Sunday, January 11, 2009

Finally, it's official

Not only a devil, but an asshole for not blogging in 2008.

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A humble holiday greeting...

..or, Walking With Pneumonia.

The last 2 weeks have been absolutely miserable for me, as I have been fighting off walking pneumonia. I haven't seen anyone other than my mom or my doctor since Dec. 14, when the sickness finally put me down for the count. Last week found me vomiting and strangling in my own mucus for the moments of consciousness I am able to recall, in addition to other horrors that are just plain best left to your imagination. Nothing makes you grateful for what you have like having to struggle to breathe, eat, or sit up. And if this did not serve as a reminder of how blessed I am, this year has seen a couple of my closer friends go away. Whit, my son Ben's stepfather, and the truest example of what a good Christian is supposed to be that I ever met, passed away in June, way too early, at 46. And one of my oldest friends betrayed me in an unforgivable manner in November. So this illness and the impermanence of life once again makes me want to say to you, my friends...

Thank you. For being part of my life. For being part of what drives me to continue drawing breath, and eating for that matter. I have said it many times before, even many times in this blog: my friends are my crowning glory, my saving grace. I know my own talent plays a part, but to put it simply: without you, I wouldn't be very much.

I hope this season brings you all of the peace humanity yearns for.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dumping time

All right, it's been a while. There's lots to discuss, but no time to do so. So, I am offering incomplete, unpublished entries at a discount, today, 2 for 1, or in Marvel parlance, 2-in-1.

I figure they're better off online incomplete than sitting waiting for me to find the time to complete them. Remember that they were written some time ago, and my mindset could be radically different now. If you have any questions, just ask!

Spielberg's year of evil opposites, from 2/07/06

I got to see WAR OF THE WORLDS and MUNICH over the course of the Christmas, 2005 weekend: and events in both movies mirror the events in the current headlines so much that a blog entry couldn't have been avoided. Since this past weekend, I have been pondering Spielburg's work, and what it has meant to me personally, and the world.

The reason I have spent a good part of my adult life pursuing dreams of becoming a filmmaker is because of Steven Spielberg. I saw JAWS about 10 times from 1975 to 1980: it made me want to make movies!

Me, and every third schlub you see walking around Hollywood scrutinizing daylight. No, not a terribly original idea, 'JAWS made me want to make movies.' But JAWS would lead me into a much greater love of cinema, so as a result I tried to see everything I could, and also take in as much about movies as I was able to. I was lucky to be exposed to ERASERHEAD at the age of 16, it too is a film that made me not only want to make movies, but make them is such a way as to challenge the viewer...heady thoughts at 16, and I wouldn't even be able to articulate them until I was in my thirties.

So, 2005 was Spielberg's year of evil opposites. He has always treated extraterrestrial charaters as peaceful or benign: WAR OF THE WORLDS gives us trying aliens as malicious. His heart didn't seem in it, and as a result, it's one of my least favorite Spielberg movies.

2005 brought us WAR OF THE WORLDS and MUNICH in the same way 1993 brought us the popcorn entertainment of JURASSIC PARK, and the end of the year would bring Spielberg's best movie to that date: SCHINDLER'S LIST, about a list that meant continued life if your name was on it, as the movie itself famously states, "The list is life." SCHINDLER'S LIST brought Spielberg the Oscar that COLOR PURPLE really should have earned him. MUNICH, concerning a list of people that are to be assassinated for their role in the murders of the Israeli atheletes at the Munich olympic games, is his best movie since JAWS. I also think that it's the best movie of 2005, despite how much I loved BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

{editorial interruption: I love MUNICH, but I end up loving BROKEBACK even more.}

Spielberg has become our director of conscience. I am certainly not the first to say this.

{sorry, that's it. Remember, you receive this at a discount}

This one is meatier, and I am so sorry that I couldn't finish it. From 2/9/06, although I started it in November of '05, and worked on it through February.

