Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Straight Dope

this guy's a bit arrogant and bombastic, but many of his articles come up on google searches for factual information. and he's smart enough that he does the sort of research any quasi-smart would do themselves, so so far seems reliable enough to do minimum research, and it's pretty funny his back and forth he does with his readers. His is like a column and he refers to himself as a columnist.

funny cartoons

this one is for witches and witch hunt

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Baby Dance

"Well, she did fine. Yes, but she had a sadness to her. Well, every woman's got a bit of sadness to her. That's what makes 'em so beautiful."

"A baby's birth forces a difficult parental decision." Starring Stockard Channing, Laura Dern, Peter Riegert, Richard Lineback, Sandra Seacat, Wally Dalton. Directed by Jane Anderson. 1998. 92 mins.


Yoshi's is a world-class sushi restaurant that featured some of the greatest jazz artists of our time. Eventually they moved to a new location by the Port of Oakland where half the location is a restaurant/ bar and the other half a cozy auditorium with an incredible sound system featuring the world's greatest jazz artists.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Our world has changed so much that those who take their own personal pain and failures and project it onto centers of power, are far-right wing now, instead of oriented towards right wing fascist like Republican politicians.

"A frustrated salesman plots to kill the president." Starring Sean Penn, Don Cheadle, Jack Thompson, Michael Wincott, Mykelti Williamson, Naomi Watts. Directed by Niels Mueller. 2004. 105 mins.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Last Mistress

Asia Argento truly has an interesting, unique mannerisms and expressions. She is well cast in this role as a Spanish Seductress living in Paris (1825-1835). She has such wide range, able to do sexy scenes, scenes of great emotional intensity and fury, and subtle portrayals of flirtations coyness.

Her and her lover are both famous seducers and libertines.

"Love suffers and dies when mutilated by lovers' games.

No it can live again for a short while, until mutilated even further."

"For a woman loved, any distraction is an enemy."

"A woman refuses to give up her soon-to-be-married lover." Starring Asia Argento, Fu'ad Ait Aatou. Roxane Mesquida, Yolande Moreau, Michael Lonsdale, Anne Parillaud. Directed by Catherine Breillat. FRA/ITA. 2007. 104 mins.

My Best Friend

He buys a vase for 200,000 Euros of Achilles and Patroclus. Someone had the vase commissioned at the loss of his best friend who was inconsolable, and he filled the vase fwith tears.An awkward comedy about the fleeting nature of friendship.

"It's the same story, you meet, you become close, and then they're gone.

but you make friends so easily with everyone.

Everyone is the same as nobody. We're all almost alone."

Alienation in the modern world is the theme. Today they even have "professional friends" in Europe.

"sympathique" or "sociable" that is, being a sympathateic person. "simpatico"

"A friendless man hires a cabbie to help him find a pal." Starring Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon, Julie Gayet, Julie Durand. Directed by Patrice LeConte. France. 2006. 95 mins.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ex-felons and Voting Right

This is determined on a STATE-BY-STATE BASIS!


These laws tend to be relics from Jim Crow-era laws to exclude "undesirables" from enfranchisment.

Ex-felons tend not to vote Republican. Read about it here at the Washington Post.

Help for Ex-Offenders

Here are some resources for those stained by a scarlet "P" for being an ex-offender.

This is a website that helps link those required by the incarceration system to get a job, even though it's incredibly hard to get hired for the rest of your life as long as you have a criminal record.

For men living in California, statistically you are very likely to spend SOME time on the public's dime!

For other helpful discussion:

Sour Face

I just had an epiphany.

I realized that both hatemonger Michelle Malkin and "Opposite Marriage" Carrie Prejean both have constipated looking, "sour face" expressions on their face.

I guess this must be how prejudice and hate can twist a person's face to become as ugly as their insides.

(add pictures of both)

Blog Wars

Is Michelle Malkin the most disgusting pig ever in the public eye? If you can ever judge a book by its cover, look at how her hate has twisted her face into a permanent scowl.

She is a self-hating Filipino version of the Uncle Tom. What a gigantic toolbox.

Covers mainly the Connecticut Senate Democratic Primary between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman.

"Online Democratic (sic) activism shapes important elections."

A Slim Peace

From UK, Directed by Yael Luttwak. 2007.

Peace between Jews and Arabs.

Contracts before was oral, to prove ownership of land, which is not honored by Israeli courts.


The Parisian society is run/ owned by a corporation called Avalon. The film opens with a talking billboard: "Don't grow old, stay beautiful, we care here at Avalon. We're on your side!"

"I like being beautiful. I like to stay fit. That's why I like Avalon. With Avalon, I know I'm beautiful. And I'm going to stay that way.
Announcer: Avalon. For a better world.
Billboard Woman: Health. Beauty. Longevity. Avalon. We're on your side. For life."

"A Parisian cop searches for a kidnapped scientist." Starring the voices of Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack, Romola Garai, Ian Holm, Jonathan Pryce. Directed by Christian Volckman. FRA/LUX/GBR. 2006. 105 mins. Animated

Some funny links

here's a wonderfully irreverent, wild website:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Muslim Public Affairs Council

"U.S. Policy in the Muslim World" at Long Beach, California

Laila al-Marayati, MD
Muslim Women's League Spokeswoman Muslim Public Affairs Council

Nayyerf Ali, MD
Muslim Public Affairs Council Board of Directors Chairman

From Geneva to Baghdad: The Rules of War

Playing semantics with how to label opponents of an armed conflict CANNOT get you out of legal obligation to The Geneva Conventions.

The idea that somehow "terrorist" or "enemy combatants" are not within the purview of the Convention is nonsense. The Convention covers "saboteurs," "agent provocateurs," "guerrillas," "spies" and other "irregular" combatants. This does not take a scholar to recognize this, however, I feel the Mainstream Media has once again dropped the ball (as they admit to have during this entire 8 year political era) by not mentioning this fact that contradicts official government rhetoric. However, they've become so sycophantic towards those in power, that unless another person in powerful loudly declares such facts, they will not bother to mention this fact, though they will acknowledge that they had known about the fact, but not reported on it, because "no one else was saying it" excuse!

This is nothing new.

"You get more flies with honey than vinegar."

During the congressional hearings, interrogators, hidden for their protections testified that in fact, what broke Khalid Sheik Mohammed was simply bringing the prisoner sugarless cookies when the interrogator realized he was diabetic. Then he realized that Americans were civilized and was willing to cooperate. This has been shown numerous times throughout history.

Torture tends to harden the person being interrogated and makes them unwilling to cooperate with what seems an uncivilized and savage society that would allow such monstrous behavior.

Torture has existed for a very long time and it has always had one purpose. To force a confession that the interrogator wants. We now know from internal documents and testimony that the Bush Administration was pressuring interrogators to get the prisoners to admit to being Al Qaeda, that there had in fact been WMD's and other attempts to try and validate the lies that convinced the naive that we should invade a sovereign country in violation of international law. But in fact if you look at the policy (exposed by Colin Powell's State Department documents) you see that they had demanded army units to simply pick EVERYONE up in the vicinity of any significant fighting. They were swept up because they happened to be in the area. Knowing this Powell addressed the administration's insistence that those swept up and housed at Guantanamo Bay were the worst of the worst. Powell argued nothing could be farther from the truth and that most of these were probably completely innocent. Further constantly changing numbers of supposed combatants that were once again met on the battlefield have also been debunked. All elements of pretty much classic, by-the-book propaganda.

In the Nuremberg Principles, the greatest crime the Nazi's had perpetrated was "crimes against the peace." This meant that they launched what they called a "pre-emptive" attack on Poland.

Furthermore, it is the supreme law of the land that whatever International Treaty is ratified by our Senate becomes A PART OF OUR CONSTITUTION and must be upheld. For an executive to not carry out this legal mandate is IN VIOLATION OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS. A student reporter from a college paper had the gall to ask this question at a press conference and was never allowed back in the room.

"Signed by more than 150 nations, the Geneva Conventions set a code of behavior for warring parties." Discovery Spotlight.

William Eggers

If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government

To look at any major social achievement, there has always been a partnership between public and private worlds, so it may be best to get away from ideological or dogmatic thinking whether it should be one or the other.

NASA, the Manhattan Project, were partnerships between the two with HUGE numbers of staff.

"At least under Mussolini, the trains ran on time." This may have turned out to be a myth. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, many clamored, why we couldn't have such construction achievement and excellence here at home? There is often during trying times an impulse to want a kind of "strong man" a kind of authoritarian to get things accomplished.

British Iraq War Inquiry

How is it that a country that was the largest Empire ever known, that still has a MONARCH, consistently puts our "world's oldest democracy" to shame on democratic standards over and over again?

