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Showing posts from 2022

Bookshot #158: Securing Democracy

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I snagged this one on Audible, mainly because I was vaguely aware of a lot of the events described in this book and wanted to be more informed about just what all had gone down in Brazil over the course of the past few years and Greenwald- love him or hate him- was at the center of the journalistic firestorm around a lot of it. The structure of the book is well laid out-- before you dig into the reporting and the controversy Greenwald found himself in, he 'sets the scene' in a structured and informative way. While I knew the basics of Brazil's history, Greenwald filled in a lot of details I didn't know. Namely the depth of American involvement in bringing the military dictatorship to power- the depth of their repression and how it impacted society, but more importantly, how much of Bolsonaro's support came from people and companies that found their greatest success during the Dictatorship. Greenwald then touches on his personal history in the country, how he came t

Random Song: Fancy

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I don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to say it: 'Fancy' is the nicest song about turning your daughter into a prostitute that you're ever going to listen to. That's a strange sentence, I know- but even if you go back and listen to the original version of the song by Bobbie Gentry , there's a contradiction that runs through both that version and Reba McEntire's version that's hard to get away from. On the one hand, the lyrics and the story are fucking dark. I mean, a desperate mother saves up all her money to buy her eldest daughter a nice red dancing dress? Mom dies, Baby gets taken by the welfare people and Fancy learns what her Mama was talking about when she said "just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy, they'll be nice to you." This shit is dark , y'all. And yet... There's a note of undeniable empowerment that runs throughout the song as well- and Bobbie Gentry was pretty blunt about it being a feminist statement:

Squawk Box: Ms. Marvel/The Bear

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I remain convinced that both Marvel and Star Wars are going to start to reach something of a saturation point in content in the next few years-- there's so much stuff in each universe now that it's almost becoming a chore to keep up with it all and while Star Wars has a slightly different twist on that problem than Marvel does, it was with deep trepidation that I sat down to dig into Ms. Marvel. Moon Knight was just okay. The second Dr. Strange was decent. Wandavision and Loki were kind of interesting, so I didn't know what to expect with Ms. Marvel and happily, I was pleasantly surprised. The old magic isn't completely faded out and Ms. Marvel seemed like a welcome return to form for the quality and general entertainment factor I've come to expect from Marvel shows. (Slight Tangent Here: the character has had four incarnations in the comics and Kamala Khan is the fourth to take the name, Ms. Marvel- in the comics anyway. Of the previous incarnations, Carol Danv

40 Before 40: Year 9

Well, it's here. I begin my 39th trip around the sun and I wish I could say that I've made decent progress on my list here, but honestly I haven't. Here's where I'm at: #2: I can do it at any time. Just need to make an appointment. #4: Need to train and get my ass in shape, but also possible. #8: Life and work have been busy, but I'm working on Book 4 as fast as I can. Chipping away at that goal. #6: I could do it, but I choose not to . #10: Technically, I'm knocking that off the list this weekend with a nice solo birthday/anniversary trip to Colorado with the Missus. #11: I'll give this until December, but I think we're pretty much there.  #13: Can do this anytime as well...   #16: Jenkins' biography of Churchill is the only one left on this list. In short, I feel somewhat confident that I can get half of this list accomplished in the next year or so. Then I'll have to sit down and think about the next list. 50 Before 50! ~~~ 1. Publish my

Bookshot #157: Rendezvous With Rama

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My parents had a couple of the Rama novels floating around when I was a kid and I think I ended up reading one of the subsequent volumes (I want to say The Garden of Rama or Rama Revealed) I don't recall reading any of the other books, however, so when I saw that Denis Villeneuve was planning on following up his excellent adaptation of Dune with an adaptation of Rendezvous With Rama , I figured there was no better time to snag the first novel off Kindle and give it a read. When Earth is struck by an asteroid in 2077 (landing in northeast Italy), the government of Earth sets up the Spaceguard system to make sure humanity has a reliable way to detect potential threats coming from deep space. Fifty-four years later, in the year 2131, Spaceguard picks up an unusual asteroid still outside the orbit of Jupiter and humanity quickly realizes that this one is unusual. For a start, its trajectory clearly indicates it's an interstellar object. But astronomers quickly realize that it is

