Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sweet kitty blue eyes

National Anthem subliminal messages: I can't even SEE these fucking things!

In the past few years, the internet has gone from "the gift that keeps on giving" to a cacaphonous bedlam of screaming-each-other-down-so-we-can-go-viral, wildly competing voices. The worst aspect of this is the mad competition to post a video of your kid having a meltdown and screaming in terror and grief, so that it can appear on the TV news and make the kid's parents vaguely famous for a day (until someone else comes along with a cuter, more traumatized kid). Never mind the one-year-old strapped to water skis that I recently saw: it was "his idea", of course, just like Jon-Benet begging and begging her mother to put her in beauty pageants when she was two. And just as safe .

And never mind what the KID thinks when he/she is a little bit older, and the humiliating, shitty-pants, howling video shows up on her Instagram page, mocked and jeered at by her "friends". It's quite ironic that while internet fame is ridiculously fleeting, these videos are forever. There is really no such thing as "delete". (And with kids, there is no such thing as "choice").

The aptly-named viral video is truly a sick phenomenon, but who notices it? Who even says anything any more? Once more, we're frogs in hot water, chuckling away at the casual violation of a child's emotional wholeness for the sake of popularity and "fame".

Which leads me to something KIND OF related to this.

Every time I look on  YouTube, there are approximately one billion more videos on the subjects I am interested in: meaning that it is much HARDER for me to find anything I want. With no sort of filter on the quality/quantity of content, YouTube is simply drowning in its own material. I found a playlist with 1,697 videos in it just of old TV signoffs. You know: those things they used to have at the end of the broadcasting day before everyone went to 24 hours.  (Too long ago for YOU to remember, of course.) I seldom saw them as a kid because I just wasn't up that late, except for the few times I was allowed (as a rare treat) to sleep on the pullout sofa in the den and watch Hoolihan and Big Chuck.

But since they continued well into the '80s, I do remember signoffs and the strange things that happened in them, especially the religious messages - why on earth do we need a religious message before we turn off the TV? Is it like that awful prayer, "If I should die before I wake" - ? But even in the '80s, there were sermonettes and reflections and Thoughts for the Day, generally sappy and pretty excruciating. They usually rotated Christian and Jewish (but likely not Muslim) clergy for these, just to show they were Not Prejudiced and Jewish people maybe had something to say too, before the test pattern and the "booooooooooooooop" came on for the next six hours.

Sleeping in the den, if I was watching Canadian TV, which was not too bloody likely, there would be a nice version of O Canada with pictures of moose and squirrels and stuff, and Mounties doing the Musical Ride. But usually I'd have U. S. channels on.  So I'd have to sit through the plodding, martial, heavy-handed American national anthem (which I now see has so many question marks in it that it should be called The Star-Spangled Banner?), in which the tune is almost as bad as the militaristic, violent, battle-inspired words. Sorry, American friends (especially YOU, and you know who you are), it's the anthem I hate and not you. In my present frame of mind, I despise ALL anthems, in fact. The very idea of one makes me squeeee-yuke.

So in clicking around amongst all these hundreds and hundreds of signoffs - most of them too recent to really please me very much - I once again ran into the above National Anthem Conspiracy Theory video. There are tons of them on YouTube.  Like most conspiracy theories, it's stupid: people rabidly WANT to believe them because their lives are dismal and they feel like flops and failures as human beings. Or else they're just bored. Real life isn't spicy enough, they don't yet realize they're going to die, perhaps horribly - so they have to jack up their adrenaline by climbing the sides of buildings and stuff, and believing this shit.

Supposedly, way back in 1966 or whenever, The Government had someone doctor up the words on the screen to say all kinds of subliminal, authoritarian things (but only if you looked real fast). It's hard for me to wrap my head around the concept of displaying the lyrics of your own national anthem, to begin with. Unless English is your second or third language, you're going to know them already. You sing them at every sporting event, You would know them from childhood, along with putting your hand on your heart and reciting, "I pledge allegiance to Big Brother" (etc. etc.)  I think you HAVE to know them to become an American citizen, don't you? So the whole idea of flashing the words across the screen, especially in such an ugly font, is pretty ludicrous, and may well be a hoax in itself.

Maybe if your brain works either really quickly or really slowly, you'd be able to somehow perceive all those Orwellian messages about God and the government and obedience and, most menacing of all,  Naomi. (I am reminded of - oh, I've GOT to do a palindrome post soon, they'll get me out of this vile mood! - "I moan, Naomi", or even "'Naomi, sex at noon taxes',  I moan".)

But this probably isn't THAT Naomi. This is a Naomi meant to read backwards only.

If all this had worked, how do you account for the unprecedented upheaval in the social order in the late 1960s? Couldn't people read? Weren't they paying any attention to the subliminal messages? Reading them - actually reading words they had been singing since they were two? Several videos have debunked the subliminal messages as mere video doctoring, which of course never happens! How can you change a film? A film!

Think of the Hanging Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. There are STILL people who believe that sucker was there in the original film, and that the studio somehow blotted it out by superimposing a bird. Thus Judy Garland and her merry companions danced down the Yellow Brick Road with a dead human body just hanging there in the woods, in full view of the camera, the cast, the director and the technicians.

Though it could very well be that the munchkin blotted out the bird. These things happen in the merry old land of paranoid mistrust.

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics

By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Now, there are aspects of this that I find strange. Of course Americans don't go on and on singing EVERY verse of their national anthem. They make the first verse look like a walk in the park, and even speak of slavery in an ambiguous way (not to mention justifying conquest "when our cause is just").. But putting that aside, I find it strange that there are three question marks in the first verse, the one they DO sing at sporting events. I noticed this in the subliminal messages video, and thought it couldn't be right. I don't expect Americans to question things like this - oh, maybe they do, I'm just in a bad mood about Trump, and no doubt you are, too. HIM I question, and how he ever got so far.