The largest protest in world history, one million people showed up in London BEFORE the Iraq War began. This was the first time in world history that a war was protested BEFORE it actually began. Even in the unpopular Vietnam War, protests did not begin until the war was several years old. Furthermore, right until the end, only a minority of the population actually opposed our involvement in Vietnam at that time.

Legally, the legal right to take the U.K. into war lies soley with the crown. However, as a part of their "Oral Constitution" which means it's not written down and determined by precedence, the Crown then defers this right to the Prime Minister. As a result. NO legislative power determines the right to go to war. This ended up happening in the U.S. as well, despite our Constitution. My congresswoman at the time Barbara Lee was the SINGLE "no" vote on the abdication of congressional legal authority on the matter of war.

The British Ambassador to the U.S. 1997-2003 Christopher Meyer, author of "DC Confidential" was questioned about how the U.K. came to enter the Iraq War.

He points out the incredible hubris of the Bush Administration.

"British Committee of Inquiry into Iraq War"

First broadcast on c-span 11/26/09

U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges

Mary Elise Sarotte. University of Southern California. International Relations Professor.

She refers to punctuated equilibrium from Biology and Thomas Kuhn. You know you're in one if you think so, if you have to ask, you're not in one. Punctuational moments are self-evident. (But from whose perspective?!?!)

-Her thinking is overly simplistic and doesn't answer anything except to defer to common perceptions or even misperceptions. Elites may consider something to be life changing whether it is or not. This seems to me to be an acknowledgement of hysteria, not actual values of events! Furthermore Thomas Kuhn?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! And to try to link evolutionary biology and geo-politics is preposterous. Should we now include Social Darwinism now too?!?! Well-spoken articulate garbage, is still garbage.

William Wohlforth. Dartmouth College. Government Chair.

He contends that the scholar community is historically wrong in global changing events such as The fall of the Berlin Wall, the expansion of NATO, and 9/11. There was general agreement amongst security experts that supported Afghanistan action. But they were wrong with their predictions on NATO expansion, and the rapid reunification of Germany. They were most correct about Iraq, but their criticism were divorced from their own theory and what they had argued in the past. John Meerscheimer opposed reunification of Germany, wanted to prop up the GDR and the Soviet Union.

-My problem with this, is he ignores the broader effects of American Empire and global military expansion. He tacitly rubber stamps U.S. expansion globally leaving little room to problematize U.S. Foriegn policy.

Bruce Cumings. University of Chicago. History Professor.

Disagrees that 9/11 was a punctuated event. There were numerous anarchist attacks, yet they weren't considered world changing. 9/11 was merely taken to be one by the Bush Administration.

How do we know we're in a tranformative moment? Other suggested Punctuational Events. 1953 end of Stalin. 1945. Sino-Soviet split. Perestroika started then a lot of these other events became more likely. Aren't all these transformative moments, yet are not always considered as such?

The Cold War already ended in Asia in 1970's and economics changed things. Deng Xiaoping already did what we expected (wake up and throw off Mao) so we don't think of it as earth changing.

NATO is meant to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. That sounds about right to me.

Bob Zellick in 1990 mentioned NATO moving into Eastern Europe. Poles and Hungarians are publically mentioning it. Gorbechav even suggested to Baker to have the Soviet Union join NATO!!

University of Virginia- Miller Center

We Need an Imperial Bill of Rights

We have the right to live free of rape and murder and annihilation.

We have the right to live free of government that encourages or perpetrates or is complicit with this.

We deserve a society so civilized as to try to reduce or even reverse or at least transform this situation we find ourselves in.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Buddy Boy

Living in a preposterously dingy apartment with a psychotic and revolting step mother, a teen discovers a peephole then develops an actual relationship with the object of his peeping tom obsession.

He soon sees her engage in questionable and contradictory behavior, all the while slowly tracking down a missing girl he's seen on the back of a milk carton through his job at a photo processing center.

However, he can never seem to verify what he sees, and the audience eventually learns that what he sees does not match reality... but it remains, what is real and what is his delusion?

This irreality is intermingled with his fervent belief in god and the Catholic Church.

"A teen spends free time spying on a neighbor." Starring Aidan Gillen, Emmanuelle Seigner, Susan Tyrrell, Mark Boone Jr., Harry Groener, Hector Elias. Directed by Mark D. Hanlon. 1999. 104 mins.


I need to engage in a sustained study of the Zombie genre, there are increasingly more interesting films from the genre coming out from "21 days" to "Fido."

