Friday, May 30, 2003

Tax Cuts...

The recent tax cut is Bush's short term goal to jump start the economy. And for those who will really benefit from the tax cut (if you happen to make more than 100k a year) then it seems like a nice gift. However every economist who doesn't have his head in the Administration (and isn't employed at FOX News*) realizes that the long term of the tax cuts are not pretty.
We get a cut now...but we pay later.

Consider it a loan.

The Economist writes:
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan also cut taxes (from far more draconian levels) and failed to cut spending: the result was an entrepreneurial boom, but also huge deficits, which were reduced only when Mr Bush's own father raised taxes. Bush the younger is heading down the Reagan road, with the additional huge problem of those retiring baby-boomers. Unless he changes tack, he could leave a terrible mess behind him.

And what we lose in the meantime are government benefits. Especially for the working poor and children.

The Washington Post writes:
The Senate bill included a low-income child credit provision that would have benefited families with annual incomes from $10,500 to $26,625, at a cost of $3.5 billion. It was dropped to help squeeze the House-passed tax cut down to the size -- $350 billion through 2013 -- that could win final approval in the Senate.

And there's a good article here from The Olympian about the cost of the tax cuts and how this bill would not have passed the Republican led congress 10 years ago under Newt.

How times change.

*( Neal Cavuto who has a business news hour on FOX News says that if we hadn't had Bush's first tax cuts the economy would be much worse. It's such a convenient argument. I'm sure a year from now if the economy is still sputtering he will let us know that had the tax cuts been even bigger the economy would be booming.)

Thursday, May 29, 2003

News that's hot...
Many of the blogs today feature a list of quotes compiled by Billman.org that Administration officials said about the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) leading up to and immediately after the war.

Slowly, it seems, the Administration is distancing themselves from the definitive statements about WMD.
At the end of the quotes is an eye opening one by Paul Wolfowitz where he says:

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

- I found this quote questionable since it is so damned blatant. But my fellow blogger MrJeff3000! found that the source of the quote is from Asia Reuters which took the quote from the July issue of Vanity Fair.

- So this means the adminstration stretched the truth to justify a war. We Liberal/Left/Democrats aren't suprised by this. But at least now some on the Right are coming around.
Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden writes a good piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

[WMD] may yet be found, but it is beginning to look as though the skeptics in this case were right. If so, I was taken in by this administration, and America and Great Britain were led to war under false pretenses.

[and then]

I trusted Bush, and unless something big develops on the weapons front in Iraq soon, it appears as though I was fooled by him. Perhaps he himself was taken in by his intelligence and military advisers. If so, he ought to be angry as hell, because ultimately he bears the responsibility.

It suggests a strain of zealotry in this White House that regards the question of war as just another political debate. It isn't. More than 100 fine Americans were killed in this conflict, dozens of British soldiers, and many thousands of Iraqis. Nobody gets killed or maimed in Capitol Hill maneuvers over spending plans, or battles over federal court appointments. War is a special case. It is the most serious step a nation can take, and it deserves the highest measure of seriousness and integrity.

When a president lies or exaggerates in making an argument for war, when he spins the facts to sell his case, he betrays his public trust, and he diminishes the credibility of his office and our country. We are at war. What we lost in this may yet end up being far more important than what we gained.




Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Cannes...

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrap up of Cannes.
Overall, this had to be the worst Cannes film festival in living memory.

The Guardian’s Derek Malcolm chimes in.
If it was the best weather in Cannes for years, the general run of films were the worst for some time, allowing us all to sit grumbling gently in the sun.

--------
Okay, here we go again. More complaints about Cannes.
As I peruse through the weekly edition of Variety I notice that there are a lot more positive reviews than negatives.

POSITIVE for: Mystic River, Dogville, Soul of a Man, Distant (Uzak), Invasion of the Barbarians, Young Adam, Swimming Pool, Belleville Rendez-vous, At Five in the Afternoon, Mansion by the Lake, Japanese Story, Time of the Wolf, Strayed, Coming and Going, Sansa
MIXED for: Purple Butterfly, Carandiru, That Day, Bright Future, Niki and Flo, A Thousand Months, Gozu, James' Journey to Jeruselum
NEGATIVE for: The Brown Bunny, Elephant

Overall that's 15 positive reviews, 8 mixed and 2 negative. That's not a bad ratio of watchable films to not watchable films.
So was Cannes really that bad?

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Cannes...

