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Stanley Kauffmann, RIP

[ 17 ] October 9, 2013 |

Stanley Kauffmann, the dean of American film criticism and one of the greatest film critics in history, has passed. He worked for decades at The New Republic, including in the 90s when he was pretty much the only thing worth reading over there. He was also pretty much the last critic who could actually remember the silent era. Working nearly until the end, reading Kauffmann was a century of film history in each review. He’d talk about knowing Jimmy Stewart in the 30s, an unknown Marlon Brando starring in Kauffmann’s own play, etc. I didn’t always agree with him, that’s for sure. But he was probably the first serious film critic I ever really read. Quite a loss.

This Means War

[ 88 ] October 9, 2013 |

You thought the government shutdown wasn’t really affecting you? Well, no new beers can come on the market while the government is shut down.

Mike Brenner is trying to open a craft brewery in Milwaukee by December. His application to include a tasting room is now on hold, as are his plans to file paperwork for four labels over the next few weeks. He expects to lose about $8,000 for every month his opening is delayed.

“My dream, this is six years in the making, is to open this brewery,” Brenner said. “I’ve been working so hard, and I find all these great investors. And now I can’t get started because people are fighting over this or that in Washington. … This is something people don’t mess around with. Even in a bad economy, people drink beer.”

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, is a little-known arm of the Treasury Department. The agency will continue to process taxes from existing permit holders, but applications for anything new are in limbo.

It’s not just new breweries. Existing breweries can add no new seasonals, no beer moving toward cans, no change in bottle size. Basically, the brewing industry is on hold until the Republicans decide to eat less fire. And given the closeness between Big Brewing and the Republican Party, I don’t expect this to be a priority.

Welcome to Tonight’s NFL Game between the Phoenix Wetbacks and the Atlanta Darkies

[ 367 ] October 8, 2013 |

The National Congress of American Indians recently put out this image in response to those who don’t think sports teams with Native American logos are offensive.

I understand that people are fans of who they are fans of. I am an Oregon Ducks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Seattle Seahawks fan because of where I came from. You don’t really even make these choices, in a sense. So whatever. But if you are a fan of the Washington Racist Insignia or the Cleveland Racist Logo and defend these names and logos, I’m just going to assume you would also be totally fine with the Phoenix Wetbacks and the Atlanta Darkies. Because it’s the same thing. I don’t care that the Racist Insignias have had their name for decades. I don’t think the social mores of the early 20th century are something that are an unchangeable tradition, unless you also don’t support anti-lynching laws or Native Americans voting.

It’s racist and denying that is facilitating and apologizing for racism.

All of this reminds me of the commercials based upon once existent products in C.S.A. Which if you haven’t seen it, isn’t a perfect film by any means, but is certainly a unique and challenging anti-racist film in the Civil War memory genre.

Modern Literature

[ 62 ] October 8, 2013 |

Who needs some reading material? Horny Ghost of Osama Bin Laden: Rise of the Ghost has been published.

When an American diver goes in the search of the body of Osama bin Laden, he’s surprised to find not only the body,but also Bin Laden’s terrifying and horny ghost. Raped by the ghost and forced to sail to America, the duo arrive in Miami where Bin Laden is overwhelmed by the sexy American women. Discovering that his power increases by having sex with young women, Bin Laden sets out to get as many women as possible in effort to become the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. With the American government unable to stop him because weapons have no effect on his ghostly body, all hope seems lost. As politicians leave the White House to operate from top secret locations, Janet a young psychic, convinces the leaders to employ help from the ghosts of dead Americans to combat the most unimaginable terror ever unleashed on American soil. But as Bin Laden’s powers begin to grow, he sets out to take all that he sees. With the fate of the world in the hands of a sex-crazed terrorist. it’s up to an influential figure from our past to save America from this bleak, sexual future. An entertaining mix of horror and comedy, this thrilling novel keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Filled with twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the final page, this exhilarating book takes terrorism to a whole new level.

I’m hoping the influential figure from the past is 1884 Republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine.

The Missing Picture

[ 61 ] October 8, 2013 |

Rithy Pahn’s documentary about the millions of forgotten people killed in Khmer Rouge death camps with scenes largely constructed with clay figurines looks amazing.

In related news, the 20th century was horrible. Luckily, all the secular fundamentalist* ideologies that led to the killing of so many are dead except for capitalism. Sadly, it is still in the ascendant and people die in the garment factories of Bangladesh, the coal mines of China, the houses in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley. Maybe someday the last deadly secular ideology will also go away.

