My arugula and basil went to seed.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland on a U.S. warrant, issued in 1978 when Polanski fled the country after being convicted of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski is 76. He survived the Krakow ghetto, his parents died at Auschwitz, his wife and unborn child were brutally murdered by Charles Manson's "family." He's one of the world's most talented and successful makers of film, and he was entering Switzerland to be honored at the Zurich film festival when he was busted. He and his victim -- she's 45-years-old now and has joined Polanski's petition to overturn his conviction -- reached a settlement years ago.
In the Seventies, some people thought Polanski was being persecuted. Others, including The Smoking Gun, have been crying for
the brilliant director's that little pervert's blood for years.
I think the latest Polanski flap is a lot of fun.
The fact that Polanski could walk around France safely for 30 years, then be busted by Switzerland the minute he stepped into the country to get a highly publicized award -- although he owns a home there -- tells us a lot about those two countries. Say what you want to about the French, France has always been a place to go and thumb your nose at the U.S. if you want to.
Apparently, the Swiss have an extradition agreement with the U.S. and the French don't. Who knew that about the Swiss? It looks like Polanski didn't.
And then, there's the conspiracy angle. Was Polanski set up by the Zurich Film Festival and the Swiss Police? Or was this Polanski's sensational way of turning himself in? We'll probably know by the end of the week. The U.S. is under pressure to move on this one.
Update: France and Poland urged Switzerland to free Polansky on bail and pressed U.S. officials all the way up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the case. The Swiss said there was a chance Polanski could be released on bail if he promised not to flee the country.
Update 2: Polanski has decided to fight. His lawyer says the U.S. extradition request is illegal. I figure he has about as much chance as those tax evaders who thought the Swiss wouldn't turn their bank records over to the U.S.
Update 3: Polanski's lawyers say the U.S. never tried to catch Polanski before. The L.A. prosecuters say they did, including one time they thought he was headed for Thailand.
Update 4: The French are outraged. "There's an America we love and an America that scares us," French Culture Minister FrÉdÉric Mitterrand said, "and it's that latter America that has just shown us its face." Mitterrand said he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (shown below with President Obama and an unidentified girl) hoped for a "rapid resolution to the situation which would allow Roman Polanski to rejoin his family as quickly as possible."
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Professional tennis players play for prizes and advertising money that, on a per player basis, makes the stakes they play for as high as or higher than any other sport. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world watch them play.
There is no appeal, no reprieve, no instant replay that, reviewed by a competent official, can overturn the call of a foot fault by a mediocre judge. Nothing can reverse a lame call that mistakes a heel in the air above a line for a toe on the line. Nothing can undo the cry: Foot Fault! once it's been blurted out.
I wish I could shove this ball down your throat! Serena shouted. I wish she could shove it up professional tennis' ass.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
However, reading a Gail Collins op ed this morning, I was reminded the British do hurl insults back and forth, and I suddenly remembered Tony Blair delivering an answer about the Iraq invasion while someone on the back bench repeatedly shouted: Rubbish! I was rolling on the floor laughing.
In plain American, that would be "Bullshit!"
I can't help thinking the State Of The Union might be advanced if the opposition were allowed an occasional "Bullshit!" when the President addresses Congress.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Authorities in Pakistan's Swat Valley have resumed vaccinating children for polio, a practice the Taliban had banned as un-Islamic before they were beaten back by an army offensive.
I have to admit there's part of me could back a modern crusade to spread science and medicine around the world, even at the point of a gun. Complex issue.
Monday, August 24, 2009
You remember Steambath. God is a Puerto Rican attendant at a steambath. GFTB probably ran into him around the neighborhood now and then. That probably explains why she, JLo and Sotomayor have been so successful.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I found it! I found an opening through one of the chambers at the top of the Hive! Fresh air, the coolest bluest water you've ever seen. It's so beautiful. Some of you have been going the wrong way. You have to go UP! I know it's strange, but keep formicating up to the top of the Hive. When you get there, just follow the sound of the water. But I don't think there's much time left. It took me almost three hours to get here because I went looking for Mansky first. I found him and he's okay though I think the Komogators really put him through the ringer. He isn't making much sense now. Come quickly. Time is running out.
Friday, August 14, 2009
In a week or so, I'll start closing rooms and tunnels and barring the doors. If there is anything you want out of The Hive, you better grab it fast.
