Friday, July 15, 2005

From "Finding Neverland," a DVD Friday Movies on Stage Collection pick Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"The way contemporary history is told is like a huge concert where they present all of Beethoven's one hundred thirty-eight opuses one after the other, but actually play just the first eight bars of each. If the same concert were given again in ten years, only the first note of each piece would be played, thus one hundred thirty-eight notes for the whole concert, presented as one continuous melody. And in twenty years, the whole of Beethoven's music would be summed up in a single very long buzzing tone, like the endless sound he heard the first day of his deafness."
'>Milan Kundera

Movies on Stage: A DVD Friday Collection

Supplementing what has become a nightly diet of "'>Six Feet Under" episodes on DVD (an HBO series we've never seen because we didn't have HBO even when we had cable---we're into the second season now), I rented two movies that just got off the "new" list, and by complete accident they both were films about the theatre (the first two listed here.)

Films about theatre happen to form one of my favorite subgenres, and so these two new additions inspire the first of the DVD Friday lists of personal favorites. All are available on DVD unless otherwise noted, though I haven't yet seen them all on DVD.

'> BEING JULIA (2004) From a novel by Somerset Magham, scripted by playwright and theatre explainer Ronald Harwood, this story about a famous but aging actress in London of 1938 is smart, stylish, funny and moving. Annette Benning was robbed of the Oscar she deserved for this film. The other performances---from Jeremy Irons to the wonderful Juliet Stevenson to relative newcomers, at least to film in America---are uniformly excellent. And in dealing with youthful ambition (somewhat reminiscent of "All About Eve"-see below) the resolution is wonderfully theatrical.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

the bear in the coal mine? Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"…works of art are of an infinite loneliness, and nothing so little as criticism can reach them."

Something big is going on out there

With a record number of dead seabirds washing up on West Coast beaches from Central California to British Columbia, marine biologists are raising the alarm about rising ocean temperatures and dwindling plankton populations."Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic Fisheries and Sciences at the University of Washington. "I'm left with no obvious smoking gun, but birds are a good signal because they feed high up on the food chain."

The bird deaths are between 5 and 10 times greater the highest ever previously recorded. In the past, researchers found one dead Brandt's cormorant for each 34 miles of beach. This May they averaged one every eight-tenths of a mile.

The culprit may be the higher ocean temperatures---from 2 to 5 degrees above normal near the coast.

In some scenarios years ago, the effects of global heating would show up in the ocean last. Today they may be showing up first. Sensitivity to temperature may be the main reason, but the hotter water may also be just the last straw. Toxic chemicals have already killed off fish and other sea life, and there are high levels of toxic substances in many of the survivors.

Environmentalist David Suzuki talks about the canary in the coal mine, kept there because toxi fumes killed them first, warning miners of danger so the miners would flee. Now, he said, the canaries are dying all around us and we ignore them. This is a literal case of that.

It's not just the climate crisis. Suzuki reminds us that asthma was almost unheard of among children in the 1930s. Now in North American cities, one in four children are affected. Robert Kennedy, Jr. talks about the high levels of mercury in the bloodstreams of his own children, while nothing is done, and Americans permit the Bush administration to gut regulations, destroy existing law and do whatever the polluting and climate altering industries want.

Suzuki and Kennedy ask us, if we can't pay attention to what's happening to our own children, what kind of a species are we? If something big is going on out there in the ocean, it's going to mean far more to us and the future than whether Karl Rove gets canned or Paris Hilton gets a blue collar pal.

Print Story: Scientists Raise Alarm About Ocean Health on Yahoo! News

UPDATE: And this story, UNESCO investigating climate crisis effects on world heritage natural sites, which turns out to be a mechanism to pressure governments to take action on global heating.

Wednesday--oops Thursday--Book Review: Death Sentences

"Words can be like notes, like expressions of the soul," Don Watson writes. "They can make our hair stand up, they can lift our understanding to a higher plane, make us see things differently. They can inspire love and hope. You can see it happen before your eyes. Words can create a magic halo."

