Friday, December 28, 2012

Now they're picking on Nick Stahl

And now they've accused innocent Nick Stahl of "lewd conduct". Sounds like the only "evidence" against him is the word of some LAPD vice cop, cruising the porn shops to make sure none of the consumers of pornography see anything lewd.

Turns out that this was the same unit of the vice squad that targeted Fred Willard. I never believed for an instant that Willard was guilty of anything.

I know almost nothing about Stahl, but considering what the cops did to Willard, I don't believe anything they say.

Nick Stahl, Man Without a Face, military school

Nick Stahl was the kid in Mel Gibson's Man Without A Face. He played a kid who actually WANTED to go to military school.

Has military school changed over the years? I knew a kid who saw an ad for a Naval military school in the back of a magazine. He was crying and pleading with his mother to go to the school while she tried to explain that military schools were for wealthy juvenile delinquents, not kids who wanted to join the Navy.

She probably should have sent the kid. He graduated from high school, joined the Navy, and quickly realized he had made a horrible mistake.

There was a 1963 episode of The Lucy Show where Lucy disguises herself as a cadet to visit her son in military school. When I was a kid watching that, military school looked fun. You got to dress up and run around with a toy gun. When I saw it again as a teenager, I wondered what kind of monster would send her son to military school.

On The Beverly Hillbillies, they put Jethro in military school. He was in the 6th grade, was the biggest kid in class and was surprisingly popular.

I saw an old B western where the cowboys save an orphan from outlaws then send him to military school. If I lived in a B movie version of the Old West, military school might not seem that bad to me, either.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sarah Silverman attacks Spike Lee

Now there's a quote from Sarah Silverman defending the movie Django Unchained:
"Doesn't it take place like during slavery? Wouldn't it be odd if they didn't have that horrific word in it? [Spike Lee's] got a lot of mishegas with a lot of art. I think you can't really tell art what to do."
So. She defends Tarantino's conscious decision as a perfectly reasonable choice on his part, then asserts that "artists" have no control over what they do.

But I don't think Lee even brought this up in regards to Django Unchained. He had criticized Tarantino's Jackie Brown for the excessive use of "the N-word".  Lee said of Tarantino, "I think there is something wrong with him."

They're reporting that the word "n*****r" was used in Django Unchained 110 times in 180 minutes.

Why would anyone ask Sarah Silverman's opinion in the first place?

"You can't really tell art what to do," is a weak justification. 

Spike Lee vs Steven Spielberg

Years ago, there was a controversy around the movie The Color Purple, denounced as racist for its portrayal of black men. Siskel and Ebert reviewed it on their show without mentioning the controversy. Then went back to it a couple of weeks later to comment on it.

Gene and Roger agreed: The Color Purple was not racist. There might have been a time, they said, when it might have been necessary to show a balanced picture of black people, not portraying all black men as scum, but this was no longer necessary. That was all in the past. Even though The Color Purple was the first "black movie" Hollywood had made in years. 

A few years later, the same thing happened again. Spike Lee made the movie Mo' Better Blues. Nat Hentoff launched a smear campaign against the film because it had two apparently Jewish brother who owned a club. They appeared on screen for about two minutes and they were jerks.

At the time, Hentoff was devoting himself to defending white racist college students accused of "hate speech". He rushed to the defense of an Israeli named Eden Jacobowitz who screamed at a group of black women, "Shut up, you black water buffalo" and told them to go to a zoo. Jacobowitz later chuckled that when he called them "water buffalo", he was probably thinking of a Hebrew term they use for Palestinians.

Siskel and Ebert reviewed Mo' Better Blues on their show without mentioning this "controversy", then, as they did with The Color Purple, they came back and commented on it weeks later. And they agreed----Spike Lee was obviously an anti-Semite for not providing a "balanced" portrayal of two incidental characters. There's no need for a movie to be in any way balanced in its portrayal of blacks, but Jews are so underrepresented in Hollywood that every Jewish character has to be a paragon of virtue.

Ebert said he didn't even know they were Jewish until Siskel told him.

Sarah Silverman has claimed that anti-Semitism is everywhere and that Jews are being constantly persecuted. She says that she's popular "for a Jew". She said on CNN, “I mean, if there’s one thing we should realize is that it’s in general the world hates Jews, you know.”