I'm trying to decide whether to be the last to leave or stay behind like a captain going down with his ship or, even better, like a pharoah's architect.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I've picked the 10,000th visit as the event that will cave in the walls and ceilings of The Hive. We're at 9,655 and clicking. Some of the outer tunnels are caving in already. We have about a week to go. The Hive won't be here for the eon flux or the passage of health insurance reform. We're going to miss the troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and, sadly, we'll never know if Mansky finds a dwarf who will do nude scenes.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My grandfather and my father were both cops. I barely remember my grandfather. He was a big Irishman who smoked cigars and threw his blackjack at me when I tried to lift it off his belt. I was six or seven. I gave him a wide berth after that, and he died of a heart attack the next year.
My father and mother were divorced right after I was born. I spent time with him on weekends and vacations in the Summer. He was cynical and suspicious, and I don't remember him ever accepting anything I said at face value. He assumed I was lying. Maybe it was the job made him like that, or maybe he was like that and found the perfect job. I'm sure he was the kind of Southern cop who hated black people, except for the little kids. He thought the kids were "cute."
When I was four or five, my mother and I were walking home one night, and we were attacked. My mother threw me at the attacker, ran to the house and let our dog out. He was a big dog and very protective. They used to have to put him outside if they were thinking of spanking me. When the attacker turned up at the emergency room later, my father and his friends were waiting for him there.
My wife was a mid-career artist when she got the idea it would be interesting to document how institutions imprint themselves on people. She started the project in Seattle and almost joined the Seattle police, but she got a fellowship in Houston and ended up completing the project down there. She went into the Houston Police Academy right before her 35th birthday. She recently gave me permission to talk about that year from my point of view. I didn't experience it myself, though I heard some of it on the police-band radio I kept by my bed, but I have some idea of what women run into in that world. I've heard what it's like to chase a car load of kids across Houston at high speeds -- I actually listened to this one -- and then have to race on foot to get to the kids before the cops in the other cars can beat them up. I know what happens when you turn a fellow officer in for putting his gun to a kid's head. And I have an idea how it feels to go into buildings without being sure your backup will be there if you need it. I know about the three kids and the kitten with diarrhea, cooped up all day, watching television in an apartment on the East side. And I know about the helicopters that circle poor neighborhoods all night, but never go near River Oaks.
I'm sure all that personal history plays into the way I see the Gates, Crowley, Obama flap. But for the life of me, I can't figure out how.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
From a young designer/musician friend of Subject of Science's. It's pretty amazing that young people are listening to things like this and passing them on. We were at a pool party. I'd been doing my Julia Child imitation and passing on my roast chicken recipe. I mentioned my daughter's music teacher had told her a little exercise she was playing would be exciting when she started "connecting the notes," but he hadn't explained what that meant.
More than a fair trade for a roast chicken recipe.
NASA says they can't keep piddling around and get to Mars, too.
I wish there was a better planet within reach. No wonder the predators come here. We've got the jungles. How can you have an adventure without a jungle, or at least a dense forest? Guess we'll have to go underground on Mars. Middle Mars. Maybe find some of those things wrap you up in their arms and all that's left of you is steaming guts.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
But, if we're gonna go back into space, this time I want those assholes from NASA and their consultants and PR people to all shut the fuck up. Not one word about how we're creating valuable technologies that industry can use. That crap has to be shit-canned.
I want ADVENTURE, goddammit. Big brass-assed stories with thrills, chills, back-stabbing, REAL heroism, white knuckled fear and great big missions to be accomplished on behalf of God and History.
And, frankly, if you fucking Americans aren't gonna get back into the Adventure and Excitement and Big Paul Bunyan kinda thing, then you better just piss off and get out of the way. Because it was the one thing you were good at, and damned if I can think of any others these days.
I want American astronauts who piss tobacco juice into a tin can tied to their leg, who wrangle an extra buxom blonde on-board, who get liquored up and take potshots at the left-over lunar landers, who've got hooks for hands and insist on unscrewing radioactive jars with them, who climb down onto Mars and bust off the ladder behind them so that other prick has to stay in the lander, who secretly bring their own mix tapes and play 'em back to Houston for hours on end while refusing to answer THEIR questions, who make up stories about fighting 3-eyed space Martians, and then laugh at their naivete, while saying nothing - not one word - about the slimy 1-eyed Martian bastards who actually appeared and ate that other guy you never liked much. Or maybe the Russian guy, if it was a joint mission. Yeah, fuckit. Eat him.
I mean, what the hell happened, America? Frat boys got yer tongue? It's like it became all about the money - and nothing about the adventure. When did "live free or die" turn into "park free or pout?"
I wanna see Astronauts with degrees in etymology AND entomology. One-eyed quarterbacks that like to unscramble alien genetic codes. Unhappy kids named Charles from Nebraska who enjoy guns and dislike other species. A super-genius who can't get girls, Siamese attached to a super-duper genius who can. That sort of thing.
America's Martian Adventure.