But before closure can be achieved on such product, robust parameters of total quality and competitive international best practices are key self-management and self-marketing requirements, in order to leverage vibrant pre-empowering emotional communication nodes and re-purpose functional deployment as a strategic initiative committed to an enhanced content provider environment. A personal mission statement sometimes helps.

MORE on DEATH SENTENCES: How Cliches, Weasel Words, and Management-Speak are Strangling Public Language, a book by Don Watson.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

one of the great malls of China Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

“The united personality will never quite lose the painful sense of innate discord. Complete redemption from the sufferings in this world is and must remain in illusion. The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus which leads to the goal: that is the goal of a lifetime.”

Blood in the Water

The Rove affair continues to obsess Washington and the political blogosphere, where it is becoming mortal political combat.

Bringing down Rove on this issue is a lot like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. Still, there is a certain blood lust in the glee with which anti-Bushites are going after Rove, and there is the give-no-quarter distortions and lies of the GOPer defenders. The result is a lot of ugly noise, a little light, and it seems to me a short-sighted strategy ending with getting rid of Rove, while indications accumulate that we may be missing the true dimensions of the situation.


The Great Malls of China

The news that China is now more popular around the world than the United States, according to a Pew Research Center survey, is just the latest Chinese challenge to the American ego. The Chinese are also buying U.S. businesses with hallowed American brand names, such as IBM (its PC unit), and they're bidding for Maytag and Unocal. They're making a lot of what Americans wear, use and buy. They hold a substantial interest in the U.S. future by financing much of the national debt.

And they've even surpassed us in the most characteristic icon of American life: the shopping mall.

[The link below takes you my piece in the Los Angeles Times. The Christian Science Monitor was also going to publish it this week, but it kept getting bumped by London terrorism and Rove terrorism stories.]

The Great Malls of China

PBS prez Pat Mitchell Posted by Picasa

Outstanding Pat

Pat Mitchell, the head of PBS, got into the television news business in Boston in the early 1970s. There were almost no women in television news then: a few at the networks, and only one locally in all of Boston. WBZ had Pat Collins doing movie reviews at the end of the 11:00 news, until she left for New York. Her replacement was Pat Mitchell.

But before long, what was then called "women's lib" was having a real impact in television, and suddenly a generation of women were on the air in Boston. Like Pat, they were smart and also young and beautiful. It was a remarkable combination, which caused them all problems and got them plenty of attention as well.

Pat quickly added anchoring a new 5:30 p.m. newscast and talk show hybrid, and she was off and running. She had a talk show in Washington, eventually became a producer with Turner broadcasting, and now she's running PBS.

She's kept a fairly low public profile, even through all the recent storm and strife affecting PBS, but she's picked the perfect moment to raise her voice. She testified at a congressional hearing the other day that ended up with the committee reccomending that PBS get its funding restored. Then she responded to questions from the Television Critics Association saying the so-called study of Bill Moyer's Now and other PBS shows that CPB chief Kenneth Tomlinson commissioned was "very troubling" and should be investigated.

She pointed out that she doesn't report to him, and he doesn't report to her---PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are independent of one another. Here are a few other lines from the story below:

CPB was established to provide a "heat shield" to protect programming produced for PBS or local public-TV stations from political interference, Mitchell said.

"There are clearly questions, and rightly so, about whether the heat shield is in place," she said.

PBS Chief Backs Programming Investigation

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Magritte Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"Were I to choose an auspicious image for the new millennium, I would choose that one: the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times—noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring—belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetery for rusty old cars."
'>Italo Calvino

Basketball Diary

This was the first in many years I didn't watch a single NBA game on TV until the finals, and then only parts of the last three. There's nothing much to watch---not when I've got old tapes of Michael Jordan and those Bulls teams, the Lakers of Shaq and Kobe championships, and even some of the Magic Johnson Lakers. So from time to time I watch them.

But I can't turn off the writer completely, so I do wonder what those announcers are talking about sometimes. If you know anything about the game, you know that some of what seems like dumb redundancy really isn't, like "He's got speed and quickness." They really are two different things.

