Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt again

Okay, so...here's how it worked. The U.S. government provided some funding to these people in Egypt who wanted to use social media to organize protests. But nothing came of it, and nothing would have come of it, until Wikileaks revealed it to the world. The Egyptian people got the message, whether it was correct or not, that U.S. wouldn't support Mubarak, and there you go.

The young fellow rotting in prison charged with passing the files on to Wikileaks is pleased with the results of his work, as well he should be.

The Israelis, meanwhile, got their yarmulkes in a bunch because Obama isn't calling on Mubarak to massacre his people.

I don't know...you think the Israel lobby is going to attack American leaders for calling for democracy in Egypt? Should Israel get credit for being "the only democracy in the middle east" because they give themselves the right to vote while they try to deny it to everyone else? In any case, aren't Lebanon and Turkey democracies? Are the traitorous Zionists denigrating our NATO ally?

Israel supporting Mubarak, obviously

Now Israel is demanding that people stop criticizing Mubarak. The Zionists aren't speaking publicly about what's happening in Egypt, but they told their embassies in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Russia to demand that their host countries leave Mubarak alone.

For years, Zionsist have responded to any criticism of Israel with an accusation of anti-Semitism. "Why don't you criticize Egypt!" If you criticized the blockade of Gaza, they'd say the same thing.

Usually Zionists are happy about things like this in an Arab country. They'd point to it as proof that Israel isn't the violent racist state it clearly is.

If the people win in Egypt, it should be the end of the blockade of Gaza. Israel will have to reconfigure its military. It was Egypt's peace treaty with Israel that allowed it to repeatedly attack and occupy Lebanon.

For all the American leaders writhing under the thumb of the Zionist lobby, this is their chance. What's AIPAC or the Anti-Defamation League going say? These same groups that for years have claimed that Israel is "the only democracy in the middle east". Are they going to publicly attack politicians calling for democracy in Egypt?

Maybe I'm wrong---Zionists are pretty shameless

Here is an article on the reported U.S. backing for the protest organizers:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4020784,00.html

This is a pro-Israel news website. And look at the comments on the article. The Zionists are very openly pro-Mubarak and consider any statement against him to be an attack on Israel.

Al Jazeera is reporting that Egypt asked for "crowd dispersement equipment" from Israel and two planeloads of the equipment have landed in Egypt.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Charlie Sheen, porn stars

I hate to join in the spreading of cruel rumors about someone who's having terrible personal and medical problems, but TMZ is reporting that Charlie Sheen wanted to rent a mansion, have his favorite porn stars move in, and create his own "porn family".

I don't remember if they claimed that Sheen actually used the term "porn family" or if it was something TMZ made up. My guess is that TMZ made it up. Sheen's managers rushed in and put an end to it.

Well, Charlie Sheen must be nice for the porn stars. My guess is that a lot of them just want to be stars. They went into porn because they wanted to be celebrities, and how else were they going to do it?

Charlie Sheen is bridging that gap between Porn Celebrities and Regular Celebrities. It doesn't give them legitimacy, but they probably think it does.

Years ago, there was a story on some second-rate news show, 20/20 or Dateline or 48 Hours. There was a very cheerful obese girl who was convinced that her work in pornographic movies would someday lead to her receiving an Oscar. It would be a stepping stone to stardom and success. She hoped to eventually direct real movies. Her parents were shaking their heads.

Some crossover

I watched one of those old Italian cannibal movies. In the '60s, the Italians created a whole new genre, movies about people go into the jungles of Africa or South America and are eaten by cannibals. There was one American actor who starred in several of them. He was a major figure in Italian cannibal cinema. I don't remember his name, but they interviewed him---it was a bonus feature on the DVD.

It turns out that the guy had also done a lot of porno films in the U.S. All those years, he kept the two aspects of his career separate and was horrified when imdb.com came along and wrecked it for him.

