Monday, June 30, 2008

The mysterious mind of the swing voter

Last Thursday, NPR aired an interview with several of those so-called “swing voters” that you keep hearing so much about.

I finally understand why they have trouble making up their minds about who’s going to get their vote: they’re idiots. Their decision-making process is really fucked up.

The degree to which it is fucked is difficult to discern, because their communication skills are also really primitive, so as a service to you, dear readers, I will now translate into English these actual swing voter comments:

Dennis Batz (Clinton voter): “I didn’t like the fact that Obama’s wife made a statement that she’s finally proud to be an American…You’re going to be president of this country, and you’re not going to put your hand on your heart and show that you’re dedicated? I have a problem with that.”

Translation: I am not discerning, and will buy just about any line of shit that I am handed. I should go on Fear Factor, because I would swallow anything.

Janelle Mader (lifelong Republican): “For most of my life, my decisions have been made based on morals, and family values, and now all of a sudden, our country is just like turned upside down with all of these economic issues. It’s really making me second guess voting for those ideals.”

Translation: Holy shit! The Republicans don’t care about poor people!

(Mader, cont.) “I still don’t know very much about either platform. Like, what John McCain is actually going to do if he becomes president. And the same thing for Barack Obama. I just know ‘vote for change,’ I don’t know what change. I know there has been a lot of media coverage, but I’m still like, waiting for the meat of it.”

Translation: I, like, can’t be bothered watching anything as complicated as a debate on the issues, so I base my decisions on, like, the candidate’s television commercials. Oh, what am I saying? I’m just going to vote Republican again. Maybe this time it will be totally different!

Terry Matheson (voted for Bush in 2004): “As much as we like to say this is a good world, the real world doesn’t do well with change, and I think somebody would be out for him, and I would fear for his life. I would hope that he would have a lot of bodyguards that would help him.”

Translation: I can hardly leave my house anymore. All the white people have moved away from my neighborhood and I’m terrified.

Charles Fasano (Clinton voter): “I’m a Democrat, and thinking more about McCain, just because I don’t trust Osama – I mean Obama. It’s only one letter difference. His middle name is Hussein. He comes from a Muslim family. It’s not right, I can’t see it. I fear for America if he comes in.”

Translation: I constantly have to tell people that I’m a Democrat, because I am so bigoted & ignorant that people just naturally assume I’m a Republican. Thank the Lord that Obama is a Muslim, otherwise I’d have to admit that never in a million years would I vote for a nig-… I mean a black man.

(Fasano, cont.): “If Obama gets in, there’s going to be a big black agenda, and it’s going to turn whites against blacks, and we’re going to have more of a chance of riots.”

Translation: The Big Black Agenda:

1. Call Pope – why the delay of Oprah’s canonization?

2. Order the destruction of all existing prints of “Gone with the Wind” and “Driving Miss Daisy.” Oh, and that movie where Matt Damon’s a better golfer than Will Smith.

3. Outlaw white sheets.

4. Pass law for mandatory labeling of all Confederate flags with the warning “Caution: these colors run.”

5. Evaluate plan to make reparations for slavery based on DNA analysis and income matrix of all those African-Americans descended from slaves.

6. What the hell, just give ‘em all a solid gold Rolex!

7. Appoint an actual Welfare Queen.

8. Git it on with her.

9. Tell America to kiss my black ass.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's too bad you don't have any gay friends. Because they would never let you out of the house in that underwear.

It’s official. Since Prop 22 was found by the courts to be unconstitutional, there will be an amendment to the CA constitution on the ballot in November that will make gay marriage illegal. The Mormon church is mobilizing its membership to make sure that it passes. What a huge fucking surprise, huh?

Mormons feel that gay marriage goes against their principles. To which I say, don’t be gay and get married, then. Exclude gay and married people from your church, if you want. That’s fine. You can even stick your fingers in your ears and go “la la la” and pretend the gays do not exist if it makes you feel any better. It’s your assholish prerogative, for sure. Why you’re at it, why don’t you “find” another one of those “plates” from that angel that I’m pretty sure is the patron saint of gourmet sausage stands. The plate could say “No faggots allowed” in some “language” only the top elder of the church can understand. Go nuts, Mormons. I mean, that’s what you’re good at, right?

Scape Goats R Us

Remember when I said what a bad man Charlie Black was? It seems like his lobbying firm never met an evil dictator they didn’t like. And lobby congress on behalf of.