Hyper-sensitivity to anti-Semitism is itself racist when it's combined with a depraved indifference to anti-black racism, and a depraved indifference to the lives of Palestinians.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Killing Bono

For some reason, I watched a movie called Killing Bono. It really wasn't my thing.

Two brothers, Neil and Ivan McCormick, were high school classmates of Bono while the band U2 was being formed. Bono wanted Ivan to join U2, but the older brother, Neil, told him no because they were forming their own band.

When U2 hits it big, Neil is wracked with guilt for stopping his brother from joining. He becomes driven to succeed, but makes one terrible decision after another, refusing to compromise on any point all the while withering in U2's shadow.

The movie got kind of dreary, watching someone do one idiotic thing after another. He and his brother would actually have been fairly successful if he hadn't turned down one opportunity after another. Rod Stewart wanted to record their song, but he was old and Neil didn't want to compromise. They had a chance to open for U2, but Neil wanted to play for his own fans, not U2's.

Like I said, the movie really wasn't my thing. I don't listen to much music. If I did, it wouldn't be U2 or their competitors. I don't know what Bono's thing is. He's basically a right-winger but I have the impression that he's too dumb to realize it.

In an article on, Dave Marsh related that Bono publicly challenged him to a debate on Marsh's view “that celebrity politics has been a pretty much complete failure”.  Marsh agreed to debate, but Bono chickened out, backed out of the challenge he made, and gave no explanation.

Read the whole article here:

From the article:
I don’t know why Bono spit the bit on debating these issues in a public forum with a well-informed antagonist. Maybe he decided that he’d fucked up and was about to lower himself by going head to head with a journalist. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal on the spot with descriptions of his repeated appearances at the conferences of the leading capitalist nations where he’s yet to ask his first hard question about anything but Africa; about his settling for promises from world leaders that patently weren’t going to be kept, and never doing more than mewing when they weren’t; about why it is that Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, by no means an anti-capitalist, observes that she met him “at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me,” or why so many other Africans have complained that he claims to speak for them but has never so much as asked their permission. In regard to the last, I did receive more courtesy than Andrew Mwenda, the Ugandan journalist Bono cursed for raising such questions at an economics conference. (But then, I’m white and Celtic-American.)


...The band’s decision to have its song publishing company flee Ireland for a tax haven in the Netherlands has been subject to protests in the streets of Dublin and has no obvious justification, despite Bono’s fatuous counterclaim that it is his critics who are the hypocrites because free-market values were what created the “Celtic Tiger” of Dublin’s capitalist boom economy. The Tiger’s death throes look to be particularly messy, in part because of capital flight of just U2’s kind. The band’s attempt to alter the Dublin skyline with its Clarence Hotel expansion is another example of its ruinous distance from everyday Irish reality.
“During the band’s performance of ‘In The Name of Love,’” wrote Hegarty, “he described Martin Luther King’s dream as ‘Not just an American dream–also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream . . .’ And then, following a long pause reminiscent of a man who’d just realized he’d left the gas on, he added, ‘. . . and also a Palestinian dream.’ This was his big shout out to the Palestinians… You can’t help but marvel at this latest expression of Bono’s Sesame Street view of the world. Hey Middle East, we just have to have a dream to get along.

Bono is no man of peace–he has yet to speak out against any war. Bono is part owner of Pandemic/Bioware, producers of Mercenaries 2, a video game which simulates an invasion of Venezuela. Last year Bono met with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to discuss plans to set up a new U.S. military command for Africa. Forbes, the magazine Bono co-owns, constantly beats the drums for war (Bono says he was attracted to the magazine because it has a “consistent philosophy”).

...Bono sings the praises of some of the most warlike public figures. It starts with Dubya and Blair—Bono praised the UK prime minister for “doing the things he believed in.” He clearly meant to include massive British involvement in the war in Iraq. Bono also has nothing but praise for arch-reactionaries such as Jesse Helms and Billy Graham. In the video for Pat Boone’s video, “Thank You Billy Graham,” Bono intones “I give thanks for the sanity of Billy Graham, a singer of the human spirit.” Interesting. In 1966, Graham followed LBJ to the podium at the National Prayer Breakfast to give a ringing endorsement of the war in Vietnam. “There are those,” Graham said, “who have tried to reduce Christ to a genial and innocuous appeaser; but Jesus said ‘You are wrong—I have come as a firesetter and sword-wielder. I am come to send fire down on earth!” Sing that human spirit, Billy—you’ve got Bono on harmonies. Indeed, surrounded by America’s most hawkish politicians, Bono gave a fawning keynote speech at the 2008 National Prayer Breakfast. In a recent interview with the British music magazine Q, U2 drummer Larry Mullen said he “cringes” when he sees Bono hanging out with George Bush and Tony Blair, adding that those two world leaders should be tried as “war criminals.”


