31 August 2006

NEW BABY! (no, not mine...)

My friend Cyndi had a baby on Tuesday morning. He is REALLY cute and had his eyes open the whole time we were visiting, which is pretty cool given that he was only 13 hours old! His name is Julian Axel Baker, 22 inches long (!) and weighed 8 lbs 1 oz.

29 August 2006

I am sickened, repulsed, revolted, angry and just plain stunned at what happened to that 3-yr-old boy, Marcus, in Cincinnati. In case you don't know, his foster parents locked him in a closet for a couple of days so they could go to a family reunion with their (yes, THEIR) girlfriend. Not that there's anything wrong with the two of them sharing a girlfriend...unless, of course, you are a threesome of sicko fucking murderers. Pardon my french...but I am really really appalled and SO SO SO SO SO SO very sad for that little boy (who was mentally disabled, BTW) and his experience being locked in a closet in the dark all alone and hungry. Forget that he died, that was his relief. What I am concerned about is what was going through his head. And worse, what was going through the heads of those assholes who did this. They locked him in the closet, came home three days later to find him dead, took his body to a field, and burned him. And prior to moving in with these monsters, he was tossed away by his loser mother. You don't even see sick shit like this in the movies!
I need to go paint and think happy thoughts. Like, "Hey, guess what? I was right about John Mark Karr!! Who knew??"

28 August 2006

Warrant dropped

BOULDER, Colo. -- The district attorney has dropped the case against John Mark Karr, the suspect in the JonBenet case, Karr's public defender said Monday, in a stunning twist to what was already a bizarre story.
"The warrant has been dropped by the district attorney. They are not proceeding on this case," said Seth Temin, Kar''s attorney. He spoke at an impromptu news conference outside the Boulder County Jail. But prosecutors haven't yet confirmed that.
Karr was returned to the United States a week ago from Thailand, where he told reporters that he had been with JonBenet when she died, but that her death was an accident.
We're deeply distressed by the fact that they took this man and dragged him here from Bangkok, Thailand with no forensic evidence confirming the allegations against him and no independent factors leading to a presumption that he did anything wrong," said Temin.
Temin didn't refer specifically to the DNA evidence but 7NEWS has confirmed that DNA testing failed to make a match between Karr and the forensic evidence in the case.
7News confirmed that Boulder prosecutors had sent DNA evidence in the JonBenet Ramsey case to Denver for testing.
"The Boulder district attorney did send us an official request to process a DNA analysis, and we are doing that," Det. John White told the Boulder Daily Camera.
Karr's first appearance in Boulder County Court had been scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Monday, an advisement hearing that was expected to last only a few minutes. That hearing was canceled.
"There will be no hearing today," Temin said.
Temin and Jacobson were at the jail for about three hours Sunday afternoon but declined to answer questions as they left.
Authorities in Sonoma County, Calif., who arrested Karr for possession of child pornography in 2001, said he had made "uncertain allusions to placing himself in the killer's role" in talking about JonBenet and 12-year-old Polly Klaas, who was slain in 1993 in Petaluma, Calif.
Karr still faces pornography and failure-to-appear charges in the California case.
JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, were initial targets of a grand jury investigation that ended with no indictments. Patsy Ramsey died in June after learning authorities had turned their attention to Karr, who was living in Thailand when he was detained earlier this month.
In an earlier court filiing, prosecutors said they had evidence that has not been disclosed despite a decade of public scrutiny of the case. That evidence was never explained.
Investigators have said DNA was found in blood spots on JonBenet's underwear, but a Ramsey family attorney said two years ago it didn't match any of the 1.5 million samples in an FBI database at the time. Other physical evidence includes a ransom note, a boot print found outside the Ramsey house and some indications an intruder could have entered through a basement window.

>>Who could have guessed? It turns out that, after all, John Mark Karr's pee-pee didn't touch Jon-Benet's pee-pee, no matter how much he wishes it were true. Now watch -- he's going to turn around and sue Boulder for extraditing him without forensic evidence!!! AUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGH!!

Here is a question: have they ever tested the DNA of Jon-Benet's parents?!?!

17 August 2006

My Opinion...