Vincent Gallo comes clean about his much reviled film The Brown Bunny.

"I accept what the critics say," Gallo told Screen International, whose panel gave the bunny its record low rating. "If no one wants to see it, they are right. I apologize to the financiers of the film, but I must assure you it was never my intention to make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film, an unengaging film."

I'm more curious about this mess every day. It's becoming a 'lets see how bad it really is' kind of thing.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Cannes...

From Reuters:
"U.S. director Gus Van Sant won the Cannes film festival's coveted Palme d'Or award on Sunday for "Elephant," a film that uses real-life children to show how violence can turn high-school life to tragedy."

I have a couple friends who were in Cannes and were lukewarm about the film. They found it slow, sluggish and arty. Apparently, it is much in the vein of his previous film Gerry (which, maybe 525 people saw). That said I happen to like slow movies provided they are involving.

Van Sant has really taken a liking to the films of Hungarian director Bela Tarr and also to the type of films made by Taiwanese director Hao Hsiao-Hsien. Both of these filmmakers use minimal editing and beautifully composed shots. Their stories are more theme oriented than plot driven and their narratives are much more complex with the use of strong visual storytelling style. In other words they are everything Hollywood ain't. Which is just one reason why I love them.

That said, I'm not sure Van Sant is in their league but it's nice to see he has moved beyond the Good Will Hunting phase of his career.
Musician speaks...

Neal Young tells it like he sees it.

"The US is like a baby with a bomb," he barks, his eyes blazing with the famous stare. "The reaction to France that the administration allowed to happen is so immature. These people have their own opinion - they're French! They're not fuckin' Americans, they're French ! Vive la difference, hello? And this big deal about Bush landing on an aircraft carrier? Talk about a six-year-old kid with a Tonka toy - we got it here...I think the world today, at least the US and to some extent Britain now, is experiencing this kind of Big Brother thing."

Friday, May 23, 2003

Grim Statistics...

While Bush and his gang try to distance themselves from their WMD claims lets not forget that Iraqi civilian deaths are higher than the 'liberal press' dares spend much time mentioning.
The Christian Science Monitor writes:

Evidence is mounting to suggest that between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians may have died during the recent war, according to researchers involved in independent surveys of the country....[A] level of civilian casualties far exceeding the Gulf War, when 3,500 civilians are thought to have died.

According to Iraqibodycount the total of civilian deaths is between 5334 and 6942.

I don't know about the views of the rest of the world, but if we don't find WMD then the invasion and the war in Iraq may have to be defined as a high crime.


Cannes Buzz...

Good write-up on Cannes (and a new documentary on Harvey Pekar) from the Christian Science Monitor.
Cannes Business...
One cannot ignore the business side of Cannes. It's the largest market for film buying in the world. And many of those fine foreign and indie films you see (or hear about) make a trip through Cannes where they are bought by film distribution companies.
This year seems to be a very poor year.
This from The London Times is somewhat bleak news for specialized film exhibitors. (Thanks for the tip, Emily)

"THE quality of films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival has been so poor that the first deal by a Hollywood studio has been made only three days before the end.
Studios such as Miramax, Lions Gate and IFC films, which have brought hundreds of representatives to the French resort, shunned every film in the festival that they saw in the first week."



Screen Daily writes:
"This year, the collective Competition choices were considered the worst in living memory and some of those memories stretch back almost forty years."


From experience I can say that every year most critics bemoan the lack of quality films at Cannes and every year they are wrong.
First off, this opinion specifically deals with the main competition films. Yet there are so many fine films in Un Certain Regard and Director's Fortnight - not to mention the Cannes Market - that unless one sees everything there is no way to make a true judgement about the overall quality.
While it's true that there doesn't seem to be many films that everyone can agree on there most definitely are films that are good and possibly great that will be appreciated by a good number of viewers. Time will tell. Most of these films will be slated to play the festival circuit in the fall. But I guarantee that a good number of the films that play at Cannes this year will be praised by the critics once they hit our shores.

Cannes Buzz...

This year it's been difficult getting any reviews out of Cannes. So far all the buzz has centered on three films: Dogville because it stars Nicole Kidman and is directed by past Palme D'or winner Lars von Trier, Brown Bunny because Vincent Gallo is a creepy, funny guy and his film has a real blow job as its dénouement and Elephant because it's directed by Gus Van Sant.