I'd pay to see that.
quinn the eskimo
Monday, July 20, 2009
The Apollo crew is pitching an expedition to Mars to Obama today.
In the meantime, we have to get past the solar eclipse on Wednesday, and get over the shock of finding out that our wiley old Obamaman isn't doing as well as we thought with the electorate. It's his economy now, his war in Afghanistan, his health insurance reform and his very existence that's being challenged by three old men today. If he can't get it up for Mars, what good is he?
Friday, July 17, 2009
If any of you engaged in this kind of torture, it's the vats for you. Stinging prisoners is against Hive policy and will not be tolerated.
I remember when they used to bury people up to their heads in ant hills. The modern version of that is a couple of fire ants in a motorcycle helmet. My thought is a couple of people from the '68 Nixon campaign must have worked their way up the ladder at the CIA.
Summer's almost gone.
I thought it would be fun to recall some of the great conspiracy theories of my lifetime.
The Kennedy Assassination
The Lunar Landing
Alien Abductions and Encounters of all kinds, including Venusian infiltrators
9/11, particularly the attack on the Pentagon
It seems to me that all of these conspiracy theories have an element in common. Mistrust of government. They are, essentially, anti-government myths, spawned by people who oppose the administration in power or government in general.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
It's bound to be compared to Obama's delivery on campaign promises, his stimulus package, health insurance reform and any number of other instances of this President not quite meeting expectations.
Worse, the Obama delivery is already being compared to President Bush's first pitch after 9/11.
Of course, it's hardly fair to compare Obama's athleticism to the chimp-like agility of George W. Bush whose simian reflexes were the hallmark of his Presidency.
Not only that, there are already calls for Hillary to throw out the first ball next year in addition to returning to center stage in foreign policy as soon as her elbow heals.
Finally, I can't resist commenting on President Obama's tennis shoes. Impressive. Here's the brilliant Sidney Poitier in A Raisin In The Sun. It breaks my heart to think about who Obama might have been.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Turns out the program, hidden from the Congress on Vice President Cheney’s orders, was aimed at finding and killing or capturing al-Qaida leaders at close range rather than targeting them with air strikes.
Now, I have often been critical of Mr. Cheney. I’ve even accused him of not being man enough to waterboard prisoners personally, and I’ve wondered what might have happened if Cheney and Bush had given that a try.
But I can’t fault Cheney for wanting to kill al-Qaida leaders at close range instead of with missiles. While we might avoid American casualties by using missiles, I doubt impersonal and indiscriminate killing does a lot for our reputation in the Muslim world.
I do have two questions, though. Why keep the program secret from Congress?
And why did Panetta kill the program? Why not brief the Congress and go ahead with it?
David R. Jones, president and chief executive of the Community Service Society, which lobbies on behalf of low-income workers, said he did not “think this recession has gone out equally.”
Low-wage workers and workers who lack skills are really getting hit hard,” he said. “These are the workers who are sort of fungible. They lose their jobs very quickly, particularly in retail, the people who move boxes and do unskilled work. There are large numbers of African-Americans in that sector.”
Manufacturing, which has shed more jobs than any other sector of the city’s economy, had become a mainstay for black workers, Mr. Jones said. Government jobs had also become a prime source of solid, stable work for many blacks in the city, he added. But lately there have been cutbacks there, too, as falling tax revenue has forced the paring back of budgets.
That sounds a lot like trickle down economics to me.
The Times notes that the jobless figures among blacks became enough of a national issue that at a White House news conference last month, President Obama was asked what he could do to “stop the bloodletting in the black unemployment rate.”
The president said that to help any community, whether it be blacks, Latinos or Asians, he needed to “get the economy as a whole moving.”
“If I don’t do that, then I’m not going to be able to help anybody,” the president added.
Friday, July 10, 2009
The Pew Research survey released today found most Americans value the nation's scientific achievements, but not as much as they did a decade ago. That's probably because the scientists are pushing wierd ideas like global warming, stem cell research and childhood vaccinations.
As I recall, there was a study done during the Democratic primary that showed a significant percentage of the Democratic base couldn't find Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran on a map, even if the countries were labeled. Nobody seems to have bothered to study the Republican base.
Amazingly, he failed to take credit for the fact that the swine flu has turned out to be less lethal than we feared and that colony collapse disorder, while always imminent, has not devastated The Hive yet. He also neglected to remind us that we weren't hit by an asteroid this year.
Only a matter of time before we find images of the Obamaman in tree trunks, water stains, peeling wallpaper and burned tortillas.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
According to UNESCO, U.S. troops and contractors inflicted considerable damage on the historic site of Babylon, driving heavy machinery over sacred paths, bulldozing hilltops and digging trenches through one of the world' most important archaeological sites.
