Friday, September 15, 2006

Scroll down to read the tribute to 9/11 World Trade Centre Victim JACK CHARLES ARON -- part of the 2996 Tribute Project



Michael Moore has been here at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, Bush-bashing at high "f***ing" volume, and touting bits and pieces of crockumentaries-in-progress. The news that a young Canadian
GOTH-punk has not only modeled himself on the Columbine shooters, but managed to execute (literally) a similar crime spree, must come as a shock to the grunge-costumed multi-millionaire film-maker, who devoted a considerable amount of his hit schlockumentary “Bowling for Columbine” to the well-crafted myth that Canadians are a happy tribe of maple-sugar-slurping folk who live in unlocked houses and are culturally immune to the quintessentially American firearm fetish.

It is with no glee, gloating, or satisfaction whatsoever that we introduce the corpulent crap-monger to something called REALITY, Canada style--
that is, prior to the 1989 Columbine (Colorado) shootings, there were 39 people gunned down in Canadian school shootings across the country, with 22 deaths, including the 14 women killed by a gunmen known as Marc Lepine.

Canadian feminists have co-opted the date of the Lepine massacre as an annual grievance fest about violence against women-- fair enough, as long as the memorial reminds (as it never does) that Lepine's original name was Gamil Gharbi, a young man tutored in the traditional Islamic abuse of women by his wife-beating father. Unfortunately, as Mark Steyn has
noted, every December 6 "our own unmanned Dominion lowers its flags to half-mast and tries to saddle Canadian manhood in general with the blame for the Montreal massacre."

In view of Canada's (in David Cronenberg's cinematic words) "history
of violence," it would seem that Michael Moore has two possible courses of action: (1) produce a new director’s cut of “Bowling” from which the Canadian fantasy fabrication has been excised; or (2) find some way to blame Bush for the latest Montreal shoot-out, and then ADD the appropriate incriminating footage to every mockumentary he has ever made—doesn’t matter what the subject is or was: it’s all Bush’s fault. Everything is.

[That's Death of a
President -- sh-h-h-h!]

God knows I tried— going online at 7:00 a.m., callin
g the box office when it opened each day, standing in line for nearly two hour
s for a rush seat—but it was not to be. Could not get a ticket to watch what my fellow line-stander was overheard describing as (*adult content warning!) “Every liberal American’s wet dream – so I really want to see it!” She was a nicely dressed and decent enough looking young woman in her mid-twenties (except for the sprouts of Kelly green hair among the brunette thatch). And, as fellow line-standers go, she was by no means the most obnoxious. But she was pretty representative. A guy in front of her, and a woman behind me, were my favourite sort of Ugly American, the one who trashes and apologizes for his or her native land while visiting abroad.

Behind was, in fact, someone who very likely would be viciously carica
tured as the classic Ugly American if she were not a holder of the Absolutely Correct opinions. She was bleach-blonde, large, long-winded, and loud. And for at least an hour, non-stop, she held forth to her Canadian companion about the evils of stupid George Bush, blood for oil, imaginary constraints on free speech, the temptation to move to Canada (oh please, please do, and rid the American nation of people like you!-- but of course, they never do-- somewhere underneath they know when they've got it good). She would spend her time in line, she said, "getting the adrenaline up to see old George W. take a shot. I've been apologizing to Canadians for weeks..."

Her Canadian friend chimed in all about the misery of the poor military and wondering how anyone in the military could vote Republican... blah, blah, blah. Conspiracy theories then entered the discussion, with the Canadian's considered opinion that in the 2004 election "they [Republicans] cheated this time, but they learned how to cover their tracks."

I, alas, was alone and feeling the kind of intimidation people on the left fantasize about feeling when in truth they are as safe as houses. And I was trying desperately to read a book I needed to finish before seeing another festival film that night (scroll down). So I just sighed and endured. My reward for all this was to be told that there were no tickets left, and whatever entertainment I was going to get there was that which I already had out on the street. There is another showing this evening, but I have a prior engagement, so I guess I'll just have to wait until it becomes a hit in popular release in Canada at the neighbourhood theatre.

One voice of sanity emerged from within the din of the Toronto Film Festival this week. Kevin Costner, of all people-- not known for either brains or talent-- surpised many by opining that, "It's awfully hard if you're his [Bush's] children, his wife, his mother, his
dad; there's a certain thing we can't lose as human beings, which is empathy for maybe the hardest job in the world. Whet
her we think it's being performed right or not we can't, like, wish...or think that's even cute."

Well. I may have to rethink my views on "Waterworld."


or maybe that headline should read:


All eyes were on Pope Benedict XVI in Bavaria this week when his lederhosen caught fire -- no, wait, that didn't happen -- when he was delivering a learned lecture to an audience at the University of Regensburg. Too bad most of the people reporting on it weren't intelligent enough t
o get a job mopping up the University of Regensburg.

'nuff said.


Read Charles Krauthammer at today's Jewish World Review and get a dose of realism that makes every hair on your body stand up in panic. File it under K for "Kaboom."

FOXNews makes a funny:
One of FOX's morning news-babes (I actually hate that misogynist Limbaugh-ism, but I will never take any of these women seriously until they do something about the stiff-as-straw, Mary-Tyler-Moore-in-a-downpour
hairjobs and the call-girl make-up) was recounting the story of the Cuban Conglobulation of the world's most prominent "leaders" who "hate America." That sentence was followed, without pause, by the words, "Kofi Annan will be arriving today..."


Just when you thought the Stupid [Republican] Party couldn't get any stupider or closer to the abyss of election disaster, God Bless the Evil [Democratic] Party-- they come up with new ways to self-torpedo, which could end up handing their opponents yet another unmerited victory in the fall.