Zombie's usually symbolize what the subjects of the "rat race" must be like in order to survive. Even if it is a cannibalistic violence that only breeds more who act likewise.

Fido takes place in an idyllic and gun-crazy 1950's, where women casually walk around with pistols and all manual labor is done by zombies.

"A boy's best friend is his zombie." Starring Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, K'sun Ray, Henry Czerny, Dylan Baker, Tim Blake Nelson. Directed by Andrew Currie. Canada. 2007. 91 mins.

Of Spines and Crosses

Across many religious traditions are similar symbols or depictions of straight staves (the plural of staff!!), poles, stakes, crosses, and the like. This includes the Christian cross, Kundalini rising, totem poles, and any other straight, vertically-oriented line, object, or religious fetish.

Some interpret this as symbolic of something that comes from and relates to the body. In fact, there is an entire school of thought often associated with George Lackoff and other cognitive scientists, that suggests nearly all knowledge is often just extended from body-knowledge. For example, "10" is an important number in math, simply because we have 10 fingers and toes!

So these vertical lines we see in religious symbol systems is thought to be represent the importance of a straight spine, which is maintained or achieved through sitting postures or meditation.

An ancient piece dug up from Harrapa and Mohenjo-Daro from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization (one of the oldest known), depicts a figure in what looks like a full lotus posture (asana).

Interestingly, as ancient as many of these are, they are decidedly different from religious fetishes from a more goddess-oriented religion, which depicts round shapes as in the Divine Yoni or rotund female figures, often featuring prominent and exaggerated genitalia.

So, this phallic symbolism seem to be associated with male-dominated civilizations, whereas, round shapes seemed more associated with female-centered societies that dominated our earliest human history.

I can only speculate, perhaps the deviating spine is symptomatic of increasingly complex and stratified societies that sees greater and greater amounts of sedentary and isolated cultural behaviors. Perhaps increased alienation leads to increasingly twisted spines (and minds) that is more typically of male-dominated heirarchical socieites, thus making straight spines an important enough issue for it to be permanently embedded into its symbology...

Inflammation: Brush Your Teeth!

Lately, health guru's from M.D.'s to alternative health advocates have been trying to educate concerning inflammation.

Studies have determined that something as small as regular brushing reduces plaque, lessening inflammation in the body (which even improves heart health), and can quantifiably extend life expectancy!!

Breath and Spirit: "Yoga Breath"

When anxious, nervous, stressed out or whatever takes you outside of the present moment, will inevitably be accompanied by a shallow chest breathing.

"Yoga Breath" typically refers to a way of breathing in which the stomach is pushed out on the on the inhale and letting it fall on the exhale. Breathing should NOT be up in the chest- inflating in and out.

"Prana" is "breath" in Sanskrit, and it is related to to "Pnuema" in Greek "Baruch" in Hebrew all of which can be translated both as "spirit" and "breath". Pranayama, often translated as "breath control" is the restricting or restraint of breath originally for meditative practices.

In Taoist Religion, breathing is considered to be one of the primary ways that we absorb Qi (Chi "energy") through the air. As a result, breath techniques in this tradition are some of the most elaborate I have come across. (Micro and Macro-cosmic orbits can be dangerous and should be done with a teacher). There is also the closing or locking of the "Four Gates" (the perineum, neck, stomach, and .... the other one) which is coordinated with the inhalations and exhalations and is often taught in so-called "internal" martial arts styles, such as Taichi, Qigong, and Bagua.

In tantrism, this is referred to as Kundalini (Rising), depected symbolically as a serpent rising up the spinal cord), though the Chinese Taoist and Indian Tantric practices are not identical, nor interchangeable, they do however appear to actually have common historical lineages.

It suffices, that during the day, whenever we can remember to "watch our breath," we can check to see if we are anxiously (even hysterically) breathing shallow in the chest up high, and whether we can remember enough times throughout the day to gently bring that breathing to our stomach, lower down in the abdomen.

Pagan Christmas

It is uncontroversially acknowledged by any Christian scholar or historian that Christmas takes place on December 25th, in an attempt by the Church to "cover over" or co-opt a pagan holiday.

The cult of Mithras was more popular in its day day than the fledgling Christ Cult. However, it was a male-only cult and by the time of Emperor Constantine and his son Theodophicus, it was all co-opted into the larger Christian Institution.

Mithras killed the bull and was born on December 25th. He is said to have died and resurrected in three days.

