Thursday, November 30, 2006

We don't put up a fight anymore...

Does this image look strange? Outdated? Cool? Does it disrupt your flow? Your work decompression? Your TV time? Can you see yourself in this picture?
Probably not.

"We've never been a very adventurous people. Americans not only cannot grasp ideology, they don't need it," says Gore Vidal in V Magazine. There's plenty this man says that I disagree with, but this broad statement seems to ring true for the present (not the past). The USA is a look out for #1 republic. Our media, which could inspire us and shake us from our selfish pursuits (and incite us to riot in the streets) is there instead "to celebrate corporate America." And hypnotize us into overstimulated consuming machines, I would add.

If, for example, the Neocon Republicans are guided by oil gangsters, jacked-up on Jesus, who control the judiciary, (and therefore the last two presidential election outcomes) and are hellbent on enacting an agenda that serves their warped, anti-human, wrong side of history worldview, then what are we doing sitting here? What are you going to do?

Just like I don't know what to do about the bogus and wildly expensive "fix-it" ticket I received from an anal moto-cop, Americans don't know what recourse they have when they sense corruption or wrong or change for the worse. Politics are corrupt is the assumption, it's better to focus on what's in front of you. And that's an attitude many politicians enjoy and engender.

Taking it to the streets? No, We tried that. The hippies. They were smelly, idealistic, vainglorious, troublemakers. They messed up the country. So that's it? There's no more dissent because of the 60s and 70s? That's pretty sad. Yes, but since when does protesting work anyway? They don't listen. So we don't care. Today's protesters always sound so thin in the voice. So vulnerable. So futile. What can stir us from our slumber? Don't ask. You probably don't want to know (if it hasn't occured to you already). You mean 9/11? Well if you call that an awakening. Some would say it's become just another layer of obfuscation.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

True Sustainability...

“A bird builds a nest and we call it nature, but when we build a house we see it as something artificial. Almost against nature. Maybe there’s some way we can get closer to what it is the bird is doing.”

-Dennis Dollens, Biomimetic Architecture Theorist, who spoke brilliantly on the sandy shores of M&A last night. If it's TRUE sustainability you're looking for, then this is your man.

("The Big Duck" Flanders, Long Island, NY - the most literal form of biomimetic architecture.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stereotypes in Utopia!

To my fledgling colony I’d import a population that reflected the wit and wisdom of the British, the fluidity and ferocious sensuality of the French, the boiling blood of Spanish creativity, the with dashes of Brazilian enthusiasm and smiles, German precision and gloom, Moroccan mystery, Jamaican syntax, Scandinavian cool, Russian madness, Irish articulation, Iranian soul, Ethiopian majesty, Indian innocence, Tibetan spirits, Italian vision, Nigerian rhythms, Japanese demure, Brooklyn anti-hip and Austrian psychomania thrown in to spice the curry. All this on a lush self-sustaining, minimally but lovingly governed, large tropical island with spring-fed rivers, unexpected plant and animal life, no mosquitoes, thriving indigenous culture, citrus groves, intoxicating natural smells, two intricately wired and astonishingly well-supplied cities: one ancient, one modern, scattered sculpture and historical monuments, ample housing of character, headquarters to the United Nations of Food, Music, Cinema, and Fascinating Ideas, spectacular parks and beaches, criminally entertaining and imaginative festivals, and two wildly invigorating (but never deadly) hurricanes a year. Applications are being accepted now. So what’s your general idea?

(drawing by the brilliant Scott Meyers)

Monday, November 27, 2006


An unemployed writer in Hollywood has about as much clout as a rain drop in Seattle.

(Werner Herzog eating his shoe.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cactus Butt & Honey Yellow-Jacket...

If I was a Bond villain my name would be "Cactus Butt." Why? Well yesterday while helping Sarah back into a difficult parking spot I managed to back myself directly into a ten foot tall prickly pear cactus. Sarah spent half an hour in someone's bathroom pulling tiny spines out of my behind with borrowed tweezers. It was very cartoonish and overwhelmingly silly, in a dastardly way. Possibly more Austin Powers than Bond.

