Quotable Quote

 

“It is not only by the questions we have answered that progress may be measured, but also by those we are still asking. The passionate controversies of one era are viewed as sterile preoccupations by another, for knowledge alters what we seek as well as what we find.”

 

Freda Adler, b. 1934

It Could Happen Here

 

Miguel Crespo

The-Handmaids Tale. Key Art Hulu

In late 2016, the streaming service Hulu produced a series of ten episodes based on the novel The Handmaid’s Tale, by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The first three episodes dropped on April 26, 2017 and scored the biggest debut in Hulu history. In May this year, the show was renewed for a second season to premiere in 2018. There have been numerous adaptations since the book was published: theater, opera, ballet, film, and radio. A graphic novel release is also scheduled by the end of the year. Given the recent interest in The Handmaid’s Tale, now is the perfect time to revisit the 1985 dystopian novel.

The story takes place in Gilead, a society organized by power-hungry leaders, according to a not-so-extremist interpretation of a biblical account. The story that was originally used as a reference was that of Jacob, who had two wives and two handmaids. In an era of declining births due to chemical pollution and sexually transmitted diseases, a new order is established where certain women are used as “handmaids”. Deprived of all of their rights, handmaids are considered objects destined to serve as child bearers for affluent families. The story is narrated in the first person by a handmaid named Offred. Interspersed within flashbacks, she provides an account of her previous life. Together with her husband and daughter, she had tried to flee to Canada, only to be abducted, brought back, and re-educated in the new values. An entire indoctrination system is revealed to the reader: the Republic of Gilead. This new society is stratified such that everybody has a well-defined position and function. As a patriarchal system, power is held by older men called commanders. They are married to wives but have the privilege of owning a handmaid for reproductive purposes. In this oppressive atmosphere, strict rules on language, daily activities, and ultimately thought are reinforced by a secret service known as The Eyes of God. One night, Offred defies the system and becomes involved in illicit activities that bring an element of risk to her life.

Offred’s story falls into the tradition of dystopian novels like Brave New World or 1984. As such, the author creates a unique language in which terms for the new social classes abound. The word “sterile” is banned, and women who fail to abide by the strict social rules are considered “unwomen” and sent to shovel toxic waste in the colonies. Throughout the story, the author also plays with the mock Latin aphorism nolite te bastardes carborundorum in a recurrent and intriguing fashion; readers have a chance to team up with Offred to try to unravel its meaning. The Handmaid’s Tale remains hard to classify. Deemed a futuristic fable, political satire, or even science fiction, Atwood prefers to consider her novel speculative fiction. In her own words, “science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.” When crafting the story, Atwood purposely avoided including anything in the book that had not happened.

Like Offred and her family, Americans fleeing their own land for the neighbor to the north has become a common theme in history. During the Vietnam War, thousands of draft-age men fled to Canada. Before the Civil War, many slaves reached southern Ontario through the underground railway. Even earlier, New England Puritans left for a toilsome life in Nova Scotia. They wanted to create a theocratic utopia in America, and yearned for a city on a hill that would never be realized. The Gilead society seems remote to us, but oozes historical realism, and similarities in recent history are countless: American polygamy, slavery, baby stealing, group executions in the Argentinian dictatorship, and even book burnings, as in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In the same way in which Bolsheviks expelled Mensheviks, the Gileadian Christians persecute Catholics and Baptists, or so are we told by the news. In Gilead, government-issued news are never reliable, just as was the case in Orwell’s 1984.

The-Handmaids Tale. Key Art Hulu

Atwood wrote the novel in 1984 in West Berlin and Alabama. At this time, the USSR governed with an iron fist, severely limiting personal freedoms not only at home, but also in their eastern European satellite states. During these years, in countries such  as East Germany, Poland or Czechoslovakia, silence was imposed among the people who lived in fear of being spied on. Within the same region, under the Romanian dictatorship of President Ceausescu, who wanted to increase his country’s population, birth control and abortion were banned after 1966. Atwood had also travelled to Iran and Afghanistan, where theocratic governments were at play and women’s rights still had some room for improvement.

The Handmaid’s Tale also reveals the importance of environmental issues and their detrimental consequences for society. It is hard to read it without remembering recent nuclear plant incidents. The depiction of Gilead’s environmental situation might sound implausible, but it does not seem so far-fetched when compared with places like China, where pollution and toxic waste have reached levels that are incompatible with human health.

These striking parallels to our current society are disturbing, and have become more palpable since the last Presidential election in the U.S. The Handmaid’s Tale emphasizes how little it took for Americans to change their minds about things. It is Offred, in her inner soliloquy, who reflects on the fact that “next generations of women will not complain because they will not know better.”

In Gilead, minorities are targeted by the new regime and there is no room for dissent. In the eyes of the Gileadian society, the traumatic events that led to this new order are blamed on Islamic extremists. Nowadays, hate for certain groups seems to be on the rise, as are far-right movements with overwhelming impunity. For many, freedoms, rights and long established orders are endangered. As simplified language and prohibition of books are a constant in The Handmaid’s Tale, comparisons with emerging trends of communication via Twitter become unavoidable.

The story is rich with irony and complacency. Atwood takes this opportunity to courageously remind us that when repression replaces order, people are ready to trade their personal freedom for what they perceive of as security. Offred is a victim, a tease, and a witness. In an act of hope, she keeps a diary that she hides for future generations. Its timeliness remains unambiguous and tantalizing, as we hear her voice speaking to us. Perhaps we are at a crucial moment in our history. Perhaps we need The Handmaid’s Tale now more than ever.

Quotable Quote

 

 

Margaret Chase Smith

My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, and that honor is to be earned but not bought.

(Margaret Chase Smith, U.S. Congress Representative and Republican Senator, 1897-1995)

Quotable Quote

 

“Why are we suddenly a nation and a people who strive for security above all else? In fact, security is essentially elusive, impossible. We all die. We all get sick. We all get old. People leave us. People surprise us. People change us. Nothing is secure. And this is the good news. But only if you are not seeking security as the point of your life. Here’s what happens when security becomes the center of your life. You can’t travel very far or venture too far outside a certain circle. You can’t allow too many conflicting ideas into your mind at one time as they might confuse you or challenge you. You can’t open yourself to new experiences, new people, and new ways of doing things. They might take you off course. You cling desperately to your identity… Real security cannot be bought or arranged or accomplished with bombs. It is deeper. It is a process. It is the acute awareness that we are all utterly interdependent and that one action by one being in one town has consequences everywhere. Real security is the ability to tolerate mystery, complexity, ambiguity—indeed hungering for these things.”

(Eve Ensler, 1953 – )

Quotable Quote

 

Follow through on all your generous impulses. Do not question them, especially if a friend needs you; act on his or her behalf. Do not hesitate! Don’t sit around speculating about the possible problems or dangers. As long as you let your reason lead the way, you will be safe. It is our duty to stand by our friends in their hour of need.

(Epictetus, 55 – 135)

An Embarrassment of Riches

Anonymous

This politically incorrect (some might even say “disgusting”) puzzle comes to you from an anonymous source, known only to Rockefeller alum (1977) George Barany, who is currently on the faculty of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. For more about this specific puzzle, including a link to its answer, visit here and here. More Barany and Friends puzzles can be found .

Across

1. Sometimes, they’re not given

6. Burro, e.g.

9. Oscar’s U.K. equivalent

14. Straight: Prefix

15. Word after good or bad

16. Domains

17. “___ In” (Wings hit that begins with “Someone’s knockin’ at the door”)

18. Sugary drink, often

19. Carl ___, whose September 2015 endorsement of fellow billionaire 58-Across was a “no-brainer”

20. Adjective that does not begin to describe 58-Across

23. McCorvey in a landmark case

24. Pay back?

25. Paddle-wheel craft

27. 58-Across inveighing against the IRS?

32. Apprentice, like 58-Across at electoral politics

33. Woman who raised Cain

34. Universal soul, in Hinduism

36. Acts the rat

39. Lawless princess?

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Quotable Quote

Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood we live in; the school or college we attend; the factory, farm or office where we work. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

(Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884 – 1962)

Crossword

GEORGE BARANY AND FRIENDS

The three politically themed puzzles that follow come to you from a consortium of progressively-minded friends of Rockefeller alum (1977) George Barany, who is currently on the faculty of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  Prepare to laugh and cry.  For more information, including links to the answers, visit here, here, and here.  More Barany and Friends crosswords can be found here.

Debate and Switch

Across
1. Shack
4. Refused to make one’s taxes public, e.g.debateswitchgrid
7. Plays a sophomoric prank on, informally
10. Lennon’s lady
11. Suffix with Capri
12. Mens ___ (criminal intent, in law)
13. Bee’s channel
14. Moving to the beat
16. Field for Krugman
18. Academy head
19. Collapse an arch
21. Wing it
22. U.S. Grant adversary
23. Word frequently used by The Donald, and about The Donald
24. Lock
Down
1. Inappropriate adjective, when applied to one’s teenage daughter
2. One fine day, to Puccini
3. Proportional
4. Schmooze with the elite
5. Hughes poem reprinted on a full page in “The New
York Times” (September 22, 2016)
6. Literally, with 7-Down. catch-phrase introduced by Hillary at Hofstra
7. See 6-Down
8. Pascal collection
9. Grp. once headed by Ronald Reagan
15. One who mopes
17. Big name in elevators
18. Hang (around with)
20. “___ we can”

What Happened in Vegas?

Across
1. Escalante who inspired “Stand and Deliver”
6. Muslim leader
10. Ancient Mexican
11. Like the first 44 US Presidentsvegasgrid
12. Deportation targets?
14. Bro, for one
15. Sickened feeling
16. Got up
17. Punctual
20. “Bingo!”
23. Hillary, to Donald
25. “L’___ c’est moi” (Louis XIV)
26. Rip from the mother’s womb, rhetorically
27. Type of details
28. Goes high
Down
1. Campaign issue
2. Jai ___
3. With .com, web site for cinephiles
4. Verbal shrug
5. Campaign issue
6. Saturate
7. Opportunity visited it
8. On the quiet side
9. Large butte
13. Attack bigly
16. Quick with quips
17. What a Jewish astronaut celebrates returning to
18. Defense alliance in the news: Abbr.
19. Russian autocrat
20. “Famous” cookie maker
21. Fabled loser
22. Formicary denizens
24. Samurai’s sash

In a Blue State

Across

1. Enthusiasmin_a_blue_state_grid
5. Point of view
9. Macho military type
14. Khayyám or Sharif
15. “Goldfinger” fort
16. Certain Alaskan
17. It means everything
18. Like some rumors
19. Composition of a metaphorical ceiling yet to be broken
20. Title for 48-Across on January 20, 2017 … we wish
23. “Star Wars” princess
24. Holiday quaff
25. Bill, to 48-Across … we wish
32. DC VIP
33. Target of Cain’s mutiny?
34. Year-round quaff
35. Has ___ with (is connected)
36. Majority leader, ironically?
38. Cultivate
39. NFL six-pointers
40. Piano, to a pianist
41. “Soave sia il vento” and “”Hab mir’s gelobt,” for two
42. Anthem for 48-Across … we wish
46. Be under par?
47. Palindromic Indian bread
48. One who won the popular vote on November 8, 2016
55. In a musical key
56. Make well
57. Lesbos, e.g.
58. Jeb, to Jenna and Barbara
59. Ultimatum word
60. Hounds
61. “The View” co-host Joy(anagram of REHAB)
62. Parodied
63. Mardi ___

Down

1. Whiz (by)
2. Statue of Liberty poet Lazarus
3. Novelist who was romantically involved with Chopin
4. Dress rehearsal
5. “Let’s not go there”
6. Costumed for “La Cage aux Foiles,” perhaps
7. He had a cameo in “Wordplay”
8. Donald and Ivana, e.g.
9. Ann or Andy, e.g.
10. Profess without proof
11. Like the Grinch
12. Arrest
13. Tiebreakers, briefly
21. Cluttered condition
22. Hacker’s harvest, briefly
25. Henry of “Fail-Safe”
26. Formal “Who’s there?” answer
27. “___ in the Balance” (1992 book by Gore)
28. Draft org.?
29. Nobelist Curie
30. Distant
31. A lot of it was fake
32. Way to go
36. Cabbage
37. Frequently, in verse
38. Like the Cheshire cat
40. Ben or Jerry
41. Spicy Asian cuisine
43. “I can’t hear you!”
44. Sheathe
45. Matched, as a poker bet
48. Sharpen
49. Creep
50. Big bird
51. Website for customer reviews
52. Russian autocrat
53. Russian name meaning “holy”
54. An “Untouchable”
55. Place to soak

Culture Corner

Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism and the 2016 Presidential Election

Bernie Langs

I am close to finishing a masterpiece of historical and philosophical discussion written by Hannah Arendt (1906 – 1975), The Origins of Totalitarianism. My purpose in writing about this book is not to convince anyone to read it, because it is an extremely dense and difficult nonfiction tome. I subscribe to my belief in a “trickle-up” theory, that if certain opinions get into the public sphere, perhaps they will rise not only to the level of a wider public discourse, but eventually reach someone who has influence somewhere in the chain of actual political power.

the-origins-of-totalitarianism

Photo Courtesy of Harcourt Publication

Dr. Arendt’s book is a painstaking view on how Hitler and the Nazis and the likes of Joseph Stalin could create the totalitarian states in Germany and Russia, which depended on cooperation and coercion to their purposes of the existing political and military structures and personnel, along with crafting an agenda that would attract and integrate their general populations to their ideologies. I think that many of us believe we know how this happened. My personal narrative went something like this before I picked up this book: Hitler rode a tide of German resentment after its defeat in World War One, taking advantage of the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles, economic calamities such as monetary inflation and unemployment, and utilizing as “scapegoats” the Jewish population with relentless propaganda and attacks. The choice of the Jews for Nazi hate and annihilation, I believed, was the remnant and culmination of medieval Christian anti-Semitism which basked in physical attacks on Jews for hundreds of years.

Aristotle wrote in his work, Politics “…it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal…Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech…And it is a characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and unjust…and the association of living beings who have this sense makes a family and a state.” I have always instinctively fought against and disliked this idea, mostly because I sense that if man is a political being, unlike the Greek’s belief that it leads to the common good, it is political nature that leads the species down the path to horrific events such as the Second World War and the Holocaust. And it was the “gift of speech” that was the incalculably helpful ally in the rise of the Nazis and the Bolsheviks that unleashed terror on the world that left countless millions dead.

After reading just the first few pages of The Origins, my idea of what caused the war (and why Hitler chose the Jews to attack) was shamefully exposed not only as overly simplistic, but downright ignorant. The first edition of the book appeared in the late 1940s and was revised over the next few decades for subsequent publications. I went in thinking I would take what I could from it, given that it is half a century old, and that in this current age of information, this is only Dr. Arendt’s view, and there are most likely many historians and social scientists who carefully refute her claims and ideas. But the real point is that Dr. Arendt doesn’t just study the post-Great War European climate to get to the causes of the unspeakable and well-organized slaughter, but meticulously traces it back to the late eighteenth century revolutions and the societies of the nineteenth century, showing how the situation slowly simmered to the boiling point of carnage. In this book we journey through France’s Dreyfus debacle and relive the nightmare of British imperialism. We follow both large and small political and social movements that are racist, jingoistic, hateful, and so on, some of which resonated with the populace of Europe, some that had no success, but all of which set the table for the rise to totalitarianism as practiced by Hitler and Stalin. There is an in-depth study of post-World War One stateless peoples of the European continent, noting how this sense of limbo experienced by millions gave rise to the horrific solutions offered by the Nazis. The Nazi ideology also finally gave an inclusive purpose to the listless masses of not only Germany, but other European nations as well, the breadth of which I had previously not been aware of.

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QUOTABLE QUOTE

It is no easy task to be good. Anyone can act: get angry, give money, speak to friends, and so on. But to do something to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not easy.

(Aristotle, 384 – 322)

Second Monday in October

GEORGE BARANY AND MARTIN ABRESCH

George Barany is a Rockefeller alum (1977) currently on the Chemistry faculty of the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Martin Abresch is a graduate of the University of Wyoming, currently living in Seattle, and this is his first published puzzle.  For more information, including a link to the answer, visit here. More Barany and Friends crosswords can be found here.

Across
1. Name hidden by Hirschfeldcolumbusdaynaturalselectionscpuzzle
5. Piece of Gail Collins’ mind
9. Candy launcher?
13. Like jelly beans
14. Nice old man?
15. Ballerina Tallchief
16. Thorpe and Alexie, for two, and peoples honored by California and South Dakota with an October holiday
19. Pushkin dandy who kills his friend in a duel
20. His final game in pinstripes marked the only time during the 2016 season that he played 3rd base
21. Mid-sized?
22. Winter time in NYC
24. Symbol for viscosity or index of refraction
25. They’re gained by RBs, WRs, and TEs
26. Beauty, it’s said
31. Mighty companion
33. Perfect
34. It’s spun about
36. Attic, perhaps, to bats
39. Long-time host of “Scientific American Frontiers”
40. Nick name?
42. No-win situation
43. Nation formed from a successful slave revolt
45. “Quit it!”
46. Site of Nobel Peace Center
47. Sonorous disc
49. Some Rio 2016 competitors in sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball
51. West who said “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted”
53. ___ Jones
55. Word before diem or capita
56. Coffee vessel
57. Largest dwarf planet in the solar system
59. One who will stop watching … after just one more episode
64. 18-Down’s first book … and a possible wish for the name of an October holiday
67. Astronaut getup
68. Place for lovers?
69. Absolute ___ (temperature at which all molecular motion ceases)
70. Rural agreement
71. Scott in an 1857 case
72. Fr. holy women

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QUOTABLE QUOTE

Harriet_Beecher_Stowe_by_Francis_Holl

 

“Let us all resolve: First, to attain the grace of silence; Second, to deem all fault-finding that does no good a sin…Third, to practice the grace and virtue of praise.”

 

(Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811 – 1896)

Stronger Together!

George Barany and Friends

This politically themed puzzle comes to you from a consortium of progressively-minded friends of Rockefeller alum (1977) George Barany, who is currently on the faculty of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. For more about this specific puzzle, including a link to its answer, visit here. More Barany and Friends puzzles can be found here.

Across

1. Guinness who played Obi-Wan KenobiPuzzle
5. Piece of Gail Collins’ mind
9. Controversial cab alternative
13. Bohr or Borge
14. Election contest, e.g.
15. Fear-mongerer’s feelings
16. Secretary campaigning in 2016 for a promotion
19. Word before and after “baby,” in a Sarah Palin slogan
20. They play ball in New York
21. “___ Got a Secret”
23. Magician’s cry
25. Rodeo ropes
28. “When there are no ceilings, ___” (optimistic vision from 16-Across)
32. José or Francisco’s leader?
33. Consigns, as the nuclear launch codes, say
34. Besides
36. It’s frozen in Frankfurt
37. Kids’ guessing game
41. Gourmet burger chain with a bird mascot
46. Dessert choice, especially on March 14
47. Kate Smith’s signature song (and patriotic closing words for 16-Across)
51. Bad atmosphere, as in a brutal political campaign
52. Innovative
53. Like a fox, it’s said
54. Force in the OJ trial spotlight
57. Faith for Ghazala and Khizr Khan
60. Apropos sound bite from 16-Across
64. Old Peruvian
65. Calculus calculation
66. Sikorsky or Stravinsky
67. Okla. or La., once
68. Give a little
69. ___ Le Pew

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The Violent Brilliance of Peaky Blinders

Bernie Langs

culture corner

Photo Courtesy of BBC

It isn’t often that a television series completely engages me, and I am able to watch entire seasons without losing interest. Peaky Blinders comes to Netflix from the BBC and centers on a gangster family with their many schemes and adventures in post-World War I Birmingham, England. I’ve watched the first two seasons and am half-way through the third and most current season. The show has been renewed for two more years.

Peaky Blinders focuses on the three brothers and a sister of the Shelby family, their aunt and her recently discovered teenage son, and various other characters, such as an Irish Major trying to stop the family’s efforts, but later secretly recruits them for business in service of the Crown. There are times of graphic and disturbing violence portrayed on the show, that is often cringe-worthy. What makes this first-rate television is that the characters have complex personalities and are portrayed by a cast of actors that display incredible depth. In addition, the show utilizes loud, in-your-face contemporary rock music at times, that lends an acoustic parallel to the physical violence or the inner torments of the tortured souls being depicted. Peaky Blinders boasts beautiful sets and the cinematography and direction is full-length film worthy.

The Shelby family is led by Tommy, a decorated World War I veteran played by Cillian Murphy. For the first two seasons he was hounded by Major Chester Campbell, portrayed with vehemence by Sam Neill. Their chess match, even the one that took place when Shelby and Campbell were allies, was a wonder to watch unfold. Murphy’s Tommy Shelby has multiple layers of personality conflicts as he tries, mostly in vain, to take the ever-growing success and wealth of the family into legitimacy, echoing Al Pacino’s Godfather lament “They keep drawing me back!” Murphy is sometimes shown onscreen for long periods where he is thinking or staring someone down. The viewer is taken deep inside his psyche and the actor displays an uncanny and frightening ability to show a man shutting down any sense of human emotion or decency when it is necessary. Series creator, Steven Knight, makes use of Murphy’s rich eye color to allow us to see inside his very soul.

The rest of the cast play their roles with equal depth. Tommy’s elder brother, Arthur, portrayed by Paul Anderson, provides many of the show’s most violent outbursts. Yet his moments of silent suffering and intense inner turmoil make what could have been a clichéd role into a memorable characterization of a shell-shocked veteran who is both out-of-control yet fully self-aware and thus in the throes of a deep-set, unique suffering. Annabelle Wallis plays Grace Burgess, recruited by the love-struck Major Campbell to go undercover to infiltrate the Shelby gang and whom subsequently falls hard in love with Tommy. She too could have been written in standard television language, but the actress exploits her beauty as a tool for displays of complex emotions in the face of conflict and ruinous life decisions.

The final episode of season two was one of the best written dramatic television shows I’ve ever seen. Taking place in 1922 at the Epsom racecourse, Tommy Shelby has timed a Winston Churchill and Major Campbell-sanctioned political murder down to the second, and as things go wrong and he has to adjust his playbook, the viewer is riveted by the fast on screen action. Various characters that have appeared on the show come together beautifully during this climactic play of circumstance.

The complexities of the Shelby clan as gangsters reminds me of HBO’s The Sopranos. James Gandolfini’s acting as crime boss Tony Soprano was awe-inspiring. There was so much to Tony’s character that it was riveting to just watch him fidget with his pasta with a fork. The violence on that show was also unheard of at the time for a television series and much of Peaky Blinder’s harshness is in a similar manner. Gandolfini’s character was always on the verge of seeing himself for what he was, but he never could quite reach that moment of realizing the monster within. Late in the series, his long-time psychiatrist cuts him loose, unable, she tells him, to treat him since he is a sociopath. There was also a fantastic scene where Tony takes a hallucinatory drug and when viewing a beautiful landscape yells out in a Eureka fit of joy, “I get it!” But the thing is, he never did.

Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby “gets it” however and is at war with himself about what he must do to maintain his family’s businesses and integrity as he strives for legitimacy. He won’t deny his inner violence in that pursuit. Even the slow-witted Arthur gets it more than he wants to and chooses to altruistically kill at times to spare his beloved brother Tommy from having to do so.

Smaller roles in Peaky Blinders include one played by the great actor Tom Hardy as the leader of a Jewish gangster clan. Hardy steals his scenes with his fast-talking and scheming and his own brand of violence. Those of us who have marveled at Hardy’s movie career can only imagine the joy he is taking, in being part of this terrific television ensemble. It is also amusing that he appeared with Murphy in the heady film Inception. The press has made much of the fact that the late rock star David Bowie contacted the show’s creator towards the end of his life, offering his music for inclusion in the soundtrack. Those of us who are fans of this great series are in excellent company.

For Your Consideration – Ones to Watch, Vol. 1 Edition

Jim Keller

It’s that time of year again! This first in a four-part series, focused on the leading ladies of the Best Actress race, will take us up to January 2017 when Oscar nominations are announced. This year’s Best Actress selection was as stark white as last year’s, prompting many to have another heyday with #OscarsSoWhite. In the spirit of affecting change, several women of color are included here, even if it’s uncertain whether all of their films will have an Oscar-qualifying run. Also, it appears that the gap between films led by men versus women has further narrowed. Some of this year’s potential Best Actress contenders have already received high marks; could they hold on through the season? Last Oscar season saw two young actresses (Brie Larson vs. Saoirse Ronan) duke it out until the bitter end, but if you paid attention, the winner was no surprise. Unlike the previous year, the category featured only true leads (not supporting roles masquerading as leads), perhaps another sign of the changing times. What will this year’s story be? Will our top five continue to be true leads? We’ll look to answer these questions in the next couple of months, but let’s first examine last year’s Best Actress nomination results.

