Today: a heartfelt apology for the Pax flap; Arnold’s victory foretold in T3; snow. In reverse order:

We were supposed to get NINE FEET of snow this weekend. At least EIGHT FEET was supposed to fall on Friday. We got nothing. Saturday, we got a mild minor dusting – enough to make the Christmas lights and decorations look as though they weren’t pushing things. Gnat and I went to Southdale Saturday night, during THE STORM OF THE CENTURY; my wife was going to a party held by a friend of a girl Gnat plays with. (Wife looked knuckle-chewingly fine; can’t blame her for dolling up, since most of the people at the party would be Brazilian. How that nation got gifted with such physical fabulousness I’ll never know.) We drove to the Mall just as THE STORM started.

I like driving in the snow, because it requires me to unlearn all my daily start-stop-mash-the-pedal impatience; snow driving ought has a calm, hey-mon aspect that turns me into an otherwise typical Minnesota driver, i.e., completely uninterested in the speed of the person behind me. When it snows, I become a Right Lane driver, and as we know in the Right Lane you are exempt from pressure. From tailgating. From the honkers and Type As desperate to get their second heart attack on the schedule. If you’re doing the limit in the right lane you are in a state of grace. So I slide over and slow down and let the maniacs scream past. See you down the road, friend. In the ditch. If it’s bad snow, it’s not a relaxing event – you’re tight and alight in watchful dog-mode. Are things okay? Check. Are things okay? Check. Are things okay? Check. But the relief upon arriving is magnificent; you feel as though you've crossed the Northwest Territories on snowshoes to deliver polio vaccine.

Hours after we got home the real snow began, and never let up until it had remade the world. Woke up this morning, and it was Verdict: Winter. Every evergreen bough groaned with half a foot of snow; the streets and sidewalks had disappeared. We went sliding down the hill today – not at the speed gravity intended, since that would have put us right into traffic, and I do believe that getting run over by a car the first time it snows would be the height of stupidity. Gnat was nevertheless terrified and thrilled, screaming all the way down, catching her breath and begging AGAIN! We will, we will; winter's just begun. For the last few years it's come too late, and this makes people nervous. Right on time this year. White Christmases we take for granted, but our secret Festive-emtion-inducing trick? White Thanksgivings.

Got one.

I watched T3 over the weekend, and found it an interesting foreshadowing of Arnold’s gubernatorial bid. In the first big action sequence the Terminator finds himself plastered on the window of a firetruck, which of course symbolizes government. (It’s a publicly-owned vehicle, after all.) “I’ll drive,” he says, announcing his bid. He moves to the drivers’s side and says “Get out,” which symbolizes his victory over Gray Davis, and perhaps his inauguration as well. His next big dramatic line: “Give me your cutting tool.” If this bothers those who fear a reduced budget, his next line is meant to assert his power: “RELAX,” he shouts.

Later he gives a key to his worldview: “Anger is more useful than despair,” he says, adding “Basic psychology is one of my subroutines.” But towards the end of the movie he truly places himself in the hands of the public:

“Your gratitude is not required. I am programmed to follow your commands.”

I tell you, it’s all there, right from the beginning. The entire movie set up the campaign!

As for the movie itself? Well, I’m watching Carnivale, which features this skinny haunted guy who looks like a bleached version of Dr. Bashir on Deep Space Nine; he may or may not be a messiah figure. Imagine my surprise when the same guy shows up in T3 as the skinny haunted guy who may or may not be a messiah figure. I am hesistant to see trailers for Gibson’s “Passion.” The movie lacked the spookiness of Robert Patrick’s liquid terminator or Linda Hamilton’s singlemindedness. T2 was the first of the great 90s blockbusters, and it felt bigger than it actually was. (Just saw it again a few months ago, so I’m not just dissing it for no reason.) The end went on far too long, and wasn’t it conveeenient that they managed to wind up in a deserted steel mill in full production? As I noted before, T2 is studded with clunky dialogue, and that thumbs-up at the end is really unforgiveble; it's like Bogey pumping his fist and shouting YESSSS! at the end of Casablanca. Not that T2 is anywhere close to Casablanca, of course, but we're talking about Iconic Cultural Figures here. T1 made Arnold and T2 sealed it, but that had more to do with the final product than the impressive elements Cameron assembled. The parts were greater than the whole, but all you remembered was the whole, because the parts were so good

(slaps self hard, across the cheek)

Sorry. Writing myself into a mobius strip. It happens. Anyway: I hate to say it, but I think enjoyed T3 more than T2. It’s not freighted with its own self-importance. You don’t feel Cameron’s presence, which is good – lacking his jittery nuclear nightmares the film has a swiftness its predecessor lacked. Action? Oh yes. Oh my. And a twist ending T2 could not have foreseen. Early on there’s a moment that makes you realize why people love Arnold – his reappearance echoes the scene that kicked off T2, when he enters a biker bar. Except this time it’s a strip joint on ladies’ night. When he leaves he’s in the old familiar leathers, and as before he reaches for the sunglasses in the pocket and puts them on. Bad to the bone! Except that these are Elton-John star glasses, and he looks ridiculous. It’s a big wink from Arnold: Laugh at me – I do! But don’t vurry, I vill destroy somezing soon.

