Monthly Archives: November 2011

Det aller viktigste

Jeg skriver hos Document at tross alt vi i norsk politikk er uenige om, er de fleste av oss enige om det viktigste: At problemene vi ser i samfunnet må løses innenfor, ikke utenfor demokratiet.

Den beste oppsummeringen av debatten etter 22/7 er at alle har fortsatt å snakke om det samme etter terrorangrepet som de snakket om før, bare enda ivrigere, og med kraftigere skyts. Det gjelder nok meg også. Det er som om vi tidligere har slåss med hverandre med nevene, og så deler noen ut kniver til alle sammen, og vi fortsetter som før uten å innse at innsatsen nå har blitt høyere. Det ender ikke i blåveis lenger, men i blod.

Les resten hos Document.

1950s movies marathon – part 63

Phffft (1954, USA)

A happily divorced couple try to rediscover the single life, which involves more alcohol, creepy strangers, annoying roommates and fear of dying alone than they remembered. Watched it all.  Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday aren’t great Hollywood lovers, they’re slightly pathetic people whose best shot at happiness is to tolerate each other’s flaws.

Lucky Me (1954, USA)

Doris Day has my favorite voice of the 1950s so far – it gives me goosebumps. In this movie she dresses like a civilized woman, but that doesn’t fool me for a second: I can tell there’s a singing, dancing, gun-toting (and arguably lesbian) Calamity Jane underneath. Watched: 14 minutes.

Dial M For Murder (1954, USA, Hitchcock)

I’m not a fan of murder mysteries, I’m skeptical of Hitchcock, and unconvinced of Grace Kelly, but even so, this is absolutely perfect. And I always did tolerate Columbo, which this is a precursor to, down to the “just one more question” routine. Damn you Hitchcock, why won’t you let me hate you? Watched it all before, and again now.

The Garden of Eden (1954, USA)

A city woman stumbles into a nudist colony where she learns that being naked is the most natural thing in the world, for both kids and adults.  Watched: The naughty bits, of which there is actually quite a lot. The “gosh, I guess clothing is just a social convention like any other” moments are like a badly written Heinlein novel. They should have gotten him to write this, he was a real life nudist.

Frp og Ap: Vær litt runde i kantene

Det er trist å se hvordan Frp og Ap/AUF går i strupen på hverandre, som de har gjort de siste dagene. Ikke glem at dette er to av de uttalte målene til Anders Behring Breivik, som han beskriver i dagbokseksjonen i manifestet sitt: Å øke konfliktnivået og mistilliten i Norge generelt, og å ødelegge Frp, slik at deres velgere mister troen på demokratiet slik han selv har gjort.

Vær litt runde i kantene, vær så snill. Frp bør tilgi Ap noen slurvete utspill om farlige tanker – det er de som er de faktiske ofrene for sommerens terrorangrep. Frp kan gjenvinne omdømmet og velgerne sine, men ingenting kan gi Ap ungdommene sine tilbake.

På samme måte bør Ap unngå fristelsen til å koble terrorangrepet til retorikken til Frp. De bør heller konsentrere seg om de virkelige islamhatende ekstremistene, som har kun forakt til overs for moderate innvandringskritikere, som de aller fleste i Frp er. Ap og Frp har en felles fiende her: Et lite miljø av ekstremister som drømmer om et Europa fritt for muslimer, og har mistet troen på demokratiske løsninger. Som Frp-velger selv føler jeg at jeg står nærmere Ap enn disse ekstremistene. La oss fortsette å krangle, men være enige om at den viktigste grensen, den står begge disse partiene på riktig side av.

(Aftenposten, 25/11/2011)

1950s movies marathon – part 62

Dragnet, the movie (1954, USA)

This is just close enough to modern police procedurals to be recognizable as one, but different enough to be disturbingly alien. Where is the brilliant outsider with a Personal Flaw who for some unbelievable reason helps the police solve murders? And why doesn’t anyone arrive at the scene of the crime and say, “what’ve we got?” I feel lost, help! Watched it all. (Actually, it’s not so alien. I suddenly get all the Police Squad jokes now.)

Executive Suit (1954, USA)

The old tycoon is dead, and all the little vice tycoons start circling in the air, hungrily eyeing his carcass. Watched: 42 minutes. If forced to choose, I’ll take a 50s message movie over a modern one. They’re so earnest you can’t really hate them even when they start to preach.

