Bond, James Bond – In Soviet Russia, Love is to be coming from you!

Film #2 follows almost directly after the end of Dr. No.  From Russia with Love builds on the existence of SPECTRE and takes place in the heart of the Cold War.

Year: 1963

Bond Actor: Sean Connery (Age:33)

Martini Count: 1

Women Slept With: 4

Villain’s Evil Scheme: To pit the Soviets against the British in a ploy to kill Bond and gain a valuable Soviet encoding machine

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These things actually don’t have anything in common…

Does a bunch of racists killing an innocent immigrant have anything to do with a drunk driving illegal immigrant accidently killing two people?

Is there a difference between a clear hate crime and drunk driving? Are they both symptoms of the same thing? You decide.

Gordon fucking Wood…

Over at the Edge of the American West, Ari has a list of five books that “explain” American history (pre-1876). The list is as good as any – arbitrary but insightful. I’m familiar with all but one of the books on his list and I find his inclusion of Gordon Wood’s The Radicalism of the American Revolution to be both interesting and strangely funny. It seems that no matter how hard one might try, there is simply no way to escape that book.

As you may or may not know, I’m in grad school studying history and – honestly – you can’t escape Wood and Radicalism. Most people, even those who love the book, admit that it’s – at best – incomplete. At worst the book could be said to ignore huge swaths of people – women, African-Americans (especially) Native-Americans – of Early America and one can’t help but almost forget that slavery existed after the Revolution. So, even though the book is admittedly deeply flawed – in one way or the other – why do people keep coming back to it? Even people who deeply disagree with it’s premise and/or conclusions?

Is it because Wood’s prose is very readable – at least in Radicalism – and thus easy to assign in both undergrad and graduate level? Probably. Is it deep down that because most Americans – even those most critical of America –  want to find something radical about our revolution? Maybe. Is it because Wood’s simple and straightforward thesis – America goes from monarchy to republicanism to democracy in one easy breezy sweep of history – is so easy to “write against” and critique? Quite likely.

I find Wood to be such annoying figure in modern early American historiography – he’s insightful but frustratingly close minded. He managed to write a book – ok, a collection of edited essays – about the Founders that was not hagiography nor boring but instead provocative. Unlike Joesph Ellis, for example. But he also spent a good portion of that book – and his latest – endlessly bashing and degrading cultural history.

His central arguments in about early American history seems to be:

  1. The last fifty years of early American historiography has been pretty damn good…
  2. But there is too much of it!
  3. And there is too much gender/race/class in modern historiography!

There is an elitist element that someone – especially someone who is not going to graduate school at Harvard, Yale, or Wood’s Brown – can’t help but detect in Wood’s sweeping denoucement of the multipicity of voices in the American historical profession. It – almost – seems that if you aren’t a graduate of one of the big name institutions – the Ivies, UVA, William and Mary, Stanford, etc. – you’re using up intellectual air that could be better spent; like by Wood’s graduate students. And his attitude towards gender, race, and class in history (especially gender) is that – man, that shit should have stopped with A Midwife’s Tale and an Unredeemed Capitive. Which is just closeminded and – again – elitist.

So, I think that Wood is at once one of the most interesting and the most frustrating early Americanists today. More often than not, my frustrations with him out weight how interesting I find him. Yet I still keep coming back to his work. Why?

The strange death of liberal Catholicism…

Submitted without comment:

In comments on Sunday that could have broad implications in a period of intense religious conflict, Pope Benedict XVI cast doubt on the possibility of interfaith dialogue but called for more discussion of the practical consequences of religious differences.

Vatican II was so long ago…

Things I thought I’d never see…

Two things happened today that I didn’t not very excpet to see:

  1. Mormon stalker soft-core porn (starring Cedric Diggory of all people!) opens big on the box office. Remember, smart vampires wait until marriage.
  2. My girlfriend downloads and briefly plays World of Warcraft – for a project on virtual worlds. We briefly discuss about how the entire point of WoW is killing things.

Today was a strange day, indeed.

Hot lesbian make-outs!

Thank you Newsweek for a great profile of Rachel Maddow. Not only does it contain this wonderful little bit from David Frum:

When [David Frum] went on air he slammed the show as part of the problem, with its “heavy sarcasm and sneering disregard for a lot of substantive issues that are really important.” She fought back, challenging the idea that making jokes on a news show could be morally equivalent to calling out “terrorist” at a rally. He told NEWSWEEK that while he considered Maddow to be an “unusually thoughtful and intelligent person,” her show was one of many on cable TV that turned politics into a circus.

Because David Frum – and those like him – with his wonderful obfuscating about the Bush administration for the last 8 years has not turned politics into “a circus”. No, it was the snarky liberals! OF COURSE!

This from the man who termed “Axis of Evil”…

Back to the point. Newsweek also gave us this bit about Maddow’s partner: (italics are mine)

Today, the most important thing in Maddow’s life is Mikula, 50, her partner for the past 10 years. They met when Mikula—who is warm, friendly and curvaceous, with vivid green eyes and blond hair

Oh yes, Maddow’s gay partner is curvaceous! HAWT.

Do you think that if Maddow’s name was “Rob” instead of “Rachel” Newsweek would be describing “his” partner /girlfriend/wife as curvaceous? What Rachel was a gay man? Would “his” partner be discribed as having great abs or some such? I think fucking not.

So, thanks Newsweek. Thanks a fucking a lot.

[Also: I am well aware of the idiot traffic the post title will bring.]

Gobble Gobble

I really don’t know what to say about this, other than I guarantee you that in a week’s time, there will be remixes of this all over the internet with random violent shit going on over Sarah Palin’s shoulder: