The Georgian situation is complicated, granted,  but you’d think someone would be planning a protest. After all, it’s war. War is bad. Something must be done. Well, the World Socialists have thought long and deep and hard, and concluded the enemy is the United States:

Underlying the military confrontation is US imperialism’s drive to isolate Russia and establish American hegemony over the energy resources of Central Asia and their transit routes through the Caucasus, utilizing the Saakashvili regime as its cat’s paw. The Russian ruling elite, for its part, is seeking to reassert its control over a region that was ruled by Moscow for two centuries before the break-up of the USSR.

No protests, no marches in the street, then; Moscow has dibs.

Let’s check Code Pink – well, the site seems to be down, but I’m sure they’ll be picketing embassies this week, and possibly considering sending human shields, or at least interrupting Duma sessions with outraged shouting. The Socialist Party USA has nothing, although there is a note of an upcoming event called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” – a hoary old line that was stupid then and even more banal in an age of super-extra media saturation. Unless they mean that people with videocameras will be shot on sight if they’re not wearing CheGear™ or some other simpatico signifier.

The anarchists aren’t up on it. Nothing from the central Green party. But it’s possible they’re just getting their blast emails out, alerting everyone to the upcoming World Can’t Wait / Protest Imperialistic Imperialism Protest, complete with giant mocking paper-mache puppets of Putin with black oil dripping from his fangs. Who here can do a Putin? C’mon people, I need a big Putin. This international cabal isn’t going to collapse on its own! It needs the sort of humiliating defeat only a large, three-dimensional effigy borne on the streets of a Western city in full view of bored policemen can bring. Yes, any day now: the streets will be filled with protestors.

Or possibly not? Probably not. Russia gets a pass. People are scared of Russia. Besides, you have to consider this in the context of history’s historical context. And if Russia reabsorbs Georgia, and takes control of its energy resources, well, it has less to do with resurgent fascistic opportunism or oil, and more to do with the rich, complicated history of the region that goes back to the time of Tsars and long beards and black-and-white photos. So! Nevermind. Next item on the agenda: Israel’s threats to knock out the military equipment Russia sold to Iran. Let us craft a statement that uses “Danzig” and “blitzkrieg,” but not in the same sentence. Draw out the implication over several paragraphs.

For some reason seemingly disconnected with daily events I started reading the Mao biography I started last year, and was surprised to learn just how much of a bastard he was. If hell got noisier when he died it was from the ceaseless applause of Stalin: damn, boy, I thought I was hardcore. It’s not that he was worse than Stalin in character; he just had more people to kill. A larger canvas. As the book pointed out: he worked the nation to exhaustion, took everything they produced, and wasted it. Thirty million dead alone in the Great Leap Forward. Now? He’s a fat old weirdo on postcards who looks funny because the picture’s done in a kitschy style. Ha ha, you were succeeded by crafty pragmatists! But. As the book notes, he wanted to start a nuclear war with the West, and was perfectly content to lose half the population of China. He was even considering where he’d build a new city to head the new World Socialist Government. The Sovs thought he was nuts, but of course that didn't stop them from handing him treats and toys.

I know things have changed, and the Bad Old Days are gone, and they don’t do that anymore – except for Tibet, the fate that launched a thousand bumperstickers, and Falun Gong, which is weird and hence, I don’t know, one of those things – but in a sense the same government is in power, no? Mao's picture still hangs in Tiananmen Square. It’s like going to Berlin for the games in 1976 and seeing giant portraits of Hitler.

It’s as if you have to invade Paris to enter the pantheon of really bad guys.

Note: I don't know what to do about Georgia. Or China. In case you're curious. It's complicated.

Denouncing Mao, however, is not.

A calm night out on the patio; twilight and crickets. A plane droned overhead, bound for the airport, and behind it came that strange sound that sometimes follows behind – it’s like the sound of the plane’s passage played in reverse, as if the air is sealing up some wound. Then, 30 seconds later, a great gust blew through the top of the trees, and I wondered if it was the last wave of the wind from the engines, spending itself in the limbs and branches. It didn’t even muss my hair; didn’t feel a thing. Like a stone thrown from far away that loses momentum and rolls to a stop at your feet.

A good weekend; it was the other birthday weekend, this one being mine, and it was low-key. I don’t have any particular need for birthday parties, and since I’m not one of those guys who leaves the house in a suit at 6:30 and comes home beaten and weary at seven, with two hours of work left to do, no one around here believes I should have a day when I get to sit in the hammock and read a golf magazine. Correctly so. Presents? Oh, just wrap up a brick with some newspaper. Something to open, for the kid’s sake.
Wife and child had gotten me a few things from the antique store – an old tiny Coca-cola coin bank, a Mickey Mouse Big Little Book, and from the Wireless catalog, a DVD compilation of 100 B&W mystery movies. My first thought: hoorah! My second thought: well, there’s a website. And so I will begin to work my way through the movies week by week, with ample screen grabs and clips. Something to do; something for you to read. Because God knows the Internet is just a veritable desert.

Even in 1996, there was more new stuff every day than you had the time to read.

We saw the X-Files movie, and as I noted in a tweet, I liked it more than my wife. Which led a few wags to note that I must have liked it a lot, since I obviously liked my wife a lot. DID. Liked it more than my wife DID. You only have 140 characters in a tweet. She was annoyed by the plot holes and peculiar behavior of the FBI, but I reminded her it was the X-Files FBI, which operates by its own odd rules. At least the movie version of the X-Files FBI had better lighting; in the old days of the X-Files, the FBI did not seem to have any incandescent bulbs at all, and everyone’s office was dim and dusty and hence FOREBODING. It was an extended version of a TV show episode, as others have noted, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would have, perhaps because my expectations were nonexistent. Glum, though. Scully was just Dana Downer throughout the whole thing. But it had a quiet gravity I liked. 

A few jokes for the fans; Mulder’s cellphone buddy list said


Vince Gilligan, one of the series writers; Rob Bowman, one of the series’ better directors. Nice. And it was good to see Walter Skinner again, even if he looks like someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who’s trying to remember where he put his keys.

When the movie began and the familiar place-and-time typed out on the bottom left of the screen, I smiled, and thought: When I was 37, I would have never thought I’d be seeing this on the movie screen when I’m 50. It’s like thinking I’ll see a “Lost” movie when I’m in my 60s. And there had better not be a “Lost” movie. That sucker had better WRAP IT UP.

Sunday I went downtown to mail a package to Natalie. She’s at camp. Left Saturday morning – much trepidation before, but all smiles and cheer when she got to the bus stop and saw her friends. We’re mailing stuff in advance so she has something for mail call. (I mailed letters before she left.) Since I had some time I wandered around downtown to take some shots for the upcoming gigantic Theaters section of the Mpls site. Here I’d waited all these years to upgrade that site, waited until I’d shot all the then-and-now photos – and Google Street Views makes that superfluous. But the shot I had to get today isn’t available by the all-seeing Google, and I got it. Also snapped one of my favorite vistas:

That’s a lot of city. Five different buildings. On Hennepin, the facade of the old - and empty, I fear - Witt's Market:

Found something else that made my day absolutely complete, but it’ll go up on In my neighborhood on the way home I noted something on the Walgreen's sign that made sense, but still didn't.

Kashi Golean - just the thing to wash down some Klau Kalash.

This is the last week of v1.1, incidentally. (The .1 revision would be my tenure.) Big changes in a week. It’s about 80 percent of what I was pushing for.


New Matchbook. See you at