The best reviews in English by far come out of Variety. But they charge a $25 per month fee to access them. The other good source is The Hollywood Reporter, which is free to the public, but the critics are so landlocked into Hollywood style films that they tend to miss the point of the better films.
(One critic has been known to complain about subtitles).
At least they provide reviews.
Judge for yourself.


Despite some truly outstanding films, this hasn't been a vintage year for the French festival, writes Peter Bradshaw

Review of Uzak from filmfestivals.com.
"...bleak but enriching and superbly realized film."

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Cannes Update...

From IndieWire, which includes reviews of Errol Morris' latest film and this humorous bit about Brown Bunny.
""The Brown Bunny," a film critics were eager to see if only for its director's renegade personality -- not to mention a reportedly graphic fellatio scene between Gallo and co-star Chloe Sevigny. The result, though, was an at best tedious exploration of one man's painful longing for his ex-girlfriend. At the press screening, the crowd was only too happy to pounce on its shortcomings, and there were surprisingly few walkouts (most likely because the infamous blowjob comes very nearly at the end)."

But Screen Daily likes the film. They write:
"It is a shame that audiences worldwide are likely to have little chance to enjoy one of the most radically ironic pieces of film-making in recent years. The distributors are unlikely to see the joke, and the censors will only have eyes for the swollen, gobbled member that illuminates the final scene like a Chinese lantern."


Here's a nice long article from J Hoberman at The Village Voice:
Cannes Buzz...

New York Time's AO Scott's Cannes update.
"By Sunday the two films in competition that had garnered the most interest (and at least some mild polarization of opinion) were Gus Van Sant's "Elephant," a short, dreamy, shocking depiction of a Columbine-like school massacre, and "Distant" by the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan."
And about von Trier's new film...
"The press screening of "Dogville" on Monday morning was a galvanizing moment: here at last was something to argue about. Was it a sadistic, self-conscious exercise in cynicism or a relentless, formally innovative inquiry into the nature of power, innocence and vengeance? Is Mr. Von Trier, chief theorist of the Dogma 95 movement and a wily provocateur, a world-historical genius or a clever intellectual fraud?"

Controversy
From Yahoo
"American actor-director Vincent Gallo on Wednesday defended his graphic depiction of oral sex in road movie "The Brown Bunny" that has provoked a scandal at the Cannes Film Festival."

Joy and Tears
From Yahoo
"Hardened showbiz journalists exploded with laughter and sobbed quietly at an early morning press screening of French-Canadian Cannes festival entry "The Barbarian Invasions" Wednesday.
While 8:30 a.m. screenings are the hardest to stay awake in, especially by week two of the festival, director Denys Arcand 's deeply moving yet hilarious film held the attention and won the strongest applause so far."

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Cannes Buzz...
The Guardian writes:
Nicole Kidman is planning to quit acting, after giving the performance of her life in Lars von Trier's Dogville - a work yesterday pronounced a masterpiece by many at the Cannes film festival.

Film Stew writes:
French filmmaker François Ozon’s latest movie Swimming Pool, featuring Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier, has become an audience favorite at this year’s festival.
Cannes Buzz...
From Reuters
"Austrian director Michael Haneke was the toast of Cannes two years ago. On Tuesday, boos mixed with the cheers for his apocalyptic movie The Time of the Wolf."


From The Hollywood Reporter:
At midfestival, people are starting to talk about Hector Babenco's mesmerizing prison drama "Carandiru," Francois Ozon's stylish and sexy "Swimming Pool," Samira Makhmalbaf's look at Afghanistan's torn society in "Panj E Asr (At Five in the Afternoon)" and Lars von Trier's artistically challenging if crowd-dividing dark take on small-town behavior, "Dogville."


The NY Times writes about Elephant by Gus Van Sant


Movie Mistakes...
The Matrix Reloaded already has 49 mistakes that have been counted.

Here’s a few:
- In the scene when Morpheus slices the tyre on the SUV, the SUV not only flips on the wrong side (opposite the flat tyre), but when the SUV is shown upside down all of the tyres are fully inflated
- During the entire time that Trinity and Morpheus are being shot at by the twin in the car, we never see him reload his gun, despite the fact that he fires about 350 shots at them from one clip
- In the scene where the power is being cut from the city blocks, the light from headlights of cars also disappears when it shouldn't be affected by the power cut.

(The first Matrix has at least 150).

