The drama continues

Michael Hoes unleashes the fury on my sedition column here. I realized when I wrote my piece that the Laura Berg story wasn’t the first sign of a Oceania-style crackdown on all free speech. But I’m a free speech absolutist, and when a government employee gets threatened for writing an angry letter to a newspaper, and when she isn’t cleared until the cabinet-level director of her department steps in, I see a story.

Adventures in yuppietown

So the arts cinema near me has a hands-on manager who likes to come into the theater, watch the trailers, and ask the audience if they’re interested in any of these movies. Tonight, during “Friends With Money,” we got one for “The Da Vinci Code” and some Indian film called “Water.” After these ran the manager shouted out? “Should we get that?” Smatterings of “yes!”

Then we for the Robert Altman/Garrison Keillor epic “A Prarie Home Companion.” When this ends, before the manager says anything, HOWLS of “YES!”

Way to live up to your stereotypes, dudes.

Two books

Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuscinski
A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan by Michael Kazin

Two excellent and very different books here. Kapuscinski’s story of revolutionary Iran is brilliantly put together. In part one, he sifts through his notes and photos to reconstruct the buildup of the Shah’s power over 70 years. In part two, he follows the actions of a few characters in the 1979 revolution. There’s some repetition in this latter section, but I won’t complain – I was glued to this book, finished it in two hours.

Kazin’s biography of the Democratic presidential contender/cartoon character is also well done – less dry and preachy than I expected from the author or the subject. The lion’s share of the story covers Bryan’s rise to prominence up to his failed 1908 presidential campaign. Bryan lived for another 17 years after that, serving as Secretary of State and arguing against evolution in the Scopes trial. The latter event has basically eclipsed Bryan’s reputation, but Kazin puts it in the context of a life devoted to well-meaning demogoguery and populism.

Friday 9

Because I’ve been harried all day and forget to finish.

New Order – “True Faith”
Warren Zevon – “Suzie Lightning”
The Magnetic Fields – “Deep Sea Diving Suit”
Elton John – “Skyline Pigeon” (1969 version)
The Smithereens – “Strangers When We Meet”
Pet Shop Boys – “The View From Your Balcony”
Tom Waits – “Heartattack And Vine”
Leonard Cohen – “Take This Longing”
The Misfits – “Where Eagles Dare”

More Degrassi

I’m 2/3 of the way through season three of “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” and I can safely say this is the point when the series surpassed the original Degrassi shows. The abortion episode “Accidents Will Happen” – still unaired in the US – is many degrees sadder and more powerful than the Spike arc on DJH or the Heather (was it Heather or Erica?) arc on DH. And the foreshadowing you can see on these DVDs, with knowledge of what the characters will do over the next few years (Craig’s bipolar disorder, JT knocking up Liberty), really speaks to the talent of this writing staff.