is from the British Isles. He looks pretty Irish. Nixa, Missouri is in the Ozark Mountains. In 1717, the Ulster-Scots, aka Scots-Irish, began to move to the area which was by then mostly abandoned or otherwise depopulated by the indigenous population after a 13th century famine.




The Ozarks, a mix of the Shire and Rivendell

Rich, slave-owning planters on the South Coast called the new inhabitants "hillbillies" because (according 
to one theory) as Protestants back in the British Isles, they had supported William III "Billy" of Orange and lived in the hills/highlands.

During the Civil War, Missouri was split between pro-Union sympathizers and those who were pro-Confederate. The state was represented by stars on both
nations' flags. Confederate sympathizers called Border Ruffians waged war the impoverished hillbillies who were often pro-Union. 

The Chicago Tribune wrote of them as “a queer-looking set, slightly resembling human beings, but more closely allied … to wild beasts…They never shave or comb their hair, and their chief occupation is loafing around whiskey shops, squirting tobacco juice, and whittling with a dull jack-knife.” The next few years, in addition to the Civil War, the state became mired in what was known as the Bushwacker War.

The Ozarks continue to have a distinct culture. They call heavy downpours "gully washers" or "frog stranglers." They say "yins" instead of "y'all." Ozarkians frequently complain about characterizations of them as poor, crazy, sleazy, gun-toting, moonshine-making, backwards folk and then they go and sell stuff like a corncob as "Hillbilly toilet paper" in every gas station. And then there is a mountain in the Ozarks called "Knob Lick mountain." And every truck has a gun-rack in the window.



And they have both Branson...

 

...and the Precious Moments Chapel, founded by born-again Christian and family man Sam Butler, who was famously always accompanied by adolescent Filipino boys.

Ozarkians held the interest of film-goers and tv watchers, radio-listeners and comic-readers throughout the 20th century but particularly in the second,  which gave us:

Lum & Abner (1932)

Lil' Abner (1934)

Beverly Hillbillies (1962)

                                                         Snuffy Smith (1934)                                                                 Ma & Pa Kettle (1947)


*****

   
Real Ozark Hillbillies

The slogan of Nixa, Missouri is "The Progressive Choice of the Ozarks." It has a Motel 8, a McDonald's, a Taco Bell, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Sonic Drive In, Otts Pasta, Smitty's Supermarket and Restaurant and five strip malls.

So, despite Nixa's wealth of riches, Jason/David gave it up and left. He must've learned to code-switch and eliminate aspects of his idiolect that would betray his hillbilly origins. He got involved with the government and the rest is detailed in the films.

The lastest Bourne film, the Bourne Ultimatum is a lot like the previous installments. It met my expectations. Jason goes to France, New York City, London, Russia, Spain and Tangier. He runs and chases and frequently metes out Krav Maga, a cool-looking fighting style developed by Jews first to protect themselves from Nazis in the 1930s, and perfected in Israel in the 1940s. 

After the Bourne Supremacy, Bourne fans' most common complaint was director Paul "shakycam" Greengrass' heavy reliance on that early 90s fad which is used, I guess, to make us feel like we're really there... like we're invisible and shaking whilst we watch the action from behind potted plants, writhing and convulsing completely unseen by the film's characters. Or maybe it's supposed to be the distracting Brechtian technique that it is, calling attention to itself, reminding us that this is a film, not real life, so remain detached and reflective. Whatever the reason, he uses it less, which still annoyed me because it doesn't need to be there at all. When my friend Hien saw it, he had to excuse himself to throw-up.

One other thing that totally confused me, and I am admittedly a bit slow, was Albert Finney as Albert Hirsh.

In the previous Bourne movies Ward Abbot was played by Brian Cox.

I spent the duration of the latest film thinking they were one in the same, whilst scratching my head trying to remember events of the previous two films. Blackbriar. Treadstone. Names and details don't seem that important but all of the sudden, Albert Finney comes in doing what seems like a Brian Cox impression with slobbery mumbles and looking over his glasses. Maybe I'm the only person that confuses them (although Brian Cox has a bit of Marlon Brando in him too).

Anyway, despite what I felt were relatively minor but annoying flaws, I came out of the theatre really wanting to get into a fight that involves whatever's in reach and to drive recklessly through the streets and alleys, and I think that's the real point.


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