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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Open Thread: A Book, A Movie, And A Song

The highlight (lowlight) of today’s news was a brat in a balloon (or, as it turns out, NOT in a balloon). It was vaguely reminiscent of the OJ chase…though, this time I was not hoping for a spectacular crash to end it.

Going with Gary Gnu’s theory that “No gnews is good gnews”…it just feels like an Open Thread sort of night.


Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth is the book I have recommended more than any other over the past 20 years. It is the rare book that appeals to readers of near any genre..and, imo, TPofTE fits the bill. It is a sweeping novel that is centered around the building of a cathedral during the middle of the 12th century. With factual history as the backdrop, Follet weaves an engaging fictional tale that quickly pulls the reader in. I read it the year it came out and it has been on my ‘favorites’ list ever since. A National Bestseller in its own right, I must admit to bein’ a bit miffed when Oprah chose it as one of her ‘Book Club’ selections in ’07. Her ‘stamp of approval’ that is now plastered on the cover of each copy purchased offends me. Ignore the ‘big O’ on the cover, I assure you, this is a book well worth reading, Oprah endorsement notwithstanding.

Time Bandits is the first movie in Terry Gilliam’s trilogy on the ages of man (followed by Brazil and Baron Munchausen…both of which I also recommend). It is a ‘fantasy’ film written with the cheekiness one expects from Gilliam and his Monty Python pal Michael Palin. Those familiar with the Monty Python movies will see the similarities in style. The movie follows Kevin, the eleven year old son of very modern parents, and a band of time traveling dwarves intent on pillaging history for riches. What follows is both madcap and endearing. I saw it in the theater when it came out..but, I don’t think that this flick ever got the recognition that it deserves. So, add it to your Netflix queue. There are far worse ways to while away an evening.


Oh No You Didn’t! Tonight’s song originates, oddly enough, from a clever ditty penned for a video game commercial. Written for a Mercenaries 2 television commercial, the song became an internet hit and eventually found its way to Jumbotrons across the nation during the ’08 NFL season. While the lyrics consist of the vengeful rantings of a gamer who got ‘played’, the song itself is a catchy sing songy geeky white boy rap sure to bring a smile. The odd juxtaposition of the words with the musical styling makes for an infectious tune that now finds its way to near all of my road trip mixes. Hope it brings a grin your way.




  1. For a book, I’ll take what’s on the shelf right now.

    Because Steven Barnes does damn good science fiction. And some none too shabby alternative history, but Charisma hits his marks well, with a book about children, that doesn’t dip into maudlin or stylized romanticism.

    Movie?  My most recent favorites, run down currently into Pierre Morel’s best work to date.  As a father, maybe it hit at exactly the right time, and Pierre is a protege of Luc Besson, and his crew that is transforming French action films into  films that are absolutely different in feel to the American variety, and with great reservoirs of emotion that aren’t over the top, yet keep that amped pace.  

    And after this week, keeping it simple appeals in so many ways, so how about Keb’ Mo?

  2. Incredible book.  Epic, in the classic sense of the word.

    The opening sequence is a common reference for me in talking about the world today.  It is such a common thing to Woe the Horrors of modern life, but when you follow Tom Builder as he loses his job and then wanders through the woods with his family – all of them literally starving to death – it provides an example of what a “hard life” really was like for every one of your ancestors more than a handful of generations ago.

    Always loved the three-dimensional historical detail in Follett’s books, as well.  Everything you ever wanted to know about 1100s architecture and society is woven in well, and the political story of the limits of royal fiat is well told.

  3. fogiv


    ATM, I’m reading Kostova’s The Historian becasue my better half has gone vampire crazy with the Southern Vampire Mysteries (inspiried the HBO series True Blood). I figured I may as well honor the theme (and get away from non-fiction for a spell). Kostova’s work is an atmospheric and richly historical angle on the classic Dracula legend. The Sookie Stackhouse books have an interesting twist on vampire lore (vamps are open in society; just another minority group), but the coolest implications of this notion are left largely unexplored.  Seems to me the series is aimed at a female audience, and I find myself apalled at the goofy contrivances. To be fair, only read the first three books of the series. Just got bored with them. The HBO series is borderline terrible too, IMO (Alan Ball is totally phoning that in). But I don’t wanna talk much about either of those. Instead, I’ll recommend one of my all time fave reads to any unfortunate Moose or lurker who has yet to enjoy the life changing work of Umberto Eco, particularly Foucault’s Pendulum.  In a nutshell, it’s The Da Vinci Code, but for smart people.  None of that stupid Hardy Boys if I hold the message up to a mirror I can read it because it was written backwards horseshit.


    Time Bandits.  Good call.  One of my favorites.  I dropped a clip from that in some other thread here recently. A friend/co-worker just asked me the other day:  

    what’s an eye-pleasing film I can let wash over me, whithout having to think much at all?

    First, I reached for Amelie, which is gorgeously photgraphed but probably a little to cutesy and precious for my balding batchelor buddy, so I loaned him Les Triplettes de Belleville instead.  If you appreciate good animation, you’ll love this flick.  There’s virtually no dialogue, great gypsy jazz score, and compelling imagery. Trailer (and note the fantastic song Belleville Rendez-vous by BenoĆ®t Charest and Sylvain Chomet):


    Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a Darrell Scott kick. I love the way this guy handles a guitar.

  4. You may know I’m not the very most avid single-payer supporter, but I have come to see it as the best solution.  This is a video of a recent event, I recommend more of these.

  5. lojasmo

    Saw this today.  Powerful and moving film. Spike Jonez is a genius.

    Deep Survival by Lawrence Gonzales explores why some live and some die in critical situations.

    Foo Fighters doing a great cover of “Baker Street” by Jerry Rafferty


    WTF?  He’s off on a rant that Obama has broken all of his campaign promises on healthcare because the Senate Finance Committe bill doesn’t have any of the promised stuff.

    Someone came on the thread and mentioned that the SFC bill is not the final bill and was called a troll.  Then Jerome told one of the few remaining sore losers that he would be having another mass banning soon.

    There are like 10 people max that comment there and he’s going to ban anyone who disagrees with him?  Has Jerome completely lost his everloving mind?

    Guess I’ll wander back and try to get banned.  

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