Wednesday, April 30, 2008

david blaine is awesome - move over chuck norris!

David Blain as an illusionist is fantastic, but he also has a capacity for endurance, whether its living in a block of ice, or suspended above London, or this time holding his breath for 17 min and 30 seconds and then some. He did it on Oprah Winfrey's show. He was concerned that his heart rate was too high - this guy can manipulate his heart rate, like a Zen master ! Absolutely incredible. He is the man.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Big Lebowski Sold Out!

I toured some apts in the burgh, then ate dinner at the Tango Cafe, an Argentine restaurant. Great sandwiches, and they now have veggie empanadas. Then I drove the long way to regent square (down forward ave across stink creek) and saw the longest movie line ever at Regent Sq theater. I stood in line with guys in their robes, Achiever t-shirts, me in my In and Out burger bowling shirt, and we were told they were sold out!!! They promised to the TBL back soon. Sold out!!!! 8 pm on the sunday night!!! TBL has some serious pittsburgh fans.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"I guess you will leave here and try to help us," Xiong told his visitor. "But if you can't, don't be sad."

Here is a story from Noah about the Hmong warriors of Laos.If you remember the goofy movie Air American with Mel Gibson, it showed how the CIA was running a mountain war with the help of the Hmong tribe, fighting against the communists, esp the Ho Chi Minh trail. This trail was not really a trail but different routes through the mountains from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. Starting in the north, a Viet Cong would carry an artillery shell and walk with others on a human convoy, crossing into Laos and ending up somewhere in the South, delivering the shell, and then walking back to the North. The Hmong would attack the Viet Cong - the Hmong knew the mountains better than anyone. Anyway, the Hmong are wanted by the Laotian government for their "war crimes" and the Hmong must live on the run for the last 35 years. Amazing story. thanks noah.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Christians fight at Christ's Tomb

Fighting broked out a the Church of the Sepulcher, supposedly Jesus Christ's tomb. What were they fighting over? Tastes great! Less Filling! Tastes great! They have different calendars so members of one group are not welcome to worship at the Tomb with members of the other group, some priest got knocked down, and a fist fight broke out. On top of every thing else that the Israeli Defense Forces have to put up with, they have to put up with these knuckleheads! He is risen today! No he's not, he is risen two weeks from now! Take that you infidel! You and your pussy Greek calendar! My calendar is no pussy, your Armenian calendar is bogus!
Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers exchanged blows at one of Christianity's holiest shrines on Orthodox Palm Sunday, and used palm fronds to pummel police who tried to break up the brawl.

Aliza Shvarts, Yale Art Student Who videotapes her own miscarriages

Aliza Shvarts, an art student at Yale, had her senior art show which consisted of videos of her in her bathtub, nude, having a miscarriage. She said she artificially impregnated herself, then took the RU-486 abortion pill, and filmed her having a miscarriage in the bathtub. She did this several times. She saved the blood and the fetal tissue. She said art should be controversial. Did this really happen? NO!!! Its a hoax. her senior art show was displaying an elaborate hoax - even Yale Univ went along with her, issuing press statements that said her miscarriage show was inappropriate - it was part of the hoax. This is so twisted I really enjoyed it.

Blood Simple: The Coen brothers first movie

So I went to see Blood Simple, latest in Regent Square theater's sunday night "Coen Head," series. I drove down to the burgh for dinner, then a movie. I decided to eat in regent sq, at one of the neighborhood pubs. The place I ate at was ok, the Map Room Pub, recently redecorated. But there were three totally drunk people at one end of the bar, and i think only one waitress who also served as bartender - needless to say, she was swamped. This one drunk woman, around 30 maybe? I couldnt tell, she was very obese and obnoxious, kept talking so loud I couldn't stand it - seems they are regulars. Then she gets on her cell phone, I will try to replicate her end of the conversation: "Jesus Christ, Sue Ellen, where the fuck have you been? Like we have been getting totally drunk without you. You mean you are at Johnny's? You fucking slept there? You fucked Johnny last night? All because you were drunk? What is Tom (evidently Sue Ellen's husband) gonna say? You ain't telling him? I thought youse guys were doing couples therapy? You still are? I ain't drivin home. I'm couching it tonight at Ron's. What? You wanna meet me at Ron's? you ain't goin home? Ok we'll both couch it at Ron's" I didnt put in all the obscenities she was using. They finally left. It was like eating dinner at the bar in the first Star Wars - every type of extra terrestrial was there. But then I walked across the street and saw Blood Simple, with about 120 other people. $8 for a ticket, so they must have made some good money that night. What a movie! Its about a small time wanna be mob guy who wants his cheating wife and business partner killed. He hires some sleazy guy to do it, but the guy has other plans. Thats it. Simple plot. But everything goes wrong. The level of violence is remarkable: guy gets shot, bleeds everywhere (thus the title) end up being buried alive, he is trying to talk even as the dirt is shoveled on him! The end is great - absolutely amazing! I could see parallels between it and No Country for Old Men, also big Lebowski. Absolutely great.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

GM brings a hybrid car to China: Read this!

