Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How did Justin Bieber get a tattoo?

I'm not religious, but if I were, I don't think I would get Jesus' name tattooed on my underarm like Justin Bieber did. Seems blasphemous. And once it's there, it seems like it would be sacrilege to have it removed.

How did he get a tattoo, anyway? Don't you have to be an adult? I hope it was one of those temporary tattoos.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lars Von Trier, Hitler, Nazis, Cannes

Well, poor Lars Von Trier. The people of Cannes got their panties in a bunch just because he made an odd, rambling statement which included something about him being a Nazi. He was just kidding. He obviously isn't one.

What is the appropriate response when someone who you know is not a Nazi tells you, as a joke, that he is a Nazi and that he sympathized with Hitler? I wouldn't see the humor in it. But...I don't know if I could see shunning the person as if he were an actual Nazi when you know full well he isn't one.

His statement:

The only thing I can tell is that I thought I was a Jew for a long time and I was very happy being a Jew. Then, later on, came Susanne Bier and I wasn't so happy about being a Jew. Oh, that was a joke, sorry. But it turned out I was not a Jew and, if I was a Jew, I would be a second-rate Jew because there is a kind of hierarchy. Anyway, I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out I was really a Nazi, you know ... because my family was German - Hartmann - ... which also gave me some pleasure. So I'm kind of ... [Here a journalist interrupts: "Sir?", but Von Trier does not respond.] I ... what can I say? I understand Hitler. ... I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely. But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. [Here Kirsten Dunst interrupts him, saying to someone else, "Oh my God, this is terrible!" Von Trier turns to her and reassures her: "But there will come a point at the end of this." Then he turns to the press again.] No, I'm just saying that I think I understood the man. He's not what you would call a good guy, but I ... yeah, I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit, yes. But come on, I'm not for the Second World War! And I'm not against Jews - Suzanne Bier! - no, not even Susanne Bier. That was also a joke. I'm of course very much for Jews - no, not too much because Israel is a pain in the ass. But still, how can I get out of this sentence? [Here a journalist interrupts: "By another question! Here's your salvation." But Von Trier continues:] No, I just want to say, about the art of the ... I'm very much for Speer. Speer I liked. Albert Speer I liked. He was also maybe [not?] one of God's best children, but he had some talent that was kind of ... possible for him to use during ... [sighs] OK, I'm a Nazi!"
He had spent his life thinking that his Jewish stepfather was his father. His mother told him who his father was on her deathbed. It was a German Catholic guy.

Von Trier mentions Susanne Bier who is a Zionist Danish movie director whose movies have little artistic merit.

An odd rambling comment. It wasn't funny but it was nothing to get upset about.

Years ago, the movie critic Judith Crist wrote that she ran into a screenwriter she knew. He said he was writing a script for a World War Two movie. But he said it would be different from the others---in his movie, the Nazis would be bad! I think Hollywood finally got over it, but back then, in the '60's and '70's, they tried to be even handed in the way they portrayed the Nazis.

There was the movie The Eagle has Landed where we see the Nazi commandos save a Jewish girl. In A Bridge Too Far, they show a brave Nazi sacrifice his life trying to save some other Nazis during a battle. I can't think of the movies, but it seems like I've seen more than one where we see Nazi officers say that they hate Hitler and are fighting only for their country.

I've also seen critics attack Soviet war movies for portraying Nazis negatively. Since much of the Soviet population lived under German occupation, I would imagine their portrayal of the Nazis was pretty accurate, otherwise Soviet audiences wouldn't have accepted them.

So why are these people attacking poor
Lars Von Trier? He blurted out something stupid, then tried to talk his way out, but it was like quicksand and struggling didn't help. At least he's not making war movies where Nazi officers are portrayed as hapless victims.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The space aliens at Area 51

Long ago, on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the book editor who wrote Ronald Reagan's "autobiography" discussed Reagan's dishonesty. Reagan didn't want the book to mention his first marriage. The writer told him they couldn't leave it out or people wouldn't believe anything he said. Then Reagan said he wanted to be sure to include his best story----the time he went to Europe during World War Two to film the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The writer said they would have to leave that out because it never happened.

