Jan. 22nd, 2006

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It takes almost exactly fifty minutes to get from the Kennedy TTC station in the east to the Kipling TTC station in the west, travelling along the Bloor-Danforth line, at least on a Saturday evening. Very little was visible apart from tunnel, save towards the western and eastern ends when, owing to the diminishing returns on underground construction in peripheral areas of the GTA, the train surfaced and approached rapid-transit status. Next time I’m at Kennedy I’ll have to try the Scarborough rapid transit line, if only because it seems--from description on the web, and, well, the web--to be a classic example of an orphaned technology.
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Reading Wikipedia’s entry on Anne of Green Gables, I was amused to discover that L.M. Montgomery used as a model a newspaper photo of the infamous Evelyn Nesbitt. At the time of writing, Nesbit was most famous for being the unwitting instigator of the murder of famous architect Stanford White by the unstable millionaire heir Harry K. Thaw, Thaw being outraged that White had taken his wife’s virginity.

This isn’t the first time that Anne of Green Gables played a role in an early 20th century sex scandal. Take Mary Miles Minter, a child star who featured in the now lost 1919 film version of Anne of Green Gables, but whose lasting fame came from her peripheral involvement in the sensational case of the murder of her lover (and Anne’s director) William Desmond Taylor, going on to play a small but notable role in the birth of film noir.

Minter’s involvement in Anne of Green Gables wasn’t at all a product of Montgomery’s will, mind, since Montgomery seems to have had only a peripheral involvement in that movie’s filming. The Taylor scandal took place three years after the filming, and was hardly foreseeable. The choice of Nesbitt, now was deliberately made by Montgomery herself. Why? Perhaps, just maybe, Montgoemry had different sorts of heroines in mind.
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I caught Underworld: Evolution, sequel to 2003’s Underworld, Friday night with a friend. I have to admit that I was surprised at how good a film it was. The first movie in this series was criticized as lacking a plot, which may or may not be true taken on its own terms. The second movie in this series filled in the gaps, putting the viewer in media res as the struggle between the Death Dealers and the Lycans was allowed to play out to its exceptionally gory and violent conclusion, of course passing through numerous gory and violent scenes on its way there. Hungary is shown as being a rather more mountainous country than it actually is, but then perhaps the Underworld universe is one where Hungary kept northern Transylvania after the Second World War. Underworld: Evolution is a fun film if you like complex dynastic politics archaically embedded in a horrific present-day. If that’s the sort of thing you like, indulge.
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Roman Catholicism in Poland is well-grounded by the standards of an increasingly secular Europe, so well-grounded that people like George Wiegel hope that a conservative Poland might reevangelize the European continent. Poland is unique, not in the whole of the continent but, as Norris and Inglehart document in chapter 5 of their Sacred and Secular (PDF format), in most of post-Communist Europe.

Unfortunately for Wiegel, the facts don't support his thesis of Poland as the low-tide mark for European secularism. I turn to Norman Davies' 9 April 2005 in the Spectator, "God and Mammon," for an overview of the Polish situation.

Overreaching always does it. )

The reactions to the recent recent presidential elections suggest that early 21st century Poland, already torn by serious socioeconomic conflicts but now embedded in a pan-European political structure and popular culture, is about to develop American-style culture wars. They don't exactly predict any successful Polish evangelization of the wider European Union, if only because Poland's religious traditionalists will be too busy fighting their opponents inside Poland's frontiers to look outside.
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The upcoming movie version of Alan Moore's V for Vendetta has been a subject of considerable debate and fear among V for Vendetta's fans. Not only has Moore's disavowed the film, but there was a horrific rumour that Britain's totalitarian regime would not be indigenously established but imposed by a Nazi conquest, thereby gutting Moore's whole point that totalitarianism is something we can do for ourselves. I caught the trailer for V for Vendetta Friday night, and it looked good. Much more reassuringly, I read Steve Moore's novelization of the movie, and while there were some divergences the gist of the graphic novel seems to have survived. Let's hope; one successful translation of an Alan Moore graphic novel to film would be nice.
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