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Posts Tagged ‘politics’


Before Aaron Sorkin stretched-out the exact same material to fill six seasons of The West Wing, he got high on crack cocaine and wrote The American President.

Seriously. He actually admitted to being high on crack when he wrote it.

The movie as directed by Rob Reiner, of When Harry Met Sally fame, is structured as little more than a romantic comedy set in the political realm, complete with a meet-cute introduction of the two main characters and the sexual tension of their first kiss in the White House. As their love grows and their relationship deepens, the topic of politics swirls around them at the periphery, usually only rearing its ugly head when it specifically affects the development of their burgeoning love. Seemingly, it’s all fairly rote romantic comedy kind of stuff.

You just know that at some point the president will eventually have to betray his new love in order to protect his own political agenda, but you assume it will all be resolved with a last-minute moment of clarity and their subsequent climactic heartfelt reconciliation. And this is indeed essentially what happens.

Except Sorkin, balls out and literally high on crack, sets his climax not at the point of their reunited embrace, but rather with the president, alone, in front of the White House press corp, talking about gun control. It sounds kinda bonkers, maybe even a little subversive, and yet it’s surprisingly invigorating.

Even if you don’t agree with its left-wing rhetoric, you have to admit it’s pretty much the best speech an actual contemporary American President has never given. It’s the kind of speech that all of America is clamoring for. It’s articulate, resolute, sincere and unapologetically free of muddy political posturing.

He gets mad without seeming insane, unlike a cranky McCain. He gets passionate without crying, unlike a baby Boehner. He’s concise and surprisingly reasonable, unlike a slack-jawed Bush. He’s bold without dodging risky subjects, unlike a milquetoast Obama. He’s assertive and confrontational without being condescending, unlike a fallacious Palin. He’s everything you ever wanted a president to be.

Yeah, he’s an actor reading a script. And yet he seems more real than any of our modern day politicians, whose wishy-washy rhetoric and fear of re-election have literally turned them all into quivering piles of wasted mush. Not only did Aaron Sorkin baffle his audience with an unconventional climax, he invented the best president ever.

The climax of The American President is effing awesome.


 

175 miles up above your head, Russians and Americans are toodling around together in a ginormous space station that didn’t even exist ten years ago. It’s not clear which is more awesome: the space station itself or the fact that after decades of overt competition and hostility during the Cold War — a period of time where even the prospect of total nuclear annihilation wasn’t off the table — somehow Russians and Americans have learned how to play well together again.

Not the International Space Playboy Mansion you hoped it would be.

Sure, the politics of it are fascinating, but the Russian/American reconciliation was more about economics than ideology, so the Space Station itself is probably the more awesome element in reality: it’s solar powered, travels at over 17,000mph, and it’s as big as a football field. Although the habitable space is barely that of a five-story house. It’s been occupied constantly for over ten years by the aforementioned Americans and Russians, but also the Japanese, Canadians, and Europeans who help foot the bill. It’s got 14 “modules” that are all hooked together, some of which are strictly Russian only (apparently old habits die hard), and they conduct hundreds of cool experiments, mostly involving the effects of zero-gravity environments on anything and everything, even though gravity is actually not zero up there, but rather 88% of what we got here at the surface.

It weighs very nearly a million pounds, passes over your head 15 times a day, and it’s floating up there right now, with little bitty people climbing all over it.

And all that sounds pretty awesome indeed, but now its time to ask the really important questions:

Does it stink in there with all those unshowered astronauts and cosmonauts?
Apparently: no.

Do they have to drink their own pee up there?
Basically: yes

How do they go to the bathroom?
Basically: with some sort of suck machine.

Has anyone ever had sex up there?
Apparently: no, if you believe everything you read.

So maybe it ain’t so cool up there after all. Well, except maybe for that suck machine part.

But still, the International Space Station is effing awesome.


 

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