Monday, March 29, 2010

And the Oscar should go to...

On a stone bench sits what appears to be a Buddhist Monk quietly ruminating amidst the red flags that waggle and flit in the gusty breeze that dances between the stone pillars of the temple stationed at the top of the hill. A man's voice is dubbed over the oriental music that accompanies the quiet scene, "There is a Zen saying: A true Buddhist will gladly jump into hell in order to save another human being."

And then we enter hell, mon.

With home video-like quality (although nowhere nearly as shaky and bouncy as "Cloverfield"-- that almost made me dizzy!) we zoom into a quiet and austere middle class neighborhood. The scene quickly changes as a door opens and a nude woman dashes out into the street screaming "Help! get back! somebody help me!" a neighbor glances up to see a man close on her heels adorned in his best birthday suit, his hand staunching a gash in his skull and shouting "What did you split my head open for?" The police quickly intervene (probably much more quickly than they do when getting a call about a real-life domestic) and with this "that-was-way-more-than-I-wanted-to-know" moment we are thrust into the life of one Maxwell Bright --masterfully played by Patrick Warburton.

Life has moved beyond chaotic for Max and one might feel a tinge of pity for him if he weren't such an incredible ass. His employees are mutiny-minded but his single friend Jaurice (Austin Pendleton) intervenes and reminds them that he's just having a hard time after having been cheated on and beaten up by the afore mentioned girl-friend. (Oh poor guy, one thinks facetiously...) After an intervention, of sorts, by his friends, Maxwell Bright lands upon a solution to all his problems-- which might actually epitomize his assholery. He decides to buy a wife.

The decision, however ill intentioned and absolutely and contemptibly self-serving, winds up being a good decision on Max's part and we soon see him married and alit with what might almost be joy as he introduces his new bride, a beautiful and gentle character who's entrance completely changes the dynamics of the heretofore reality show reject, to his poker playing buddies.

The "oriental Mary Poppins" transforms Max with the spin of her paper umbrella, into a gentle and contented, almost-human, character. Well, for a bit. After all you can take the beast out of the wild, but you can't take the wild...

But life isn't really magically transformed for Max- he has created his own special place in hell and hell is determined to drag him back. His credit cards are maxed out, the bank won't honor his checks and just after this bit of reality gives him a punch, he finds out the stock in his shop (he sells TV units)is being repossessed. And that is just the beginning...

Though generally panned, or at the very least received luke-warmly, by critics, the very criticism of the know-nothings is what makes this movie a unique in Hollywood experience. David Beaird, the creator, writer and director of this extremely limited release film, is a dealer in the archetypal, giving birth to stories and characters that go beyond the trite sermon or simple entertainment such as his Louisiana based story Scorchers or Key West, the series that barely had a half-life in a television year (and has been discussed elsewhere on this blog). The Civilization of Maxwell Bright is no different.

Max is the Everyman, an over the top example of the uncouth that lurks in us all: selfish, self-absorbed and stuck in a middle school world of "it's all about me." He is that Us that we cover up with adult superficiality which Max hasn't the time to discover. Mei Ling, his beautiful, bought-and-purchased-with-cash wife, is the archetypal woman, Mother Earth/Moon Goddess who nurtures and counsels, nurses and instructs.

Simon Callow, a lead player who has not yet been mentioned, has an archetypal role to play as well. When Max bumps into frustration (and potential ugliness on the part of his wife) he goes to Mr. Wroth to secure his promise that he will find him a beautiful wife of "intelligence, virtue, ability and honor" When Max queries about sex, he's told "[in China] young girls are taught sexual techniques by skilled older women." Mr. Wroth appears, at first glance, to be merely a "snakehead" but his role as her father the "wise parent" who arranges the girl's marriage to the one she will love becomes apparent when Max takes advantage of his position as husband (and perhaps in his mind Owner) of the beautiful sex goddess. Wroth shields his young charge (as her real father could not, perhaps would not, do) when she runs away from the abuse of the man she is wed to and in so doing reinforces the power she is claiming for herself. Giving her the opportunity to walk away and never look back, the role is now reversed, she is the one who chooses, not Max.

