Friday, October 27, 2006

What stays in the brain

Sense memory doesn't make a lot of sense. I saw this video over 20 years ago, and have for some reason or another remembered all of the lyrics to the song and most of the shots in the film itself. It's a non-descript song from a forgotten Canadian band, but for some reason it lingered.

And thanks to some guy who kept a videotape from days of yore (in a barely sychronized transfer), and thanks to You Tube wasting everybody's time...I give you The Extras performing "I Can't Stand Still," beating the hell out of an unfortunate cartoon cat.

The line about "was she kinky or mean?" reminds me of Martine. Who was never mean.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

No? Well, maybe this'll work...

Minister Proposes One-Deployment Limit for Afghan War

Gordon O’Connor told the Commons defence committee Wednesday that with a little luck and good planning, the army won’t have to ask soldiers to return again and again to battle Taliban insurgents.

Yeah. Luck and good planning. That pretty much sums up our involvement in Afganistan thus far. Everything's just coming up poppies.

Liberals, Tories in Dead Heat

The leaderless Liberals and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives were in a dead heat in public support, a new public opinion poll has suggested.

This is interesting. Sort of like saying “Okay, you’ve got the choice of getting into one of two buses. One bus has a driver. One does not, but there are a bunch of guys sitting in the bus arguing over who should be driving. Which one do you want to get into?”

It’s pretty clear that the bus with the driver is actually moving. The other bus is stationary, but will get around to moving in the near future. Exactly where is unclear. But it won’t take the same route that the bus with the driver is taking. Again…which one do you want to get into?

Aside from suggesting that at least half of Canadians think that Harper isn’t so hot as a driver, I don’t think this poll accomplishes much. We’ll have to wait until the Liberals choose a leader and then see who’s going to stay in their bus and who's running after the other bus, arms waving in the air, begging for Harper to slow down.

Bush Accepts Iraq-Vietnam Comparison

Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago. "He could be right," the president said, before adding, "There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."

Bush is noting that the Tet offensive featured a lot of violence. And yes, Tet did precede an election, although since Tet started in January ‘68 and the US elections were in November ’68, it’s a stretch to say that it occurred just as the US was ‘heading into an election.’

You get the feeling that he’s either forgotten or simply has chosen to ignore that Tet was a horrible blow to previous US claims that things in Vietnam were, if not peachy, at least containable. Public opinion of the war went south rapidly and most people see any comparison to Tet as a bad thing.

Not in the case of George W. It could be that he simply has decided to ignore what Tet signifies for a lot of people. If its also true that the violence in Iraq is no longer containable, there can be a conscious decision to plow through any Tet comparisions as if perhaps they’re not necessarily a bad thing. A two-for-one; It reinvents Tet and quietly begins to erase the everything’s-getting-better philosophy on Iraq from the White House and buddies.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Policy of Truth

"What I need to do to heal myself and to be assuring and allay the fears of others and to heal them if they had any heart...wounds from something I may have said...So, this is the last thing I want to be is that kind of monster."

Before the topic gets pounded any further into the ground (before? says the reader, before??), consider Mel Gibson discussing the drunken rant about Jews being responsible for all the wars in the world. He didn't specify which Jews. I have numerous Jewish friends who've been busy recently, so maybe he didn't mean them. Maybe he meant the rest of the Jews. Burton, who refers to himself as The Jew Media from time to time, said that nobody calls him about any world-domination plans and frankly he's a little miffed at the snub.

Around a year ago I wrote about The Passion of the Christ and said that while I didn't like the movie, I didn't think that Gibson's intentions were necessarily malicious. Here's what I said:

I don’t think Gibson’s smart enough as a director to be actively or even subliminally Anti-Semitic. I don’t think he believes that the Jews in toto are responsible for the death of Christ. I think he believes that the guys with the beards in the tall hats killed Christ, like he remembers from those illustrated bible lessons in Sunday school. If he believes otherwise, it doesn’t come across in the film.

It's possible that Gibson is a nutbar and a drunk separate from being Anti-Semitic, and that any Anti-Semitism is sort of the sprinkles on the icing on the crazy-cake which is our Mel. Or he's smart enough to want his crazy cake and eat it too. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn't watch the actual post-rant Diane Sawyer interview. These quotes are taken from ABC's coverage on the issue. So if I've missed any revelations that ABC's decided not to post on their own webspace, mea culpa.

When asked why he thought that Jews were responsible for all the wars in the world (its not been made clear if he included the war on drugs), Mel sayeth:

"That's fear related, OK? So, you know, you have your own fears about these things...Now, maybe it was just that very day that Lebanon and Israel were at it, you know...Since I was a kid in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and now in the new millennium, you can read of an ever-escalating kind of conflagration over there in the Middle East that...I remember thinking when I was 20, man, that place is going to drag us all into the black hole, you know, just the...the difficulty over there"

Ok. Dance Part 1: A Tapdance. Footwork flies. He's saying that his comment was just an association between good old fashioned armageddon fears and the local news. Theme and variation on t'were Hezbollah, the Israeli army, the Associated Press and the booze talking, not me. It's not a showstopping tapdance, it might even have lead to an apology proper, something along the lines of "I should not have said it, I don't believe it, let me make amends."

