Thursday, April 19, 2012

Notes on Pop Culture & Politics: Prez Campaign Goes Canine, Updating 'FNL' & 7 Reasons Why Katniss Kicks Butt

No Mas with the Dogs Already

As a voter who's squarely in the politically moderate middle of the road, I issue this plaintive plea to the presidential campaigns and the news media: Enough with the canines already.

Now I'm as much of a dog lover as anybody. (Check out my lifestyle blog, The Picket Fence Post, where I've been chronicling our hunt for family dog numero dos.) But seriously, what do the infamous tale of Seamus Romney atop the Mittster's family car and the fact that, as a child, Barack Obama ate dog meat have to do with the dire U.S. economy and the yawning gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent? With the costly (money & lives) over-commitment of U.S. troops in dangerous locales across the globe without any clear objectives? With a potentially nuclear Iran? With the fierce partisan logjam in Washington that has spawned a climate of stubborn intolerance and the demonization of one's political rivals that has done absolutely nothing to raise the level of political discourse?

Unless either guy vying for the Oval Office has intentionally hurt a pooch (kicked it, starved it, etc.), then I don't care about their Marley & Me stories. This whole who's-worse-than-the-other-guy gambit when it comes to dogs is fine fodder for the late night comedians but to the voters, it's truly meaningless. I hope this isn't foreshadowing a hideously shallow general election. I'm game for some meaty debates and analysis, but not frothy stupidity better fit for the likes of Snooki.

What Ever Became of 'Friday Night Lights'' Boobie Miles?

I love, love, loved Friday Night Lights, the book about journalist H. G. Buzz Bissinger's year spent with the Odessa, Texas Permian Panthers high school football team in the late 1980s.

When I taught journalism at the University of Massachusetts, I had my students read this book and when non-football fans would grumble about the assignment, I'd tell them that the book isn't about football, it's about our priorities and about life in a town where high school sports was king above all else. And, after they read the book, I never heard a word of complaint about the compelling tale, especially the tragic story of promising running back Boobie Miles who had his bright future ripped from his hands after he suffered a career-ending injury and was rendered irrelevant to the school that didn't educate him and had no use for him once his days of playing football were over.

Now Bissinger has revisited the story that made him a household name. He has recently spent time with Miles and has written After Friday Night Lights, a 34-page Kindle Single which focuses on what has become of Miles in the wake of what Bissinger described as "a symbol of everything that was wrong with high school football." You can read an excerpt on Grantland.

I'm downloading my copy tonight.

7 Reasons Why 'The Hunger Games'' Katniss Everdeen Kicks Butt (Especially to My 13-Year-Old Daughter)

1. She's got fierce survival skills.

2. She has a savvy combination of smarts and strategic thinking that she's not afraid to show to others.

3. She is extremely mature for her age.

4. She has a rock-solid set of morals and refuses to kill others in the Hunger Games (the sick fight-to-the-death games pitting children against one another) unless they pose a mortal threat. (She wouldn't even kill a violent rival, in a climatic scene, when she could wound him instead.)

5. She doesn't care about her own popularity and allows her actions to speak volumes for her.

6. She'd take a bullet (or an arrow or a tribute slot) for those about whom she cares.

7. She doesn't feel the need to wear make-up.

Katniss is a heroine I can fully embrace. I'd love to get Katniss and Hermione Granger in a room together. Now that would be something.

Image credits: and Lionsgate Films via The Mirror.


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