I went to see Atonement last night and while I don't have anything particularly interesting to say about it, it's really a lot like this.
One thing that impressed me about the film: it emphasizes (more effectively than the book, I think, though this might be an artifact of a quick read) an interesting tension between the sadness of the story of our protagonists and the overwhelming emotional impact of the larger setting. If I remember right, there's a sort of Nagelian interest in the personal/impersonal point-of-view contrast in the novel's narrative voice which I thought would be hard to bring to the screen. Whether by design or not the second half of the film works a lot with the same idea.
I've been loathing myself since the last time I flew, when I just stood there crying as they made someone wheelchair-bound with very little motor control take off his shoes in the security line.
Wingnut Lifeguard thinks that Thompson isn't getting much coverage because the media wants McCain to win because...he'd be easier for the Democratic nominee to defeat. There you have it.
I was innocently checking whether both Jango Fett and the young Boba Fett were played by Maori actors (they were) when up popped the worst pop up ad ever. What the hell is up with that?
I gave in to temptation and asked Wingnut Lifeguard if he'd been watching the presidential debates. No, because he only gets "welfare cable," but he's been listening on the radio, and that Thompson, he shoots from the hip and tells it like it is. You should vote for people based on what they say, not emotions, not because they cry and you feel bad for them. Giuliani is ok, but he's unsteady on second amendment rights. And you know why second amendment rights are important? Because of tyranny. When they wrote the constitution, they weren't worried about your neighbor coming with his big musket to steal your stereo and rape your wife, they were worried about tyranny.
"Are you going to fight the government, Wingnut Lifeguard?"
"No, but you have to be ready. I have screens on my windows and I would put sandbags against the door, because you know how they use the battering ram. I'd put like fifteen sandbags against the door. I have it all planned out. They'd use tear gas, but I have masks. You know how presidential candidates have theme songs, like Clinton's was [singing] "Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow," mine would be 'Rally round the family, with a pocket full of shells.' Do you know that song?"
"Who is it by again?"
"Rage Against The Machine."
"Yeah, that's it. That's an awesome song."
"You know, I think they were making fun of that attitude."
"They were making fun of the government?"
"No, they were making fun of people who want to shoot people."
"I think you're right. They were kind of anti-establishment, weren't they?"
"So why would they come after you anyway?"
"In case I do something stupid."
"If they want to get you, they're going to get you."
"You're probably right, so I need to escape to a country that doesn't have an extri-, extrication treaty with the U.S. Does Mexico have an extrication treaty with the U.S.?"
"You need to move to Iran."
"You know, I would do that, because they have a lot of hot women in that country. I was watching on the news and I felt so bad for them. They have to lock the doors and have parties in secret, and they showed them dancing at a party, and the women were about twenty-three or twenty-four and they were fi-ine."
Fifty-something guy swims up and asks what the hell WL is going on about. Then asks WL if he's ever been in trouble with the law. "No. And my brother is getting out in March!" Out of jail or out of the military, I ask. Jail. FSG says that his previously incarcerated friend said that his time in jail was the most terrifying of his life. WL gives us a brief explanation that jail isn't so bad as long as you stick with your own kind. WL's cousin did time at Rikers and he was all hip-hop before he went in, but inside he stuck with the Italian guys.
A second lifeguard shows up and asks what the hell WL is going on about. "[Yadda yadda] so I was telling Ogged that I need to go somewhere that doesn't have an extri-...what is it?"
"That's it. I knew it was something like that. I'm like Hee-Haw, I just throw out something that sounds close. You're a smart guy, I knew I couldn't get it past you. Some other foreigner I probably could have gotten it past."
And Wingnut Lifeguard exits, with his arms literally in the air, singing "Rally round the family, with a pocket full of shells." Fifty-something guy and I try not to piss ourselves laughing.
Updating the old post a third time is just too much, even for me.