Maybe that poor girl who thought she'd work her way to the top, from porn actress to Oscar-winning auteur, could have been right. Lots of young people want to be movie directors and none of their plans are very realistic. It's possible that she recognized her only chance for success and had put together as reasonable a plan as any to claw her way to the top. And it could have worked if imdb.com hadn't thrown a wrench into the works.

Even non-porn actors are upset that their early appearances on CHiPs, or Airwolf, or The Love Boat have been cataloged for all the world to see.

Charlie Sheen

There was a news photo of Charlie Sheen at a basketball game. He was with Angus T. Jones, the kid from Three and a Half Men. It gave the impression that he was a very nice man who thoughtfully took this kid to a basketball game. It's terrible what drugs have done to him.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Iran, Egypt

There were the last presidential elections in Iran. The incumbant, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had a well funded, well-run campaign. He did a couple of tours of the country. He opposed privatization of the oil industry which gave him the support of oil workers, he provided health insurance for women who worked at home, so he had the women's vote.

Mousavi, meanwhile, one of several candidates, hadn't held office in ten years when he suddenly announced he was running for president three months before the election. He barely campaigned, only in two cities. Then, the minute the polls closed, he announced that he had won the election. When the real election results were announced, he claimed that Ahmadinejad had stolen the election.

The poor dumb stooges took to the streets. I heard one of their leaders interviewed on public radio, a university student. He was certain that Ahmadinejad lost the election because not a single one of his friends voted for him.

I don't know if the "Iran experts" in the US and British press were lying or if they truly didn't know how Iranian elections worked.

One claimed that the votes in Iran weren't counted at all. How could they have counted millions of ballots so fast? And why was it that, in some towns, the number of ballots cast was higher than the population?

First, in Iran, there is one polling station for every thousand voters. The ballots are tallied by the poll workers as soon as the polls closed. This is how it used to be done many places in the United States. They count the ballots and anyone who wants to can observe. The presidential election was the only issue on the ballot. How long would it take you to tally 1,000 ballots?

The reason that some towns had more voters than residents is that, in Iran, they don't have absentee ballots. If you're away from home on election day, you vote at the polls in whatever town you happen to be in. Towns with a large number of tourists or workers from out of town will have more people show up at the polls than live there.

It's much harder to rig an election in Iran than it is in the United States. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election fair and square.

The protesters in Iran claimed that they would soon have proof that the election was stolen. They never did and the Iranian people quit listening to them.

Now we have Egypt.

Wikileaks has revealed that the U.S. has been bankrolling these people plotting to use social media to stage massive protests in Egypt. It's safe to assume they did the same in Tunisia and Iran and now in Yemen.

It'll be good to be rid of Mubarak. Did the U.S. turn on him? He served the U.S. so well, torturing prisoners for the U.S., blockading and starving the people of Gaza. Probably why Biden went on TV and declared that Mubarak wasn't a dictator and shouldn't step down.

Remember Biden's performance in the Vice Presidential debates. He whined that he TOLD Bush not to allow elections in Palestine and Lebanon---Israel wouldn't like the results.

Maybe the U.S. government believes its own propaganda and actually wants a democratic government in Egypt. Hard to imagine.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Larry Wilcox from CHiPs------pleads guilty to securities fraud!


I always hated that show. I feel vindicated.

Wilcox was the William Shatner of the show. Shatner was star of Star Trek and had to cope with Mr Spock's popularity. Wilcox was star of CHiPs and was alarmed at Erik Estrada's popularity. I never knew what Wilcox's appeal was. Why did they make him the star? He didn't seem to have done much before or since.

Larry Wilcox, the actor who played Officer Jon Baker on the 1970s TV show "CHiPs," was sentenced Friday to three years probation by a Florida judge for conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Wilcox pleaded guilty in November and had been cooperating with the authorities, according to court documents. In addition to serving three years of probation, he was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service and pay a $100 fine.

Along with Erik Estrada as Officer 'Ponch' Poncherello, Wilcox started in the show about two well-coifed, motorcycle-riding California Highway Patrolmen from 1977-1983.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Wilcox in October with paying kickbacks to pension fund managers and brokers to manipulate the volume and price of penny stocks and illegally generate stock sales.

The scheme involved more than a dozen other penny stock promoters and the SEC worked closely with the FBI and authorities in Florida in an investigation that involved "undercover operations."

Wilcox faced a maximum of five years in prison, but Judge James I. Cohn decided he deserved a lighter sentence.

Penny stocks are, as the name implies, shares of small, often obscure companies that are traded on a market called the Pink Sheet.

Wilcox's lawyer, William Leon Richey, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Foriegn accents


The movie The ODESSA File is on. I'm not sure if "odessa" should be all caps---if it's an acronym or what. Jon Voight runs around Germany speaking in a phony German accent.

Is it right or wrong? I don't know.

Germans don't speak English with a German accent. But they don't speak German with English subtitles, either. They also don't speak American English. There are things Germans say that wouldn't sound right in a standard American accent. Like:

"You are trying to turn me into a cabbage."

I'm not sure what Jon Voight meant by this but it sounded authentically German, the way he said it.

Speaking in normal accents can create other problems. Watching the British production of The Three Musketeers with Michael York and those other English guys, I had to keep reminding myself that they were French since they all spoke in British accents.

There was a British production of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It probably made sense to British audiences, but Americans couldn't figure out why working class Russians were speaking with cockney accents.

Roger Corman shot the movie Von Richtofen and Brown with the Germans speaking standard American English. The fellows at United Artists were horrified and had the whole thing dubbed into German accented English.

There were some exploitation film producers in the '30s. They realized that the way to make money was through merchandising. They would show movies about venereal disease and sell books on the subject as people walked out.

They made a religious movie. Somewhere in the South, there was "Passion Play" performed every year. They filmed the play. Began traveling with the movie, showing it to audiences. But it did very badly. They couldn't understand what the problem was.

They showed it to another exploitation film producer and he saw what the problem was. The actors all spoke in thick Southern accents. They redubbed the movie and it made money. They sold religious items in the lobby.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Israel, Palestine

Well. It turns out that the Palestinians offered the Israelis concessions which amounted to almost total capitulation. The Israelis turned them down and then blamed the Palestinians for the failure of the negotiations. This according to Palestinian documents leaked to Al Jazeera.

The Israelis said that the Palestinian offer didn't meet their demands. Apparently, the Israelis are demanding that Palestinians simply cease to exist and they consider their failure to do so to be an act of anti-Semitism.

People of the world are talking about this, at least outside the United States. I don't know how much difference it will make.

A while back, it was revealed that the Israelis were harvesting the organs of the Palestinians they murdered. Palestinians had been reporting this for years, and it always sent the Zionists into a hysterical rage. The Jews were screaming BLOOD LIBEL up until the day the Israelis admitted it was true. They admitted that they killed Palestinians and took their organs for transplant.

I was looking for news about it. I found some Jewish newspapers on line that had reports on it.

These same people who had been outraged that anyone would ever be so irrational to dare suggest that they could possibly be guilty of such an unthinkable crime----well, they now thought human organ harvesting was a great idea. Only an anti-Semite could find fault with it!

You look at the reader comments on the articles and you found nothing but comments on what a brilliant move this was on Israel's part. Not one person had the slightest problem with it.

There's something horribly wrong with these people.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fred Gwynne, Bernardo Bertolucci


One time, I was forced to attend one of those broadway plays, kind of a lousy musical. It was on tour. So I got dragged off to it.

And there on stage was Larry from Three's Company.

Apparenty Horshack is big on Broadway.

But it still comes as kind of a surprise----I'm sitting here with the TV on. There's a Bertolucci movie on. And it's got Fred Gwynne in it---TV's Herman Munster.