Monday, May 19, 2003

Cannes Buzz...
From Indiewire:
Dogville a hit!
"Finally, Cannes has a blockbuster. Lars von Trier, a favorite son of the festival whose features always premiere in competition here, has once again taken the Croisette by storm with "Dogville," a brilliantly realized elaboration on past themes wrapped in Brechtian artifice, American sentiment, and rich moral conundrums."
Cannes Buzz...
From Indiewire...
"While no one film has yet captured the imagination of audiences, commanded thunderous applause or united critics in a chorus of hosanna, a few have been solidly impressive.

Presently ahead of the pack are François Ozon's deliciously wicked "Swimming Pool," Gus Van Sant's disturbing and ruminative "Elephant" and Nuri Bilge Ceylan's elegiac "Distant," with decent showings from André Techiné's WWII romance "Strayed" and Samira Makhmalbaf's "At Five O'Clock in the Afternoon" (a simplistic and overlong but effective social drama about the oppressed lives of burqa-covered Afghani women)."


The Guardian has a good daily update journal.


The Turkish film Uzak has been getting wildy mixed reviews.
Positive: (From the Guardian)
"Easily the best film in competition so far has been Uzak, or Distant, written and directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan: a profoundly beautiful and moving meditation on loneliness whose essential seriousness does not preclude some tender comic moments."

Negative: (From Hollywood Reporter)
"Long on melancholy and short on dramatic texture, "Uzak" (Distant), from Turkish helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan, makes for a wearisome sit. The problem, nay the struggle, comes when a viewer wants to bridge the distance -- the film is all too aptly titled -- between himself and characters so willing to let defeatism engulf their dreary existence."

Friday, May 16, 2003

Rashomon Alert...
I’ve mentioned this before but it keeps coming up. They should make a Rashomon type story about the Private Jessica Lynch rescue.
Who to believe?

"It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'go, go, go', with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital -- action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan."
There was one more twist. Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Harith had arranged to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an ambulance.


Cannes Buzz...
From Yahoo:
A 23-year-old Iranian woman on Friday gave the French Riviera jetset a grim reminder of how harsh life is for the less fortunate, with a new film she said shows the truth about Afghanistan today.
Already an acclaimed director, Samira Makhmalbaf's latest work is a sobering depiction of the struggle for survival in the aftermath of Taliban rule, with many still homeless and hungry, and women still repressed.
"Through this movie I try to correct the wrong information given about Afghanistan by the media," said Makhmalbaf, a vivacious woman whose self-confidence breaks every stereotype.
"TV stations give the idea that America went in like Rambo and saved Afghanistan. I tried to show the hidden world between the past and present generation," she told a news conference.
Cannes Buzz...
From IndieWire:
- One of the first true pleasures of the festival is Wim Wenders' "The Soul of a Man," a beautiful and touching tribute to blues musicians Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson, and J.B. Lenoir that masterfully integrates dramatic recreations of '20s and '30s events (shot in silent-film, hand-crank style) with archival footage, new interviews, and exclusive homage performances by artists as disparate as Alvin Youngblood Hart, Cassandra Wilson, Bonnie Raitt, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Beck, and Lou Reed.

- Acclaimed as one of France's finest actresses and for her beauty, [Emmanuel] Beart gives a moving portrayal of a mother-of-two fleeing Nazi Germany's 1940 invasion of France in "Les Egares" (Strayed), one of 20 films competing for the 2003 Palme d'Or.
Political Games...

Bush: The Marketing campaign:
This from the New York Times. Get ready to gag.

The Bush administration…is using the powers of television and technology to promote a presidency like never before

On Tuesday, at a speech promoting his economic plan in Indianapolis, White House aides went so far as to ask people in the crowd behind Mr. Bush to take off their ties, WISH-TV in Indianapolis reported, so they would look more like the ordinary folk the president said would benefit from his tax cut.

For a speech that Mr. Bush delivered last summer at Mount Rushmore, the White House positioned the best platform for television crews off to one side, not head on as other White Houses have done, so that the cameras caught Mr. Bush in profile, his face perfectly aligned with the four presidents carved in stone.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Cannes Buzz...
A macabre and farcical thriller had Cannes on the edge of its seat on Thursday, as Raoul Ruiz's "That Day" set the ball rolling for the main competition at the 56th international film festival.

