I mentioned the Raccoon yesterday - the first example of lumbering vermin in the yard in months. Last night after midnight the dog was agitated by something, which I figured was the Raccoon again. No.
It was probably hissing; hard to tell when the dog’s barking his head off. I got close enough to Birch to get him away, which he had no intention of doing. He lunged for the possum and got him right by the neck. There was thrashing. I got Birch by the collar, and he dropped the possum; took some serious exertion to manhandle the maddened dog into the house, where he barked and stood on his back legs and trying to bang open the door.
Damn. Now I have to get a shovel and toss the possum over the fence, where nature will presumably do its horrid work. I got the big flashlight, went back outside . . .
Nothing. Not even blood on the snow.
Of course. It had been playing - well, you know.
Never binged on a show before, but: I spent a Sunday plowing through “Wild Wild Country,” a Netflix-hosted doc on the “guru” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers, the city they tried to build, and the inevitable collapse. Highly recommended, because
A. It’s just a great story
B. You’re reminded how the early 80s were something of a no-man’s-land, a strange transitional period between the 70s and what we now see as the start of modern times. All the basics are there - video cameras, computer graphics, reality TV (in the form of news programs). The gauzy nature of the video evidence makes it feel both more authentic and ancient, a vivid dream.
C. It has early evidence of a pertinent cultural fault line. From a piece about a reporter who went to the compound when they imported thousands of homeless people to vote in a local election:
Yet for Portlanders, the Rajneeshees presented a dilemma. Most of the guru's acolytes were affluent, college-educated progressives, and Rose City residents had more in common with them than with the God-fearing, gun-toting ranchers who wanted the newcomers out.
College-educated progressives are automatically posited as the other end of the spectrum from people who work the land, believe in God, and own firearms.
Let me suggest that this is not a natural divide. These groups don’t have to occupy two ends of the spectrum, do they? Is there anything about going to college and working with paper that says you have to suspicious or alienated from people who have less formal education but run businesses that require a raft of skills the “professional” will never know?
What does it say about the CEPs that they felt more simpatico with people who screamed, hit each other, rolled around naked, did silly boho dances with their arms in the air, and thought this twinkle-eyed “mystic” had all the answers? Ah, the novelty of the exotic, the delicious self-satisfaction that comes with condescending to the culture into which you were born. It’s so boring. It’s so bourgeois. These people may be a bit . . . kooky! But they’re liberated.
As for the gun-totin’, well, the rancher totes a gun to dispatch varmints. The Bagwan’s devotees stared arming up, because the love cults always end up with guys toting guns, looking grim. Because they’re weird guys attracted to irrational sensation, and lack a ground wire that goes from their id into the established culture and can bleed off the excess electricity.
Here’s the odd thing: the CEPs would be horrified if the Koresh people moved in next door, because even though they preached love ’n’ cosmic connection as well, they were culturally congruent with God-fearing, gun-toting ranchers.
Using news footage and interviews with people involved in the Orange People, and those in the town of Antelope where the group made its uneasy home, Wild Wild Country walks the middle line between showing the Orange People as progressive and enlightened and yet depicting how unsettling their presence was in rural Oregon.
No, the middle line would be between showing how they were idealistic, and showing how their leadership was batshite nuts, vindictive, paranoid, and eventually murderous.
It also shows the moral panic of conservative, Christian America, and how a movement that gets branded a cult becomes demonised. Yet unlike many traditional cults, most of the former Orange People interviewed by the film-makers had the time of their lives.
According to a review in Vulture: “The Rajneesh faithful who appear on camera all sound perfectly rational and look like the kind of graying, progressive adults you might accidentally bump your cart into at your local Trader Joe’s. They still talk in glowing, tearful terms about their time living on the ranch and the impact that the Bhagwan, later renamed Osho, had on their lives.”
They interviewed the top echelon people who’d had positions of power. The one person who doesn’t talk in glowing terms is the one who tried to murder one of the other members, and realized she had crossed a line, having been brought up on “thou shalt not murder.”
Uh oh: sounds like moral panic, and that means it’s an overreaction. We continue:
In his book God Is Not Great, Hitchens talked with some disgust about Osho’s “sibilant voice usually deployed through low volume microphone at early morning darshan, (which) possessed a fairly hypnotic quality”. And that is true, he looked and sounded like a cult leader from the playbook. But Osho’s teaching on certain things, including sex, nature, sleep and work, are great.
Now the kicker:
He was funny, modern and dirty – switching between eastern religions and Christianity with ease. He swore a lot and didn’t take anything too seriously.
Best Jesus EVER
We're currently having a small amout of fun with Batman. I hold in my hand . . . the last episode.
Wonder how this serial will end?
So you can go to the bathroom or get some popcorn.
If you remember, Vicky Vale, the Commish, and the Bat were sitting around his office waiting for the Wizard to show up and kill someone. Vicky had a special camera that could take a picture of invisible things, or something like that. Let’s replay last week’s cliffhanger.
Oh, man! Batman’s dead, and Vicky didn’t use her special camera!
I watch these the way they were meant to be seen - a week apart. And even so I noted something was . . . different. Here’s how Episode 15 resolves the cliffhanger.
THAT’S NOT FAIR. She does get a shot off. Batman tells Commissioner Gordon to check every car in the vicinity, and the Commissioner leans into his radio and tells the cops to check every car in the vicinity. They promptly arrest one of the Wizard’s men in a car a block away - so the Wiz is somewhere in the neighborhood, without a ride!
Batman tells the Commissioner to check all phone calls from all pay phones, and the Commissioner leans into his radio and tells the phone company to check all calls from any phones.
Hey, it burns up some time.
We see a phone dial itself; it’s the Wiz, calling the secret cave. He tells ihs remaining henches to keep the remote control machine on FULL POWER, so it keeps him invisible. But - but it’s overheating! says the henchman. FULL POWER, says the Wiz.
Vicky comes in with her special picture:
Huh? says everyone in the audience. Who the hell is that? Oh, right, Carter, the butler for The Wizard / Professor Wheelchair. Batman thinks he knows what’s up, and sends Robin to the place in the hills where they had lost some Wiz henches a few episodes back.
The switchboard finds the Wizard right away, of course, and cops are sent to a drug store. I wonder if the audience thought this was AWESOME.
Yes, he steals an unmarked cop car. It’s quickly spotted, since there are only 10 minutes left the serial; the Wiz crashes the car into a pole and runs for his secret cave entrance, as the invisibility wears off. As we know, Robin is in the area.
So this isn’t exactly a master criminal pursued as he attempts his greatest feat yet. He’s pretty pathetic at this point.
Oh, look who just appears out of nowhere:
She stumbles across the gang. Of course. The Wizard gets a ride, meets the guys dragging Vicky Vale around, and tells them to “get rid of her.” So in the midst of his inexplicable plan to do something, which failed, he dispatches half of his team of stage an elaborate accident to kill Vicky Vale. Okay.
Batman is racing to the spot with the cops - two of them, only two; who would you need more - while the thugs tie up Vicky, put her in a car, and push it off a cliff.
Nice, except he could’ve taken an extra few seconds to help a gal out, for heaven’s sake.
Batman and Robin get to the submarine dock, and make a hench drive them back. They gain entrance to the Wizard’s lab! It’s a fight! The hench tries Lunging!
It’s not very effective. Batman and Robin beat the guys and run up the stairs . . . into Professor Wheelchair’s living room!
. . . what?
This doesn’t fit anything. Twin Brother? And doesn’t he sound a little . . . familiar?
And then . . . .
Well, let’s talk it out:
What? Literally, the butler did it - and he had tremendous scientific know-how, too. But the sub base was really in Professor Wheelchair’s property? Except didn’t they show it docking in the countryside? Where did he get the money and resources to build a gfargin’ underwater sub station in two places?
One more question: What about Barry Brown, who knew everything, and blabbed about everything over the air?
Oh, criminey joseph. Well, all serials have to end with everyone standing around laughing, so Batman arranges to have Vicky Vale called at the Commissioner’s office, so Alfred can play a recording of Bruce Wayne calling off their date.
That was stupid.
That was fun, but it was stupid.
The middle of the week arrives at noon; all downhill from there! See you around.