I See Dread People

by Jonah Goldberg

Dear Reader (and those readers who are not dear and those who are dear but who do not read),

The last time I went to the movies to see an adult film . . . er, I should say the last time I was in the theater to see a film for adults. As far as I can tell, they haven’t had adult theaters since On Golden Blonde was on the big screen.

Anyway, the last time I saw a non-animated movie in the theater, I saw True Grit. The Fair Jessica and I had a matinee movie date.

Before the movie started, there was a preview for a movie coming out later this year. At first it seemed to be like a big-budget film on the Moon Landing (I am choosing to capitalize that, like it or not), mixing archival footage with new stuff. The words “Our Nation’s Proudest Moment” flash on the screen. So far so good. Then, when Neil Armstrong lands on the moon, a new phrase appears: “A Secret Hidden for Forty Years.”

Uh-oh. What’s this? I thought. Intriguing. Exciting. Maybe someone in Hollywood has read one of my weekly letters and is finally making the movie The Trial of Capricorn One, an awesome sequel to the forgotten O. J. Simpson classic.

Then, we see real footage of Walter Cronkite telling viewers that the crew is on the “far side of the moon” and thus out of radio contact. Then the boss at Mission Control (more questionable capitalization!) tells Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that “the mission is a go.” They have 21 minutes to check out something cool.

Oh, man, this looks great.

Suspense builds like a Sim City metropolis called “Suspense” created by an introverted South Korean kid with asthma, a broken leg, and rich parents. The astronauts moon-trot over a lunar ridge to find the massive wreck of a spaceship. Coolness! They start exploring it. More drama! Excitement!

Self, this is a movie I’m going to see, I said to myself.

My wife looks over to see me nodding as if a waiter just asked me if I like cold beer and ribs.

Then: Four of the most disheartening words in all of cinema appeared on the screen. You know of what I speak.

“From Director Michael Bay.”

Suddenly, the bowels stew like a forgotten fondue pot left too long over a lit can of Sterno.

Oh dear Lord, I know where this is going, I say as I look for the eject button on the arm rest.

Too late.

It’s a preview for Transformers III.


I See Dread People

Why do I bring this up?

I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m looking for an excuse to plug the Grammy-robbed classic “Pearl Harbor Sucked . . . And I Miss You.” But you would be wrong.

No, I bring this up because that’s sort of how I feel about the presidential field taking shape these days. For the last 18 months or so, the previews for the presidential contest have been really encouraging. Obama has bled support among independents. The Tea Parties have succeeded in framing the debate in ways that make E. J. Dionne want to punch a clown. Nancy Pelosi had her gavel taken away. Some of the states Obama needs to win the Electoral College have been drifting away.

Everything was looking great.

But then, when I look at the field of candidates, I get that “Directed by Michael Bay” feeling. It’s not as bad as I felt in 1996 when it was clear that Bob Dole was going to be the nominee. That was like watching Stephen Hawking heading out to sea on a surfboard. You didn’t know exactly what would happen, but you knew it would end badly.

This time around, you just get the sense that this isn’t the A-Team. In fact, if this were an action movie, these guys would be the team that gets wiped out in the first ten minutes to establish that what’s really needed is the A-Team.

I wrote a column earlier this week about the funk on the right, and it was interesting to read the feedback. Everyone agrees!

That’s not a great sign either.

I’m not saying all is lost or anything of the sort. But I feel a bit like a dog who suddenly realizes the car is heading to the vet, not the park.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m imagining things. Maybe that Exxon Tiger Mart on Route 1 wasn’t the best place to order linguine with clams. But that’s the feeling I have.


Yotch Watch

Last week, I wrote about the “word” “yotch.” I wrote in part: “This is a slang word I picked up from my wife. She acquired it during her time at Marquette University. As I gather, it’s used vaguely like ‘shmuck’ among Midwesterners. I await further guidance on usage, etymology, and spelling from readers.”

Interestingly, I got virtually no such guidance. A bunch of you thought it was a byproduct of bee-yotch. As in, Warren Christopher says to his aide, “Bee-yotch, get me a Dr. Pepper.” The problem with this is that my wife learned the word in Milwaukee well before Christopher and other gangstas – George Plimpton, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, that whole crew – popularized the term. Weirder still, I’ve heard other folks in the Midwest use it. But I got no support from the hundreds of thousands of G-File readers in the Great Lakes region.

Anyway, I wish I could spend the day lollygagging with you folks. I also wish I knew what a lollygag really is. But I can’t and I don’t. I’m here in L.A. for a Liberty Fund conference on interpreting the New Deal and the Great Depression, and things kick off soon.

So I’ll have to save all of the quality stuff I was going to use in today’s G-File for next week.

The G-File

By Jonah Goldberg