...is that John Mark Karr is lying. He is a delusional weirdo who WANTS to be the killer of Jon-Benet, but he's not the killer. From what I have seen, he idolized that little girl and, following the death of her mother (#1 prime suspect), he realized that no one can ask Patsy any more questions so he came forward and said he did it. He is seeking the spotlight and the f*cking media has certainly given it to him. When they find him innocent, he will be sent to a mental hospital for a short while and then turned out to molest and exploit more children through his beloved child porn. He is a sick nutball and I hope he burns in hell, but I still think his confession is a lie. So what if I'm wrong?? For the sake of Jon-Benet's mother, I sure do hope I'm wrong.

P.S. The helicopters started last night and were all over the place today. The media is EVERYWHERE in town. I sure am glad that I no longer live near either the Ramsey's former house or the courthouse!

16 August 2006

Tsotsi Review (note: spoilers!)

Just for the hell of it:

Thug life in Soweto
Release Date: 2006

Ebert Rating: ****

BY ROGER EBERT / Mar 10, 2006

How strange, a movie where a bad man becomes better, instead of the other way around. "Tsotsi," a film of deep emotional power, considers a young killer whose cold eyes show no emotion, who kills unthinkingly, and who is transformed by the helplessness of a baby. He didn't mean to kidnap the baby, but now that he has it, it looks at him with trust and need, and he is powerless before eyes more demanding than his own.

The movie, which just won the Oscar for best foreign film, is set in Soweto, the township outside Johannesburg where neat little houses built by the new government are overwhelmed by square miles of shacks. There is poverty and despair here, but also hope and opportunity; from Soweto have come generations of politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, as if it were the Lower East Side of South Africa. Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae) is not destined to be one of those. We don't even learn his real name until later in the film; "tsotsi" means "thug," and that's what he is.

He leads a loose-knit gang that smashes and grabs, loots and shoots, sets out each morning to steal something. On a crowded train, they stab a man,- and he dies without anyone noticing; they hold his body up with their own, take his wallet, flee when the doors open. Another day's work. But when his friend Boston (Mothusi Magano) asks Tsotsi how he really feels, whether decency comes into it, he fights with him and walks off into the night, and we sense how alone he is. Later, in a flashback, we will understand the cruelty of the home and father he fled from.

He goes from here to there. He has a strange meeting with a man in a wheelchair, and asks him why he bothers to go on living. The man tells him. Tsotsi finds himself in an upscale suburb. Such areas in Joburg are usually gated communities, each house surrounded by a security wall, every gate promising "armed response." An African professional woman gets out of her Mercedes to ring the buzzer on the gate, so her husband can let her in. Tsotsi shoots her and steals her car. Some time passes before he realizes he has a passenger: a baby boy.

Tsotsi is a killer, but he cannot kill a baby. He takes it home with him, to a room built on top of somebody else's shack. It might be wise for him to leave the baby at a church or an orphanage, but that doesn't occur to him. He has the baby, so the baby is his. We can guess that he will not abandon the boy because he has been abandoned himself, and projects upon the infant all of his own self-pity.

We realize the violence in the film has slowed. Tsotsi himself is slow to realize he has a new agenda. He uses newspapers as diapers, feeds the baby condensed milk, carries it around with him in a shopping bag. Finally, in desperation, at gunpoint, he forces a nursing mother (Terry Pheto) to feed the child. She lives in a nearby shack, a clean and cheerful one. As he watches her do what he demands, something shifts inside of him, and all of his hurt and grief are awakened.

Tsotsi doesn't become a nice man. He simply stops being active as an evil one, and finds his time occupied with the child. Babies are single-minded. They want to be fed, they want to be changed, they want to be held, they want to be made much of, and they think it is their birthright. Who is Tsotsi to argue?

What a simple and yet profound story this is. It does not sentimentalize poverty or make Tsotsi more colorful or sympathetic than he should be; if he deserves praise, it is not for becoming a good man but for allowing himself to be distracted from the job of being a bad man. The nursing mother, named Miriam, is played by Terry Pheto as a quiet counterpoint to his rage. She lives in Soweto and has seen his kind before. She senses something in him, some pool of feeling he must ignore if he is to remain Tsotsi. She makes reasonable decisions. She acts not as a heroine but as a realist who wants to nudge Tsotsi in a direction that will protect her own family and this helpless baby, and then perhaps even Tsotsi himself. These two performances, by Chweneyagae and Pheto, are surrounded by temptations to overact or cave in to sentimentality; they step safely past them and play the characters as they might actually live their lives.

