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February 2008
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April 2008

pan's labyrinth

A lot of people whose opinions I trust have said what a great movie Pan's Labyrinth is ... as usual, it's taken me forever to see it, and as usual, those people were right. I'm not sure I can recommend a movie as being for the whole family when it's not in English and there is a lot of violence, but this is my idea of the kind of movie that kids should be watching, rather than the usual tripe kids are offered. To point out an obvious example, Pan's Labyrinth was nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay ... it lost to trite Little Miss Sunshine, which I'm sure was more "appropriate" for youngsters but wasn't half the movie that Pan's Labyrinth was.

One nice thing about being a year or two behind on movies is that I have a lot of comparisons I can make once I finally see something. I may have missed this one in 2006, but now I can look at all the movies I have ended up seeing from that year and know that I ranked Pan's Labyrinth with the best of them. I very much liked Casino Royale and A Scanner Darkly from 2006 ... I see I gave them a rating of 8 out of 10. I gave a 9 to Children of Men and to Inside Man. I gave the documentary Deliver Us From Evil a 10, but looking back, that was probably overkill. Well, I'd give Pan's Labyrinth a 10 as well, and I don't think my mind will change on that one any time soon.

I realize this post hasn't said much ... this doesn't pass muster as a review of the film ... but by now, it's been said, hasn't it? I'm the one catching up at the last moment. I'll add that Blu-ray does this picture justice, that I didn't recognize Sergi López as the despicable Fascist captain (López was in another film I liked, With a Friend Like Harry, where he played a Frenchman), that I am one of many who thinks Maribel Verdú is extremely hot and liked that in this movie her hotness was played down in favor of her being a valiant rebel, and that I am not a fan of fantasy, which is a sign to me that this was one helluva movie, because I totally bought the looniness and the horrific juxtaposition of "real" and "fantasy." If, like me, you passed on this when it was current, check it out now.

fans and artists

Carrie Brownstein has an interesting post on music fans today on her NPR blog. Interesting, because she writes as "first and foremost" a music fan, which she is today perhaps more than ever in some ways. But implicit in her writing is her previous role as a musical artist in her own right. When she talks about being a fan of music from the fan's perspective, I hear myself in the words she writes. The difference is that I have never been on stage powering through guitar solos in front of adoring fans. She has. So her thoughts about the creepiness that sometimes filters into our fandom are double-edged ... we recognize ourselves in her descriptions, but we can't help but wonder if this is what she was thinking when she was on stage and we were her fans:

[I]t is this secret code, this common bond among fans, which often becomes obnoxious en masse. The fans might not change your love for the bands themselves, but the way fandom of certain artists manifests itself can seem less like an innocuous gathering of like-minded people and more like an elitist, annoying tribe. (I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere near my friends and I during our Fugazi or Bikini Kill listening days; admittedly, we were not very fun).

Today, the fans I have a hard time being around are the ones who deem their favorite bands precious, just shy of saintly, and evidence of their sophisticated taste in music. (Belle & Sebastian, Radiohead, and Magnetic Fields). Then there are the bands that, unfortunately, attract such a hipster fan base (like MGMT, Yeasayer, and Liars) that you want to attend the show wearing a fleece jacket, khaki slacks, hiking boots, and a fanny pack, then push your way to the front and line dance, except that you worry people will think it's ironic.

My friend Charlie has hinted at this ... what, disparity? ... between Carrie-as-fan and Carrie-as-artist. I think it is part of what makes her interesting, that she participates in multiple roles within the music. But I admit it's also a bit unsettling to imagine her onstage during one of the many Sleater-Kinney concerts I attended, thinking that perhaps we, her fans, were obnoxious. Hopefully we weren't those kinds of fans.

1968: march 22

On this date 40 years ago, French students began the Mouvement du 22 Mars. Leftists, artists, and students took over a building at Nanterre University. Police were called in by the administration ... this occupation ended without bloodshed. It marked the beginning of "May 1968," which ultimately brought about the end of the De Gaulle government, about which more later. Among the leaders of the Movement was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, "Danny the Red," currently a member of the European Parliament.

Tariq Ali looks at the events of the time:

In March 1968, students at Nanterre University in France came out on to the streets and the 22 March Movement was born, with two Daniels (Cohn-Bendit and Bensaid, Nanterre students then, and both still involved in green or leftist politics) challenging the French lion: Charles de Gaulle, the aloof, monarchical president of the Fifth Republic who, in a puerile outburst, would later describe as chie-en-lit - "shit in the bed" - the events in France that came close to toppling him. The students began by demanding university reforms and moved on to revolution.

On the same day, Antonín Novotný resigned as President of Czechoslovakia. Novotný had already lost his spot as head of the country's Communist Party to Alexander Dubček. When he left the presidency, it left the door open for the reform period known as Prague Spring, about which, again, more later.

The old leaders seemed to be doomed ... in Europe, and, of course, in the USA, where Johnson's hold on the electorate, and indeed on his own party in the face of McCarthy's strong primary showing and the entrance of Bobby Kennedy into the race, was slipping away.

2008 Rubio Begonias

Been playing fantasy baseball since 1987, a long time ago. Here is my team for this year ... 12 teams, AL and NL, 5x5 Roto standings:

C: Mike Napoli

1B: Derrek Lee

2B: Rickie Weeks, Kelly Johnson

3B: Edwin Encarnacion

SS: Rafael Furcal

OF: Chris Young, Adam Jones, Jeremy Hermida, Michael Cuddyer, Austin Kearns

UT: Ty Wigginton

SP: Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Javier Vazquez, Ian Snell

RP: Joakim Soria, Huston Street, George Sherrill, C.J. Wilson, Bob Howry