Caldwellian (l.caldwell at gmail dot com) has a mix to share:
It is a glitch mix, which will either prove novel & interesting or everyone will hate it. But it's made, so there you have it. Actually, it's a little too long for a CD-R right now, so I will probably split it into two discs & perhaps add a couple of tracks.
01. Lusine - Ask You
02. Yasume - 2112 Crescent Heights
03. Sweeping Logic - Window Screen Cinema
04. Helios - Bless This Morning Year
05. Deru - Echoes of Me
06. Delarosa & Asora - Paz Suite 1
07. Kelpe - Nat's Twirly Mug
08. Elephant Pixel und Miniröcke - Gleisdreieck
09. Maps and Diagrams - Siaptik
10. Digitonal - Come and Play
11. Engine7 - Anachronism (Twilight Mix)
12. Apparat - Schallstrom
13. Swod - Gehen
14. Lega - Karma Garden
15. imi - Press Play on Tape (Fes Remix)
16. manual & syntaks - inez
17. Alexandr Vatagin - End of the Community
I put this in comments last night, but I'm so pleased about it that I'm moving it up to the front page. I finally found the school where I taught in Samoa on Google Maps: Vaipouli College, Savai'i.
The long thin red-roofed buildings are classrooms, and the starshaped building is the hostel where the girls who boarded at the school lived. Smaller buildings are mostly teachers' houses -- the house where I lived my first year is visible to the NW of the hostel, and the house where I lived my second year seems to be in disrepair. It's a barely visible brownish rectangle to the SW of the hostel. The open space between the hostel and the classrooms is, of course, the rugby field.
I'm terribly satisfied to have found it -- I've been looking since Google Maps came out, but I don't think the satellite pictures of Samoa were high enough resolution to identify it until recently.
You tell me what to think about the fact that BYU and Texas high school teams are now doing a pre-game haka. (In both cases, apparently started by someone of Maori descent who is affiliated with the team.)
Yesterday, I got an email from the Obama campaign asking me if I would donate more money. They said that they were asking people who had donated in the past to pledge more money that they would use as matching funds to entice first-time donors. I realize that the logic of this doesn't make 100% sense - they got my money whether a first-time donor gave or not so it wasn't a "matching fund" in the traditional sense - but it was a nice idea and I was planning on kicking them a few more dollars so I figured why not.
Now the part that I thought was brilliant: when I gave my money, I was able to write a message to the person who would be getting my matching funds and choose whether I wanted them to see my name and have my email address. I chose to let the person see my name but not have my email and was a little stumped about what to write (ummm..."GObama!"?) About 10 minutes after I made my pledge, I got a sweet little note from the person whose funds mine had matched about how excited she was about the election and how she hoped Obama could be a force for change.
Cheesy as it sounds, it really inspired a warm fuzzy bringing-people-together kind of a feeling. So much better than a bumper sticker.
Oh boy! Just look (below the fold) at all the participants in this mix thing!
You will have to email whoever is offering the mixes you want. If you email me, but you want someone else's mix, I will laugh at you and fail to forward your message on. Out of malice. I think the only person who gave an express upper bound to the number of mixes s/h is willing to send out is the alameida, who set it at fifty. I don't have an upper bound in principle but I'll certainly stop making my own cases if the number of recipients for mine gets too high (above, say, thirty-something).
Update: PMP (pomopolymath at gmail dot com) is throwing his hat into the ring with two mixes: """One will be more pop-driven and accessible (probably fairly well-known indie acts, too, such as The Unicorns, Menomena, etc.), the other will be noisier and include a lot of straightforward rock along with drums, distortion, whatever else I feel like. """
I could send out mixes of avant-gard jazz. I've already promised W-lfs-n one. I will probably be slow because of a hardware problem.
The mix will be selected from this link:
This is 2 1/2 CDs, so I'd probably send out enough of the shorter and the less-known pieces to fill 80 minutes. Requests are solicited.