Okay. The Pax Apology.

I’m sorry I swore. And by “swear” I mean the king-hell effenheimer, which I use maybe once a year on this site. That just shows the power of swearing when you’re not known for swearing – drop the word all the effin’ time and no one fargin’ blinks an eye when you say it for the fiftieth fricken’ time. But it was the only word that really fit what I felt. And I didn’t use it rashly; I’d written that little passage about Mr. Pax the day before, then let it sit to see if that’s how I felt 24 hours later. It was. Les mots juste. What did it get me? Linkage galore, delinkage galore, and even my own Fark thread. (Rule of thumb: if someone give you the HERO tag, it’s only a matter of time before someone insists you get the DUMBASS. Or vice versa.) Nice mail; horrid mail. You’d think I spent every day complaining about commie homersegjuls, Hillary Clinton, and them ragheads over there what needs a gud nukin’. All in all, the sort of thing that just makes me want to shut up and write about Bounty towels. Who needs it?

Okay, to repeat. This was not about someone Standing Up and Dissenting. It was about the quality of the criticism. If you say that George Bush invaded Iraq because he is a bloodthirsty moron compensating for a penis the size of a sewing thimble, I’m free to conclude that you have nothing to add to the debate. If you say that the invasion was a grand mistake predicated on wretched intel and a misguided attempt to unilaterally transform regional politics, you’ve made an intelligent point, and we can argue about that. I wasn’t criticizing Pax for being critical. It was his fatuous, smirky tone and insubstantial jibes. He had the tone of a Berlin cabaret MC who’d made Gestapo jokes in private and now was famous for making Eisenhower jokes in public. He sounded like someone amusing himself by dressing down a servant.

Rambo references. Please.

There are better blogs by Iraqis, and I point you here because Jarvis has been one of the guys who’s been on top of the Iraqi blogger situation; he deserves the credit and the traffic.

To continue: I wasn’t making the chickenblogger charge – you didn’t fight so you can’t criticize. I don’t believe that. As I stated, I would have done no more than he did, and perhaps less. But people did die to destroy the regime, and now that it’s gone he can publish books, fly to London, watch the Matrix sequels the day they’re released; I even imagine he can walk around Baghdad and take pictures without worrying whether an American soldier will beat him senseless with a rifle butt or put him in a car, never to be seen again. This doesn’t mean he shouldn’t point out the myriad screwups. Doesn't mean he can't wash his hands of the entire magilla and do what he wants. By all means. Whatever. But if you're going to pop off in the paper to greet Al-Chimp, you know, a jot of honest gratitude would be seemly. If only on behalf of those who lacked his connections, his family position, his international Man of Mystery persona. Fashionable lightweight cynicism no doubt plays well in the Guardian offices, as it does in every other newspaper office I’ve ever been in. But such froth curdles quickly.

(What really made that sentence pretentious was the "such," don't you think? )

So that’s what I meant. But I think that was apparent. At least I warned you; hard language and intemperate rhetoric. As I said, I can’t make everyone happy. You want someone to rail about the gays, go elsewhere. You want someone to jump up and down on Rush and Hillary every day, this isn’t your place. This isn’t a political site, but I have my opinions, and the only ones I think matter now have to do with the war. That changed things.

I’d like my daughter to see the glories of Paris some day. (Yes, Paris. And I say that as someone who had a Frenchman sit at my kitchen table and say yes, Bush is much like Hitler. A sensible, amiable, educated man. Came to America, got a good job in a snap, bought a house, a car, settled in. And Bush is much like Hitler.) For her to go to Paris means that A) France must remain free and Western, and B) she’s not killed before she gets there because someone blew up her office building. Oh, but what do we expect, when we invade Muslim countries? Fine. Why did they blow up the World Trade Center in 1993? Because we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait? Yes! And if we’d turned a blind eye to that, and struck back only when Saddam invaded Saudi Arabia, then we’d be accused of supporting him in his previous war. We can’t win. And according to this line of thought, winning is something we shouldn’t be thinking about. It’s the wrong way to look at the world. Only losers win.

I’ve never been one of those people who think that America should walk around like an elephant and crush everyone else into a thin red paste. But if the other side regards themselves as war with you, and victory is their objective, you’re a fool not to pay notice.

These are not entirely unreasonable fears. And so I am not persuaded by those whose objections seem calculated to win style points from the sideline judges. I apologize for using a hard, nasty word. And for nothing else.

Note: this qualifies as a “brave stance” only in the windy world of the internet, where someone in Minnesota writes as though he might be, well, something other than someone in Minnesota. Here’s a soldier in Iraq. By all means, take me off your bookmarks, but add someone who’s there.

It's a wild world, and different people react in ways they might have never expected. When the tide of terror recedes, it exposes an endless beach of bones. Some people want the bones exhumed; some want the tide, any tide, to cover them again. Some want to build a seawall. Some draw up plans to blame the moon; others wonder who built the roads down to the shore. And some complain because the pointy ends hurt their feet when they walk on the sand. Can’t someone deliver some flip-flops, already? People will always surprise and disappoint. It's the nature of the beast.

Good for us that the beast only half of who we are.

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