Thursday, January 31, 2008

Favorite flicks in January

Diving Bell and the Butterfly
This is England
Eastern Promises
The Orphanage

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

H.L. Mencken

H.L. Mencken died on this date in 1956. Here are some of his great quotes.

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

All government, of course, is against liberty.

A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Random Quotes of the Week

"I have gotten so pale, I am Jonferatu..." Jon P

"My head is sodden like the earth itself..." Jeff

Following U2 movie,
"I feel like I just had sex." ... Tracy

"I want a robot Bono, I want a Robono"... Me

"Blursh ... up.. mmm ... hic" ... Joann

"I'm going on the next tour, even if I'm in a wheelchair." Joann

Most out of Character Quote of the Year

"You can't expect me to give up a job for a Bruce concert." Carolyn

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Interesting Blogs

One of the interesting sociological developments springing from the popularity of the web is how people combine spirituality with technology. You HAVE to have a website, right? Even if you're a guru on a mountaintop, otherwise how would anyone know where to seek you?

One might think that spirituality is inherently, almost diametrically opposed to technology, because we perceive technology as impersonal, an abstraction of real life. I started thinking about it when I tried to find a new yoga studio when my old one went belly up, so to speak.

That is a related concept - making a business out of yoga. It's just like any other business. My studio did virtually no advertising and it was tucked away in the hind side of a strip mall. It was great, the instructors were good, it had a little store (they were going to sell my pavers - Namaste, peace, etc of course). :-( But apparently one cannot Ohm their way into knowing how to run a business, or perhaps they did not have enough time to do so.

So I googled yoga studio phoenix, and found a new place which is more organized and busy, and discovered that it treats yoga more like a business too, with more expensive rates, many rules, crowded practice rooms, and a lot of advertising. So it's a trade-off, but at least they're open. Anyway, on my way to that site, I stumbled upon ads for books and sites for meditation.

The ads are not tasteless - Click Here for Soul Growth! I noticed one for Deepak Chopra (who normally bugs me just b/c he IS so famous) and clicked on the Intent Blog. It's pretty cool - one of the first posts was about the economy and probable recession, by one of the contributors who is looking for a way to create a sustainable, wisdom-based global economy. Of course - EVERYTHING is related, so if we treat the economy as a living thing, and create economic theory using say, the wisdom of Ghandi - makes sense, no? So here is that link - Intent Blog.

That same contributor has started a new group called the Holistic Quantum Relativity Group, a bit more esoteric, with a goal of uniting Science with Spirituality as presented by the Great Spiritual Masters like Socrates, Pythagoras, Jesus, Maulana Rumi, Lao Tse Tsu, Kabir and Kirpal. The introduction features a vector illustration that 'visualizes' part of string theory, showing that it looks like the petal lotus symbol used in eastern religions.

Hey, you had me at Holistic Quantum Relativity. One of the by-lines is "The Entire World is One Family. Listen, learn, and love." Posts are encouraged, as they are at Chopra's site - so in addition to the good stuff you get, and it is stuff to really sink your teeth into, you are going to see a lot of entertaining wacko posts. Holistic Quantum Relativity Group.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Even Better than the Real Thing

Well, not exactly, but only in this U23D adventure can you actually get right up in Bono's face, unless you're the one chosen to dance at the real show...

If you did not go to any shows on this tour, or if you want to see the gigantic stage set up they used abroad, with the 90-foot bank of effects/lights, this is like being there. Well, it's actually more like being a bird and being there. And it's kind of overwhelming, this view. At one point, from the side, you see the crowd jumping up and down, making a weird wave-like effect, and Joann and I both pointed and said - 'Dublin!' It was that overwhelming...

It wasn't filmed in Dublin though, it was filmed mostly in Argentina - it's a reminder of U2's huge popularity when you watch fans for whom English is not their first language, singing along with every song. And a reminder too, of how really uptight Americans are when it comes to expressing emotion and really enjoying themselves at a show. The shows I went to locally were just a pale comparison in terms of audience appreciation and participation. Not to mention, way more aggressive idiots here.

The film is not just a 3D concert either, it's an aesthetic experience, a work of art in its own right. If you've been to some shows you know that they incorporate mostly video art, but they have also produced some spectacular effects just with lighting - like projecting the names of the 9/11 victims onto the crowd itself... but this gives them a chance to combine art and show in a way that feels natural - the art enhances the effects of the songs, and there is a feeling of immersion in it that you couldn't get at a show, because you are always aware of your surroundings.

There was a moment in the last 5 minutes of the Dublin show where I was right up front and the bank of lights was displaying words and images faster than I could comprehend them, and the music was incredibly loud (second go of Vertigo), and I was off my feet, taken along with taller people who were moving forward, and jumping up and down - I felt like I was out of my body, and actually had a bit of trouble reorienting when it was over... There were a couple minutes like that in the movie - totally unexpected.

So anyway, go, even if you're the most casual fan, (and you'll like the setlist then) it's worth it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Octopus loves Mr Potatohead

Louis the octopus clearly thinks two heads are better than one when it comes to toys.

The 1.8m-wide (6ft) creature is so attached to Mr Potato Head that he turns aggressive when aquarium staff try to remove it from his tank.

The giant Pacific octopus was given the toy for Christmas and has even learned to dig out food hidden in a secret box at the back of it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Diving Bell and the Butterfly

If you're not familiar with the story, the editor of Elle magazine suffered a stroke when he was 42, leaving him with "locked-in syndrome," meaning only his hearing, sight, and mind were left working. He communicated with blinks and managed to write an autobiography by signaling one letter at a time. Julian Schnabel directed the film based on that autobiography.

I had been saying that last year was not a great year for films; I would now say that this is the first great film for 2007. I loved Across the Universe and others, but in terms of ground breaking film, this is it. The film can be seen just as the story, and it is a great story, about love and loss and betrayal. But on another level, we are all in a diving bell at times, communicating inefficiently and frustratingly with other people. People don't do what we want even when we have speech and arms to direct them.

And obviously, it is also life affirming and a dramatic reminder that in a blink (no pun) everything can change. Driving his son to the theater in a brand new sports car, Jean-Dominique Bauby asks if it's hot, begins to stammer, and pulls the car off the road. That's it. No time to make amends, initially no way to communicate, and an unknown prognosis in terms of future progress.

The film is not sentimental, it is deeply moving, and really, profoundly beautiful.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Friday, January 04, 2008

Top Films of 2007

In no real order:

Across the Universe

The Darjeeling Limited


Death at a Funeral

The Lives of Others

Paris Je T’aime

No Country for Old Men

The Kite Runner

Into the Wild


Away from Her


Still have to see many films... did not see that many this year compared to other years...