Now, if Sarah was a Bond girl her name would be "Honey Yellow-Jacket." Why? Because on the very same day as the cactus butt incident, she was making herself some tea and went to grab the archetypal plastic honey bear to add some sweet to the mix. Squeeze the honey bear she did, only to discover that a straggling November yellow jacket was also indulging in some of the sweet stuff too.

Well, the cactus bite and the bee sting. It's as simple and as jolting as all that!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Brains Gone Wild...

As I get to be a (dirty) old man, it is incumbent upon me to find new pornography to keep me stimulated. I've been pretty open about my watch habit. But my latest favorite is genius porn, i.e. reading interviews between smoking hot scientists, intellectuals, philosophers and other supersmartypants. The key word is "between" - you've got to pit to Mensa members against each other for the real brain on brain effect to kick in.

This month's Wired Magazine has the usual geeky fare, but there's a very naughty little article on page 92 that reveals one of my all time favorites, Daniel C. Dennett, going at it hard with artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky. They're talking about the organizational structure of human consciousness and why slavish computers can't take it. Mind you this stuff is not for those that blush easily, so I'm only going to put a couple of lines here. For crying out loud people it's a family time of year! OK, here goes:

Minsky: Physics gives us about five laws that explain almost everything. So we keep looking for those kinds of simple laws to apply to the brain. But we shouldn't be looking for a simple explanation of how thought works. Evolution has found hundreds of ways to do things, and when one of them fails, your mind switches to another. That's resourcefulness!

Dennett: Computer programmers have the luxury to create hierarchies of control. The systems, the subsystems, the sub-subsystems are complete slaves. They never rebel. This gives you a model of the mind with the highest echelons of logic at the top. But if you think about a brain as a community of individually semi-autonomous, even independently evolved agencies, as Marvin has, you realize that the agencies have to be browbeaten and they have to form alliances. Emotions aren't an add-on, but rather the politics of the whole system.

Shiver me timbers that's good... You want more? You'll just have to get the magazine. It's the one in the brown bag right next to "Astronomically Expensive Homes For Sale Quarterly."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"A good sheriff in a bad town"

I never feel sad when people who've led extraordinary lives die in old age. Yes, there's a feeling of loss, but it is mostly masked by a sense of awe over what they leave behind. The work, yes, but also the human character behind the work, the trailblazing they had to do in order to create the work. Few of us will be lucky enough to leave such a decisive brushstroke in the ever-shifting human painting.

Robert Altman was outspoken about many topics, but war and Hollywood were certainly favorites. CNN quotes Altman as saying, "Our mandate [on M*A*S*H] was bad taste. If anybody had a joke in the worst taste, it had a better chance of getting into the film, because nothing was in worse taste than that war itself." After the September 11 attacks, he said Hollywood served as a source of inspiration for the terrorists by making violent action movies that amounted to training films for such attacks. "Nobody would have thought to commit an atrocity like that unless they'd seen it in a movie," Altman said.

Does it seem like there are fewer and fewer iconoclasts around? Does it seem like all the teeth have been filed, like all the scenery has been nailed in place, like the bubble has finally enveloped us in pickle juice? The future won't be kind to our age of comfort and consumption, people striving with all their might to make their lives look like what the plush ones they see in the movies and the magazines. Let's remember Robert Altman as someone who threw out templates and keeping up with the Jones's in favor of the jittery, sometimes hard to grasp, chaos that surrounds us.

("A good sheriff in a bad town" is a quote from Tom Waits talking about Altman)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Binary code...

If you're like me you spend time and energy trying to make your life better. It seems counter-intuitive to spend time and energy making your life worse. Or does it? Just as there are people who short the stock market, betting that a stock will fall, maybe there is a similar strategy to living? Perhaps going to hell is a way to get to heaven?

