Little Libertarians on the Prairie?
Published on August 11, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the Boston Globe, there's an interesting piece on Laura Ingalls Wilder, her daughter, and their New Deal-hating ways.

Click here to read it.

Watching "Pacific Rim"
Published on August 7, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Guillermo del Toro film "Pacific Rim."

Here's an excerpt:

"The other night I watched the 1989 movie 'Godzilla vs. Biollante,' and was extremely entertained.

The 17th film in the Godzilla series, 'Godzilla vs. Biollante' has its share of cheesy B-movie moments, and the plot sometimes lapses into complete incoherence, but overall it’s a fun, thought-provoking ride, with spectacular fight scenes between Godzilla and Biollante, a killer plant created by combining the DNA from Godzilla with the DNA from roses. This is the sort of go-for-broke lunacy that I find irresistible.

I was hoping for a similar level of go-for-broke lunacy from the new Guillermo del Toro film 'Pacific Rim,' a science-fiction spectacle that pays tribute to classic Japanese giant monsters, known as kaiju, such as Gamera, Mothra and, of course, Godzilla. And at first I thought the film would live up to my expectations. It opens with breathless scenes showing Earth besieged by an alien threat from beneath the sea, and countries joining forces to battle the creatures that emerge from the oceans using Jaegers — transformer-like machines controlled by two pilots whose minds fuse together in battle, allowing them to share memories and thoughts. I loved this prologue, with its combination of battle imagery, sensationalistic news reports and human drama. But then the rest of the film gets under way, and it can’t quite match the dizzy joy of the first 10 or 15 minutes."

Click here to read more.

Baseball Angst? Not For Me
Published on August 5, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the Red Sox surprisingly good season, and how I'm not troubled by the problems in MLB.

Click here to learn more.

When Favorite Places Close
Published on August 5, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I reflect on the imminent closure of one of my favorite places to hear music, and some of my other favorite places.

Here's an excerpt:

"For music lovers in the Capital Region, July brought some sad news: Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany will close.

The small, gritty concert hall is a casualty of Albany Medical Center’s plan to redevelop the city’s Park South neighborhood. I’m not here to weigh in on the merits of this plan, but rather to lament the loss of one of my favorite local establishments. I wasn’t a Valentine’s regular, but I attended concerts there with some frequency, embracing the club’s idiosyncrasies and scruffy atmosphere.

For instance: Bands often played simultaneously, one downstairs and one upstairs, which could lead to problems: When I saw folk-rock singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright perform, she became increasingly annoyed by the dull pounding of drums and bass coming from the second floor and ended the show early, marching off-stage in disgust. But in general, Valentine’s is an excellent place to see talented (and untalented) local bands, up-and-coming rock bands and seminal artists such as Mike Watt and The Meat Puppets.

My basic feeling is that every community could use a club like Valentine’s — an atmospheric dive bar that specializes in good music, good beer and a heartfelt appreciation for interesting and colorful people.

Wherever I go, I seek these kinds of places out."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Recent Viewing: Films
Published on August 4, 2013 by Sara Foss

Ugetsu (1953) ****

Miami Connection (1987) ***1/2

Man of Steel (2013) ***

The Halloween Tree (1993) ***1/2

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) *** (with some reservations)

Crimewave (1986) ***1/2

Drive (2011) ***1/2

Twenty Feet From Stardom (2013) ***

Gabbeh (1997) ***1/2

Stone (2010) **1/2

The Observers (2012) ***1/2

Our Man Flint (1966) ***1/2

Marwencol (2010) ***

Melancholia (2011) ***

The Conjuring (2013) ***

Shirin (2008) ***1/2

A Band Called Death (2012) ***


John Henry at Mass MoCA
Published on August 4, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the excellent John Henry-themed classic music piece "Steel Hammer."

Click here to read it.

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