Air conditioning one day; the furnace the next. Bare feet and shorts to thick socks and long pants. Not a gradual change, but a smack in the face - and cold all week. The other side of the early spring and summer: it dragged an early winter behind it.

At the very end, a neighborhood festival, complete with a ferris wheel.
Daughter went with her friends this year, of course; parents are an utter embarrassment. The kids in school who were the result of primogeniture must be the most envied kids in the building. That’s the appeal of Harry Potter, you know. Your parents disappear and you have friends and powers. The good life.

On Sunday night I took a walk to the festival to shoot the wheel, but I’d forgotten it ends early. So I walked elsewhere, saying goodbye to the last day when it still felt like summer. The trees are turning, true. The creek is almost dry, waiting for autumn rain. But - well, let me show you my world.

The Creek. Two blocks down the hill. Remember: this isn't the countryside; this is the City of Minneapolis.




Around the corner, an old streetcar node with shops and an ugly, if necessary, gas station; across the street, a sad old building that’s been promising something new for some time.



The sign says they finally have a design, and it’ll probably start soon.



The local restaurant, once a gas station.



Over the bridge - walk with me, if you wish:



And pause and look down.



That's the parkway that winds though the city, around the lakes. I was behind a guy who did ten miles an hour on the parkway today. He wanted to see everything. I understand! It's lovely. But could you do 15? Please? 14?

Then into the neighborhood. There are two enormous houses that command their sites quite nicely; aside from the King of Toast Castle, they’re the ones I’d most like to study.



That's a lot of house. And a lot of yard. Never see a soul around it.

That was today. This was the lake.



One of the finest summers ever. What a lovely place this is.





The fellow at the end of the Bleat last Friday:



Percy Helton. Perhaps this will help. (Brief sound file.)

It’s the creepy needy grin in his voice that does it. He’s a seedy man in a seedy movie called “Wicked Woman,” which didn’t need to be made at all. A woman wanders into town, gets a job at the bar, seduces the husband, and provokes him to . . . can you guess? Wrong: she hatches a plot wherein she’ll pose as the wife so the husband can sell the bar, and they can go to Mexico. The idea of knocking off the wife never occurs to anyone, which is interesting. It’s as if that’s a preposterous idea you find in movies and books.

The movie is strictly B, although the Wicked Woman projects something you don’t get in these vamp pictures: she’s really stupid. That’s why she’s working in cheap bars and living in run-down boarding houses. It’s not that someone did her wrong. She’s just not very bright and has good legs.

And oomph! Yes, she has a certain oomph, even though it’s blunted by her own unhappy wet-blanket personality.


That's Beverly Michaels. She didn’t have much of a career, but her son did okay: he edited the Bourne Ultimatum, United 93, co-produced "The Green Zone," and he's co-producing "Captain Phillips," a movie based on the seizure of a ship by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks plays the captain. I expect the movie will result in riots around here.

Or not.

Okay, this.

1. People are not subjected to extraordinary law enforcement scrutiny for free speech in this country. Right?

Over at reddit, the den of athiesm, moist nerdism and cat pictures, there’s nothing as of this writing about the filmmaker being asked to drop around and make sure his papers are in order. Someone posted YouTube’s terms:

We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).

This is why I hate hate speech codes. That’s a fatuous position ripe for pliant interpretation. Hate speech conflates “attacks” and “demeans,” which is troublesome right there. “Group” lumps of individuals together based on a characteristic which, by itself, is a meaningless assumption of commonality. “Gender” - so a commercial that makes fun of men as hapless louts is hate speech? Explain why it isn’t. It demeans. Even if you don’t think so, I feel demeaned, and it’s my group: who are you to define my emotions for me? “Age.” Really. I can’t demean teenagers for being volatile wads of conflicting emotions. “Veteran Status.” So if someone posts a video arguing against, say, the Swiftboat guys, that’s an attack on Veterans, isn’t it? “Sexual orientation.” So a passionate argument against “heteronormitive” and the assumptions it supposedly entails isn’t an attack?

