Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal
George F. Will

Now You See Him My friend got her new car yesterday. Not really, not yet but all is nearly finished.
The car lot was pretty interesting. The lot itself was just about a quarter mile long and it had fourThe Stuff rows of cars jammed side by side. Just a huge amount of cars.
Their system is that you inspect a car and then go to the main office where you give the the number of the car you want. They give you the key, copy your driver’s license and that’s about it. You drive the car as long as you want and then take out the next one you’re Zathara interested in.
RAH! No sales pressure at all. There’s was a windy snow storm yesterday and the place was still packed! One of the cars we were interested in was sold wile we were there! We drove about 90 minutes to get there based on a recommendation and was very glad for the experience.
We checked out 6 cars. All makes, all models there for easy comparison. Aside from the thirty mile an hour winds and blinding snow it was a great experience.
After you pick the car you want you have to sit down with a salesman . . . that was painless too. The only thing that was tried to sell to us was a warranty. Its a good warranty but hyper-expensive. A thousand bucks for 2 years! Since its also like 90 minutes away I didn’t see much value to it but Ninety Degrees by A Brito did think my friend should get the 6 month warranty to get into spring.
My friend went to the bank Friday evening. Did all the loan stuff. The guy said there should be no problem but it was too late to get the final approval. If he doesn’t see a problem I’d ho[e that means there won’t be any problems.
My friend was totally chuffed but a little bit dismayed that her favorite car was also the cheapest car we looked at! She felt even better that a local dealership had the identical car with 20 thousand fewer miles for FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS MORE!
The way this place works is that they get the car in and just set it in the lot. When the car is purchased they throw it into the shop, detail it, tune it new tires and do any work they find. You get to say any problems you saw. Like I pointed out some light staining on the rear seats and felt reallyThe Unholy Four anal for doing so, but so what.
Then in a week to 10 days you go and pick the car up. Seems odd at first but also seems incredibly fair.
Since my eyes got to bad to drive its been a long time since I got to shop for a car. It was fun, especially doing it this way. I was tired but not in the usual weary way that car salesmen usually inflict.
On the way home we stopped at Taco Bell to celebrate. She had gluten free bean tacos (yeah, they make them) and I had a bean burrito, meximelt and a chicken taco.
When we got home we continued to celebrate – she took a nap and I shoveled snow. Since I keep the yard so well shoveled out it only took me about a half hour to shovel the two inches of snow that fell. As soon as I finished it started to snow again!
My friend’s nap was cut short. My puppy was sleeping with her and my puppy likes to cuddle, except she so big and so strong that her cuddling has the usual effect of pushing you off the bed!
So we watched the Chinese movie “Ip Man”. Ip is best remembered today as the guy who first taught Bruce Lee.
The film was very good. Donnie Yen is still amazing. His hand speed is staggering.
The first two thirds of the movie are supposed to be pretty accurate. They had the two legendary episodes in Ip’s life that I knew about: Ip fighting a swordsman armed with a feather duster and his famous fight with ten Japanese karate experts where he thrashed them all without ever being touched.
Marvelous recreations better than I had imagined from just reading about them. Like the final third Gothic of the film which is a weird amalgamation of fantasy and fact, if that wasn’t the way it really was this is the way it should have been.
Good stuff and a good movie to finish a celebratory day to.