Sacred paths? Sacred to whom? Ishtar? That has to be the worst movie ever made. Who cares if the paths they moved their dollies over when they filmed it were damaged? And what's so precious about gardens where people got hung? Hell. Nobody I know was hung there. Saddam Hussein wasn't even hung there, even after he screwed up the ruins of Babylon, trying to restore them.
As for that Ishtar Gate, as our readers know, the Iraqis are lucky we didn't just up and haul it back to New York City and put it up where the twin towers used to be.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Now, when I'm driving my daughter to swim meets or wherever and she's reading the google directions to me, she does a pretty good job of imitating Honey. Turn left on Shawnee Drive, she says in a slightly robotic voice.
Today she had an interesting idea. What if people gave you samples of their kids voices, and you programmed Honey to sound like the kids? You could have your daughter's or your son's voice giving you directions, keeping you company on your trip away from home. Sort of a personality module downloaded into any Honey. Turn left on Shawnee Drive, Daddy, the little Honey would say.
I like it. Hell, you could even give the personality modules personalities. Instead of just the wife, you could have the nagging wife. How many times do I have to tell you to turn left on Shawnee Drive, Bonehead? Or the husband who refuses to ask for directions. That turn is around here somewhere. Give me a goddam minute, will you? Old guys could ramble. Old ladies could talk about the grandkids between turns.
The possibilities are endless.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I turn North, and man, it's hotter on this side of the mountains than the one I just left. Brutal heat. But there's nothing here, and the roads are straight and long, and all I can do is just keep riding. And my ass is getting pretty sore. It's been two hours and my circulation is impaired. How far to that next town? I'm riding fast, but the miles are passing slowly in these flatlands. Finally I enter the town, and gas up the bike. Days like this you appreciate the canopy over the pumps for the shade. I need a break, and keep my eyes peeled for a cervezeria, but I'm not seeing any Budweiser™ signs anywhere. I'm starting to worry that I've wandered into one of those anachronisms here in the southeast part of the state, the dry county. I'm almost out of this ratty little town when I pass a tattoo parlor with a bunch of motorcycles parked out front, and about 15 vatos hanging out on the porch. I recognize kindred souls when I see them, and double back around the block, pulling up beside them, and ask, "Is there a place to get a drink in this town?". One of them asks, "What kind of drink?", and for a moment I'm confused, then rejoin, "A beer.". They all chime in and direct me to a local bar just a few blocks away. I thank them and we all wave goodbye. I can't help but wonder what most of middle America would decide if they needed directions, and this motley crew was the only option available. My guess is that most would keep driving and hope for the best. Damn shame.
I pull into the bar's parking lot and dismount, and as I'm taking my helmet off Goober and Gomer walk out from behind the bar and Goober says, "Hey, it's Evel Knievel!", and guffaws. And I know in my heart that there are way too many cousins marrying cousins in this great land of ours. Inside the bar, the clientele is salt of the earth, not overly friendly, but not hostile either. This is however, not what the 21st century version of a fern bar is, so I select Budweiser™ as my drink of choice. It's very cold, so I have no complaints. Behind the bar are hand written signs reading, "Beer. It's better than a breakfast drink", and "In God we trust, all others pay cash". We get in a discussion of Michael Jackson's degree of freakitude, and what a great musician he was with a minor digression into how to control ants inside the home, and on the ranch. These are OK people in my opinion.
Time to hit it. It's good to be on the bike again. The road is 4 lanes through rolling hills, there's no traffic, and I'm mellow. For some reason, Michael Franti's 'Yell Fire' is stuck on 'repeat-play' in the mass of synapses I'll call for lack of a better term, 'my brain'.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I think I'll hang out with the Greeks for a while. Take a break from the modern world. Get back to the primordial struggle of man against reptile at about the time we were seeing some possibility of mastering the natural world.
How did we end up where we are?
If all that counts is the ineffable quality of each moment, what compulsion turns us away from the moment?
What terrible force set the modern world in motion?
Wasn't I supposed to live my life all at once, take one deep breath and die?
Thetis knew Laocoön. She saw him die a couple of days after Achilles fell in front of Troy. Athena sent the snakes to shut Laocoön up, they say. His mistake was trying to warn the Trojans about that horse. The Trojans thought the snakes killed him for lying and took the horse inside.
Thetis was slandered by Hera, jilted by Zeus, raped by Peleus with a little help from Chiron, and insulted by Paris at her own wedding. She tore Troy apart trying to get to Paris, and she lost her son in the war.
I'd been looking for her for twenty years when I ran into her in London. I knew who she was right off.
She didn't remember me at all.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Last night, according to Real Clear Politics and ABC's Jake Tapper and Karen Travers, President Obama exposed himself as a hypocrite who will force "normal" Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people -- like the president himself -- wouldn't face.
