One brief moment of paralysis, right after you open a blog, seems to be “What’s important enough to be the first post? What momentous thing is going on in the world?”

Well, there are a lot of momentous things happening, but I have to say the one article I’ve read lately that absolutely fascinated me is this one, about Josef Stalin’s movie habits. Any article that mentions Stalin, Scorsese, and Eszterhas in the same sentence has to be worth reading. That, and Khrushchev talking to John Wayne about an assassination attempt.

The author of the article has written a book called Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, which I haven’t read but sounds from the reviews like a slightly different take on a gossipy biography, not concentrating so much on the big horrors of the regime — genocide, starvation — as the smaller ones — purges of the high-level staff, ruthless ambition. Let’s face it, people enjoy gossip, sometimes more so when it’s about the monsters of our world. Perhaps it’s an effort to humanize those who have committed acts we don’t understand — or don’t want to ever understand.

Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.