There are six makers of mixes. Three people are opting to be somewhat mysterious regarding the precise contents of theirs:
1. The mysterious alameida (alameida at unfogged dot com) wishes to preserve the mystery by not being forthcoming about the tracklist.
2. The not quite as mysterious Bave (bave at greatwhatsit dot com) simply didn't say anything.
3. The mysterious read ([redacted]) has offered to make a mix of mongolian music.
4. lw (lw20853 at yahoo dot com) sez this: """I put together a mostly blues set below, will put together an african-middle eastern set too (Rachid Taha, Cheb Mami, Googoosh, Amr Diab, Orchestra Baobab, Alhaji Frimpong each 2x, others.) I'd send two of each, plus as many mix-for-mix exchanges as people are into.
1. ram jam - Black Betty (2:32)
2. Leadbelly - Black Betty (0:59)
3. leadbelly - Goodnight Irene (2:53)
4. Lonnie Johnson - Death Valley Is Half Way To My Home (3:29)
5. Blind Willie McTell - Dying Crapshooter's Blues (3:08)
6. Ruth Ladson - Who Do You Be? (2:47)
7. Elizabeth Cotten - Oh, Babe It Ain't No Lie (4:43)
8. Robert Pete Williams - Almost Dead Blues (4:05)
9. Bukka White - Shake `em On Down (3:01)
10. Son House - Walkin' Blues (2:56)
11. Jimmy Reed - Bright Lights, Big City (2:36)
12. Howlin Wolf - Evil (2:53)
13. The Staple Singers - Respect Yourself (4:54)
14. Blind Boys of Alabama - Nobody`s Fault But Mine (2:55)
15. The Gospel Harmonettes of Demopolis, Alabama - Whiter Than Snow (3:24)
16. Gino Washington - Puppet On A String (2:22)
17. The Be Good Tanyas - For the Turnstiles (4:26)
18. Raduza - Bylo nebylo (2:19)
19. Dan Newton - Two French Waltzes (6:35)"""
I assume he means one of each, since I can't imagine why sending two of each would be productive, but hey.
5. NickS (femtohacker at gmail dot com) has given his mix the title "mostly rock" and sez: """
1: Rock and Roll Debut -- The Gift Machine
2: Boogie on the Beach -- Red Elvises
3: *One Way Or Another -- Blondie
4: My Rival -- Alex Chilton
5: So It Goes -- Nick Lowe
6: *Eton Rifles -- The Jam
7: *E Proibido Proibir (Ambiente Festival) -- Caetano Veloso
8: Broken English -- Marianne Faithful
9: Attitude -- Bad Brains
10: Bastards of Young -- The Replacements
11: Wild One -- Joan Jett
12: Search and Destroy -- Stooges
13: *Heaven And Hell -- The Who
14: *Stranger Then Fiction -- Joe Jackson
15: *Gigantic -- Pixies
16: *My City Was Gone -- Pretenders
17: Good Copenhagen (is Better than Bad Cocaine) -- Corb Lund
18: ^*Hasten Down the Wind -- Warren Zevon
19: ^Moanin' at Midnight -- Howlin' Wolf
* = Live or BBC recording
^ = bonus track, separated by a small pause."""
He also sent me a lot of notes which I'm not going to put in this post because, come on. He should feel free to put them up in comments, though.