Opening film at Cannes is a swashbucker film titled Fanfan La Tulipe and starring Vincent Perez and Penelope Cruz. Screen Daily writes:

Supposedly a fluffy piece of entertainment to kick off Cannes’ 56th festival in style, Gerard Krawczyk’s remake of the swashbuckler classic…is a pretty plodding and charmless experience that works too hard but not successfully enough to court audience favours. Carried as it is by the appeal of its two leading stars, Vincent Perez and Penelope Cruz, it might generate initial interest in France…but subsequent word-of-mouth and reviews are bound to dampen its prospects.

A somewhat postive review of The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares) by Denys Arcand

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Cannes…
Will there be any tension between the French and The US at the Cannes Film Festival?
I suspect not since most filmmakers are smarter than reactionary members of the right wing. Still the rift is worth noting.

- "It's a shame," says Bertrand Tavernier, the French master filmmaker and longtime critic and devotee of American movies. "The cultural bonds between our two countries and our two cinemas has been so strong and rich. And what is sabotaging it now is purely a matter of foreign policies and intransigence in the two governments."
Politics...
Why does Saudi Arabia get a free ride from the US Government?

- For the fourth year in a row, an independent advisory panel criticized the State Department for failing to designate Saudi Arabia as one of the world's most egregious violators of human rights and as an exporter of extremist Islam.
- Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter and a longtime U.S. ally, has never been placed on the State Department's watch list of human rights violators, despite similar past recommendations.

And there is this article too

- What firm actions has the Saudi government undertaken since alarm bells sounded -- in the form of 15 young Saudi hijackers who commandeered and crashed four American civilian aircraft into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania -- on Sept. 11, 2001?

I’m not suggesting we invade Saudi Arabia but it seems to be a pretty serious issue that we have all but ignored (or swept under the carpet) because they are such a valuable economic partner.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Art Theft...
Cellini's 'Salt Cellar' stolen - (called the Mona Lisa of Sculptures) - from Vienna museum.

- Climbing scaffolding and smashing a window, thieves slipped into Vienna's Art History Museum and - despite motion sensors and security guards - disappeared with a 16th-century gold-plated masterpiece sculpted by Benvenuto Cellini.

- The theft early on Sunday was one of the biggest art thefts in Europe in recent years. The intricate, 16-centimetre-high sculpture, known as the Saliera, or salt cellar, is valued at about $US57 million ($88 million). It was commissioned from Cellini - one of the Italian Renaissance's most ingenious goldsmiths - in the 1540s by King Francois I of France.
TV Talking Craniums...

I watched part of Chris Matthews' Hardball on MSNBC (or as some say MSGOP) last Friday and Chris was talking to former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan. Noonan is never short of words. She has the gift of gab and clearly enjoys her purple prose verbiage. And, or course, she just loves Bush.
In the span of five minutes Noonan overpraised Bush to the point that, it seemed, she was ready to deify him, put him on a coin and (possibly) give him back massage.
Here is part of what she had to say.
The transcript is here (scroll down about half way down the page). If you just want the good stuff I've included part of the transcript.

NOONAN: You know what Bush is doing every day? The vision thing. This guy has a vision. He is outlining it for you every day with regard to the Mideast, to this amazing idea that the Mideast could be liberated, made different, freedom could spread there. He’s got a vision there.
MATTHEWS: ... his philosophy to his arguments. He always-he makes a bigger picture than the small statement.
NOONAN: It-it’s not just attaching philosophy to his arguments. His arguments put forward a philosophical view of the world, and people can tell. He doesn’t use words like “philosophy,” but people can tell he’s talking about big things, he’s talking about meaning.
MATTHEWS: So, what, his numbers are going up in the “USA Today” poll on the economy?
NOONAN: There’s a lot of reason for it. But the pivot is not interesting. What’s interesting is that Bush is out there almost every day doing a primer, doing an almost professorial explanation of why and how he his economic policy’s going to turn this economy around.
(next topic)...
NOONAN: I’ve got to tell you what I think-can I tell what you I think the key to the great landing on the aircraft carrier was?
MATTHEWS: That’s why you’re here, Peggy.
NOONAN: All right. This is what I think it was. It wasn’t just it was showy, it was showbiz, it was “Top Gun,” it was Tom Cruise’s suit, it was all that wonderful stuff. It’s that the American president not only put himself in harm’s way going to see American troopers, but he showed them by coming in on that ship 'I trust you'.
MATTHEWS: A little risk. Just a little bit of risk.
NOONAN: It wasn’t just risk. It was trust. It was faith. You’re going to take care of me. You’re going to hit that second trap, the third trap, or the fourth. I’m safe in your hands. It was a compliment, you know.
MATTHEWS: Even a daytime carrier landing is tricky.
NOONAN: Oh, absolutely. I mean it’s taking a chance. I’ll tell you one of the ways you know you’ve gotten a little old? If I’d been in the White House now I would have told them don’t do that, that’s a bridge too far, you’ve got to be crazy, and, instead, it turned out to be, I think, one of the brilliant moments...

