In Putin's court, Navalny speaks!


Astonishing middle-aged person: We were happy to see that Promising Young Woman did well in today's Golden Globe nominations. According to the New York Times report, its inclusion was a surprise:

BARNES AND SPERLING (2/3/21): Golden Globe nominators pulled David Fincher’s sleepy “Mank” and the revenge-driven “Promising Young Woman” deeper into the Oscar race on Wednesday, while embracing female directors, reacting somewhat coolly to Black ensemble films and, as ever, sprinkling honors on a wide range of stars, from first-timers to living legends.


Almost every film in contention has been released online or is still awaiting release. Many cinemas have now been closed for 11 months.

The black-and-white “Mank,” a tale of Old Hollywood, led the nominations with six, including one for best drama. It will compete against “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Nomadland,” “The Father” and, in a surprise, “Promising Young Woman.”

"In a surprise," the promising film was nominated for the Best Drama award. Also, Emerald Fennell was nominated as Best Director, and Carey Mulligan received a Best Actress nom.

We're happy to see the film get these nominations. Its unusual rumination had generated some unfriendly reviews, including the one which appeared in the New York Times.

(Note: No one is required to like any particular film.)

To our eye and ear, the film is a fascinating dreamscape exploration of moral experience in a world where nobody else really cares. Its heroine was promising—once. Now, her behavior may make us recall the Woody Guthrie lyrics, as sung by Bruce Springsteen:

Well now, I just ramble round to see what I can see.
It's a wide, wicked world, sure a funny place to be...

The film is an irregular, jangly dreamscape. We're glad it got those noms.

Meanwhile, over in Moscow. an astonishing middle-aged person is on his way to one of Vladimir's prisons. 

Having been poisoned and nearly killed, Aleksei Navalny came back from Berlin for more. It's worth recording some of what he said at this week's trial:

NAVALNY: The explanation [for the court case] is one man's hatred and fear—one man hiding in a bunker. I mortally offended him by surviving. I survived thanks to good people, thanks to pilots and doctors. And then I committed an even more serious offense: I didn't run and hide. 

Then something truly terrifying happened: I participated in the investigation of my own poisoning, and we proved, in fact, that Putin, using Russia's Federal Security Service, was responsible for this attempted murder. And that's driving this thieving little man in his bunker out of his mind. He's simply going insane as a result.

There's no popularity ratings. No massive support. There's none of that. Because it turns out that dealing with a political opponent who has no access to television and no political party merely requires trying to kill him with a chemical weapon. So, of course, he's losing his mind over this. Because everyone was convinced that he's just a bureaucrat who was accidentally appointed to his position. 

He's never participated in any debates or campaigned in an election. Murder is the only way he knows how to fight. He'll go down in history as nothing but a poisoner. We all remember Alexander the Liberator and Yaroslav the Wise. Well, now we'll have Vladimir the Underpants Poisoner. 

I'm standing here, guarded by the police, and the National Guard is out there with half of Moscow cordoned off. All this because that small man in a bunker is losing his mind. He's losing his mind because we proved and demonstrated that he isn't buried in geopolitics; he's busy holding meetings where he decides how to steal politicians' underpants and smear them with chemical weapons to try to kill them.

So Navalny was willing to speak, standing in one of Vladimir's courts, having returned from Germany on his own volition. When astonishing people stand and speak, attention should be paid.

Springsteen's superb rendition: The Guthrie lyrics come from his song, Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore. 

Springsteen recorded a version of the song for a Folkways tribute album. The lyrics emerged from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, but they aren't archaic today:

I've mined in your mines and I've gathered in your corn.
I've been working, Mister, since the day that I was born...

This morning, Slate presents a first-person observation piece concerning one part of the way our own modern upper end lives. Its author, Moe Tkacik, is a long-time journalist as well as an upper-end restaurant employee. 

Tkacik offers a snapshot of one of the ways our modern swells unburden themselves of their money and distract themselves from their boredom. Concerning the people you see on "cable news," which side are they on in this tableau? And why aren't we allowed to know how many millions of dollars they're paid to keep us entertained and stoked in the narrow, approved tribal ways?

Whose side are our cable stars on? We don't think the answer is obvious.


  1. Whoa, a convicted (more than once) criminal is suddenly The Great Liberal-Hitlerian Hero. Just hours after a US admiral, emboldened by liberal-hitlerian cult's takeover, predicts a forthcoming nuclear war.

    Why are we not surprised.

    1. Trump tried to gaslight a viral pandemic like it was some common Mao Cheng Ji, cheering along Trump's HUGE tax breaks for the Establishment.

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  2. Somerby has romanticized Woody Guthrie. His song is good and speaks to everyman, but it was written during a time in his life when he was a chronic alcoholic, self-medicating for Huntington's Chorea, a fatal degenerative disease that included cognitive decline and disruption of mood. He abandoned his family to do that ever so romantic roaming. His lyrics emerge as much from his own personal problems as from the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl.