According to Tapper, President Obama let the cat out of the bag when he tried to answer "probing" questions from a couple of neurologists.
After stumbling through an irrelevant talking point about his grandmother, the President concluded his answer by saying he would want the best care for his family, meaning, I take it, that if his plan didn't cover a recommended treatment option, he'd pay for it himself. Well, that's a shock.
Here's the question.
DR. DAVINSKI: If your wife or your daughter became seriously ill, and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they were doing everything that could be done, and you sought out opinions from some medical leaders in major centers and they said there's another option you should pursue, but it was not covered in the plan, would you potentially sacrifice the health of your family for the greater good of insuring millions or would you do everything you possibly could as a father and husband to get the best health care and outcome for your family?Now why would a man as educated and bright as the President of the United States answer a question that implies there are no limits to private insurance, that private insurance covers everything and only "public" insurance plans limit treatment options?
Maybe it's the venue. I have to believe that in a private conversation with Dr. Davinski the President eventually would have gotten around to pointing out that no private insurance plan covers everything, that the insurer always decides what they'll cover and what they won't, and that rich people like the President and Dr. Davinski always have the option of paying for something their insurance won't cover themselves. He might even have gotten around to pointing out that good healthcare is rationed in the United States on the basis of income. Rich people get it, poor people don't. Why not level the field a little with a public option?
And maybe the president's heart is just not into defending the public option.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Been thinking about college lately. Remembering this and that. After the first couple of months, I pretty much went my own way. Read what I wanted, researched what I wanted, talked to people I was interested in. Looking back, apparently there were lots of soon-to-be famous people around me. Most of whom I missed. My nose for fame, running on one nostril even then. Andrew Sullivan and Niall Ferguson, just to name two who're getting lots of media attention now, that I never even noticed then.
I guess what I want to say is that Pitt-Rivers put a premium on accessibility. Meaning, unsupervised young people could pick stuff up, have sword-fights with it, try it on, carry it back to their rooms to show buds. Interact.
Ok. The stuff proper. It's possible that people swung shrunken heads around. Like soap on a rope. Samurai armour could have been tried on and Samurai swords which happened to not be bolted down could've been swung about. Tested. Try on an ancient mask from Benin? Why not. Stylin' in that Native Chief's leather shirt from the plains.
Algerian Trepanation Tools.
Just look at this stuff.
How did they get all the stuff? That was the best part. Near as I could figure, Pitt-Rivers was a dumping ground for stuff hauled back from across the British Empire. Prizes. Riches. Amazing artifacts.
"More than one third of the Museum’s collections are archaeological. Many have been excavated on archaeological digs, with the object locations properly recorded. However, some have a more hazy history. For some objects acquired in the early days of the Museum, we know little about their provenance. It is even possible that some could have been looted from an archaeological site to be sold on the antiquities market."
Friday, June 19, 2009
Expand Medicaid and create consumer-owned cooperative plans? On second thought, pass the Versed. I want to forget this administration and Congress ever happened.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
There is a species of red ants whose grubs are devoured by a large blue butterfly. The butterfly lays its eggs on thyme flowers and the caterpillars fall to the ground after hatching. They secrete chemicals and even make noises that make the red ants believe they are wayward grubs. The ants mistakenly carry the caterpillars to their underground homes and keep looking after them even though the adopted monsters gobble ant grubs for 10 months before forming a chrysalis and flying away as adult butterflies.
Ant grubs? Those are baby ants!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The categories are: the good, the bad, the ugly and unclassified. What good and bad mean is obvious, I think. When in doubt, I went by what I thought. Ugly means it could go either way. The people and things are neither all good nor all bad. Just ugly in some way. Unclassified is up for grabs. You can influence the outcome. It's a work in progress. So, without exception, here's the list for June.