Friday, May 09, 2003

Movie or Religion...?
Is there a parallel between The Matrix and the Life of Christ?
This is getting out of hand...
Random Madness...
Given time can Monkey’s produce Shakespeare?
This from The Guardian (Via Bookslut):

- It is a favourite question of pub philosophers everywhere. If you gave an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, would they eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare?

- Now someone has attempted to put the theory to the test…with six Sulawesi crested macaque monkeys, and one computer, and four weeks for them to get creative.

- The macaques - Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan - produced just five pages of text between them, primarily filled with the letter S.

- The project was intended to emphasize differences between animals and machines.

- "It was a hopeless failure in terms of science...the monkeys aren't reducible to a random process. They get bored and they shit on the keyboard rather than type."
Gambling...
The LA Times has a good article on ‘Mr Virtue’ William Bennett’s gambling trouble.
Included as a side bar to the article is a list of things that he could have done with the $8 million he reportedly lost in Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.
A few options:

- Sponsored 25,640 impoverished children for a year (providing clean water, schooling, food and health care) through World Vision.
- Bought 2.3 million boxes of Thin Mints cookies from the Girl Scouts.
- Picked up the tab for Bill and Hillary Clinton's remaining legal fees (just to show there are no hard feelings) and still had $6.25 million to cover therapy for Chelsea.
- Bought tickets to Disneyland for 216,000 children ages 3-9.
- Erased the L.A. Archdiocese's $4.3-million budget shortfall and the Diocese of Orange's $2 million in cutbacks and still had $1.7 million in pocket change.
- Distributed 266,667 free copies of "The Book of Virtues" at full retail value (or 380,952 copies at Amazon.com's discount price).

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Scary Speculation...
And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to…Bush?...Blair?....
World stands with mouth agape.
At Death's Door...
The headline says it all: Mountaineer Broke His Bones Before Amputating Arm

- A mountaineer facing death after being pinned by an 800-pound boulder in the Utah desert said on Thursday he had to break his arm bone before he could cut the limb off with a dull knife.


Comic...
Why is Bush destroying America?


Drinking Game...
Who was a greatest boozer of all time - Hemingway or Jackie Gleason?



Wednesday, May 07, 2003

TV Talking Heads...
Soundbitten’s G Beato sounds off at Alternet about Joe Scarborough - the MSNBC miscreant GOP’er who took the place of Donahue.


War Commentary...
Strong words from leftist historian (war veteran) Howard Zinn.

-- As a patriot, contemplating the dead GIs, should I comfort myself (as, understandably, their families do) with the thought: "They died for their country." If so, I would be lying to myself. Those who die in this war will not die for their country. They will die for their government. They will die for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And yes, they will die for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the President. They will die to cover up the theft of the nation's wealth to pay for the machines of death.
The distinction between dying for our country and dying for your government is crucial in understanding what I believe to be the definition of patriotism in a democracy.


Heee's Back...
'Where is Raed' is back with personal insider news about Bagdad. (There is speculation that this guy may be a phony. Read for yourself and decide)

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Movie Journal...
Canadian (mad genius) movie director Guy Maddin has a cool (and eccentric!) diary about his new film The Saddest Music in the World a musical - shot in 8mm - about a legless woman played by Isabella Rossellini.

Here are excerpts from the diary:

-- Spent about 10 minutes today tracking down a Norwegian who had hidden himself behind some broken crates to play seafaring songs on his accordion. The mariachi band has really hit it off with the klezmorim, and they jam for hours on the only song they both know, producing an infectious hybrid gem out of Engelbert Humperdinck's "Spanish Eyes." We're all crazy happy.

-- We're terrified of Eeez-uh-bellllll-a, as she mellifluously pronounces her name. If I were named Isabella, I'd never have the poise to str-e-tch my name out so gloriously. I'd somehow cram all those letters into one abrupt, sheepish syllable, like I do with the name I use now. Gosh, she's wonderful!