Frying My Bacon In the Canadian Hot Seat

I'm sorry, the post you are about to read has been building since late October. A lot of it was written in mid-November. I had a writing set-back (odd how those become writing fodder), but here it is, I hope you enjoy it.

Hello, remember me? I probably don't deserve it...

But my latest romance-induced hiatus is at an end...2005 was a year of incredible, unique experiences...some have hurt, but I am grateful for them all...if I could change anything...I wouldn't. I'll provide you with a little more insight soon...but my former republican-love muffin figures into the post, due to some of the conversation...

{editorial note: you've already gotten most of that insight, in a previous post}

My most recent daliance suggested that I have mixed up too much of my personal info with the political content that I cannot help but be compelled to write, here in this blog. Well, hold onto your hats, 'cause here comes a very strange souffle of those exact ingredients. I won't turn this into a weight loss journal, but that's part of this story. I am poorly grafting a weight loss memoir onto a treatise on international politics, mixed with a thick green marbling of travel journal. Prepare yourself for Suck Souffle, and the strange ingredients will be the poorer for the odd juxtapositions.

From October 14 - 16, 2005, I was in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. My hosts were kind enough to join in a birthday tribute to me, Renard and Eric, the Evil Trio, back in January, when Alex and Natasha flew from there to join us here, in LA's South Bay. (It's Alex and 'Tasha in the pic from January of 2005) We had dinner at Outlaws Steakhouse, and in pictures of me, it is obvious that I weighed more than I ever have. (Here's where the personal info comes in, duh. No, no one said anything to me, I could see it in the pictures, and on the scale, which read 330 lbs.) More on that later. I had the tri-tip. Alex and 'Tasha stayed a couple of days, and I got to join them and Renard and Loren in a little siteseeing, taking in the new Disney concert hall and the new Catholic cathedral.

Months pass, and I remember that Alex's birthday is in October, so over the summer I begin preliminary talks with Alex and Renard about going out to British Columbia to return Alex's favor. Despite warning Renard that he is amazingly lucky, and despite that the insight proved sage, I was the only one that got to go to British Columbia.

Alex picked me up in Victoria, B.C. Victoria is charming, has a great little personality, and seemed to be constructing itself anew every other block. Alex and I ate at a place that was fairly bustling with a wait staff who's friendliness bordered on cheeky. We then headed to the Canadian equivalent of a combination Home Depot/Pep Boys, and despite the size of this place, it felt friendlier than even the smallest of its American corporate counterparts.

We headed for the ferry that would take us to Salt Spring Island. What a wonderful sense of isolation, getting on a boat to go to an island. You've seen the pictures from the ferry. The city Alex lives and works in is very small, and I may be wrong, but I don't think that I saw a single American corporation doing business on the island. It is a warm, quaint place to my sensibilites. I loved it there, and would love to spend more time there.

Alex's home was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protogee, and again, in the pictures you see some of the odd touches associated with Wright. GREAT pad! At one point, Alex put on a CD celebrating great Canadian songwriters, eventually coming to "A Case of You," a beautiful version by kd lang. The album made me realize (I don't know why) that some of the critics that are most on point about America are Canadian..."Rockin' in the Free World" by Neal Young and Leonard Cohen's later works come to mind...

On Saturday night, I got to take part in a birthday party for Alex. In so doing, my mission was complete. I hopped the first ferry...

Yuk yuk yuk

Alex and 'Tasha have a very interesting array of friends, all of whom were very friendly. In certain occasions, the veneer of friendship would be exposed as a little thin before the evening was over, but it never wore through. It was great to talk at length again to Christine Arnet, Alex's sister, whom I hadn't seen since April of 1987. Moments like that make me glad for my long memory. I cannot possibly recall every name from that night, but I greatly enjoyed their company. It reminded me of my visit to Toronto back in 1987, which was one of the more memorable experiences of my life. I had a sense best described by the concept of the little bee girl in the "No Rain" video by Blind Melon: I had found a concentration of people like me.