Despite the inspiration that many people take from the anthems Bono has written, there is not one shred of evidence that he disagrees on any issue—war, tax shelters, immigration—with the power brokers he wants us to believe are the last best hope of mankind.

No, Bono and U2 and rock and roll in general don't interest me.

But I understand the two fellows in this movie being ticked off at their more successful former classmates and I understand being rivals with someone who's so much more successful that they have no idea any rivalry exists.

I know a number of jazz musicians. Jazz doesn't sell terribly well. Jazz musicians (not counting Kenny G) are infinitely better musicians than rock stars, but they reach a far smaller audience. So watching this movie, Neil and Ivan's modest success as rock stars looked pretty good to me. They were doing quite well.

They shouldn't have thought of themselves as failed rock stars. They should have thought of themselves as incompetent yet wildly successful jazz musicians.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A couple of documentaries about big budget failure

Watched a couple of documentaries. One was about the making of Heaven's Gate. The director, Michael Cimino, told someone that he would tell the studio what they wanted to hear then do whatever he wanted. Apparently, his plan from the start was to spend as much money as he could on his western. He didn't care that it started out with a seven million dollar budget. It ended up costing over $35 million.

This was not long after the head of United Artists and their top executives left to form Orion Pictures. The fellows left in charge of UA weren't terribly experienced. They wanted to prove themselves. United Artists was raking in money off the James Bond movies and some other series they already had going. But they wanted to do something new. the wake of Cimino's winning an Oscar for The Deer Hunter, they wanted to make a movie with him. I don't know why they thought a western was a good idea.

Executives knew they had a big problem, but they thought the movie would probably be really good even if it cost a fortune, and they already spent this much on it----should they keep going and spend even more or simply write off the fortune Cimino already wasted?

I don't know. Heaven's Gate, it turns out, was considered pretty good in Europe. In America, critics hated it, although their reaction came in part from all the news reports on its problems during production.

Cimino was a jackass. Now he's in his 70s and appears to have had extensive plastic surgery (he says he just lost weight.) His appearance has changed to the point that there are rumors he had a sex change.

He's made several movies since then. He managed to stay on schedule and on budget on them, apparently, but his other weaknesses as a director have become more evident.

Then I watched Lost in La Mancha, about Terry Gilliam's attempt to make a film based on Don Quixote. He mentions at one point that it could be cursed, like "the Scottish play", something that's just bad luck. There have been other attempts to film the story and none of them have succeeded.

According to Wikipedia, Gilliam has documentaries made about the production of his movies so that, if things go horribly wrong, there will be a record of it from his point of view, so the world won't think he's another Michael Cimino.

In this case, the movie was going to be the most expensive movie funded entirely by European sources ever made (I don't know if that includes the Soviet production of War and Peace) but things went badly from the start of production. The star turned out to have a herniated disc and had to leave, it turned out that they were filming next to a NATO bombing range (they went ahead anyway and decided to dub the sound) and there was a huge rain storm and flash flood the first day of shooting which permanently changed the looks of the location. They tried to keep going somehow, but they had to pull the plug after spending $15 million.

These things happen.

In the documentary, they kept referring to Gilliam's Baron Munchausen movie, which did go way over budget and gave people the idea that Gilliam was out of control.

I never liked Gilliam's movies that well. I think I expected them to be funnier since he was a Monty Python guy. I should watch them again.

He should have directed the Harry Potter movies. His criticism of Steven Spielberg I heard in YouTube is interesting:
"Spielberg, and the success of most films in Hollywood these days, I think is down to the fact that [they're] comforting, they tie things up in nice little bows, gives you answers, even if the answers are stupid. We go home and we don't have to worry about it. The Kubricks of this world and the great filmmakers make you go home and think about it.

"...There's a wonderful quote in the book that Freddie Raphael wrote about Eyes Wide Shut---it was called Eyes Wide Open---and he's talking to Kubrick about Schindler's List and the Holocaust, and he says, 'The thing is that Schindler's List is about success; the Holocaust was about failure.' And that's Kubrick. Spot on.