NYC, NASA, Public Health Insurance, National Healthcare, Palouse Indians, Palouse Country, Palouse River, Sam Fisher, Bigfoot, Joni Mitchell, Poppies, Catnip, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Roderick Sprague, The Renaissance, Persona, Cries and Whispers, And God Created Woman, The Seventh Seal, John Cassavetes, Alfred North Whitehead, Mathematics, Tom Wolfe, Light Waves, Particles, Quantum Mechanics, Oceans, The Gulf Of Mexico, Sonia Sotomayor, Head, The Marmes Rock Shelter, Kennewick Man, Herpetocumodi, Mammals, Zen, The Book Of The Dead, Rep Rage, Fish Ponds, Fast Eddies, Lists, Recyling, The Word Health Organization, New Cameras
Karl Rove, Grave Robbers, Politics, Main Stream Media, Wingnuts, Swine Flu, Mushrooms, Bill O'Reilly, David Letterman, Komodo Dragons, Bernie Madoff, Scammers, Spammers, ATT, tagged.com, Stalling Politicians, KoolTel, Bad Film Makers, Molds and Fungi, Camera-Eating Ponds, Moving Doors, Voles, Shrews, Poppy-Eating Mice, Previous Owners, Enhanced Telecommunications Services, Reptiles, Nixon, Motherfuckers, Forms, Herpetophiles, Creepy Crawly Flying Night Insects
The Health Insurance Industry, FCC, Republican Party, Democratic Party, Obama, AMA, The Congress, Magellans, The Palins, Wikis, Muslims, Israel, Palestine, Alex Rodriguez, New Yorkers, Documentary Films, Film Criticism, Art Critics, Red Mountain, Green Mountain, The Fifties, The Sixties, Physicists, The Bomb, The Great Lakes, Harry Reid, Herpetophobia, The Smithsonian, Life On Earth, Komogators, Families, Archeologists, Anthropologists, Army Corps Of Engineers, Miley Cyrus, Chimps, Canada, Canadians, Sock Puppets, World Health Organization, The Glads, The Magregors, The Hive, Comments, Selective Retention
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
My poppies bloomed this morning. I brought these flowers with me from my garden in Wisconsin when we moved to Michigan two years ago. They spent the first winter and spring in the yard of a rental house, and I transplanted them to the back fence of our property when we bought a house last year. We've been together a long time. Now and then, I'm tempted to buy more, but I never do.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Criterion Collection is releasing The Seventh Seal on DVD in a couple of weeks.
The Seventh Seal is the first Bergman film I saw. I saw it at a foreign film theater just off-campus when I was a college freshman in Lubbock. They ran And God Created Woman a week later, and I was hooked on foreign films until the '80s when, for reasons I can't explain, except for the films of Tarkovsky and a couple of other directors, I lost interest in them. Maybe it was because my directors had died off or petered out.
I think of Persona and Cries and Whispers as Bergman's masterpieces, but The Seventh Seal was my first encounter with the collision of idealism and naturalism in film. To my romantic 18-year-old mind, the knight, Antonius Block, and Death were fascinating allegorical figures. They were in the natural world, but not of it. As I grew older, I was drawn more and more to the rich natural world of Bergman's films, but, in the beginning, like Block, I imagined a life of the intellect was superior to a life of the flesh.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
First thing I thought when I heard Harry Reid said Sonia Sotomayor was "the whole package" was: "Yes. But does she swallow?"
Monday, June 1, 2009
That's the one I need. Without that word, I can't express the rage I feel when I contemplate vile beasts like Komodo Dragons. It's like trying to talk about Nixon without using the word motherfucker.
Turns out we owe the bastards our big brains and sharp eyes.
As if we don't have enough to do. We're already monitoring the flu formerly known as swine, the weather around the globe, fasts, and a couple of radio programs. Now they want us to keep track of everything else, too.
The Smithsonian used to keep track of ephemeral events, but I can't find any record of that program. Guess it was ephemeral and nobody noticed it passing.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The girl turned up at the doctor's office with a bladder infection. Her mother told the doctor the girl had been having them since the surgeries, botched jobs that led to peritonitis, and then to the recurring infections. I imagine the doctor, searching through the girl’s medical history for the surgeries and not finding them, because the operations were performed somewhere else and there was no record of them at his office.
The child had stabbed herself in the stomach with a kitchen knife, an unusual act for a girl I hear. Boys use knives and guns. Girls who try to kill themselves usually use drugs.
When the doctor examined the girl, he found what had started as a small puncture of her belly had, through one failed surgery after another, become a disfiguring jumble of deep, crisscrossing scars. Then he saw the scars on her arms. Some of them were recent, and they were infected.
I saw scars like that on a woman’s arms in Austin a long time ago. I thought she’d tried to kill herself and failed. Now I think she may have been cutting herself. I don’t know why.
What are kids who cut themselves up to? What are they after? And what can the doctors who deal with the children’s bodies while other doctors try to understand the children’s minds do about the infections and the scars?
I imagine the doctor, explaining sterile technique to the girl. Before you cut yourself, you have to wipe the place you are going to cut with alcohol and clean the blade of your knife.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The architect who designed it, Robert Harvey Oshatz, calls this house "a physical manifestation of the fluidity and complexity of music.”
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
One of the things she likes to do is make up jazzy little songs, or get in the bathroom in front of the mirror and run up and down the scale while she carries on a conversation with somebody in there.
