I guess you could say I failed at grown-up blogging, and that failure certainly stings.  With a new job, a wedding to plan, and the adjustment to not living alone, finding time to post became quite the challenge.  The nerves I felt waiting for that first comment caused me to be increasingly perfectionistic about what I wrote, and the more polished the posts, the greater the fear that the comments would roll in, and that I’d be exposed as being not particularly original and not particularly good with words (and certainly not with using them economically).

One of my co-bloggers wrote me early on that after a while, the anxiety of posting would diminish; it didn’t… or at least hadn’t by the time I took my accidental hiatus. First I just hadn’t posted for a week, then two, then I wrote a post out long-hand and never typed it up, and after a little while, I just took post-writing off my daily “to-do list.”

So here I am, back to the place I can write without readers, back to the place I don’t feel the need to apologize for long absences.  I hope to go back to “real” blogging (the kind that requires risk) at some point – and hopefully in the not-too-distant future – but for now, I feel like it’s just important for me to get some of my ideas out whatever the forum.

Simultaneous to the real-world changes I’ve gone through over the last six months are changes of heart and mind, and things I’ve tried to work through without over-analyzing or over-intellectualizing.  That’s not an easy mission for me.  I’ve always had a tendency to turn a subjective feeling into a theory.  For months, I’ve worked against that tendency.  Not only have I not written any posts, I’ve scarcely read blogs, and I’ve kept my news consumption to a minimum.  My experiment failed.  I may have re-channeled my theories into more personal outlets (marriage, family, religion, education…) but they’re still theories – theories that I know full well have nothing more than that same subjective feeling as their foundation.

When I can (and frankly, when I feel like it), I plan to post some of these thoughts.  I’ve been reading quite a bit about homeschooling recently, and feel like I’ve written a dozen posts on the subject in my head.  Maybe at some point, I’ll put them in writing.  And I’ve started visiting a church that I’d like to write about.  As always, I’ve thought a lot about place; not only abstractly (which is so un-place-like in itself), but also the ways in which where we decide to live as a family will impact the pace of our lives.

Many of these the things I’ve decided have contradicted parts of my politics, and I suppose that’s okay.  I’d rather my personal beliefs shape my political beliefs than the other way around.  It’s something I’d like to explore, even if it is in this risk-free blogging environment.


Tea Party Democrats

Earlier this week, there was a bit of a local uproar when a Democratic delegate, Curt Anderson, joined, was named vice-chair of, and abruptly resigned from, the Maryland House Tea Party caucus.  The news was surprising for a number of reasons: first, Anderson is no outsider; he’s the chair of the Baltimore City delegation and known to be something of a “good-natured gadfly.”  Second, Anderson is no conservative Democrat; the Baltimore Sun describes him as “fairly liberal” and the delegation he leads, Baltimore City, is one of the most liberal delegations in Annapolis.

The sequence of events was also quite odd.  On Tuesday, Anderson made news in two ways – joining the tea party caucus and announcing that he may run for City Council President.  The timing led to speculation that joining the caucus was a publicity stunt, although it’s hard to see how a TP affiliation helps a Baltimore City campaign.  According to Anderson, he joined the caucus because he was in agreement with them on taxes and the size of government and he appreciated that they took no stance on social issues (the fiscal half of his statement is still a little baffling, considering his votes in favor of new or increased taxes in 2007, and his continued support of raising the alcohol tax during this session).

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Living values

Last day of the month, and again, I’ve been absent for quite some time.  Plenty a good reason for it though – just after the election, I got engaged.  Suddenly, the energy I had put into reading and watching politics has been put into planning a wedding, looking for a house, dreaming about the future.  And while it has all been exciting independently, it’s also become amazing how the things I argue in the abstract (either politically, philosophically or whatever) have an impact on major life-decisions.

For instance, it’s one thing to talk a good game on loyalty and devotion to family; quite something else to deliberately look for houses that have extra room for an aging parent to one day live in.  Or thinking about having children close in age so that none can have the undivided attention of their parents, none can feel that the world revolves around them, all will learn cooperation, humility, and the art of having to talk over each other at the dinner table.  I’ll have a lot more to say about this in the coming days; for now, I just wanted to make the November deadline. 🙂

I apologize in advance for the liberal use of quotes in this post, but I wanted to add a few thoughts on the Lind piece I linked to yesterday.  Lind makes the point that the reason for the pro-populist/anti-statists and the anti-populist/pro-statist alignments are a matter of the “ethno-religious” bases of each Party.  He breaks down the demographics:

In the post-New Deal system that exists to this day, the Republican Party is a neo-Jacksonian coalition whose base consists of Southern white Protestants and, to a lesser degree, conservative white Catholic ‘ethnics’ in the Northern suburbs. The Democratic Party is based in big cities and college towns. Among ethnic and racial groups, its most consistent electoral supporters are blacks and Jews, followed by Latinos.