Beautifully played, marvelously directed, wittily written and tightly woven, this film stands head and shoulders above anything Hollywood has to offer. You can rent a copy from Blockbuster Online (it's probably not in any of the stores), order it from Barnes & Noble (maybe Borders too) or you can rent or buy it from iTunes. However you manage to see it, expect the unexpected.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hullo, Job Seekers!

Some days the library is... some might say, "Exciting." But they would be wrong. Others might say "Interesting" But they also would be wrong. A more accurate description might be Aggravating or a Lesson in just how dumb and selfish people can be. I mean after all, how much of a fit do you really need to throw over a couple of dollars of fines for your free DVD rentals?    
Frequent flyers in the library are generally only interested in a couple of things, and one of them is generally not books. But public computers at the library are a heavily trafficked area that people will wait in the cold for. And that is even more true in the difficult times we are currently facing with the official unemployment numbers still just under 10% (which doesn't account for those who have given up trying to find a job or college grads who have never found a job or are taking a job that they are overqualified for or those who are being underpaid for their jobs). So the library sees a lot of computer non-users who are trying to find a job. (I say non-users because most of the job seekers in the library are unfamiliar with computers and yet are forced to apply for even the simplest positions online because even Courtesy Clerks at King Soopers (i.e. Baggers) have to fill out their applications online.)
Occasionally, the job seeker is more literate on the computer but has been unemployed for some time and simply can't afford a computer or perhaps has disconnected the internet in an attempt to trim the household budget. Such a person approached the circulation desk today. 
His initial request was for more time as the application process was taking more than the allotted hour. I added a half hour only to later find out he'd given me the wrong computer number and his time had expired while he was filling out the digital forms. Later, as he explained the whole problem he began expressing his frustration with his job search and added complaints about unemployment, how demeaning the whole process is, how long it takes to get a hold of the people in the unemployment office, etc, etc.. His attention then turned like a dog after a squirrel onto the current healthcare (non) reform bill that was passed Sunday by the corporately owned democrats in Washington. He was agitated that the government was interfering with insurance and forcing states to foot some of the bill- irritated that the government was interfering in people's private lives, for daring to curb the unfettered greed of the Insurance companies (as if...).

As he stood in front of me, taking advantage of the FREE computer usage and FREE DVD rental courtesy of  the taxpayers of Denver Co, complaining about the governmentally run Unemployment Office which he is having to deal with because he lost his job-- and lost his job, I might add, because of the poor economy which was driven into depression by the right wing policies of both parties, a system he apparently voted for he is then going to bitch about the healthcare bill??? The sheath of irony that swirled around his head was like a blizzard and visibility was apparently zero.

I wriggled uncomfortably in my comfy desk chair (which I covet for home use!) knowing that I was gagged from offering the answer he rightly deserved-- which was, "If you like this system and you want to continue to vote for the politicians who are mere puppets for the corporate hacks, who protect business interests while denying healthcare then I am for your right to starve to death!" 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Death and Politics

I tilt toward the nearby Jacuzzi and fall into the tub, barely registering the womb warmth of the water. Adrift in a time warp, forgotten voices reverberate in the water, sonar of the past, bringing to life the specter of a little girl huddling under blankets    

of shadows
of monsters...                         
of the dark…
always afraid
My eyes flutter open to a sable coverlet pinpricked with a multitude of incandescences. The moon blinks at me languorously through fluttering long green eyelashes, Fitzgerald’s tropical billboard working a hypnotic miracle on wounds a Jungian couldn’t get a handle on. Invisible hands flutter down through the trees and tug at the soggy fronds of my hair that are dabbling in the water, caressing my clavicle, delicate massages that loiter at the nape of my neck, then loop around for a lingering kiss. I lean back into the bubbling swirl, relax into the water’s pulsing embrace and allow a moan to rumble in my throat. Mango laden sentinels line the deck, their leafy tendrils wag at me in sync, a natural percussionist for harmonies that originate from a time that is recalled at the fingertip of their roots. Gusts of air roll through the leaves contrapuntal to the cymbolic laughter that bounces off the sheet metal rooftops.

A mechanical “hee-haw” shatters the murmurings of the crystal-clear night. I peek out into the darkness, curiosity irritatingly piqued by the uniqueness of the horn just as an antique roadster chugs up to the stoplight catty-corner to my perch, blasting out another wildcat challenge to onlookers and then settles into a rumble. The driver and passenger gawk, then wave wildly into a nearby pub that rocks the corner with its nightly pulse.

Mesmerized, I pull myself up and out of the embrace of my liquid comforter, eyes riveted on the couple as they screech into a vacant parking spot, slam to a stop, and splash onto the sidewalk, their costumes sashaying wildly. A tidal wave of revelers flow out of the bar and surround the newcomers, their greetings and cheers dashing off the sides of the buildings. A couple at the end of the hubbub begins to kick and sway to the raucous tones of ‘The Charleston’: the dancers separate and divide, duplicate then quickly multiply to an octet. Seeping out into the street, the party threatens to take over the thoroughfare when a deep voice calls out from the dark mouth of the bar “Drinks!” A cheer goes up and the crowd herds after the caretaker of their inebriation.

I stumble hastily back to my room, slip into the day’s castaway shift and step into the closest slip-ons available. I hesitate at my door’s frame wondering if my costume will prevent clandestinity. I needed to soak it in, to have a young man take my hand and swing me around, pull me close then push me into the arms of a young woman who will kiss me on the mouth and hand me a drink of something intoxicating and saccharin… to hear the secret that the tall blonde whispers past the perfectly coiffed bob of the brunette which result in giggles and hand clasps… to have the lanky boy in the arms of the pale girl calling out my name, her hands turning his face back toward her as a shimmying creature whispers in my ear and brushes her cheek against mine… to belong the way people do when they have spent too many nights together, drinking the same drink and singing the same songs. The fact that I would know none of their names was irrelevant.

An invisible hand propels me out the door and down the stairs, ignoring my internal “but…” 

Dew drops of night settle onto my skin; my flesh glows, echoing the moon’s luminescence. Savoring the night’s breath, an unfamiliar distinction fills my lungs. I breathe in more deeply, a wine taster baffled by a new essence. A lily-whiteness seeps into the lining of my lungs and works its way into the dark matter of my existence.        

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I wasn't going to write on politics on this blog anymore-- It was depressing and didn't seem to get me anywhere. But today healthcare passed in Washington and while I am thrilled that we have actually turned our trajectory in a new direction, I am also despairing of a society that can't seem to grasp the great need to adjust the direction we are currently headed. It's as though we were headed into the perfect storm and yet we're so intent on getting all the profits we can out of this voyage that we won't look at the weather report. It would be easier to remove myself- to pretend that I can't change anything so what is the point. I might be happier- more content. I'd have a sort of "Don't worry, Be Happy" kind of life. A life that would amble along, perhaps responsibly (because I would not accept the BAU kind of don't worry lifestyle that they want us to have, of course) but somehow I can't quite come to grips with that. So on I press...

The long and the short of it is this: some Americans crazily think it's okay to give tax breaks to the wealthy and that corporate wealthfare is just peachy- However! any wealth redistributed to the poor is simply outrageous.

I personally think the rich do just fine for themselves- they can buy the healthcare they need and they can hire the lawyers they need when the healthcare they have is not adequate (and that applies to pretty much anything else they need). They can also buy the security they need against any uprisings that might eventually occur (but that is another story).

Unfortunately they can also game the system. And that is where we are.