-- Eschewing digital effects as grotesque artifacts of the present, we had all sorts of Méliès-era tricks up our sleeves, but no one knew how they would turn out. Eventually, in a way I cannot under my producer's gag order reveal, we removed her gams and replaced them with beer-filled, glass prosthetics, as per the script.

-- I want to unlearn how to watch movies; I want to flip dyslexically the images of my film to jangle their readability for the viewers; I want to re-create the thrill I felt as a boy when I finally recognized three words in a row!
Ill Logic...
First it was anger at all things French now due to the SARS threat it’s panic of all things Chinese.

When Betty Louie, a Chinatown merchant, got a hay fever attack in a booth at a gem show in San Mateo, the crowd instantly parted.
"You should have seen people's reactions," said the Chinese American shopkeeper, who was born here and almost never travels to Asia. "The guy standing next to me literally ran away."


Bob Harris over at Tom Tomorrow’s site says here are a few other things we may want to start to worry about.

Playing Chinese Checkers
Eating things off of china plates in general
Seeing the movie "Chinatown"
David Bowie ("China Girl")
Pekingese dogs
"Kung Fu" reruns
The Wu Tang Clan
Mandarin oranges
Feng Shui



DVD Revolution...
Terrence Rafferty writes an interesting article about extras on DVD’s.

"The contemporary desire for interactivity in the experience of art derives, obviously, from the heady sense of control over information to which we've become accustomed as users of computers. The problem with applying that model to works of art is that in order to get anything out of them, you have to accept that the artist, not you, is in control of this particular package of ''information.'' And that's the paradox of movies on DVD: the digital format tries to make interactive what is certainly the least interactive, most controlling art form in human history.
When you're sitting in a movie theater, the film is in absolute, despotic control of your senses. It tells you where to look and for how long, imposes its own inarguable and unstoppable rhythm, and your options for interaction are pretty severely limited. You can wise off quietly to your companion or loudly at the screen, or, in extremis, you can walk out, but nothing you can do, short of storming the projection booth, will affect the movie itself: it rolls on serenely without you, oblivious as the turning world."

Friday, May 02, 2003

Survey...
The CGD/FP Commitment to Development Index ranks 21 of the world's richest countries according to how much their policies help or hinder the economic and social development of poor nations. The index examines six policy categories: foreign aid, openness to international trade, investment in developing countries, openness to legal immigration, contributions to peacekeeping operations, and responsible environmental practices.

Out of 21 nations the US ranks...20th.

I'm not sure I completely buy this since we do give a lot of aid in the world. It must have something to do with peacekeeping and environmental policies.


Photo...
Now the kids in Iraq appear not so happy to see us.

It could be because of this.


Net Escape...
Surfin the net with Jesus. (If narrow minded please don't click)


Isn’t Hollywood supposed to be more progressive than Congress?

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Politics...

One begins to see a pattern in the Bush Administration's plans. Here’s a couple.
WAR
1) Bush signs an act to defy the Freedom of Information Act regarding Presidential papers.
2) His administration invades Iraq with little real evidents / Then they hold back releasing a 800 page report on the 9/11 terror attacks

OIL
1) Bush pushes for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
2) We invade Iraq whose oil will be held from us about as long as ANWAR would supply us with oil.

TAXES
1) The big corporate donars helped Bush get elected and they will try to help him again in 2004.
2) Time for a big tax cut to ease the strain of a big donation.

I honestly cannot verfiy all of these but this Administration never hides what it wants to do but they do hide how they get what they want and that's important to understand when investigating their actions.

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O’Reilly went into his usual tirade against illegal immigrants yesterday over California’s new Mexican Identification Cards.

He seems to think that it’s an easy way to let illegals in and that it somehow encourages them to come over. What he doesn’t seem to understand, though, is that most of these people are workers who every day are out building the condos we live in and working in the farm fields we take for granted. These cards are a form of protection not only for the workers but for us – because now they can be identified, get medical help, cash checks and be allowed to live in our society without being suspected.

It should be noted that the law was passed by the California Assembly by a 53 to 7 vote.

Of course that won’t prevent them from being rounded up and held without bail. Even legal immigrants who have old petty theft crimes have no chance.

If interested in this case here is the Supreme Court’s decision, which was – you guessed it – a 5 to 4 decision in favor of a Conservative interpretation of the Constitution.


DVD...

Some like the orgys, others like the gap toothed women. I'm, all for it but I'll also take the 70’s soundtracks and bad dubbing.