GM is building a joint venture hybrid in china, I mean the whole thing, parts, manufacturing, from the ground up. They are already marketing a hybrid SUV in china. the thing is, these cars really dont get good gas mileage, because they are huge vehicles. And they are very heavy. My corolla gets 33 mpg city, 40 highway, and that is driving carefully. The mpg on a hybrid Buick Lacrosse, which is what they are building, is probably high 20's maybe 28 at the most. All the big automakers are marketing in China, they see that as a new market. But GM assumes the chinese want to seat 4 overweight adults, plus lots of luggage and coolers and "stuff" in the car for long trips. Thats what they market to the US market, and that is why they don't "get" it. Toyota sells more Prius's than they can produce in the US. I think GM is going down - I don't think they understand the market place, despite all their research. I think the Buick Lacrosse is an ugly car, too heavy, at 28 mpg it is not efficient, it drives like a bus, and I don't believe americans much less chinese will buy it. The Honda Accord hybrid has not sold - it gets slighter better mpg than a gas Accord, but costs alot more. GM has lost billions of $, will continue to loose money, do not buy their stock. My inside trading knowledge is that airline stock is considered worthless by stock brokers, and I think GM stock will soon be worth as much as American Airlines stock (they not only cannot make money flying, they cannot manage their company properly and skipped maintenance on its planes).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Poland Jewish Ghetto Uprising

I am showing "The Pianist" in Pol Film in a couple weeks, a movie about a concert pianist (he plays Chopin) who avoids capture as a Jew in Warsaw, and somehow survives by living "underground" in the Jewish ghetto. It shows how Jews lived under Nazi occupation in Warsaw - the ultimate goal of the Nazi's was to kill them all, but there were so many Jews, and not enough ovens, that the Nazi's had to let the Jews live in Warsaw until the Nazi's were ready to train them off for killing. There was a Jewish uprising against the Nazi's as the Red Army approached...Stalin let the Jews fight and be killed before he moved his troops into Warsaw. This guy below is nothing short of absolutely friggin' amazing!!!

The last commander of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising, Marek Edelman, on Saturday honoured the memory of his comrades who died fighting Nazi Germany in the doomed Jewish stand against the Holocaust.

Joined by family members, hundreds of bystanders and city officials, Edelman marked the 65th anniversary of the revolt at the imposing monument to the ghetto fighters, unveiled in 1948.

A Tranquil Star, stories published after the death of Primo Levi

Noah bought me "A Tranquil Star," by Primo Levi for a xmas gift. Primo wrote the infamous "Survival at Auschwitz" where he methodically and rationally explained how he survived a concentration camp. If course, concentration camps are crazy, but Primo saw the reasoning behind survival. (His bunk mate died but he didn't tell anyone, the dead body next to the wall kept out some wind, and he took his dead friends rations, until a count was made by the guards). Tranquil Star is great, unpublished stories published after his death. He writes about so many different topics, many of them scientific based, but some very whimsical (yet profoundly serious). One story tells of the capture of a resistance fighter, named Marinese. As he is being taken away in a truck by the fascists, he sees a grenade on the belt of his guard. He thinks about grabbing the grenade with his handcuffed hands and pulling the pin.....Primo Levi actually experienced this, imagined pulling the pin, butr didn't - will Marinese pull the pin? Or just pipe dream about doing it? Incredible short story. Another story, "Bear Meat," is about confronting death, and how it changes a man. In another short story, characters from Levi's novels and stories all end up in a park together, but are they real, or just figments of imagination? Another story presents his brief military experience, interrupted by his stay at Auschwitz, and when he return from the death camp, he was still eligible for service to Italy (new government, same conscription laws) - the country that sent him to a certain death now wants him to serve his conscription obligation - extremely absurd but presented, as only Levi can do, rationally.The story a Tranquil Star tells us how tranquil a star looks from earth, but is really about to experience a super nova - what do we understand from what we see? My favorite was Buffet Dinner, told from the perspective of a Kangaroo, invited to a dinner party. It was a great indictment of the shallow, bitter, mean lives we live, and perhaps we would be happier as Kangaroos? Or maybe Dolphins? Or my favorite animal, the Cheetah? Thanks for the book Noah - it was truly great reading it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

George Stephanopoulos' shallow, trivial questions

I can't believe George Stephanopoulos's questions during the April 16 hillary and Obama "debate." Below is George's explanation disguised as his wikipedia entry. The questions were trivial, stupid, representing the worst of old time politics. I think Obama brings a freshness to politics that goes beyond the petty, inconsequential phoney issues of old fashioned politics. Don't forget how Kerry's war hero record was destroyed by the Rove evil machine. I think McCain is honest when he says he wants a clean, open campaign - an Obama - McCain race might be the best race i have experienced and I am looking forward to it.