Neo-pagans hope to revive the religious traditions that were erased, co-opted, and covered over during the 4th Century.

However, this movement is not JUST a reactionary or romantic movement.

U.S. Bases Abroad

Phyllis Bennis

Institute for Policy Studies
New Internationalism Project-Director

Environmental and social concerns (especially surrounding women) of U.S. bases abroad.

Pentagon now in charge of ALL of Africa NO LONGER by civilians in USAID or the State Department!! (includes administration of aid, policies concerning public health, etc.!!) 2100 of 2500 U.S. troops in Africa are stationed in Djibouti, newly developed Africa Command (never had one before). CentCom, PacCom, Europe (list rest of military commands).

Publications: Challenging Empire (Iraq War), violation of international law.

"Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced?"

Most countries in the Afghan coalition have only a few troops, "window dressing" only UK, Australia, Canada, Italy have any significant numbers. Not really multi-national. Only there due to political or economic pressure from the U.S. (like Georgia 1, Iceland 2, Ireland 4, Jordan 7, etc.)

Almost all the troops serving in the war zones are there from towns under the population of less than 25,000. This is like a "poverty" draft.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quality vs. Cults

Why is it that when someone wants to start a cult, a con, or a gang, you've got people falling over each other to get screwed over, yet when you want to really start a movement full of integrity and sincerity that will improve the world or people's lives, the all of a sudden people eye you with the sort of suspicion they wouldn't give to a sonovabitch?

Internet Trolls and the Cowardice of Anonymity

i had left this comment on dec. 18 in response to an anonymous comment on dec. 15th by a climate denier. but it was a little too confrontational and inflammatory!

in future, such comments will be deleted. it is INCREDIBLY insensitive to consider "heterosexual AIDS" a myth, considering how many are victimized by it. naturally such comments are left anonymous trolls, probably written by some computer program since 100% of this garbage can be sourced to geniuses from Faux News, at least i hope there aren't this many human adults this ignorant and naive.

Sacred Cows

Not being easily offended, and not being defensive of my sacred cows, to me, is a sign of intelligence and integrity.

Jesus' Arrest

Many myths surround why he was arrested. The gospel account claims it is because he claimed to be the Messiah. However, it is questionable whether this was against Jewish law (talmud). And even if it were, why would Pilate concern himself with Jewish law?

One suggestion is that Palm Sunday was not as is often spun in the gospel accounts to match some prophecy of the messiah, but rather may have been "street theater" to mock the Imperial Roman procession that would have been happening at the same time with Pilate at the other side of the city. It may have been a kind of demonstration against Roman rule, getting him in trouble with the Roman authorities and law.

Judi Magness, University of North Carolina

How to Read the New York Times

Despite being considered "the liberal Media" by right wing loonies and other uncredible sorts, being the "paper of record" it has an inevitable establishmentarian leaning/ bias. Therefore, there are editors who act as gatekeepers to keep the paper from seeming "biased." "Being biased" means, "speaking truth to power" so you have to keep from seeming "biased" against the powerful, super powerful, and obscenely powerful.

So, the way I found is the best way to read an article is to read the last sentence of the article. There, you will find the one sentence that NEEDS to be said, that the reporter WANTS, to say, but the editor tries to KEEP them from saying. So, that's where they compromise and the reporter can sneak in that one sentence that's subversive. It will usually be worded entirely differently than the rest of the articles prose and will sound something like, "However, critics question whether this is really even an issue," or something really matter of fact and "smart" sounding. It will often be really "big picture."

Gnostic Gospels

I first came across Elaine Pagels probably over 10 years ago, and was intrigued. There's a separate set of gospels? As it turns out archaeology has revealed (by pure serendipity) both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. The Essenes, the Gnostics, new groups of religious adherents new to me.

Then later I met a Coptic Christian from Egypt and also learned that one of the oldest traditions of Christianity is the Syriac Church. There is even a very interesting and ancient tradition of Christianity in the South Indian state of Kerala, purportedly started by doubting Thomas himself. Their rituals would be unrecognizable to us today but seem to reflect much more "pure" traditions of ancient Christ Cult practices.

Even the Armenians linked Christianity to State power before the European church (with the Roman Empire). In fact, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is still run by Armenian priests, as well as there are monastaries in continuous inhabitation by Armenians for many centuries in spite of the fact that there had been no Armenian state for most of that same time period!