Everyone's Got Problems (And Why The Forward Party Isn't One Of Them)

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Republicans haven't won the popular vote since 1988. GOP one party rule states HOLD on to their majorities thru gerrymandering and voter suppression. Don't pretend that a direct election is a result of "bad numbers" It's not. This is NOT a problem with Democrats numbers! — Nick Capet | Keep Calling Out Corruption (@justpersnickety) July 29, 2022 Look, everyone's got problems and I sat on this response to a Quote Tweet I sent for a couple of days because I wanted to unpack it a bit and see if my assumptions were wrong. I think checking one's assumptions is always good a thing to do from time to time, because, well, I could be wrong. But here's the thing: I don't think I am in this case.  There's a lot of online discourse on Politics Twitter (PolTwitter, whatever you want to call it) that bemoans the state of the United States Senate. It sucks. It's unfair. It's (insert platitude) here. But here's the thing: with every complaint, the

Bookshot #156: The Hero of Ages

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The first era/trilogy of the Mistborn series comes to a close with The Hero of Ages . Jumping forward a year or so from the events of the second novel, The Well of Ascension , we find Elend more comfortable and strong with his new powers of allomancy. Vin is still trying to figure out the agenda of the entity she released from the Well of Ascension- it's named Ruin and everyone agrees that it's probably bad news. But while Elend and Vin try to pursue clues left by the Lord Ruler with his five mysterious storage caches that were hidden all over the final empire. On top of all that: things aren't looking all that great for the world in general. The Mists are everywhere now- including during the day. They're starting to kill people as well. Ash is falling constantly. Ash mounts (volcanoes) are erupting. It's getting harder and harder to grow crops and feed people: in short, everyone is becoming increasingly convinced that the world is about to end. To make things even

Goodbye To Hoover

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Living where we live, there's always been a soundtrack to our house. Summer brings softballs, fouled out right over our fence and into our yard for the dogs to collect. Fall, there are Friday night lights, the cheers of the crowd. Spring there are the shout and the echo of starter pistols from track meets. Late July and early August you get the start of two-a-days for the football team, voices in unison, shouting out numbers of jumping jacks. August, the marching band begins and there's a week or two of trying to figure out what this year's theme is before it all actually clicks. This past week or so, the soundtrack has been different. Jackhammers, clanks and crashing, rubble shifting, things slamming so hard the windows shake. The sounds of destruction behind a screen of shrubs or trees that the school district planted as a privacy screen years before.  Hoover Elementary is slowly being torn down. What's going in its place hasn't been made super clear yet-- I'm

Squawk Box: Obi-Wan Kenobi/The Book of Boba Fett

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So, Star Wars . Yes, I've seen all the movies. Yes, I've seen The Mandalorian . I've seen bits of Clone Wars (but not all of it) and the other animated shows. And after catching up with The Book of Boba Fett and watching Obi-Wan Kenobi , I am convinced of two things: first, for the sake of the Star Wars franchise, they have got to discover other planets in this galaxy of theirs that are far, far away. I'm getting bored with always coming back to Tatooine. Secondly: I'm starting to wonder about the MCU and now I'm really starting to wonder about Star Wars: how much content is too much content? At a certain point, do people stop caring? Or do people wander in and out of the franchise and watch what they like? (Streaming, as a concept, is still fairly newish in the grand scheme of things, so it'll be interesting to see if set viewing patterns emerge or shift as we go forward into a multiplicity of streaming platforms.) But, Obi-Wan Kenobi : the overall idea w

Summer Prognostications

I've been contemplating how to write this post for a while. I wanted to let the dust settle a bit and see how the media coverage plays out and see if there are any emerging trend lines out there in the zeitgeist/internet hive mind that might translate into something tangible come November and to be honest, I don't know if I can hang my hat on anything concrete.  It's entirely possible that inflation and gas prices plus the historical pattern of midterm elections all hold true come November. I feel like voters are frustrated at the turgidity of both Congress and the Biden Administration on any number of issues and if there's no serious relief of something , somewhere come the fall then, try as the media might, I expect pocketbook issues to take center stage once the serious campaigning starts. (Hopefully: Biden comes through on some kind of student loan forgiveness AND they fix the impending Obamacare Subsidies disaster at a minimum , but it would be very nice- and not