Memory has failed me in terms of exactly how many people were there. But everyone had a great time. After dinner, tobacco smokers congregated on the patio/balcony. I hung inside, mainly because I am not so crazy about smoke...tobacco smoke...

But I headed out to the patio that I might produce some smoke with my lungs. It felt like as soon as I sat down, everyone left at the party jumped on me because I was the only citizen of the world's worst country. I distictly remember at least five people looking in my direction, and talking, heatedly, about what the USA does that pisses them off. I know it sounds unfriendly, but I totally understand their perspective. It makes me wish that the people that are setting the terrible policies could have been there with us. After all, I am almost completely sympathetic to what everyone was complaining about. The person who really needed to hear it was my then-girlfriend, the unthinking supporter of the uncaring administration...

They complained like you would expect someone to complain at the end of a long customer service line. They had no way to vent these ideas in a way that they thought would have any impact; and then they had an opportunity to tell a citizen of the USA what they thought, especially how our economic policies are hurting Canada. I'd probably do the same thing in their position. Except, unfortunately for them, they were preaching to the choir.

I remember Katrina coming up, then less than 7 weeks in the past, and I remember distinctly a question: "Aren't you ashamed?" Of course I am ashamed of the reaction. But I am not ashamed of my own reaction, because I know I did everything I could to kick Bush back to Crawford...

A lovely woman named Memry was keen to ply me with her opinions on the US's lawmaking, and I was eager to hear her issues. It turned out that she didn't have the firmest grasp of American lawmaking. She was angry about how 'easy' it is to make laws in this country.

I must say that I was very touched when the conversation shifted to the greatness of America. Everyone agreed that the greatest thing about America is its ethnic diversity; not only that we have significant ethnic diversity, but that in a world where people live side by side prepared to kill each other over disagreements in a shared religion, America's ethnicities dwell side by side in a comparitively shocking peace. I agree with that assessment, but I see a day in the not too distant future where the entire world loses that, because too many immigrants to America failed to assimilate more completely. We can only live in and enjoy such peace if we all see ourselves as Americans...but what happens when we can't even talk to each other?

{the end}

Hope you like! Actually, I did a pretty good job on the Canadian visit. Just left out some opinions expressed by Memry's boyfriend...anyone that can fill in any blanks on that night are very welcome to! Hint, hint...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Best Movie of 2006?

Click the link.

I sat in a darkened cinema for what must have been nine and a half hours yesterday, not counting food- or herb-related breaks. AMC had all five best picture nominees showing the day before the Academy Awards are handed out. $30 got me admission to


The Queen

The Departed

Letters From Iwo Jima,


Little Miss Sunshine,

plus all of the fucking popcorn I could force down my gullet (I ended up eating one entire bag, during BABEL), a 32 oz. beverage (had one the whole day, Mr. Pipp), and the company of about 300 - 400 other people also interested in what the best films of 2006 are supposed to be. And since 2006 was not my best year for movie-attendance, I missed all but LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. I left after LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA ended, so I only got 4 movies and a shitload of junk food for my dollars...

...dollars rarely better spent! I loved getting 4 must-see movies into my brain in one day! Not that there wasn't any downside, three movies may be my limit for one day. LETTERS deserved more attention than I was able to sum up by the time it ran. My back is screaming this morning. I ate 14 pounds of crap, and only released about 2 pounds of it back into the environment (what, are my arms filled with popcorn and Mr Pibb now?)...

I guess I enjoyed a day of mass consumtion.

But it was great for comparing nominees.

BABEL was touching, much less of a downer than I had heard described. In fact, it may have been a bit overly sentimental at points. But it did evoke tears, as it tried to demonstrate that despite the things that separate us, we cannot escape the connection our shared humanity provides us. I don't know if mixing up the narrative worked to the effect the filmmakers intended.

