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May 25, 2011

Words mean exactly what I want them to mean
Humpty Dumpty via Lewis Carrol

Route 163 by Kuba Klewaniec
Click images for desktop size: "Route 163" by Kuba Klewaniec
Just finished re-reading Steinbeck's, "The Grapes of Wrath". Great book, great story.
What's crazy is that a rare masterpiece of a book was actually made into a masterpiece of a movie.The Blue Dahlia
I'm used to a masterpiece being decided as much by the medium as the content. I can think of great books making good movies and great movies being made from decent books, But almost no great movies coming from great books.
I think its a testament to John Ford that the hardest thing about reading the book is shaking the near indelible images from the film. And its a testament to John Steinbeck that it doesn't take long for Tom Joad to be talking in his own voice instead of Henry Fonda's, and for the Preacher to become something big and real instead of a creation of John Carradine's.
They're both great works and they stand independently without complimenting each other. They remain unique and special each unto themselves. I think this is mainly due to the brilliance of the story. Stories about people finding their own way in a terrible land full of promise, promise withheld from the people, are always the stuff that fires up my imagination, It's the sort of story that creates values and gives a vivid purpose to morals.
The book is what's in front of me now. We know the story, the dust storms and the banks that created the depression. The rich bastards that perpetuated the depression for their own self serving purposes.
In the book the enemy is spelled out plain: "when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the oppressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great The Stranger DC Comics
Click images for desktop size: "The Stranger" by DC Comics
owners was directed at repression."
One of the things that sets literature apart from fiction is the ability of the writer to touch a stone and to see that stone from the gravel pit and into a future that exceeds his own generation's lifetime.
Steinbeck in telling the simple tragedy of the Joads driving a clunker 2,000 miles has set the stage for myth and metaphor. The simple plight of one family is amplified through it's present into ours so that people become symbols and names fail the reality and the names become us.
Explicit in "Grapes of Wrath" is the rise of the Populist movement in America. Populism terrified the big owners. They had to brand it with false names calling the adherents commies and reds. They were no such thing.
Populism believed in keeping people alive. It believed in self government , in supporting yourself and each other. It believed in feeding the children and in giving a man the dignity befitting a humanBorn To Be Bad being. Not very lofty ambitions.
The billionaires called the populists, reds, thugs, they called them an evil that would destroy America and they refused to let them alone and worked their hardest to destroy them. Steinbeck summed it up, "And the great owners, who had become through their holdings both more and less than men, ran to their destruction, and used every means that in the long run would destroy them. Every little means, every violence, every raid on a Hooverville, every deputy swaggering through a ragged camp put off the day a little and cemented the inevitability of the day."
See, the Koch Brothers haven't done anything new. They learned a few things. They appropriated the populist moniker and replaced swaggering deputies with racist young people and soft frightened old people. They used fear to motivate the people who don't have enough to arm them against the people who don't have anything. Then they went after the unions, the workers, while they acquire and force out the small businessman while telling the small businessman it is all the fault of those other guys. The Koch Russ Tamblyn-West Side Story
Click images for desktop size: "Russ Tamblyn"
Brothers and their allies scream: It's the Chinese or the Koreans or the Japanese and its your next door neighbor. It is everyone but me. And all we do we do to protect you until you become one of them.
Populism was bought with blood and gunfire and some of the blood was that of starved to death babies and all of it was from people who just wanted to work and have a home and enough to eat to stay alive. What we have today are the jack booted owners appropriating a name in an effort to side step the real suffering they are causing.
A better example of Tea Party faux populism is seen clearly in the film, "Meet John Doe" which is related to Steinbeck in its populist views and its view of the many by exploring the plight of the few. In "Meet john Doe" a genuine populist movement is financed then used and abused for personal gain by Eddy Arnold. Of course, in the movie as in real life, the populist characters survive the horrid abuse and exploitation because the faith in fellow man is greater than the faith in governments and establishments.Bride of the Gorilla
The book "Grapes of Wrath" is bleak because a world controlled by people who have forgotten their humanity in favor of acquisition is a terrible and bleak thing. The world of Ayn Rand jerks is a desolate and an unrich place not fit for habitation even by her adherents. Deeper and of great beauty is the life of those poor who struggle along and learn to live together with each other who see life as a small chance at pleasure and happiness.
"Grapes of Wrath" is a great book, meaning it's entertaining, lively with a story to tell about people.When you tell a great story about people you manage to become pretty all encompassing, not sodden or turgid but inspirational even in despair.

May 23, 2011

Have mercy on me
Cannonball Adderley

The Earth by Milad
Click images for desktop size: "The Earth" by Milad
I was in hospital last weekend.
Tight chest pain, dizziness and weird pain through out the left side of my body. It felt like the side of The Big Bird Cage my face that got paralyzed was turning into melting wax.
I started to work and decided I couldn't make it. So I took the doc's advice and turned left instead of right. Ended up at the emergency room.
The good news is that I wasn't having a stroke or a heart attack. The bad news is that I wasn't having a stroke or a heart attack but I'm now on the hook for all the tests that told them whether I was having a stroke or a heart attack.
They kept me over night. I'm not fond of hospitals. Not fond of many doctors either. If you remember the War in Grenada. Reagan's "Little" War. They sent in the marines to rescue some medical students . . . Rich kids who were too stupid to get into a real school. I mean they were so stupid that their rich parents couldn't even pull strings to get them into a real school, so they paid huge fees to go to this butcher shop in Grenada so they could pull strings to get their dumb kids a license to practice medicine and become self supporting.
I mean these kids were so dumb that their parents could get a war declared but they couldn't get them into a real medical school in America.
Every time I get a real stupid doctor, and they out number the good ones, I always ask them if they studied medicine in Grenada. I haven't met any yet but I have met two went to med schools in the Caribbean. I asked to see other doctors.
So after wasting a night and a day in hospital where I was pretty much ignored I went home. My puppy was glad to see me. Odd thing was that she hadn't defecated since I'd been gone and she had refused to play with her Kong. I thought she loved her Kong. I guess she only loves to tease me with the Kong. Maybe my puppy thinks I love the Kong.
Untitled by Tomas Brechler
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Thomas Brechler
I sleep in a single bed. I don't usually move around much so I'm comfortable in one. My puppy is comfortable in one too except she doesn't share and will seldom spend any time on the bed with me. When I lie down when I got home she jumped up and rested her head on my stomach and refused to move. She woke me once howling in her sleep but went right back to rest easy. I hope she wasn't dreaming about me.
I went back to work that week. It was hard. I still feel badly.
On Friday they sent me to see more doctors. More EKG's, more blood drawn, more tests, more physicals.
Theblood takers bugged me. The primary one commented on how young and tight my skin was then called over two others to see and touch me. It was embarrassing as well as making me feel put upon. I The Black Cointhink they might have been trying to be complimentary but that is possibly just a hope. They also sent me to an endocrinologist. I don't recall ever seeing one of those before. He was interesting, cautious but open with his instincts. They're doing all sorts of tests and will let me know the results in a letter or a phone call and then set up a follow up appointment. They said I need more protein. They also said I'm still in remission. They also pulled me from the drug trial for some pretty obvious reasons. I asked if this meant they were revoking their six year life expectancy guarantee. He said something that made me laugh. "I see at least three times they've given up on you. It seems there's no good reason you survived your second heart attack and with no treatment. I don't think anyone would ever bet against you."
They gave me another pill to take. I know take 11 in the morning and three at night. Lots of chemicals.
My puppy doesn't care so long as she gets fed. I approve of her attitude.

May 8, 2011

For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I", and cuts you off forever from the "we"
John Steinbeck

Untitled by Marta Dahlig
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Marta Dahlig
I did my blood work on Friday. They take too much blood. That night the fasting and the blood loss made me wake up with the shakes and the night sweats. Since it was in the mid 50's being drenched At The Circus with sweat was disconcerting. My puppy, who know matter what anyone says is a good girl and very crazy, took care of me and watched over me.
The blood work was as annoying as usual. They always have to stick me too many times to find a vein. The person drawing the blood kept talking about how tight my skin was. I asked what she meant by that. No one had ever called me a tight skinned anything before. It was a good thing, a compliment I guess. I might have taken it better if the nurse in charge hadn't put me through the usual tom foolery about how I don't look as sick as I am.
Won't get the results for a while. Have to get them online. Internet age. A curious thing, I think sometimes.

My wife has a new foster dog. An all white shepherd looking girl. The white girl dog was rescued from some well meaning but neglectful S4w-FashionSexPoliticsAndMusic-294.jpg
Click images for desktop size: "Unknown Goth"
abusive owners who thought they were doing the right thing . . .
The white girl is doing okay. She has issues. How could she not. She doesn't get along with the giant dog, which is understandable but she also has issues with the gentle dog. That is not understandable.
Still, experience dictates things will calm down and mellow. Dogs are too much like people sometimes. You take a small scared person and drop them into an established family and you know what happens.
Everybody reacts differently and yet we all react the same. Most, but not all, abused creatures including people are scared. When they come into a new situation from an abusive one they spend an amazing amount of energy either succumbing to the further abuse they anticipate or, the healthier ones, doing whatever they can to try and stop the abuse from ever happening again.
Purple Angel By Artemis Rosakis
Click images for desktop size: "Purple Angel" by Artemis Rosakis
Both types of people will usually respond to some calm and some laughs. They just need the space to be jerks and in a short time, shorter for dogs, when they don't get the terror they expect in response they give up the act. Some are too terribly abused and it takes more to get through to them, but they can be gotten through to if the goal is to let them be happy and not to control them.
I think the white girl will fit in well enough until she finds her forever home and that's all I ever ask.

One surprising effect of the great movie :I Saw The Devil" (which my wife thought was bleh) is the typical Asian rip offs of it. A sub genre exploring the tenets and roots of evil and fighting evil when just being good is nowhere near enough?
Jeong-beom Lee's "The Man From Nowhere" could never have existed with "I Saw The Devil". That Bad Girl doesn't stop it from being great. It actually benefits from the association and uses some shorthand to amplify its effects. Iy also uses a similar shorthand referring to Bresson's "Leon" to good effect.
Lee leaves most of the weighty stuff behind but gets plenty of good enough actors to give the timbre in the scenes.
Bin Won plays a former secret agent who left the service when his wife, pregnant with a girl, is killed in retaliation for one of his assignments. Won responds by becoming a ghost. He runs a pawn shop. He lives in the back of the shop and touches no one.
His clientele are junkies and thieves. One drug addict hooker has a little girl. Won has a safe affection for the little girl but keeps her at arms length. He barks at her and bullies her. She fills his iPod with music, for a fee and pawns her mothers things for drug money.
One day the mother gets involved in a drug heist. She is way over her head as the owners of the drugs want them back. She sticks the drugs in a camera case and has her daughter pawn the case to keep them safe.
After the gangsters show up to get the drugs this becomes a rip roaring action tale and its awesome, never letting the message get in the way of some terrific and terrifying fights. The message is pretty simple: The world is a terrible place and it is up to all of us to look after each other, especially for the strong to protect the weak.
The other rip=off movie that rates highly with me is Ching-Po Wong's :Revenge: A Love Story". Not surprisingly the title also describes the plot.
The movie starts with Juno Mak murdering women, pregnant women in the vilest most inhumane fashion possible. He slashes the women open and rips the near term fetuses from their bodies. He Pirate Pattern by Pirate Boy
Click images for desktop size: "Pirate Pattern" by Pirate Boy
then throws the fetuses into the river.
The murders are brutal and excruciating. We soon discover that the dead women's husbands are all cops, not only cops but cops on the same team. And just when we're about to settle in for a good ol' serial killer type film there's a shift. The cops catch Mak and after brutally torturing him we see, in flashback, the reason for these heinous crimes.
What we see is unexpected, terrifying and tear inducing. There's no way to prepare for the reality of the situation presented here other than it's more than just tragic. Its presented in a totally believable way and is guaranteed to score the soul.
A few American reviewers have trashed the movie as being pretentious, a B action movie with A movie aspirations. I say, so what?
It separates itself into sections introduced by Bhuddist koans. I think this makes some uncomfortable and needing to write the whole thing off.
It explores evil at his most common denominator. And it does so with a grim purpose to force us to have an understanding of humanity and with all understanding comes a dark price: Forgiveness.

May 1, 2011

I looked over the battlefield that used to be my home town and I saw God and the Devil shaking hands

Martian Landscape with Geezistines by Hannes Bok
Click images for desktop size: "Martian Landscape with Geezlesteins" by Hannes Bok
They caught the guy who robbed me.
Caught is probably too strong a word. He heard there was a warrant out for him so he went and turned himself in. He came in with a lawyer and claimed he wasn't there and that the crime was Antibodies committed by his evil twin brother . . . I'm not making that up.
His alibi almost made me feel sorry for him.
The cop who came to tell me this seemed awfully expansive for 2 AM so I let him talk. I asked how the guy even knew there was a warrant out for him. It seemed like an odd knowledge to possess. Crime is such a labyrinth but I couldn't figure out how you could know there was a warrant out on you since that usually isn't in the newspaper or such. It seemed like it would have to be a guilty conscious.
Nothing like that. It seems the security guard who works with me has a deep police fantasy and he went to the internet and got his picture and then posted it around to the different places his company works. Kind of seems unfair and sort of illegal and invasive. Anyway the robber's aunt saw the flyer and told the robber about it. Which makes it seem that the cops did even less than I originally imagined.
They're holding the robber for $300,000 bail, which means, I think, that you have to come up with a bondsman and $30,000! It seems high. The cop said the judge set it high because the guy did 8 years for a previous armed robbery with a shooting and because the charge of an ex-felon possessing a firearm was more serious than the robbery! There's also the feeling that since he's been busted twice for armed robbery he has probably done several they can't pin on him.
The cop went on about how "these guys" can't be trusted and ex-felons never changed. He was deep WW II
Click images for desktop size: "WWII" by Unknown
into his list of nasty derogatory comments with the security guard in obnoxious idol worshipping agreement when I finally had to interrupt.
I said, "I disagree with that. People can change. If they can't then what's the sense . . . "
The cop said, "Some can change, but not many, not enough." Before he could get involved in explaining and before I ended up in an argument about responsibility and fair mindedness and cop ineptness I had enough sense to disengage and get back to work.
I've never liked cops.
They turn into the things they hate.