Monthly Archives: March 2010

39 posts

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks

A Separate Country tells the story of Confederate General John Bell Hood, who moves to New Orleans after the war and marries a Creole debutante. Hood is a haunted man who has been physically marked by the war; he has lost a leg and the use of an arm. In addition, he can only excel militarily, and his life as a businessman is a resounding failure. Nevertheless, he finds love with the young beauty Anna Marie and they have eleven children together.

William’s Weekly DVD Heist: 3-16-10

Confession time: I did not see the Academy Award-nominated The Princess and The Frog. In my defense, the reason was because I refused to the see the film in a theater filled with children, and midnight screenings were scarce. But this critically-acclaimed attempt to revive Disney 2-D animation has nevertheless excited me since it was announced something-something years ago, and Disney’s other 2-D Blu-Ray releases – Sleeping Beauty, Pinnochio and the prologue to Enchanted – are stunning jewels in high-definition. I literally can’t wait until this arrives at my doorstep tomorrow, so I can geek out about a Disney Princess movie in the privacy of my own home… which I have ironically just told the world about.

Windstorm at Manzanar

The Art of Japanese Internment Camps at the Renwick Gallery

An exhibition at the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC titled The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946 showcases objects made by internees. The museum’s website tells us that the Japanese word ‘gaman’ means “to bear the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience.” This moving show explores how creativity served as a necessary way of acquiring needful things that were otherwise unavailable, provided an outlet for frustration, and reinforced bonds in a painful and alienating time.

Book Review: Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War by Ted Morgan

Giap had lost several family members to the rigors of French colonial rule, including his wife who was arrested and died in a French prison. A model of cool, methodical persistence, Giap was not goaded or tricked into a rash counterattack on Dien Bien Phu. He patiently assembled his forces, digging gun positions in the forested slopes overlooking the French defenses and amassing a huge supply of ammunition carried by thousands of porters through the jungle. Then on March 13, 1954, Giap struck at Dien Bien Phu, capturing several key strong-points and pounding the air strip so that supply planes could no longer land. The base aero-terrestre had become a death trap.

The Great Music Videos #1: “On Your Mark” (dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

Music videos have also of course been a spawning ground for great motion picture directors, from David Fincher to Spike Jonze, from Antoine Fuqua to Mark Romanek, and many many more. But in the first installment of The Great Music Videos (which are numbered in order of publication, not necessarily quality or historical significance – so don’t read too much into that “#1”) I would like to call attention to a video directed by an already great motion picture director, who directed a beautiful animated video for the song “On Your Mark” by the Japanese rock duo Chage & Aska. I am of course referring to the Academy Award-winning animation legend Hayao Miyazaki.

A Case for Warhol’s Jews

Since its in 1980, Critics have lambasted Warhol’s “Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century” as one-dimensional and exploitative. Several recent shows have reawakened the controversy surrounding the project. After traveling to San Francisco and New York in 2008-2009, the series is now on display in a retrospective at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center. In response to these shows, many contemporary reviewers have repeated the argument that Warhol was motivated solely by profit and that he trivialized important historical figures. Perhaps it is time to check our cynicism and explore how the series fits into his oeuvre and intellectual interests.

Sex in the Vienna Secession – Because Airplane Bathrooms are so Passé

The Vienna Secession, which was designed to display works by Gustav Klimt and his contemporaries, recently decided to spice up their collection by requiring visitors to walk through a swingers club before reaching Klimpt’s masterful “Beethoven Frieze”. This strange paring is part of a project by Swiss artist, Christoph Büchel and involves a collaboration between the museum and a local swingers’ club called Element 6. The club will be open at night during the exhibition. The next morning, mattresses and other nasty remnants of the evening’s activities will be on display. I’m betting that for once, visitors won’t have to be told “don’t touch.”

What happened to teen movies?!

“On Wednesdays we wear pink!” (Mean Girls: a frightfully accurate portrayal of peer pressure and conformity.) Full disclosure: the first day of seventh grade I wore the same straight-cut jeans I’d been wearing throughout elementary school (or possibly stirrup pants–if so I’ve blocked it out). It was immediately apparent I […]

Book Review: The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

The Extinction Clock is counting down. Time is short—10,800 minutes (just seven days)—and if the clock zeroes out, billions will die.
Ex-cop Joe Ledger and the DMS (Department of Military Science) are assigned the mission to stop the clock and the men behind it, a pair of freakishly brilliant monsters who intend to commit genocide on an apocalyptic scale.

Book Review: Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History by David Aaronovitch

Voodoo Histories isn’t an attempt to tell everyone to chill out and stop worrying about what people in authority are up to. Rather, it attempts the trickier task of explaining why a set of conspiracy theories do not hold water on close examination, and accounting for how they differ from traditional historical explanations – what is specifically “conspiracist” about them.

And the loser is… William Bibbiani!

Hey everyone. Well, I screwed up. I stand by my picks as logical predictions, but as Julia pointed out in her most recent posting I lost our Oscar wager a staggering 19-11. This is, incidentally, the worst showing I’ve ever had at predicting the Academy Awards. I look forward to taking my public lashings from the clearly more talented Julia Rhodes. In the meantime, let’s see where I screwed up, shall we?

And the winner is…Julia Rhodes!

Well, folks, I type this through a haze of last night’s bubbly. The Academy Awards ceremony itself, as well as the dresses, were hit-or-miss this year. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were good enough hosts–though Hugh Jackman nearly charmed the pants off me last year and I’ll hold others to […]