However. When Diane Sawyer leads with "...there's a difference between saying that place is a tinderbox and the constellation of things happening there could take us all down, and saying the Jews are responsible for all the wars," Mel starts Dance Part 2: A Tango.

"...Strictly speaking, that's … that's not true because it takes two to tango...What are they responsible for? I think that they're not blameless in the conflict. There's been aggression, and retaliation and aggression. It's just part of being in conflict, and being at war. So, they're not blameless."

He's steered the conversation away from whether Gibson is anti-semitic or not, and it starts to be a meditation on Hezbollah vs. Israel in very broad strokes. He might as well say "You know, war is bad for everyone." It's a simple reading but on the surface, hard to disagree.

According to the ABC page, he's given a few more questions about the Middle East and finally gets back to the issue of whether he truly believes that the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. He says:

"Let me be real clear, here. In sobriety, sitting here, in front of you, national television...That I don't believe that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. I mean that's an outrageous, drunken statement."

This is as close to a proper mea culpa as he'll come. It's nice to know that there are some conflicts in Asia and Africa that he feels have nothing to do with the Jews. I don't think he'd bring Chechnya into it either. And the various wars on drugs and high retail prices appear to be right out of the picture. So be it. Mel Gibson has made a step towards clarifying his rant. And that step rapidly moves into Dance Part 3: The Martyr Mambo.

" you know, a couple of years ago I released the film 'Passion.' Even before anyone saw a frame of the film, for an entire year, I was subjected to a pretty brutal sort of public beating."

This can be contested, both the 'public beating' and the 'before anyone saw a frame of film' parts. Keep in mind that he was inviting prominent US Evangelical Christians to take a peek at the product before wide release, while not having the time or inclination to share screenings with the ADL or other Jewish organizations. It's not that the film wasn't being seen, it's that it was being screened for a particular audience, the very same audience which made the film a hit.

And to be fair to Gibson, in earlier interviews (and I can't find examples to link to on short notice, feel free to slam me if I'm wrong) he claimed that he made some changes to the subtitles to address concerns from Jewish groups (or probably Jewish individuals who'd managed to see the flick, since he didn't have a formal screening for groups), in particular removing some mention of blood libel. We don't have a rough-cut to judge by, so this can't be confirmed.

"The film came out. It was released, and you could have heard a pin drop, you know. Even the crickets weren't chirping...But, the other thing I never heard was the one single word of apology."

So. Mel's film did not launch an American pogrom, and even despite the chatter of hundreds of media outlets and discussions over whether he did or did not have his script vetted by members of the Jewish community, and a rather dodgy quote from the late Pope over the quality and integrity of the film (the right-wing den mother Peggy Noonan ruminated on the wonder of it all, and was fair enough to follow up and discuss that it was suspect at best) all came down to this: Mel's feelings were hurt and he got drunk and all that hurt came out. Mea not-quite culpa.

"I thought I dealt with that stuff. All forgiveness, but, the human heart's a funny thing. Sometimes you can bear the scars of resentment. And'll come out, you know, when you're overwrought, you take a few drinks...there was anger from that, I think...My resentment stemmed from certain individuals treating me in a certain way."

And the apology about an admittedly Anti-Semitic statement has segued into an explanation of why Mel's feeling a little hurt, and even a gentle admonishment of 'certain individuals' treating him badly.

"...people every day say things they don't mean. And things they don't feel. They may feel them temporarily. I mean we're...we're all broken."

We're all broken, so it's not my fault. My feelings were hurt, so its not my fault. Great chatting with ya. But enough about me, what do you think about me?

It's possible that he will take Abraham Foxman up on his offer for a chat, I'd love to hear what both sides say after that afternoon. I don't think it's going to happen. Gibson has left rehab and has done the ABC gig and made a few appearances to plug his Mesoamerican movie, but there's been no mention of any in-roads with the Jewish community. Unless it's going on behind closed doors, it looks like Mel has decided penance has been paid and he's moving on. He's looks canny enough to not want to be seen as an Anti-Semite, but not quite a good enough actor to pull off contrition. And he's not the kind of person to say 'I am what I am' and fill in the blanks.

There's not a lot left to say. Gibson doesn't think he's Anti-Semitic, maybe he's convinced that he's just pissed off at a few Jews. I'm wondering if Diane Sawyer asked, in as many words, whether Gibson agrees with his father's opinion that the Holocaust has been exaggerated. Gibson has dodged the question in the past, saying that he doesn't speak for his father. We don't know if he agrees or not. He won't say. That, in itself, speaks volumes.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Oh, Goody...