How the story develops is for you to discover. I was surprised to find that it leads toward hope instead of despair; why does fiction so often assume defeat is our destiny? The film avoids obligatory violence and actually deals with the characters as people. The story is based on a novel by the South African writer Athol Fugard, directed and written by Gavin Hood.

This is the second year in a row (after "Yesterday") that a South African film has been nominated for the foreign film Oscar. There are stories in the beloved country that have cried for a century to be told.

Ebert's coverage of "Yesterday" and other South African films at the Toronto Film Festival can be found here and elsewhere in the Toronto festival section of the site.

Cast & Credits

Tsotsi: Presley Chweneyagae
Miriam: Terry Pheto
Boston: Mothusi Magano
Tsotsi's father: Israel Makoe
Sgt. Zuma: Percy Matsemela
Young Tsotsi: Benny Moshe

Miramax presents a film directed and written by Gavin Hood. Based on the novel by Athol Fugard. Running time: 94 minutes. In Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans with English subtitles. Rated R (for language and some strong violent content.

Movies I liked

I saw two movies the other night and highly recommend both of them. The first one, "TSOTSI", is hard to watch in parts because it's so intense, and there are a couple of scenes that made me cry and will never leave my brain. The second one, "Turtles Can Fly" was just amazing. Where they found those damaged kids, with their limbs blown off from land mines, who could actually ACT, is beyond me. I guess the script wasn't too much of a stretch for them, really. Here is the review of the movie by Roger Ebert (wish him well, by the way, he is ill. I met him in Boulder once and he's a very nice man.)

Turtles Can Fly
Children teetering on the border
Release Date: 2005

Ebert Rating: ****

BY ROGER EBERT / Apr 14, 2005

I wish everyone who has an opinion on the war in Iraq could see "Turtles Can Fly." That would mean everyone in the White House and in Congress, and the newspaper writers, and the TV pundits, and the radio talkers, and you -- especially you, because you are reading this and they are not.

You assume the movie is a liberal attack on George W. Bush's policies. Not at all. The action takes place just before the American invasion begins, and the characters in it look forward to the invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein. Nor does the movie later betray an opinion one way or the other about the war. It is about the actual lives of refugees, who lack the luxury of opinions because they are preoccupied with staying alive in a world that has no place for them.

The movie takes place in a Kurdish refugee camp somewhere on the border between Turkey and Iraq. That means, in theory, it takes place in "Kurdistan," a homeland that exists in the minds of the Kurds, even though every other government in the area insists the Kurds are stateless. The characters in the movie are children and teenagers, all of them orphans; there are adults in the camp, but the kids run their own lives -- especially a bright wheeler-dealer named Satellite (Soran Ebrahim), who organizes work gangs of other children.

What is their work? They disarm land mines, so they can be re-sold to arms dealers in the nearby town. The land mines are called "American," but this is a reflection of their value and not a criticism of the United States; they were planted in the area by Saddam Hussein, in one of his skirmishes with Kurds and Turks. Early in the film, we see a character named Hyenkov (Hirsh Feyssal), known to everyone as The Boy With No Arms, who gently disarms a mine by removing the firing pin with his lips.

Satellite pays special attention to a girl named Agrin (Avaz Latif), who is Hyenkov's sister. They have a little brother named Risa, who is carried about with his arms wrapped around the neck of his armless brother. We think he is their brother, that is, until we discover he is Agrin's child, born after she was raped by Iraqi soldiers while still almost a child herself. The armless boy loves Risa; his sister hates him, because of her memories.

Is this world beginning to take shape in your mind? The refugees live in tents and huts. They raise money by scavenging. Satellite is the most resourceful person in the camp, making announcements, calling meetings, assigning work, and traveling ceremonially on a bicycle festooned with ribbons and glittering medallions. He is always talking, shouting, hectoring, at the top of his voice: He is too busy to reflect on the misery of his life.

The village is desperate for information about the coming American invasion. There is a scene of human comedy in which every household has a member up on a hill with a makeshift TV antenna; those below shout instructions: "To the left! A little to the right!" But no signal is received. Satellite announces that he will go to town and barter for a satellite dish. There is a sensation when he returns with one. The elders gather as he tries to bring in a signal. The sexy music video channels are prohibited, but the elders wait patiently as Satellite cycles through the sin until he finds CNN, and they can listen for English words they understand. They hate Saddam and eagerly await the Americans.

