BOOK REVIEW: The Tango War

The Tango War
The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds, and Riches of Latin American During World War II
Mary Jo McConahay
St. Martin’s Press
(c) 2018 by the author

I like to think of myself as something of a WWII buff. I’m not one of those people who can argue the finer points of the various tanks used in the European Theater, but I know enough about the war to be embarrassingly wrong about some aspects. However, I do know that it was a truly World War, with battles raging from Spitzbergen to Madagascar, troops being pulled in from all over the world by their colonial masters, and a vast network of military and transport bases linking everything together.

If one is so inclined, one can take out a world map and mark it with all the places that were somehow affected by combat. One might soon spot a large gap on the map, where nothing much seemed to be happening.

What was going on in South and Central America?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Reporting on the Report

Now that the “suitable for the public’ version of the Mueller Report has been released, and we’ve had time to read it and mull over the contents, what have we learned?

First, it seems that we were overreacting about the possibility of Attorney General William Barr going overboard with his redactions. The amount, where they came in the report, and the general reasons for them, seem to actually be reasonable. Most of them were in the section about Russia’s cyberattacks and interference in the 2016 election campaign. And given that those threats are still active and being fought by the relevant intelligence agencies, it’s reasonable that one would not want to let any of the details be made public. Making them available to important members of Congress is entirely justified, though.

Continue reading

Movie Review: Seytan (Turkey, 1974)

Back in the 70s and 80s, Turkey – or at least the Turkish film industry – didn’t seem to care much for international copyright law. If a movie was successful in the US, they’d quickly churn out their own version, rights be damned. “Turkish Star Trek” dropped a noted comedian into the Star Trek universe for (presumably) comedic effect. “Turkish Star Wars” is really a movie called The Man Who Saved the World, and is not a knock-off of Star Wars – it just ‘borrows’ a couple of space battle scenes for background footage (and steals music from Raiders of the Lost Ark). Seytan is sometimes called “Turkish Exorcist” – with very good reason. It’s practically a scene-for-scene, if not shot-for-shot, remake.

Continue reading

Eurovision Time Again

Yep, it’s that time of year.

All the official videos are out, the running orders for the semifinals are set, the host city is getting ready for the crowds, bookies are giving odds…

Having looked over and listened to all the entrants, I have to say that nothing really stands out. Maybe I just haven’t listened to them enough.

Anyway, here’s the “compilation” video if you don’t want to spend over two hours listening to the songs in their entirety:

Continue reading

The Limerick

The Limerick

The Powers That Be in the world of poetry and literature have decreed that April shall be National Poetry Month. The general public is encouraged to read more poetry, recite poetry, and share poems with their friends and acquaintances.

But with all that, there’s still one form of poetry that does not get any respect.

The Limerick.

I’m not going to get into the history of the form (its Elizabethan antecedents, the Maigue Poets, Edward Lear, etc.); that may be for another post. Instead, I’ll take an analytic look at it.

Continue reading

An Open Letter to the National Film Preservation Board

The National Film Preservation Board “works to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage, including: advising the Librarian on its recommendations for annual selections to the National Film Registry…The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.”

Well, at least according to their website.

For the average movie buff, it’s a list of movies that are deemed sufficiently important for aesthetic, historic, or cultural reasons. They started selecting movies in 1989, but over the years they have somehow managed to avoid selecting one particular film. So once I’m done writing this, I’m going to nominate this movie – and hope someone there actually reads my nomination, and acts favorably.

The Blob (1958)

Continue reading

Waiting For Opening Day

Overall it’s been a pretty dull off-season for Major League Baseball. Not many “blockbuster” trades, and though there were two major free-agent signings, there are still a lot of good players available. It also seems like too many teams aren’t even trying to field a good team, which has pretty much preordained the results of the regular season.

What discussions there have been involved rule tweaks to make the game play less boring, and the upcoming financial negotiations as the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is set to expire in a few years.

Nothing is ever simple enough to be blamed on one single cause, but this writer thinks that the increasing prevalence of advanced metrics (launch angle, batting average on balls in play, etc.) is having a ripple effect throughout the sport.

Continue reading

Movie Review: The Wages of Fear (France, 1953)

It isn’t an easy matter to take a movie to an international audience. There’s a lot that doesn’t translate across cultures. Comedy is often highly culturally specific. Romance depends a lot on social customs. Drama is a little easier to do, but it still has some problems.

Action and thrills, however, cross all borders. Explosions and monsters speak all languages. Is it any wonder that the biggest international box office successes these days are action & adventure flicks?

But even there, some things may still not translate very well across space and time.

Continue reading

On the Green New Deal

The freshmen class of Democratic representatives (and one or two on the Republican side of the aisle) came up with this nice little legislative proposal to attack global warming head-on, and deal with a few other pet social and economic issues.

As a set of policy goals or a proposed platform, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points. As a detailed legislative package, well, it’s a lot like Wilson’s Fourteen Points….

And it doesn’t help that its backers, so far, seem to be adopting the tactic of browbeating the opposition until they cry “Uncle!” and give up. Hanging out in the halls of Congress harassing people isn’t going to win them over to your side. Yes, the matter is extremely urgent, but why not come up with a better approach – one that explains the dangers if we don’t do anything, gives some ideas about what will have to be done to avoid that fate, and makes the necessary steps more palatable?

Continue reading