Furthermore, the Ethiopians insist they possess the Ark of the Covenant. Indeed, the Ethiopian languages are Semitic languages and their lifestyles are closest to what we would consider the bibilical, nomadic lifestyles we read about in the bible.

Lastly, I most recently learned of the Mandeans located in Iraq. Today there are up to 100,000 adherents of this tradition and have been labeled by Orientalists as the only continuously practiced lived tradition of Gnostics! Since the glorious Bushkrieg of 2003, all of them have been dispersed to Jordan, Syria, the U.S. and other places outside of their homeland. These communities who had been tight lipped and secretive seem to be descendents of John the Baptist!

The Nights of Cabiria

"Fellini's Oscar-winner tells of a good-hearted prostitute." Directed by Federico Fellini. 1957 Italy, 110 mins.

"We can all pretend to be cynical and scheming, but when we're faced with purity and innocence, the cynical mask drops off and all that is best within us awakens."

Starring: Giulietta Masina, Francois Perier, Amedeo Nazzari, Franca Marzi, Dorian Gray, Aldo Silvani.

Mysteries of Mary Magdalene

"The great mystery woman of the Bible. The conspiracy theories surrounding the great mystery woman of the Bible." National Geographic

It's interesting that in all four gospels she is the only one not to abandon Christ when he was executed by the all-powerful Roman Empire, AND she was also the one to anoint his naked corpse, she seems to have had a very intimate relationship with him.

According the the Gnostic Gospels, esp. the Gospel of Phillip, some translate as "And he kissed her on the mouth very often."

Also the Gospel of Thomas, Mary are important to look at as competing versions of Jesus' life and teaching.

It's also argue that Mary Magdalene being the first witness of Christ's resurrection and that the empty tomb scene seems to be a later add on, then she may be the creator and founder of "Christianity" since Jesus was already dead. So the idea of a religion founded upon the death of Christ for our sins and his resurrection on the third day may very well be attributable to her.

John Nelson Darby

The father of Dispensationalism and one of the inventors of the concept of the "rapture". Before him such a concept never existed and now amongst most "mainstream" evangelicals.

What's important about this is not "who's right or wrong" about believing this mythical nonsense, but the mind-numbing ignorance about sourcing required in the slave mentality to buy whatever silliness is vomited up by our pastors and how spoon-fed we are on the Christian Right.

Born Female

"The problem of prostitution and human trafficking in India."

Shakti bhaini is the name of the non-profit social program started by three brothers all who left their careers as bankers, bureaucrats, and journalists to help trafficked women.

If these trends continues, within 20 years 1 in 5 Indian women will have been trafficked.

In the end, interviewing some village men in Bengal, they said that if they women don't continue to work the fields while they sit around idly, they'll just beat them. But this is what they saw modeled for them by their elders for generations. This was seen as part of what allowed such a flesh trade to flourish.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Cavite is the name of a town the hero of the film is directed to call by a mysterious caller the moment he arrives in the Phillipines after arguing with he girlfriend who is to abort their child due to his lack of financial stability and the fact that she has met someone else at her workplace.

It is a tight, low budget, highly creative and clever suspense mystery shot almost entirely on hand-held DV with the camera following him the entire length of the movie.

As we soon learn the captors are a split off faction from the Moro Liberation Front the much feared Abu Sayyaf.

The film stars the writer and director Ian Gamazon and co written by Neil dela Llana also starring Dominque Gonzalez. 2005. 78 mins. "A kiidnapper forces a man to commit an act of terror."

Pocket Money

Directed by Stuart Rosenberg, Script by Terrence Malick. Starring Paul Newman and Lee Marvin, Hector Elizando, Gregory Sierra. 1972.

The directing of this movie is so odd, but not in a good way, it breaks the ability for the audience to stay within the film. Especially Lee Marvin's character who just doesn't act like any real person, no matter how quirky, would, and so makes it seem like I'm watching a performance by an actor which is the worst case scenario for a film in my opinion.

Oddly, this seems to be what allowed Terence Malik to make films in Hollywood and he is easily one of the best American Directors alive!

Garden State

Written and Directed by Zach Braff. "A disaffected actor finds a soulmate in a quirky woman." Starring Zach Braff, Ian Holm, Ron Leibman, Method Man, Natalie Portman, Ann Dowd. 2004. 109 mins.

Clever, smart film depicting genuine human connection within an alienated, self-medicated world. Snide depictions of the "acting world" of L.A. within a world of anti-depressants, overnight millionaires, illicit drugs, and an underground economy is all part of the insightful character of the script.