6. Like lw, I (w-lfs-n at gmail dot com) made two mixes! Each person will receive one of each. They even have titles, in the second case chosen because I like the line (it's extracted from one of the songs on the mix):
Ain't No Cure for the Wintertime Blues:
01. Arve Henriksen - Strjon, from Strjon
02. Amsterdam String Trio - Winter, from Winter Theme
03. Dawn Smithson - Nowhere Near, from Safer Here
04. Death Ambient - Thermohaline, from Drunken Forest
05. David Thomas Broughton - Unmarked Grave, from The Complete
Guide to Insufficiency
06. Scott Walker - Jesse, from The Drift
07. Josephine Foster - Auf einer Burg, from A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
08. Nick Drake - Horn, from Pink Moon
09. Xasthur - Trauma Will Always Linger, from Subliminal Genocide
10. Burning Star Core - B3: Untitled, from Three Sisters Who Share
11. Mudsuckers - Electric Sunflower, from Mudsuckers
12. Earth - Miami Morning Coming Down, from Hibernaculum
I Need a Way to Say You're Scorching:
01. Smog - I Break Horses, from Kicking A Couple Around
02. Alasdair Roberts - Where Twines the Path, from The Amber Gatherers
03. Mercury Rev - Pick Up If You're There, from Deserter's Songs
04. Clive's Original Band - Solomon's Song, from Moyshe McStiff
and the Tartan Lancers of the Sacred Heart
05. Charming Hostess - Mi Dimandas, from eat
06. TV on the Radio - Tonight, from Return to Cookie Mountain
07. Arto Lindsay - 4 Skies, from O Corpo Sutil
08. Terminal 4 - This Was the Frippe Time, from Terminal 4
09. Dana Falconberry - Paper Sailboat, from Paper Sailboat
10. Espers - Black is the Color, from The Weed Tree
11. Scott Walker - If You Go Away, from Sings Jacques Brel
12. John Martyn - Solid Air, from Live At Leeds
13. Donovan - Bert's Blues, from Sunshine Superman
14. Jens Lekman - It Was a Strange Time in My Life, from Night
Falls over Kortedala
15. Tom Waits - Summertime & Burma Shave, from Cold Beer on a Hot
Some people have already expressed interest in getting a mix from me, though I don't have addresses for all of them. The ones who seem already to have expressed unambiguous interest are divisible into two groups:
(a) bitchphd, jackmormon, caldwellian, lemmy caution, cryptic ned, jms, tweedledopey, bave, jesus mcqueen, robust mcmanlypants, dr paisley, mrmf
(b) awb, nicks, nickfranklin, belle lettre, stanley, read, mmf!, md 20/400
Any person in either group who shouldn't be there should, of course, tell me; any person in group (a) who belongs there should tell me his or her address or make some other arrangement for getting the goods; anyone in neither group but who wants to get CDs should send me his or her address. If Stanley has moved since last year, he should tell me about that, too.
I read some of Sudhir Venkatesh's Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor, and it was very good, so I expect that his new book, Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, which recounts his experience observing (and more than observing) a Chicago gang over several years, to be as good as advertised--and the reviews have been outstanding. Here's Venkatesh answering some questions about his work with gangs, and here's a post where he recounts watching The Wire with some gang members. Great stuff.
Rob Helpychalk points out this story about a Canadian university, St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, that has just locked out its faculty union during a labor dispute, purportedly in part to protect the students from the stress of a strike (how's that again?).
The University's goal was to force a vote on what it called its "final contract proposal." Many issues vital to adjunct faculty are on the negotiating table here, including health benefits, salary, job security and union representation. The union is also fighting for greater control by full time faculty over hiring and promotion, and autonomy over teaching practices. Underlying this is a dispute over the character of the university, which was founded as a Catholic institution, but is now publicly funded and tightly integrated with the University of New Brunswick, with which it shares libraries, athletic programs, even the heating plant.
Be sure to vote in the "Best Panels of 2007" poll over at This Week in Milford. What a crazy year ol' Gil has had. Clambake, the self-clubbing baller, Crazy Kaz the Rock Detective, Cully Vale....the madness never ends.
Dahlia Lithwick's summary of the Indiana voter ID law case before the Supreme Court highlights the broader, and even more distressing, likely outcome of the case -- limits to "facial challenges" of voting rights cases. If that happens, people will have to wait until after an election and prove they were disenfranchised, rather than challenging laws before an election takes place by showing that people would likely be disenfranchised as the result of the law.
Yglesias makes a good point about the bind Obama is in. Apologies for swiping the whole post.
