Beautiful spring weather today.

In the CD player right now: “More than You Think You Are” album, by Matchbox 20.

An interesting NY Times column by Clyde Haberman on how Shea Stadium got its name (because William Shea was the lawyer/power broker who got the Mets for NYC) and the Shea family’s hope that maybe the new Mets stadium can keep the Shea name (at least, preferably not go corporate; no one should want a “MasterCard/Visa/American Express/Federal Express/Burger King Stadium” or something corporate and vile).

A fascinating profile on a NYC citycouncilman/former law school professor. I’m not just posting it because I had this prof (well, ok, so that is among other reasons) – but the article’s an interesting inside look on one of the local politicians. Apparently, City Councilman David Yassky is very much looking into how NYC disposes its garbage. The profile closes:

[Yassky] welcomes fresh ideas. The latest is from a staffer half his age: Why not solve the garbage and taxi problem in one fell swoop, power taxis with garbage, à la “Back to the Future?” Mr. Yassky is thinking it over.

Hmm. If garbage can be converted into reusable biodegradable energy, it’d be lovely.

Examining the “Cosmic Struggles of Cultural Proportions” – the NY Times’ Caryn James considers how such figures as Bruce Wayne (Batman to you, me, and everyone else) and Anakin Skywalker (a.k.a. Darth Vader) portrays the world in a starkly Manichaen (either/or, black/white, and penultimately good/evil) manner:

Both films concern how heroes and villains take shape, and they include astonishingly similar transformation scenes that hinge on a life-changing moral question: to behead or not to behead?

In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is urged by his mysterious mentor – part spiritual adviser, part ninja master – to behead an enemy who is at his mercy. When Bruce refuses, he is on his way to becoming the heroic Batman, complete with a black mask and cape.

In “Revenge of the Sith,” Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is urged by his mysterious mentor to chop off the head of his enemy, Count Chocula – sorry, that’s Count Dooku – and does. That is his crucial turn toward the dark side, and soon he’s the villainous Darth Vader, complete with a black mask and cape to call his own.

The films’ conflicts are not simply about good guys and bad guys, or even good versus evil, always the elements of broadly framed fantasies. With spiritual overtones, and an emphasis on an eternal struggle between equally matched forces of darkness and light, the films suggest a kind of pop-culture Manichaeism. And as crowd-pleasing movies so often do, they reflect what’s in the air, a climate in which the president speaks in terms of good and evil, and religion is increasingly part of the country’s social and political conversation.

And, on that note, enjoy the weekend.

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