When you are a kid you are afraid of the deep end of the pool. It's just so damn deep. You swim hesitantly to the bottom, but you chicken out before you get there, you lose your air, and the experience is no good. Of course if you make a b-line straight for the bottom of the pool, then you can plant your feet firmly on the sub-aquatic floor and use that bottom as a spring point that will catapult you to the surface in a wonderfully bubbly upward trajectory.

What is it in us that is able to distinguish good and bad? Pros and cons? Right and wrong? Heaven and Hell? While logic and experience certainly help bolster our opinion, there is something involuntary in us that automatically makes these sorts of "feeling" judgments. So if the human animal is hardwired to feel what's good and what's bad, then you have to ask yourself do these qualities exist objectively in the universe, or are we just deeply programmed to slice everything up into a vague collection of opposing forces?

I was moved by the words of Katherine Jefferts Schori, the new head of the Episcopalian Church, in yesterday's NYTimes magazine. "I understand the creation story in the scientific sense - big bang and evolutionary theory - as the best understanding of how we have come to be what we are: not the meaning behind it, but the process behind it." Now there's a distinction you don't hear many religious leaders making. The difference between "how" and "why."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

We wish you a merry BND!

Just as the gift giving season arrives like a plague, the good folks at Adbusters are once again encouraging us to reconsider the fascism of cash culture and its contempt for all non-monetary values. So this coming Friday, November 24th, notoriously the biggest shopping day of the year, why not do your part and stash the plastic, hide the green, and go for a walk instead?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Private Lennon...

It's never too late to have a happy childhood, say some. Others would prefer to get on with it. One man who decided he'd had enough of lugging around his childhood demons was John Lennon, who in 1970 came to Venice, California to complete Primal Therapy sessions he'd begun in England with Dr. Arthur Janov. Yes, that's the one with all the screaming.

"I had to do it to really kill off all the religious myths," said Lennon in 1971. "In the therapy you really feel every painful moment of your life - it's excruciating, you are forced to realise that your pain, the kind that makes you wake up afraid with your heart pounding, is really yours and not the result of somebody up in the sky. It's the result of your early experience and your environment. This therapy forced me to get over all the God shit... Most people channel their pain into God or masturbation or some dream of making it... [It's] facing up to reality instead of always looking for some kind of heaven." (Read more here.)

Personally, I'm not sure that confronting your pain negates the religious experience, in fact I think a radical purging of all the warped lenses we carry around might negate our solipsism, and therefore put us more in touch with larger forces. But I can see how a man in his shoes, who had spent much of his life being deified, would need to pulverize all the mythological gods in order to become human again.

Channeling your pain into some dream of making it... Ouch.

(Lennon as Private Digweed still from "How I Won the War")

Friday, November 17, 2006

Beyond the Village...

Psychoanalysis is a technique to cure excessively suffering individuals of the unconsciously misdirected desires and hostilities that weave around them their private web of unreal terrors and ambivalent attractions. The patient released from these finds herself able to participate with comparative satisfaction in the more realistic fears, hostilities, erotic and religious practices, business enterprises, wars, pastimes, and household tasks offered by a particular culture.

But...For the one who has deliberately undertaken the difficult and dangerous journey beyond "the village compound," these interests, too, are to be regarded as based on error...

Joseph Campbell (on persuing the hero's journey)

("Joan of Arc" by Jules Bastien-Lepage)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ways and means...

In the early 1970's Winston Lord was a member of the National Security Council's planning staff and personal aide to National Security Advisor, Henry Kissenger. Lord had worked on one report for Kissinger for days. After handing it in he got back a note saying, "Is this the best you can do?" Lord went to work on the report again, attacking it with new vigor and insights. Once again the report came back with the same message: "Is this the best you can do?" Lord made himself sick with exertion trying to rethink the report. When the third version came back with the same curt comment from Kissenger, Lord stormed into his office and screamed, "Damn it! Yes, it's the best I can do!" "Good," replied Kissenger. "Then I guess I'll read it this time."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tinnitus news...

