Monday, December 23, 2002

Weird access stuff the last few days--a demi-power outage in the house, ongoing foibles with trying to get DSL set up, etc. Thus no posting in a few days. Not a lot to say now either I guess, though I will recommend this site for quick but fun daily puzzlers, and Quiddler in particular turns out to be a very good family game.

Rooting for a tie yesterday in Cleveland-Baltimore was interesting. "OK, it's 7-3 Browns. Go Ravens! OK, 10-7 Ravens. Go Browns!" In the early fourth quarter with the Ravens up 13-7 I said to DEK, "We need Awesome Phil from Dawsonville to be really good (2 FGS) or really bad (missed PAT)." Browns win, Browns win, which turns out to be the second-best of three possible outcomes. Steelers make it moot by beating the Paper Bucs tonite.

I saw Gangs of New York on Saturday. I knew in advance I'd be watching as a historian rather than a movie fan, and as historian I was impressed. My anachronism quibbles were very minor--mostly I suspect there were more Chinese women in Scorcese's movie than in all of early 1860s New York. (I'm thinking back to this very good book on the subject.) There are two things I particularly liked about this movie, things that many reviewers seem not to have liked. One is that the movie embraces the fact that it is more about spectacle than plot or story; I have no problem with this, and in some ways I prefer it for a period piece such as this one. Secondly, it is only a very small and vague spoiler to say that the climax of this movie illustrates something that movies never do--it demonstrates that sometimes we set up our narratives and our stories within our own narrow contexts, but they ultimately end up resolved not by much of anything that we do but by the larger context of where and when we are. It is a rare movie that sets up a conflict between two characters, and then resolves that conflict largely in terms of bigger events happening around them instead of a simple climactic battle. Some might find this anti-climactic, and on the wrong day I might as well, but it struck me as appropriate at the time.

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