Today’s the Superbowl. The end of football for another year.
Once again the Superbowl is in a fair weather city. I always sort of wish the game were played in a driving snowstorm, an ice bowl, a real pit where the intensity would have to build and it could become a savage contest of men and nature.
While I don’t think this game will be as bad as the Steelers-Seahawks debacle I don’t expect a very good game.
The Steelers have all the tools to stage a massive blowout. If Heinz Ward is 80% or better it will be a long turgid day for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals just don’t match up well. Their offense is too quick strike to wear the Steelers down. I expect Larry Fitzgerald to exploit an overly aggressive Troy Polamanu and avoid the shut out but Tombs of the Blind Dead that’s about it.
There is an X Factor. Kurt Warner. He’s been here before and knows he will probably never get here again.
He’s won strong and lost to Tom Brady is Brady’s first start and the beginning of his legend. He could rise up angry and dismantle the dream but it seems to miraculous.
Even though the Cardinals have been bigger underdog’s than this in every single one of their playoff games. No one thought they could handle Carolina and felt certain that the Eagles would trounce them easily.
There’s a pretty good chance the game will go to the back ups. Rothlisberger still holds the ball too long. His astonishing effectiveness on third and long this season justifies it but it makes him vulnerable.
Warner will have a hard time surviving the blitz. When it gets down to back-up QB’s Matt Linehart World Wide still comes up short against Steeler back up Byron Leftwich.
It maybe herd like but I see the Steelers covering the spread in almost every scenario. That doesn’t please me at all.
The half time show. A good reason to hate Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Their nipple ring fiasco ensures that we will never see decent bands at the Superbowl. A strong performance by Tom Petty last year just proves to those old dinosaurs in the NFL (and I’ve met too many of the old untrustworthy bastards) that this is the ticket.
Bruce Springsteen . . . does anyone care? Springsteen’s cred with me drops even lower, that he’d do such a gig smells like sell out.Under Age
He couldn’t possible be as bad as Paul McCartney (the Superbowl and an aged Beatle??) and no one could be horrifying as the Rolling Stones but this should be an incredibly dreary show. I wonder if he opens or closes with Reagan’s fave tune, “Born in the USA”.

Before that we still have some errands to run while we have the rented car.
My friend will be gone for 3 days next week. Need FOOD for ME!
Its been so long that I’ve been able to drive I’m used to having to walk a few miles in bad conditions to feed myself, but there’s no sense in being macho all the time.