Stephanopoulos became a subject of public controversy after serving as co-moderator, with Charles Gibson, of a debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the 21st debate among Democratic candidates for President in the 2008 election cycle, broadcast live on Wednesday, April 16, 2008, by ABC News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both Gibson and Stephanopoulos were chided for focusing most of the first hour of the debate on issues critics regarded as trivial, intentionally incendiary, and slanted toward Republican political views. Obama was challenged, for, among other things, associating with Jeremiah Wright, his pastor, who espouses some positions of Black Theology, and with William Ayers, a supporter of his who had been a member of the Weather Underground during the 1970s. Obama was also challenged for his purportedly conspicuous failure to wear a flag pin. Clinton was challenged for being perceived as untrustworthy. Both were questioned pointedly and at length about their perceived willingness to raise taxes and restrict gun ownership. Tom Shales wrote in The Washington Post, "For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with." The New York Times's David Brooks, however, took a different view: "I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that." Stephanopoulos defended himself the following day, saying, “The questions we asked were tough and fair and appropriate and relevant and what you would expect to be asked in a presidential debate at this point."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dean Kamen invents water purifier

Here is a clip of Kamen (segway inventor) on the Colbert Repooor. Only 1/3 of the world's population has access to clean drinking water, and the leading cause of death in the world is dehydration due to intestinal diarrhea. This is a complicated read, but it turns out this guy really has invented a low cost, low energy water purifier. Villages in africa could create a cooperative and buy the purifier. Will cost about $1000 each.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hillary Clinton hunts

Yes, Hillary Clinton hunts. Over the past 35 years of working for change in this country (her claim) I have never heard about her handling weapons, learning to shoot rifles with her dad, and even hunting and killing a duck in Arkansas. But its primary time, and its time to say anything to win votes in Pennsylvania and Indiana, two states that resemble Alabama if you eliminate their urban population. Biographies of Sen. Clinton often point out her terrible temper, her anger and rages at Bill. Supposedly when Bill confessed to what really went on between him and Ms. Lewinsky, she screamed, hit him and tore down dresses in her closet screaming, "was it like this dress? or this dress?!" referring to the Lewinsky dress with DNA on it. But just think if she had a gun - she goes to her make up table, opens a drawer, and out comes a glock 9. "You have humiliated me long enough!" she screams, as she empties the clip into her astonished, dying husband. "I didn't know you had a gun, could shoot...." his voice trails off as his life blood flows out of him. "Yeah I can shoot," she answers contemptuously, "my daddy taught me, and I even killed a duck once, too." As the Secret Service busts into the Presidential bedroom, she tosses the gun on her husband's dead corpse. "He didn't have the nerve to fight the bj accusations," she says meekly, her poker face convincing the officers that she couldn't have planted his finger prints on the pistol, and distracting them from noticing the tight, transparent surgical gloves she was wearing. "Contact Vice President Gore," ordered the officer in charge. "Telephone him at his intern's number, a Ms. Lewinsky." Hillary rolls her eyes as she slowly walks away...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Queen Rania fights stereotyping

Queen Rania of Jordan has a you tube video that invites viewers to submit stereotypes of Arabs, which she will then respond to. Of course, some "knuckleheads" respond with stupid comments, like why listen to a queen, why doesn't support democracy instead of monarchy...WTF? Just how stupid and dumb are americans? No wonder Queen Rania wants to confront stereotypes - stereotypes are all we americans know. Women have rights and freedom in the Arab world, a conservative Muslim family is warm, close, spiritual. My colleague on campus (I won't mention his name but we are warm friends) is a wonderful intellectual, and Muslim. His college age son doesn't drink or smoke, and is waiting for his parents to arrange his marriage to a muslim woman, when his parents think it time. This works for them. I admire his family. Queen Rania is amazing: intelligent, educated, sophisticated, she says she loves reading to her children at bedtime because of the peaceful feeling....We Americans should admire Queen Rania, and learn from her. I met two college women from Jordan and they were wonderful - they word scarfs they said because of their love of Islam and their respect for Allah (may peace be unto him)- I only wish I could contact their parents to let them know how wonderful it was to meet two such charming, and intellectual young women. I swear there are times I want to leave this country - so many people tell me (esp foreign students) that I seem so European...I think thats funny, they are really saying I dont seem like the typical dumbass american. I am in a bad mood after reading the you tube messages left for Queen Rania so I am exaggerating my frustration...I will edit this later when i am not so Pissxxd off.