THE QUEEN ends up being the movie among the Best Picture nominees that I liked best (but not my favorite film of 2006, which you know if you clicked the link). The acting, the writing, the cinematography are all exceptional, and the movie had a higher humor quotient that I expected. Helen Mirren will earn the best actress Oscar, there's little doubt, and she deserves it. The word that comes to my mind to describe her performance is effortless. This movie, LETTERS, and my choice for best film all have deep in their hearts the theme of duty, especially attending to duty after you've been defeated...

THE DEPARTED was a very entertaining, and well-acted. I really enjoyed the movie's sense of humor, rather twisted. The movie did not blow me away. I expect that DEPARTED will get best picture tonight, which isn't terribly problematic for me since the movie I liked best isn't nominated in the Best Picture catagory anyway (it did get an Best Director nomination, but we already know that Scorsese will be getting Best Director tonight for RAGING BULL and GOOD FELLAS); and I enjoyed DEPARTED plenty. I liked the nod to CAPE FEAR when Billy is doing those push-ups in his jail cell, ala Max Cady...

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA shows you the Japanese perspective on the Battle of Iwo Jima, a battle that we see the American perspective on in director Clint Eastwood's first release of 2006, and this film's companion, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. Didn't see it! Can't compare it! But if you did see it, you may realize watching LETTERS that you are now rooting for the other side. I am surprised that there haven't been any outcries calling Eastwood an "enemy sympathizer" They'd be utterly wrong, of course, but since when has that stopped someone with that point of view from speaking out? Humanity is well served by our own attempts to understand the people we don't agree with, so for that reason alone, LETTERS is one of the best films of 2006. I was getting pretty cranky and grumpy by the time this movie ended, so I may need to watch it again. This time, I won't watch it until after I've seen FLAGS. One thing I need to add is that I was a little disappointed at the effects showing the American forces arriving and landing at Iwo Jima. It looked like CALL OF DUTY to me.

I exited after the credits of LETTERS finished. I did not stay to see LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, because as in the case of UNITED 93, I watched it on DVD some weeks back. I thought it had funny moments, and the cast is exceptional, but ultimately I thought the movie was overrated, and I think it suffered for being labeled a comedy. I think it's a family drama with a lot of dark comedy. I may have enjoyed it more if that was I was expecting.

Another note I have to make: DREAMGIRLS is pretty much as good as any of the nominees...and Bill Condon was royally screwed, because it looks like he directed 2 of 2006's Oscar-winning supporting performances, not to mention one of the best films of the year.

And for my favorite movie of the year, UNITED 93? Well, I have to start by saying that anyone that is making a film related to the events of 9/11, has this huge built in advantage: American's shared memory of the events. Those images and sounds have so much power built into them, that there's a large responsibility attached to the handling of that subject matter. This is acknowledged in the choice of Oliver Stone to make not a political movie about 9/11, but a movie about one of its major rescue events. So the documentary-style approach of Paul Greengrass is perfect for the movie he has ultimately fashioned. For example, I recognized only one actor in this movie, Denny Dillon, she of DREAM ON. A result of his approach is a realistic day-to-day feeling of UNITED 93, until the days terrible events start playing themselves out. Because the actors are not recognizable, a second viewing of this movie is recommended. There's a lot I could say about this movie, but I just want to say this:

See it, no matter how you might dread the experience. If for no other reason, to see a great dramatization of America's very first response to the threat of Islamic terrorism. It is a fitting tribute.

Watch it again, because while the documenary approach annonymizing the characters works to the movie's benefit, a second watching helped me better understand the storyline.

BURRRPPP! Ahh, there goes some more Mr Pibb...

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Back In The Saddle Again

Well, obviously there's much to talk about, the first thing being the nation's sudden return to rationality. I have been saying for months that this past election would demonstrate whether or not we still live in a representative democracy. Given the overwhelming results of this year's elections, my faith has been significantly restored. However, it's for nothing if the Dems do not fix the elections posthaste.