One time, I saw Ed O'Neill on a talk show. He was still on Married With Children. The audience laughed at poor Ed when he said he'd always seen himself as a Robert De Niro. But it was more plausible than Herman Munster as a high brow European film star.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Armored Attack, Eyewitness


Years ago, in the early days of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, I guess they didn't have much going on. They kept showing the same movie late at night. It was a World War Two movie called Armored Attack.

Its original title was The North Star. Made in 1943, about the people of Ukrainian village resisting Nazi occupation. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were allies at that point, and this was in fact a pro-Soviet film. Written by Lillian Hellman. I don't know how it ended up on CBN. Somebody must have noticed they were showing a pro-Communist movie.

And now they keep showing what must be the only anti-Zionist film ever made by Hollywood, Eyewitness, on the Fox Movie Channel. What would the vermin at Fox News say.

Hypocrisy---the case for

Didn't Jonathan Swift say something about hypocrisy? I can't remember. In Gulliver's Travels maybe. Someone declares that hypocrisy is the worst possible sin.

I just skimmed the book. Couldn't force myself to read it. I paid attention in class and picked up enough to get a "D minus" on an essay test.

Anyway, if he did say it, I took it to be ironic. There are far worse things that hypocrisy. In fact, hypocrisy is pretty good. I suggested that as a bumpersticker (I work at a sticker company):

IF YOU THINK HYPOCRISY IS BAD, CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE.

Hypocrisy is just easy to attack. It's easy pickin's.

Years ago, a guy named Paul Hill appeared on Nightline. Hill publicly called for the murder of anyone involved in abortion.

Also on the show was a more mainstream Right-To-Lifer who was opposed to murdering people.

Which one do you think Ted Koppel attacked?

Koppel, of course, spent the show attacking the "moderate" right-to-lifer. Doesn't she consider abortion to be murder? Wouldn't you shoot somebody who was about to kill an actual baby? Then why don't you want to kill doctors?

Paul Hill sat there with a fixed smile on his face. It wasn't long after that that he shot three people, killing two. I don't know how much blame Ted Koppel deserves for that, but it must be quite a bit. Hill had the same fixed smile throughout his trial. Probably did when he was executed in Florida nine years later, too.

Anderson Cooper

Now we have Anderson Cooper. I never watch that crap, but it was on TV in the next room. He spent quite a bit of time repeating the same attack over and over against Rep. Steve Cohen who correctly pointed out the Republicans' use of Goebbel's "Big Lie" technique against health care.

Cooper got his panties in a bunch because it was uncivil. Democrats were calling for more civility after the shooting--the mass murder--in Arizona.

I don't imagine that Cooper spent entire interviews with Tea Baggers attacking them over and over for their calling Obama a Nazi.

In fact, Cooper repeatedly accused Cohen of calling Republicans "Nazis", something he plainly didn't do.

Anderson Cooper is a cockroach anyway. He covered the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza. Lebanese and Palestinians were being slaughtered by the hundreds. In Lebanon, the Israelis ordered Lebanese villagers to clear out, then they bombed their cars as they tried to drive to safety. 400 children were murdered in Gaza, many of them burned alive with white phosphorus.

And what did Anderson Cooper do while this was going on? He minced around Israel whining about the "suffering" of the Israeli Jews.

Clara Bow, Jane Russell

http://cinemasmear.blogspot.com/2011/02/jane-russell.html




I was awake in the middle of the night watching a young Clara Bow in a 1932 movie. It was pre-production code. And it was quite evident that she was not wearing proper undergarments. In one scene, she wrestled with a large dog. The camera angle on the dog was rather immodest, too.

Contrast that with Jane Russell in The Outlaw, made eleven years later and banned in a number of jurisdictions because of an ill-fitting top:
I had a teacher in high school who told us that he and his friends drove across state lines to see The Outlaw. They were all disappointed.

There's not steady progress toward greater and greater freedom. It fluctuates.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What did I say about Ricky Gervais?


Once again, I was way ahead of the curve. I knew Ricky Gervais was a bad, bad man! I wrote about it here. There was something rather cruel about a successful comedian playing a terribly unfunny office worker whose whole self-image is wrapped around the idea of himself as a comic.