Charlie’s in a spot of trouble for saying in a Fortune Magazine profile on McCain, that if there were to be another attack on the US, then it would be a “big advantage” for McCain in the election, because, as Fortune Magazine (apparently in lockstep with the McCain campaign) puts it, “on national security, McCain wins.” Black attributed McCain’s primary victory in New Hampshire to the bump he got after he reassured troubled New Hampshireites following the apparently devastating assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Say what? Who knew that those hardy New Englanders were such delicate flowers, that their vote could hinge on what some old codger had to say about the killing of a former leader of Pakistan? I mean, it’s Pakistan, for pete’s sake. Aren’t they pretty much killing someone important there every week?

Black was later forced to apologize, and McCain was forced to do the “what? who? why, I don’t even know that dude” dance.

I got a couple of thoughts on this:

  1. Black should apologize all right. He should apologize for saying that McCain beats Obama on national security. Or is he not aware that his candidate doesn’t know which side of the whole Sunni v. Shi’a throwdown that al Qaeda is even on?
  2. Does this whole thing smell suspiciously like we’ve just stepped in a big pile of Andrew Card’s “you don’t introduce new products in August”?
  3. Perhaps the political season is making me paranoid, but I think this was no mistake. The narrative the Republicans have prepared for the media is that McCain wins on national security, and once they’ve established that narrative, then all that remains is creating the event, or the fear of the event, that will require voters to put our savior McCain in the Oval Office. And if a trusted campaign aide has to be discredited in order to establish that crucial media narrative, then so be it. That's what those guys are for.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Now where's El Presidente Phillipe Calderon? I want to tell him how great the White House lawn looks.

Still President Bush spoke to WH reporters today during a photo op with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal, who was in the US to speak to Bush about aid for her typhoon-ravaged country. This is what what transpired:

PRESIDENT BUSH: First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that -- in which there's a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the -- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House. (Laughter.)


PRESIDENT BUSH: And the chef is a great person and a really good cook, by the way, Madam President.


Yeah, the worst part is that she thanks him.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rest in peace? Fuck you!

I haven't been so bummed by the death of someone I'd never met since Spalding Gray threw himself off the Staten Island Ferry. Like Gray, Carlin was a huge influence on my writing, and the way I look at things, and also obviously my fucking truckdriver mouth.

Carlin had just been named a winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and I was looking forward to the ceremony, and him telling all those stuffed shirts at the Kennedy Center exactly what he thought of them. I mean, what took them so fucking long? Carlin should've gotten this award the year after the first recipient, Richard Pryor, won it in 1998. Instead they pissed around, giving the damn thing to funny but unremarkable talents like Jonathan Winters, Whoopi Goldberg, and Billy Crystal.

What, no Robin Williams?

I remember like a lightening bolt the first time I heard the album "Class Clown," and the famous bit "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." Carlin got arrested for doing the routine live, and it was referenced in a landmark 1978 Supreme Court case that unfortunately upheld the FCC's prerogative to fine radio and television stations for language that the FCC, collectively, thinks is nasty.

Yes, we're such a nation of prissy old ladies, aren't we? I mean seriously, they're JUST WORDS. They're just words. They're just fucking words, motherfuckers.

Or, in the words of the late, great, George Carlin:

The FCC, a non-elected body, answerable only to itself, appointed by the President of the United States, has taken it upon itself to decide that radio and television in this country are the only aspects of American life not protected by the first amendment of the Constitution. I’d like to repeat that because it sounds vaguely important.

The FCC, a non-elected body, appointed and answerable only to the President of the United States, has taken it upon itself to decide that radio and television in this country are the only aspects of American life not protected by the first amendment of the Constitution.

You know why they did it? Because they got a letter from a reverend in Mississippi. A Reverend Donald Wildman heard something on the radio that he didn’t like. Well, Reverend, did you know there are two knobs on the radio? One of them turns the radio off and the other one changes the station! Imagine that, you can actually change the station! It’s called freedom of choice, and it’s one of basic ideals this country is founded on. Look it up in the library, Reverend, if you have any of them left when you get done burning all the books.
The brilliance of observational bits like Baseball v. Football aside, Carlin was at his best, for me, when he just came out and said what most of us suspect is true, and for that, I leave you with this:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

White Pride: the Cindy McCain Story

For those of you inclined to think it’s just a tad, well, unseemly for a pretty, white, filthy-rich blond gal to cast aspersions on the level to which a black woman raised on the South Side of Chicago is proud of her country, here’s just some of the things that Cindy McCain thinks are super-awesome about America:

  1. The media never talks about her past drug-addiction, and that time when she used her employees’ identities to steal prescription drugs from her own non-profit organization, and yet Michelle Obama is being pilloried for maybe, but probably not, saying the word “whitey” once.
  2. Her husband only ever called her a cunt in public that one time, and fortunately, the press never mentions it!
  3. Her wealth has always insured that the kind of anti-choice laws her husband endorses would never apply to her, anyway.
  4. Iraq is about to sign a no-bid, Iraqi Congress-averting, oil field development agreement with Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, and BP, the original members of the Iraq Petroleum Company, which was booted from the country by Saddam Hussein when he nationalized the oil industry in 1972. Isn’t it marvelous? It just makes her feel like a girl again!
  5. Soulless marriages of convenience are the new black!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Texas GOP: Come for the racism, stay for the lame-ass jokes

This button was apparently being sold, by an approved vendor, at a Texas GOP convention. Other products include a button that says "Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Deportation."

You know, the next time the Lone Star State gets all puffed up about how tough they are, and how no one "messes" with them, and they decide they want to secede from our little pansy-ass nanny-state homo-loving latte-swilling union, can we please JUST LET THEM?

Besides that, it's not even funny, for pete's sake. Who writes their material for them, Carlos Mencia?

Monday, June 16, 2008

I now pronounce you as fucked up as all the rest of us

According to NPR, the rights of gays are clashing with “religious liberties.” This is a different story than the rights of women clashing with “religious liberties,” but seeing as how California is only about an hour away from taking a significant leap forward in the history of civilization, let’s talk about how the gays are repressing the god folk today, shall we?

Many businesses, organizations, and churches have discriminated against gay people by taking actions ranging from refusing to perform in-vitro fertilization, to denying them the services of a wedding photographer. Many groups who discriminate against gays are fighting back in court, and if NPR is to be believed, they are not doing so well.

As I heard this story, however, I kept wondering when they were going to get to the part where the god folks were actually being oppressed and stuff. I mean, what is it, exactly, that they are being denied? The right to fuck with people they don’t like? Hell, I don’t get to do that to the extent that I would like either, but you don’t hear me bitching about it.

Unless you know me, in which case you get to hear me bitch about that quite a bit.

In one instance a group called the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Organization, of Ocean Grove, N.J., denied use of an oceanfront pavilion they own, and which is regularly rented out for weddings, to a gay couple wishing to be joined in a civil union. Not even a marriage, people, but one of those goddamn smacking-of-second-class-citizen civil thingamajiggies that no one really knows what they mean. Speaking for the organization, Rev. Scott Hoffman said that "The principle was a strongly held religious belief that a marriage is between a man and a woman. We're not casting any aspersions or making any judgments. It's just, that's where we stand, and we've always stood that way, and that's why we said no."

Hm, well, okay. Except the gay couple that wished to use the pavilion were not trying to silence them about that belief. And they weren’t trying to prevent them from practicing that belief. They were just, you know, not practicing that belief themselves. Because they, you know, don’t subscribe to it.

So it’s interesting to me that this struggle would be defined as one of civil rights vs. religious liberties. Because what’s really being restricted is not their beliefs, but their ability to impose their beliefs upon others.

Remembered I mentioned the wedding photographers that refused to photograph a commitment ceremony, in New Mexico? Here’s the justification offered by one of the owners who was taken to court by the offended couple:

"We wanted to make sure that everything we photographed — everything we used our artistic ability for, everything we told a story for or conveyed a message of — would be in line with our values and our beliefs.”


They’re wedding photographers. Someone lays down a few hundred bucks, they come and take some badly staged pictures, the end. They don’t investigate the couple to make sure they’re not sinners, or that their union is one that would be met with approval by whatever vision of a deity they believe in. Look, I can show you exactly how their client transactions go:

Future Groom: Excuse me, do you take wedding pictures?

Photographers: You got $800?

Future Groom: Yes.

Photographers: Then we take wedding pictures.

Future Groom: Great.

Photographers: Wait, you are getting married to a woman, right?

Future Groom: Oh, yes.

Photographers: Okay then. See you there.

So can we please stop pretending that these kinds of refusals to accommodate gay couples are based on anything other than simple revulsion?

Particularly Christians, who have tossed aside silly Biblical passages forbidding the touching of pigs, planting different crops in adjoining fields, endorsing slavery (although that one took some doing), and forbidding the wearing of one garment made of two kinds of cloth. But for some reason, some of them keep insisting, all evidence to the contrary, that God was serious about the gay thing.