David Frum has decided to liveblog the Woodward book, an interesting bit of jargon that means he reads a few pages until inspired, then types out his thoughts as separate blog entries as he goes.

I'm largely indifferent to Frum's opinions, choice of friends, and any skills he may or may not have as a writer. But this exercise proves that he is officially a lousy editor. Why would you willingly inflict a play-by-play on your readership instead of judging a product as a whole? It's clear that Frum's going to dismiss the book (as one of Bush's speechwriters, he's got his own spin on the action), and I can accept that. Everyone gets an opinion and all. But since we all know (Dave included) that all of these breathless I've-just-read-this-part-and-I've-GOTTA-tell-you missives are going to boil down to "I read the book, it sucked," maybe he could trim it down to those 6 words and spend more time on his hobbies?

And speaking of Canadians with US sympathies and ambitions, Stephen Harper claims that 'virtually all' of the Liberal leadership candidates are anti-Israel. I respectfully disagree, Ignatieff notwithstanding. I think Ignatieff's far more likely to be a bad public speaker with an inflated sense of self importance than anti-Israel. I'm more interested in the fact that Harper, having dropped the comment, has conveniently not backed it up with anything.

He could have made this a real issue by discussing the candidates, pointing out their positions and comments in the press, illustrating exactly why he thinks most (unspecified, of course) of the candidates are anti-Israel. He hasn't bothered. is this part of his strategy, or simply a passive-aggressive 'because I said so' theatric? My problem with Harper is that I never know.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Poetry (you don't have to read any)

Been surrounded by bad organization, bad communications, bad screenwriting, some truly bad political posturing, and came home to read The Whole Motion, a very good collection of poetry written by James Dickey, who according to his exhaustive and exhausting biography was a bad human being and a good liar. But the good poetry reminds me of the level of bad poetry out there. And a lot of bad writing that might count as bad poetry.

Good poetry is dance, because dance is probably the only real poetry, with the definition being 'a state of mind or emotion outside of the medium upon which the sentiment is carried.' With that in mind (and lifted from a chance encounter with Krimson News), this is good poetry:

Eryn Dace Trudell, Dancer and Choreographer, explains, “You have to be open to anything –any possibility. There is no… well, there’s no controlling the situation. You have to be able to change direction.”

Anna Asimakopulos reports, “Which is why Eryn Dace Trudell choreographed a piece with just about every contingency planned –and kid’s toys just in case.”

Monica Gan, Dancer, explains, “In a way, the mother overrides the dancer, because, you’re always looking out for the safety of your child –first of all.”

Anna Asimakopulos informs, “Trudell came up with the idea in the months after her daughter was born.”

Eryn Dace Trudell, Dancer and Choreographer, explains, “I mean, it’s my passion. And I would want her to share that passion –not that I want her to be a dancer or anything. But I also don’t want her to feel excluded from, you know? I think it’s important to integrate our children into our lives.”

Anna Asimakopulos adds, “Being able to rehearse and perform with a baby is something dancers don’t usually get to do –which is why Trudell had mommas lining up to perform with her.”

Monica Gan, Dancer, explains, “I hadn’t danced yet since giving birth, so that was a great opportunity –a really nice entry back into dancing.”

Anna Asimakopulos continues, “And maybe more than that. These mommas might just be onto something. Momma Dances is running out of free spots for its shows –proving that there is an appetite for the beguiling mix of babies, and dance.”

The most exasperating talent in the world is when somebody does something planned and impossible, deliberate and conceived...and makes it look easy. See above.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006


Those fine people we all know and endure, considering the day's events at eventide...

Harper Complains to Bush about Arar

Bush, heading to bed early with a map of Iraq under his arm and Dick Cheney ready to tuck him in, considers Stefan Hooper's complaint and says "I'll get right on that," with a sleepy yawn, sure that he'll remember it sometime after his upcoming vacation.

40th Canadian Soldier Died in Afganistan, NATO Confirms

Prime Minster Harper, heading to bed early with a signed Peggy Noonan book under his arm, quietly practices saying "We all appreciate the sacrifice" with a sincere but not overly-emotional look, reminding himself to use it when asked how many more Canadian soldiers have to die for the next week or so, and wondering if there are any more crullers left in that Tim Horton's box downstairs.

North Korean Soldiers Cross DMZ Amid Tensions

Peter MacKay, heading to bed exactly when Stephen Harper has told him to do it (with a glass of milk and a picture of Condoleezza Rice for under his pillow), is wondering if Canada should comment on the tensions between the two Koreas, his Palm Pilot still warm from a game of Yu-Gi-Oh! in his Spiderman bathrobe pocket, the flashing 'To Do' list reminding him to cancel that dinner with David Orchard for the 53rd time and waiting on a response from Belinda about his 'friends with benefits' offer, remembering that it worked so well for Ross and Rachel on TV.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Such a difference...

After 4 days of watching a frantic blame-mongering scandal in another country, I'm pretty much ready for a nap.

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