Another "smart" thing about the film is the GREAT soundtrack. Zach Braff obviously has really cool taste in music. You know this right off, as the film opens with a quirky yet serious Indian song, (not bollywood, but perhaps even some sort of devotional song) and includes Nick Drake and other moody independent type selections, demonstrating a wide range and tasteful array of musical flavors.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Running 7 Dogs, aka "Dawn of 7"

Part of an interesting and unique genre common in Korean Cinema: the Organized Crime Comedy. This one is so overtly comic, that mostly comedians are cast in the various gangsters, mobsters, and street thugs.

The narrative seems to borrow heavily from Quentin Tarantino and is similar to the later Smokin' Aces or Guy Ritchie films, where numerous criminal interests collide. However, the directing is not skillful enough that unfolding the narrative non-chronolgoically doesn't really seem ot have an interesting dramatic effect, rather makes the film almost confusing at times, making the audience wonder as to why certain scenes are shown at certain times.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Virgin Suicides

Directed by Sofia Coppola. 1999. 97 mins. "Men reminisce about five intriguing sisters."

Surreal and unique, original investigation into 70's era suburban teenage angst. The narrative structure is quintessentially "postmodern" in that there are different narrators at different times and is non-chronological as it jumps between voices and times, though the narrative is still perfectly unified and unconfusing. She seems to borrow from numerous gnres as she even employs some comical techniques from silly comedies, such as fantasy montages and cutaways.

Sofia truly redeems herself after in many viewers eyes, single-handedly ruined Godfather Part III! Lost In Translation was also marvelous.

Starring James Woods, Kathleen turner, Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, Hanna R. Hall, Chelse Swain.

Jindo: Korea's super smart dog

The Korean dog named after the Island of "Jindo" in the far south of Korea is an uncannily smart dog.

Breed characteristics: tends to avoid human settlements, hunts on its own, will not overeat, fiercely defensive of its owner, will not easily transfer loyalty to "new owner" and will regularly jumps over 9-12 foot fences!

Verified accounts have shown that many Jindo's will literally travel hundreds of miles to return to their first master's home. One Jindo even swam ACROSS the ocean back to the island of Jindo and was found at the old master's home, a journey of over 500 miles!

Due to it's breed characteristic of avoiding human settlement and hunting on its own, it can make such journey's to be reunited with its master.

I believe they should be understood as a land breed, like the Swiss Mountain Dog, rather than identified by the latest genetic characteristics.

This breed developed in the Jindo's resistance against the Mongol Invasions of the 12th Century, as many different war dogs from across Korea congregated there. As a result the Korean Army continues to use Jindo's as guard dogs, as they can recognize the scent of over 1000 individuals, so they can recognize any sabateurs or North Korean agents attempting to sneek into a military base just be not recognizing the agent's scent.

Accounts of the Jindo's bravery and loyalty are famous. Unfortunately, Jindo's are uninsurable like pitbulls in the U.S. and OFTEN end up in shelters, as owners cannot handle such a wild dog. Once, Dr. Phil brought his Jindo to the Tonight Show and Jay Leno asked if it was a good dog to have. Dr. Phil replied, "If you like dingos!!"

Coal Country

"The truth about coal mining and the battle with the coal companies in Appalachia."

Documentary by the descendent of generations of coal miners.

The irony of dirty, black, deadly coal is that it is the result of that which used to be living "organic" such as ancient plant material. Also, typically coal mining communites are tight-knit expressing almost ideal levels of solidarity.

Mountaintop Removal: they blast and take the "overburden" off the top of mountains to get at the coal underneath, and this overburden is then cast down into the valley streams, causing tremendous environmental catastrophe. Huge amounts of mercury emissions (a known potent neurotoxin) is left behind. This is a very profitable business model compared to the "old" way of underground coal mining. Furthermore, the "reclamation" afterwards is devoid of the previous biodiversity and of course the moutaintop itself. The coal companies say they are within the law, yet these laws were the product of lobbying from the industry itself.

Appalachian Center for the Economy and Environment

Explorer: Narco State

"The drug war along the Mexican border and its northward advance."

Kidnappings and Human Trafficking rise as the drug cartels increase their activity in Arizona. Much like in Afghanistan and other ares, these practices seem to inveitably follow a drug trafficking activity.