I've been thinking the least I can do is make sure she hears kids sing who aren't part of the Disney channel. So, I was happy to run into From The Top on PBS the other night. They had a 14-year-old jazz singer from Canada on. My daughter was riveted. Same look she used to give other kids on the NYC subway.
My friend, David Ison, a man who makes the world a little less painful place to live, tells me she should learn some Billie Holliday tunes.
I'm torn between Nancy King and Eva Cassidy.
Wish I could find video of King doing Man In The Oven. I've been there. Of course, my daughther can spend the morning listening to Holliday, Cassidy, King and the Justice sampler, then go right back to Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus videos.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Dr. Erskine Palmer and R.E. Bates / Centers for Disease Control / Reuters
This guy looks like a tough little bastard.
I've been through flu pandemics in 1957 and 1968. If I got sick, I don't remember it. But in Germany, in 1964 I caught a flu I remember. For a couple of days I was dreaming or delirious. I seemed to be working in a Chinese laundry, boiling sheets in big tubs. The steam in the air made it so hard to breathe, I felt like I was drowning. I kept coughing up horrible gobs of dark green mucous and spitting them into the wash tubs.
In the 70's in Austin, Texas, I spent a couple of weeks in a poorly vented darkroom, making images for an art project, and ended up with a chemical pneumonia. Or maybe it was the legionnaires disease, or just the flu that put me in the hospital for a week. I was seriously ill, but inhalation therapy pulled me through. I remember hearing that when they cultured whatever the organism was that was trying to kill me, it was a cross between a plant and an animal. I'm sure it had a name, but I don't remember what it was.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Stones From The River, it seems to me, is a romance, set in improbable times. It's the story of a German dwarf, and the men -- and women -- she's loved, set in Burgdorf, a small town near Dusseldorf, between the end of WWI and the end of WWII.
What strikes me about the novel is the amount of love Trudi Montag manages to generate in the 30 or so years we see of her life, even though she may not be aware of some of it. Just counting the men in her life, there are six stories. There's her father; Georg her first friend; Klaus the dentist; Konrad the Jewish boy she hides from the Nazis; Matthias the gay pianist; and, finally, her great love, Max the painter.
I'd consider structuring the film around Trudi's revelations of these relationships to a young American soldier who, at the beginning of the film, hates Germans. As he learns about Trudi's loves, he begins to understand that not all Germans were Nazis, and that some Germans -- those who, for one reason or another, couldn't be fed into the German war machine -- kept humanity alive during the Third Reich. This structure requires a slight change to the ending of the novel -- it puts an American soldier in Trudi's home -- but it lets Trudi tell her story from her own point of view.
It may be necessary to add an even more compelling narrative to the "present" of the post war years, something like a criminal trial or investigation, or a detective story of some kind.
I think the structure will support any filmic style, including edgy super-realism.
I'd begin the film with scenes of the American troops coming into Burgdorf. It's the end of the war. Trudi is in her 30's. You can feel the tanks before you hear them. In a bomb shelter. The room shaking. Faces mainly. The door is kicked in. The German civilians "surrender" to the American soldiers. The first time we see Trudi as a dwarf is either when an American is billeted in her house or the first time she's interrogated. Everything after that is scenes of the occupation mixed with her memories of her life and her loves.
The difficulty is getting from an essentially psychological book that's a journey of self-discovery to a film where a little more is at issue, i.e., the guilt of individual Germans, or, possibly, something more compelling. Trudi is the town gossip. A perfect source for anyone trying to get to the bottom of events in Burgdorf.
I'd avoid falling into some kind of pattern with the flashbacks. For example, I wouldn't start each segment of the film with the dwarf talking, flashing back, talking, flashing back. I think there should be many contemporary scenes mixed in, her father dying, a woman throwing her child off a bridge, Hanna,the little girl she falls in love with, and so on, and, also, long historical segments that cross episodes. The amount of time the dwarf spends setting up the historical material should be very minimal. A few historical moments that impressed me: the summary execution of the town's benefactor, Trudi's interrogation by the nihilist Gestapo, Trudi swimming, the old lady beating up the Hitler youth, Trudi and the circus dwarf.
The only problem I have with the novel is understanding the relationship between Trudi and Max. I think the film needs to be explicit about why Max picks Trudi for a lover. I don't think the reason matters, it just needs to be there and be believable. And I'd be tempted to portray Max with a little irony and cynicism. A painter who paints the colors of his orgasms? We can do better than that in the era of concentration camps and sadistic medical experiments. Or, we can use it to consign Max to the world of the dreamers.
I appreciate Tom's putting Stones on the table. It's an interesting book and an interesting exercise. It could be fun to circle the best scenes and dialogue Arnold Manoff style.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Cheney: What the hell is that?
Bush: My surfboard.
Cheney: What an asshole. I said we were waterboarding tonight.