Of the seven roles that were discussed here, only three went on to secure Best Actress nominations: the aforementioned Ronan who was defeated by Larson, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, and Cate Blanchett for Carol. Interestingly enough, some Oscar favorites Meryl Streep (Ricki and the Flash), Kate Winslet (The Dressmaker) and Marion Cotillard (Macbeth) failed to land nominations. The only snubbed performance was from Carey Mulligan whose film, Suffragette, was maligned early on when T-shirts worn by the cast (including Streep) were misinterpreted by the public as depicting a racial slur. The last nominee was Charlotte Rampling (45 Years).

Florence1

Florence Foster Jenkins. Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

THE QUEEN BEE: Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins (director: Stephen Frears): FYC: This British biographical comedic drama tells the story of the titular character (Streep), a New York heiress who aspires to become an opera singer, despite essentially being unable to carry a tune. Streep continues to be discussed every year in this column. The actress has racked up 16 Oscar nominations and three Oscar wins—two in lead (Sophie’s Choice in 1983 and The Iron Lady in 2011), and one in supporting (Kramer vs. Kramer in 1980). Early reviews of the film, set to open in the U.S. on August 12, have praised Streep’s performance, so it is a safe bet to pencil her in for now.

THE NEWCOMER: Ruth Negga – Loving (director: Jeff Nichols):
FYC: The British-American drama tells the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Negga), an interracial couple who were sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. The film received a standing ovation when it competed for the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will campaign in several of the major categories this awards season, including Best Actress and Best Picture. Ethiopian-born Negga is a newcomer having just appeared on American television in AMC’s Preacher. She has previously been recognized by the Irish Television and Film Awards in her home country. Given the state of racial affairs at the Oscars and her performance’s Cannes reception, Negga stands a good chance of being nominated, unless she is bested by another woman of color (see below).

THE LOVER: Marion Cotillard – Allied (director: Robert Zemeckis):
FYC: A romantic World War II thriller based on the true story of a French-Canadian spy (Brad Pitt) who investigates his wife, a French agent (Cotillard), after learning that she may also be a Nazi spy. Cotillard has been on track for a second Oscar after her Best Actress win in 2008 for La Vie en Rose and last year’s nomination for Two Days, One Night. While thrillers are not often the stuff that Oscar dreams are made of, Cotillard shines in most everything she does and may be able to muscle her way into a nomination.

THE PERENNIAL:
Jennifer Lawrence – Passengers (director: Morten Tyldum):
FYC: A sci-fi adventure revolving around two of thousands of spacecraft passengers, traveling to a distant colony planet, who are awakened 90 years early from hyper sleep due to a malfunction in their sleep chambers. In 2012, Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook after earning her first Best Actress nomination in 2011 for Winter’s Bone. She went on to net a Best Supporting Actress nomination for American Hustle (2014), and her third Best Actress nomination this year for Joy. If anyone can match Sigourney Weaver by getting a Best Actress nomination for a sci-fi film, it’s Lawrence. Further, being directed by 2015’s Best Director nominee for The Imitation Game and a December release bodes well for her chances.

THE MOTHER: Alicia Vikander – The Light Between Oceans (director: Derek Cianfrance):
FYC: In this drama, based on M. L. Stedman’s novel of the same name, a lighthouse keeper and his wife, living off the coast in post World War I Western Australia, rescue a baby from an adrift rowboat and raise her as their own. As the baby grows older, the couple encounters a woman (Rachel Weisz) who threatens to break-up their family. Vikander won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar this year for The Danish Girl and also earned Golden Globe and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nominations for that role as well as for her supporting role in Ex Machina. The actress was also recognized by a slew of critic bodies throughout the last awards season. With her career on the uptick, back-to-back nominations wouldn’t be out of the question.