When he hosted The Golden Globes, Gervais first joke was something about how it would be "a night of drinking and partying, or as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast."

Well, no, that's not very clever.

I read a parody of Bob Hope's humor. He says a restaurant wanted to get Dean Martin as a customer, so they made Vodka the soupe du jour. "Now I'm not saying Dean's a drinker, but..."

It wasn't very funny, either. But they made an effort.

You might be able to make a joke out of Robert Downey, Jr, having gone to jail and having undergone treatment for drug addiction, but simply bringing up the fact that he did isn't a joke.

Now people are upset because Gervais went too far!

He didn't go too far. He just wasn't funny.

On the other hand....

These days, there's the Daily Show and the work of Baron Sasha Cohen, or Sasha Baron Cohen, whatever it is----and there's The Tonight Show. One of Jay Leno's things is making fun of people on the street. He asks them questions and makes fun of them if they give incorrect answers. Humiliating ordinary people who didn't ask to be on TV.

This is wrong. Ordinary people should laugh at celebrities, not the other way around.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Plastic surgery, John Wayne

There's a website. What's it's name? Awful Plastic Surgery. It turns out pretty much ALL the celebrities have had cosmetic surgery. Even the kids. Ali Lohan has breast implants, her lips have been plumped and she has veneers on her teeth.

They say Ashlee Simpson has had two nosejobs, breast implants and a bizarre chin implant.

Miley Cyrus got veneers and also, they think, something called a gingivectomy which makes your gums smaller. She was showing too much gum when she smiled.

Zac Efron had a nosejob and got his teeth fixed.

This has been going on since the '20s!

...although it is widely accepted that many of today’s celebrities have gone under the knife, it is an astonishing fact that in the past some of the biggest stars – men and women fĂȘted for their supposed natural good looks in a seemingly more romantic age – were used as guinea pigs in the studios’ quest to manufacture the perfect celebrity.
According to a revelatory new BBC1 documentary, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster and Rita Hayworth were just a few of the stars who secretly submitted themselves to the scalpel. Plastic surgery in Hollywood dates back as far as the Twenties. However, some of the earlier operations proved disastrous, leaving patients permanently disfigured. ‘My mother was made to have her ears pinned back and they wanted her to have a nose job,’ says Carrie Fisher. ‘But she refused the nose job because they were really butchering them then.’

Mary Pickford – the silent film star known as ‘America’s sweetheart’ and the wife of Douglas Fairbanks – was left looking almost mummified by an unsophisticated face-lift in the early Thirties. Her skin was stretched so tight across her face that she was left unable to smile, her mouth, according to one commentator, left looking like a ‘little stiff, red-lined orifice in the face of a mummy’. Similarly, Carmen Miranda was another victim of the macabre face-lift technique and was forced to endure a permanent expression of surprise. Funny girl Lucille Ball was so keen on this stretch-and-pull surgery that her eyebrows gradually floated up her forehead and nearly disappeared into her hairline.

‘The early experiments in cosmetic surgery were quite crude,’ says surgeon to the stars Dr. Richard Fleming, 57, who lives in Brentwood, California, with his wife Margaret. ‘Many women were left with a rather windblown look after having a face-lift, while for years surgeons could only do one kind of nose. It used to be the case where you could walk around Hollywood and identify the surgeon by the style of a star’s nose.’
Even John Wayne...
Few people realised that John Wayne...underwent a series of operations, including a procedure to correct his flabby neck, a face-lift and upper eyelid surgery in order to look better on camera. When he entered his 50s, studio bosses urged him to consider cosmetic surgery to boost his image as a Hollywood hero. After initially refusing – he loathed the toupee thrust upon him by the studio – he finally relented when he entered his 60s, with an operation to remove excess skin from his neck and upper eyelids. The procedure was performed by Dr Franklin Ashley, the surgeon who had operated on Rita Hayworth. ‘When John Wayne came in for his surgery, I got him ready and he was on the table,’ says Norma Gerber, Ashley’s former nurse. ‘I found his pulse was racing and I had to indicate to Dr Ashley without letting John Wayne know. He said, “Hold on a minute, Duke,” and went out and got him a little injection of Valium because he was so nervous, his hands were sweating. They’re all little children when it comes to surgery.’ In order to keep the operation a secret. on being released from hospital, John Wayne went to stay at the surgeon’s home, where he was spotted by the doctor’s son Frank Ashley. Seeing the star wrapped in bandages, the boy assumed John Wayne had gone blind, and told all his school friends about the star’s misfortune. ‘In those days – I’m talking about maybe 30 years ago – men just didn’t do that,’ says Pilar Wayne Upchurch, the former wife of John Wayne. ‘It wasn’t something that was freely discussed; you had to hide for a couple of weeks.’