"Schindler's List had to--we had to save those few people. Happy ending. A man can do what a man can do, and stop death for a few people. That's not what the Holocaust is about. It's about complete failure of civilization that allows six million people to die."

In the documentary on Heaven's Gate, they kept referring to Cimino having directed Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, produced by and starring Clint Eastwood. Cimino stayed on schedule and on budget. He had no choice because Clint Eastwood was there. Eastwood didn't like wasting time. If they were taking too long to set up a shot, he would tell them it was good enough, let's just do it, and they had to beg him to do retakes.

Eastwood has said that filmmakers are going for a level of perfection that really isn't necessary.

On the other hand, I was watching Reel Geezers on You Tube, movie reviews by a pair of elderly film industry retirees. They reviewed Eastwood's Gran Torino. One didn't think it was that good and that the problem was that they didn't do retakes and they didn't do enough to help the younger cast members with their performances.

I don't know if Clint Eastwood is just thrifty, or if he doesn't have the sensitivity to know that his movies could be a lot better, although retakes would have been wasted on Cimino. He wasn't interested in actors, just in the visuals. His background was filming intricately choreographed TV commercials. His thing was arranging actors on the screen. If it ever seemed that he did more than that, it was by accident.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Django

Spike Lee has spoken out against Quentin Tarantino's movie, Django Unchained.

"All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors. That's just me... I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else."

Lee tweeted: "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.It Was A Holocaust.My Ancestors Are Slaves.Stolen From Africa.I Will Honor Them."

One "academic" argued with him----apparently, he thought the word "holocaust" didn't exist before the Nazi genocide and could refer only to events that were exactly like the Nazi genocide. Even if he had been right, it had nothing to do with the movie. Fifty to a hundred million black people died in the slave trade, by the way.

When I was in high school, some friends and I started writing a novel. It opened with a private eye going to a neo-Nazi compound in Idaho and freely killing neo-Nazis in order to capture a Nazi war criminal they were harboring. One of my friends pointed out that the hero murdered a lot of more or less innocent neo-Nazis, but he took the actual Nazi war criminal in alive so he could get a fair trial.

Not long after that, I was horrified at what we had written. We trivialized Nazi genocide, used it in what we intended as a pulp novel. I wouldn't dream of doing that now.

I haven't seen Tarantino's movie, but making a big budget spaghetti western exploiting slavery in the way he did seems like a terrible idea, or at least something you want to approach very carefully. I don't think Tarantino has the sensitivity to pull it off.

I read a lesbian parody of a Nancy Drew novel which was great until we find out that Nancy was raped by her father who was then murdered by their housekeeper. You don't want to put such strong material in that context.

One tweeter responded to Lee: "MAN I been waiting for you to speak on it! Never is there a point in Inglorious Bastards where Jews are the butt of the joke..."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some more Breaking Bad stuff

There was Planet of the Apes, a planet where apes act like people and people act like apes. That wasn't exactly what it was about. But that was the general idea.

But then you had the Planet of the Apes TV series and the movie Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Suddenly people and apes could both talk and carry on conversations, and the series became completely pointless.

That's what's happened with Breaking Bad. I know I've said this before.

It started as a very nice story of a mild mannered-yet- angry and embittered high school chemistry teacher becoming a criminal. He was a fish out of water. He couldn't discipline his unruly students, but he found himself facing down extremely dangerous, violent drug lords.

But once we got past that---once Walter White learned the ropes---all we had left was a story about an especially vile criminal, and who wants to see that?

It would like if The Beverly Hillbillies had evolved into something like Dynasty or Falcon Crest.

I don't know how the people of Albuquerque feel about the series. What kind of a crime rate does that place have? Because, on the show, one lawyer knows scores of people who can provide almost any criminal service. There was a guy would confess to crimes and go to prison in your place, there was a guy who would whisk you out of the country and help you disappear completely, there were hitmen, hired killers, Nazis who could arrange murders in jails and prisons. There's money laundering, children working as drug dealers then being murdered by drug dealers.

It seems kind of surprising that a major drug lord could pose and live as a fast food manager. Wouldn't this leave him rather vulnerable? In fact, the guy's criminal enterprise seems to be dependent on a handful of people. One of them got shot and the whole thing fell apart.