Eight out of ten people are good; the other two are just unwise
Tsui Shan Lee

Smoke By Felipe
Click images for desktop size: “Smoke” by Felipe
I’ve had a couple of bad days in a row here.
Tuesday the news of a child’s death started things poorly then there was nothing tragic but all little things that kept piling on; pictures falling and glass breaking sort of things, legal letters and grief. World Without End Just a cumulative effect that increased my weariness.
It carried over to Wednesday. Plenty of snowfall. It was the kind of snow that in London would have been called a blizzard, in L.A. it would have been seen as either a miracle or the first sign of the Apocalypse. Here it was Wednesday.
I was out shoveling snow and noticed that the front tire on the car was low. That’s been a problem lately. With all of our scrabbling and cutting expenses we’re just seeing a dim light ahead. Cars have a way of knowing when you’re about to get even.
I have an electric tire pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter. I Cocktail Party - Virtual Girl
Click image: “Party Girl” by Virtual Girl
filled the tire and while I was putting it away I decided to start the car. It wouldn’t start. No jumper cables. Weird clicking that sounded like but not quite like a solenoid clicking.
Some stress there. My friend was working at home. After a few hours of stressing she went out to see the car herself. It started right up . . . which was good in the long term, of course, but left my ego slightly dinged.
I spent a few hours making dog treats, drying sweet potatoes and apples. The dogs didn’t seem to like them, except for my puppy who’ll gladly eat anything.
My response to all this was to attempt to do something positive. Backing up the computer hard drive seemed like a good idea. Except I didn’t have enough space on the back up drive . . . no issues. I clone the drive and make it bootable. When faced with crunching space I normally wait for the app to back up the media files and then delete them from the back up drive. I don’t need them The Behemoth
Click images for desktop size: “The Behemoth” by Unknown
there in the face of a disastrous crash. Except this time I mistakingly deleted them from the main drive – 14 movies, about 56 gigs. All replaceable just tedious work copying them to the HD except I can’t remember what four of them were. I have to take that as a sign that they weren’t very important after all.
The skanky cat seems to have taken up residence in the dog house. She/he has found the food I put on top of the dog house (to keep it out of dog’s reach). It has also learned not to run from the dogs. The snuffling at it is preferable to being chased and trampled. I fear skanky cat may have found a home. I do see its footprints going over the fence so maybe it has a few different homes. I hope so.
We went to the Wushu show last night. It wasn’t Wushu. I like those shows. I saw a great one inWhere Danger Lives London at the Royal Opera House. Monks flashing swords and triple irons, smacking each other around. It was tres’ cool.
This was pure dance. Chinese traditional dancing is pretty cool. A lot of the Olympic gymnastics routines had their origins in Chinese dance. It was cool seeing dancers flash around, tumbling at flying and twisting in mid air. A few moves were excellent.
They had one number with 16 female drummers. Awesome stuff. Dancing and hitting the drums in a nifty syncopated beat. Then there was a number called The Dragon Drummers. 14 guys playing Chinese tambourines and flinging themselves around the stage. Finally, for me, there was a killer number with 16 chicks playing “Mongolian Chopsticks”. A bunch a reeds tied together that they played by banging the sticks against different body parts. Great sound and scary shaky rhythm.
My friend liked a Tibetan dance number. There was a lot of stomping around and nifty jumps. I slept through a big part of it or else I might have felt more positive about it.
The show did something else I found interesting. Instead of back drops they used a projector, a front projector. I thought that odd only because I’d have figured a rear projector would work better for them. Its a solid idea for a bus and truck show Transformers
Click images for desktop size: “Transformers” by Matell
and it let them do all these nifty SFX of saints descending from heaven and the like.
I was also stunned by all the costume changes. Conservative estimate there had to be at least 500 costume changes. All I could think about was doing the laundry. I figured the costumers had to be up all night washing and ironing. The costumes were nifty and impressive.
There were a couple of things I didn’t care for. They had two narrators who were kind of blah. They took turns speaking in Chinese while the other translated into English. Made some pretty superfluous info go twice as long and get twice as tedious.
I didn’t care for the heavy Westernization of the Chinese music. Personal preference. It was all original music that sounded like typical dance music with an Asian flair.7th Voyage Of Sinbad
Then to effect all the costume changes they had these “musical interludes” where individuals came out and did these heavy religious songs opera style. It was where I first started napping.
There was a woman who did a lovely number on the “ehru”. The ehru is that crazed two string Chinese violin. Her piece was interesting. I wondered where else she could find work as a virtuoso on such an obscure (by Western standards) instrument. Hers was the only endurable number.
All in all it was a pleasant enough evening with a couple of revelatory moments. I would have done the sound a LOT better. The soundman was in the same aisle as us and the same row. His work was poor. He amplified the orchestra pit so that a 20 piece band ended up sounding like a ghetto blaster. Very surprising. I still don’t understand the over mikeing. The light design was decent Pepper Project by Imaginary Friends Studio
Click images for desktop size: “Pepper Project” by Imaginary Friends Studio
especially when having to deal with the movie sized front projection system. That’s a problem I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with.
During the show intermission I got interviewed about the show by some local TV station. Why they picked out a guy in a leather coat, over a black pin stripe suit and a purple and white abstract art tie who was wearing sunglasses indoors is beyond me. I was excellent, as to be expected, and gave them plenty of footage. After 5 minutes I was getting uncomfortable. The light was cutting through my sunglasses and starting to hurt my eyes. I still don’t know why they went for me.
The evening was nice enough that neither us was too fussed about the parking ticket we found on the car at the end of the evening.
The snow was still blooming and the roads were a tedious exercise all the way home. We weren’tJules And Jim prepared to get home and discover that the next door neighbors had cleared the driveway by piling all the snow in front of our gate . . . about 4 and a half feet in front of the man gate and nearly 3 feet in front of the car gate.
I had to shovel. I was surprised when about halfway through the neighbor came out and helped me! I was glad. He said “Hey” and that’s all. That’s still more than he’s said to me in the time he’s been there.
We decided we really miss her old neighbor. I miss her two dogs and often wonder if they’re okay. One had a bad hip dysplasia but such a happy attitude I hope he survives.
The dogs were glad to see us. I missed them even if it was only about 5 hours.

