All right, first of all, I'd just like to take 30 seconds to point out that all the indignation of the past forty-eight hours over Blago's sole power to appoint President-elect Obama's replacement in the Senate has been brought to you by...the Progressive movement. That's right, folks, until those wonderful teetotallers showed up advocating prohibition, silver, and popular election for Senators, governers appointed whoever the hell they wanted to the Senate, and the Senate sat them, unless it didn't, and those Senators stayed in office in perpetuity. So when people whine about Caroline Kennedy as a potential Hillary replacement, or call the governor of Delaware appointing a longtime Biden aide to, essentially, a caretaker two-year term so that Beau Biden can run
for the Democratic nomination "tacky," I find all the hand-wringing and pontification to be irritatingly ignorant of history. The new New York senator will face two elections in the next four years, in particular, and Delaware and Illinois' replacements will also be up for election in 2010. So these people will be forced to prove their mettle in short order, and they will take their appointments knowing that. This is why the Founders distrusted the Mobility.
In other news, I finished Tom LaMarre's Uncovering Heian Japan
this morning. I'm not sure if this is the book Frenchy described as "difficult," I found it wonderfully complex and well-considered, but not difficult to understand. In fact, LaMarre does an excellent job of making the Heian order seem comprehensible--whereas the attitude of people like Ivan Morris, for one, is way more "yes, those silly Heian aristos, all they did was lay around and write poetry and talk about mappo." Which we already know is partly crap. At any rate, LaMarre returns poetry to its central place in the Heian world, and does an excellent job explicating how that world worked (through poetry). Now I want to track down a copy of his book about Japanese cinema. And I will be first to pre-order his new book on anime from the U of M Press.
Spike and I took the train to Philly to see "Let The Right One In"--the other
vampire movie--this afternoon. It's been a while since I've seen a foreign film (unless you count Japanese movies), and midway through I caught myself thinking, "Ah, yes, charmingly like anime in its refusal to explain almost everything!" In brief, the story follows bullied Oskar and mysterious Eli, both apparently 12 years old, in the suburbs of Stockholm in the 1980s. It snows a lot in Sweden, which seems fitting for the story, and the laconic deliberation with which it unfolds. It was particularly interesting to see vampirism displaced onto the female half of the couple, and to see her caught at such an impossible age as 12, with all the implications of that number for various harsh realities. The movie skated perilously close to camp at times (in showing the experience of one vampire victim in particular), but all in all it was quite excellent. I would venture to say, though, that it comes no closer to explicating the vampire's undying appeal than "Twilight," or any other incarnation of the mythos. Another movie mini-trope of 2008: half-melted faces of hospital patients (if "The Dark Knight" had stuck closer to canon, they'd both be because of acid, too); for my money the patient in here looked more horrific (though not more shocking).
The more things change in Greece, it seems, the more they stay the same. Four years ago when I was in that benighted country along with olewyvern
and several others, the students were rioting against the government's attempts to make a Greek diploma worth more than the paper it was printed on by tightening up the university standards and curriculum. Now anarchists, students, workers and everyone are rioting because they can't get a job and their education is useless. I wish I could say my emotions were more enlightened than "A plague on both your houses!" But Greece remains one of the countries that I dislike based on personal experience, and I just can't quite muster the enthusiasm to wish them well. I do wonder, though, if this year's Olaf interim will go through.
I also read an excellent short story by Garth Nix in B&N tonight, "Old Friends." Designer coffee as libations for summoning! Tree people! Genius!