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| blogging since Oct '01
This is Gordon Osse's blog.
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"He who does not at some time, with definite determination consent to the terribleness of life, or even exalt in it, never takes possession of the inexpressible fullness of the power of our existence."
all faces followers of
All colors, beams of
-- Akhenaton, "Hymn to the Sun"
Opt your children out of Pentagon harassment
WHO I WORK FOR: Mount Hope Wholesale
Wholesale nuts, grains, fruits and spices (and more) shipped from Cottonwood AZ
(Tell them you heard about them on Gordon's blog!)
WHAT I'VE SEEN LATELY:
(r) = re-viewing
God Told Me To (1976, Cohen)
Whispering City (1947, Otsep)
Times and Winds (2006, Erdem)
Dirty Money (Un flic) (1972, Melville)
10th District Court (2004, Depardon)
RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy (2007, O'Sullivan)
The Furies (1950, Mann)
In a Lonely Place (1950, Ray)(r)
The Adjuster (1991, Egoyan)(r)
Mad Men The Buddha of Suburbia Intelligence (2006, Haddock) Family Guy
SUGGESTED VIEWING: The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004, Curtis) [available for streaming/download here]
It is oddly self-sufficient. It has no need for an audience, no need to be heard. It plays, for the most part, beneath the threshold of perception. It was already running long before we heard it. It will continue after we have gone. This process unfolds at its own pace, in a time that is not human.
It's evocative, but I can't quite say of what. I cannot enter into, much less inhabit, these landscapes of sound. They are too blank, too beautiful, too remote. Their process, their order, excludes my own. Their smooth, abstract surfaces offer no point of contact. I cannot discover anything of myself in them. I can only approach them obliquely. I contemplate them from afar. This alien beauty is what makes Eno's music so seductive. It calls out to me, because it is a thing apart. I feel it only as a breath, a whisper, the slightest of insinuations. But that is enough to entice me, gently, outside of myself. It lures me into regions from which there is no return.
Steven Shaviro on A Scanner Darkly (spoilers in post though not in excerpt below)
These convolutions all come straight out of the novel, which is fairly unique among Dick’s writings for the way in which the usually Dickian theme of ontological (and not merely epistemological) slipperiness and instability collapses back upon the self, becomes a structure of subjectivity as well — so that the protagonist is not simply (justifiably) paranoid or adrift or trapped, but himself becomes a kind of black hole into which all substance, and all contradiction, implodes and disappears. What Linklater adds to Dick’s depiction is a more externalized and political sense of how the downward and inward personal spiral of addiction is formally identical to, and seamlessly connected with, the ascending, and always more-widely-encompassing spiral of surveillance and "war on terror."
On the extraordinary influence of the Israel lobby on American foreign policy
For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.
Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.
Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.
Beginning in the 1990s, and even more after 9/11, US support has been justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups originating in the Arab and Muslim world, and by ‘rogue states’ that back these groups and seek weapons of mass destruction. This is taken to mean not only that Washington should give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press it to make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or dead, but that the US should go after countries like Iran and Syria. Israel is thus seen as a crucial ally in the war on terror, because its enemies are America’s enemies. In fact, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.
‘Terrorism’ is not a single adversary, but a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups. The terrorist organisations that threaten Israel do not threaten the United States, except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover, Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or ‘the West’; it is largely a response to Israel’s prolonged campaign to colonise the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
More important, saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around. Support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question that many al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are motivated by Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians. Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits.
Some ranchers have been forced to sell their entire herds, and others are either moving their cattle to greener pastures or buying more already-costly feed. Hundreds of acres of grasslands have been blackened by fires sparked by lightning or farm equipment.
"These 100-degree days for weeks steady have been burning everything up," said Steele Mayor Walter Johnson, who added that he'd prefer 2 feet of snow over this weather.
Farm ponds and other small bodies of water have dried out from the heat, leaving the residual alkali dust to be whipped up by the wind. The blowing, dirt-and-salt mixture is a phenomenon that hasn't been seen in south central North Dakota since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Johnson said.
