With occasional reflection on the perpetual absurdity/intrigue of life and society in general.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Sadness - reflections and observations

The collected sadness of any individual's life - if compressed into one moment - would be potent enough to destroy anything.

Tribeca Film Festival 2010 Awards


By Jason Guerrasio

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The winners of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival were announced tonight. Feo Aladag’s When We Leave received the fest’s top honor, the Founders Award for Best Narrative. The film follows a woman and her son as they try to escape her husband’s abuse and finds shelter with a family in Berlin. Best Documentary went toAlexandra Codina’s Monica & David, which highlights a couple living with Down syndrome.

Other winners include Dana Adam Shaprio’s Monogamy taking home the New York Competition category and the outlandish comedy Spork won the first ever Best Feature in the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual category.

Full list of winners below. Just Follow the links.

Filmmaker Magazine

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bill Hicks - On Marketing

I couldn't agree more. For an interesting blog concerning the ethically fragile nature of marketing in media, follow the link: Buy, buy love, buy, buy happiness.

The Onion - News In Brief 01

Man At Very Top Of Food Chain Chooses Bugles

APRIL 26, 2010 | ISSUE 46•17

SOUTH BEND, IN—Despite having no natural enemies and belonging to a species that completely dominates its ecosystem, local IT manager Reggie Atkinson opted to consume the processed corn snack Bugles Monday. "I was in the mood for something salty and crunchy, and it's a little early for dinner," said the ultimate predator, whose ancestors' bipedal locomotion, toolmaking abilities, and advanced spatial recognition developments allowed them to hunt animals 10 times their size. "These are original, but the other flavors are pretty good, too." Acting on an impulse from an incredibly complex forebrain that has evolved over millions of years, Atkinson then took note of the Bugles' amusing conical shape and placed one on each of his opposable thumbs like little wizard hats.

The Onion never fails to impress me with their underhanded wisdom. Thanks to my friend Meghann for the regular Onion updates.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Retro Recommendation - Mr. Show with Bob and David (1995)

Many people may know David Cross from his blistering stand-up or his ingenious portrayal of Tobias Funke. However, well before he became renowned as a member of that brilliant ensemble cast in Mitchell Hurwitz's Arrested Development (A groundbreaking, innovative, hilarious, critically acclaimed, flawlessly performed, intelligent comedy show with a cult fan-base - yet was prematurely cancelled due to ratings below network expectations) he was the co-creator and co-star of Mr Show with Bob and David (A groundbreaking, innovative, hilarious, critically acclaimed, flawlessly performed, intelligent comedy show with a cult fan-base - yet was prematurely cancelled due to ratings below network expectations). See any trend here? Yes indeed, sadly, some projects are simply too good and too smart for television consumption. Let's hope David keeps taking the punches, keeps screaming back, and doesn't change a thing.

The following write up appeared in an msn.com list of the best cancelled shows:

Premiered: September 1995
Cancelled: December 1998

Britain had "Monty Python." Canada had "SCTV." And America? We had "Mr. Show with Bob and David." Unfortunately, most viewers didn't know it. Created by and starring David Cross ("Arrested Development") and Bob Odenkirk, the sublime "Mr. Show" broke conceptual ground for sketch comedy in America when it hit the late-night air for HBO in 1995. Each half hour episode explored a theme and wrapped it with numerous live and taped skits, plus movies, around it. Sketches meld into one another, never giving audiences a chance to catch their breath. It feels like you are watching stream of conscious humor, yet the design is tight and extremely focused. The writing was smart, blisteringly funny and dark, and no target was off limits. "If you hear about it, it's so weird," observed Odenkirk of their approach. "But if you see it you don't think that for a minute." Try describing their hallucinogenic Sid and Marty Kroft parody "Welcome to Druggachusettes" or "Jeepers Creepers," their homage to "Jesus Christ Superstar," or a tearfully ironic commercial for "the New KKK," and you'll likely get blank stares from the uninitiated. Show them the skits, and you'll be picking them up off the floor. Ironically, normally groundbreaking HBO never understood "Mr. Show"' s sense of humor, and fought with Bob and David during the entire run, finally cancelling the show after four short seasons. Fanatical word of mouth kept interest in the show alive however, and in addition to releasing the DVDs, Bob and David launched a successful live theater tour of the show in 2001.

For more info on Mr. Show and updates on Bob and David, follow the link to The Bob and Davider. For full cast, crew, and production info, link here: Mr. Show.

Below are a couple of short sketches from the show that offer a taste of what to expect:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Filmmaker Quotes: Cassavetes

"Most people don’t know what they want or feel. And for everyone, myself included, It’s very difficult to say what you mean when what you mean is painful. The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to… As an artist, I feel that we must try many things – but above all, we must dare to fail. You must have the courage to be bad – to be willing to risk everything to really express it all." –John Cassavetes

For more relevant quotes from notable filmmakers and an all around informative blog on film, music, and photography, follow the link: World Wide Angle

'Persian Cats' Exposes Repression Of Musicians In Iran - NPR - Featured Film of Interest

The new film No One Knows About Persian Cats tells the story of subversive musicians in Iran, where certain styles of music -- including heavy metal, rock and hip-hop -- are illegal to record, produce and consume. The film won two prizes at last year's Cannes International Film Festival and opens in the U.S. this week.

The director is renowned Kurdish-Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi (A Time for Drunken Horses, Marooned in Iraq, Turtles Can Fly) and journalist and author Roxana Saberi is the co-writer, though much of the script was improvised. It was shot in secret, since popular music is banned in Iran.

The movie takes place at real locations, as the musicians try to put together a band, a concert and a trip to England. But Ghobadi, speaking through an interpreter, emphasizes that it is not a documentary.

"These kids have within themselves and their real lives a real drama," Ghobadi says. "It's not like in the West, going on freely and without any repression. They're being repressed -- they don't have any concerts, and this in itself makes them live a fiction life."

Follow the post-title link to NPR to read the rest of the article.

Ohhh, Those 'South Park' Boys - In Trouble Again...

Two recent “South Park” episodes on Comedy Central satirized the Prophet Muhammad — one, showing Muhammad in a bear costume, left, elicited an ominous message from an Islamic group.

I would love to comment on the most recent 'South Park' vs Muhammed controversy and all of the absurdity that swarms around it - not to mention the old fashioned censorship (though possibly well intentioned for care of Matt and Trey, but I doubt it) - but I think it has been well taken care of by the media circus, blog world, and beyond. Follow the link below to watch the video of John Stewart's logical, masterful rant that pretty much covers it all:

Jon Stewart 'South Park' Rant On 'The Daily Show' Watch Entire Rant Here [VIDEO]

Below is a link to the NY Times article that covers the entire affair, just in case someone, somehow has missed it.

NASA's New Eye on the Sun Delivers Stunning First Images

A full-disk multiwavelength extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by SDO on March 30, 2010. False colors trace different gas temperatures. Reds are relatively cool (about 60,000 Kelvin, or 107,540 F); blues and greens are hotter (greater than 1 million Kelvin, or 1,799,540 F). Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team

NASA's recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is returning early images that confirm an unprecedented new capability for scientists to better understand our sun’s dynamic processes. These solar activities affect everything on Earth.

Some of the images from the spacecraft show never-before-seen detail of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Others show extreme close-ups of activity on the sun’s surface. The spacecraft also has made the first high-resolution measurements of solar flares in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun's magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate. Since launch, engineers have been conducting testing and verification of the spacecraft’s components. Now fully operational, SDO will provide images with clarity 10 times better than high-definition television and will return more comprehensive science data faster than any other solar observing spacecraft.

Extraordinary. I tend to be a film loyalist but, I dare say, this is justified use of digital imagery. Follow the link for more info and awing SDO video footage of a solar eruption - better than any hollywood special fx - NASA.gov.

For a subject relevant NPR article on the Hubble Space Telescope, follow the link:

On Hubble's Anniversary, A Look Up and A Look Back

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Count Down to Festival de Cannes 2010

Cannes is nearing, which always creates excitement in the cinematic community - with valid reason. Year after year, some of the most innovative and artistically keen films of our time are screened and recognized. Here are the dates of this years festival:

May 12 - 23

I will post regular updates as the festival approaches, but to find the most recent news, link to the official website: Festival de Cannes.

Bressonian Quote #8 - Notes from a Master Filmmaker

"Who said: 'A single look lets loose a passion, a murder, a war?'"
- Robert Bresson

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Absurdity of the Moment - #01

absurdism |əbˈsərdˌizəm|
the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe.

This is the first of an intended series in which I will post articles, pictures, commentary, etc. of current affairs taken from headlines as well as subjective experiences that accentuate or epitomize the absurdity of the human experience. Perhaps it can be thought of as my wishful John Stewart voice (but not limited to government and media) - my crying out for solace from the insane frustration that ensues when our species acts in complete disregard of ration, reason, and basic empathy.

For example, this week's considerations were events and circumstances involving Karsai's recent gestures toward the West, The Vatican and Pope's handling of recent (um, and forever) allegations, Sarah Palin (for everything that comes out of her mouth), Glenn Beck's outrageous annual earnings from manipulating the vulnerable and ignorant, Michael Steele and the RNC's sex club tab, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell's proposal of a Confederate history month, etc. Yes, it was a good week for the absurd. Just look below to see the recent human activity that was so absurd (and I'm being way too kind) as too topple the rest of these "crazies" for the first feature of this series.

Note: The reference to absurdism is intended to reflect upon the human paradox: the fundamental clash between the human search (and need) for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe. I have too many romantic and artistic threads to adopt a hardline absurdist philosophy, so I will gear the context towards the existentialist concepts of Albert Camus. He states that there are specific human experiences evoking notions of absurdity. Such realization or encounter with the absurd, or the seemingly meaningless universe, leaves an individual with one of three logical choices: suicide, a leap of faith (religion), or recoginition (a choice to embrace one's own absurd condition, and further find meaning within one's subjective reality). According to Camus, one's freedom - and the opportunity to give life meaning - lies in the recognition of Absurdity.

Absurdity of the Moment #01

Protesters From Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas Take Aim at WV Miners - NY Times

MONTCOAL W.V. — Protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., headed to the Upper Big Branch mine Thursday morning to convey the message that the explosion there that left 25 miners dead was a result of e-mail messages allegedly sent from West Virginia threatening the Church and its publisher, according to a statement from the Church.

The church, which is led by Fred Phelps, has attracted attention in recent years by showing up at funerals for soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. At those funerals they carry signs that say that God hates homosexuality and that the death of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is God’s way of punishing the United States for its tolerance of it.

“This whole nation is awash in rebellious sin and defiance of God, His standard, and His servant’s faithful words,” a news release on the church’s Web site said Thursday morning.

The statement said the church had received threats about a trip to West Virginia and Virginia scheduled to begin Thursday.

“So God reached down and smacked one of those mines, killing 25 (and likely four more are dead),” it said. “Now you moan and wallow in self-pity, and pour over the details of the dead rebels’ lives, pretending they’re heroes.”

According to its Web site, the church is scheduled to protest at several locations in Virginia and West Virginia, Thursday through Sunday, including at the West Virginia state capitol and the Hillel on the Virginia Tech campus.

Last month the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the father of a Marine killed in Iraq may sue protesters from the church who picketed his son’s funeral with signs that read “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

I've never wanted a wild West Virginian to shoot someone before now, hmm. Where are those "squeel like a pig" guys when you need them? Some people may deserve to die, but it wasn't the miners...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Two Monks of Different Orders: Images of Intrigue

Dylan meets the Bishop of Rome

I nabbed this image from one of the finer blogs that I have come across: If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats (perhaps the best title as well). It is #13 from the series, Orpheus in Action.
I wonder which of these men carries more sadness and wisdom - and which one is the better bullshitter? I wouldn't want to play cards at that table.

I penned the suckiest movie ever - sorry!

By J.D. Shapiro
This month, "Battlefield Earth," the blockbuster bomb based on the novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, won the Razzie for "Worst Movie of the Decade." J.D. Shapiro, the film's first screenwriter, accepted the award in person. Shapiro, who also wrote the screenplay for "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," "We Married Margo," and is developing a King Arthur spoof called "524 AD" (524AD.com), explains what it's like to be attached to one of Hollywood's most notorious flops.

Let me start by apologizing to anyone who went to see "Battlefield Earth."

It wasn't as I intended -- promise. No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn't really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those.

It started, as so many of my choices do, with my Willy Wonker.

It was 1994, and I had read an article in Premiere magazine saying that the Celebrity Center, the Scientology epicenter in Los Angeles, was a great place to meet women.

Follow the link to read more - nothing too spectacular, just funny: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/penned_the_suckiest_movie_ever_sorry_

This certainly earns him some level of forgiveness... but then again, he did go to Scientology meetings to meet women. Hmm?

Bressonian Quote #7 - Notes from a Master Filmmaker

"Metteur-en-scene, director. The point is not to direct someone, but to direct oneself." - Robert Bresson

Monday, April 5, 2010

Johnny Cash on the Rails - Images of Cool

Leaves of Grass - Featured Film of Interest

Edward Norton as a pot farmer and his intellectual brother.
BY ROGER EBERT / March 28, 2010

"Leaves of Grass" has been acquired by a new distributor and rescheduled for release in the summer of 2010.

Tim Blake Nelson's "Leaves of Grass" is some kind of sweet, wacky masterpiece. It takes all sorts of risks, including a dual role with Edward Norton playing twin brothers, and it pulls them off. It is certainly the most intelligent, philosophical and poetic film I can imagine that involves five murders in the marijuana-dealing community of Oklahoma and includes John Prine singing "Illegal Smile."

Sometimes you can't believe your luck as a movie unfolds. There is a mind behind it, joyful invention, obvious ambition. As is often the case, I had studiously avoiding reading anything at all about "Leaves of Grass" before going to see the movie, although I rather doubted it would be about Walt Whitman. What I did know is that the actor Tom Blake Nelson has written and directed three films I enormously admired: "Eye of God" (1997), "O" (2001) and "The Grey Zone" (2001), all three dealing in a concrete dramatic way with important questions: Religion, redemption, race, the Holocaust. And that the actorEdward Norton has never agreed to appear in a film he didn't believe he had reason to respect.

You can link through the post-title for Ebert's full review, and cast and credits.

The Bible Salesman - by Jacob Mertens

The Bible Salesmen

  1. The men wear clean suits pinned against their flesh and mechanic smiles.
  2. They stop me in the street and ask me about our savior, the one on the left clutching a leather briefcase filled with books all saying the same words.
  3. Books should say different words.
  4. Books are not meant to say the same thing. Language is meant to be a reckless creature constantly changing, contradicting itself, and so on.
  5. I ask the man on the right how many bibles he owns.
  6. I know that it’s more than one and I’m wondering what’s the point of owning several copies of the same book.
  7. He owns six copies.
  8. He has seven bibles on him.
  9. He has sold eight bibles already.
  10. I tell him the book is repetitive. Man sins, God gets pissed off, man gets comeuppance, learns lesson. I stopped reading about ninety pages in.
  11. They smile knowingly at each other, the one on the left preparing a canned speech for the salvation of my eternal soul. You would think the two were getting a commission.
  12. Fuck that.
  13. I interrupt him somewhere in the dying for my sins part. I ask the other guy why he has six bibles.
  14. The guy on the left is upset that his speech is getting interrupted, upset that I only want to talk to the guy on the right, upset that he always gets stuck carrying the briefcase.
  15. The other guy talks about different translations or study bibles with liner notes or extras to keep on hand just in case some stark raving mad sinner comes pounding on his door demanding a bible, foaming, raving, only to be soothed by the clear and succinct words of the Lord God Almighty speaking “Go forth my son” and so on and so forth.
  16. Alright, fine, let’s talk about the bible then.
  17. How come God is such an asshole in the bible? God drowns the whole fucking world man? Doesn’t that feel like he was overreacting a little? Couldn’t he just talk it out, express his feelings, communicate, something? I tell you what, God needs anger management, he’s fucking cranky. Also apples are delicious! What the hell was he thinking? You make that shit a forbidden cucumber I guarantee nobody is touching it.
  18. The guy on the right thinks I’m missing the point.
  19. The guy on the left is leafing through a script he printed out, trying to find a way to get back on track. He starts stammering about the Kingdom of Heaven.
  20. My great concern is to see these two as real people. Their bodies radiating the warmth of recycled blood, their thoughts sticking to their tongues like wet cotton, afraid of fear, adoring of adoration, loving of love, and so on until they become the same organic mass of chemicals as everything, breathing in the scattered atoms of the universe but only seeing truth in a book written by schizophrenics. Their words taking the shape of a dead cult still throttling the unconscious conscience of a people terrified by this single dominating thought of death that seems so fucking abstract and cruel that their God takes the form of this cruelty and yet they only choose to see it as love. God is ever loving and yet perfectly willing to send me to hell for not buying a bible and not joining his son’s social organization of baptized wine drinking automatons muttering their “amens”, “and also with yous”, and so on and so forth. God is ever loving but would send my mother to hell for being a perfectly nice and peaceful Buddhist. God is ever loving but would send anyone to hell, I don’t fucking care, God is God, God is great, God is all powerful and no one is beyond saving unless God is lazy. God is ever loving but hides behind his green curtain like the wizard, screaming “Faith! Faith! Trust me, it will all make sense after you’re gone.” That doesn’t even make sense! If that’s what God is then fuck him, give me eternal suffering on principle.
  21. The guy on the left tells me the bibles are twelve dollars.
I don't know if Jacob has considered it, but this could translate into a fun and interesting short film.

Anti-Poetry by Jacob Mertens

Jacob is a film student, writer, and close personal friend. This and the next post are a couple of his recent writings. He considers them to be relatively playful pieces, none taken too seriously. I think they're quite good, and have a bit more than that to them. Not to mention, they're really F'n funny. Enjoy and thanks to Jacob for letting me post them. Follow the link on the post-title to go to his blog.

Fuck poetry

Sifting through the vomit of

Saints, and holding their random

Thoughts to light like spider webs

Sticking to my fingers

Fuck you Whitman, Dickinson, Hughes, Ginsberg

I have enough thoughts of my own

Yeah but my thoughts aren't ugly

Beautiful, they aren't crazed

Mad meditations of sand traps, they

Don't fit in iambic pentameter, I don't

know what iambic pentameter is,

Someone told me once and I

Thought "Huh, is that all?"

And promptly forgot

And pretty scenery, haikus with

Hummingbirds and damp rain, ah don't

It fill your soul with radio broadcasted enlightened

Microwaves, yeah I don't even

Know what that means, but I can make

It so I know that's all I'm saying

And the scenery--

How's a table with a trash bag filled with clothes, a mess of opened and unopened mail, how's a house full of cats that aren't mine sleeping, and the weeds in the back so overgrown they crawl over the glass and Son House muttering monologues over the computer and a refrigerator full of real estate agent magnets and pictures of distant family members that I've probably never talked to unless I have and I've forgotten and frankly that's no better and jugs of purified water because the tap probably has cancer and one stupid fucking fly stuttering around reenacting imagined scenes from the Red Baron and buzzing his filtered Nazi propaganda that he learned from the History Channel and if there was a smell I'd be used to it by now and running down the other five senses I got sight sound smell touch taste and I've only done two but the others are boring so fuck it right along with everything else.

Poetry is too serious anyway, I'm

too serious anyway, anything's too serious

Anyway and it's Words. You know what

Else is words--

A is for Aardvark

B is for Bear

C is for Cougar

D is for Deer

E is for Elephant

Is that poetry, cause that I like

Pope Vows To Get Church Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels - the Onion Reports

Pope Benedict XVI explains which types of slow, deliberate touching the church deems inappropriate.

VATICAN CITY—Calling the behavior shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring the widespread pedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.

Addressing thousands gathered at St. Peter's Square on Easter Sunday, the pontiff offered his "most humble apologies" to abuse victims, and pledged to reduce the total number of molestations by 60 percent over the next five years.

"This is absolutely unacceptable," Pope Benedict said. "It seems a weakening of faith in God has prevented our priests from exercising moderation when sexually abusing helpless minors."

"And let me remind our clergy of the holy vows they all took when they entered the priesthood," he continued. "They should know that they're only allowed one small child every other month."

The pope said he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times beyond the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine. Admitting for the first time in public that the overindulgent touching of "tender, tender young flesh" had become a full-blown crisis, the Holy Father vowed to implement new reforms to bring the pedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.

"The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation—it's simply unavoidable," Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries."


I have to admit, satirizing a matter of such sensitivity and personal human horror may be treading a fine ethical line. However, when the Vatican and Pope take the defensive and choose to reference an epidemic of sexual and physical abuse on children as "petty gossip," or claim a worldwide media conspiracy against the Pope - I think the sacred lines of sympathy, empathy, and victim respect have already been shredded - by the Vatican, not the public. A professor of mine once said (and I'm sure he ripped it off from someone), "There is no one so honest as the Satirist." I have found this to be quite true through my years since, and right now, concerning this specific matter, I think we need (and the victims and faithful Catholics deserve) some brutal honesty and action.