Clint Eastwood could kick Chuck Norris’ ass …

February 8, 2012
By admin

Clint Eastwood could kick Chuck Norris’ ass …

Odd as it may sound, I mentioned Chuck Norris quite prominently in the eulogy that I somehow managed at my mother’s funeral service this past December. I bring this up now because the erstwhile “actor” is in the news these days, rolling out his conservative credentials by endorsing Newt Gringrich’s bid to be the Republican Party’s standard bearer for president this fall.

Believe it nor, I was unaware there is a really cool website that has been around for six or seven years called “Chuck Norris Facts,” something I came across when doing a bit of research for this piece. Turns out there are others (lots of them) who see a kind of absurdist quality to the life and times of Mr. Norris, and so have come up with hundreds of ironically dubbed “facts” that are, of course, anything but factual. A sampling: Whenever Chuck Norris gets out of bed, Satan cries “Oh crap, he’s awake!” soils himself and then hides. I like it.

My allusion to the karate-kicking phenom came at the end of the eulogy for my mother, nothing more than a final bit of forgiveness that I offered to Mom for “making me watch all those episodes of ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ all those Saturday nights when I would come down to visit.” It was the only reference – however oblique – anywhere in the eulogy about my mother’s legendary embrace of all things Republican. Chuck was just a proxy anyway: I was really noting that there were no hard feelings about her having wiped out my uniformly Democratic voting every year with her contrasting selections from the starboard side.

A couple of days before Chuck offered his blessing to Newt, my real favorite Republican, Clint Eastwood, orchestrated the best commercial during the Super Bowl, which allowing for the amount of money spent on such things, is really saying quite a lot. I’ve been an Eastwood fan for so long there simply was no coherent way to permit our ideological differences to disrupt the allegiance. I briefly soured a bit around 30 years ago when I couldn’t seem to embrace the joyful silliness of some of those movies he made with monkeys, etc., but I was right back on board over the last 20 years as he came up with some of his best work as a director.

Obviously, I liked the message about “Halftime in America” that he so eloquently spoke about last Sunday, and immediately realized that the commercial would become a political hot potato. It would be nice if the bold sentiments in the piece could simply be taken at face value, but that would be naïve to be sure. Resident Republican chucklehead Carl Rove quickly provided the rebuttal, if that’s what you want to call it, suggesting that a seemingly upbeat message about the revival of the automobile industry in Detroit amounted to an endorsement of the Democratic President who engineered that revival. How shameful that our bitter partisanship can’t even permit us to collectively rejoice about the success of an enterprise that clearly saved hundreds of thousands of jobs and forestalled the obliteration of one of the most vital segments of the American economy. If any greater evidence is needed of the Republican’s scorched earth policy regarding President Obama, their refusal to squarely acknowledge that Detroit revival would seem to provide it. One shudders to think that Republicans really would have preferred that the American automobile behemoth disintegrate rather than have their hated – and I used that inflammatory word advisedly – opponent score what can only be described as a victory. Whatever happened to “America First”?

* * * * * * * * *

I just finished reading “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” by David Sedaris – or more precisely listened to it on CD – and came away really delighted with much of the writing and one segment in particular. The acclaimed writer and humorist (think NPR fame) does the reading for the audio book, which is understandable, since he travels much of the world essentially reading his own stuff virtually anywhere from Kansas to Carnegie Hall.

Much of the book is done in a studio, but my favorite track was performed in front of a live audience, and it’s hard to separate how much of my own enthusiastic reaction was enhanced by the laughter of the crowd. Laughter is contagious that’s for sure, but its absence can be just as compelling. I watched “Fargo” in a theatre here in Wisconsin 16 years ago and felt a bit odd when I was essentially the only one laughing hysterically throughout the film. My discomfort wasn’t acute enough to actually make me stop laughing – which would be quite the trick during “Fargo” – but it wasn’t quite as much fun as it would have been had there been a bit of accompaniment from my fellow movie goers.

The track that I liked in the Sedaris book was one of the shorter ones, as opposed to the lengthy three-month trip to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, but it was for me the most fun. It involved a couple he encountered on an airplane that employed a degree of potty-mouthed hilarity that seemed more than a little incongruous with their upscale appearance, wardrobe and demeanor. I laughed all the way through it, goaded on by those in attendance at his live performance, who made me feel I was giggling in all the appropriate places. I was particularly taken by his aside that the couple had sort of assumed the foul-mouthed routine in conjunction with their travels, describing it as the linguistic equivalent of bringing out the everyday china. Geez, I really liked that one. And he followed that up with, “It was as if they’d kidnapped the grandparents from a Ralph Lauren ad and forced them into a David Mamet play.” Not too shabby.
- T.S. O’Connell

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