It’s bullshit, pure and simple. It’s fear of sexual inadequacies and/or proclivities masquerading as piety. Those kind of laughably pathetic justifications for discrimination have, over the years, been exposed for what they are when they have been wielded against the Irish, the Italians, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Arabs, to name just a few. When are we going to admit that refusing to let gay people marry is the same as refusing to let blacks marry whites?

When are we going to grow the fuck up? When are going to, finally, live, and let live?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ixnay on the orldway opinionay

There is an area of my backyard, in the rear corner, between the oleander and the roses, that Spooney and I refer to as Area 51, otherwise known as dog shit central. The dogs are trained to do their business there so that the remainder of the yard can be enjoyed, landmine-free. This mostly works pretty well.

My neighbor has a lemon tree along our shared rear wall, and the ripe lemons frequently drop on our side, into Area 51. Spooney and I pick up these lemons, wash them very well, and use them in a variety of beverages. We refer to them as “poop lemons,” and their presence has inspired an oft-repeated saying in our house:

When life gives you poop lemons, make poop lemonade.

It is therefore in the spirit of poop lemonade that I give our frequently full o’ shit Supreme Court all props for their 5-4 ruling yesterday that, when it comes to due process at least, words…um…well, actually mean things.

Specifically, that you can’t just invent a new name for a group of people (enemy combatant), and declare that all the legal/constitutional protections that they possessed under their old names (such as “prisoner of war,” or “citizen of another country not involved in any conflict,” or “innocent dude with Arab last name,”) are null and void.

Justice Kennedy, reminding everyone that he can still swing both ways, wrote in the majority opinion that “the Constitution grants Congress and the President the power to acquire, dispose of, and govern territory, not the power to decide when and where its terms apply.” Also that “the political branches [do not] have the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will.”

Oh, SCOTUS snap!

And perhaps most meaningfully, he writes that “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

Well said. I might quibble with the “extraordinary times” bit, although I understand he’s referring to 9/11 and its aftermath, and not the last 4 years or so, which I would say are extraordinary only in that they are characterized by a remarkably willful ignorance, and an unprecedented obsession with prevailing politically, no matter the cost to the country.

Official SCOTUS dickweed Scalia crabbed for the minority that the ruling "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

I can only hope that he’s one of them.

Barack Obama commented that the decision was “an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law.”

Which begs the question: do Americans even give a shit?

It’s an important question in this election year, especially since many Democrats are insisting that one of the most important reasons we should vote for Obama is because it will signal the world that we are, you know, kinda sorry for being such assholes for the last seven years.

I wish those Democrats would shut the fuck up.

Look, you’re never going to win the race by pointing out that the rest of the world favors the Democrat. If anything, that would make him less likely to win amongst a certain contrarian, xenophobic, love-it-or-leave-it contingent of American voters. And those voters comprise about…um…let’s see…multiple by 6...carry the 1….I’m going to say 99.7 – 99.8 percent of all American voters.

Or maybe it just seems that way. I mean, if still president Bush has taught us anything, it's that revilement and derision abroad makes you a fucking superhero in America. At least until gas prices go so high that America has to start selling their SUVs.

And the companies that made them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

But by all means continue to indulge your big snitfest and refuse to vote for Obama

Charles Black is a very bad man.

First of all, he works for BKSH and Associates, one of the most powerful lobbying firms in the country.

Among BKSH and Associates’ charming clients are Blackwater, and the group that made Blackwater possible, the Iraqi National Congress.

If you’re not familiar with the INC, don’t be fooled by the name. There was nothing national about it. And it wasn’t a congress.

The group was basically a front for Ahmad Chalabi and his little dog and pony show about Iraq’s fictional WMD and non-existent ties between Hussein and Bin Laden. BushCo claimed before the world that Chalabi’s intel was good. It wasn’t. After the invasion, BushCo tried to force Chalabi upon the Iraqi people as their leader. They said “who the fuck is this ass clown?”

And who was the man that opened all the doors in DC for Chalabi?

Charles Black.

Charles Black is, as I intimated previously, a man without scruples.

Where does Charles Black work now, you may wonder?

He’s a top official in the John McCain campaign for president.

And this is no mere coincidence. Because Chalabi and McCain go way back. Chalabi supported McCain in 2000. McCain had attempted to persuade the Clinton administration to fund Chalabi. McCain once called Chalabi “a patriot who has the best interests of his country at heart.”

