« September 23, 2012 - September 29, 2012 | Main | October 7, 2012 - October 13, 2012 »

October 5, 2012

tomorrow on day 6

I have a new gig.  Tomorrow morning (Saturday at 10a) a commentary I did will run on the radio news magazine Day 6. It broadcasts on CBC Radio every Saturday at 10am, and all the segments are up on the site to stream/podcast by Sunday.  My words, my voice.

I'm thrilled for the opportunity, and to confirm that I finally have a face for radio.

When the stream/podcast of the segment is put up I'll share the link, but obviously I recommend that you listen to the entire show.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:45 PM

note to the bedwetters

I've now consumed a full day's worth of post-first-debate writing/thinking, and I'm looking forward (OK, not really) to a weekend's worth of think pieces on the same topic.

And here's a message to the majority of you: will you please calm the hell down?  Or, at the very least, if you hold the belief that one debate of dubious importance a full month out is a game-changer and a deal-sealer, then you should be keeping that to yourself.  For real!

It was a very fun September.  It was like being a New England Patriots fan in the mid-00s.  Mitt Romney became a self-fulfilling failure, and Obama supporters got to sit back and watch.  In fact, the campaign itself mostly sat back and watched, because if your opponent is busy texting on his iPhone while walking towards an open manhole, you are best not to stop him.

And Obama's performance on Wednesday was a reflection of that strategy — if Romney's so determined to lose then stay out of his way.  And a different Romney showed up, one that had some weird sort of Bell's Palsy, chugged a half-case of 5 Hour Energy (hours and hours of energy!), and was directly contradicting planks he'd been campaigning on for a year.  (Jonathan Chait generously labels this lying.)  Boom.  Romney was marginally more effective than usual, and Obama was marginally less effective than usual.  And after you run that through the echo chamber, what comes out is Romney Rout!

It's four weeks out.  I have heard from enough friends/acquaintances referring to Wednesday night as some sort of tragedy, some low point to be forgotten.  To which I say: come on, man.

Have some faith in your candidate, and have some faith in yourself.  You do not support him because he was a lock to win.  You support him because you support him.  So act like a supporter, and not like a Yankees fan.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:40 AM

October 4, 2012

obama sandbags the first debate

Here is your obligatory post-debate post.

First off, if we're gonna have hosts like Jim Lehrer, can we just stop having hosts?  Republicans have figured out that all you have to do is ignore the moderator, because moderators will allow themselves to get walked over like a doormat.

I do not think that this was as big a victory for Mitt Romney as you'll read about all day.  He does get credit for not saying "rape" or getting his foot stuck in a mop bucket, and he certainly stuck to his talking points, but his points will wither after a day of fact-checking.  Also, he's just too weird.  There is some Uncanny Valley business with Mitt Romney, and that cocked-head smirk that he pasted on for ninety minutes is presidential drawn in crayon.  Oof.

If anything, Romney didn't win, Obama lost.  He was bored.  The president has an enormous amount of contempt for these manufactured events, and he works best when he channels that into something constructive.  Obama was holding his tongue, and it was a deflating experience for his base, who came in expecting some kind of floor-mopping.

Granted, Obama's disdain for the process is one of the things I like about him.  But America at large is not meta-enough to be ready for a candidate to pull back the curtain on the Rube Goldberg machine that is running for president.

Ultimately, it's just the first debate, and while the effect of debates on outcomes is argued, the first of three debates rarely has any real affect.  And if the president did anything, he found a way to actually lower expectations about future debate performances.  Michelle Catalano this morning was suggesting that there was an element of rope-a-dope in Obama's night.  I'll go one further and suggest that he was sand-bagging, that now's about the time that he should shrug to Romney, "Man, these debates are hard!  Maybe we should put some money on it and make it interesting?"

Posted by mrbrent at 10:05 AM

October 3, 2012

sean howe in grantland

I'm not even done reading it, but I'm recommending this unreservedly anyway — Grantland is running an excerpt of Sean Howe's upcoming book Marvel Comics, The Untold Story, which is a meticulous and lengthy behind-the-scenes history of the comic book publisher.

I've been following Howe's Tumblr, which is filled with images and factoids and the most fascinating thing in the world to someone that grew up reading Marvel Comics.  And the excerpt is twice as awesome, focusing on the writers and editors adapting to the 1970s:

"The idea that the three of us together, or even separately, would have tried to sneak in the death of Gwen Stacy without Stan approving it is just so absurd," said Roy Thomas. "Besides, he was never out of town that long." It came back to what Stan had told Roy Thomas, years before: he didn't want to fix what wasn't broken; he only wanted "the illusion of change."

During a speaking engagement at Penn State, Lee was again surprised to learn of a character death; this time, Len Wein had killed a member of The Incredible Hulk's supporting cast. "I told them not to kill too many people," Lee assured the crowd, and promised that Gwen Stacy would return.

I am going to buy the hell out of that book when it's released.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:48 PM

October 2, 2012

the moral of the piece for the awl concerning elections

So yes there is a new piece up at the Awl, this one about what we're calling Clausen's Law, concerning the phenomenon of declaring an election this most important of a lifetime/history/century/etc.

And there was one interesting bit of reaction out there, a tweet from New Republic senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, which reads:

So what's the moral here? All presidential elections are equally important? They're not, but we shouldn't say so?

And since it was addressed to the aether and not to me personally, I'll answer it here.

If Ponnuru is positing that the moral is that all presidential elections are equally important, he's getting that from something other than my piece.  1860, 1864 and 1932 are all cited as "important" elections, and the importance (and disputations thereof) of 1980 is also noted.  It's not that the relative importance of elections does not exist, but rather that there's no science to discerning the relative importance when you're smack in the middle of one.  Accordingly, declaring that one has some secret insight to the importance of a current election is four times out of five is a clownish endeavor and should be regarded as such.

If there's anything resembling a "moral" to the piece, it's that the current election should be treated as important, no matter how off-putting the hoary declarations of importance by the candidates and talking heads may be.  And hopefully commentators of all political persuasions can agree: yes, go vote.  (Largely, of course, considering the resources being thrown into the effort to disenfranchise poor voters who tend to support Democrats.)

Posted by mrbrent at 3:32 PM

station id 2012

Station ID:

I'm Brent Cox.  I write things.  Currently, I'm writing long-ish form non-fiction for a website called The Awl, which is an honor and a privilege.  (Links to that, and other stuff, in the upper right hand corner.

I live in Brooklyn.  I work in Manhattan.    I heard the expression "lefty zeal" this morning, and it got me to thinking.  I simultaneously believe in community engagement and the dumbness of the human race.  Favorite color when I was a kid: purple.  Food: biscuits and gravy.  Comic book: James Robinson's run on "Starman".

I'm another year older, and have been doing this, this "blogging" as they came to call it well after I started, in one form or the other, for 14 years.  Weird!

And I'm grateful for every eyeball, so that's two gratefuls to each of you (except for my friend Harry, blind in one eye).

Posted by mrbrent at 10:09 AM