And later…

This fear on the part of Jacksonians, past and present, produces a combination of folksy populism with support for state and local governments, which are less likely to be captured by metropolitan elites who look down on Irish and Italian Catholics in the North and the Scots-Irish in the South.

“Southern white Protestants…” “Scots-Irish in the South…”  Lind isn’t the first to call to mind the Albion’s Seed theory to identify current political alliances. In a column last February, Chuck Lane argued that the U.S. was really a 4-Party system:

You might even say that the four parties I’m talking about correspond roughly to the four political cultures first identified by historian David Hackett Fischer in his classic book Albion’s Seed. That book traced the main currents in American political ideology to the folkways and notions of liberty imported from four British regions that provided the population of early America.

East Anglia gave us the Puritans of New England, with their emphasis – ‘liberal,’ in today’s terms — on community virtue. The Quakers who settled the Delaware Valley established a society and politics built on problem-solving and compromise. Southern England gave us the Virginia cavaliers, founders of a conservative, aristocratic tradition. And the Scotch-Irish who settled the Appalachian backcountry produced a populist, anti-government, ‘don’t tread on me’ mentality.

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Bring back the screwball comedy!

Or, did it ever really leave?

I was talking to some people a week or so ago about favorite sub-genres of comedy movies (I believe the conversation started with the proposition: Airplane, overrated or appropriately rated?)  Anyway, I’ve always had a soft spot for the screwball comedy, which is the one kind of comedy universally associated with a specific era.

According to wikipedia, “while there is no authoritative list of the defining characteristics of the screwball comedy genre,” qualities most often associated include:

  • farcical situations
  • fast-paced, witty repartee
  • a plot involving courtship and marriage or remarriage
  • mistaken identities
  • a character trying to keep an important fact a secret
  • sometimes involves cross-dressing
  • class issues in which the upper class is “brought down a peg”

The screwball comedy is forever linked to Arsenic and Old Lace, It Happened One Night, Some Like It Hot, or maybe most representative of the genre, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell bantering their way through His Girl Friday.  In other words, a largely ’40s trend with some pioneers in the 30s (It Happened One Night) and some throwbacks in the ’50s (Some Like It Hot).

But over the years, there have been so many “throwbacks” to the genre, that it’s sometimes hard to believe that the golden age ever ended.  For my money, some of the best screwball comedies of all time came out in the late-70s, early-80s:

9 to 5
Kiss Me Goodbye
Seems Like Old Times
All of Me

The mid-late ’90s also had a mini-renaissance:

The Birdcage
Liar, Liar
My Best Friend’s Wedding
While you were Sleeping…

And of course, just about every ’90s sitcom featured the obligatory “How-can-I-get-the-tape-out-of-the-answering-machine-before-they-hear-the-message-I-wish-I-hadn’t-left” episode.  Became the most tired trope of the ’90s sitcom and I laughed every time.

So I don’t know.  I’m usually an easy sell on “bring back the golden age” arguments, but on this, I’m not sure it ever really left.

Catching up…

I’ve been extremely neglectful here since I started blogging at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen.  Well, I’d say it’s 75-25 between the new stomping grounds and just the normal summer lull – more baseball watching, less following the daily political stories.  Still, it’s unfortunate and I’m going to try to do better.  For one thing, I’m going to do what I’ve been meaning to do and cross-post my past LOG posts here, mostly just for record-keeping purposes.

Other than that, I’ll try to post quick thoughts here – interesting clips or links to articles I find interesting – and continue posting the longer stuff over there, with more of an effort to cross-post regularly.

Couple of quick thoughts for today…

1.  Ken Mehlman came out of the closet today and is, predictably, being hit with charges of hypocrisy from the Left.  It’s amazingly silly.  The man is allowed to be gay and Republican.  And as for the argument that during his tenure as RNC Chair, the Party pursued anti-equality measures, well, so what?  Everyone who has ever worked for a political party has advocated some policies they personally do not support.  Only in the case of gays and Republicans have I ever observed that fact labeled hypocrisy.  I personally find Mehlman’s situation far more tolerable than completely unprincipled campaign hacks (Dick Morris, Dick Morris, Dick Morris) who lack any core beliefs and are therefore immune to charges of hypocrisy.

2.  This post is a couple of weeks old, but still worth a quick link.  I sent this article to my brother assuming it would be less objectionable than most of the articles we send back and forth.  (sigh)  It just ended up sparking a debate about relative advantages/disadvantages to “hyper-mobility” that, yes, included the number of coutries one of us has friends in.  Incidentally, there was a follow-up post that addressed some of the comment debate from this post, but the follow-up really isn’t necessary to convey the basic point.

3. In my earlier post, I commemorated today’s date, which deserved to stand alone.  On a more light-hearted date commemoration, yesterday was Cal Ripken’s 50th birthday and the 27th anniversary of the Orioles-Blue Jays game in which Tippy Martinez picked three runners off first in one inning.  Still, not enough Orioles Magic in the date to win last night’s game.

Alright, I’m off to cross-post those League posts…


For Ted.