Yeah, no doubt the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead would back McCain up on the whole Chalabi = patriot statement, too.

So make no mistake, people, about our commitment to Iraq if McCain gets in the White House.

(via ThinkProgress and Harry Shearer)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Avast, me mateys!

Guess what? I am like a full-blown adventurer now.

Last week, I was up to my cooch in whitewater.

This week, I boarded the H.M.S. Bounty.

Yeah, the other night, around midnight, I crept silently down the dock in San Pedro where she was berthed, climbed up the rope ladder and boarded her. Had a look around. Took the helm. You know, your basic sailor/pirate-type stuff.

We were dropping off Spooney’s visiting nephew, who’s a crewmate on the Bounty, after a night of plying him with margaritas and tacos carbon – which he mispronounced “tacos cabron,” by the way, which is definitely NOT something you want to say to a Mexican waiter in my neighborhood. But, anyway, the best part is that he’s going to invite us back during some tall ships festival thing in a couple of months and let us stand on the deck while she’s actually in motion and everything.

Whoooooooooohooooooooo!!! I’m the king of the world! Listen, don’t you ever call me a dried-up old cougar, man. I’m not a cougar. I might wrestle one, though. Yeah. That’s my next adventure: wrestle a freakin cougar.

Although I’d hate to injure a cougar. Or a puma, or a mountain lion, or whatever you want to call them, because next to a black panther, a cougar is like the most beautiful cat there is. Well, okay, Siberian tigers are pretty stunning, too. So are jaguars. In fact, all cats are beautiful, except for this one.

So, anyway, the point is, during the last couple of years, I have been making a concerted effort to combat the approach of fear creep.

I first noticed fear creep about 3 years ago, when sis and I were in Vegas for Xmas and we decided to ride the roller coaster in that casino that’s pretending to be New York City. That coaster is so tightly coiled that as we went roaring past adjacent tracks and jutting supports with mere inches to spare I suddenly became very frightened that the car was going to send us crashing into something. I became so frightened of that prospect that I did not enjoy the ride. That is not like me. I freaking LOVE roller coasters. I love to scream. I love being scared. It is so not like me panic on some pansy-ass Vegas excuse for a roller coaster.

You’d think that as we get older, we would be less afraid than we were young, because we already have a good part of our lives behind us, and therefore…um…less to lose?

But of course it doesn’t work that way. And that is why we have Republicans.

You’ve all heard some version of the joke, often misattributed to Churchill, that a young conservative has no heart, and an old liberal has no brains.

First of all, while probably touching upon some kind of basic truth, that statement is also the single most cynical thing I have ever heard in my life. Is this what life experiences are supposed to teach us, to be more selfish?

Wait a minute, am I equating Republican philosophy with selfishness?

Hells yeah. Which is why, I guess, I don’t understand why, in this country, everyone always acts as is the opinions of both sides have equal validity. Opposing civil rights for gay people is not a valid point of view. Letting poor people suffer or die because they can’t pay for health care is not a valid point of view. Enabling business to obstruct the rights of workers to organize is not a valid point of view. Those are not examples of valid, alternate thinking. Those are examples of WRONGNESS. Wrongity-wrong-wrongness, in fact. Those are examples of “what’s good for business, is good for the country,” and that philosophy is wrong. It just is. Business is, by its very nature, selfish. And selfishness is wrong, right? We were all taught it. The great philosophies of the world espouse it. Jesus was so on it.

But then, once your income hits a certain figure, and once the word “portfolio” enters your lexicon, and once it becomes acceptable to loudly blather in public on your cell phone at Denver International Airport about your income, and your next boat, and how “it’s all good,” outrageous self-interest suddenly becomes socially acceptable. If it were up to me, people who say things like “get me drunk sometime and I’ll tell you how much I make” should be taken out by the INS and put up for sale to other countries. Because I’m sure there are some underprivileged nations in the world that are in desperate need of overinflated tools.

I’m not saying that I’m not way, way, too selfish. Hell, my shoe closet speaks volumes about my priorities. But I also think that our government is there to aid in our civilization, and what is civilization if it’s not about trying, as RFK said, to “make gentle the life of this world”?

So I’m probably not going to wrestle any cougars this weekend, I mean, unless Kim Catrall throws the first punch, of course, but I think I will ride my bike very fast on the bike path, and maybe eat something I’ve never tried before, or, at the very least, listen to some music that everyone my age thinks is “just noise.” Anything to keep the fear at bay, people. Anything to chase the fear from my heart.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

June 5, 1968

Sorry for the rerun, but I'm afraid that this post is the best I have to offer to commemorate the 40th anniversary of RFK's assassination.