Mark Kleiman posts an email from a friend who thinks that Barack Obama doesn't identify with the poor. Chris Bowers notes that Obama got trounced among New Hampshire Democrats who describe themselves as "angry" with Bush. In both instances, I think, we're seeing the downside to Obama's successful effort to present a persona that's acceptable to white America.
He almost certainly feels that he can't come anywhere near the level of outrage at economic injustice in America that you see from a John Edwards, or give voice to the anger that many of us feel about George W. Bush's malgovernment without losing his status as "one of the good ones." To be the most mainstream progressive black political figure ever, he's crafted a relentlessly upbeat, uplifting message. And it's a good message, but it is a bit out of step with how a lot of us really feel about the state of things.
On the one hand, this is a straightforward effect of racism. On the other hand, somewhere in the archives there's a post [ah, here it is] about how good politicians realize that it's not what they say that defines them in the public eye, but the interplay of what they say with what people expect to hear from someone with their superficial characteristics (and not just their race)--Obama is playing that game very well and it's a mistake in any case to think that he could turn up the anger and suddenly satisfy everyone; that would turn some people off quite apart from his race.
I expect that everyone is already set up with a favorite RSS reader, but if not, Newsgator just made their whole suite of readers free, and they're actually very nice. I've been using Great News but I think I'm going to switch to FeedDemon, because the syncing seems to work well.
In a short profile of Michael Phelps, we learn that he needs to eat between 8,000 and 10,000 calories each day. Converting 10,000 calories into Universal McDonald's Units, we find that the following meal plan would suffice:
2 Big Macs
1 Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese
1 Medium Fries
2 Big Macs
1 Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese
1 Medium Fries
2 Big Macs
1 Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese
1 Medium Fries
2 Big Macs
1 Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese
1 Medium Fries
2 Big Macs
1 Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese
1 Medium Fries
An issue that should be of interest to controlling neurotics everywhere: The Edge of the American West publishes a guest post, and one of the West bloggers embeds links in the guest's piece. Extrapolating from a bit of introspection, I discover that this is a breach of guest/host posting etiquette. Is your introspection as smart as my introspection?
This is awesome. Paul Begala tells a Fox News reporter that the things the reporter is saying on-air about Begala are untrue. You have to read the whole email exchange for the reporter's response.
As I've mentioned, I have a Door Gym, which is as awesome as its website is cheesy. I recently had a strong, competitive friend staying with me and we became obsessed with pull-ups and pull-up videos on YouTube. I remain most impressed by good form one-armed pull-ups. Try that sometime. Let me know if you can even budge from a straight arm hang. And in this case, the guy gets bonus points for being an insouciant Brooklynite. Also totally awesome: The Bartendaz, Physical Fitness Self-Empowerment! And the first ten seconds of this have serious "Whoa, dude!" factor. Then there are guys who are just very, very strong.
An interesting Slate article about Starbucks' beneficial effects on locally-owned coffee shops. Not that surprising, given that Starbucks coffee is lousy. To me the big puzzle is how Starbucks managed to convince people they needed upscale coffee by selling them upscale coffee that's no damned good.
But Neiwert's review of Goldberg is still worth a read.
The title alone is enough to indicate its thoroughgoing incoherence: of all the things we know about fascism and the traits that comprise it, one of the few things that historians will readily agree upon is its overwhelming antiliberalism. One might as well write about anti-Semitic neoconservatism, or Ptolemaic quantum theory, or strength in ignorance. Goldberg isn't content to simply create an oxymoron; this entire enterprise, in fact, is classic Newspeak.
Complete with some historical examples and a plausible diagnosis:
Why dream up fascists on the left when the reality is that real American fascists have been lurking in the right's closet for lo these many years? Well, maybe because it's a handy way of getting everyone to forget that fact.
Perfectly Goddamn Delightful just had a Pretty Goddamn Good Idea: meetups for Super Tuesday. I'm in for one in NYC.
Also, I just noticed that Super Tuesday is Mardi Gras.