But the writer---I don't remember his name---didn't judge Reagan too harshly. He explained that old people often put themselves into stories that happened to someone else. He started doing it himself as he got older.

I've seen this myself with elderly relatives, so maybe it's true.

So now we have this new book about Area 51. I suppose most of it is true. Until we get to the space aliens.

I listened to the author of this new book, also on Fresh Air. She said that one of her geezer sources told her that there had indeed been a crashed flying saucer. And there had been some child-sized pilots killed. He worked with both the "equipment" and the dead pilots. And---now here's the creepy part----he claimed that the pilots were "child sized" because they were actual children. He thought they were about 13. They had, he said, been made to look like space aliens, with big heads and the funny eyes and noses. He said they were either surgically or genetically altered.

This happened, the source said, in 1947. And, he claimed, this was the work of the Soviets. The flying disk had been a Nazi secret weapon and the children had been created by Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor. The purpose of this was to make Americans think they were being visited by Martians, to create a panic like that created by the radio play War of the Worlds.

Of course, if they were "genetically altered" and 13-years-old in 1947, then they were born in 1934, four years before the broadcast of War of the Worlds. When was Mengele supposed to have started this? He couldn't have done it anyway. He wasn't an evil genius---he was just evil. He was an evil below average doctor. Nothing he did had any scientific value. And according to Wikipedia, he didn't get a medical degree until 1938.

In any case, Mengele never worked with the Soviets. We know what he did after the war---he fled to South America. And even if Mengele had done this, how would the Americans have known?

In fact, the Soviets were better about these things than the Americans. The U.S. allowed Japanese war criminals who performed ghastly medical experiments on people in Manchuria to go free in exchange for their files on biological warfare. These were war criminals who performed experiments on American POWs. Japanese war criminals who were captured by the Soviets were tried for their crimes and executed.

The story is creepy but mercifully false. My guess is that the source who told this story had heard it as a rumor at the time, decided to share it, and, as old people do, made the story about himself.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Juice! Ishmael Reed's novel about the O.J. Simpson trial

It turns out O.J. was innocent.

That's my conclusion from reading Juice!, the new novel by Ishmael Reed. An amazing work, much of it devoted to a fairly detailed discussion of the TV news coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. It was all factual. I sat there reading and I'd google things I didn't remember and which seemed surprising to me. Like the fact that Nichole Simpson and her sister, Denise, both dated Mafia hitmen.

Reed made a pretty good case for Simpson's innocence, I thought. At the very least, he shows that the verdict in the criminal trial wasn't nearly as irrational and unreasonable as many seemed to imagine.

"I don't know why they're even having a trial!" said a hippie girl I was working with. "He's clearly guilty!" She had just seen the limo driver testify that Simpson seemed a bit winded when he came out for his ride to the airport. That was all she needed to hear. Come to think of it, that same girl thought the Charles Manson-like youths pictured in the paper looked too innocent to have brutally murdered a convenience store clerk like the pleaded guilty to doing. She was later fired for stealing stuff from the cars.

One day, I was sitting in the burger place next door. They had a TV on.

"Why is a 6th grade science teacher testifying?" a co-worker quipped when he saw a woman giving some scientific evidence for the prosecution.

"That's Simpson's 6th grade teacher," I said. "She's testifying that Orenthal was often tardy and disruptive in class."

I thought my quip was much cleverer than his. It wasn't that clever, I know, but he didn't appreciate it, no one else heard it, and this is my only chance to repeat it.

There was one thing that always bothered me.

When the jury returned the verdict, Ito knew what it was, but waited until the next morning to announce it. Which meant that O.J. Simpson, then an innocent man, spent an extra night in jail even though he had been acquitted. Not only that, but they kept him in suspense, not knowing if he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. They say they told him, but watch him when the verdict was read. He was clearly relieved.