But then there are other habitual expressions that always bother me...


Whose Intelligence is Bad?

"You now in Iraq have a recruiting ground in which jihadists, people who previously were not willing to go out and embrace the vision of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, are now aligning themselves with elements that have declared allegiance to him. And in the course of that, they're learning how to build bombs. They're learning how to conduct military operations."
Larry Johnson, (former) CIA analyst

Monday, July 11, 2005

Don't Look Back---the Pod People may be gaining on you... Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"To be good, it may be necessary to imagine oneself as good."
'>Iris Murdoch

Hope is Coming!

This blog is just starting up, and so far is catching up. But gradually the theme of "hope for a darkening age" should become clearer and more prominent.

Trying to tell truth about power, pointing out excesses, destructive policies, insidious patterns and imbalances in the Force, as well as sharing some inspirations and cultural connections, plus some satire and scorched mirth, are all in various ways about hope, or at least more clarity and laughter in the darkening age. But I do hope to begin defining the positive in some future posts.

Unfortunately that takes more time...

Mann Handled---Red Channeled?

If you haven't read anything about the Mann Report, you should. (Here's a good place to start.) Terrorist bombing in London dominated news last week, but this story is not unrelated, even though it is about a sloppy right wing partisan "report" on a few PBS news and talk shows---principally Bill Moyers' Now--which identifies every opinion not in strict and full support of Bushcorp and the Rabid Right agenda.

Why bother with something so innately silly, even though it was commissioned by the right wing head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and paid for with tax money?

It was just this sort of "report" that got a lot of people fired from their jobs in TV, movies, radio and schools during the Blacklist and McCarthy 1950s---sloppy with inaccuracies, crazed in its rigidity and idiotic in interpretation. That's also why it is related to the terrorist attack, because then as now, the sense of America endangered by shadowy enemies was misused for political and ideological purposes. It did happen here, and it can happen again.

It is also further evidence of the rabid right's agenda: to make Liberal equal what Communist meant in the 50s, if not totally in content, then in effect: UnAmerican, subversive, fellow-travelers of the Evildoers.

The hand of the Blacklist--back again? Posted by Picasa

And Speaking of the Cold War Imagination...

As we come up to the 60th anniversary of the start of the Atomic Age, followed hard upon by the Cold War, the Turner Classic Movie channel has been highlighting science fiction films of the 1950s and 60s, including what it calls Cold War Cinema.

If you recall these movies--the post-apocalyptic dramas, alien invasions and subversions (like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"), the Bug-Eyed Monster movies, etc.--you may be interested in how they reflect the fears of the time. Which aren't all that far away from the fears of ours. Because you're going to be seeing very similar sorts of sci-fi on all three commercial broadcast networks this fall.

So follow the bouncing link to our illustrated essay on Cold War Cinema.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Twenty years ago today, operatives of the French government sank the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior which was deployed to protest French nuclear tests. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"Everything is folly but folly itself."
'>Giacomo Leopardi

Rove, Rove, Rove your boat

The plot thickens in the latest Washington drama. It's a bit of Greek theatre, and a lot of a Wahington novel of intrigue. At its center is Karl Rove, the Darth Vader of Bushcorp.

Last week the New York Times "reporter" Judith Miller, a well-documented apologist and mouthpiece for Bushcorp, went to jail for refusing to turn over notes to the federal prosecutor trying to find out who in the White House told the press that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA agent, and whether a crime was committed---either the crime of knowingly revealing the identity of a covert agent, or lying to a grand jury about it.


Welcome to the One False Church

Welcome to the One False Church. Many if not implicitly all those other churches and religions claim to be the one, the only truth. The Catholics: the One True Church© from way back. The various Evangelical/Fundamentalist Churches, sects and subsects (nothing succeeds like subsects) all claim sole proprietorship of the truth.

So how do you know, how do you really know? You’re not choosing a toothpaste here, this is your soul. So why not choose certainty? You may never know which is the true church, but you can be completely confident that this is the False Church.