But what will the Americans do for them? The plight of the Kurdish people is that no one seems to want to do much for them. Even though a Kurd has recently been elected to high office in Iraq, we get the sense he was a compromise candidate -- chosen precisely because his people are powerless. For years the Kurds have struggled against Turkey, Iraq and other nations in the region, to define the borders of a homeland the other states refuse to acknowledge.

From time to time the aims of the Kurds come into step with the aims of others. When they were fighting Saddam, the first Bush administration supported them. When they were fighting our ally Turkey, we opposed them. The New York Times Magazine recently ran a cover story about Ibrahim Parlak, who for 10 years peacefully ran a Kurdish restaurant in Harbert, Mich., only to be arrested in 2004 by the federal government, which hopes to deport him for Kurdish nationalist activities that at one point we approved. Because I support Ibrahim's case, I can read headlines on right-wing sites such as, "Roger Ebert Gives Thumbs Up to Terrorism."

I hope Debbie Schlussel, who wrote that column, sees "Turtles Can Fly." The movie does not agree with her politics, or mine. It simply provides faces for people we think of as abstractions. It was written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi, whose "A Time for Drunken Horses" (2000), was also about Kurds struggling to survive between the lines. Satellite has no politics. Neither does The Boy With No Arms, or his sister, or her child born of rape; they have been trapped outside of history.

Last week I was on a panel at the University of Colorado where an audience member criticized movies for reducing the enormity of the Holocaust to smaller stories. But there is no way to tell a story big enough to contain all of the victims of the Holocaust, or all of the lives affected for good and ill in the Middle East. Our minds cannot process that many stories. What we can understand is The Boy With No Arms, making a living by disarming land mines like the one that blew away his arms. And Satellite, who tells the man in the city he will trade him 15 radios and some cash for a satellite dish. Where did Satellite get 15 radios? Why? You need some radios?

Cast & Credits

Satellite: Soran Ebrahim
Agrin: Avaz Latif
Hyenkov: Hirsh Feyssal
Pasheo: SaddamHossein Feysal
Hangao: HireshFeysal Rahman
Rega: Abdol Rahman Karim
Shirko: Ajil Zibari

IFC Films presents a film written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi. Running time: 95 minutes. No MPAA rating. In Kurdish, with English subtitles.

11 August 2006


[I'm sure that this blog post title will come up a few times....but that's just because my inquiring mind bleepin' wants to know]

...does that guy on the toilet bowl cleaner commercial scream SO F*CKING LOUD in those commercials????!?!??!?! (wait, am i screaming??)

AS IF this shit actually cleans the toilet, and AS IF I care to believe it...but what in the hell use is it to scream at me about toilet bowl cleaner? I hear enough screaming in my life. I want someone to tell me, very calmy, how this stuff (probably tested on animals, but that's another Oprah), can scrub my bowl without any work on my part. Now THAT I am interested in. Screaming doesn't help.

04 August 2006


I am a horrible blogger! Obviously, I made it home alive from Aspen. The only leg of the rip that I ended up driving was Boulder to Vail, which wasn't too bad and I didn't even cause any accidents by driving like an old lady (actually, the old ladies were buzzing past me, doing 90 in Vail Pass!) So Will came through and saved me a serious load of stress on my already-tired-out heart. Yay, Will!

I have pictures from the Soul Rebel Festival...they're from a disposable camera, though (I know, I know, those things are SHIT for the environment!), so I need to scan them. I think I'm going to start a Flickr account so I can keep all the pictures in one place. More to come on that...first I need to decide whether or not I am mentally capable of creating a slideshow account. Generally, I"m computer-challenged, which makes even funnier the fact that I will be managing our new data library at work. I have to create it, organize it, keep it maintained, etc. AND I have gotten requests for a SLIDESHOW to be INSERTED into the SEARCH ENGINE. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. It's all over my proverbial head (which in this case could be either my actual head, or the toilet bowl. You decide.)

Here is something really funny: as of right now, I can't even figure out how to get into the data library server. I expect that I'll be looking for a new job soon.

Spearhead was in town on Wednesday night. I saw Michael playing hacky in the alley behind the Boulder Theater but I was too chicken to walk up and say hi. Will was amazed, as were a couple of girlfriends I saw outside the theater. When I said that Michael was in the alley, they ran back there like their asses were on fire and the only bucket of water in town was in that alley.