Tuesday, December 27, 2016

R.I.P. Carrie Fisher

Fuck, 2016 is a killer.

Today, Carrie Fisher was the latest esteemed member of the entertainment and arts community to pass away, the result of a heart attack suffered last week while flying from London to Los Angeles.

She was 60 years old, and is survived by her beloved puppy as well as her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, and daughter, actress Billie Lourd.

As Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars movies, she was my first silver screen/celebrity crush. I had always dreamed of writing her into a screenplay. In terms of film writing, she, Demi Moore, Rebecca De Mornay and Deborah Kara Unger were my muses when it came to female parts; I tried writing strong, smart parts for women so that one of them would one day play in one, giving me the credibility I needed to keep making and writing movies.

My most mainstream screenplay - for lack of a better word - about a guy who loses it and starts sending dill pickles by mail, had parts for all four of them as his co-workers and bosses in a call center. It was never sold nor picked up, of course, because I am terrible at selling myself.
She will be missed.

She had recently released her autobiography. It's a fine read.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Video Of The Week: The Killers

Christmas has come and past, the Holidays weren't meant to last, but here's a remnant with a bit of a twist, to be added to the original yuletide hit list, Don't Shoot Me Santa by The Killers, featuring Ryan Pardey in the role of a murderous Las Vegas-area Santa:

It was directed by actor Matthew Gray Gubler (of Criminal Minds fame).

Other Vegas staples in the video include digging a hole to bury a body in the Mohave, an old red convertible that Hunter S. Thompson would have loved, and a shitload of sand and dirt.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Video Of The Week: Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer

There are troubling times, to be sure. The world is in turmoil - and not just at war. People's rights are being bought and sold everywhere, usually to the lowest bidder.

The artists we saw a buys and lighthouses, guides in the darkness, are vanishing nearly every week. One such artist, Leonard Cohen, has fortunately left behind a body of work that many will be able to draw from; this week, award-winning writer Neil Gaiman narrates the lyrics of Democracy, with his partner Amanda Palmer accompanying him on piano, and an orchestra arrangement by Jherek Bischoff that features Étienne Abelin (violin), Ola Sendecki (violin), David Schnee (viola), and Lukas Raaflaub (cello) in a video animated and directed by David Mack and Olga Nunes:

What I like most about this version is that it is straightforward, with the words up-front, ahead of all, including melody, which means they do without the cheesy keyboard, 80s electronica-pop parts.

It's the one thing I didn't like about Cohen's oeuvre: the fact that he felt he had to provide cheesy bridges for his dames-of-the-moment to sing, rather than include them in the actual body of the song.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Silent Extinction

Don't get me wrong, I signed the petition, but it's still fucked up that because people don't care enough to look into other people's situations in the Western World, they care more to act for animal rights than human rights:
In case it isn't clear, the email's subject line is "Silent Extinction".

Need we remind people that unarmed Black men are still getting shot daily by police in the U.S.?

That the sub-language and dialect of Paw-Paw (or "Missouri French") is in its last decade of existence in front of our very eyes?

Oh, speaking of French, that 6.5 million people in Québec are another generation away from losing a language they had kept alive for over 400 years because so-called Federalists' cuts in the education system have rendered those under the age of 25 unable to fucking spell and write their own fucking language?

On the daily, we are watching governments or government employees decide or participate in the silent genocide of people who have one thing in common: they are members of a community that is decidedly poorer than the ruling class of white Anglo-Saxons.

But let's save giraffes, or send whatever means of help to Congo, or start wars with Middle-Eastern countries, or threaten China with economic sanctions, or lift those with Russia. And let's keep having the media depict Cuba as a power-hungry dictatorship instead of a complete systemic overhaul that overthrew racism and corruption and is one detail away (an embargo from the world's largest exporter of goods) from thriving.

Yep, makes sense. White, Anglo-Saxon, imperialistic sense.

Friday, December 16, 2016

United Nations Fire Wonder Woman

Here's a chain of stupidity:

It starts with the United Nations voting on a new Secretary General and electing António Guterres of Portugal to the position. This enraged some people of the "what about us" crowd, of course. You see, it had been noted that the U.N. had never - in the nine times the role had been appointed previously - chosen either a woman or an Eastern European.

Indeed, here are the past Secretaries-General:

Gladwyn Jebb, U.K. (Western Europe), 1945-1946.
Trygve Lie, Norway (Scandinavia), 1946-1952.
Dag Hammarskjöld, Sweden (Scandinavia), 1953-1961.
U Thant, Burma (Asia-Pacific), 1961-1971.
Kurt Waldheim, Austria (Western Europe), 1972-1981.
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Peru (South America), 1982-1991.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egypt (Africa), 1992-1996.
Kofi Annan, Ghana (Africa), 1997-2006.
Ban Ki-moon, South Korea (Asia-Pacific), 2007-2016.