Among this year's winning ideas for the Democrats? Forget nukes i
n Iran-- go after Wal-Mart.

Show average A
mericans once again the true depths of your contempt for them by treating their favourite store (where they save billions every year) and one of their favourite places to work (a new store in the Chicago area had 25,000 applications for 325 positions) as if it is the biggest threat to society's well-being since Global Warming (which we know is a much bigger threat than Global Nuking). (Although I've heard that nuking can be sort of warm-- is that right?).

I have but one question of such Democrats who are taking up this particular electoral cudgel (among them that sterling intellect, Delaware Senator and presidential dreamer Joe Biden): when is the last time you saw one of those senior-citizen Wal-Mart greeters standing at the door in a blue apron holding up the
dripping, severed head of an American soldier or Iraqi civilian, and shouting "Allah Akbar!-- would you like a shopping cart for this?" The Blue Apron Brigades-- be afraid, be very afraid.

I don't like shopping in Wal-Mart at all, frankly, and probably don't go there more than a few times a year. But that's the joy of the free market-- I don't make that decision for anybody but me.


I did have a ticket for that other film, and still had to stand in line for a couple of hours just to get a decent seat. I had chosen the ultimate in escapism (and why not?), a Spanish swords / damsels / fancy-costumes epic called "Alatriste" -- fortunately there were subtitles or I'd have been dead meat.

I bought the book of the same name on a Monday and finished reading it on Tuesday about five minutes before the celebrities arrived in the theatre for the Festival screening, but as it happened that book ran out of steam after the first 20 minutes or so of the movie, and the action moved on to selected bits from the other four volumes in the series. If that s
ounds like a recipe for disjointed mayh
em, it was.

Too bad, really-- it is the most expensive commerical film in Spain's history, based on an incredibly popular novel series written by Arturo Perez-Reverte, who wanted to find an entertaining way to re-introduce Spaniards to their history. People had high expectations, and if the comments on the Internet Movie Data Base are anything to judge by (from ordinary folks, almost exclusively within Spain, where the movie was released last week) there is immense disappointment, outrunning the positive comments by about two to one. (I decided to contribute a fairly charitable one on page three of the comment post.)

I enjoyed watching it and in certain respects it is extremely good (es
pecially the gorgeous art direction inspired by the great painters of Spain's Golden Age, like Diego Velasquez). But there is a fundamental incoherence which I can't believe is entirely fixable even if they were to attempt a thorough re-edit. Costuming was wonderfully authentic, but the unfortunate down-side of this is that the fashion of the day (all the men in black, with similar hair and beards)
contributed to the confusion between underdeveloped characters.

Why did I go to this film, other than the fact that I love to see a good swash get buckled? Wel
l, because it stars that Middle Earthy Cheese Danish, Viggo Mortensen, in a totally cool giant hat, rolling out his Argentinian Spanish at an incomprehensible clip. On that note: even though I don't speak it, I can pick my way through written Spanish to a limited extent, and you'd think I could understand some of what was issuing from the screen-- but NO-- not a chance. Some of the Spanish viewers complained that this slurred speech is typical of Spanish cinema and they're not too fond of it. But nearly all of them savaged Mortenson for butchering their language through his colonial pronunciation. They were merciless! [Perhaps Henry Higgins had it wrong: "The Spanish don't care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly."] From my seat, I couldn't see a sliver of light between the two accents as delivered-- it was all Aramaic to me.

The Spanish Inquisition (were you expecting it??!!!! No one does!) plays a role in the stories, and the Grand Inquisitor is particularly creepy. There's a trick to this role about which I had no clue, [*gringo spoiler alert*] and that is: it's played by a woman. Apparently she's a very well-known Spanish actress, Blanca Portillo, and immediately recognizable to that audience, who on the whole found this casting choice bizarre. However, the clueless outsider (me) finds it rather effective. All things considered, the Church doesn't come off too badly in the film, or in Book I, which is a relief considering that, well, those Spanish types were enough to give the Inquisition a bad name.

It's a surprisingly dark film for a costume epic (the fate of the major romantic interest is probably unprecedented -- no spoilers here). But that is the spirit of the declining age which Perez-Reverte wants to write about. I thoro
ughly enjoyed reading his book-- it's light historical fare, but well-written (or well-translated?!) into respectable prose with an ear for poetry and a talent for delightful tangents that stroll well outside the plotline, are informative and pleasant, and then scamper back to the scene, becoming almost a character on their own. At this point only two of the five books are out in translation, #2 titled Purity of Blood. I do believe I'll go get it.

R.I.P. Former Texas Governor Anne Richards

Not my cup of Texas Tea politically, but you had to hand it to her for being a good ol' girl and a character. Not at her best when she referre
d to her (much misunderestimated) opponent, George W. Bush, as "some jerk" running against her in 1994, when he wooped her by 7 percentage points. (Let's see now, if a Governor of Texas can be responsible for inventing terrorism without yet being President, is Anne Richards on the hook for World Trade Center one?)

As much as I could enjoy Anne when she was in high gear, I find it difficult to forget her most dismal moment at one of the last Democratic National Conventions (either '00 or '04). Asked what she considered to be the greatest advance for women (in the 20th century, I think-- maybe ever, who knows?), she paused for a nanosecond, and then said, "Contraception." Asked to elaborate by a somewhat surprised questioner, she went on at some length about how the ability to contracept is the most basic advantage for women, upon which all others depend, or words to that effect.

Very impressive. Not the right to vote, or own and inherit property, or get an education, maybe attend medical or law school, or run for office, or be a bank president, or an ambassador, or just to choose whether and whom to marry, for that matter-- no, the key ingredient to women's happiness and advancement has been the ability to have sex without babies.

Power to the persons, Anne. Hope the crossing was smooth.