Well. the show doesn't have much longer to go. There was a flash-forward that gave the impression that there will be a terribly violent conclusion.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Walking Dead

Last year, I got a Walking Dead dvd for Xmas.

I'm watching it now before Christmas is upon us. I may have to answer the question, "Hey, did you watch that DVD I gave you last year?"

Man. It's kind of depressing.

I was always creeped out by the nuclear war movies from the '50s and '60s, movies like The Day the World Ended and This is Not a Test. But reading The Stand by Stephen King, the apocalypse sounded sort of fun in its way.

I don't know what the wave of zombie movies tells you about society. There was the wave of vampire stuff around the time of the AIDS epidemic, spread by blood.

What's the zombie thing about? Economic crisis? The country on the verge of collapse? I suspect it's coming.

How many unburied bodies are there lying around, anyway? Doesn't seem like people rising from the dead would be that serious a problem. And I never understood why zombies don't eat each other, like sharks in a feeding frenzy. How can zombies even tell who's a zombie and who's not? The movie Shaun of the Dead noted this problem.

Gilligan's Island vs. Lawrence of Arabia

When I was a kid, I was inspired watching old Roger Corman movies. They were reasonably professional, but cheap enough that you felt like you could be a filmmaker, too. I never understood Steven Spielberg who said he was inspired by Lawrence of Arabia.

Was Spielberg more ambitious than I was? Well, yes, OBVIOUSLY he was. But was that why he was so inspired by David Lean?

The lowest level of art appreciation is judging an artistic work according to how difficult it was for the artist to create it. Admiration for the early works of Roger Corman simply shows a higher level of art appreciation. I was just a lot smarter than Spielberg, that's all.

When I saw Lawrence of Arabia in the '80s when it was re-released to theaters, I noted it was long but very gripping. Could I possibly do the same thing? Here was my idea----instead of making a long movie that seemed much shorter, take a long script and actually cram it into a shorter movie.

This was Gilligan's Island's appeal. It was a top-rated show up until the day it was cancelled. And one reason for its success was that they took long scripts and packed them into a half hour.

To some degree, movies are made the way they are simply to look expensive. Look almost every commercially produced movie of the 1980s. The camera moves constantly. Every shot was a tracking shot. And this was done for no reason I can see except to make them look expensive.

I suspect this is the reason why, in this era where people can and do make movies for practically nothing---movies where the only expense is the cost of charging the camcorder battery and turning on the computer---Hollywood is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to produce stuff that's just crap. They need to do something to distinguish themselves.

If, today, you wanted to make a shot-for-shot remake of Gone With The Wind, making full use of blue screen technology and digitally generated imagery, how cheaply could it be done?

Russian Duma votes to ban US adoptions, and for pretty good reason

Russia has passed legislation, not yet signed into law, banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

This is in response to "Magnitsky Act" which bars Russians deemed to be "human rights violators" from entering or owning property in the United States.

The U.S. doesn't care anything about human rights anywhere else. How many Palestinians have "died in police custody"? For that matter, how many people have died in American jails?

In the U.S. media, reporting on the Russian adoption law has been completely negative. The Russians are hurting the orphans, depriving them of loving homes, just to retaliate against the United States.

In fact, there have been 19 Russian children murdered by their adoptive American parents. We don't know how many more have been abused because there's no follow up by adoption agencies or anyone else. One Russian girl was adopted by child pornographers. She was waiting for the adoption agency to come check on her and rescue her, but they never did.

There was the American mother who put her child alone on a plane and sent him back to Russia. Her defense was that she had called a Russian cab driver to pick him up at the airport. An American woman was so proud of how she abused her adopted Russian child that she sent videotape of it to the Dr Phil Show. She poured hot sauced in his mouth and forced him to take a cold shower.

This is a human rights issue, too. The Russian government is barred in the U.S. from representing or even inquiring about Russian children. The Magnitsky Act was named for a Russian who died in police custody. Here, nineteen Russian children have died, most of them beaten to death after months of abuse. And penalties for Americans murdering and abusing Russian children have been very light. Obvious cases of aggravated murder are prosecuted as "voluntary manslaughter". In at least one case, the killers were released on bail after they were convicted.

