March 22, 2007

Confederacy of Sleazebags: Larry Klayman and Jared Paul Stern, together at last !!! And they're suing Bill and Hillary Clinton (natch !) for being part of a conspiracy to defame him !!!
What Hath Toby Young Wrought? A sociological examination of the Brit expat in New York:
These ex-Brits who have settled in the rent-stabilized margins of Manhattan aren't our brightest and our best—they are our remittance men, paid to leave. Not like the other immigrants, who made it here as the cleverest, most adventurous in the village. What you get are our failures and fantasists. The freshly redundant. The exposed and embittered. No matter how long they stay here, they don't mellow, their consonants don't soften. They don't relax into being another local. They become ever more English. Über-Brits. Spiteful, prickly things in worn tweed, clutching crossword puzzles, gritting their Elizabethan teeth, soup-spotted, tomb-breathed, loud and deaf. The most reprehensible and disgusting of all human things; the self-made, knowing English eccentric. Eccentricity is the last resort of the expat. The petit fou excuse for rudeness, hopelessness, self-obsession, failure, and never, ever picking up the check.
--A.A. Gill, in the April 2007 Vanity Fair. When the magazine that historically genuflected at the altar of all-things-British suddenly declares a fatwa against the island, you know the zeitgeist has shifted. No Brit should receive a Green Card to this country unless they're willing to pick crops for two years.

March 21, 2007

Cathy Seipp, in memorium: This afternoon, the news we've been dreading for almost two years came to pass. She fought cancer tougher than LaMotta fought Robinson.
And when she shall die,
Take her and cut her out in little stars,
And she will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
My post on Cathy Seipp's importance to local bloggers can be found here; it's the best tribute I could possibly give to someone who meant so much to local journalism, and whose impact transcended partisan or ideological lines. I miss her already, and I can only say that Maia will always have a friend from this quarter. She was 49.

UPDATE: LA Observed has a thorough list of tributes from her friends in the blogosphere, here.
It turns out the motion picture industry isn't the most decrepit entertainment medium around. At least that downturn will fluctuate from year to year. As Kevin Drum points out, CD sales are tanking, big time, and the on-line market that has replaced it is in much better position to appeal to consumers than its counterpart with films.
Where my interests collide...the Criminal Bar of London will present a reenactment of "The Trial of Bardell v. Pickwick" at Middle Temple Hall on Sunday, April 1, 2007, featuring a number of luminaries from stage and screen, including, among others, Phoebe Nicholls !!! It costs only ₤50, but that's practically nothing when you consider that it's all for a good cause (helping impoverished law students), and that there are starving kids in China who would kill just to see the Great Phoenician Diva line-read classic Dickens for a couple hours. So those of you from Lambeth, Notting Hill, Winchester, and Suffolk, and other locales that anonymously visit my site each week, seeking info and commentary about England's most criminally underutilized actress, get off your butts and put your money where your interests lie...or if you would like to contribute to helping out an impoverished bankruptcy lawyer, then just click the button on the right-hand side of the blog, just below the "My Space" link.

March 19, 2007

MLK, Concern Troll? A poster at Daily Kos illuminates why Dr. King's tactics were so successful in the pursuit of liberal goals. [link via Donkee Rising]
I am one of the vast majority of Americans who has no intention of seeing 300 anytime soon, least of all in a movie theatre. I haven't been to a movie since Jesus Is Magic convinced me that Sarah Silverman might be a tad overrated, and I don't see what it is I get for $10 that I can't get with my monthly cable bill, where I don't get overcharged for parking and popcorn. So my critique is based not on the film's merits, but on what I understand its political message to be.

The film, as I understand, is about the Battle of Thermopolae, in which 300 Spartan warriors defended a narrow pass against the onslaught of thousands of soldiers from the Persian empire 2500 years ago. Some see the depiction as an allegory for the present-day war in the Middle East, in which the Spartans are: 1) the progenitors of "the West", defending freedom and democracy from the onslaught of the Persian hordes; or 2) the ancestors of the modern-day insurgents/terrorists, defending their liberty from attack by foreign invadors. Since the Nazis had a hard-on for the Spartans, emulating their policies on eugenics and militarism, it's good to remember that the modern day totalitarian state is every bit the creation of our Western Civilization, so both views might be right.

But there is another tie-in with Nazi ideology that I thought I would mention, and it has to do with the villain of the movie, King Xerxes. It seems strange that this film would be so embraced by neo-cons everywhere, considering that he is described quite differently in that cornerstone of Western Civilization, the Bible. As anyone who has ever attended Sunday School, CCD, or celebrated the Festival of Purim, the same Xerxes who is portrayed in the movie as a monomaniacal god-king, a prancing and swaggering homosexual, is also the enlightened ruler who stopped a conspiracy within his own palace to exterminate the Jews living in the Persian Empire.

One would be hard-pressed to find a foreign ruler who is described as sympathetically in the Bible as Xerxes the Great (or Ahasuerus, to use the Hebrew name) is in the Book of Esther. Not only was his wife one of the great heroines of the Bible, but it is also written that her uncle Mordechai "was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed." Almost certainly, the Coalition of the Willing that advanced with Xerxes onto the plains of Greece, and won the Pyrrhic victory at Thermopolae, included Judeans. No wonder the Nazis identified with Sparta; when things began to go south for the Germans at Stalingrad, it was the Spartan's desperate defense at Thermopolae that Goebbels used to rally the troops.

So why isn't AIPAC denouncing this film? Why is Abe Foxman silent? Here you have a film committing a blood libel on one of the best friends Jews ever had in the ancient world, a global superpower five centuries before the birth of Christ whose alliance (at least according to Biblical legend) with the descendents of Abraham was comparable with that of the United States today, and no one is up in arms over the Jimmy Carteresque portrayal of noble King Xerxes?
A day like any other, on the set of I Heart Huckabees:
Natalie Nelson, thou art avenged !!!