Sunday, May 30, 2021

Komatsu and Oyama Remembered

Komatsu in 'Chibideka Mongatrai'

Obviously, I have not written here in some time.

I decided to say nothing here, as I was doubtful my endless rants of the obvious failings of the previous  president were of any use. Thankfully, I learned by the 2020 elections end, that our democracy was preserved by about 8 million voters. Thin margin perhaps but enough to alter the grim path we were on Yet, I also learned that where I live I am politically outnumbered about 4 to 1 - about the same amount I have experienced in the years and years I have lived here ... and yet i remain.

Call me Odd Man Out. And no, I have never been comfortable with this particular reality. So I write what I can seldom say.

And after perusing other options of the online world, those many thousands and thousands of platforms and apps  world gurgles and burbles its way through to self-expression - this humble and loveable blog is the best place to share. Here, I am the only one, I can speak freely.

I can ponder through words the thoughts wandering about my old mind (I'm 60 - time left is ticking past loudly.

I continue to marvel at the presence and uses the world has made of the internet - fascinated by the swipe-left-or-right narrative so many engage in, the willingness to answer any question posed by some Facebook data miner, speeding through miniaturized experience. People of all ages and sexes make money online opening boxes and packages to reveal what's inside, or how to apply make-up, or repair a car or a washing machine, or being creative with music and art, or even just jerking off live on camera for tip money. In my day, one had to go to a big city and find a peep show to do that.

Anyway.

I was eating lunch (eel sushi and thai yellow curry chicken) in a small Asian restaurant and I put my phone away since it had little battery power left. I realized I did not even have a book in my car I could have brought in with me - it made me feel ashamed. 

I work with folks in their 20s and 30s and have noticed whenever there is a pause in work or just conversation, 8 seconds will go past and their heads will bend down to their phones, fingering away swiping up and down and left and right. 

So now I have two books in my car. 

I'm no Luddite.

I was pondering movies I could watch online (how I spend most of my time online) and something reminded me of the first foreign language film I saw. I was 7 or maybe 8, and on Saturday mornings I eagerly waited for the CBS Children's Film Festival program to air. I was quite delighted to be able to type CBS Children's Film Festival into the magic google machine - and there it was listed, along with all the films they showed during their very long run. 

It was a Japanese film made in 1958 called "Skinny and Fatty", or originally "Chibideka Monogatari". It's a very simple story of two young boys in elementary school who become friends. Once I recalled seeing it - images and scenes filled my head. The story follows them through their school days and lives at home. They become friends, the smaller sized boy, Komatsu, lives in a very small one-room house and the heavier boy, Oyama. lives in a large two-story home. Komatsu's mother works in a quarry all day, his father works out of town, seldom home. Oyama's mom stays at home, dad is home every night. The boys get bullied, but don't give in. Komatsu always tells his new friend to never give up, to try to achieve, to have confidence.

All I could find of the 45 minute movie was a horribly washed-out print on YouTube, and watched it anyway. I remembered how much that movie impacted me - it wasn't about adults or the goofy kids in America I saw on TV. Their lives are ordinary and still, powerful. It was one of several young experiences that made me want to write, to tell stories, to make movies and plays. There is almost a manga-quality to the movie, it's steeped in late 50s Japanese culture, and likely helped lay a foundation for an appreciation of their styles of storytelling. 

And that's what I decided to write about today. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Facts and Truth - the Vaccine for Our Nation




Yes, yes, despite all my efforts, this post is yet another one about the idiot living in the White House, and tangentially the idiots who think he is a genius. 

There's just this verifiable galaxy of chaos engulfing the country and, let's be plain - the chaos has cost lives. 

A particular detail about myself is I am one the elite cadre of Real Journalists - an alchemical creation made in my youth in the melting pot of newsprint and Murrow's television - made only with a relentless application of shoe leather and work and commitment to report two things: Facts and Truth. And by youth I mean, well, at the age of 11 I was the sole writer and publisher of a weekly 4 page news report on local and national issues which I printed 100 copies of and passed out for free to classmates and adults who needed it.

In other words, news and commentary is Foundational for me. And Journalism - news reporting and commentary - is Foundational to America.

Any good reporter can tell you, small petty men and women create little fiefdoms and large ones inside our daily politics and always have, whether on a local state or national level, we even have these fiefdoms pop up where we work, in the ways we interact socially. It's a behavior of the emotionally stunted. 

If Walter Cronkite were alive during this presidency, he would have already, personally, socked him in the nose.

The Press en masse is not the enemy of the people, Lies are the enemy. The news is not fake, its really that fucking bad. Bizarre rumors become National Policy. The one branch of our government, the presidency, has become a battering ram to the basic structure of government. What has been the most unnerving and disturbing aspect of this chaos is the boundless support the Republican Party provides for his lawlessness. 