Shetlandsgjengen (1954, Norway)

While watching this movie about the boats that carried refugees and information from Nazi occupied Norway to the Shetland Islands, it struck me: To the list of heroic episodes in Norwegian history that involve sea transport, another entry was added at Utøya on July 22. Watched it all.

Aldri annet enn bråk (1954, Norway, Carlmar)

Meet Vigdis Røising, Norway’s first teenager! She’s quite obnoxious, but the future belongs to her and her kind. Watched: 20 minutes, then fast-forwarded through the rest, looking for scenes from Old Oslo. There are many, but I can never tell where they’re from.

Minireviews: Øyvind Strømmen, Dermot Keogh, Robert Silverberg

Øyvind Strømmen - Det mørke nettet (2011)

Øyvind Strømmen – Det mørke nettet (2011)

Ten years ago, I and many others started political blogs to understand the ideological background for the September 11 terror attacks. Now, the online hatred of Islam that grew out of that post-9/11 blog movement, has itself become part of the ideological background for Norway’s July 22 terror attacks. Øyvind Strømmen is an old ally from my own blog wars with the early counter-jihadists, and I agree with his analysis: The guilt rests with the terrorist alone, but you can’t understand his actions without understanding the environment he borrowed his worldview from. Just like al-Qaeda.

Recommended: Yes. There will be longer, better books later – also by Strømmen – but for now, this is the next step of the post-July 22 debate. Read it, or get left behind.

Dermot Keogh – Twentieth-Century Ireland (1994)

Ireland had a civil war, cooled down, and then nothing interesting happened for the rest of the 20th century.

Recommended: No.

Robert Silverberg - The Book of Skulls

Robert Silverberg – The Book of Skulls (1972)

Four college students rebel against rationality by embracing, on a whim, the faith that a cult in the Arizona desert holds the key to immortality. The story follows them as they drive across the country, and prepare for the price they will be asked to pay: Two to die, so that two can live forever. There are no clearly speculative elements here, and if it wasn’t by Robert Silverberg, you might not call it SF at all. But it’s the possibility that the cult’s promises could be real that gives this story its focus.

Recommended: Yes.

1950s movies marathon – part 61

Them! (1954, USA)

Hey, the giant mutant ants in this movie are almost actually genuinely creepy! And when, after descending into the underground lair of the ant queen, Joan Weldon orders her soldier friends to burn all the larva to death, you suddenly realize where the entire movie Aliens was stolen from. Watched it all. This is pretty much the perfect 50s monster movie, (incidentally featuring, drumroll, the recently invented Wilhelm Scream.)

Men of the Fighting Lady (1954, USA)

Contemporary American movies about the Korean war were all pretty awful, and I wonder why. Some of the best movies ever made about the Second World War were made during or right after the war itself, (contrary to the myth of mindless jingoism). But Korea, you barely notice it, and by now it’s all over, and there aren’t even any good stories to remember it by. Watched: 5 minutes.

Gog (1954, USA)

Here’s another movie that sets a template for later sci-fi, with the old “scientists stuck in high-tech underground facility where Everything Goes Wrong” trope. It must have been used hundreds of times – and that’s just counting Dr Who. Nice to meet you, welcome on board! Watched: 42 minutes. Oh, and Gog and Magog work well as early Daleks.

Minireviews: Jason K. Stearns, and Phil & Kaja Foglio

Jason K. Stearns - Dancing in the Glory of Monsters (2011)

Jason K. Stearns – Dancing in the Glory of Monsters (2011)

Western media explanations of African conflicts tend to focus on “ethnicity” and “resources”, words that seem profound, but are too abstract to provide genuine insight, and end up making the conflicts appear alien, inhuman. Was World War 2 about ethnicity and resources? Well, yes, that too, but to go beneath the surface you must also look at specific ideologies and cultures, at individual personalities and local history. This is the perspective Stearns brings to the Congo war. He brings the war out of the fog of condescending buzzwords, and into History.

Recommended: Strongly.

Phil & Kaja Foglio – Agatha H. and the Airship City  (2011)

From reading the steampunk anthology earlier this year I learned that All Proper Steampunk is ugly, angry, and doctrinairely marxist, and that the rest is mere “Edisonades”.  Well, screw that. I want it to be whatever the Foglios are doing with the Girl Genius comics. I want “Adventure, Romance, MAD SCIENCE!”

Read: 44 pages.

Recommended: Only if you haven’t read the early volumes of Girl Genius, which this is a novelization of. Actually, even if you haven’t, read them instead. They’re fantastic. You’ll grin like a jägermonster.