Leni Riefenstahl - Hitlers other girlfriend

Just read a biography of one of my favorite Nazis, Leni Riefenstahl. She directed Triumph of the Wills, the documentary about the 1933 Nuremberg rally (thanks chris for reminding me!). Book says she was witness to an atrocity in Poland - the book is very sympathetic to her. Supposedly, some German soldiers were executed and mutilated and some Poles were told to dig a grave outside a church for the burial. Something happened, a gunshot somewhere, and the soldiers killed all the poles. Problem is, i dont believe it. Most of the poles in this town were jews, so jews were digging the graves. From the pictures of the poles digging the graves, it sure looks like jews digging their own mass grave. Who ever heard of German soldiers burying their comrades in a mass grave dug by jews? There is a picture of leni reacting to the execution of these jews: she is horrified. But that didn't stop her from continuing to meet with Hitler and share her nude photos with him. Even after the attempt on his life, when the war obviously was lost, she still met with him and obtained financing for her films. I really cant believe that Leni would give Hitler nude photos of herself, pose nude for him, and that something sexual wasn't going on (although there is not much evidence that Hitler was sexually active in any normal way - supposedly he only got off on kinky stuff like...I'll save that for another blog.) Anyway, as soon as the 3rd Reich ended, suddenly Leni wasn't a Nazi, knew nothing of death camps etc. She actually used Gypsies from a death camp as extras in one of her movies - i mean come on, she wasnt aware of death camps? Later she pops up in Africa with the Nuba tribe - i stumbled upon a photo book of hers in the UGa library when I was in Grad school - you should see pictures of these tall, muscular Nuba warriors, totally nude, with their wangs hanging down (i mean at least a foot long) and Leni smiling posing with them. She died 98 yrs old, still working as a photographer for Life, Look magazines.Here are a couple nudes of her from the internet - I am sure the ones Hitler saw were much better.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Imelda Marcos Shoe Museum

Imeld Marcos made a name for herself as an overspending wife of a dictator in the Phillipines. After they were overthrown, the new government examined the Presidential estate and found thousands of shoes that Imeld had bought with the people's money. Here is a youtube video of the Shoe Museum that displays here ripped off shoe fetish. Here is a news story about her visiting the museum - she doesn't get it, she should be embarassed but is instead proud of her shoes....How could these people ever obtain power if they are so stupid? oh wait, I remember, the US installed them into power to prevent communism in the Phillipines - cold war stuff. The Phillipines now owe billions of $ in debt to foreign banks, and can barely pay the interest. So the phillipino people get screwed twice, once by the US backed Marcos, and a second time when they have to pay interest on the debt the Marcos' racked up. She should be stipped of all her money, and sent to Dubai to work 18hrs a day as a foreign worker, mopping the floors of a hotel or disco.

Imelda Marcos touched her lacy gold-and-black pumps for the first time in 15 years Friday, reminiscing as she inaugurated a museum paying tribute to the legendary collection she had to so hastily ditch.

The Shoe Museum, a monument to Mrs. Marcos' reputation as the world's most insatiable shoe collector, opened Friday -- displaying 220 of the 1,220 pairs officials found when a popular revolt forced her and the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to flee into exile in 1986.

``They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes,'' said the former first lady, 71.

Museum officials hope the display will draw tourists to Marikina, the Manila-area city known as the nation's shoemaking capital. Up to 40 percent of the city's 550,000 residents make shoes. The walls of the small, two-story building show shiny high heels, strappy pumps, soft leather moccasin-style shoes and other size 8 1/2 footwear from Christian Dior, Givenchy, Chanel and Ferragamo.

A few dozen pairs from former President Fidel Ramos and other celebrities are also displayed, alongside other exhibits outlining Marakina's century-old shoemaking industry.

Sandal Street, Slipper Street and other roads attest to the industry's importance. A pedestrian bridge in the city is covered with two giant steel shoes. A shoe statue stands before City Hall.

But officials admit the museum owes its existence to the reputation of Mrs. Marcos, the city's best-known customer and an enthusiastic supporter of the project. Received warmly on Friday, she said the museum on Shoe Street will mark a turning point in her reputation for extravagance.

``This museum (is) making a subject of notoriety into an object of beauty,'' said Mrs. Marcos, wearing a traditional pink dress, large emerald-green earrings and locally made silver shoes. ``More than anything, this museum will symbolize the spirit and culture of the Filipino people. Filipinos don't wallow in what is miserable and ugly. They recycle the bad into things of beauty.''

At the height of Ferdinand Marcos' power, the first lady gained notoriety for shopping trips to the world's swankiest boutiques, glitzy parties and lavish beautification projects in the midst of the Philippines' extreme poverty. Her shoes astounded the world and became a symbol of excess. Aquino had Mrs. Marcos' shoes displayed in the presidential palace as a symbol of the former first lady's extravagance. They were removed in 1992, and part of the collection was put on display Friday.