Quentin Tarantino has the last laugh?

This story broke late yesterday and was all over the news today — the skull piece housed in Moscow believed to be Hitler’s and used as evidence to support the widely-accepted theory that he shot himself in a Berlin bunker was revealed as a woman’s, which brings into question, again, exactly how Hitler died.

For me, the story couldn’t have been better timed, because I thought the dumbest critical debate around Inglourious Basterds was whether or not it was legitimate to make a WWII movie that so blatantly flies in the face of established historical narrative (spoiler alert: Hitler and a passel of important Nazis are gunned down and/or burn to death inside an infernal theater).  

I read an article about the film — and for the record, I did love it, though I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea — that discussed briefly one of the perennial problems of talking about the war, which is that war history and Holocaust history tend to become conflated in the modern mind, at least the modern American mind. They are separate, though linked, phenomena, and I don’t think it does the continuum of historical consciousness very much good to insist on making either about the other, although it does allow us to revel in a certain do-gooder status.  

With this movie, I like to think that Tarantino was playing on the relationship between those two events, and messing with some of our entrenched notions about the European Theater (why else have Colonel Landa be so complicated, if still contemptible?) — and, of course, giving us gunfire and blood along the way, although there wasn’t nearly as much of that as I expected.  When I read this story yesterday, I imagined QT getting a kick out of it — how all of the sudden, the ossified timeline printed in history books is made illegitimate. Or, in reality, the fluid and subjective nature of creating a singular historical storyline was laid out bare. Not that this discovery should shake the core of anyone’s beliefs about Germany, Hitler, or, god forbid, the Holocaust, but it does raise a few good questions about how younger generations should best translate the various successes and failures of their fathers and mothers into a useful narrative. 


Ed: I don’t mean that Tarantino was exclusively confining himself to a discussion of WWII. There’s clearly a lot going on here, I just wanted to point out how he was using history as set and plot device in a really interesting way. 


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Sunday driving



Yesterday was a fantastic reminder of why I moved to Wyoming in the first place. On a whim, I drove up to Vedauwoo early in the morning and wandered around the dirt roads that take you out to Happy Jack Road, and then continued taking the long way back to Cheyenne. 

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Low-Budget Living: The Rodeo

One of the reasons I wanted to keep a blog was so that it can serve as a tool for the person who comes in to replace me next year; you can give plenty of good advice over coffee or on the phone, but there will pretty much always be something you omit, something that seems trivial that they’ll wonder about at a later date. So hopefully when I’m done paying it forward to a new VISTA, I can also give him or her this URL for when they feel like perusing the ups and downs of poverty-level living. So from time to time, I plan on gathering my thoughts about different aspects of life on a tight budget and trying to say something helpful – and hopefully, entertaining.

In that spirit, and since I haven’t updated in a while, the first episode of this series is going to focus on those whirlwind two weeks when Cheyenne seems to be the center of the universe, at least for the mountain time zone: Frontier Days.

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Life Update

Well, hello everyone. It’s been a while, eh?

How to explain the last two months of my life? In brief: training in Salem, Oregon with brief, tantalizing glimpses of Portland. A weekend trip to Rocky Mountain National Park during which I learned what it feels like to be a sea-level baby when the trailhead starts at 9500’ (we had representation from most of the ACC states in a line on the right side of almost every steep). A light show on and around a camper programmed to the beat of the Amazing Grace Techno Remix. A two-week rodeo festival that included multiple 10,000-person free pancake breakfasts, two parades, and a lot of hats. Seeing one of the NINE days of rodeo from a sweet seat behind the chutes and suddenly realizing that I live in Wyoming now. Having to move to a new apartment on the north side because my neighbor started stalking me and leaving me the world’s craziest notes. Cat-sitting and starting to lose my mind about not having a dog. Suddenly adding “hanging sheetrock and firetaping walls” to my list of responsibilities. Discovering the best bagel place in Cheyenne. Waxing, driving, and selling concessions from an ancient Winnebago that can barely get itself up shallow inclines; enjoying working the Farmer’s Market in general, even if it does require commitment of the hours between 6 am and 2 pm on Saturdays. Teaching myself to make buffalo burgers. Shark Week. Football season. Finding the sports bar for football exiles, which provides the most exciting NFL viewing experience possible: fans in jerseys of every color shouting at any number of thirty televisions. Movies and Shakespeare in the park, roadtrips to Casper, cultivating a favorite bar, and nighttime thunderstorms.