I hear NBC is calling it for Clinton. It's all my fault. This is what happens when I forget that all of my karma was supposed to be directed towards Obama winning New Hampshire and not towards me winning the door prize at my event I attended tonight.
I feel terrible about this.
When I checked the results at TPM just now, it was Obama with 10,566 votes and Clinton with 10,566 votes.
Hilzoy passes along a suggestion from members of Andrew Olmsted's family: if you want to do something to honor him, consider a donation to a fund to help the children of Thomas Casey, who died in the same ambush.
Contributions can be sent here:
Capt. Thomas Casey Children's fund
P.O. Box 1306
Chester, CA 96020
Since there was nothing good on TV at the gym last night, I listened to this old This American Life episode following undecided voters in the 2004 election. If you have about 15 minutes, listen to the first segment about a doctor in Ohio who can't decide between Bush and Kerry - it will make you want to bang your head against a wall. I found it extremely illustrative about how well the GOP talking points of "liar", "flip-flopper", and "most liberal Senator" managed to creep into people's perceptions by repetition, even for someone who hated Bush, didn't agree with his policies, and was pretty well-informed.
Look, no one is denying that sexism, as such, exists, but I do think that the wrong lesson is being learned here. But rather than go around and around on this, I'll ask a question: do we have any readers who were in Michigan when Jennifer Granholm ran for governor?
My theory (which seems kind of obvious) is that personally likable candidates get all kinds of breaks and personally unlikable ones get none. Furthermore, candidates are criticized for what's salient about them. John Kerry wasn't significantly richer than George Bush, but you'll recall that he was in a bind of his own: act patrician and you're out of touch, act common and you're a phony. That wasn't because he was rich, it was because he's personally unlikable (except to LB). The nature of Clinton's bind is due to the salience of her gender, but that she's in a bind is due to the fact that she's unlikable. So, my question to the Michegonians: did sexist criticisms stick to Granholm? I'll note that she's also "pretty," which should have made her easy to dismiss, but she's likable and so my guess is that that she basically got a pass. Anecdotes, please.
Of course the BURN SHIT DOWN plan is a good one, but it's not actually much of a plan. What shit are you going to burn down? The corner store has been good to me. Should I go to a place where they have shit more deserving of being burned down? Probably, but where? This needs to be planned and coordinated, but of course we can't do that, because (surely) it's either illegal or won't look good in retrospect, when the shit has been burned down. I'm mostly joking, but this is actually a serious problem with the rioting strategy. Sometimes a riot is the way to go, but they're so often misdirected that sympathy ends up with the shit.
Uh, don't plan and coordinate in this thread. Thanks.
The Wire is clearly David Simon's show, but Simon himself comes across as didactic and doctrinaire. It's possible that his artistic sense is so good that it keeps his impulse to preach in check, but it's much more likely that the collaborative script-writing of the show, with Simon, Ed Burns, and folks like Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos--all guys who know their stuff and seem willing to call bullshit--is what keeps the preachy and sentimental tripe out of the show: any one person's tripe is excised by the group. So although we like to have in mind an author or auteur, it's very likely that if The Wire were really attributable to one person, it would suck.
It's like IA's old blog but more bitter, without comments, with video, and associated with a book. So not very much like it in many ways.
Relatedly I was struck by this from The Sartorialist's bio:
I was born in Indiana went to college at Indiana University majoring in Apparel Merchandising, with a minor in Costume Construction. That is right, my college days were filled with accounting classes and making tutus for the IU Music School ballets. I excelled in some wonderful but extremely challenging courses in tailoring, dress making, draping and pattern drafting. That was the beginning of my love for the craft of fashion and the romance of hard labor that it takes to make a bespoke suit or couture gown. Unfortunately, I learned such intense techniques for everything including hemming pants, that I rarely sew anymore because it is just too much work!
Buh? If I say "that sounds like a trade school's curriculum", that shouldn't be taken as a disparagement of IU or trade schools.
