Estonia Considers Its Monuments

Estonia’s Justice Minister, Urmas Reinsalu, said early in January that the government could take down the Soviet war memorial at Maarjamäe because it is falling apart and it is not on the official list of historic monuments. This led Prime Minister Jüri Ratas to suggest that the entire area, which includes a German cemetary and a memorial under construction to the victims of Communism, be designated a historic area.

The Soviet Union built many war memorials across its territory, particularly to commemorate World War II, or the Great Patriotic War, as they call it. I find those monuments moving; they are, after all, memorials to people who died in wars and who had families who grieved them. I’ve been to the Maarjamäe memorial a few times.

One of those times I visited with a graduate student who was studying monuments in the former Soviet Union. As we see now in the United States, monuments are a part of a country’s story of itself. The Soviet Union wanted to erase the past.

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The Last Jedi: Open Thread with Hidden Spoilers Discussion

I saw “The Last Jedi” yesterday evening with a couple of teens, and we loved it. I’ll probably see it again in the next couple of weeks because my husband couldn’t make it to last night’s show and will want to see it on the big screen too. I already look forward to a second viewing and to discovering new Easter Eggs I missed the first time around.

It’s been interesting, as a fan of the franchise, reading comments here and elsewhere that sharply criticize or vociferously defend TLJ. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. I’ve landed firmly in the pro-TLJ camp after seeing it. I think it struck an excellent balance between staying true to the spirit of the franchise and striking out in a new direction.

That’s about as much as I can say without getting into specifics, which we don’t want to do because a lot of folks haven’t had a chance to see the movie yet. So, if you’re in the mood to discuss the film with spoilers, click on the image above. That’ll take you to a hidden thread, which is entitled “Last Jedi Hidden Spoilers Thread.”

Otherwise, the NON-hidden comment section below is open for any topic — except spoilers!

Monday Afternoon Spoiler Alert (Open Thread)

Whoa if true:

I’ve noticed a stealth phenomenon that may just exist in my imagination: You know how Trump keeps implying that he made it legal to say “Merry Christmas” again, as if people who accidentally uttered the words in a retail setting were dragged off to FEMA reeducation camps during the Obama administration? And now Trump supporters who aggressively wish strangers a “Merry Christmas” are actually saying “Fuck your feelings”?

Well, in Trump country, saying “Happy Holidays” feels like a mildly subversive act now, and I’ve returned that greeting in exchanges with retail clerks in deeply Republican locations with a knowing arch of the eyebrow and a half smile. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

Speaking of “Happy Holidays,” all my holiday shopping is done. I believe this is a personal record for me, finishing a week before Christmas, and I owe it all to online shopping. I used to be one of those miserable people who ransacked crowded malls on Christmas Eve. In the future, if I’m ever about to be murdered by a sentient robot, I’ll try to keep in mind that, in many ways, technology was worth it!

Open thread!

What have we got? Magnificence!

I thought of a fun game. Name your seven all-time favorite movie experiences — the movie, when you saw it (approximately), who you saw it with, where you saw it.

Should be in a theater and it doesn’t have to be your favorite movies. Most of my favorite movies I saw the first time on VHS back in the day and usually the first cut is deepest.

Here’s mine:

1. “Tootsie”, Christmas Eve 1982, Copley Plaza, Boston, with my grandfather and uncle.
2. “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, 1986, Hamilton, NY, with my friend Jim.
3. “Pulp Fiction”, opening night 1994, California Theatre, Berkeley, a big group of friends.
4. “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”, 1995 or so, Solano Theater, Albany, CA, with my friend Ben.
5. “Murmur of Youth”, 1997, Pacific Film Archives Berkeley, with my friend Vlada.
6. “The Departed”, 2006, some theater in Manhattan, with my friend Maryann.
7. “Nashville”, 2013, Dryden Theater, Rochester, NY with my wife.

I really love movies so I’ll throw in some more.

Best double features: “Glengarry Glen Ross”/”Reservoir Dogs” and “Sunset Boulevard”/”In A Lonely Place”.

Best theaters: Paramount Theater, Oakland and Castro Theater, San Francisco.

In some ways, I think my most intense movie experiences were “Chinatown” (on VHS) and “Vertigo”, which I saw by myself, I can’t remember on VHS or in a theater. I just remember the movie! I also can’t remember where I first saw “The Wild Bunch”.

Anyway, what’s your magnificent seven?

Who Dis? (Open Thread)

Name this actor and the 1970s horror film in which he stars below:

God lord, that movie is a giant slab of Velveeta. No more hints! Open thread!

Saturday Night Movie Open Thread


Next big progressive blockbuster?

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Wonderous Women

Because I can (heya, LAMH!), and because these stories meet my EMOT criteria for “not liable to make readers put down their coffee and go right back to bed.” Some days, it’s harder than others.

Jessica Bennet, in the NYTimes, “If Wonder Woman Can Do It, She Can Too”:

“She’s so strong,” the little girl seated next to me at a Brooklyn screening of “Wonder Woman” kept repeating to her mother, occasionally shielding her eyes. It was the first fight scene of the movie, and I was trying not to sob…

But 20 minutes into “Wonder Woman,” the director Patty Jenkins’s take on the iconic DC Comics story, the tears came uncontrollably — as the Amazonian women twirled and glided, fierce and muscular and graceful at once, engaged in battle moves that looked as if they were choreographed for women’s bodies (which, it turned out, they were). I mean, the outfits were a little absurd. Their gladiator sandals seemed to have wedges. And yet, much like Jill Lepore, the author of “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” put it in The New Yorker: “I am not proud that I found comfort in watching a woman in a golden tiara and thigh-high boots clobber hordes of terrible men. But I did.”

In fact, I was proud. So were legions of women I know who took daughters, nieces, nephews, mentees or simply went in droves, some of them to women-only screenings — and walked out of theaters with a strange feeling of ferociousness. One friend immediately purchased 40 tickets for a group of girls she mentors, along with all their friends. A group of women writers has raised more than $7,000 in a GoFundMe campaign to send New York City girls to see the film.

“I was kind of taken aback at how something as minor as a movie has been affecting me,” said Ruth Wilner, 45, who saw the film with her husband in Sacramento. “I wish I could go back in time and watch it with 8-year-old me.”…


Spoilers (kinda) but also worth reading: Wonder Woman‘s Most Fantastic Scene Nearly Didn’t Get Made at All”.


Apart from fierce women and implacable resistance, what’s on the agenda for the day?