The NRA, school shootings, Wayne LaPierre and Sergio Leone

To start with a movie quote, from A Fistful of Dollars:
"There's an old saying in Mexico. When a man with a man with a .45 meets a man with a Winchester, the man with the pistol is a dead man."
So here's my proverb:
"When a teacher with a pistol meets a lunatic with an assault rifle, the teacher with the pistol is a dead teacher."
The idiots suggesting that teachers start carrying guns don't consider the fact that, in these mass murders, assault rifles are the weapon of choice. The teachers would be badly outgunned.

They should STILL ban assault rifles so the teachers would have a fighting chance.

Now Wayne LaPierre, in charge of the NRA, thinks lightly armed minimum wage security guards are going to fight it out with assault rifle-wielding maniacs.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Swinger Dinesh D'Souza makes an ass of himself

A short, amusing article on by David Weigel:

It seems that Dinesh D'Souza's anti Obama movie, 2016: Obama's America, didn't get an Oscar nomination.

Weigel writes:
I pick this up only because D'Souza's snarky response is so clueless.
By ignoring 2016, the top-performing box-office hit of 2012, and pretending that films like Searching for Sugar Man and This Is Not a Film are more deserving of an Oscar, our friends in Hollywood have removed any doubt average Americans may have had that liberal political ideology, not excellence, is the true standard of what receives awards.
Oh, those wacky liberals! D'Souza's movie exposed the raw truth of Barack Obama's ideology, by sending a khaki-clad conservative to ask leading questions of people who knew the president's father. This Is Not a Film is merely a clandestinely filmed documentary about Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who is under house arrest in Tehran.

And a short interview in The New York Times

Read it here. They discuss the movie and the interviewer asked Dinesh about life as a swinger:
You recently resigned as president of the Christian-affiliated King’s College after it was reported that you brought a woman to a Christian convention and introduced her as your fiancĂ©e when neither of you had actually divorced your spouses. Did you do anything wrong? 
I exercised imprudent judgment. In Christianity there is no intermediate status of being separated. I asked an attorney if there is anything problematic with being engaged while separated, and I was informed absolutely not.
You wrote, “I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles.” I am not a Christian, but I’d guess that it would be high on the list of wrong things. 
What I meant was I didn’t know what rule of Christian morality it violates. I recognize that there would be people who might say Dinesh has only met this woman a few months ago, Dinesh is rushing into things. But that is completely different from saying Dinesh is violating one of the Ten Commandments. Imprudent is not the same thing as wrong.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NRA members inspired by school shooting

The gun nuts are flocking to buy AR-15's like the one used in the Newtown school shooting. The sudden rise in demand has driven prices up.

Shows what kind of scum these people are.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The NRA and school shootings

Several years ago, we had a school shooting near here at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon. A fifteen-year-old undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic named Kip Kinkel walked into the cafeteria with a rifle and started shooting. He killed two and wounded twenty-five.

A kid named Jake Ryker was shot while disarming Kinkel. Ryker was taken to the hospital. They called his parents. His father left work and jumped in his pick-up. Instead of heading straight to the hospital, he went home to get his NRA baseball cap. He said he knew there would be reporters at the hospital and he wanted everyone to know that he still loved guns.

Loved them more than he loved his son, apparently.

You think these gun nuts care about the children in Newtown? I'm not sure they care about their own children.

A local NRA member was whining because he had to defend his gun rights every time there was a school shooting. He said that banning assault rifles wouldn't help---the killer could have used bombs and there was an attack on a school in Germany in the 1960s with a homemade flamethrower. It's an argument that could be used to defend bombs and flamethrowers just as well as guns.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Brakhage and the Soviets

I've seen a few Soviet movies that were supposedly banned by the Soviet government. I didn't buy it. There was nothing in them that you couldn't see in movies that were freely available in the USSR, and the allegedly banned movies were just awful. They weren't "banned"---they were just lousy. No one would  sit through them.

I just read some nonsense by Stan Brakhage. He hailed Tarkovsky as the greatest living filmmaker. (Brakhage died in 2003; Tarkovsky in 1986.) Maybe he was right. But then Brakhage wrote some nonsense about how the Soviets had persecuted Tarkovsky by not bankrolling his movies. He falsely claimed that Soviet movies were made only for export to convince the outside world they had free expression.

Soviet people watched a lot more American movies than Americans watched Soviet films.

Tarkovsky made one great movie, Ivan's Childhood, which is still popular in Russia. Then he made a plotless art film called The Mirror that had to go into limited release. He wasted a fortune on it. Did Brakhage think Hollywood would have put up with that? How many movies did Tarkovsky make after he left the USSR? He never did anything in Hollywood. There was an American re-make of Solaris that lost a fortune.