This will bore the pants off of most of you, but I believe I've made a few important discoveries for people who suffer from tinnitus. Woke up very slowly in the middle of the night with an unusually loud, low note in my left ear. In the five seconds it took to go from dream to waking state, the note faded out completely. But it was clear from the walloping headache I had that this note had been ringing in my head for hours. I was also completely dehydrated.

So, my first discovery, the more obvious of the two, is that there is a direct link between dehydration and ringing. I've known this for a while. When I used to drink, the alcohol would compound the sleeptime dehydrating effect and bring about significant headaches and exhaustion upon waking in the morning, far greater than the typical "hangover" one would get from a glass of wine or two. Tinnitis is a horrible condition. Who can get any meaningful sleep with all that clatter going on?

My second discovery, based on last night's episode, is that not all tinnitus rings are audible to the conscious mind. What is especially interesting here is the suggestion that there are different levels of "hearing" as we pass through different levels of consciousness. Who's to say that this deep brain hearing doesn't exert enormous influence on our behavior and the very shape of our consciousness? Maybe there are multiple sub-systems of eeach of the five senses we have yet to discover.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Simple Man...

Noam Chomsky, a man who loves a big wooly sweater, has been publically pointing out the failings of our so-called democracy for decades. He gets labeled as an intellectual, a genius, a socialist (all true) and sure enough that scares most people away from his activism, which is a shame. Then there's this: "I'm a boring speaker and I like it that way," he says, "people are interested in the issues not the personality." I'm not sure which people he's talking about, but hey, who am I to judge what the head of the linguistics department at MIT says?

My understanding of Chomsky's key political gripe is that US democracy has been thuggishly morphed into a global dictatorship with some highly dubious foreign policy. How does this happen? The Bush administration rewards countries who "do their job," (i.e. they shut up and do what we tell them to do) and punishes countries who defy us in any way. In this manner, the US shows absolutely zero respect for the fundamentals of democracy - allowing the will of a nation's people to decide its policy and progress in the world. Think of that: Smaller governments feel obligated to play nice with the US before they can listen to the will of their own people. This may improve economic flow in the short run, but it's horrible for the health of the political planet, and an insult to the notion of democracy. Want more? Read his book - it may not top Oprah's book club, but Hugo Chavez sure seems to like it.

Suppose I can't post this post without posting this cringe-inducing encounter.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Spiraling Bondage...

The 007 franchise has always been an exercise in hitting certain notes, and allowing a certain audience (young lads and too a lesser extent young lasses) to bask in the cool reductive world those notes conjure. You knew the formula and you allowed it to entwine your consciousness. Call it Bondage.

Casino Royale breaks the mold on several levels. To begin with it adapts an entirely new premise: James Bond is not a single man, but rather a pair of shoes - an empty name - that must be filled. In the old films we were asked to believe that Roger Moore was Sean Connery was Pierce Brosnan, and so forth. The way I see it, we are being asked to believe that those 007's, those Bonds, were actually different people, (M & Q too), doing her Majesty's bidding over time. (How lucky we were then to get five Bonds in a row who were all so similar in manner and habit!) There are people who disagree with this interpretation. Some say no, this is just a young Bond on his first mission, but I can't abide that spin. Fresh Bond or no Bond, that's my motto.

So, one Bond disappears, another pops up - like a shark's tooth. When a bartender asks Casino Royale's Bond, the ultra-pumped and short-on-words Daniel Craig, whether he wants his martini stirred or shaken, he replies, "Who cares." Get ready 007 fans, there's a definite existential chill in the air here in the 21st C. (Speaking of which, why didn't the producers wait a month to release this film? There is such a clear 007/2007 marketing ploy in the making, I can't believe they passed it up... Could the franchise possibly be refocusing on its content rather than its hype?)

