Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Armenian Genocide: Agreeing on the boilerplate

You know someone who died from cancer. Imagine that every time you tell somebody how your friend died, you have to explain the concept of cancer and wonder if they believe you. You also find vitriolic arguments all over the Internet saying cancer doesn’t exist and it didn’t kill your friend.

American Red Cross archive photo of a forced march of Armenians out of their homeland in the Ottoman Empire.

Now imagine that people blame your company for creating cancer. You want to say, “Yes, but that was a different company and different people a long time ago.” The CEO says you have to keep denying it. You have to perform increasingly elaborate contortions to deny your company’s complicity.

Replace cancer with “the Armenian genocide” and consider the psychic damage of genocide denial. Continue reading

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Finally saw “Amadeus”

I saw “Amadeus” when it first came out and I was a kid. I don’t remember much beyond the powdered wigs and the music that my frustrated piano teacher was trying to teach me — only it sounded better. Then I kept seeing it near the top of the all-time high movie review scores on Metacritic.com. So I saw it again. I think I understood it a whole lot better now than when I was 10. It’s a beautiful and well-produced movie, but I had to check back on Metacritic to see if anyone else found the accents really distracting. I loved “2012.” I can suspend disbelief, but somehow a bunch of supposed Germans and Austrians speaking English in American accents. To make it worse, there are a couple of Italians who speak in heavy Italian accents. Once I got past that, though, it was a great movie — and worth watching the director’s cut. I’m not sure how it could have been just as good if it were 20 minutes shorter.

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Quit slagging on “Shutter Island”

“Shutter Island” got pretty mediocre reviews. Thankfully I didn’t actually read them. I was surprised by the movie in pretty much every way. I was surprised by the story, and surprised how much I enjoyed it. I didn’t have particularly high expectations, which always helps, but it’s great sorta scary popcorn.

Oh, and Dennis Lehane has a twisted mind — Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and this thing? His website bio says he was a counselor for mentally handicapped and abused children. I hope he wasn’t telling bedtime stories.

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“Game Change” and why I won’t go into politics

“Game Change” reminded my why I will never go into politics. It mostly recaps the 2008 presidential election with few shocking surprises. About 50 pages in, I was thinking “I’m wasting my time with this. I have a crap memory, but at least I remember all this. It was less than two years ago.”

But it turns out that the book is really about psychology, sociology and some seriously fucked up people (there are no shortage of F-bombs in the book — a review without one or two would not do the book justice). The book focuses on relationships, rather than the daily grind of politics or the soundbites, strategery and polls. Pretty much every politician has a really dysfunctional personal life and marital relationship. The Obamas may have the healthiest marriage, but by no means smell like roses by the end of the book. Michelle Obama didn’t really want Barack to jump into the all-consuming circus of campaigning. Also, the grueling campaign schedule seems even harder and nastier than actual governance, even with Obama’s overly ambitious schedule and agenda.

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Six great trips in “Routes of Man”

Ted Conover closes his fascinating new book with a Springsteen quote from “Thunder Road,” and that’s not even the best thing about it. I couldn’t put this book down, and every page was enlightening and surprising. In fact, it made Springsteen seem like a hack — what with all his wonderful stories about freedom and youth and love and hopes and dreams. OK, so I still love Springsteen, but Conover travels some less familiar roads for the stories in his book.

“The Routes of Man: How Roads are Changing the World” shines six spotlights on stories of globalization.

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