Archive for February, 2012

I finally bit the bullet and linked the blog to Facebook. Although I feel the Borg is rising to suck our souls into a massive machine cyborganism, I don’t write anything of a sensitive nature on either platform. It’s best to keep life private from snooping corpoations and to have their content be all public.

So, here’s the facebook link (and a test of the posting engine cross platform thingamabobbery):

And conversely, if you’re reading this on Facebook, the original blog is here:

We’re now on Facebook as well (if this test proves successful).

Film Website

GMO Frankenfoods and you. See also California’s initiative to force the labeling of GMOs:

This is NOT a movie review of the recent film, which I have no desire whatsoever to bother with. This is so much more informative and useful…

Ayn Rand: the Tea Party’s Miscast Matriarch

Gary Weiss, long time Wall Street reporter and author, has written a new book, due out this week from St. Martin’s Press, on the rising influence of Ayn Rand in modern politics. Titled Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul, the book removes the propaganda mask that has been so adroitly affixed to Alan Greenspan’s page-boy coiffed goddess of laissez-faire capitalism and the Tea Party’s mother ship.

While lecturing others for most of her life on the meaning of morality, Rand had extramarital sex for more than a decade with a younger man who worked for her. His wife was among her inner circle of friends and Rand herself was married. A believer in acquiescence to selfish desires, Rand published a 1964 collection of essays with Nathaniel Branden titled The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. Adding particular poignancy to the title, Branden was the young subordinate with whom she was sleeping.

Rand, and her supporters, including Alan Greenspan, viewed altruism as evil: altruism is evil, selfishness is good. And tens of millions of dollars of corporate money is backing that philosophy today in America, no doubt to give obscenely paid CEOs a sip of Rand’s guilt-free narcissism while stoking the fires for more deregulation of a country just crawling back from the crippling effects of deregulation. This is the mindless irrationality of Rand’s brand of rationality.

Continued at Counterpunch

By Jennifer Epps

Director Roland Emmerich makes a huge transition, from tentpole disaster flicks to literary whodunit, in the period piece Anonymous — which came out on DVD this month and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design. This speculative fiction feature asks whether Shakespeare was a fraud and comes up with an elaborate answer. This is not just a cultural curiosity. Those of a political bent should take note of the film – which doesn’t mean I recommend seeing it. But it is of political importance.

First of all, it is a conspiracy theory, and really, it’s becoming more and more important to be able to analyze conspiracy theories, whether from the left or the right. Anonymous seizes on the discussions that have been raging among researchers for some time now, and that seem to be gaining steam: for example, an M.A. in Authorship Studies, apparently the first of its kind, has been launched at Brunel University in London. Anonymous fashions from these speculations a period piece that claims William Shakespeare was not the real author of the 38 plays attributed to him – someone else was.


However, Anonymous offers few points to dismantle the view held for centuries that middle-class Will Shakespeare, the actor who came to London from the backwater of Stratford-upon-Avon, wrote the plays. Derek Jacobi touches on only a couple points in an introductory monologue he delivers to a darkened audience from a modern stage – a fluid entry prologue to the movie and entry into Elizabethan times, but one cribbed straight from the Chorus in the 1989 film Henry V, as played by Jacobi in Kenneth Branagh’s film directing debut. (For the record, Branagh is a Stratfordian; he still holds that Shakespeare was Shakespeare. Jacobi is an Oxfordian; he finds it more likely that Edward de Vere, the then Earl of Oxford, was Shakespeare.)

The Rum Diary (2011)

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Joe Giambrone
Tags: ,

The Rum Diary may not be a great film, but it is definitely a political film. This Hunter S. Thompson novel unfolds on the island of Puerto Rico in 1960 where Johnny Depp playing a thinly-veiled Thompson, by the name of Paul Kemp, awakens to the realities of the American domination of that territory. Depp, a long time friend of Thompson’s, had long agreed to do the picture despite more than a decade of setbacks.