If you've discovered Shinya Tsukamoto or Takashi Miike or Kiyoshi Kurosawa, you need to check him out when you can (it hasn't been easy).
I believe that your work and experiments with film speed and editing is of equal importance to what Sam Peckinpah did. You are to fast motion what Peckinpah is to slow motion.
I think it comes from the desire to express ecstasy. That magic of cinema I spoke of has to do with an escape from the clutches of reality into pure time and space. When I experience that it's like being drunk, except that it makes my mind extremely clear and I'm able to totally express myself. At that level I am able to express the same ecstasy that rock music can create. Every time this happens it is like a new experience for me. It's what I strive for, but it's not very easy to achieve.
Up until Burst City I tried to reach that state by physical means, in other words by means of speed. It was very hard, both physically and mentally, to endure. Burst City is a kind of pinnacle of that approach, I wanted to realise an extremely fast film.
Unfortunately, this quick-edit style has become pabulum now thanks to MTV videos and their viral progeny. But it would've pretty cool back in '82.
Reviews here and I recommend Electric Dragon 80,000 V, available through netflix and for sale here in North America now as well. Angel Dust is available from the Asian DVD suppliers, but I don't know with what quality of transfer. His doc on Einsturzende Neubaten 1/2 Man is apparently on VHS.
Hopefully English-subtitled editions of Labyrinth of Dreams & August in the Water & The Crazy Family and so on will someday follow (hello Criterion).
The war crimes of the United States compound by the minute, the hour, the day. I predict that George Bush, upon leaving office, will be the most despised president in American history. He will have his core support, the clotted, stunted brains that collect at sites like Lucianne.com and Powerline, but he will enjoy no Reaganesque orange sunset afterglow (or Nixonian self-rehabilitation), so deep, lasting, and tragic is the damage he's done, a damage abetted by a craven, corrupt political class and a press that even now, as the full dimensions of the disaster unfold before us, is unable to sound alarm, so accustomed as they've become to their role as sponges and clever snots. History will not forgive Bush or the United States, nor should it, for raising and destroying the hopes of the Iraqi people, and presiding over the dissolution of their nation into a failed state.
ScatterChat: "designed to allow non-technical human rights activists and political dissidents to communicate securely and anonymously while operating in hostile territory. It is also useful in corporate settings, or in other situations where privacy is desired." [boing boing]
Though they're popular and competitive, 6 of Rutgers University's varsity athletic programs are scheduled to be cut next year -- reason: the state budget crisis
I've never been a sports person, but this is a sign of how misplaced priorities have become.
There'll also be a "cutback in classes . . . tuition increases, and the elimination of more than 750 positions, including the possible layoff of as many as 250 workers."
I went to Rutgers for 4 years, but never quite graduated. It was a great experience though.
These days I probably couldn't have even attend Rutgers, which was a good deal at the time for residents especially.
I suppose you can get a pretty good education on your own now, what with the Net, MIT's online program etc. The whole idea of college will probably change significantly in the next 20 years. People will most likely study at home.
But the opportunity to leave home and family and meet new people in a new place, be on your own -- there's no substitute for that.
And it should be a human right, after health care and a living wage and public utilities (heat, electricity, net access).
Few books are as fun to read as Farewell, My Lovely or The Big Sleep, and no movie of his work has done his mise-en-scene justice -- though Miller's Crossing, roughly based on Hammett's The Glass Key, has a similar richness of language. It's set in Chicago though.
The High Window and The Lady in the Lake are the other 2 I think are essential. Didn't get through The Long Goodbye.
Never really got into Hammett the same way, though he's the godfather of the private dick story as we still know it.
However, his Red Harvest is a classic of American lit. Nasty.
Here's a glossary of hard-boiled slang (might be subscriber-only after Aug 4, 2006).
"You can only find this place by drifting. It is impossible to walk directly here. You must first surrender yourself to the tides of the city. Takes years to do it. Slowly the tides will take you here"
I was reading Crash and High-Rise. And Burroughs — The Wild Boys. These were all making a sort of continuous landscape I recognised which intersected perfectly with living in London in the mid-to-late 70s. Grey, grainy, exhausted. Yet a constant tantalising feeling of some kind of event or entity always about to manifest itself. A whirlpool with seductive furniture. That’s why you stay. You get edges of the same kind of involvement with the place as I understand hostages can develop for their captors.