I might get into more detail about any of these things at a later date, but for right now, just the snapshot. One final note: did anyone else completely miss that the Ravens are one of only two NFL teams with a marching band?? (The Redskins are the other.)  I will never again taking the Marching Ravens for granted.

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Barry O speaks —

Takeaways: like the smack at Palin/Palinites and the “death panel” BS, thought the ruckus over illegal immigrant coverage was ridiculous, good at being clear on the major points, and I think the public option might be getting ready to exit Stage Left. This idea of a public option “kick in” might be the compromise. Also CBS should have showed more Emanuel. And Charles Boustany (R), an inspiring speaker you are not….and when you opened your mouth, I thought you were going to start singing something from “The Barber of Seville.” So, I’m out.

7:03 — There’s that oratorical baritone….

7:02 — “Markets can crash….the vulnerable can be exploited.” Exhibit A: the last year in the life of America.

7:00 — Did he mention that TR was a Republican who wanted to reform American healthcare yet? I can’t remember. 

6:59 — This is a well-executed step back toward the moral side of this issue. ….no snark on this one.

6:57 — “The character of our country.” Perfect, Teddy. 

6:56 — Ted Kennedy. Here’s the thing — we knew this was going to come up, but all Obama had to do was say his name and I teared up. Me. I only cry during “Gladiator.”

6:55 — “We will call you out.” Buh BAM.


6:53 — I would have clapped there based solely on my love of Kathleen Sebelius. 

6:52 — There are so many sounds echoing around….I feel like the Republicans and Democrats are actually making sounds back and forth like they’re at a football game.

6:49 — Another fun part of presidential addresses to Congress: watching moderates try to decide if they’re going to give a standing ovation to something and half get out of their chair and then sit back down. 

6:48 — “I want to speak directly to seniors for a minute.” CUT TO JOE LIEBERMAN hahahahaha. Also: everyone adjust the volume on your TV set by -10. I swear it just got louder.

6:46 — I like when politicians pull a “Yeah, man, bureaucrats blow!” kind of thing. It’s especially funny in the context of the President addressing Congress. 

6:43 — Yes, thank you for reminding us that most Americans aren’t screeching maniacs running hysterical in the streets and that many are on your side about the public option (yes, drink again). 

6:41 — Public option! Drink!

6:39 — Aaaand a return to Econ 101. Good move. Make it about monopolies! And choice! Americans love choice! Except…oh, well, not a minute ago.

6:38 — Serious commotion over the lack of coverage for illegal immigrants, and a mixed response over no funding for abortions…which: come on, we all knew that. 

6:36 — Um…giggles? Shut up GOP. This is just making you look like you don’t want to be a serious part of this debate. …Oh, wait.

6:34 — Creepy smile, McCain! But good idea?

6:33 — You can tell Pelosi and Biden are both Catholics because they have this whole sit-stand-sit-stand thing DOWN.

6:31 — No one should go broke because they get sick: perhaps my favorite summary of the reasons reform is necessary. Simple, to the point, emphasizes how helpless you can be. 

6:30 — Okay, the thing about making sure you can’t be denied coverage or be dropped for being sick — kind of a gimme. What righty is going to be photographed crossing his/her arms and shaking his/her head in a firm “NO!”…?

6:28 — Perfect application of “bickering” matched up with deepening his register and getting inspiring.

6:26 — The first shot of RAHM. Mmm.

6:24 — Early framing of the healthcare system as economically unsustainable immediately after storytime. I like the approach. 

6:23 — “And no one should be treated that way in the United States of America.” The Irish in me twitched. I love this patriotic application of guilt. LOVE.

6:20 — awww, Dingell gets a standing ovation too.

6:18 — I swear, Nancy Pelosi still has traces of a Baltimore accent. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, since I can’t seem to strike “am-bee-lance.”

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Back in the saddle.

I’m kick-starting this thing back up, albeit after two months in Cheyenne that have included rodeos, farmers markets, crazy neighbor situations, and a move — stay tuned!

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Move-In Day Over, Moving In Half Finished…

Conclusion Drawn:

On the eighth day, God invented magnetized tools. And it was good.


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