About Bill Kristol's column in the Times, Yglesias correctly notes,
you immediately start wondering why he's saying that.
"Because he believes it" doesn't tend to rank very high on the list. That's his rep, and based on his record it seems like a deserved rep. But when you read your morning paper and find yourself wondering why, exactly, its authors are trying to mislead you, then your morning paper is suddenly not so useful.
For my money, the most important line in Kristol's column on Huckabee is this one.
Still, as the conservative writer Michelle Malkin put it...
Legitimating the crazies, one step at a time. Thanks, New York Times.
I can just imagine the links Apostropher's going to dig up:
I wear a retainer to bed and none of the guys I've been with have objected to kissing or having me go down on them while I'm wearing it. But my current guy freaked out when I made a move toward his precious goods, and he said he'd prefer that I not wear my retainer when we're making out or having sex. I'm willing to take it out, but it would make me happy if you all say he's a weenie about his weener.
Check out Swampcracker's daughter, in the green pompom hat on CNN for Christmas. (I believe she's safe and sound home on a visit about now, although soon to return to Iraq -- she's either a major now, or just about to become one.)
I was recently talking to someone whose friend faces the following issue. It's horrible, but let's be rational problem-solvers here. A serious solution ain't easy.
An acquaintance develops an obsession with you and contracts someone to have you killed. The plot is discovered and the obsessor is convicted, but, the law being what it is, will be out of jail in a few years. What do you do?
Obama ran that thing like it was his very own seminar room. Hillary shrilled-out for about ten seconds, which is all she needs to do to make sure that no one changes their mind about her, and although she reacted well to "You're likable enough," it was some of the best--because good-natured--pwnage I've ever seen in a debate.
Of course, I still like Edwards and think what he had to say was right on and important, but he's clearly decided to defer to Obama, so his shot at the Presidency is gone. I do like the guy.
So I got around to seeing Juno...
Second, anyone who claims that this film is making an argument against (a) abortion's legality or (b) the prudential value of getting an abortion really does deserve a smack. In context it's pretty clear that the continued pregnancy is just a desperately needed plot device, and the implausibility of what happens after that underscores this. (I think, in fact, that the film would have been better had there been more attention paid to the difficulty of the path Juno chose, not for aesthetic stalinist reasons, but because it's rich dramatic territory. Unfortunately, there are a lot of missed chances here, many related to the decision to treat Juno as, in some ways, a mature adult trapped in an adolescent's body and lexicon, forced by a cruel unfeeling writer to go meta about her immaturity.)
Third, I really, really would have appreciated easing up on cutesy dialogue, and I say this as a guy who liked Gilmore Girls. I'm also drinking white tea and listening to Yaz. Draw what conclusions you will.
Fourth, more seriously, I think the film overdoes various things and as a result lapses into incoherence. One obvious example: Jason Bateman's character's creepiness. If his fall from sympathetic grace had been accomplished only by focusing on his always unreadiness to have a child, failure to come to terms with his adulthood, and so on, it would have been a nice, moderately subtle bit of dramatic work. Instead, we get the weird "I'll make a pass at a very pregnant teenager because she likes the Melvins" scene-- what? I'm not supposed to like him anymore? Ok, thanks. Another: we're nudged to be sympathetic to Vanessa (Jennifer Garner's character) by the end of the film, but, whatever her virtues, this is a woman who decorated her house in seventeen shades of white and allowed those awful portraits of her and her husband to hang on the wall. All of this makes her marriage more mysterious and its breakup less affecting. A final case: the relationship between Juno and Beeker is a little bit of romance ex machina-- they don't interact much for months, then it's tic-tacs and guitars and love love love. Not only does this come out of nowhere, but it's another example of passing on more interesting material (even sweet teenage relationships are doomed for the sorts of reasons that got them in the jam in the first place) in favor of sap (aww).
But Michael Cera! This film needs more Gob. With club sauce!