A new day dawns in America

For the first time in over five years, I awoke this morning without a crushing sense of dread to read the news and find out what indignities our former administration had inflicted upon our country and upon the world. It was a literal sense of physical relief, and I still revel in it as I write this.

Over the last half-decade, political cartoonists have had a literal heyday. Never in my life has there been a president or an administration that was more thoroughly or more deservedly pilloried. If anyone wanted to anthologize all the cartoons that were done about the Orange Screechweasel and his abortive presidency, I suspect it would look like this (Volume 1): ¹

I collected a few of these over the years, more as a pressure valve than anything else and to reassure myself that it was not just me that felt these things, but I think the one that impacted me the most was this one that appeared on the morning after the 2016 election:

David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review

The eyes said it all. And although Mr. Rowe caught a lot of flak from American Trump Cultists among others, here on the morning of January 21, 2021, when the White House is occupied by President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and a fresh, clean breeze of hope is blowing over our nation for the first time in far too long, it becomes clear that – as the saying goes – we had no idea. Mr. Rowe’s cartoon was spot-on, but dramatically understated. The horror would be far worse than anything any of us could have imagined.

There are a handful of online comics that I follow, less than a dozen and far fewer than in days past (I was always a fan of the daily funnies from my earliest days of reading The Herald Tribune in New York City), and one of the is “The New Adventures of Queen Victoria” by Pab Sungenis. The writer’s political satire has always been a favorite of mine, but the last two days of his strip pretty much say it all:

We survived. Sadly, some 400,000 of us did not – and counting – and while not all of those deaths from the Novel Coronavirus could have been avoided, a significant percentage could have been had there been functioning adults in the White House.

Well, now there are. And while no administration of either party is perfect, I feel more hope for the future now than even I did with the election of Barack Obama, whose campaign slogan was Hope and Change. He began the trend, and with this unwanted and hideous interlude behind us, I look forward to the reparation of as much damage as possible and forward motion to a nation that works for all of us, with no one left out, and a nation that can re-assume its position at the global table as a functioning, adult equal.

The inauguration yesterday morning was breathtaking in its honesty, in its beauty, and in its hopefulness. I literally wept tears of joy and release as I listened to the speeches, the poetry, and the music. It was exhilarating and cathartic.

May the 46th Administration of our great but suffering nation bring healing and progress. May we undertake effective new steps to protect our populace from the depredations of the current pandemics, one of a new and relatively unknown virus, and a second of ignorance and brainwashing by 50 years of spite and disinformation.

Our nation awakens to a fresh, new morning of hope. May we see that hope fulfilled more abundantly than our previous fears were.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹ Not to mention all the wonderful video parodies by people such as Randy Rainbow, late-night segments by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and so many like them, and serious critical essays by the likes of John Pavlovitz, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, Jim Wright, and countless others. Just had to add this because they shouldn’t be forgotten.

The Princess Bride Reunion Script Reading

Organized by the Wisconsin Democrats, to whom you can contribute any time, this amazing tribute to an amazing movie; since the invention of the film, there have been five movies that were rated the most perfect, the most pure. This one left them all behind.

(Scroll to 18:22 to get to the beginning of the reading)

The Princess Bride Script Reading

The cast list for this delightful event was as follows:

*Original Cast*
Cary Elwes as Westley
Robin Wright as Buttercup
Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya
Wallace Shawn as Vizzini
Christoper Guest as Count Rugen
Billy Crystal as Miracle Max
Carol Kane as Valerie
Chris Sarandon as Prince Humperdinck

*Introducing*
Rob Reiner as The Grandfather
Josh Gad as Fezzik
Eric Idle as The Impressive Clergyman
King Bach as Yellin, The Assistant Brute and The King (unable to attend because of technical difficulties – his part was taken over on a moment’s notice by Finn Wolfhard)
Finn Wolfhard as The Grandson
Shaun Ross as The Man with Albinism fka The Albino
Whoopi Goldberg as The Ancient Booer and The Mother
Jason Reitman as The Narrator

*With*
Patton Oswalt as The Q&A Moderator
Norman Lear as The Man That Made It All Happen (Executive Producer will join the Q & A)

There were a few technical glitches. It happens. It took a while to get going, and the server kept crashing under the “hug of death.” Occasionally someone was muted; sometimes there was audio lag. But everyone took it in stride, the technical people behind the scenes (I have no doubt) were running around with their butts on fire to make things work, and it all came together in the end to create a once-in-a-lifetime, thoroughly enjoyable presentation.

Right off I noticed some differences in the dialog from the script and what was finalized in the movie. We got to experience a little bit of “deleted scene” stuff there, things that didn’t make it into the final cut. And of course, there was some choice ad-libbing from Billy Crystal and a few others, entirely within the spirit of the whole production.

The performances were mixed. Without mentioning any names, I would have to say that I felt like a few of the cast were just phoning it in (figuratively, since all of them were literally phoning it in for the virtual round table); but most of them were having a great time and many of them were giving it 100% of their best effort to recreate the glory of the original.

Especially notable for outstanding performances were Mandy Patinkin, who stepped into the rôle of Inigo Montoya as though it were 33 years ago (he even produced this incomparable sword during the reading); Wallace Shawn as the inconceivable Vizzini; Chris Sarandon as the king’s stinking son; Billy Crystal and Carol Kane as Miracle Max and Valerie; and newcomer Josh Gad paying astonishing tribute to André the Giant. Rob Reiner channelled Peter Falk so well that it was uncanny. This in no way implies that the others were not wonderful as well, but these were the stand-outs for me, and of course Your Mileage May Vary.

There was a Q&A afterward, based largely on questions submitted by fans; I sent one in for Billy Crystal, but sadly it wasn’t selected. After Montoya tells him that Humperdink will suffer “humiliations galore,” Max says something – supposedly in Yiddish – that sounds like “hy didde lik val dang nation. Haha, that is a noble cause. Gimme the 65, I’m on the job!” Now I have a passing knowledge of Yiddish, fluent German, and a modicum of Hebrew under my belt, but this is nothing I could make any sense of. I fear I may just have to wait until I meet Billy in the Great Beyond to get my question answered.

Some good stories were told, and – not unsurprisingly – a lot of the conversation turned to the current political situation and the need for Wisconsin to give its electoral votes to Joe Biden instead of The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office. But then, this entire delightful event was organized to help Wisconsin Democrats, and so I had no objection.

My wife and I are great fans of this film; we celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving it a watch and then eating Mutton, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwiches for lunch or dinner. It’s hard to find lean mutton here in Maine, so we usually make do with lamb… but it’s still so perky.

If you also love this movie, I recommend that you hit your library up for a copy of As You Wish, the moving behind-the-scenes story of how the film came together written by none other than Cary Elwes.

My thanks to Benjamin Canant for capturing and uploading this event. Enjoy watching.

The Old Wolf has spoken.