The new Bond says something about the times, thought I'm not exactly sure what it is or if I agree with it. Softcore sex and winking wit have been traded in for hardcore action and ball-busting violence. Fantasy has been traded in for some kind of supposed realism (or as Sarah calls it the “extra-real"). These sound like bad choices and in some ways they are, but I have to give a tip of my hat to the producers for throwing out the old scripts and going for broke here. A film about gambling should take some risks.

No opening chase before the titles, no naked silhouetted girls in the titles, no James Bond Theme (until the end credits), no one-liners, no Q, no Moneypenny, no gadgets. Instead, we get lots of dealings with women and cards. Bond is pegged as an orphan by the almost impossible to understand Eva Green (what accent is that?). Thustly, M is very clearly the mother Bond never had. Craig and Judy Dench share some very warm and tender scenes together. There is also a love story that goes much farther than you would ever expect a Bond film to go, and for some, this will bring a certain psychological depth to the proceedings. (Others will opt for, "WTF?") The card game is a bore. Having just come back from Las Vegas, I can honestly say that little of the drama and way too much posturing of gambling is on display here.

Part of the pleasure of Bond was always the lack of the character's believability. Let's face it, Roger Moore could hardly open a jar of peanut butter, let alone climb, and then jump from one construction crane to another. With Daniel Craig, the makers have posed a fundamental question (after all these years): Why is James Bond James Bond? What makes this man so special? Ostensibly, Casino Royale is the fulfillment of that thesis. When Daniel Craig's Bond kills a man with his bare hands, we are right there in the room with him. No sexy soundtrack is going to play him out of that scene (Though I will say he still cleans up pretty well with hardly a blond hair out of place after a scrape).

I like Daniel Craig and his frumpy camel face. One might hope for some natural brilliance to shine through to imbue Bond with flashes of inner luminosity, but we'll take his irrepressibly wired “let's go" demeanor as a consolation. After all, we already know that Bond can be funny and sophisticated... I'll go out on a limb and say it's refreshing to see someone a bit more, well... suburban in the role. Here's what's important: Craig's brooding Bond feels firmly in and of his world, not skeetering across the surface of it like so many waterbuggy Bonds past. Craig is thick and seemingly indestructible and apparently not without a heart (it almost stops ticking in the film). We are aware of him but, for once, he is not aware of us. I remember when I was at the Cannes Film Festival, the place was crawling with guys like this - impeccably dressed, soulless, muscle men who spent several thousand dollars on dinner dates without ever taking a bite or a sip. They exude a thuggish and nonchalant embracing of all the best that the modern world has to offer while retaining a boyish hurt in their eyes. These are the alpha males of Europe. Their life isn't much fun, but it photographs very nicely.

Casino Royale is a humorless, un-pretty, and seemingly endless bowl of spaghetti. The plot is a tangled mess, the characters are of unknown and unknowable provenance, loose ends are tied up with awkwardly inserted lines... The director's pov seems to be that any flaw can be fixed by adding more action sauce to the noodles. Come to think of it, maybe it's not so different a Bond flick after all... And yet, I think there is definitely new life here. Hope for growth and development amid the cliches. New turf for a more entrenched and engaged Bond to explore, nary a wink to the audience in sight.

We may have lost the twangy guitar notes, the formula, the adolescent elation, and that is to be mourned. But if Bond is to exist at all, let alone remain vital, letting go of his retro baggage is one suitably dangerous risk to have taken.

(photograph of a spiral staircase by Michel Bobillier)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

21 Hours...

Woke up at 5:30AM and hopped in the car. Las Vegas. Again, the no plan plan pays off. We didn't allow LV toxins to puncture our sphere of enjoyment, nor would we permit the city to use us as schills in its awful soul-sapping game. Instead, we wandered far and wide and allowed the city to perform for us. Our rule: We would not eat or spend a penny until we had earned it the old fashioned way: at the roulette table. We were happily delirious with hunger and stimulation and sore legs. Breakfast was finally earned at around 4PM. After eating, our luck improved - we had an amazing run in Caesar's Palace where Sarah and I systematically taught ourselves how to win, over and over. This involved equal parts logic, intuition, and superstition. But to say the day was about gambling would be incorrect, it was but a small side dish in a tremendous banquet of spontaneous experiences and magical light shows.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friends in high places...

Dinner in the Sky is yet another interesting idea fallen into the wrong hands. It is presented in an especially stupid and unappealing way on its site. So what is it? Basically, you and 21 of your closest friends sit and strap yourselves in at a special table that is rigged to a crane which hoists you more than 150 feet in the air while you dine. Sure it's a gimmick, but one I might actually enjoy if executed properly. Unfortunately, you go to the site and all you see is the marketing, the cute little events meant to plug this or that product. The locations are hideous (a parking lot? how about over the water, or a field of blooming flowers?) the participating people look like terrified and insignificant pawns (prawns?), and guess what? The underside of the table, the part people on the ground look up at in wonder, is covered with... wait for it... Advertising! Which reminds me of another bottom-heavy idea I had years ago, recently snapped up by the Wrigley's/Starbucks mega conglomerate. But I'm not bitter. I'm just glad to see my ideas making millions for those poor little companies.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Was Pablo Picasso an asshole?

If you're at all like me, you spend a good portion of your life looking for jolts and formulas that bring clarity and command to the chaos and confusion of life on earth. Art and cinema work well for this, and are very attractive as concentrated curations of large and small issues. But art and movies are dangerously alluring and well able to conceal their intrinsic limits and traps. I was reminded of this again yesterday while on jury duty. During the voir dire one lawyer put this question to the room of assembled citizens: What person in history do you most admire?

The responses yielded plenty of Abe Lincolns, Ronald Rayguns, George Washingtons, Martin Luther Kings, Jesus Christs, Jonas Salks, Charles Darwins, and one (slightly uncomfortable) Malcom X. In short, people who did big things to improve the lives for masses of people. They matter most. To bring up an artist, as I was tempted to do, in this context would have seemed damned frivolous. Yes, art can lift one's spirits or bolster an aesthetic outlook, but what the hell does my aesthetic enlightenment mean to the person sitting next to me? To the health and functionality of society? To the homeless? To the children of Iraq? To the outcast, the downtrodden, the marginalized many? Don't get me wrong, I can make a very good argument as to how art is an essential ingredient of any healthy culture. But in that argument you must eventually concede that art can not settle a complex dispute, lead a people, stop a war, feed a famine, or right a civil wrong no matter how much it would like to. These are practical matters for visionary people - artists who paint with belief, action, sweat, debate, politics, laws, and difficult decisions.

If you were to put Martin Luther King side by side with Pablo Picasso, which one, in the cold light of day, would you be more inclined to say was a talented, selfish prick hiding behind his inner child?

(photo by Cornell Capa)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Water fountains: best not to use them...

It's been a bizarre day down at the courthouse. (I thought I'd got all that civil service out of the way yesterday with all that curtained lever pulling, or syringe felt tip dot mashing, to be precise). I wandered into jury duty like it was a birthday party, and (eventually) got stuck on a thirty-day civil trial in a spanking white court room filled with some of the smelliest jurors and pockmarkiest lawyers this side of Vladivostok. But late in the afternoon the nice lady judge took one look at me, at the worn out knees in my trousers, at the circles under my shivering eyeballs, and she smelled the cheap cologne of a freelance journo whose ship needed more bailing than her court full of head cases. Let Gazpachot go, she decreed. And I ran for the parking lot.

But earlier in the day, I was called into another courtroom to hear more tales of civil woe. That judge was cool. He was in his chambers watching TV when we got back from lunch. We could all hear it, and so we sat eavesdropping in the drab brown room. Rummy was all washed up in Washington. (You're a heckuva guy Rummy, but now it's time to empty your drawers, take your wrestling thong, and go.) The judge came in and told us what he'd just seen on TV. He was a great talker, and you could only just catch the hint of contentment behind his robes. He went on to tell us that we should go buy water, since he wouldn't dare touch the water fountain in the courtroom (or breathe the air from the rusty vents). Ironically, this corroborated something I'd read on the internets just a few days ago, an investigative report into the gymnaseum drinking fountains of New York City - not only are they swarming with the usual host of flu and other bugs, but they also found traces of fecal matter along with tiny spores that lodge in your lungs and grow into something that looks like the inside of a pumpkin.

But back to court: My favorite part was when one potential juror was asked if he had any problems with the tort system. "I have problems putting a price on human life," he said, which was the first thing anybody in there had said that made any sense to me. The judge replied dryly, "Can this gentleman be excused from this case and can we find him one where he doesn't have to value human life as much?" Priceless.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote carefully...

Thank god for all the news sources out there who help decipher the bullshit rhetoric, say-anything candidates, and pork-tangled measures. My voting would have been significantly different were it not for their insights. What you think is a zebra is often just a white horse with black stripes tattooed on.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fresh Borat...

I will not be the first or the last to say that this is an extremely hilarious movie and that you should go see it. No doubt, in the weeks and months ahead, we will suffer from Borat-fatigue, and within a year or so, we will have seen countless inferior knock-offs and the whole phenom will seem to have passed its expiration date... But for now, in this window of freshness, we can marvel at the genius behind the set-up. Borat himself does very little heavy lifting, his talent is to engage others and let them reveal their natural response to absurd situations. It's the Candid Camera effect crossed with some biting social and political commentary. The resulting blend of reality and fiction generates a crackling live wire of comedy and horror, often simultaneously. (The British directors Merchant and Ivory, best known for their quaint period "corset" dramas, were experimenting with this notion early in their careers. They would take a professional actor, or a group of actors and enter a crowded market in Calcutta and stage complex public interventions, filming the results on hidden cameras.) At the end of Borat, "backwards" Kazakhstan looks nearly utopian in contrast to the demented souls and warped ways of the good old US and A. What will be interesting is to see how the film plays in two places: Middle America and the Middle East. If it makes it to either.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dream beast...

It’s so foggy out it looks like they forgot to put the world out this morning.
Which is ironic considering the clarity I awoke with.

The crossover from vibrant, bouyant dreams to the dull and dangerous waking world is a tough one. I find myself in those first few minutes of consciousness paralyzed in bed, trying to gobble up as much residual dream flesh as I can, knowing I have tasted the food of the gods, the highest form of nutrition one can consume in preparation for the day ahead. Of course it is fleeting, but the nourishment, the potential energy, is real. I feel that the depth of our dreams is directly tied to two things: the extent to which we challenged and exposed ourselves to new things the day before, and the type of energy with which we approach the day ahead.

Some days we are spindly sea birds flapping pathetically in the crude oil spills of our soul. Other days we are profoundly aloft beings, deeply engaged emotionally and intellectually with the people and the world around us. The key to achieving the latter, I believe, is to feed your dream beast so it can do its cinematic work and feed you back; magically unraveling the knots you've tied so tight in your being with powerful, mysterious, and freeing images.

(Photo by Glen Luchford)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Near Life Experience...

"He does not venture into fantasy to evade reality, but rather to confront reality from a more advantageous position."

-Sentence from the back cover of a book randomly pulled off a shelf.

(photo by Rinko Kawauchi)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Putra Jaya Bridge...

Length: 435 meters
Clearance: 8 meters
Where: Putrajaya, Malaysia
Opened: 2002
Use/Status: Auto/ Monorail /Pedestrian Bridge / in use
Official Name: Jambatan Putra
Crosses: Putrajaya Lake
Design: Perbadanan Putrajaya
Structural Type: Single Spur Cable Suspension Bridge

(Photo by Sadewo Triyudono)