So, uh, if we're going by "everyone should have a turn", it's missing members of the LGBT community, the Caribbean, and a North American. Also, of nations with Independence Movements in their midst: Canada (Québec), Spain (Catalonia), Russia (Chechnya), or even Czechoslovakia (Slovakia) pre-Annan.

Now, of that list, Jebb can be taken off because his term was merely the inception of the brand, he was there until someone else was officially appointed, which means no one from the G-7, G-8 or G-20 had ever held the position before Ban Ki-moon, and even then, when he took the position, the G-20 did not actually exist - the G8 stood as the world's economic summit until 2009, when it was deemed smarter to include emerging countries to the list.

Just to recap, the G-20 encompasses: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union, which was founded/conceptualized in 1993 but only got its traction and recognition when it was decided in 1999 that it would have its own currency, the Euro, effective in 2002.

So, in summation: there was outrage that out of eight (8) elected appointees in history, two groups out of possibly five or more had never held the position. One said group represents half the population of the planet, while the other one has had a pretty harsh 20th century and likely deserves a shot of optimism.

But not thinking it through, the U.N. bowed to a relatively low amount of pressure and instituted, for their 2016 selection, public nominations. Five candidates emerged: two men from Eastern Europe (Vuk Jeremić from Serbia and Miroslav Lajčák from Slovakia, who ran on the "zero tolerance policy on sexual violence and abuse by peacekeepers against civilian populations is a must; such violations must be fully investigated and perpetrators brought to justice" platform) and two women (Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, and Helen Clark of New Zealand), in addition to Guterres.

And though technically, Bulgaria is in Eastern Europe, the Southeastern part is often seen as having had less suffering than, say, Serbia or Poland. Of course, the four "minority" options split the vote and Guterres won.

Guterres, by the way, is highly qualified. He was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees between 2005 and 2015, Prime Minister of his country (which doesn't have a poor Human Rights record of late) from 1995 to 2002 and President of Socialist-International from 1999 until 2005; we're talking about a guy who has always been about equality, rights, and protecting the little guy.

Again, of course, there was outrage. Limited, Twitter-storm-type outrage, but still, some angry voices were heard, and the U.N. created a new position, that of "honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls". Instead of appointing one of Clark or Bokova, or German chancellor Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Françoise David, Madonna, Kathie Sarachild, Shamima Shaikh, Annie Sprinkle, Oprah Winfrey, Geena Davis, Naomi Wolf or even the actresses who famously played the part - Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot - the U.N. chose to name the character Wonder Woman to the position.

It wasn't wrong per se: famous feminist publisher Gloria Steinem had put the character on the front page of Ms. magazine in 1971. "She" is a powerful, strong-willed character who would never back down from a fight or a challenge, yet she is also a diplomat who would rather negotiate than wield her power, a lover of peace who strives to never escalate a conflict because she wants to give her opponents a chance; if a conflict does arise, she will prevail - with the utmost authority. You know, like the fucking U.N. is supposed to.

But hey, an online petition was started by a bunch of fucking idiots and the idea was canned, because she "dresses too sexily", among other reasons. That's right: the U.N.'s "honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls" - a fictitious character - was fired because of how she chooses to dress. I'm guessing it's suits like this one that led to one person being shocked enough to start the petition:
Which conveniently forgets that she has also been drawn as follows by Jim Lee, the guy who made all five of these drawings:
Wonder Woman is an Amazon Princess, a warrior, and a diplomat; she's Pocahontas, Mulan and Angela Merkel all rolled into one, when most other characters in her medium are one-dimensional.

Some people - particularly on the left side of the political spectrum, the one I identify with the most - just don't know how to pick their fights. That's why we can't have nice things, because everything has to be so fucking watered-down that it doesn't mean anything anymore, making sure no one gets offended by any of it (which is impossible for anything of substance), and no victory but the ultimate one (well, the translucent and aseptic victory devoid of taste, anyway) is ever good enough. The same short-sighted fuckers who want to fight for everyone's equal rights one minority at a time instead of the more efficient FOR ALL at once.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Video Of The Week: Vienna Ditto

Electronic indie-rock act Heksagons have made a video for their friends in Vienna Ditto, one that is essentially a short film about a ring or team of killers-for-hire, which includes themes of treason and nods to 1970s spy films as well as a decidedly Quentin Tarantino-esque overall aesthetic:

Essentially, Vienna Ditto is a British trip-hop act that was a threesome and a foursome at some point but is now a duo; this song, however - Busted Flush - has them in a quasi-rock configuration.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Video Of The Week: Walk Off The Earth

One thing Walk Off The Earth specializes in is covering popular songs, and in their latest video, directed by Tom MacLeod, they take on Snoop Lion's Lighters Up - with special guest Snoop Dogg himself:

The video may not have all the visual and instrumental trickery of some of WOTE's earlier work, but it shows us a glimpse of studio life, and in particular studio life when a lifelong pot smoker enters the fray and gets the entire atmosphere to chill out.