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I've been working my way through M*A*S*H. Of course I'd seen several episodes (probably a third or so of the show), but it's good seeing it all in order.

The episode "Yankee Doodle Doctor" encapsulates so much about what is great about this show. An army film-maker wants to make a "documentary" about the 4077th, starring Hawkeye. Only after the thing is shot do they realize it's actually propaganda with little relation to the truth of their situation. So Hawkeye and Pierce ruin the film and the director leaves in a huff. The gang decide to remake the film, and this is what they produce. (The voiceover is from the original "straight" version of the documentary.) There's slapstick, of course, but then there's an almost seamless transition into the dramatic monologue. It's all just so thoroughly human, with all the richness of life.

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Here is the monologue at the end, which is my third quote for the 100things challenge:

Three hours ago, this man was in a battle. Two hours ago, we operated on him. He's got a 50-50 chance. We win some, we lose some. That's what it's all about. No promises. No guaranteed survival. No saints in surgical garb. Our willingness, our experience, our technique are not enough. Guns, and bombs, and anti-personnel mines have more power to take life than we have to preserve it. Not a very happy ending for a movie. But then, no war is a movie.


I think if more talk about war, honoring soldiers and all the rest kept this in mind, we'd all be better for it. And I'd probably be a bit less pacifistic. Hearing that monologue for the first time last night was like a breath of fresh air. Coming right after all the hilarious slapstick just made it work that much the better.

(Origihally posted at LJ; please comment there.)
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The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


The power was off this morning in my apartment (I'm thinking blown fuse, which only my super can change - will call in an hour or two). The lack of white noise from my fan woke me up, and as I didn't have a functioning alarm clock, I chose to go ahead and get up. And then because I needed a Latin reference and no power means no internet, I decided to come on over to campus.

Anyway, the upshot was that I was out for the day by around 5 AM. This is a first for me, the being out at that hour (I've certainly been working at 5 AM, from both ends of the day), and I'm privileged enough and enough of a romantic that I found the city really beautiful at that hour. "City" here is the Bronx, so it's hardly what you think of when it comes to NYC, but there was a surreal quality to it all. Some people were already out on their way to work, but for the It was also raining and all foggy, and the people who were already out were on their way to work. Nurses, and waitresses, and cleaning ladies mostly judging by the uniforms. There's a beauty to that exhaustion, at least from the outside.

Hence the poem above. It's by Carl Sandburg and has long been one of my favorites. I was reminded of it this morning because it captured the mood better than anything I've been able to manage.

I also can't quite help imagining Denethor on a morning like this. He'd slip a worn cloak low over his face and sneak down into the Third Circle market, watching as the various people set up shop for the day (the boy driving the cart full of water cisterns taller than him; the girl with a basket of flowers slung over her arm; the old matron who sells strong tea by the mugful for a copper groat to people trying to get their day started, and who'd be gone by midday; and, perhaps, a reveller from the night before passed out behind a garbage heap) - I'm sure he'd like letting his cares away for an hour or two on a morning like this when the fog hung thick around. My muse even came up with an old line his mother once told him: that great cities, like armies and trysting lovers, never truly slept.

I'd like to think I'd turn that into a proper vignette, but I don't know how long the mood will last and I'm really too sleep-deprived to attempt it just now. I hope the mental image is a good start to the day for some of you, at least.

(Originally posted at LJ; please post there.)
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Apropos to this morning's post, here are some songs poking fun at racism. Offered up in the hopes that laughing at something makes it that much easier to deal with.

First, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" from Avenue Q, suggested by [profile] aliana1.

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Which brings me to my first "100 things" quote.

Gary: Now there was a fine upstanding black man!
Princeton: Who?
Gary: Jesus Christ.
Kate: But, Gary, Jesus was white.
Gary: No, Jesus was black.
Kate: No, Jesus was white.
Gary: No I'm pretty sure that Jesus was black --
Princeton: Guys, guys... Jesus was Jewish!


As if that solves the question! (Remember the airlift of Jewish Ethiopians back in the '80s?) It's kind of like trying to sort out whether the pharaohs were white or black because they were Egyptian: it just bumps the issue to a different question. The fact that anyone would think that cleared up the issue totally cracked me up...

Also, what post on tongue-in-cheek racial humor would be complete without Randy Newman?

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(Originally posted to LJ; please comment there.)

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