Tuesday, January 30, 2007

War Creates (T)Error

500,000 marched in Washington this past weekend, although you would barely know it as the media doesn't much show it. I couldn't go, but I did get to see Noam Chomsky speak for 2 hours ever-so-lucidly on this administration's policies among other things. That man is a modern day political Einstein.

"Until 'industrial feudalism' is replaced by 'industrial democracy,' politics will remain 'the shadow cast by big business over society'."

Can I get an "Amen"?!

That's Chomsky quoting John Dewey, but it does get to the heart of things. One of the most difficult things for me about this war and the media is what a clearly transparent PR campaign it is on the part of the media. The media as it exists today does nothing to keep the government in check--it is left entirely to the people.

For a long time, it has increasingly irritated me that no one can have a truly productive debate with the powers that be or with each other unless both sides are aware and have it out in the open that the reason we are fighting this war is to secure the oil resources in the middle east. And yet, that will never be out-ed on a large scale. I found it very refreshing that Chomsky addresses this issue. It is entirely key. Whenever Bush talks about us being in Iraq, it is a National Security issue, which translates to an OIL issue, which translates to really being everyone's responsiblity that we are there. If we didn't have such an addiction to oil, there would be no need for us to be there.

I can no longer just point the finger at this administration--granted they are arrogant and awful to the extreme--but we are irresponsible to think so simplistically as to imagine "they" are the only enemy. Just as it is wrong to think Arabs and Islam as "evil". The debate about US occupation in Iraq needs to evolve to discussing energy policy and what we are going to do about it. It is the next step. We have come so far as a collective to march en masse and demand accountability from our leaders, but we need to take a few more steps to understanding the connections so that all of the messy solutions can become clearer to all.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Global Warming and the Blob

I've always had this theory that all of those retro disaster movies that used to be so popular were the unconscious collective's way of waking up to environmental imbalance and collapse AND THEN I SAW THIS.

Forget climate change. The return of the 1958 movie character is global warming's most pressing consequence.
By Peter Zheutlin

Maybe you think you've heard enough about global warming already, but there's one thing you probably haven't heard: The massive hurricanes, inundated coastal cities, severe drought, and disruptions to the food supply that would result may be the least of our worries. Something more ominous lurks out there. But we'll come to that later.
With record warm temperatures throughout much of the country this winter, little snow at European ski resorts, and huge ice shelves breaking free in the Arctic, I started to wonder: Who was it, exactly, that first sounded the alarm on global warming?

My exhaustive research revealed something surprising. It wasn't Al Gore, the Sierra Club, or Rachel Carson. It was Steve McQueen. In 1958.

That was the year the 28-year-old McQueen made his film debut as a teenager named, well, Steve, in the classic horror film, "The Blob." Everything about it was horrifying, from the screenplay to the acting. The Blob, you may recall, arrived from outer space in some kind of ball and began consuming humans at an alarming rate, getting bigger and bigger, but apparently no more satisfied, as it oozed around a small American town. Unfortunately, the Blob didn't have the good sense to land in Washington.

The Blob, which resembled a particularly extravagant Jell-O mold my mother made in 1964, threatens the town until Steve, in a moment of desperation - he's trapped in the basement of a diner - sprays the thing with a fire extinguisher. The Blob, or at least part of it, recoils. Steve then remembers that the Blob failed to follow him into the meat freezer in his father's grocery store just five minutes earlier.

At that moment it dawns on Steve that it's the cold from the CO2 that is the Blob's Achilles' heel, since it has heretofore been immune to bullets, a jolt of electricity, and a poor script. (This is rather odd for a creature that came from somewhere near Pluto where daytime temperatures top out around 380 degrees below zero, but never mind.)

Fortunately, the cops have patched a line through to the diner, and Steve tells them to get every fire extinguisher in town. They hose the thing into submission. With a single call, Police Sgt. Dave is able to persuade the Air Force to fly the Blob to the Arctic and drop it there. Government sure was efficient then. Imagine giving FEMA the same job today. The Blob would still be in a trailer on the Gulf Coast.

In a prescient moment at the end, McQueen declares Earth to be safe from the Blob as long as the Arctic stays cold, which, in 1958, was taken to mean forever. This sentiment was surely reassuring to millions of people who thought they might die any minute in a Soviet nuclear attack. Today, of course, a Soviet nuclear strike seems about as likely as the Arctic melting did in 1958. Forget hurricanes, drought, and drowning cities. Now I am worried about the return of the Blob. Someone alert the president. On second thought, never mind.

• Peter Zheutlin is a freelance writer in Boston.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Do What You Love

This week, my son started his first job. It's actually a fun job as a recreation counselor--teaching kids how to do back flips and dribble (not at the same time). And its got perks--like free use of fitness facilities--weight rooms, pool, racquetball.

He was hired a month ago, and as he waited to fill the position, they increased the pay rate.

His first job and he gets a raise before he even starts.
An impressive beginning.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What's Outside of Pleasantville?

Hermione took this picture up at college in PA. One of her many tales she gets to tell about campus life is she lives about 15 miles from Pleasantville.
How many people get to say that?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Please Caption

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Getting the Travel Bug

Starting to plan another trip to NYC with my buddy Phil, to see The Coast of Utopia, The Vertical Hour, maybe catch Woody again at The Carlyle , See Claire Daines @ PS 122, and see what else comes up.

Hmm..yeah...Amsterdam also sounds good.

You Belong in Amsterdam

A little old fashioned, a little modern - you're the best of both worlds. And so is Amsterdam.
Whether you want to be a squatter graffiti artist or a great novelist, Amsterdam has all that you want in Europe (in one small city).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My New Year's Eve with Woody Allen

At a very hoity-toity venue, we saw him play with his New Orleans-style jazz band. A dream come true for me, ever since I saw him in Wild Man Blues. Part of the set included the songs, Seems Like Old Times (the musical highlight of Annie Hall), Sweet Georgia Brown, and Down By the Riverside (Ain't gonna Study War No More). He's incredibly passionate about this music, he's also very reserved on stage, not to mention shlumpy--but when he let loose, he did so beautifully. I kept half-expecting some kind of part jazz/part stand-up comedy vaudeville act. He did come up to the mic a few times to talk and didn't disappoint. One thing he said was something I think everyone can relate to:

"Thank you for spending this part of your New Year's Eve with us.

What can I say about 2006? Thank god it's over. "

Just being able to see this show was so phenomenal. As we left the theater and passed the stage door area on the way to our car, I was utterly amazed to see him exiting just as we are about to pass. Surrounded by about a half dozen fans, walking toward a Lincoln Towne Car--sister Letty waiting in the back seat.

Next thing I know, I am standing right next to the Woodman, wishing him a Happy New Year.

Just to be clear, if I were to have any idols--they would be, in no particular order--

The Dalai Lama

John Lennon

Joseph Campbell

and Woody Allen

I think I can now honestly say, with this incredible omen as a guide, 2007 is going to be the

best. year. ever.