* I am perfectly aware that religious fundamentalists ideologies have their own problems. But that’s for another posts. And they’ve ultimately killed a lot less people in the 20th century.

The Teddy Bears

[ 20 ] October 7, 2013 |

I just realized that somehow I never posted The Teddy Bears here before. Imagine a silent movie version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with Teddy Roosevelt coming in at the end for an, um, disturbing ending. And some early version claymation bears. And the bears in full Victorian dress. But mostly that disturbing, bizarre ending satirizing Teddy Roosevelt. This is a real favorite to show students.

Shutdown=No Union Elections

[ 25 ] October 7, 2013 |

It’s no wonder many Republicans love the government shutdown. Among other things, it stops union elections from being held since nearly everyone in the NLRB is on furlough.

This story is also a good glimpse into how companies fight unions even after workers vote for representation.

You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play by the Rules

[ 11 ] October 7, 2013 |

Not to steal SEK’s thunder here, but I was going to post this anyway and then he did a writeup.

If Republican members of Congress want to win the crazy and offensive person of the day, they have to play by the rules. Since when did Republican congresscritters say insane things anonymously?

According to the Washington Examiner‘s Byron York, an unnamed GOP congressman expressed surprise at the government shutdown. “To be honest with you, I did not think we’d be in a government shutdown situation,” he said. He blamed “the Cruz phenomenon” for “disrupting” the plans of House Republicans, likening the current GOP situation to the Battle of Gettysburg:

I would liken this a little bit to Gettysburg, where a Confederate unit went looking for shoes and stumbled into Union cavalry, and all of a sudden found itself embroiled in battle on a battlefield it didn’t intend to be on, and everybody just kept feeding troops into it. That’s basically what’s happening now in a political sense. This isn’t exactly the fight I think Republicans wanted to have, certainly that the leadership wanted to have, but it’s the fight that’s here.

That’s a Monday winner right there. If the person gives us their name.


[ 25 ] October 7, 2013 |

Naturally Rick Scott is apologizing not for purging Florida’s voting rolls of black people ineligible voters. He’s apologizing for not purging enough black people ineligible voters.

Film Blog (II)

[ 29 ] October 6, 2013 |

I have another set of reviews of films nobody has seen at my little film side blog. And hey, a couple of films people actually have seen as well! Those are movies I own and wanted to watch again.

Someone Else’s Voice, Ivanov-Vano, 1949
Hostile Country, Carr, 1950
Black and White, Amalrik and Ivanov-Vano, 1933
The Tin Drum, Schlondorff, 1979
Cerro Pelado, Alvarez, 1966
Unforgiven, Eastwood, 1992
The Maltese Falcon, Huston, 1941
No, Larrain, 2012
Railroaded!, Mann, 1947
Urbanized, Hustwit, 2011
The Human Condition, Kobayashi, 1959, 1961
Glastonbury Fayre, Neal and Roag, 1972
Music Makers of the Blue Ridge, Hoffman, probably 1965

As always my reviews aren’t worth reading. But feel free to waste your time.

Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter

[ 73 ] October 6, 2013 |

If you were Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Racist Insignias and aggressive defender of the racist name, who would hire as your team lawyer to work the Beltway in defense of your racist team name?

Yeah, I’d probably hire Lanny Davis too.

Native American Voting Rights

[ 30 ] October 5, 2013 |

In our national discussions on race, Native Americans are usually a footnote. We talk about them in the past but forget they are still around today and that they still face very real discrimination, both structural and societal. This includes access to voting. A group of Native Americans in Montana has filed a lawsuit to allow satellite voting on the reservations. Their claim last fall but is presently on appeal to the 9th Circuit. Some of them have to travel up to 100 miles to vote, a real hardship that means many simply can’t vote at all. There’s no good reason to not allow satellite voting except that Republicans don’t want Native Americans to vote.

From a strictly political perspective, this really matters in a western state that actually can and routinely does elect Democrats on the state level, even if a Democratic presidential candidate can’t come close there. Jon Tester has two terms in the Senate now in no small part because of Native American voting. Opposing satellite voting on the reservations is part of a larger Republican strategy to disfranchise as many Democratic voters as possible, especially people of color.

Of course, given the SCOTUS decision overturning the most important part of the Voting Rights Act, eventual victory in this case is probably doomed.

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