An argument is an attack. This nonsense just moddlecoddles every group - well, every group, in principle, but selected groups, in practice - as fragile snowflakes that wilt at the slightest uptick in the rhetorical temperature. Let me draw a line: anything that promotes violence outside of the context of A) discussing military action, and B) arguing in favor of capital punishment can be banned by a private group, if they chose to establish guidelines. As is their right. If you have two or three big red DON’Ts then it’s easy and clear. Otherwise you’re playing favorites.

2. I haven’t seen the film and have no interest in seeing it. But I get annoyed by people who are keen to note that it’s bad. That’s irrelevant. Production values, acting quality, editing, script: these have no place in the discussion.

3. The idea that the filmmaker’s troubles with the authorities have to do with his parole violations is amusing. Yes, law enforcement has so many resources and so much free time that going after this guy is just a natural, predicable result of finding out that he may have been using a computer in violation of his parole. Just like they follow up - instantly - on a tip that a guy who’s not supposed to be drinking was seen in a bar. The connection between his infamy and the attention of law enforcement is coincidental at worst and laudable at best: on the job!

4. On Iranian state TV:

An Iranian film that aired on the country’s Channel 1 television depicts Jews as money-hungry and murderous thugs who steal homes and land and leave corpses and despair in their wake.“Saturday Hunter,” which was aired in Iran last month, centers on a man and his grandson as the latter is indoctrinated in the former’s ways.

The stereotype of the greedy Jew is clearly depicted, as Hanan claims to possess the ability to “absolve” people of their sins through financial payment. He explains to those who come to him because they wish to have their sins removed: “This is the penalty for those who ridicule the laws of Moses. You have to pay these indulgences. In order to escape the law of God, you must pay this money. The God of the Jews is too lenient with you. If I were in His shoes, I would take your lives, not just your money.”

In the film, Jews are also depicted as enjoying the killing of Arabs. In one scene, Hanan the grandfather, Benjamin and a woman are out for a leisurely day of shooting practice, with the help of their servant. The shooting range features a dozen black silhouettes — of civilians in positions of surrender, young children running, people standing around, and the elderly. Young Benjamin is taught to shoot, and is shown firing at the civilians.

Benjamin tells his grandfather that he doesn’t enjoy firing a rifle. His grandfather replies that it doesn’t matter, telling Benjamin to continue shooting, and that “God will be pleased.”

It’s not that stories like these - the midnight chat, the insane Jewhatery - doesn’t register with some; it does. But it’s an annoyance. It distracts from what’s really at stake, which is whatever portion of whatever agenda that is so much more important. I mean, c’mon. This country isn’t going to transform itself.

But maybe it’s a plot. The fruit of higher education weighed in on an LA Times page about the arrest. He’s a top commenter!


Patrick Stevens · Top Commenter · University of Minnesota
I still think this whole film making/release looks like a typical Republican dirty trick ala Watergate or the Swiftboat fiasco. Who funded this bozo ? Why was the film release to the arab world so close to our election? Could it be that someone out there wanted to challenge President Obama's foreign policy credentials?

You know, it’s possible someone out there wants to challenge a sitting President’s foreign policy credentials. The more I think about it, yes. Someone might. Audacious as that seems.

I’ll say what I said the other day: when you have top military brass phoning a guy who had nothing to do with this, and asking him to dial it back; when you have the government asking a private company to take a look at something and make really extra sure it doesn’t, like, violate anything, and when you have the government taking the filmmaker into custody, it sends the signal that the content and nature of speech is subject to obviously subject to governmental control, at least to those who are not overblessed with a sense of nuance and a grounding in American traditions. Why, they might even misconstrue the fact that the filmmaker was a Federal informant.

Finally: it’s not about the video. Even if it was about the video: it’s not about the video.


MONDAY: there's Matchbooks now - at least three or four every update, by the way; I'm being generous with this round - and the Lileks @ Lunch blog at noon.

Oh, did I mention there's a book?










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