Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DeRogatis on Dylan's Xmas album

From the latest Sound Opinions, Jim DeRogatis on the new Bob Dylan Christmas album:
He's like the horrible alcoholic black sheep of the family come to Christmas dinner uninvited, who says inappropriate things, knocks things over, breaks people's presents, pinches everybody's bums. Right? And you just want to throw him out! ... Truly one of the worst albums ever made.
Why does this make me want to listen to it more?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Flaming Lips on Conan

The Flaming Lips' kickass performance on the Tonight Show this week:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On health care, what's left to talk about?

By the way, even though it is still pretty obvious that Olympia Snowe will have an outsized impact on health care negotiations, it is hard to see her saying "When history calls, history calls" before voting yes in the finance committee and then not voting for the final bill. Right? I am pretty sure history would not have called to say, "Let's just get this thing as far as the floor of the Senate and then we'll kill it there." That doesn't sound like something history would say.

So we move on to questions about the centrist Democrats vs. the liberals. I would guess that the centrists will wield quite a bit of power when it comes to backroom negotiating, but at the end of the day it is just very hard to see any one of them -- not Ben Nelson, not Blanche Lincoln and so on -- actually being the Democrat who votes against cloture on health care. I could be wrong but I don't see it.

If they're all gettable on cloture (all except Lieberman), then a lot of the coming negotiations are really going to be about whether or not Ben Nelson et al. will actually vote in favor of the final bill -- the difference between a 60-40 vote and, say, a 55-45 vote. That's not nothing because the bills that get you those outcomes are probably different in some key ways, not least of which is this little matter of a public option, triggered or non-triggered or opt-in or what have you. Still, those things aren't really the same question as whether or not health care reform dies. That question seems to be basically in the past.

UPDATE [10/15 3:21pm] ... Liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown and conservative Dem Sen. Max Baucus play the expectations game here. Lots of difference between the bill that gets no Democrat to vote against cloture and the one that actually gets every Democratic vote.

Jay Smooth on Roman Polanski

A little late I guess but I just watched this tonight and it is pretty great:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sesame Street does Mad Men

Via Aziz Ansari:

Really captures the slavish devotion of Don Draper's staff.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

On Inglourious Basterds' rampant stereotypes


Saw Inglourious Basterds, which I know you have all probably seen already. Most of my thoughts about it are relatively common -- it's a compelling and sometimes confusing mishmash of tones and styles; probably Tarantino's best since Jackie Brown (still my favorite of his films); it seems to be much more about movies than about life and consequently a little empty in the end. I did like it, pretty much. But you don't need me to tell you that stuff. 

(Some oblique spoilers follow, nothing too bad I hope.)

However, one thing that stood out to me, especially in light of this Tyler Cowen post about how the movie romanticizes Naziism, is that every ethnic group in the movie is portrayed as some sort of super-ethnic caricature.

The Jews, the basterds, are all super-Jewy, to the point of being ridiculous Jewish stereotypes. The Nazi Hans Landa, meanwhile, is the epitome of the movie-Nazi-aesthete. Hitler is super-movie-Hitler -- his first line is "Nein, nein, nein!" And it goes on. The single representation of a gentile American is Brad Pitt, who is a symbol by himself but who is given a dramatically exaggerated southern accent to make the point. There's even a scene in the movie featuring of all people Mike Myers, playing a British guy and made up into a kind of grotesque bad-teeth-bad-skin Englishman.

So, OK. Tarantino is definitely up to something with all this. What? I think Brad Pitt gives a hint when he talked about Inglourious Basterds being the "end" of all WWII movies. To me that seems like an idea Tarantino would fancy. Roll up the tropes and conventions of WWII film, including of Nazi cinema itself, turn them inside out by embodying them -- then put a symbolic end to all of it. The fact that the film also involves a scene where thousands of feet of celluloid are burnt in a giant fire would seem to fit with this theory. This is the culmination and teleological end of WWII cinema.

That's what I think the idea was, anyway, or the pretense. Whether Inglourious Basterds was actually successful at it, or even whether that's a good aim for a movie to have, those are different questions. I would guess the answers are no and no. Still, this is a somewhat more satisfying explanation for some of the movie's choices than simply that Tarantino thinks Nazis are cool.