Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

Game of Thrones, Take Two, and Other Matters

After a false start a few months ago — a false start that I ascribe to moodiness, prejudice, or perhaps senility – I hit the reset button on Game of Thrones. I had recently, too, restarted watching Madmen (season 2). In effect, I unwittingly set up a horse race between these two shows. Although I like both, Game of Thrones wins (it’s not close) so I’ll watch that until the summer before starting The Wire, which I suspect will occupy me during the heat. Along the way I’ll finish up Madmen season 2.

I’ve now season Game of Thrones episodes 1-5, season 1. I think what frustrated me the first time I got started with it, more than anything, is that I was paying too much attention to the politics and not enough to the cinematography, characters, language, and the relationships among these. The politics, quite frankly, are not at all interesting to me. It’s the usual swill of Machiavellian machinations with pedestrian surprises and odd turns.

Far more interesting, at least to me, are the characters that are slowly being sketched and the relationships between them against an epic backdrop of gorgeous camera work, lush sets, costumes and spartan language. Really, it’s a great big love story sans romantic love thus far. Indeed, sex in Games of Thrones is rather base and driven by necessity, lust, and even narcissism. The loves that shine so far are those of friendship, family, service, and comradeship in arms. This aspect of Game of Thrones at this juncture reminds me to that of King Lear and Lord of the Rings.

I hope it continues to be this good.

Below is the star of the show.  The short prince is in second place.

Game of Thrones Dancing Game of ThronesArya-Stark game-of-thrones-arya-stark

On American Politics

Like their revolution, Americans want their politics relatively clean and bloodless, with the little guy winning in the end. The more appropriate reference for American politics, however, is the Civil War. Rivers of blood and the little guy gets crushed.

More on House of Cards

I never got into the “West Wing.” Too much of a classical liberal’s view of what politics should be. House of Cards approximates a realist view, which analytically has proved more useful to my life-long study and teaching of politics. Francis is more complicated than most suppose. Like Machiavelli, he understands that without amassing power — by whatever means necessary — that no leader can build or transform institutions, for better or for worse. What we don’t understand about Francis yet is what he means to do with that power. I’ve argued that he is an LBJ figure. We’ll see what he does when he is at the pinnacle of power — whether he self destructs like Nixon, falls flat but does much good like Clinton, or whether he becomes an LBJ and accomplishes much and then melts in his own acid.

This thought was prompted by this review in the New York Times.

On MLK via

This is a fabulous essay. Do check it out. Another time I’ll read it with more care and will comment on it.

This one is good too.

I refuse to give up

I refuse to give up on running. The heel spur injury is mellowing. The physical therapy for it and my lower back have helped. It has provided a short battery of terrific exercises. I’ve packed on too much weight since August but I feel strong. My head is in the right place. Life is looking up.

LBJ — A TV Series

So I’ve been thinking of my LBJ mini series idea, to run around 10 seasons beginning with childhood to the day he leaves the Senate. We need the Madmen people to provide the artistic vision for the evolving times, taking us back and forth from Texas to DC and from Austin to the Hill Country. We need Breaking Bad’s cinematography. We need the House of Cards People to write the story, cast, and bring the characters to life. And we need Caro’s Path to Power (Seasons 1-5) and Master of the Senate (Seasons 6-10) as primary sources for building the series, dialogue, anecdotes, etc.

Someone should do this.

LBJ’s Path to Power: He teaches Mexican kids in Cotulla, TX

I’ve been reading Robert A. Caro’s Path to Power. I’m at the section now where LBJ has his first teaching gig in Cotulla, TX. Up to this point in this magnificent narrative history, it’s hard to warm to LBJ. He is narcissistic, vain, extravagant, and generally insufferable. To say he is a bad egg is hyporbole — he is a cruel, rotten and uncharitable wretch. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that he is more on the path to prison than he is on the path to becoming congressman, master of the senate, and president.

So in this job, LBJ’s first real one, he would make Mexican-American students who could barely speak/read English memorize poetry. One was O Captain! My Captain! That Walt Whitman is one of the poets he chose is as astonishing as it is ironic because throughout his life he showed little interest in reading anything not about business or politics. This is where we see first signs of his great compassion, where he first begins to demonstrate care for others even if it is hard to separate from his own ambition.

Something else we see by this point in the book is that Johnson had known poverty, humiliation, and hardship. He would forever understand the poor because of these experiences.

On my heel spur

My heel spur has a life and personality. It is temperamental and predictable, the latter only up to a point. Sans surgery, which is dicey at best, it seems likely to stay. This is too bad because I badly want to run a lot more and for longer distances. Heel spur is cooperative some days. On others, however, it is recalcitrant and petulant, as if being neglected while trying to converse with me on other matters.

Part of the message, I think, is that I have reached a certain age, one where I will have to learn to live with and manage certain defects in my physical character.

My achy foot also seems to say every day, that “You are just a man,” and “not everything heals,” and “it’s ok, be grateful for what you have, which is much and maybe more than you deserve.”

I am learning to listen.

What I am up to in 2014

In 2014 my goals are to better examine my life and dreams as they are and to examine these daily with patience, understanding, and exuberance. I hope to be kinder, less aloof, and more compassionate towards others.

My concrete goals are to improve my physical fitness, eat more fruits and vegetables, improve at my vocation, and forge stronger relations with loved ones, new and old.

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us.” -Proust

House of Cards Season II.

Now that I have finished Breaking Bad I am ready for House of Cards.

Season one was devilishly fun. Ignore those who try to make it out to be more than what it is. It’s full of keen insights on power.


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