This is from an article written ten years ago. You can find it here:

http://www.bevhills.com/news/2001/04/28/hollywood-knives/

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Classical music

Here's the thing about classical music. You have Amy Chua, the abusive Chinese-American Yale law professor mother who gloats about having forced her daughters to practice for three hours a day. She forced them to play the violin and the piano. I don't know why Chua picked those two instruments. But I think I understand why she insisted on classical music.

It's because classical music requires zero creativity. You're playing the same music that has, in some cases, been played for centuries, and you're trying to play it the same way everyone else played it. If you're in an orchestra, you try to sound exactly like everyone around you.

And since there is a glut of thousands of other classical musicians all playing the same thing, and since it's all available on records and CD and has been for years, you're contributing absolutely nothing.

Maureen Corrigan reviewed Amy Chua's book on National Public Radio. The poor woman's been hanging around NPR too long. She concluded her review by noting that you couldn't argue with the results of Chua's sick abuse. Her daughters both played classical music! What a boon to mankind!

Some other fellows on NPR

There was the time the elderly MIT boys on Car Talk discussed school. The older one preferred math. He explained that you could get 100% on a math test and rest assured that you couldn't possibly have done any better. But even if you get the highest possible grade on an essay test in history or English, you could still have done better. No matter how good an essay is, it could always be improved somehow.

That's the appeal of classical music. It's music for people devoid of any creative impulse. You judge a performance according to how much it's sounds like everybody else. There's an objective measure. You don't say, "Well, it could always be better," you say, "It sounds exactly like the CD you can buy for eight dollars!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bourgeois Chinese mother Amy Chua

Abusive nutjob

So there's a new book out by someone called Amy Chua, a Chinese-American Yale law professor married to a Jewish Yale law professor. They agreed that their children would be Jewish for some reason, and they also agreed that they would be raised in what they thought was a Chinese manner. Their two daughters had to be "#1" in every subject but P.E., she considered an "A-" to be a "bad grade", she didn't allow them to do anything unless they could win an award for it, and they had to spend hours a day practicing a musical instrument, which had to be either a violin or a piano. She bragged about how she constantly insulted them, denouncing them for being fat or "lazy". She called one of them "garbage" because she had trouble playing some classical piece. She gloated about the time she took her 7-year-old daughter's doll house to her car and said she would get rid of it unless the 1st grader learned to play a song perfectly on her violin in one day.

Maybe this was some expression of Chinese culture, although it doesn't explain the girls' Jewish father. No doubt a Zionist.

I looked at a message board for teachers. One teacher in Canada had a large number of Chinese-Canadian students. She said that their mothers would demand to know how their children ranked in the class. The teacher tells them they don't give out that information---they don't discuss the grades other children receive. So then they will offer to help grade papers thinking they'll get the information that way, and the teachers refuse.

There are well over a billion Chinese in the world, and that's just in China. Hard to believe they're all that way. In any case, Chua and her Jewish husband actually sat down and agreed to this. It wasn't that she couldn't help herself or that she thought this was normal. She actually sat down and decided to act this way.