After a fatal shooting in Juarez, the epicenter of the drug war in Mexico, songs about the Narco-corridos play over police radios, a signal from cartels declaring who's responsible- a deadly show of power.

Sicario: a hitman for the Juarez cartel.

Sinaloa Cartel: one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico. 12,000 deaths in the war on drugs.

"Americans love their country, but can only face it if they're stoned, I guess!" Charles Bowden, writer.

Reporting by Lisa Ling

The violence erupted as a result of new President Felipe Calderon who rejected the previous Mafia-like arrangement of previous govenrment corruption and cartel informed "blood is bad for business" to a war against organized crime.

So, I have to ask, will legalizing and regulating the drug trade, like alcohol and tobacco, the way to take the revenue stream away from organized crime.

In Between Days

An interesting low-budget, independent film shot in New York City about Korean expatriates living abroad. Seemingly shot all on DV, it has a kind of Cinema Verite, "reality show" quality to it.

The story revolves around a young girl, who leaves voicemails to her dad still living in Korea, about her life, how much she misses him and whether he wants to see her. She then falls in love with her only friend an she becomes increasingly more alienated from her family and friends.

A subtle portrayal of the "jealously" game of insincerity is heartbreaking as the pernicious insecurity of young teenagers is seen eating away at potential happiness.

Directed by So Yong Kim 2006, 82 mins. "A lonely teen falls in love with her only friend."

Man Bites Dog

A documentary film crew follows around a notorious gangster as he goes on a crime spree of robbing, raping, and killing. Slowly the film crew gets caught up in the chaos and begin to become complicit in the gangster's activities...

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Michael Rooker stars as an unstable serial killer. Directed by John McNaughton. This was one of the first movies I remember that was a part of the NC-17 movement when I was in High School.

Some of the scenes of ultra-violence are reminiscent of both A Clockwork Orange and Man
Bites Dog.


Seems to be largely based on Bob Baer's books about his experiences as a field officer in the C.I.A.

Children of Men

In the near future, women can no longer get pregnant, the world's youngest man is shot to death as the world mourns to the somewhat trifling and distracting news as the world crumbles in chaos around them. England survives alone in the world of civilization as some terribly calamity has brought down the rest of the world.

A resistance movement runs much like a mafia as they resist the government and function outside the bounds of legality. The rest of society is dominated by gangs. In the midst of this, the revolutionary movement rife with corruption, betrayal, and competing rivalries discover a young woman who is pregnant.

The Watchmen

This is what EVERY movie should be like. Sometimes I experience psychic breaks from "reality" and hallucinate a similar such conception of the world.

Other films such as Wanted, Jumper, Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly, and numerous others also share such worlds. Is this reflective of a common "non-dual" mental state that's shared amongst many writers/ directors?

Michael Clayton

The world of capital must create a world of corruption, and discovery of the truth will lead to either death or insanity.


This remake by Steven Soderbergh crystalizes the essence the narrative of Stanislaw Lem's novel, emphasizing the emotional/ romantic aspects of it.

The original film adaptation by the legendary Alexander Tarkovsky must not be missed. The visuals of this film are both haunting and surreal. Without using any special effects, somehow Tarkovsky creates some of the most gorgeous and inscrutable images, that seem out of this world, yet are not. The other-worldly images are acheived just simply through photography, lighting, and mise-en-scene.

I'm a Cyborg, but That's Okay

Directed by Park Chan-wook. A young girl thinks that she's actually a cyborg that needs to get revenge on the "men in white" who took her grandmother away for thinking she was a mouse.

There are a number of layers interesting symbolisms throughout the film.

For example the "Budo" or spirit of being a Cyborg is to refrain from the Cyborg "7 Deadly Sins":

Feel no sympathy
Feel no sadness
No Restlessness
No Hesitation about Anything
No Useless Daydreaming
Do not Feel Guilty
No Thankfulness

"The above was in the order of evilness."

I wonder whether this has to do with the kinds of subjectivities that we need to survive in a late modern capitalist society rife with alienation and isolation. as if we need to "harden" ourselves like a cyborg to make it, lest we go insane.

There are also scenes, where she buries important artifacts that help her in gbeing a successful Cyborg (such as the detnures, Rain's keepsake locket with his mothers' picture which he had converted into a "Rice conversion megatron" to convince her to being eating again.)

A Dirty Shame

John Waters does it again with this zany film about sex and concussions.

Fast Food Nation

Dirty food, dirty people, dirty deeds, dirty world.