Bookshot #155: Under Heaven

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Guy Gavriel Kay is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. Under Heaven is only the second book of his I've ever read and I went into it knowing nothing at all about what I was going to read and I left honestly sad that it had ended. Kay is an author whose books will sit with you for a very long time, but in a good way- a very good way. Under Heaven is set in a fictionalized China that roughly corresponds to the Tang era. Right off the bat, I don't know that much about ancient Chinese history, so I can't tell you how well he captures that era of China's long history, but given the care that you can see Kay put into constructing the characters that inhabit this world, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he probably did a good job. He doesn't seem like the type who is going to skimp on his research. Anyway: when the story opens, Shen Tai, the second son of a renowned general of Kitai (what we're calling the fictionalized China) has been living

Random Song: The Motown Song

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 So, I'm putting together a playlist on Spotify at the moment and I've been fiddling with it over the course of the past few days. In general, there's no overall theme, just- and I say this reluctantly because I'm old and don't want to seem overly cringe about this- real, solid bangers (as the youth say, or so I'm told.) I just wanted songs from all over my personal timeline of music that just rocked my face off and you could get a good groove onto. When it comes to playlist construction, I am criminally guilty of using some of the same songs multiple times over and over again- it's partially why I try, now and again, to do deep dives into random things on Spotify just to futz with my algorithm a bit. (Given this lengthy Stereogum article on Paul McCartney , I think a deep dive on Macca might be in order, but that's another post.) So this playlist (the current year playlist, helpfully titled 2022 Jams) features some songs I've been grooving to a lot

Black Dog

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It's been hard lately.  I can't quite put my finger on why. Churchill liked to call such periods of melancholy and depression his 'black dog' but I'm not sure I'd call this melancholy or depression. Maybe some people can still stay in bed for days on end and do nothing and embrace the blackness for a while- Lord knows, that sounds tempting enough some days- just a day to sit and do nothing. Whether it's binge a television show that's not a cartoon or just staring at a blank wall for hours on end and being in your own head for a little bit, that sounds nice right now. It sounds very nice indeed. The world doesn't help. We're cracking down- I'm sure everyone is- belts are tightening, but the margins these days are fucking thin. One random Black Swan event and I don't know what we'd do. I'm sure we would do what people do in such times, which is 'figure it out and survive and scrape' somehow, but I feel like it should be jus

Bookshot #154: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

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Like most bibliophiles, I am guilty of accumulating books that sit on my bookshelves for years before I actually get around to picking up and reading them. Sadly, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee was one of those books. I had taken a run at it once before but didn't get very far- whether because it was frankly too damn depressing (it is) or because I had gotten bored, I can't remember- but I sat down and actually read the thing cover to cover this time. For all the current shouting about CRT and things like the 1619 Project (which I haven't read), no one wants to talk about the inescapable fact of life in contemporary America: many of us (a lot of us white, yes, but many of us in general) are profoundly ignorant about our own history. Too many Americans found out about the Tulsa Race Massacre from a superhero show on HBO. Personally, I had no idea about the Great Sioux Uprising or the 38 Lakota, or the expulsion of the Lakota from Minnesota until I moved to Mankato. We do to

Squawk Box: Moon Knight/Reacher

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I'll be honest: I think the next couple of years in both the Marvel Universe and the Star Wars Universe are going to be interesting to watch because I think both studios risk running into a hitherto unknown phenomenon in the world of entertainment: content overload. I am woefully behind on my Marvel movies and shows and you know, at this point, there are so many of them I don't know if I'll ever catch up, and more to the point, they're starting to feel like a chore , you know? So I approached Moon Knight with something approaching a mixture of outright indifference and mild curiosity. I like Oscar Isaac. It looked interesting. It was only six episodes long- so, why not check it out? Moon Knight opens with Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) going to his job at the British Museum in London- he's hoping to be a tour guide eventually, given his extensive knowledge of Ancient Egypt, but after going to sleep one night, he wakes up in the Austrian Alps, at a cult meeting led by Ar