The daughters should get as far away from their mother as possible. Because if anything ever happens to her---if she's ever run over by a hit-and-run driver, if her brakes ever fail, if she ever falls down the stairs and breaks her neck---the girls are going to be prime suspects.

The real problem

What bothers me is the classical music. We probably ought to explain to Chinese coming to the West that you don't make a child play the violin so that they'll become classical musicians. You make them play the violin to be sure they never become musicians at all.

I have never seen an adult play the violin unless they were getting paid for it. It's something only children do and only because they can be forced to.

You force them to play classical music because nobody likes it. The kids don't like it. Their parents don't like it. While that one girl was playing her violin in Carnegie Hall, her classmates were forming punk rock bands, playing gigs, getting paid for it and actually enjoying themselves.

It makes Joe Jackson seem like a very reasonable person. The Jackson family is rich now. Some family members have extremely serious problems, obviously, but living in poverty in Gary, Indiana, was no picnic either.

Andre Agassi revealed a while back that he hated tennis but was forced to practice for years by his father. And Agassi did pretty well for himself.

But Amy Chua?

According to Maureen Corrigan who reviewed Chua's book on NPR, both of her daughters are "gifted" musicians (some gift). As I mentioned, one of them won a competition that allowed her to perform in Carnegie Hall.

First Chua forces her daughters to play music that nobody likes, and then she makes sure that no one will ever be able to listen to them without thinking about what a bitch their mother was. When she asked her daughter for input on the book, the daughter said, "I'm sure it's all about you anyway."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Elderly directors

I recently read that Kenneth Anger made his first film, "Fireworks", when he was 22 and in college, not when he was 17 and in high school as he claimed.

I always wondered about that. Seemed strange that a high school kid would make an art movie. When I was in high school, I made kung fu movies.

Anger claimed that he was in high school, his parents were out of town so he and his friends stole a backdrop from a movie studio then coaxed some sailors into coming to his house to make a homoerotic art film.

There are other directors who've lied about their age. Steven Bach, in his book about the making of Heaven's Gate and the undoing of United Artists, noted that Michael Cimino kept trimming years off his age. Even Woody Allen falsely claimed to be in his 30s when he directed Sleeper.

There have been a few young directors. Robert Rodriguez was, what, 24 he made El Mariachi? Harmony Korine was the same age when he directed Gummo.

Years ago, some cable station hired a six-year-old to direct a series of short videos. A thirteen-year-old directed a movie called Lex The Wonderdog in Holland, but that was his only movie.

In India, there's a 12-year-old director named Kishan Shrikanth who directed a movie at age 9.

But look at the old people!

Alfred Hitchcock was in his 70s when he made Frenzy and was pushing 80 when he made Family Plot.

John Huston was 79 when he directed Prizzi's Honor and 81 when he directed The Dead.

Sydney Lumet was 82 when he directed Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

Movies made by the really old seem to be much more interesting than those made by the very young.

Of course, it may just be that no one wants to trust a 20-year-old with the millions of dollars it takes to make a movie.

Something for film schoolers to think about. Most of them want to be directors. If you ever hit it big, you'll probably be fifty. How are you going to pay your student loans in the meantime?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Birdemic

It was made for less than $10,000. Good. It was on a "ten worst" list for movies of 2010. It actually got a theatrical release. Didn't go straight to video.

Pretty amazing.

Here are action scenes:




Well, yes. The movie has some shortcomings. But if it had been any better, the director would probably be sharing a cell with Julian Assange right now.

Note that the people are being attacked by eagles and vultures, representing U.S. imperialism and corporate capitalism. The movie is presented as an anti-global warming movie. In fact, it's pro-Iraq, pro-Afghan and anti-imperialist.

I'll give away the ending here, but I don't think it'll ruin it for anyone.