    Navalny is heroic but Woody Guthrie was tragic toward the end of his life. It bothers me that Somerby cannot tell the difference. Meanwhile, someone else in life is bored or rich? Must they be poor or have a fatal genetic disease or challenge Putin in order to have value? Does Somerby think everyone should immediately stop what they are doing and live his idea of a better life, just because Putin failed to execute his plan for Navalny (but has obviously succeeded in his plans for Trump)?

    Talk about simplistic moralizing, Somerby is the epitome of someone whose values come out of a comic book.

  3. The nerve of a waitress having opinions about her political customers!!! How dare she! She should just shut up and sit down.

    1. Somerby is apparently for the working man (when he is part of a Guthrie song) but not for the working woman.

    2. As the child of liberals, I was always taught that there is dignity in all labor and to respect working people no matter what their occupation.

      Somerby doesn't like people who earn what he thinks is too much money. And he doesn't like journalists or professors or experts or author or pundits or Democratic candidates running for president, or school administrators (who he suspects of cheating on tests).

      Working people include those earning less than minimum wage but they also include baseball players and movie stars and cable news pundits. Somerby, if he ever had any sympathy for anyone but himself, withholds it from those making what he considers to be too much money. It would be nice if he would tell us what his cutoff is, so we can better tell who to despise and who to exalt.

  4. Is Somerby hinting that Rachel would ask a million questions about caviar and then leave an 18% tip? That seems kind of unlikely. Any woman who has ever waited tables becomes an over-tipper.

    Politicians know better than to be stingy when dining out because the amount is always noted. Look at the news report on Hillary's visit to a fast-food place early in her campaign. They reported that she had brought her own hot sauce, and the exact amount of her tip (which was larger than Miller's).

    Somerby thinks this shouldn't matter to anyone, but I think it shows both character and competence as a politician. I'll bet Somerby is sensitive on this topic because he himself only leaves 15% (expressed as a rolling average and adjusted by population size).

  5. Meanwhile, back in real life:

    "Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office just sent out a press release referring to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as “McCarthy (Q-CA).”

  6. Thanks for the Springsteen link. I've never really been a fan of his rock music, but always enjoy the back-porch style from anyone who knows what they're doing.

    Of course it should be mentioned that your quote was a bit off, but it only changed the meaning slightly:

    "It's a wide, wicked world, sure a funny place to be..."

    It was actually, "...sometimes sort of fun place to be.” I think. Maybe I’m wrong.

    I’m glad that someone like Springsteen can inspire people, because he’s a humanitarian. Music adds to human communication, and it should never be ignored, especially when it educates, informally or not. Dog knows, our mainstream media has very little to do with actually informing us. What else is there, for so many people.


  7. Here is what Emerald Fennell says about her own film (Vanity Faire):

    "This is a real genre revenge movie. It's all it is. We've seen this movie a billion times. Let's then be honest with it."

    So, you have to ask yourself whether taking a major social issue and using it for such purposes is a good or bad idea. Many people, especially women who have lived bad experiences, take this very seriously. Is it right to use their tragedy to make big bucks and a name for yourself in the movies? I would call that exploitation. And that's my honest opinion.

    Fennell: "My hope would be that everyone universally thought it was the greatest film ever made. And that I was quite a sexy genius...But also I want it to be a film that people enjoy -- that they laugh at, they're shocked by, that they're intrigued by."

    Is this the way to approach a subject such as female sexual assault? It is hard for me to see how it can be. This sounds like sensationalism, doing shocking things to be talked about, a kind of directorial exhibitionism. And without any intent to make a point beyond that (by the producer-writer-director's own admission) it will do nothing to help women and may excuse and empower men in bad behavior, especially given its easy theme of forgiveness (which may be part of its appeal to Somerby).

    There has historically been a sense among men that women should have fought harder to protect their virtue, that they are somehow responsible for what happens to them. This seems to further that excuse because it is implicit in Cassie's revenge-seeking that she is not a passive victim (no matter what happens at the end), so women in general are somehow at fault because they let bad things happen to them (and this perhaps also appeals to Somerby, based on his treatment of Chanel Miller).

  8. “I suppose
    Old Man Trump knows
    Just how much
    Racial Hate
    He stirred up
    In the bloodpot of human hearts
    When he drawed
    That color line
    Here at his Beach Haven family project”
    —Woody Guthrie, 1954

    This really is about Fred Trump, Donald’s father, according to the internet’s “leading expert:”

    “In December 1950, Woody Guthrie signed a lease at the Beach Haven apartment complex owned and operated by Fred Trump in Gravesend, Brooklyn.”

    Read it, Bob, and tell us what a true liberal you are, as you claim the mantle of Guthrie, who wrote the above words, and Springsteen, who proudly supports the Democratic Party.

  9. “No one is required to like any particular film.”

    Sure. But if they don’t share your view, you accuse them of being robotic members of “the guild” who apparently operate in concert with some sort of hive mind, as you did yesterday.

  10. Looks like Bob’s landed a part time job as a movie publicist. Undoubtedly Navalny would feel honored to be mentioned in the same thread as the surprise entry in the Golden Globe Award nominees. The Woody Guthrie lyrics really tie it all together.


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