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Quotable Quote

MAli

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

(Muhammad Ali, 1942-2016)

 

A Piece of Our Mind

George Barany and Christopher Adams

This “mid-week level” puzzle, with a political theme (pictorial hint to the right), is released with the utmost respect for the victims of senseless violence and terror. After completing the puzzle (spoiler), you may want to click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for factual backup and an assortment of perspectives on the puzzle’s theme. Warning: Some of these will enrage you, and others will break your heart.

Click here to view or download the puzzle in PDF format; here to download it as a puz file; here to download it as an ipuz file [requires the free Puzzazz app to solve]; here to solve the puzzle interactively (thanks to Jim Horne); here for the solution. We are indebted to Ralph Bunker, John Child, Noam Elkies, Katherine Halpern, Michael Hanko, Lewis Rothlein, and Ned White for beta testing the puzzle and for their sensitive and creative suggestions that improved it.

If you want to tell others about this particular page, refer them to http://tinyurl.com/piecepuz

unspecified

Across
1. Summer term at UCLA?
4. Down in the dumps
7. FICA funds it
10. ___ anthem, like “I Will Survive” or
“Y.M.C.A.”
13. Hem and ___ (be indecisive)
14. Reproductive cells
15. Perfect score, or half a score
16. Poetic paean
17. Brest friend
18. One found on the Rod of Asclepius
20. Rug rat
21. California, 12/2/2015 (14 dead, 22
injured)
24. Pop-Tarts cousins
25. Singer Zadora
26. Bit of work
28. It may be caught in the headlights
29. Virginia, 4/16/2007 (33 dead, 17
injured)
33. Corporals or sergeants, very informally
35. Frequently used font
36. Connecticut, 12/14/2012 (28 dead, 2
injured)
39. Florida, 6/12/2016 (50 dead, 53
injured)
41. 1959 Medicine Nobel laureate Severo
who was honored on a USPS stamp in
2011
42. In bars, these are better to throw down
than to ring out
43. South Carolina, 6/17/2015 (9 dead, 1
injured)
46. “Ain’t That a ___ in the Head?”
50. “___, Palermo!” (Procida’s aria from “I
Vespri Siciliani”) (anagram of OUT)
51. Evolutionary ancestor
52. Chocolate source
53. Plea in response to 21-, 29-, 36-, 39-,
and 43-Across, and too many others to list
here
57. Start and end of the Three Musketeers’
motto
59. More like an oboe
60. ___-jongg
61. Daily ___ (liberal political blog)
62. “A” of ETA
63. Welcome sign on B’way
64. Honest ___, the first Republican
President
65. Bunyan’s blade
66. “The Waste Land” poet’s monogram
67. Actor Hanks
68. GRF’s VP (and a mixed-up org.
opposed to gun control)

Down
1. Done in stages
2. Harm
3. Pang
4. Fails to win
5. Superior to
6. Raise red flags
7. ___ hindrance (important concept in
organic chemistry)
8. “Where the Wild Things Are” author/
illustrator Maurice
9. Pro’s foe
10. Fall apart
11. Commotion
12. Even so
19. Half of the “Dedicated to the One I Love”
group
22. Springsteen song that references the
American dream
23. William Jennings Bryan, for one
27. Sheepskin holder
29. Yo-Yo Ma might use one or take one
30. K-O knockout?
31. NaCl
32. Shine, in ad-speak
34. Fossil fuel advocated by fossils such as
Mitch McConnell
36. Chief ___-A-Homa (onetime Braves
mascot; anagram of CON)
37. ___ chamber (apt metaphor for news and
social media)
38. “So ___ is new?”
39. Cry of surprise
40. Politico Paul
42. Knight mare
44. Lotus-___ (race encountered by
Odysseus)
45. Area of influence
47. Mutant who came out in comics in 2015
48. Fruit named for a Turkish town
49. Legit
52. Storage medium
54. “Darn!”
55. Atomizer output
56. Prefix with dynamic or nautical
57. Alias, for short
58. It is often served with cream cheese, on a
bagel

George Barany is a Rockefeller alum (1977) currently on the Chemistry faculty of the
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and Christopher Adams is a graduate student
in mathematics at the University of Iowa. This puzzle was created with the utmost
respect for the victims of senseless violence and terror. Some aspects will enrage you,
and others will break your heart. For more information, including a link to the answer,
visit here.