Just for the sake of fairness, and because I don't really know the other verses, here's the Canadian one. We've been squabbling over the sexism of  "in all thy sons command" for years now, wanting to substitute "in all of us" - which I wouldn't mind so much, if it didn't clang so badly in a lyrical sense. But it will probably happen anyway. At least it's better than the original suggestion: "in all of thy command", which demonstrates a jaw-dropping ignorance of the grammar of that line. In that version, Canada is somehow the one with (noun) "command". The actual meaning is in the imperative: "please, please, wonderful Canada, command true patriot love in all your sons (which includes sons with no wee-wee)!" It's the upside-down sentence structure that has people confused. But there are still people who argue bitterly with me about this. "All of thy command", indeed.

When I decided to dig this up, I was astonished to find all these different versions. The thing evolved. I am not going to bore you with an endless history of all the different permutations, except to say that it evolved from a quite majestic French lyric that nobody understands, into the middle-of-the-road English one we sing today (at sporting events). Incredibly, in the current official version there is still a mention of God, which for some reason no one objects to - yet. Who knows what the substitute for the lines "God keep our land/Glorious and free" will be? "Justin Trudeau" might work for the first one.

O Canada! Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempe,
Protègera nos foyers et nos droits.
Protègera nos foyers et nos droits.

Verses additionnel:

Sous l'oeil de Dieu, près du fleuve géant,
Le Canadien grandit en espérant.
Il est d'une race fière,
Béni fut son berceau.
Le ciel a marqué sa carrure
Dans ce monde nouveau.
Toujours guidé par sa lumière,
Il gardera l'honneur de son drapeau,
Il gardera l'honneur de son drapeau.

De son patron, précurseur du vrai Dieu,
Il porte au front l'auréole de feu.
Ennemi de la tyrannie Mais plein de loyauté.
Il veut garder dans l'harmonie,
Sa fière liberté;
Et par l'effort de son génie,
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité.
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité.

Amour sacré du trône et de l'autel,
Remplis nos cœurs de ton souffle immortel!
Parmi les races étrangères,
Notre guide est la loi;
Sachons être un peuple de frères,
Sous le joug de la foi.
Et répétons, comme nos pères
Le cri vainqueur: Pour le Christ et le roi,
Le cri vainqueur: Pour le Christ et le roi.

In the following version, there was an attempt at a literal/word-for-word translation of the French original, which came out about as well as these things usually do:

O Canada! Our fathers' land of old
Thy brow is crown'd with leaves of red and gold.
Beneath the shade of the Holy Cross
Thy children own their birth
No stains thy glorious annals gloss
Since valour shield thy hearth.
Almighty God! On thee we call
Defend our rights, forfend this nation's thrall,
Defend our rights, forfend this nation's thrall.

Now, HEY, this one reminds me so much of America the Beautiful that it just isn't funny. Amber waves of grain, and stuff. (I still haven't figured out what a "fruited plain" is.)

O Canada! In praise of thee we sing;
From echoing hills our anthems proudly ring.
With fertile plains and mountains grand
With lakes and rivers clear,
Eternal beauty, thos dost stand
Throughout the changing year.
Lord God of Hosts! We now implore
Bless our dear land this day and evermore,
Bless our dear land this day and evermore.

And here you see our staunch ties with Britain, which existed until they weren't there any more. Which they aren't. But I do remember having to draw a Union Jack in school, and singing God Save the Queen.

O Canada, our heritage, our love
Thy worth we praise all other lands above.
From sea to see throughout their length
From Pole to borderland,
At Britain's side, whate'er betide
Unflinchingly we'll stand
With hearts we sing, ‘God save the King.’
Guide then one Empire wide, do we implore,
And prosper Canada from shore to shore.

THIS one is getting closer to the final version, but it just goes on too long.

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us command.
We see thee rising fair, dear land,
The True North, strong and free;
And stand on guard, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.


O Canada! O Canada!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow,
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western Sea;
Thou land of hope for all who toil!
Thou True North, strong and free!


O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies
May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise,
To keep thee steadfast through the years,
From East to Western Sea.
Our own beloved native land,
Our True North, strong and free!


Ruler Supreme, Who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our dominion within Thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in Thee,
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the Better Day
We ever stand on guard.

And now, pant-pant-pant, here we are at the one we actually sing. Pared down immensely. It has been subtly changed through the years, particularly removing three or four "stand on guards" that really didn't need to be there. But I like it. I don't sing it very often because I don't go to sporting events.

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

TOP-UP. I usually top these things up because I forget something, or else think of something else I want to tack on. 

My Dad, bless his sometimes-belligerent soul, was born in England and had not much patience with what he called The Americans. He especially did not like their anthem. How often I remember (over and over again, because he didn't seem to remember doing things) he would bellow his own version of the first couple of lines:
O say can you see
Any bedbugs on me?

He generally ended his satirical version with "the land of the free, and the home of the slave." He had something there. I grew up in Chatham, which is in the Windsor-Detroit area and a settlement point for the Underground Railroad, a historic route of refuge for slave families. I didn't even know what it WAS until much later, as it was never once mentioned in school, though we had a high black population in Chatham. Each of my classes had at least 3 or 4 black kids out of 30, and sometimes more like 5 or 6. But nobody stopped to ask how that happened. 

As with the Royal York Hotel turning away George Gershwin because he was a Jew, Chatham turned away black history and virtually annihilated it - when it should have been a point of pride. So everybody got cheated. One wonders why humanity has such a tight grip on mean-spirited bigotry. It will be the death of us, I am afraid - and sooner than we think.