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Charlie Bertsch
Tucson, Arizona
I write. I teach. I try to make it through the times when I'm not doing enough of either.
Interests: cultural studies, literary theory, popular music, contemporary fiction
Recent Activity
I'm so glad you wrote this. I've had to be more interested in order to communicate with my dad, but felt similarly.
Toggle Commented Oct 8, 2020 on pandemic baseball at Steven Rubio's Online Life
I am very glad to read this belatedly, even though I am sad about the season and so much else.
Toggle Commented Apr 3, 2020 on opening day 1983 at Steven Rubio's Online Life
Thank you for watching it and giving it so much of your time. I really, really loved it and want to see it again, when Kim is ready. (I've been saving it for her). We are very different, especially as ambiguity is concerned. I love ambiguity more than anything. It's why I think David Lynch is a master. And why I'm left bored by films that most other people laud. The first thing I did when I came home from the movie was to read the Haruki Murakami story on which it is loosely based and the William Faulkner story on which Murakami's story is loosely based. And neither one cleared up the ambiguity at the heart of the film. But that made me so happy!
I waited to read this until I FINALLY managed to see Parasite. It's good as you -- and so many others -- said it was. The odd thing, seeing it in the theater, was the sense that my fellow theater-goers and I were trying hard, at some level, to apply the narrative to an American context, while still letting it be Korean. It seems like the kind of film that can only achieve this level of mainstream success at a time when class consciousness is unusually high. BTW, my favorite film last year -- and one of my favorite films of the 2000s -- was the Korean film Burning, based on a Haruki Murakami short story loosely connected to William Faulkner's own short story "Barn Burning". Have you seen it? It defies genre expectations in the way you describe Parasite doing so, taking several abrupt turns narratively and emotionally. I think it's fabulous.
Toggle Commented Feb 23, 2020 on director bong at Steven Rubio's Online Life
Yesterday I realized I ripped this movie for Sky a few years back, though neither of us ended up watching it. Maybe I will now. I can't remember how many of Alain's tales of his father and grandfather I have shared with you. But they were legion. For example, the point you make about Renoir loving all of his characters, at all stages of their lives, is one that Alain mentioned. He connected that redemptive vision with the way he described his own education -- who knows how much of this was literally true -- as a kind of semi-homeschooling, because of his family's irregular schedule, in which his two instructors were the village priest and the local Communist Party boss.
I'm glad I stopped by. My dad adores Road movies. I recently watched Road to Morocco and Road to Utopia with him via the TCM app. Because I had been "rereading" -- listening to the audiobook -- of Edward Said's Orientalism, the former interested me in particular. The racism is casual. And the stereotyping. But part of me feels that the obvious lack of accuracy, at a time when the United States had been thrust into a global war and was suddenly being expected to be almost everywhere at once, is meaningful in ways that the filmmakers did not intend. If the classic mode of Orientalism that Said writes about was centered on expertise, knowledge that is transmuted into power, then the Hope-Crosby sort is centered on a lack of interest in acquiring expertise, such that the absence of knowledge is transmuted into a different kind of power.
I was very happy to see her with you and Robin at the Warfield in the 1990s. I recall Kim having some sort of tense exchange with Patti about her water bottle. Fifteen years later, more or less, Kim reviewed Patti's movie for CounterPunch and Patti mailed her a thank-you package. That was awesome.
I love the video for "Tightrope" (and the song isn't bad, either). I sort of feel like my youth ended in 2010, too, though for different reasons than for you. I keep trying to get back up to speed with new music, but it's a struggle. But the music I was listening between 2003 and 2008 or so remains in heavy rotation.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2018 on music friday: 2010 at Steven Rubio's Online Life
I am very glad that you got around to watching the Bourdain. I knew it would appeal to you on cinematic grounds alone. And I am also not surprised that you didn't immediately want to seek out other episodes of Parts Unknown. But you should know that he prided himself on making episodes that felt like cinema.
I know quite a few film people who ride hard for Michael Mann, including Kim. I'm not quite as big of a fan, but I do love the look and sound of his best work.
I saw Jewel open for Liz Phair with you! The Pulp song is great, but I'm not sure I'd rank it as the best example of Britpop.
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2018 on music friday: 1995 at Steven Rubio's Online Life
Sad for you, though. The second match was better, if also disappointing in its inexorable march to penalites.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2018 on spain vs. russia at Steven Rubio's World Cup
There's a whole crazy story about why MBV imploded. Some argue that they took down the entire Creation Records label. I'm happy that they came back to do shows, but the "album" was a major disappointment. Loveless, however, is a masterpiece.
Toggle Commented Jul 1, 2018 on music friday: 1991 at Steven Rubio's Online Life
1991 was a really good year. And this is a great list. And My Bloody Valentine was a great band. There was an exchange in The Village Voice about them back then -- not involving Mr. X-gau -- in which Greg Tate expressed very eloquently that hip-hop needed to learn from My Bloody Valentine.
Toggle Commented Jun 22, 2018 on music friday: 1991 at Steven Rubio's Online Life
It's interesting to revisit entries like this one now that so much of the world has drifted into neo-fascist populism. Right now, there are more Nazi fans in Germany than at any point since the immediate aftermath of World War II, yet Germany as it is presently run is considered one of the most important bulwarks preventing the onset of a new Dark Age. (I can't remember: were your 2002 World Cup entries in a separate blog?)
Toggle Commented Jun 16, 2018 on germany-argentina at Steven Rubio's World Cup
I am so glad that Portugal came out attacking. I had seen them sit back and wait for a few counterattacks so many times during the Ronaldo years.
I'm so happy to be able to read this blog again.
Toggle Commented Jun 15, 2018 on tomorrow's matches at Steven Rubio's World Cup
I think this was one of the great years for popular music. "Fools Gold" is a great song, even if the Stone Roses didn't have much staying power. Needless to say, I'd put something from The Cure's Disintegration on my own list.
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2018 on music friday: 1989 at Steven Rubio's Online Life
That's a really good point. I think it's set up almost like a classroom scenario, like the sort of thing that would generate essay topics for freshman composition.
I can't remember whether this one annoys Kim or not. It's strange for me because of my mother's family. Her mother, my icy-but brilliant grandmother would just casually sit down at the piano and play Chopin that sounded like it came off a record, but had been frustrated in her ambitions because of gender. Her father, though a professor of English at Lehigh University, didn't have a Ph.D. and was always discriminated against for being a theater guy who focused on technical aspects of production. And my mother, though raised by fairly impoverished but still otherwise privileged intellectuals, always told me that she wanted me to grow up to be a plumber and my sister that she wanted her to become an electrician. She was very hostile to pretense and intellectually invested in a kind of Thoreau-style critique of intellectualism. So when I watch the movie, I feel bad for not turning out like the sort of person who neither ended up working on an oil rig nor capable of playing a damned thing on a musical instrument.
I found it disturbing, but effective, at the time. I'm not sure I'd want to see it again, though. Nymphomaniac I and II have largely cured my Von Trier fixation, apparently. I still think his best films are outstanding. I just don't have much desire to see them right now.
This is a great list from what turns out, in retrospect, to have been a pretty great year for music. I was surprised that you didn't include the original "Temptation". Sky was surprised that you didn't include "Africa", ahem.
Toggle Commented Apr 23, 2018 on music friday: 1982 at Steven Rubio's Online Life
The Hall of Fame is annoying, but I don't mind that band.