Bush: Whoa! You can't call POTUS an asshole. (To the Marines in the hall.) Grab hold of him. (Bush throws the surfboard on the floor.) Hold him down on that!
Cheney: Goddam it, George, stop fucking around.
Bush: I'll show you some fucking around. Somebody get me some water and a rag.
Tutti cantano insieme:
The Marines: Sir! Aye, Aye! Sir!
Cheney: Don't board me, George!
Bush: Tube City! Damn! Turn him over now!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Bert Stern Photograph, Acrylic Paint
Photo Copyright Bert Stern 1962
Marilyn The Classic by Norman Mailer
Monday, April 13, 2009
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas, I worked in the stacks at the university library. The section I worked in contained the transcripts of the Nuremberg war trials, complete with supporting documents. Over the course of the year, I read many of the transcripts and background documents. Out of all that horror, the medical experiments are what I remember best, especially the experiments that used Jewish prisoners to determine the probable effects on pilots of bailing out at high altitudes. What the German "scientists" were interested in were the effects of extreme cold and a sudden loss of atmospheric pressure on the human body. And, in my mind's eye at least, they weren't even testing protective gear, they were just watching people freeze to death or die slowly from lack of oxygen.
That was a long time ago. This morning, I'm trying to imagine Tom's canvassing attorney, sitting in my office, telling me: "You must have been one of those 19-year-olds who read the transcripts of the Nuremberg war trials. Nuremberg sounds familiar. I promise to look that up."
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It seems to me the web has, up to now, functioned mainly as a mass distribution medium. The content of the web, a photograph for instance, may be transformed by being published in the context of the web, where it is available to so many people so fast and collides with so much other information, but it is not altered on purpose to make it "webic" in the way books and plays are altered to make them "filmic." On the way to becoming a film, a book is broken down, then put together again as a screenplay and a film.
There are several ways to use a book to produce a screenplay. The easiest way, probably, is to ignore the book's characters and plot and recreate the "essence" of the book in film. Warhol's Vinyl, for example, captures the essence of A Clockwork Orange, without burdening the film with Burgess's characters and plot. That's probably not the most commercially successful way to turn a book into a film.
The commercially successful way, the Hollywood way, is to respect the narrative and characters of the novel and to recreate those elements with acting, cinematography, sound and editing in a way that "brings the novel to life." The quality of the novel, of its characters and plot, matter. If necessary, the film may deviate from the novel, but changes to the original are made in the spirit of improvement. Kubrick was faithful to Burgess's plot in his film version of A Clockwork Orange. Ridley Scott, on the other hand, probably intended Blade Runner to be an improved version of Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. His departures from Dick's narrative and characters were intended to produce a better, more successful story.
The third way, the auteur way, is to use the novel's characters and plot simply as a place to start. French New Wave directors bought the rights to dime store novels for their plots. Almost any plot would do, because the films they made weren't about the narrative. The story was beside the point. Just something to hang the film on. Art is synthesized experience. For film makers like Goddard, the story was just an occasion for that synthesis.
Monday, April 6, 2009
It's in our nature to move West. And the only West left is out in space. That-a-way. Out yonder.
Back East is a museum. Getting bad as Europe. But out West, you can stretch out and breathe. Tim Leary knew.
He toured America, playing electronic music he claimed would prepare the human mind for a voyage into deep space. The Department of Justice brought him. Put him on tour to recant, to take it all back. And he did. He told us the government was firmly in the hands of men and women who only a few years before had been stealing hub caps at Atlanta rock concerts. He said he was about to play some tapes to rearrange the molecules of our brains, to prepare us for deep space, for the long voyage ahead. Anybody didn't want to go had better leave. I trusted Tim, and I wasn't ready for space, so I left. I never heard the Leary tapes. I doubt I'm fit to travel into space. But some folks are.
They're the kind of men and women who were willing to take their chances on a new America, willing to give the kid his shot and help him win the title. And he owes them more than the same old men, running America the same old way. He owes them a shot at something big.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Copyright 2009 Billy Glad
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Copyright 2009 Billy Glad
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I think the problem is Bush had the idea, and he had it at a time when he easily could be accused of trying to divert attention from Iraq.
Now, I suppose, people will say we have to get the economy and healthcare fixed before we think about going to Mars. Reviving the space program seems extravagant. But what about those people living in Detroit? Are they supposed to pack up and move when the automotive industry shuts down? Maybe so. It's happened before. Happened with steel.
But the thought of those auto-workers turning out spaceships, of Detroit at the red hot center of the Mars Mission, seems to me to be a hopeful thought at a time when hopeful thoughts are hard to find. Godspeed, NASA. Go for it, Detroit.