For those of you seeking actual edification, I can recommend this remembrance from former RFK friend and aide, and this excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book on RFK's 1968 presidential campaign.

Monday, June 02, 2008

4 by Pollack

I was stunned this weekend to hear that fellow Hoosier Sydney Pollack died while I was off getting smashed against rocks in Boulder. Huh, I guess that’s where the name “Boulder” comes from. I just got that. Well, that’s certainly a literal approach to naming your city. If LA had done that, we’d be called “Smog,” or “Run for Your Life!” or “Geographic Features Certain to Exacerbate Cultural Divisions.”

It was a bad week for the movies, as part of the fabled Universal Studios backlot went up in flames about a mile from my house. Gone is the corny King Kong ride with the scary flooded subway sequence and the canned smell of bananas, yuk, yuk. Gone is their video library. Gone also is the set that was the Back to the Future courthouse square. The Bates Motel was spared, however, in a rare example of art triumphing over commerce, or at least lucking out over commerce.

Sunday at my house was spent trying to escape the smell of burning plastic video cases, which permeated most of the eastern Valley.

Ah, but Sydney Pollack. What a fine and underrated director. Why not celebrate his life by getting your hands on at least one of his best films and giving it a spin? Here’s four I can recommend:

Jeremiah Johnson, 1972

By the early 70s, the west had stopped being the place where movie heroes went to save others, and started being the place where they went to save themselves. In his 3rd collaboration with Pollack, Robert Redford plays the title character, a Civil War vet who loses faith in mankind and heads into the American West (yes, lets just say that Dances with Wolves owes a considerable debt to this film) to find that the Indians are no longer the bad guys, but have instead become a kind of film shorthand for the rejection of a cynical, consumerist society, and well, Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. Will Geer does a great turn as a crotchety frontiersman with a fondness for bears.

Best line: “Elk don’t know how many legs a horse has!”

Three Days of the Condor, 1975

It’s 1975, and Robert Redford again stars, this time as a NYC scooter-riding, messenger-bagged intelligence nerd. Who does he work for, and does he really? Who is after him, and are they really who he thinks they are? And what’s up with that lame-ass love scene in the middle? No matter. Faye Dunaway is wonderful in the kind of part they used to write for women before parts for women really had to make sense, and Max Von Sydow is the most perfect hit man in the world: completely understated and cool in that non-glossy, no-label-wearing, towering Swede kind of way. If they made this movie today, they’d totally screw it up and cast Geoffrey Rush. Also, Robert Redford does not get thrown through a single plate glass window in this film, an oversight that would no doubt be corrected when it is eventually remade with Will Smith.

Best line: “It’s a great face, but it’s never been to China.”

Tootsie, 1982

Let’s skip ahead a few years to 1982, when a prescient comedy about modern gender confusion ruled the day, and Bill Murray was still just “funny,” instead of a poignantly sad substitute for funny. Seriously, though, did Murray improvise every single line of dialogue he has in this film? I think so, although with Terri Garr and Dustin Hoffman around him being completely hilarious themselves, he manages to fail at stealing the movie. Some feminists were perhaps rightfully irked when the film premiered, asserting that its inescapable message was that men make better women than women. But looking back, I think the film’s more subversive message was that Hoffman’s character, having never been taught the lessons of female inferiority, never internalized them and thus, could not, even as a woman, be made to act or feel inferior. So there.

Best line: “That’s a corn cob.”

Out of Africa, 1985

Okay, you’ve seen the entire movie, you’re pretty sure, by catching snippets of it on cable for the last 15 years. And yes, Redford pulls a huge Connery and refuses to even attempt the correct accent for his role, and sure, there’s Meryl playing a foreigner again, and okay, yes there is especially that cheesy flying sequence that is so obvs done in front of a screen with a wind machine. Still, all in all, it’s a wonderful movie, although I’m not quite sure why. There are themes of colonialism, and the confinements of marriage, and sexual mores of the early 20th century, but in a larger sense the film is about loss, about what we can have, and what we can not have. And just as in the Karen Blixen memoir that the film is based on, it all takes place in the alternately beautiful and brutal Ngong Hills in Kenya. Klaus Maria Brandauer is absolutely fucking perfect in this film, as is Streep. Also, watch for a nice cameo by supermodel and Bowie spouse Iman.

Best line: “God is happy, msabu. He plays with us.”