The rich are not victims. They are using the rest of us to get rich. They do not work or labor- they gather the fruits of other people's labor, sell it and then watch as the rest of us are buried in debt from the system they put in place. Republicans might say "they put it in banks and other investments that make up the capital used to make loans and run other businesses?" That is a laugh. They are apparently unaware that small business loans are down-- ordinary, main street America is having a hard time getting loans for their businesses or for new businesses. That money is not trickling down! They are buying out smaller businesses so that they can become bigger and make more money and they are buying up their own stocks.(see:

I don't care that the government might redistribute the wealth of the wealthiest-- I don't care one wit. I think it is the right thing to do. We have a responsibility to each other as human beings. And aiding and abetting the ongoing redistribution of wealth to the upper 1% of Americans is wrong. While helping the lower (and higher!) percentage of Americans who cannot help themselves, even if the government has to force it, is right. And it is something I am prepared to fight for (and pay for if necessary- I have a city job where I get pretty good health insurance). As for waiting for "voluntary altruism"-- that grand old American Tradition-- (not just dripping with sarcasm!) well, there has been time for all that altruism to reveal itself and yet... Waiting for the wealthy to decide they want to help the children on the posters that are nailed onto the corner light posts is obviously a failed policy.

Our government should be (and I say "should be" because that is NOT what they are doing today) offering more to the sick and dying in this country.

A diary on Firedoglake had this subject, "Corporate power must not be challenged"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The children always suffer

Child Witches: Accused in the Name of Jesus
Christian Pastors in Congo Paid to Perform Violent Exorcisms; Children Banished From Homes, Abandoned by Families

Friday, March 12, 2010

In Times such as these...

The political landscape coupled with the bleak news on the environmental front leaves me cold. I wonder and worry at the future that faces my children and their children (if they have children which I pray they don't) An evening in front of the telly watching that show that I mention occasionally here and blog about at with a glass of champagne and some chocolate generally brings my piece of the world back into perspective-- or at least allows me to hide from the ugliness for a while.

When I was a child, books did that for me and I try to review the good ones I read here as well. When I was in high school and college, I discovered that theater held a similar magic for me. I could transport myself into another world and obliviate the pain and ugliness that surrounded me. I was also a music major in college and music became an ever increasing escape for me as I practiced and honed my instrument. Hours in a tiny practice room were spent hooting-- emitting an admittedly horrible sound that I was told would eventually enable me to reproduce the lovely songs of a nightingale. I don't know if I ever reached that Zen phase of a songster, but I still find myself melting to certain vocalists.

To that end, I recommend Claire Tchaikowski. With a vocal quality that floats amidst the clouds, she offers songs that balm the soul and carry it skyward. Virtually unknown amidst the teenybopper sameness on American radio, she offers the listener some of the qualities one might have expected from a vocalist-- such as range and tone quality. You can watch her video and hear one of her lovely songs on Youtube:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'll see you're Tea Party and raise one Coffee Party!

Who says liberals/progressives don't have a sense of humor? Parodying the right's political Tea Party "movement" a group has sprung up called the Coffee Party. The serious side of the movement is an attempt to bring reason into the public discourse. The humorous side of the movement is that they want reason in public discourse. I guess they haven't been paying attention to the ongoing attacks on the originators of the idea-- those anti-godders, the evil trinity, Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris? (Isn't there something incredibly uncanny about how all three names end with "s". Does this not prove that the Debil has had a hand in the success of these three???)By contrast the Tea Party has courted some of the most unreasonable public figures we have yet to witness and in the background lurk the extremist movements that helped to fuel(pun intended) Oklahoma city bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (see Op-ed columnist for the NY Times Frank Rich for more at The Tea Party is not simply interested in reforming government and seeing the corruption in Washington end-- they actually believe the government is bad and should be destroyed. And to this end they will use violence.

Clearly someone with a truly refined sense of humor woke up one day and thought, "How can we combat the Tea partiers? Why! With reason of course! Let's get people together to demand that we are more reasonable in our political discourse." The mission stated on their website:
The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.

I think it's a worthy idea-- truly. And I joined because I would love to have it be a real movement (I'm still very idealistic I guess) Unfortunately just the juxtaposition of the two group's missions shows how very far apart we are in this country and why we can't seem to make any headway. One group wants a to have a discussion and the other is fighting (literally) to win.


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