The project meant a lot to Thompson, as it is his story of finding his own voice to rail and rage against the “bastards” and the greed of the world. In stunning Thompson fashion, one of the all time greatest business letters ever written concerns The Rum Diary and was written to a producer at The Shooting Gallery, a company notably absent from the current film production. The letter is addressed to Holly Sorenson and begins, “Okay, you lazy bitch, I’m getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you’re doing with The Rum Diary.”

Thompson took his own life before the film hit the big screen, and Depp made sure that the film is dedicated to his friend and mentor. The Rum Diary is a relatively small story by Hollywood standards, and it would have been quite a bit more controversial and boat rocking back in 1960. Times have changed, and perhaps modern audiences won’t find much there new or particularly fulfilling. Several class based diatribes by Thompson/Kemp/Depp are relevant today as ever, and the film sets the stage for the social conflicts that would follow. Even Tricky Dicky makes an appearance.

Still, the film appears to have been sabotaged in the marketing stage. Orders went out at ABC/Disney not to allow any promotion of the film during its release window. They wouldn’t even allow Depp to be interviewed in support of the film, by using legal pressure and obscure contract clauses against him – one of their own major stars.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the first Depp/Thompson collaboration also faired pretty poorly at the box office, but was a much more fun ride and visual extravaganza with Terry Gilliam directing the hell out of it. The Rum Diary is worth a watch, and has some decent laughs and a bit of social commentary, but it seems never destined to make much of a mark on the world.

This is from Occupy The Movie.

Selection of clips from the European Parliament by the British representative. Calls out the entire flawed Euro currency system and its illegitimacy and undemocratic nature.

TEDxCLE – Ted Howard – Owning Your Own Job Is a Beautiful Thing

John Grant at ThisCantBeHappening takes on the Navy Seals and their new propaganda film, Act of Valor:

‘I’ll let Tom Clancy, the master, establish the nature of the new feature film Act Of Valor. Clancy wrote a preface to the novelization of the Act Of Valor screenplay by Kurt Johnstad. The novelization is now on grocery store thriller and romance shelves all across the nation. Although his name is in 60-point type at the top, Clancy, who has become an industry in himself, only “presents” the book, which was actually written by Dick Couch and George Goldorisi, whose names are in much smaller type at the bottom. Here’s Clancy’s opening sentence:

“Navy SEALs are Olympic athletes that kill people for a living.”

That’s a marvel of a sentence that exploits admiration for the Olympics and the idea of athleticism at the pinnacle of excellence and then presents the killing of other human beings as the equivalent of an Olympic sport. Cool! It also establishes the reverent tone of the movie, which, as the advertising touts, is “the ultimate in action adventure … starring active-duty Navy SEALs.”’

Clancy writes that when he heard that SEAL leadership was planning this movie and popular novelization he reached out to them. It seems he had no trouble getting his crack action thriller writing team the mission to produce the novelization. This thriller, we’re told, is different from all the other assassin and serial killer thrillers on the grocery store shelf: This one is the real deal.

But is it?

There is really no way for the ordinary citizen to know if anything in the movie and book is “real” as far as what an actual Navy SEAL hunter-killer team does, because SEAL activities are so absolutely secret, especially the unpleasant, illegal and embarrassing aspects of SEAL missions. What SEALs really do is not what’s most real about this movie and book. What’s most real about the movie and the book is that they are both pure forms of pop culture propaganda mobilized in the war to occupy the American mind.

Continued at The US and its Dark Passenger, Part II: Act Of Valor

Today in Counterpunch:

A remarkable investigation by Los Angeles Times reporters pierced the screen of secrecy to reveal that the voting members [of the Academy] are a stunning 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male. Only 2 percent are African American, and less than 2 percent are Latino. Their median age is 62, and only 14 percent are younger than 50.

…But the sad reality is that the membership reflects hiring patterns that are equally skewed. The Times story quotes writer/editor Phil Auden Robinson, who concludes: “If the industry as a whole is not doing a great job in opening up its ranks, it’s very hard for us to diversify our membership.”

Video produced by Restore Fairness.