Sigh.

Out of an enormous legacy of overall respect for whomever holds the office, the Press was reluctant early on, and even now, to call his statements what that are. False. Lies, Imaginary. I tip my hat to them for standing up more and more in the face of death threats and ridicule. I have one very big problem with cable news networks - far too much focus on panel shows of media consultants offering precious little in the way of Facts. Media has, especially with television and now the Internet, been a little too in love with itself.

America is not great right now.

(Though have we not learned very clearly how when things are hardest, the majority of us - we pull together to help each other?)

This president's failures are no hoax.

Accurate, factual, truthful documentation of this horrible era will be plentiful in future years - this post is now part of that record, another verification of our troubled times - As Merlin said in the movie Excalibur "It is the doom of men that they forget. They forget."






Monday, September 16, 2019

The John Wick of the Ocean


There are some pretty amazing stories and movies of maritime adventure, and vengeful aquatic creatures, but when Dino de Laurentis released his version of a vengeful whale, the result was truly unique. Imagine blending the retribution of "Death Wish" and Moby Dick.

I watched "Orca" (1977) again recently, I realized how special the movie really was.

The scruffy Richard Harris plays a fisherman who angers and incurs the wrath of the deadliest killer whale - a whale whose anger has no bounds. As others have noted, once the vendetta against Harris begins after Harris inadvertently kills a pregnant wale wife, then pretty much everyone Harris knows or talks do gets killed.

Before the movie ends,this Orca Assassin has wiped out Harris' entire town. This whale is more dangerous and more angry than John Wick.

Revenge is a dish best served cold and wet.

A User Review on IMDB masterfully lays out the film:

The dramatic fight between Captain Nolan and the whale could have easily become silly, but it doesn't. The Arctic Circle is accurately represented as a cold place with many iceberg, some of which whales can thwack themselves upon catapulting middle-aged Irishmen forty feet in the air. Keep in mind, also, this was done without the use of computer graphics. Steven Spielberg did not even put the shark in Jaws until over halfway through the film. Why? To hide a machine so fake that I can only assume one of his children made it at camp. The mechanical killer whale in Orca is almost indistinguishable from the stock footage of killer whales continually played throughout the movie.

In 1977, how many directors were brave enough to shoot a killer whale jumping from one side of the boat, eating actor Robert Carradine, and landing on the other side? Just one, Michael Anderson. His bold choices along with screenwriters Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Donati (who both show an above average command of the English languages for native-born Italian speakers) make the film a statement not only about whale hunting and whale forgiveness seeking, but also about humanity. Charlotte Rampling's appeal to Nolan not to go fight the whale just because the whale wants revenge is not just about social protocols of how to make it up to the father of a whale baby you accidentally killed, but also an argument against the death penalty. Will Sampson's pointless death is an indictment of the senseless slaughter of tens of millions of Native Americans. When the whale knocks down Captain Nolan's house without any explanation of this whale became such a genius that he can not only knows to knock down structural supports but also can look up addresses in the phone book, it directly shows how our incursion into the world of nature is two-fold. Robert Carradine's tragic death in the film is social commentary on the probability of being eaten if you stand around on a boat being followed by a crazed killer whale. And probably also something about Vietnam, I assume.

And while most in Hollywood choose not to admit it, many have ripped off Orca. The dead baby scene in Trainspotting is suspiciously reminiscent of the dead whale fetus scene in Orca. The creepy quasi-romance between an intelligent female and a somewhat crazy violent child murderer is directly stolen by George Lucas for Star Wars: Episode II. The use of icebergs is blatantly co-opted by Titanic, and I have never heard James Cameron so much as thank Michael Anderson. And don't even get me started on Free Willy. Orca is a complicated story. If you only enjoy movies with obvious heroes and villains, this is not for you. The characters are conflicted. Very conflicted. Take for instance how the killer whale jumps for joy after biting off Bo Derek's leg. The whale shows both glee in his jumps, but also the pain of having lost his family and never being able to bring them back no matter how hard he fights those who took them from him. Like Batman. You see, the only thing black and white in this movie is the killer whale itself. While Orca does not now get the respect it deserves, in time people will realize its genius. Just as people did not understand gravity or continental drift, in time they will come to recognize Orca as the greatest cinematic achievement of all time.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Good News, Everyone!!



Over the years of serving up your Cup of Joe (fresh and hot), this semi-experimental online  original commentary on our collective Past, Present and Future, well, sure, there's been great focus on politics. But something happened.

Pretty much a year, two even, have been posts about the Con Man Who Swindled America.

Titanic effort has been applied all along by yours truly to resist attempting to endlessly post pithy captures our current Idiocracy. The effort has won the day, so, in the words of Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, "Good news, everyone!" More normal weird and wonderful items are making a welcome return here.

(No, I'm not turning blindly away. How could anyone? We all know what a horrible place we've become. America is now the place parents warn their children about. "And if they catch you, they'll lock you away forever.")

So.

First we heard about an Alabama man who allegedly had an Attack Squirrel, which he had been feeding meth in order to make it "aggressive", so the police better watch out! Then came The Chase after said owner of the perhaps meth-addicted Attack Squirrel.



Ok then.
---
Movies have been on my mind too, as always. Especially regarding the process of making them. As a hardcore fan of the films of Stanley Kubrick, I I enjoyed this oral history about the making of the orgy scene in Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut.

"Peter Cavaciuti (Steadicam operator): Stanley’s precision was the thing I remember most. I had three lasers on the Steadicam, pointed to the ground, and when they all lined up, a grip would drop a plumb line from a string from the lens; then I’d line my lasers up, and then the grip would talk me into the mark, saying I was two inches, one inch on the mark. That level of precision was pretty exceptional. You’d very rarely do less than 20 takes. So physically and intellectually, it was demanding. Very often, Stanley would say to me that I wasn’t on my mark. I’d look down and I had my three lasers, so I’d say, “Well, I am on the mark, Stanley.” And one time Tom Cruise whispered to me, “Just move the camera, Pete.” [I realized] it was just code for saying that Stanley wanted to put the camera in a different place."

As much as he was known for being a control freak, it is much more a case of his being a collaborator - gathering very talented people, work with them for months to create the best way to tell a scene or a story, and still at the moment of shooting the scene being open to what else might be possible. 
I was also struck by descriptions of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as great to work with - helpful and contributing to the work. One doesn't spend years working on a difficult project unless their is great commitment and excitement.


--

How about pretty much every way you can cook a potato?






Thursday, February 21, 2019

So Many Enemies He Needs Some Executive Time to Relax a Little


So the president repeatedly says the American press is America's enemy - but not one word about Russia threatening a nuclear attack on America ... 

Former FBI director says he fears the president is a Russian asset .... but the press is the enemy (oh, and the entire FBI).

Saudi Arabia murders a journalist, the president's staff has secretly sold nuclear weapon secrets to them ... because the press is the enemy?

The president calls for retribution against media comedies for jokes about his great self, and a coast guard officer is thankfully arrested for planning mass murder based on a hit list spreadsheet of media targets ....because the press is the enemy.

Except the press is not the enemy at our southern border. It's all the non-white people. Such a horrific enemy the president says America has a national emergency. 

Odd ...The press, non-whites, treaties with our allies, our military alliances, our trade with other nations, these are the enemies of America in the eyes and mind and actions of the president and his followers. Oh, and all the ex members of his administration. They are all bad people too. And his lawyers. And former friends. 

So many enemies. Gonna have to grab some Executive Time.



Monday, January 21, 2019

The Question Only You Can Answer


As much as I have railed against folks like our current president who promote racist ways, let me instead today refer you to Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate our better selves, and go gently among the battered and wounded America by way of this humble but lovable blog and remind you of how much King got right, that hope among all of us rises in every walk of life, that possibility, life, freedom and equality exist, that justice exists. 

However.

I am stumped and stupified by the reality that this country is still battling over the same ground so many years after King's death. Since that battle still rages, then, as now, it is my responsibility - our responsibility - to speak up and call out the racism and injustice others consistently tolerate if not promote. This is America -  everyone is an immigrant's child. 

So on this day, let us remind ourselves of some of King's words:


--  "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"


 --  "An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality."

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Worst Kidney Stone in Human History

Here at the end of 2018, I am somewhat embarrassed so many of the few posts this year have been about the Fake President currently in office. I didn't want to do that, but the harm being done by the individual is consistently alarming and newsworthy.

I take some minimal comfort in the reality that the majority of voters cast their votes for someone else. Also bringing relief, the fact that the political faction responsible for his term were pretty much thrown out in the elections of the Fall of this year. But restoring the nation will be a great task and one that takes more time. Simply put, this bizzaro episode isn't going to end well. 

So onward to 2019, and again, I'll exert more effort to renew the readability and worth of posts on this humble, but lovable page. As for our current discomfort, it shall pass .... like the worst kidney stone in human history.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Bizzaro President


I keep striving to stay off and away from the current politic holding sway in America, the Trump-Anti-Politic, but I'm really concerned for the Americans aiding and abetting it's prominence whether through will or apathy. 

And I'm concerned for those who have never been taken in by the Trump con, because, hey I feel ya. It's like living in a Bizarro Superman presidency or something and worse, it just keeps getting worse. Today, it's the president's attorney proclaiming "truth isn't truth" with relation to Trump. (Oh, we knew that already, btw).

I'm no political newbie. It's been a passion, a hobby,and local, state and national politics has - just in my lifetime - been a chaotic mess, a swill of corruption and also a realm of great achievement for the common good of our nation and our planet. 

If Trump posted his Tweets as the CEO of a company, he'd already have been fired.

So I'm concerned for all these folks who are trying to hold political concepts like "truth isn't truth" alongside the Constitution;support for arresting immigrants vs. the Constitution, our own history, morals, etc; and so much more - such contrary-wise thinking has to be debilitating after a while. 

A lot of the conflict and headaches you're having would ease up considerably if you'd just remember that no skin color makes any difference to anyone's worth, just like where someone is from is any reason to go all knock-kneed in terror, no need to fear them or harm them if they are poor, or if they love someone you don't approve of. I understand your sense of unease - our country has been at war in the middle east for 18 years now and Fear of Others has been our National Default Setting. All alliances become strained, and then 18 years of war along with other regional wars waged by despots have, no surprise, displaced millions and millions and millions of people who no longer have a home. Strangers seem to be everywhere.

But we have (well, we had) some strong skills at adapting and cooperating with our alliances to provide shelter and security, and we surely must soon consider how to end the longest war in the history of America. There are no voices of leadership even calling it into question.

For the rest of us - those who tried to warn others - if America isn't the leader of Democracy and Equality in the world ... who is?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Summer 2018 - They Live ... Again

Let's knock the dust of this page.

A reason for the long time between posts - I wanted it to be ignored for a while, forgotten even, so I had fewer concerns about who might read it. Job done!

On to business -

As a lifelong political observer, it has been a most fascinating time, though a sad one for the old U.S. of A. After surviving so many challenges of the most dire sort, it seems the worst folks imaginable are in charge supported by a very vocal minority of citizens who are demented by hatred and racism and self-aggrandizement. I can't say the prognosis is good - I'm afraid the old U.S. of A. is probably going to to get sicker before it gets better. 

An encore rally of the white-supremacist neo-nazis from Charlottesville have booked their next appearance - the national mall in front of the White House in August. Guest speakers to include........

Meanwhile, I've noted some true Weirdness worth noting - such as

 - - The use of foreskins from Korean babies as the base of a high-dollar facial treatment for rich white ladies (aka The Penis Facial). I hear The Idiot in Chief is a big fan.

- - America currently has the largest stockpile of cheese in over a century. Too much milk which is a part of the Idiot in Chief's Trade War stratagems. 

- - Finally! Robosuits are here!! (and remember, Robos can't unionize!!)

-- So for nearly 18 years now, every big-budget Hollywood box office hit feature agonizingly long and detailed scenes of giant skyscrapers collapsing into enormous billowing clouds of dust but no one is talking about the nation's recurring daydream of what happened at the World trade Center. Y'all are creeping me out.

- - Speaking of movies, check out the Daily Itinerary of the Killer in a Slasher Movie.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Breaking News Spring 2018

Yep, I'm still here. Did any dear reader take my suggestion to read thru the decade of previous posts?

No matter - here's a few things worth noting.

For the last few months, I've let the world turn and gyrate without commentary. I know you're trying, World, (well, there are sure some who are not) so I've withheld my views, much as a parent must eventually let go of the bicycle and let the child take over. And i'm not going to say I'm disappointed or angry. 

At this point, we just need to all be grown up and admit that consequences for illegal and impeachable offenses in the current White House are inevitable, if we follow our own governmental rules.

However, our current president is greatly skilled at a sort of "loss-leader" style of governing. From day one, actually, when this lifetimer salesman announced he was running. He is certain to include an outrageous comment (that Mexican immigrants are rapists) knowing full well the media machines would make that the story, when the real thing to probe and report on is the Candidate - who's who in the campaign, platforms and plans, experience, potential appointees, specifics. He continues such daily and weekly, via Twitter or in press briefings, meetings, legislating, etc - while the surface roils with items known to management to be losing are touted in order to draw in more potential 'customers' or voters, while real effort is being devoted (and not really debated) in areas affecting real changes on a national governing level.

I take great solace that hopefully the actions and voices of a generation (several actually) are about to march on Washington by the hundreds of thousands to demand an end to assault rifle sales, to stronger controls over high-powered weaponry, to refuse to accept endless shooter alerts while attending school will create a much-needed shift away from gun violence. Public school 2018 is akin to Vietnam, wasting the lives of the youngest and brightest for reasons archaic and obscure and pointless.

What else we got here?

Oh hey, welcome to the Internet America - because yes, all the info you put online, every connection and click you make, is being collected, studied, sold, and weaponized against you. You don't have to provide all that free data, you can keep a lot private, but it is being consumed and used without your ok.

In Entertainment news, I still haven't seen "Frozen" and I feel just fine.

And what was that other thing? ..... Ah yes, our nation is still at war in the middle east. Anybody got a year count on this war?