Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Long Lines Ahead

Have a great holiday weekend. Be safe and healthy.

Hubby and I are two of the 25 million Americans who will suffer long lines at the airport to go be with our families on the east coast. I think it is a safe bet that, in the aggregate, our time in line will probably be longer than our time stuffing our faces with Egyptian thanksgiving treats. :-)

Friday, November 17, 2006

God Bless Consumerica

Homeless people are not the stars of this photo. Nope. Most homeless people do not have such clean blankets and, since this is not skid row, probably do not sleep so soundly with our police force that scoops them away from the view of "civilization".

This photo is just one example of what I saw yesterday as I ran errands around town during my lunch. Throngs of people were camped -- literally with tents and sleeping bags -- outside Best Buy and similar stores waiting for their once-in-a-lifetime chance to say they were one of the first purchasers of the new Playstation 3.

Immediate judgments regarding their intelligence and employment status cannot be avoided, but the issue is bigger than the numbnuts who camp on a sidewalk to buy a video game console. More important is the statement that these people make about the condition of our consumer society. It is a poignant reminder of the depths of indoctrination in this society to not just consume like voracious tazmanian devils, but to beg for the chance to do it. In communist Russia, people stood in line for necessities like bread and blankets. In consumerist America, people camp out for days to buy a product that will be available tomorrow at Wal-Mart.

A line from Talib Kweli, one of my all-time favorite musical artists, is apropos -

"These cats drink champagne and toast up the pain like slaves
on a ship talking 'bout who got the flyest chain."

If it is any consolation, the mindless zombies in the picture at least get to brag that they were first in line for the chains.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

AFI Film Festival

The AFI Film Festival has been in town for the last week and a half and I have been lucky enough to check out four of the submissions.

The Yacoubian Building

Based on the Egyptian best-selling novel, THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING was adapted to the big screen amidst a whirlwind of controversy due to its depiction of taboo subjects such as corruption, homosexuality, religious hypocrisy and Islamic extremism. Set in the actual building that exists in Cairo, the residents of this 10-story structure represent the different layers of modern Egyptian society, from the old guard to the new. There is the former aristocrat who longs for the old days, the ambitious businessman who strives to be a politician, the successful magazine editor who is in the proverbial closet, the young student who is lured down a dangerous path, and the young woman who struggles to keep her family above the poverty line, which in Egypt is very low.


During the summer of 2002, in a remote village of Pakistan, 33-year-old Mukhtaran Mai’s life changed when the village’s tribal council sanctioned a punishment against her for a crime allegedly committed by her younger brother. Following the tribal custom of “honor for honor,” Mai was gang-raped and then publicly paraded around as an example. Her family cowered in shame. The village shunned her. Normally the only recourse for such a woman would be suicide. Instead, Mai set out to seek justice and shook the very core of Pakistan’s decaying judicial system. This is a real life story of courage, resilience and the strength of the human spirit.

Bab' Aziz

The story tells the whimsical tale of Bab’Aziz, a wise, noble man on a journey with his lively and spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. In search of a legendary gathering in an unknown location, the unlikely pair travels to this rare fête with the faith of knowing that “those who are invited will find their way.” Along the way, they meet a variety of fellow travelers, each on their own journeys with their own stories to tell.

If you liked Paulo Coelho's Alchemist, you will appreciate this film.

The Last Days Of Yasser Arafat

In September 2003, Palestinian-Australian filmmaker, Sherine Salama tried everything to get an interview with Yasser Arafat. As Salama ingratiates herself with Arafat’s aides and minders, lobbies officials and recruits her own Palestinian friends, she builds a compelling detail of daily life in the compound. In October 2004, she filmed the last interview given by Yasser Arafat. A month later he died. THE LAST DAYS OF YASSER ARAFAT is the final chapter in the story of one of the most controversial public figures of our time.

If you have the chance to check out any of these films, each is an incredible testament to the power of film to transform how we look at society.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

London, Italy

Female baboon

A local station does a corny trivia contest ever few hours in which they offer a prize to listeners who can answer five trivia questions. Sometimes the questions are designed to be answered by monkeys and other days they step it up a notch to challenge the average minimally educated human.

The first question of today's trivia challenge was "Who is the president of the United States". After retardo caller thought about it for a moment, she got the answer correct. Whew. Question number two was too much for her though. When asked of what country is London the capital, she hesitatingly answered Italy.

Is it really possible that there are people who know how to dial a telephone and not know where London is?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Day of Abstention

I decided not to go to the polls today. My registration is still in my parents' precinct, which is nowhere near where I live and marginally close to where I work. The inconvenience of it all, once I thought about it, was not in any way outweighed by the prospect of punching a card that purports to present a choice between garbage like Schwarze-whatever and the little worm Angelides. My lunch hour at the gym and day off from being the driver in my carpool were far more important than indulging the myth that these alternatives are real choices.

The more interesting races really are in Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Interesting, not necessarily because the challengers will dramatically change America, but because of the remarkable ugliness that the races have brought to the surface of "racism-isn't-around-anymore America." I want to see George Allen lose because I would like to think Americans have a minimal shred of decency left. Harold Ford will win only if the people of Tennessee are not as base, shallow, racist, mean and brainless as the GOP assumes them to be. And if Rick Santorum isn't thrown out of Pennsylvania like a beligerent drunk thrown out of a bar, the electorate will prove it lacks the intelligence and sanity of even a basic primate.

Every election season is the same. In order to get what we want,
we have to vote for what we don't want.
Joshua Frank

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cool Quote

Lou Dobbs, in a rare moment of intelligence from the brainless sycophants in American media, had something insightful to say -

America really is a nation, but you couldn't convince those who lead the Democratic and Republican Parties of that. Both parties now see America as nothing more than an economy, a marketplace, and not a sovereign nation. They don't see you and me as citizens of this great nation; they see us as units of labor, consumers and taxpayers.