Where we go

Recently I talked with some friends on whether Obama is a good for the world or not. And, to be honest, I think he’s not. On some level I felt, ever since the election, that it might have been better if MaCain had won. Not because I believe he would have been better, quite the opposite, but because he would have brought down the house faster. The way I see it these days, the problems of capitalism are not fixable through the ways and means that brought it into the world. Long discussion :). Anyway, then I stumbled on this article by Naomi Klein – of Shock Doctrine and No Logo fame. Echos  many of my sentiments. Quite a good read actually.

This preference for symbols over substance, and this unwillingness to stick to a morally clear if unpopular course, is where Obama decisively parts ways with the transformative political movements from which he has borrowed so much (the pop-art posters from Che, his cadence from King, his “Yes We Can!” slogan from the migrant farmworkers – si se puede). These movements made unequivocal demands of existing power structures: for land distribution, higher wages, ambitious social programmes. Because of those high-cost demands, these movements had not only committed followers but serious enemies. Obama, in sharp contrast not just to social movements but to transformative presidents such as FDR, follows the logic of marketing: create an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wing nuts (which, granted, constitute a not inconsequential demographic in the United States). Advertising Age had it right when it gushed that the Obama brand is “big enough to be anything to anyone yet had an intimate enough feel to inspire advocacy”. And then their highest compliment: “Mr Obama somehow managed to be both Coke and Honest Tea, both the megabrand with the global awareness and distribution network and the dark-horse, upstart niche player.”

Another way of putting it is that Obama played the anti-war, anti-Wall Street party crasher to his grassroots base, which imagined itself leading an insurgency against the two-party ­monopoly through dogged organisation and donations gathered from lemonade stands and loose change found in the crevices of the couch. Meanwhile, he took more money from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate, swallowed the Democratic party establishment in one gulp after defeating Hillary Clinton, then pursued “bipartisanship” with crazed Republicans once in the White House.

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Movie Review: Night of the Demons

I saw the original “Night of the Demons,” but I don’t remember much about it. I seem to recall that there was a nun chaperoning a dance who kept telling the dancing teens to leave room between them for the Holy Spirit. When the demon got loose and the body count started spiraling that nun kicked some righteous ass. I don’t know if that was the first or second “Night of the Demons,” btw.

The remake stars Shannon Elizabeth, who is barely in the movie. She rents a haunted mansion for a Halloween party and ends up getting possessed by a demon. The results are predictable, except the filmmakers screw up and kill off too many characters too fast. By forty-five minutes in only three characters remain, one of them cannon fodder. Since most of the fun in movies like this is watching people die in creative ways, knocking off half your cast in five minutes is a bad idea. Continue reading

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The Art of “Not-to-Rock” – at times

PJ Harvey made a new album and I fucking love it. Now there are two options for you: You could save yourself some time and just obtain “Let England Shake” through some channel (I still favor CDs, my home insurance doesn’t cover iTunes in case of a fire ;)) or you can listen to me telling you how good it is for a while and then get it (should you choose to do neither, the evil creeperman will eat your soul some night soon).

I’ll try to be brief though. Harvey’s new album is weirdly intimate and soul gripping. Part may be the instrumentation which is very folky for someone who made her career on noisy guitar rock. Another aspect is her singing. Harvey sings in her highest key throughout the album, reinventing herself once more (She has ever been of the tribe of musical chameleons). Her voice echos hauntingly familiar, to use a somewhat overused but, in this case, apt expression. It’s almost like the memory of someone you think you might have known at some point and just can’t place until you realize you’ve known this person for a long time and she has just chosen to show you another facet of herself.

Harvey recorded the album in an old church somewhere in Dorset, England. Maybe one of the ways she got in touch with her country’s musical roots. Still, it’s not a nostalgic look back. There are too many reminiscences of war and carnage here. But then that is history, seen from the perspective of the angel of history.

Here is a short two-part interview Harvey did with the NMW: If one day I can talk about my own art in a somewhat similar manner, well, my efforts will not have been in vain.


Part two and some other stuff after the break.

Continue reading

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The Global Seed Vault

I just found out about the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard today.

It reminds me of a novel that one of the denizens of this very blog was writing at one point. You know who you are!


Also, I think I just broke a lightbulb with my mind. I mean I’m that stressed-out. Ka-pow!

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Yes, and…

I just Googled “Yes, and…”

And the second result was this.

I do post more often when I’m procrastinating. Why do you ask?

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Wrongra. Wrong-ra! Pronunciation: rong-ruh. I don’t know how to make diacritical marks in html, do you? Pronounced like the word ‘wrong’ with a ‘ruh’ on the end.

Have you heard this expression? It means “wrongest, most wrong,” or “wronger than wrong” or perhaps if we’re feeling silly, “Lord of the wrong,” “King among wrongs.” It is used to describe a person, place, thing, phenomenon, or situation that is supremely lacking in Right-ness, such that we fear permanent damage to the balance of the universe.

I’m writing something today and I came to a place in my narrative where this term would not have gone amiss. In fact, it would have been perfect, and I can’t think of anything better. “Really wrong” seems woefully inadequate by comparison. But I wonder if over a dozen people use the term.

Maybe I’ll put it in anyway.

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Shocking revelations

Let’s get something out in the open. The biggest revelation in this article was not that Tom Cruise wanted custom nickel-plating and cherry-red paint on his motorcycle. It was this:

Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis got his start writing scripts for Scooby-Doo and other classic musty old cartoons!

I know this is the second post wherein I’ve mentioned Scooby-Doo. Lest I start to seem like some demented closet fan, I should explain that my attempts to learn the craft of writing have oddly coincided with my 5-year-old daughter’s discovery of the beloved talking-dog detective.

And those two events, happening in concert with one another, have set up an echo in my head… a maddening echo that I want to share with everyone… an echo that sounds like this: “Oh no, my glasses! I can’t see without them!”

It’s not that I like Scooby-Doo, but it has a strange negative fascination for me. For starters I love talking animals, and I love amateur detectives, and I’ve always been flummoxed how a show that incorporates both of those things could go so awfully wrong.

But there’s something else, something that incorporates a whiff of dated slang, a dash of “As you know, Bob,” a pinch of Captain Obvious. It’s that groovy dialogue!

The dialogue in old cartoons is not just bad. It’s bad in a certain workmanlike way that feels strangely indulgent. It accomplishes things you’re not supposed to accomplish in dialogue while speeding merrily on its way without a backward glance.

Let’s call it Boneheaded Dialogue. I think I may have coined this term myself (said with a wink of course), so let’s define it. Boneheaded Dialogue must either state something obvious about the scene, or gleefully telegraph an emerging (and probably also obvious) plot point. Sometimes it can even do both. Like this:

“Oh no, my glasses! I can’t see without them!”

“Gee, what a spooky place to run out of gas.”

“What would a ghost from outer space be doing reading the newspaper?”

I’ll be honest and say that my desire to stamp out Boneheaded Dialogue is at war with my equally strong, albeit perverse, desire to promulgate even more Boneheaded Dialogue for the next generation to enjoy.

I’ve committed acts of Boneheaded Dialogue in real life as well (although I suppose then it would be called Boneheaded Conversation). For example, I wish I could share the chirpy remark I dropped into contented silence at a dinner party the night Arturo Gatti was found murdered. But this isn’t a boxing blog.

My point being, I guess, go Paul Haggis! For moving up from that hardworking Scooby Doo dialogue all the way to an Oscar.

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