But also of note is this personal development: I am now employed full-time as an assistant video editor, after working freelance for 3 months. (This in part explains the months of blog-silence) I am joining the staff of an advertising agency, their A/V division that creates film trailers and commercials for movies. I am tremendously grateful to Loren, who went to work for the same place earlier this year, and opened a door for me to attain the position I now occupy. I am also grateful to Scott for the opportunity he's giving me. Just as I was mentally embracing the prospect of aquiring work by finding it piecemeal, a permanent job was offered to me. Again, embracing the void in leaving IKEA has done nothing but pay huge dividends.

But let me return to the bigger metaphoric saddle: America won big November 7th. American women won, as the opponents of choice are stopped dead, so for now the tide is finally turned back after years of legislative abridgement. Those making the minimum wage are about to see their earning power increase, the people most likely to inject their capital into the economy. So they win, and we win too, because this move alone, I predict, will ensure a strong economy for the Dems facing reelection in 2008, for the party hoping to take back the White House. Progressive values are back in vogue, after more than 25 years of legislative roll-backs. I mean, I liked Bill Clinton and all, but his signing of welfare reform is part of why poverty has increased since 2001. He was a 'lite' Republican, in my opinion. The pendulum has changed direction, and moderation is another big winner. Taxes are a big winner, because the Dems won despite the President using the bully pulpit to frighten America with the prospect of rampant tax increases, freeing their agenda to levy whatever tax increases they see fit. Thanks George! I personally hope we see a rollback of corporate tax loopholes, and ending offshore tax shelters. Bush should stand before both houses of Congress and admit: "The era of big government is back." In all seriousness, the only personal tax increases I think we'll see will be related to rolling back Bush's treasury-bankrupting tax breaks of the early 2000's...

But the job ahead is enormous, and for the sake of the country, the Democrats must succeed. Could they/would they fail? They certainly have before. The difference this time is that the entire nation is counting on them, not just Democrats or Liberals like myself (I may have already mentioned in this venue that I became a member of the Green Party on the day Clinton signed welfare reform). We know this from the polls indicating that the country doesn't feel that they are doing ENOUGH to extricate us from Iraq. We need election, ethics, and minimum wage reform, done from a perspective that puts the middle class and its values and needs first, and that's just the beginning...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Civil War II?

Well well well...all I can say is thank god that our President is a uniter and not a divider, otherwise I might have caught a bullet on a bright September morning, instead of this note! Lookie what some poor coward left on the vehicle I am borrowing. Click either pic for a bigger version.

It was left on Sheri's car at the medical building where my mom's doctor is located. Actual size is about 3 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, it's a little hard to read, so here's exactly what it says...

"It's hard to tell whether you're ignorant or just another terrorist out to destroy America.

I'll pray for you."

It needs to be pointed out I am using a friend's car, a friend who is even more progressive than me, and her bumper stickers demonstrate this. And I don't bandy the word "coward" about, and I intend to prove this person has earned it on multiple levels, by dissecting the living fuck out of the fan mail.

"It's hard to tell if..."

No duh, because you are basing your opinion of me on bumper stickers on a car that isn't mine. It would be like me judging your own ignorance on this note you left behind...actually, poor analogy, since I am sure that the frightened little person that left this frightened little missive behind actually wrote it and composed it. Well, at least you are just ignorant, and not a terrorist. Sure I agree with most of the bumper stickers, but maybe you've heard the term "Don't judge a terrorist by his bumper stickers?" And by the way, America, what are we going to do about the terrorist's horrifying use of terror bumper stickers? That has to be the greatest threat to our security, the terror novelty bumper sticker...I hope Sheri didn't get too many paper cuts applying these stickers!

"...America." (underlined)

I might have missed the point if you had failed to underline UUhhhhhhh-merica...(thanks Mike Judge)

"I'll pray for you."

You're praying for a terrorist's success? Did 9/11 teach you anything? My, you must be scared if you are that turned around. Or are you praying to God that he take me out on the 405 freeway? You need to pray for yourself, for the following: that God grants you the requisite testicles to live everyday in this country, that He/She/It provides you with enough cojones to actually enjoy the freedom our Constitution grants us (and that you apparently are willing to forgo to prevent a plane from crashing into you) and finally enough intestinal fortitude to issue your complaints directly to my fat face.