Brakhage knew nothing about Soviet cinema, and I doubt he knew anything about Hollywood. All he did was made "art" movies.

Here's one of his "films":

It may well be that people see things in Brakhage's work that I don't. I can understand it's appeal up to a point.

I saw Brakhage when he spoke at the university here. I was working as a dishwasher back then. I got there as early as I could but I was probably forty-five minutes late.

He showed a slide of a painting by Whistler. The horizon was higher up on the canvas than most artists would have put it. Then he showed some guy's art film which was simply a wavy line that went across the screen, and it was higher than other people would likely have placed the wavy line. So...he was like Whistler. Or something.

I sat there in the classroom, watching the films. People kept walking out a few at a time. Someone asked Brakhage how he felt about people walking out. He said that maybe they had seen some image that was so striking to them that they wanted to leave and contemplate it---which is possible. I've done that. Or, he said, that it could be that they're really stupid for not appreciating his work. He used the word "stupid" two or three times.

So. I walked out. I was sitting through one incredibly dull film after another afraid I'd hurt his feelings if I left. And he thinks I'm stupid anyway for being bored. I had made eye contact with him earlier when I left for a moment to use the restroom. I realized he was thinking, "You idiot!"

After an hour of art film, it felt so good to be out of there, it completely overwhelmed any feeling of guilt or fear that I was missing something.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Giuliani still loves guns

Last night, I saw Rudolph Giuliani on CNN. He was asked about the shopping mall shooting in Oregon. He said that guns weren't the problem---if mass murderers didn't have guns, they could use poison instead. The guy would have put on his hockey mask and walked through the mall saying "Here! Drink this!"

I don't know what the cockroach has to say today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dragnet: The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas

It's the Christmas season and I just watched one of the Christmas episodes of Dragnet. This from 1952.

Joe Friday always seemed like a bit of a fascist, but I don't think that was the case.

In this episode, it's a few days before Christmas. Joe Friday is working homicide. They get a call. There's a missing nine-year-old boy. Blood and a .22 shell casing was found in his back yard.

"Blood stains and a cartridge."

"It could mean a hundred things."

"You have any ideas, Friday?"

"Just one and I don't like it."

The blood is found to be the same type as the missing kid's. And another kid is missing. An eight-year-old playmate.

"Do you have any guns in the house?"

Just a .45 automatic. Oh, and yes, a rifle they got the kid for Christmas, but they haven't given it to him. It's wrapped up in the closet.

Turns out the kid had found package and opened it. He and his friend were playing with the rifle. The other kid shot himself accidentally.

"What's it all prove, Joe?"

"You don't give a kid a gun for Christmas."

The National Rifle Association was outraged. They launched a letter writing campaign against Dragnet. Jack Webb passed the letters on to the Chief of Police who made a public statement that he hoped they did more shows exposing the idiocy of giving guns to children.

Would you see a TV episode like this today? Such a depressing Christmas episode. The death of a child is a subject few shows would touch. Jack Webb stood up to the NRA, and there was no attempt to be "even-handed", giving the pro-firearm fatality side of things.

It shows how bad things have gotten that Dragnet, 1952, would be too radical for today's viewers.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hulu really stinks

If you have Roku, be careful about getting Hulu. I can't get it to work. I can start movies and TV shows, but they often freeze. The only way I can correct it is to unplug the Roku and plug it back in.

Also, I can't get the remote to work with it. I can't pause or stop anything that's playing. Again, if I change my mind and want to stop something, I have to unplug the Roku.

I don't have this problem with any other channel. I look on message boards and a lot of other people have the same thing happen to them, it's been happening for a long time and I don't see any sign that they're interested in correcting it.

Look into it before you buy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Counting the days...

Throughout Christendom, children---the ones who aren't horribly impoverished---are counting the days until Christmas.

I dread Christmas. But I know how the kids feel. I can hardly wait for Ray Carney to go back to work in February. He'll finally be compelled to offer some explanation for his crimes.

I'm surprised at how long this has gone on. What could Carney possibly say? How is this good for him?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Community access TV soap operas

Some advice I read on how to produce a community access TV show: Quantity is more important that quality. Don't worry about getting it perfect. Just get it done and on the air.

