1. So I agree with the comment in the thread that “we Straussians” are overdoing our texual analysis of our President’s Second Inaugural. Maybe we even do the same thing with President Lincoln’s (although it was much better and actually beautiful). SOME of us did the same with President Bush the younger’s Second Inaugural, including our silent friend JWC. We can hope that the true comparison of Obama is with Bush. We can hope that history will show that their speeches displayed unmerited confidence based on misapplications of American principle.

2. Another threader said that he enjoyed our dumb comments on pop culture more than our futile efforts to make the Republicans better. So let me brag that I predicted what would happen in the second episode this season on GIRLS. Hanna, reveling in her in-control relationship with the African-American Randian law student, asks him to read one of her essays. He turns out to be quite a gentleman, and so he keeps telling her he hasn’t got around to reading it (although he really has). She gets all touchy about him not really caring about her and her work. So he finally admits that he’s read it. He tells her as kindly as he can that it’s well written but not for him. It doesn’t really say anything, it’s trivial etc. She gets all offended and ends up to saying that out of high principle she can’t be with a Republican—someone who necessarily hates gays and women. So she dumps him to show her solidarity with those oppressed groups (forgetting, of course, that his group has been historically a lot more oppressed). Self-esteem issues remain, although not with the black “conservative” who through his precise speech shows he knows exactly who he is. I repeat: This is (who knows how?—Lena Dunham doesn’t sound so smart when she’s interviewed etc.) a very subversive show.

3. After THE MISERABLES, I was too traumatized to go the movies again for a while. But recently I saw three that were very enjoyable and genuinely uplifting: THIS IS 40, NOT FADE AWAY, and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Each is a touching and at least fairly astute relational and deeply pro-family movie. Wonderfully displayed in each is the character of the old-guy dad who does his duties out of love despite unrequited longings and other emotional issues: John Lithgow AND Albert Brooks in THIS IS 40, James Gandofini in NOT FADE AWAY, and Robert De Niro in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Quickly: I’m not sure why THIS IS 40 isn’t better appreciated as Apatow at his best; it’s a worthy successor to KNOCKED UP. NOT FADE AWAY isn’t perfect, but it was directed by THE SOPRANOS’ David Chase, features (Tony) Gandofini, and has a sountrack by (Little) Steven Van Zandt. Not only that, it’s about middle-class Jersey in the 60s, the emergence of basement rock bands based on the early ROLLING STONES, and the right kind of ambivalence about the infusion of the 60s pretenses into the neighborhood. For more, let’s hear from Carl! SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is easily the best movie of the year. It’s about mental illness, but more exactly about living well enough with being a little crazy through love (of others a little crazy) and family. It also has an inspired soundtrack and is filmed in real Philly neighborhoods and in the parking lot of the Eagles’ stadium. I could go on and say stuff about the Jennifer Lawrence performance, but it might get a little creepy.

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