I’ve been asked about my snow obsession. Part of it is because its so really new to me. The other is kind of a weird Archibald McLeish-Theodore Roethke sort of thing. Its my friend, see. I have this odd thing that I never want to skin of her shoes to ever have to touch snow or ice. Only sunlight.

We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers
Martin Luther King

Tides Of Change by Panic Wolf
Click images for desktop size: “Tides of Change” by Panic Wolf
I can’t imagine I’m not the only person who’s aggravated by George Bush going on about what a great party time he’s had as president. He sounds like an unrepentant frat rat, which I guess he is and just never out grew.French Dr No
To celebrate the first black president Bush plans to retire to a restricted community. I didn’t think such things still existed. I was wrong. Hatred and intolerance will always find a nasty way to fight on.
I’m also irked that he claims to have saved us from any future terrorist attacks. No freedom. A Stalinist regime and the price he The Three Stooges
Click image: “The Three Stooges”
claims is that we’ve had no more terrorist attacks. Its not worth it. I lost a friend in the Pentagon crash so I don’t think lightly of the hatred that generated that but since there were only two foreign attacks in out history both at the World Trade Center I don’t think the suffering Bush inflicts on us as his legacy probably prevented much of anything.
When you don’t recant the lies you’ve been caught out in I find it impossible to accept many other claims.

Didn’t do much yesterday. Got some things accomplished but never enough.
Tranquil Surface
Click images for desktop size: “Tranquil Surface” by Unknown
I fell asleep with the giant dog, watching “Law and Order”. He woke me shortly after when Jack McCoy came on. He can’t control his excitement on seeing or hearing Jack McCoy . . . When I woke up it felt like my mouth was filled with dry blood. This is a new one. I went to brush my teeth and, sure enough, my mouth was filled with blood. I have no idea what caused this. No side effects but how strange.
The internet went out for about 2 hours. Its most worrisome when you only have a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone. Still, this is the longest its ever gone down in the 7 months since we’ve had the cheap alternative ISP (internet service provider). I remember it going down far March Of Comics 7 more often when we had the full over priced dsl service. So no real complaints.
I did feel oddly isolated and slightly anxious not being able to get email.
Took the dogs for a walk. It was worse outside then I expected. A nice cold sunny day but the rain and slush had frozen everything into a nice icy sheet. I fell 3 times. The last one sort of dazed me but no serious damage. And no dogs dragging me down the street by their leashes.
I was looking at some old reports. I think I’m shrinking. Before Thanksgiving I was 6 feet tall and 192. On Tuesday I was just under 6 foot and 188 pounds! I like the movie “The Incredible Shrinking Man” so I think this is cool. You can shrink with no pain and get to fight spiders with a pin for a sword so I’m sort of looking forward to shrinking. I figure if I’m smaller we cannot only have so many more adventures but it will hurt a lot less when I fall on the ice.
Two small pieces of good news. All the schools and hospitals use a couple of different services to black list web sites. Partially to protect the kids and partly to keep the staff from skeeving off. They automatically block all bogs, sex, porn and any mention of weapons. I’m always happy when they tell me they’ve approved my puppy’s site so that the kids can see.
Yesterday I got two such messages. One from the Mayo Clinic and another from the State of Indiana Board of Education. Its the first time I’ve heard from a state. Usually its a county, or a district Violet Christmas Night
Click images for desktop size: “Violet Christmas Night” by Unknown
and most often individual schools. I put on another movie. The giant dog was excited. He thought we were going to watch his new hero “White Dog” again. He was disappointed when the movie was the Mainland China film, “The Underdog Knight”.
I guess when we owe them 3 or 4 years of our Gross National Product its no longer cool to call Mainland China, Red China.
China seems to have decided on two different strategies for their entertainment. There are the big Hong Kong movies that they successfully promote internationally and then there are the films that are intended for just China. Some of those just in China only movies are pretty fantastic. “Assembly” was a devastating war movie, even if it was from the side of the People’s Liberation Army.
“The Underdog Knight” is pretty stunning. A much smaller film much more Chinese than I could Santa Claus Conquers the Martians completely grasp. A lot of history that its just assumed that we’re familiar with. Its embarrassing that I have no idea who the great Chinese heroes are.
The movie is about Loa Sin. His entire life has been devoted to joining the Chinese Navy, the tough guy equivalent of our Marines. In the Navy he excels. He worships his commander who respects Loa Sin.
Then Loa Sin has to pay the price of heroism. A fellow recruit falls into the icy water and seems doomed. Loa Sin dives in after him and rescues him, The guy he saves is fine but Loa Sin has suffered brain damage from the oxygen deprivation. The brain damage has had a grave effect on his intelligence. He’s functioning at about a 9 year olds level.
Its something of an indictment of the system that the kid is given a medal and then sent home with no pension or plan for his care and future.
Loa Sin lives with his mother and trains maniacally. He doesn’t practice kung fu but the vicious street fighting techniques used by the Navy. He has a solid grasp of reality but channels through a consistent lifetime of experience and a nine year old grasp of the emotions.
He continues to act as if he is in the Navy. He looks in the mirror and speaks to himself as if he were his commanding officer.
His CO left the Navy and tried to stop a mugging. The CO succeeded but was seriously injured. Loa Sin interprets this as a command. “The word is to destroy evil. I am the word.”
Loa Sin attacks purse snatchers, mugger and con men all of which are far too prevalent in modern Fashion Sex Politics and Music 4
Click images for desktop size: “Fashion Sex Politics and Music” by S4W
Bejing. The cops would like to stop him, they call him “Kick and Run”.
His mother wants him to stop fighting. His girlfriend, who seems to have stayed in love and loyal to him through his accident, wants him to stop fighting. Loa Sin can’t stop. It is his reason for life, to stop the evil, the liars and the cheaters.
He fights and it is brutal. And yet the fight scenes are tinged with this moving desperation. Loa Sin not only needs to fight his battles but we need him to keep fighting for us.
There’s a plot. Anthony Wong, the noted Hong Kong actor, plays a fabulous villain. Wong is not evil. He is proud of being a criminal. He has his own rigid code of ethics that are lofty and can only be considered ideals.
The sub plots involve his relationship with the beautiful girl who claims to be loyal to him and clearly loves him and cares about him. There’s also his best friend a nine year old deaf kid. Their A Lady Without A Passport friendship is very well portrayed. The deaf kid is probably smarter than Loa Sin and is truly his friend and ally.
Finally there is the Police Lieutenant who is all shot and beaten up. He lost his partner to some of the criminals that Lao Sin beats up everyday. He empathizes with Lao Sin, even admires him. He and Wong are the only characters in the film who feel heartbreak when confronted with Loa Sin’s reality.
The plot develops in a most satisfying and exciting way but the movie isn’t about police tactics and fighting. Like all the best films its about the characters, unique people who are forged by the world they must live in.
For me its another of the best films of 2008.

Todays Christmas music is a gentler mixed bag.
Untitled by VM
Click images for desktop size: “Untitled” by VM
I’ve always been fond of those odd little stings that bands used to put out to celebrate the Season. Things like Dennis Wilson’s “Christmas Message” used to play in between the songs on the radio and gave us the impression that we were closer to the pop stars we loved then we actually were.
They’ve tried to regenerate this tiny Christmas custom with stuff like Jackie Chan’s “Christmas Message” . These things have a certain charm for me anyway and when you throw it on the tape of CD they break up the songs nicely and seem to take you to someplace different in Christmas land.
In terms of foreign land Christmases. Here’s two. The first is crazy cool weird. A Swedish band calls themselves the Fab Four. They released two albums of Christmas music. The take is that they do the tracks in the style of the Beatles . . . yeah. Its weird. Like this crazy take on “Hark! The Hearld Angels Sing”, Aliens 2which is sort of like to the tune of the Beatles, “Help!”
The there’s that most foreign land in America, HAWAII. One of the coolest records I used to own was the 45 of Alfred Apaca doing “Mele Kalihimala”. It had a picture sleeve with Apaca standing in front of a trimmed out palm tree. I lost the single years ago but remember it fondly. This is a new version, The Blue Hawaiians doing “Mele Kalihimala”. Its no way as cool as Apaca’s but it’s cool in its own right. “Mele Kalihimala is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day.” Cool stuff.
Finally you always need songs that aren’t about Christmas per se but still fit the mood. Normally I’m not much into piano music. Too many arguments with keyboardists . . . but this is a song I’d like to learn piano to play. Its another slowed down take on a Buddy Holly number done by another guitarist, Albert Lee singing Buddy Holly’s “Learning The Game”. Its as beautiful as you can stand it and perfect for tree trimming with that certain special one.

My vision is bad but my sense of smell is keen. I could smell a fire before you ever saw it
Heng Liu

Remembering Venice - Oki Kenji
Click images for desktop size: “Remembering Venice” by Oki Kenji
I liked Obama’s response to Bush’s State Of The Union Address.
I didn’t like the State Of The Union. It only showed that Bush has no contact with the people of this country. He’s off in a millionaires dream of endless dividends at no cost to himself.
I took a long walk today with my puppy and the good dog. Guilty Bystander It was a cold nasty day. The snow is melting and becoming icy slush.
I noticed that people who live on steep hills are the worst at keeping their walks cleaned, shoveled or walkable.
I slipped a couple of times but I didn’t fall once. I think that disappointed the dogs.
Either I’m adapting to this type of climate or the dogs efforts to kill me are becoming less genuine.
While I was walking I realized that I was unconsciously avoiding stepping on any cracks in the sidewalk. I think I’ve been doing that since I was 5.
When I became aware of it I tried to alter my stride to either step on the cracks or to pay them no mind. I couldn’t do it. My stride would revert and I kept avoiding them. All because of that rhyme, “Step on a crack and break your mother’s back.”
I have no idea why that should be so ingrained. I probably don’t want to find out.

Last night I was completely alone. Or as alone as you can be with dogs.
I watched Brad Pitt’s, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”. An ungainly title for an ungainly film.
I like the legend of Jesse James. Thanks to Henry Fonda I prefer the legend of Frank James. I like that in the far west there are still old timers who will champion Frank James and look sympathetically at Jesse.
When I was in Missouri I went to this place called Mermac Caverns, or something close to that. I went there because it was one of the old hide outs of Jesse James when he ran with the Daltons and the Youngers.
Dove
Click images for desktop size: “Dove” by Unknown
You have to be some kind of legend to get me to spend twelve bucks to look in a hole in the ground because once, you may have stood there.
I can’t explain the world’s fascination or even my own fascination with Jesse James. That doesn’t matter much. What bothers me is that Brad Pitt and Andrew Dominik (The writer/director) have less of a clue than I do.
One thing I have to say is that the movie runs over 2 and one half hours . . . of which 1/3rd seems to be overly dramatic time lapsed shots of evangelical skies.
I was wondering why all the characters didn’t have vertigo. Maybe Jesse killed so many because he had a horrible case of motion sickness.
Every event that happens in a man’s life, no matter how portentous, is not accompanied or proceeded by 30 seconds of vast whirling clouds.
Hell's Five Hours There’ve been an amazing amount of screen portrayals of Jesse James. For my money the most memorable were Tyrone Powers romantic but legendary portrayal, Robert Duvall’s sociopath psychotic and James Keach’s cardboard cutout.
Brad Pitt’s interpretation borrows heavily from the latter two. His Jesse James tries to be legendary but comes off as a psychotic stick figure. He makes the character confusing and erratic with no solid line of light or plastic reality to hold on to.
This isn’t helped much by Pitt’s and the writer’s bizarre point that Jess was suicidal . . . huh? This is explained (in their minds anyway) by Jess walking out onto a frozen river and shooting at his reflection in the ice while talking about suicide. Its a pretty stupid scene.
Casey Affleck’s Robert Ford is just annoying. The guy is working hard but the part is just unbearably half baked. Robert Ford shot Jesse James in the back because he idolized him and wanted to be famous . . . I guess I could accept that but I don’t think I need to be clubbed over the head with it repeatedly. And repeatedly.
Hugh Ross does the narration. Once in a while a narrator can be an interesting addition to a move. Not often and certainly not when the narrators main purpose seems to be to explain what the heck is happening and to convey things that the director and actors seem incapable of.
At it’s least offensive the narration reminded me of a droning history teacher who seemed intent on draining the excitement of the acts buried in our books.
What seems amazing to me is that this Andrew Dominik was able to convince these people to sink their millions into this movie and moreover that Dominik himself should be the eye that told the story!
I watched it to the end. Because its a western and, like a million other things I know I’ll never get to do, I’ll never have a time machine that will take me back so I can see these things for myself.
Still Life - Ring de Pieter
Click images for desktop size: “Still Life” by Ring de Pieter
Then I watched a Chinese movie, “Assembly”.
It shows how dumb I can be. I never imagined that a war movie from Mainland China would be out the People’s Liberation Army.
The first hour is really spent introducing us to Captain Gi. He’s been in the army since 1939 when they were fighting the Japanese. (WWII – its fashionable to forget that they were in that war too) We find him fighting the the USA sponsored National Army. The National Army has American tanks and artillery. The People’s Army has home made howitzers and molotov cocktails.
What’s fascinating is there isn’t a big deal made about this inequity. The only real point was that the Nationals had better boots and jackets. That was pushed because it becomes a major plot point.
The first 2/3rds of this movie is battle. I would say it owes something to Speilberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” in that it is unflinching in its devastation and in the effect modern war fare has on the human body.
Highway Dragnet It is fabulous heroic action footage. Unbelievably well done. Unbelievably gripping, touching on cliches and expanding them to reality.
Captain Gi and his 47 men are given an impossible task. To hold a strip of land until they here the bugler play “Assembly”.
They all die except for Captain Gi. He is the sole survivor. The Chinese don’t quite believe who he is because he was found shot and burned and broken but wearing the jacket and boots of the enemy.
Then the film takes a deeply fascinating turn.
I can say that the Chinese have figured out how to make movies. This one delivers in ways that Brad Pitt’s film doesn’t even hint at. I was half expecting commie propaganda. If its there it is so skillfully enmeshed that I missed it.
During the Korean War Americans are not shown as a much hated enemy or even a force. They come across as well meaning bunglers more than anything else.
The biggest personal villain seems to be Chairman’s Mao’s incredible byzantine and intractable bureaucracy! And its disregard for the individual.
A man who is killed in the war receives 700 pounds of rice for being a war hero. A living war hero gets a ticket home. A man missing in action presumed dead gets 200 pounds of rice for his family. A funny price to put on things.
Sometimes Love Is Pain
Click images for desktop size: “Sometimes Love Is Pain”
Gi spends the rest of the film trying to find the battlefield and the remains of his company. He walks through a graveyard full of hundreds of markers for unknown soldiers. “Their mothers gave them names. Why is it now that they are nameless.”
He finds the battlefield and discovers that miners are using the dead soldiers helmets as piss pots. He gathers up the helmets and washes them in a stream and then puts them on the unknown soldiers grave markers.
And then he finds out that his company was sacrificed. They were left to die. And the man who gave the order was a friend who is now dead and past Gi’s vengeance. His whole purpose in life is now, to find the bodies of his men and see them honored.
Its a beautiful movie. Sharp, unstinting and devoid of agitprop.
It’s a true story.
Very much worth seeing but the opening hour is more harrowing than any war film since Fuller.

I have to cut things short. I think I’m getting sick.

I’ve run away many times, but I always come back
Li Pai Chan

Cosmo Girl By Dim Po
Click images for desktop size: “Cosmo Girl” by Dim Po
In China there is an uproar, a minor scandal. Jet Li has announced he is moving his family to Singapore . . . not to LA, London or Paris, but to Singapore so that he can send his children to a school there.
The Chinese people are very upset with him.
Baby Love I’ve never been to mainland China. In the times in my life when I was traveling Americans weren’t welcome there. The USA made it as difficult as they could as well.
I’ve always wanted to go there. I’ve longed to see Beijing and the Tennimen Square, the Forbidden City.
I was in Hong Kong when a recent traveller to the mainland told me that the halls of the Shaolin Temple were now carpeted in the cheapest linoleum.
I wanted to see it, to smell the Yangtze River. I wanted to meet the Chinese People and try to understand.
In my childhood the Chinese were presented as monsters, even more terrifying than the Communist Russians.
We nervously “allowed” them to enter the Olympics . . . Nixon travelled there to meet Mao and only returned alive thanks to his wiles, his cunning and grit.
China and Russia were implacable black spots on the globe – sinister environments where we couldn’t breathe the air or survive exposure to their alien sun.
So I dreamed of visiting them often. I studied maps and decided China had to have some waves.
I am often intrigued by the loyalty, the fierce love than the Chinese feel for China. I mean, in LA all the British Pop and Movie Stars have homes, the French stars live there as well as they could. Everyone comes to LA, but not the Chinese. They come to work, to visit, to promote, to make money but they always return. They don’t keep big houses here.
Jack By Lawn Elf
Click images for desktop size: “Jack” by Lawn Elf
There are huge areas of heavily Chinese populated areas in the US. They seem to mostly come from the era that was fleeing the communist take over, or they are indigenous from the old wild west days. They are homogenized and a valuable totally cool part of the US. They’re people who’ve kept their own community strong while contributing to society as a whole.
When you talk to the old ones who weren’t born here they will almost always get nostalgic and dream of the day they can return to China. They tell stories of the place, the land and the people, with a rough pride that is not blind to its faults that makes their love more apparent, adamant, tensile and real.
I get sad because I don’t think I’ll ever get to see China with my own eyes.
Made In The USA I’ve been to Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai. They aren’t China. It would be like claiming to know Mexico because you’ve been to Tiajuana.
Bt and large Americans don’t know enough about there neighbors. I’ve heard permutations too often of “I know Paris. I spent a week there once.”
I hope you get to go there and get to tell me about it.

I’m doing okay.
My blood levels still aren’t where they should be but they’re not scary any more either. Just higher than they should be but not so high as to be fatal. I’m going to go blind, if I live long enough. I’m going to lose all my teeth, if I live long enough. I’ve decided that keeping my levels low will retard the process. I have a little bit of doctor’s advice to back up that assertion. Enough to keep me preoccupied with it.
I really like my One Touch glucose meter. Its easier to use and less harsh on my fingertips (from the blood letting, you know.) Thank you BB KING!!
My broken toe is mending. I took my tape splint off today. It hurts but not killingly so.
I’ve decided to stop studying the site stats so intently. At first I was just fascinated with the inconceivable numbers and stuff. And whenever a location came up in Japan or Texas or LA or some such I’d try and figure out who it was that I knew there and having found the site if they’d write to me and re-establish contact. A brief meeting of old friends as it were.
Frank Brunner
Click images for desktop size: “Untitled” by Frank Brunner
But then all those swirling numbers started to get me paranoid. “This person lives to close! Why are they spending so much time!?!? What are they looking for?!?! ME!?!?!
Most of the time they’re either searching for Captain America pics, or Bebe Neuwirth . . . I’m not kidding about that last one. She’s the woman who played Lilith on “Cheers”, “Frazier” and the lawyer on the only failed “Law & Order” spin off. She generates an amazing amount of traffic here . . . I should start a fan site . . . or someone who’s a fan should . . .
So with my usual deadhead skills I’ve decided that I’m just going to ignore all those fascinating numbers.
They are perplexing to me anyway. I get three sets. One set says I average about 900 visitors a day! The other set about 800! And the 3rd set, the one I use in the number count at the bottom about 130. I’ll stick with the conservative one.
Of course the numbers on my puppy’s web site make mine look inconsequential at best.
One thing I’ve noticed about the numbers is that a large number of people don’t have wide screen displays. I do so most of the stuff I make, save or collect tends to be wide screen. But I’ve been trying for the past few days to include an SD desktop/wallpaper each day.