This was probably intended for talk shows, but I don't know how a scripted show could be any different. How do you produce a half hour drama a week? And this is assuming you have a job and a life and that you're working with other people who have jobs and lives. You might have a total of only four hours a week to film half an hour of material.

The community access station here operated on the theory that they could legally use other people's music without permission. I don't know if they were right, but they did in any case. So I watched one show produced by middle school students, an hour long movie at least half of which was musical interlude, footage of classrooms and students with pop music playing. It was pretty good, actually.

There was a long-running soap opera that has about fifteen minutes of scripted material and fifteen minutes of interviews with actors and behind-the-scenes footage.

The advantage of a soap opera is that you can can have the same cast in every episode. If you do, say, a private eye show, you needs a new supporting players every episode.

But the few community access soap operas I've seen haven't taken full advantage of the genre. Real soap operas have demonic possession, spy rings, mafia murders, serial killers; General Hospital had a mad scientist in possession of a machine to control the weather that he was going to use to freeze Port Charles. They have all kinds of weird crap.

I don't watch soap operas. I did watch General Hospital for about a week once when I was in high school. I was out of money so I started walking home every day for lunch. I would eat and watch General Hospital and miss a couple of classes each day. Laura was engaged to Scottie, but Bobbie was pretending to be pregnant with Scottie's baby for reasons that were never made clear.

When I tried watching the show again a few months later, Laura and Bobbie were friends, and that sort of killed it for me. Then, even later, I think it was Luke and Laura who were frolicking on a tropical island where the mad scientist was preparing to freeze the city.

One of the local community access TV soaps was produced by a former child actor who had been on Days of Our Lives playing Neo Harrington. I read online about a community access soap producer in Tennessee who had been an avid soap viewer in the past. He was now opposed to the more colorful aspects of soap operas---the identical twins, people coming back from the dead, the supernatural stuff they threw in. These two respected the genre, and made very serious dramas.

On the other hand, you have the ones who have little respect for the genre and make soap operas because they figure it's easy.

But the results are similar. The ones who respect the genre try to be serious. The ones who don't respect the genre never really watched them and are unaware of all the stuff they're free to do. They end up being more serious than they need to be, even when they're trying to be funny.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jean Dujardin, OSS 117

Watched the two OSS 117 movies, made by the same people who made the Oscar winning silent movie, The Artist. The films are French spoofs of 1960s European spy movies.

Jean Dujardin would have made a better James Bond than most of the guys who've played that role, although it would have been a waste of his talent. In these films, he plays a dimwitted racist, sexist French secret agent.

They make a monkey out of those lousy Austin Powers movies. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Angus T Jones needs to be careful of

I quit worrying about other people's religious beliefs. Except for Scientologists---I can't stand those idiots. Religious beliefs are mostly innocuous, and I disagree with almost everyone about almost everything else, so why should that be any different?

Angus T Jones becoming a Seventh Day Adventist doesn't bother me. I'm less offended by his talk about Satan using smutty TV shows to harm humanity than I am by the smutty TV shows themselves. I'm tired of that crap----South Park, Family Guy, Two and a Half Men. Those are the only ones I've watched but I know there are lots of others. I want a wholesome adult sit-com. Remember The Bob Newhart Show? The Mary Tyler Moore Show? And I wouldn't mind a good private eye show, either. There hasn't been one of those in a while.

But Angus needs to beware of this thing where celebrities become spokesmen for whatever they get involved in.

Roseanne Barr claims to have recovered memories of childhood sex abuse, and a week later she's pontificating before Congress on the subject. Suddenly she's an expert.

Christopher Reeve is in a horseback riding accident, and as soon as he's out of the hospital he's an expert discussing paralysis and disability before Congress and on the news. He annoyed a lot of disabled people. Many need government assistance for their daily lives, but Reeve didn't understand the issues. All he talked about was finding a cure.

Imagine you're a teenager. You've just joined a church for the first time and a week later you're on TV and on the internet acting as their spokesman, explaining their beliefs and talking about how to live as a Christian. It's a recipe for humiliation. The poor boy has already had to apologize for jokingly begging people to not watch his show. The people he was trying to appeal to don't watch it anyway. If anything, he boosted their ratings.

Angus needs to lie low. Play it cool.  He should model himself after Ann B. Davis who joined a religious community in the '70s, not Kirk Cameron.