Oh yeah, thanks for praying for me. You are clearly my spiritual superior. But can you find it in your heart to forgive Liberal-Pinko-Commie me? Jesus would approve, or so I hear. Don't forget, despite the color of my skin, and the content of my character, I'm an Uhhh-merican too. Somehow the God you worship seems less forgiving than Jesus.

The events I describe occurred on September 18, 2006.

This incident begs the question: will the civil war we've created in Iraq lead to the second American Civil War?

The Republicans are doing everything in their power to prevent their coming loss of political power and status. What they are doing with their rhetoric is creating 2 kinds of people in the US: people that recognize that freedom is worth some risk, and those that are walking around crapping their pants a couple of times a day. Another frightened woman called into Ed Schultz the other day demanding: "What are the Democrats going to do to keep us SAFE?!?" Poor woman; she must live every minute in the fear that terrorists created on 9/11 and that the Bush administration and their supporters have milked for political benefit. And the person that left the note is reacting directly to the things that have been issued from the mouths of people like Bush and Cheney themselves as I see it. Because I think Dubya and his policies suck, a fellow American sees me as an enemy. Does it get any more divided than that? How long before we are at each other's throats?

I feel less and less sympathy for their ilk. To live in freedom requires a bravery. A bravery that is strangled by the promises of safety by the Bushies. Any complaint such as the woman I heard on the radio should be met resoundingly by words from Poor Richard's Almanac, something I and others have quoted more than once:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Did ol' Ben Franklin himself write this? Probably not, but he did edit the Richard's Almanac, and found enough wisdom in it to decide to include it in the almanac. It is to this day associated with Franklin, suggesting something about the wisdom of his including it. Hopefully our own wisdom allows us to recognize that our freedom has a price. We must take measures to secure our safety, of course, but there are lines that should not be crossed. Otherwise, what are we really protecting?

Giving up freedom here and our moral standing abroad seems like an ass-backwards stance on securing the homeland to me. I am for taking decisive preemptive action where the evidence clearly states that's what's called for, but how can we ever trust this administration after the shoddy intelligence effort on Iraq? It's pretty obvious to me that our actual reasons for invading have yet to be publicly acknowledged.

Too many tangents. Sorry for that.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Missing One

Today should have been Colleen Compher's fortieth birthday.

We lost her to a heroin overdose in April of 1996, meaning her body would never see the ravages of time and diet that our thirties, forties, etc. have brought to those that survive her. She was my friend, my good friend. Some of my friends were fortunate enough to get even closer to her than I was, but here I speak of things that I know of only a little. These friends know her better than I did. I just consider myself lucky to have known her the time that I did, for she was a rare individual who's outside beauty matched most of what was inside.

What sticks me in the heart to this day was that it seemed like H was a demon she had slain. I hate heroin, it's toll in my life and our culture has been too fucking significant. I've never done it, and I never will; I hope anyone not recognizing the wisdom of these words will just take my word for it. Because of my vicarious experiences with it, any news of someone familiar to me taking it is like hearing that same someone has received a death sentence. It becomes a matter of time. For Colleen, I reckon it was probably around 13 - 14 years. I am sure some eyes that see these words may be able to correct any error I may have made in regards to time frame; I'm sure you see my point.

I met her at Eric Shaeffer's house in 1984, along with Monique White. Colleen was dating Rainier, my friend Renard's brother. I didn't really get to know Colleen until a little later, when Renard, Andrea and I had a place in Torrance. She would move to Toronto at least once in the 1980's; we remained in fairly close contact after her eventual return and up until the time of her death. Not close enough for me to have been aware of her return to heroin, but I doubt I could have done anything even if I knew.

I am just really sorry that she got caught up in it.

I love and miss you Colleen.