It ends with the people watching the birds fly away over the ocean. Where were they going? They weren't seabirds. Why would they do that unless they symbolized U.S. imperialism defeated and driven out of by indigenous people?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Real exorcisms are nothing like in the movies

I've seen video of "real" exorcisms. They weren't very interesting. You had a girl speaking in a funny voice. She throws up in a bag. People stand around yelling religious stuff at her. A nondenominational minister pressed a crucifix into her at one point and she breaks character.

"That hurts!" she says in a normal voice.

"Oh. Sorry."

Then they start in again.

In fact, there was a long article on a skeptic website about the case that the book (and movie) The Exorcist was based on. In the late 1940s, a 14-year-old boy in Maryland was supposedly possessed. There was a wildly inaccurate documentary on the Discovery channel about it. The author of the article actually found the kid, now an old timer who wanted to be left alone. He also interviewed the last surviving priest who was involved and a couple of the kid's friends.

According to the boy's friends, he wasn't possessed; he was a jerk. He had a mean dog. His idea of a joke was to invite his friends over and then sic the dog on them when they came to the door.

The priest's account of it was that the priests were completely credulous. They took everything at face value. There were scratches on the kid's stomach which they assumed were the work of the devil. Did they watch the kid to make sure he wasn't doing it himself? No. Did they look for skin under his fingernails? No.

The priest said that the kid spoke Latin, a language he didn't know, but that he was just mimicking the priests to annoy them.

It was the mother and the grandmother in the family who were getting him exorcised. The kid's father came home from work and read the paper and wanted no part of it. And by all accounts, the priests weren't frightened by anything that happened. One of them was laughing about it during the exorcism.

But everything was in there. The kid's bed did shake, but his friends explained that beds back then were light frames on wheels with thin mattresses and it was very difficult to keep them from moving a couple of feet every time you turned over. The scratches appeared on his stomach, he spoke Latin, as I said. He was able to spit very accurately, but his friends explained that they practiced a lot.

I bring this up now because I saw that a movie called The Last Exorcism is on a list of the ten worst movies of 2010.

Here's the list:

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/135164-the-10-worst-films-of-2010/

I don't know. Splice sounds sort of interesting.

Personal film-making

There was a book at the university library, published in the early '70s, called Personal Filmmaking. It was written, if I remember correctly, by a community college instructor. He taught a class on the subject.

His students would get their hands on an 8mm movie camera, easy enough to do back then. You had to ask around if you didn't own one. I don't know if they showed up as often in the Goodwill stores as they did a few years later. All it cost was a few bucks for a roll of film.

Basically, they'd make little movies. Some did art films. One example was something where a guy had his friends act out a funeral. Another was about two hunters. As they drive into the countryside, they hear a report on the radio that a killer had escaped from the state hospital and was on the loose.

Say what you will, they sound more interesting than most student films.

I don't know if home video has ruined this sort of thing. The movies they did had the advantage of being silent or with unsynchronized sound.

I wish people would do stuff like that with their Flip cameras.

But then, I used to buy home movies whenever I came across them in junk stores. I had one wedding movie (4 minutes, regular 8), a Super 8 movie of a homely baby's first birthday. They set up the camera, put an ornate birthday cake in front of the baby and encouraged her to dig her hands into it and tear it up. I had some 16mm films of a family drinking and riding around on minibikes with guns. A teen, aware that he's being filmed, tries not to react to a groin injury while on his minibike.

There was an odd movie where a couple carried their tiny baby into the middle of a lake. Then they stand there with it. They walk back. In another scene, they put the baby in a wading pool, holding its head up and splashing water on it.

I only came across a couple of examples of people trying anything artistic. One was a a roll of black leader that had some stuff scratched into it.

Even back then, few people tried to create anything narrative.

One of the more interesting things I bought was a large set of slides. They were pictures of two elderly couples on vacation in Hawaii in the early 'seventies. We see some typical tourist stuff. We see the building where Steve McGarrett's office was in Hawaii Five-O. Then it all changes. After a certain point, all the pictures were of massive storm damage. Trees blown down. Lamp posts blown down. Cars smashed. Buildings damaged. They had an interesting trip.