Culture Notes: Coyote; NEA; Obama Almost Too Awesome

coyote2Coyote: Reviewing the Natalie Wood Collection, I watched the 1964 Roadrunner/Coyote cartoon War and Pieces, directed by Chuck Jones, which is included as an extra on the Inside Daisy Clover disc. I have no special love for animation in general, but I make an expection for Wile E. Coyote, one of the great tragic characters in movies. War and Pieces is splendid, and shows the series to be so exquisitely refined that the payoffs to jokes don’t even need to be onscreen. And the absolute logic of the gags is maintained even when the results are surreal, like burrowing through the Earth’s core and coming out in China. Plus, this one has Acme Invisible Paint.

NEA: Republican lawmakers who oppose the stimulus package are rolling out their usual red flags, those words or phrases they know will fall on the ears of Sarah Palin’s “real Americans” as code for godless-homosexual-communist-terrorists. One such red flag is the National Endowment for the Arts, which gets a ludicrously small amount of funding from the government, but which is nevertheless at the top of the list in the GOP talking notes about the stimulus package. As though people in the arts aren’t workers who — in that awful, now inescapabale phrase — actually do help “grow the economy.” (Tax breaks for churchs, of course, are secure.) As though the New Deal hadn’t funded an extraordinary program of arts projects, many of which are still gloriously with us today.

Obama: I grew up with LBJ and Nixon, I have watched ’em all closely since. The greatest moment I’ve ever seen from a president was Barack Obama’s exasperated response to GOP warnings of “spending” (one of their red-flag words for years now). Especially the “no, seriously.” It is so rare to see a politician say something authentic — can this possibly go on? In case you missed it, with Rachel Maddow sitting in: