Saturday, December 31, 2011

Arab Spring and another wisdom

The still continuing 'Arab spring' shouts loudly 'al shaab yureed asqat al nitham', or in English 'the people want collapse of the system' or something like that.

Perhaps they get it and more permanently than intended; this 2012 is, after all, the last year in history (according to some interpretations of Mayan wisdom).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Twenties Memory

Not my memory, mind you. But a short story by Woody Allen, "A Twenties Memory" in his 1971 book "Getting Even", turns into "Midnight in Paris" in mere 40 years.

The "Midnight", his best picture for quite a while, might still rescue Allen's battered reputation from the gutters. I loved it.

The linked article, "Woody Allen's First Stab at 'Midnight in Paris': A 1971 Short Story", is from The Odds by Steve Pond.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Would you rather be hanged than stoned?

Islam is such a sensible and lenient religion, isn't it. How about all us gentle-hearts come out in chorus and excuse Islam because 'all this is part of their cultural heritage' and we should, naturally, embrace multiculturalism with all our hearts.

Read this article Iran says woman's stoning case might change to hanging in Reuters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

IBM bares the Future

IBM, who first estimated that the world needs about six computers and then that nobody would want a personal computer, now says that we'll be carrying mind-reading phones by 2016. Oh well...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Havel and Kim Jong Il

It's easy to say that all Nations get political leaders they deserve. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Maybe a people that has no desire to better its lot would get what the history lobs at it. It is difficult to say why the Czechs and Slovaks deserved an imperfect humanist like Vaclav Havel and the Koreans a perfect tyrant like Kim Jong Il as their leaders. The answer may lurk in history and time, and Nation's soul, or somewhere.

Well, hopefully they'll not issue a...a...Hey, what's fatwa in Korean? While you think that you may want to read the article Kim Jong Il Might Be Gone, But the Satire Will Live Forever in The Atlantic.

The Turkish version of the nations' destinies goes like this: 'It is not only the fault of the axe but the tree as well'. Somehow 'Cometh the hour, cometh the man' sounds more optimistic and kindly. Perhaps both influenced by their environments?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Hand of God and Januszczak's foreskins

Dear Reader, I'm almost sure that spiritually you reside somewhere between Christopher Hitchens and Jesus of Nasareth. If so, it may be of interest to read Waldemar Januszczak's take on the Christ's foreskin and that sorts of thing, in case you find them palatable in the countdown to Christmas, the highlight of the Christians' annual calendar of commerce and overeating. The article is called The Hand of God.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Freewheelin' Europe

When the bottom is reached, it will hurt. If there is a bottom in this European bog.

Looks like Bob Dylan was forecasting the European Union's dim economic future with his album 'Freewheelin' (1963) with such tracks as "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" and "Boots of Spanish Leather".

Is reality hollow?

Obviously Reality is a hologram, or, more likely, an illusion - for proof, look no further than at any politician trying to explain their policies.

Thus, a two-dimensional hologram as a 'virtual' boarding agent at the CDG airport in Paris is not out of place and quite appropriate.

Some scientists claim that we and our world are, in actual fact, just a two dimensional hologram projected from a real world light years away.

Obviously all scientists believe in Occam's razor and only propose the simplest solutions to explain the reality and won't use complex explanations - like God, for instance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flying wild Alaska

One 'reality' TV series I actually enjoyed watching from the beginning until the end. You may enjoy it, too, even if you are not an aviation geek.

Flying Wild Alaska is following the owner of Era Alaska, Jim Tweto, his lovely family and company's bush-pilots flying single-engine Cessnas around western Alaska. With no drivable roads for hundreds of miles, Era Alaska is the lifeline for the isolated communities along the Bering Sea coastline. Twetos are based on Unalakleet, 750 inhabitants and a small airport right on the seafront facing Russia across Bering. From that point of view they are as much educated in foreign policy as the ex-Governor of Alaska and the potential next US president. What's her face?

Jim Tweto, bushpilot

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Education

Sarah Thornton, the author wronged

Lynn Barber said in June 2009 about ‘An Education’ that tells of her fling with an older man when she was 16:
“Oh, it's a bad moment and it's going to be bad whatever happens”.
Not bad enough, apparently. Recently she wrote in The Telegraph:
Sarah Thornton is a decorative Canadian with a BA in art history and a PhD in sociology and a seemingly limitless capacity to write pompous nonsense”.
Sarah didn’t like that much and The Telegraph was condemned to pay £65,000 damages to the photogenic author of Seven Days in the Art World.

The Judge sentencing The Telegraph to pay said:
"a reviewer is entitled to be spiteful as long as she is honest"
The difference between honest and not-honest in this case seems to be that Barber forgot the fact that Thornton had interviewed her and said so in her review.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Midnight in men

President Nixon on his life:
“journey to the mountaintop and the despair of life’s deepest valley”.
Are all men in time turning into self-parodies of themselves (look at Murdoch, Reagan, Ted Kennedy, Mao, Hemingway) unless they are lucky to die early enough (JFK, F. Scott Fitzgerald).

There may be exceptions like Eastwood and Philip Roth, but it may just be too early to tell.

The connection is Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lost in cultural translation...

Everybody must've seen this already but still, it's too good not to share. The background is that Dalai Lama was visiting Australia, but apparently not any pizza shop, and a Channel 10 interviewer decided to tell a joke...

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Perhaps Dear Reader still remembers the opening credits (above) created by Kyle Cooper for David Fincher's film Se7en? What a great sequence for a movie that not all who went to see it considered worth seeing. Somehow, though, the opening fits perfectly to that particular movie. Perhaps equally perfect to other things, too, like fronting what happened on the island of Utøya on Lake Tyrifjorden in Norway and to many other horrors that have happened between humans and will happen in the future, I’m sure.

Presumably, there is something in the human condition that makes us (all?) susceptible to committing such actions – and seeing a hint of menace, beauty or meaning in a sequence of pictures and use of noise or silence. Those two may even be related to each other?

But to stay on the subject... Perhaps the Reader is an aviation enthusiast like me, and would prefer the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove from 1964, where a B-52 Stratobomber is refuelled in air by a KC-135 Stratotanker. A beautifully designed sequence by Pablo Ferro, beautiful aircraft in a beautiful airborne ballet and such an ugly world that they depict and represent.

It would be difficult to tell which opening sequence would be the best of them all, at least for me, who seldom remembers much details of any film – but, rather, a foggy reconstruction of a story that may or may not resemble what the Director had in mind.

Perhaps the opening of Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane would be the best of them all like the whole movie. Although, it could be said in this millennium that the opening tastes not only great but also – what would the word be – formulaic, is that the word, but only because of the hundreds of films that have come after Citizen Kane. Just like any cliché tastes like a cliché, except when it was started and it tasted fresh and rich of meaning to the first tasters.

So let’s refer to the opening of Robert Mulligan's To Kill A Mockingbird (below) and call that the best of them all. In this clip the creator, Stephen Frankfurt, tells about opening sequence on YouTube. Harper Lee has said that the opening shows how "the film can have a life of its own as a work of art"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Volcanos versus airlines

Volcanic ash has returned to Australia after the second round around the world. All flights cancelled at main airports.

Remember the British Airways Boeing 747 that lost all four engines and scratched its windscreens flying through an ash cloud spewing out of the Indonesian Mount Galungung in June 1982.
Miraculously, the pilots were able to restart the engines and land safely at an alternate airport.

This present volcano is located in Chile.

Australian airlines, especially Qantas, who have outsourced some of its maintenance work abroad to its pilots’ and engineers' dismay, may be more concerned about the maintenance costs of their jet fleet than mayhem caused to its passengers. Maybe.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Curators and souls

Great museums portray their stolen, empty artefacts – naturally without people, but, if curated with care, are able to tell intact and interested stories of civilisations from vague beginnings to ends.

Art museums curate their art collection to tell stories of development and context of art in society, or of individual artists from their naive but promising beginnings till the bitter ends of creativity.

One’s own life, too, is recalled as a chain of sketched pictures. The internal narrative, our self-curator, the soul, is kept together by something in one’s inside – will to live, perhaps, or quest for immortality, who knows – a story somehow unbroken from the first vague picture with sketched context, ‘me’, to just now when ‘I’ stopped watching Lucien Freud as seen by Hector Obalk.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Criticism of criticism

D.H. Lawrence in his essay about John Galsworthy (February 1927):

"Literary criticism can be no more than a reasoned account of the feeling produced upon the critic...The touchstone is emotion, not reason...All the critical twiddle-twaddle about style and mere impertinence and mostly dull jargon..."


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The pianists

Lang Lang is in Melbourne without actually performing to the public. What a pity.

He, of course, is as famous for his bodily performances while playing as for his inspired playing. Sort of a Chinese version of Olli Mustonen then, the Finnish pianist, in whose performances, too, the audience is totally mesmerised by the interestingly flamboyant gesticulations. Below Olli plays about six minutes of Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 28.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Suspicious cynics

An online ad promises Apple iPads for $23.71?!

Yeah, right!

How is it, that one always suspects that if an offer on internet ad looks too good to be true, it actually is so?

Over aeons of human history the originally social member of primate pack has turned into a suspicious cynic, a doubter of beautiful opportunities offered by friendly, good-doing internet entrepreneurs.

I wonder why is that?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Saw an intense movie called Incendies by Canadian scriptwriter/director Denis Villeneuve based on Lebanese-born Wajdi Mouawad's play Scorched.

This is one of those movies where it is obligatory that whoever writes about it does not reveal too much of the content.

Briefly, the film is about a woman’s fate in a war-torn country called Fuad (Lebanon) where Christians and Muslims kill each other in a tit for tat cycle of violence. The woman, Nawal Marwan (portrayed by Belgian Lubna Azabal), is Christian, persecuted by the Muslims, who goes through an ordeal, moves to Canada and dies. With her last will, she surprises her teenage twins, sister and brother, and sends them on a mission to Fuad in search for their father and brother.

Due to minor problems of some dates of things within the narrative (perhaps those could've been clarified either by dialogue or texts), the movie-goer will have to be extremely vigilant from the very beginning till the end, and perhaps an appearance of some of the characters is a bit confusing at the end, which tries the watcher's 'willing suspense of disbelieve' close to the limit, this is really a great, enjoyable movie that holds its grip throughout. Highly recommended.

Words in Australian

Words: There are two neat new-speak words to portray modern Australian culture: ‘bogan’ and ‘fandom’.

In the past, football clubs were supported largely by bad-behaving working class men, ‘bogans’ in vernacular, as an alternative for national pride and religion. ‘Fandom’ was named by middle class wankers who nicked the clubs for themselves and needed an urbane name for their new kingdom of well-educated bogans.

Social stigmas

People feel bad about having a social stigma; that’s why many of us, and more by passing day, stop smoking so easily.

Shaming big carbon footprints may eventually work for saving the environment, too. Problem is that bad carbon behaviour does not happen in front of other people (except while driving one's car) so it can be kept concealed.

Exhibit 1: Al Gore’s nightly fully-lit mansion shamed lightless by investigative media. Spectacular.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lumet: Network

Isn’t Sidney Lumet’s Network with William Holden and Faye Dunaway (1976, 4 Oscars) a totally enjoyable piece of cinematic artistry? Remember the line by the main character, Howard Beale (tv anchorman turned prophet in the film, played by Peter Finch)?
“...Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell: ‘I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!’...”
Thirty odd years have not taken anything away from the movie.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lord of the Rings fans

Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of Bad Dress-Sense and Cure for Insomniacs

Entirely without proof and purely through the unkindness of heart, I suspect there are two kinds of Lord of the Rings fans: those who only fall asleep while reading the books and those who also do it while watching the movies.

I tend to fall towards the latter with considerable fervour. Although, although...

Something somewhere inside my weather-toughened torso sometimes kindles and glows tenderly and makes me love the sagas nonetheless.

Friday, June 10, 2011

In Australia, asylum seekers sung Matilda, tugged in bed

Aussie Labour government disappoints: previous PM Kevin Rudd was full of pure hot air; present PM Julia Gillard has no obvious convictions and creates distrust among voters.

ALP has now fallen into conservative opposition's trap re asylum seekers: there are only a few thousands each year compared to hundreds of thousands of official immigrants. The government is planning to send those assylum seekers arriving by boats to Malaysia for processing.

Malaysia is no a signatory to the UN convention on asylum seekers and the government cannot guarantee that they would be treated within the international norms applied in Australia. For instance, the asylum seekers in Malaysia are caned for misbehaviour, which obviously is not the Australia way where they are kept in holiday camps, sung Matilda and tugged in bed with a soft toy (perhaps one of the reasons why the boats keep coming).

Anyway, Gillard should think of human values and not send vulnerable people to dreadful future in a foreign landland – not even Tony Abbott, the scaremongering opposition leader, although he is a truly Australian Wally and sees a carrot of an election win flashed in front of him, by an always-unreliable Mrs Fortuna, as an incentive to become the badly behaving politician of this parliament..

Sunday, May 15, 2011

American spring

We The People...

In the middle of the expectant ‘Arab Spring’ in most unlikely places for embracing democracy, like Egypt, Syria and Libya, it’s difficult to believe how close in time the American blacks had their ‘American spring’. It was the time when the almost 200-year old Declaration of Independence did not hold self-evident truths, not even the most famous and nerve-touching line:
“...We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men...”
OK, it talks about men but perhaps we should allow the benefit of the doubt and accept that also the womenfolk were to be included.

The problem is that after a considerable time has passed these old texts gather a mythical dust over themselves obscuring the real meaning, which may not be at all as self-evidently universal as one would be willing to understand. Think of Magna Charta, which only guaranteed rights against the King for the landowning class and not much rights at all to the peasants who slaved their toils without as much as a freedom to eat. But, hey, in a couple of years or so that is already 800 years behind us so let’s forget the whole thing.

Equally difficult is to imagine that USA (the government by the people for the people), in the middle of the 20th century and less than 20 years after being part in winning the war against aggression, genocide and racism, still allowed segregation of its coloured and white citizens in public transportation and in education, including Universities.

And not only segregation but beatings, killings without punishment, hounding by law, and public raving about inferiority of the blacks and other coloured folk compared to the giants of intelligence such as the Alabama and Mississippi Governors.

Picture: Stokely Carmichael in his Freedom Riders mug shot

In 1961 the Freedom Riders were taking busses in Alabama and Mississippi and were beaten by police and jailed for their journeys.

The Freedom Riders-movie shows also the Kennedys (John and Bob) in a new, non-flattering light. New Camelot seemed to have windows with shut curtains on the issue of equality. Not even Martin Luther King, according to this film, come out of these few weeks in May of 1961 without dents in his shining armour.

American Experience