I think what Ballard maps out so well is that moment of surrender to the terrible. A total, inevitable, final embrace. After Hiroshima we really had no choice. It was impossible to pretend that the world would ever be the same again. We all sleep there every night, now. Ballard blueprinted all that like no one else I’ve ever read.
Interviewer Simon Sellars is also the founder of the Liquid Architecture festival which my friend Jeph is participating in in Australia -- and since Jeph is also an admirer of Ballard, I'm feeling an atypical sense of continuity and confluence writing this post.
This is from a newsletter I got from Asian disc supplier HK Flix back in Februrary; if anyone knows whether this is the deal or not, I'd appreciate it if you'd leave a comment or email me.
We're often asked if upconverting DVD players work, or if they are the latest marketing gimmick by an electronics industry constantly coming up with useless gimmicks. The short answer is "they work". Although manufacturers undoubtedly came up with HD-upconverting DVD players as a new money making scheme, it does work.
Most people don't realize that DVDs--all DVDs--are 480i native. Yes, you probably wasted some money on that progressive scan player you bought a few years ago. Progressive scan is a complete gimmick, and did absolutely nothing, even if you did have a progressive TV. However, upconverting DVD players are different, and you will get a better picture with such a player for the following reasons.
1. All processing is done entirely in the digital domain. Previously, processing was done in the DVD player (MPEG decoding and deinterlacing), then sent to the TV in analog form where the picture was converted back to digital so additional processing could be done, then converted back to analog for final output. This constant conversion of digital to analog and back created all sorts of noise and loss of picture quality. With new upconverting DVD players, all processing within the player and TV is done digitally.
2. Modern HDTVs are optimized for 1080i input resolution because this is the resolution stores feed into them on the display shelves. As a result, it is best to input a signal that most closely matches either 1080i, or the native resolution of the player so that the onboard TV scaler doesn't have to do much to optimize the image for display.
3. Many DVD players simply have better upconverters than TVs. For example, the Oppo Digital OPDV971 has the same Faroudja technology that powers high-end scalers that cost thousands of dollars. DVD players have a shorter sales cycle than TVs, so the scaler on a DVD player is likely to be newer and more technologically advanced than the scaler on your TV. People also tend to keep their TV two or three times longer than their DVD player, so the cheapest way of upgrading your picture is often to upgrade your DVD player, rather than replacing your TV.
Dick, as tactfully pointed out by his Polish colleague Stanislaw Lem, was less a writer than a man cursed with prophetic sight who "does not so much play the part of a guide through his phantasmagoric worlds as he gives the impression of one lost in their labyrinth." What's extraordinary about Linklater's animation, computer-rotoscoped in the fashion of his 2001 Waking Life, is just how tangible the Dickian labyrinth becomes.
Linklater renders coherent Dick's amorphous account of SoCal dopers addicted to the brain-destroying Substance D, the narcs who police them, and the shadowy corporation stage-managing the seedy drama. This straightforward version of Dick's anguished vision of drug-addled addiction makes Naked Lunch seem positively romantic.
No really, it's loads of escapist summer fun folks. . .
Actually the reviews are about what I expected, though they're more positive than I thought they would be.
The bright side: it CAN"T be as depressing as Requiem for a Dream (a nonetheless excellent film -- ya want anti-drug, ya got it) with Downey in the cast.
If you've been reading my blog the last few months, you know I won't miss this (in theatres if it plays within 75 miles -- that's how far it is to Flagstaff, if I can get up there -- but I'll buy what I'm sure will be a decent DVD treatment anyway), as I appreciate Linklater more & more, and he showed in Waking Life his grasp of Dick's mise-en-scene.
But this is Dick's best-written and perhaps darkest book, so prepare for an engrossing but bleak ride.
My Beating Blog is an attempt to take the journaling aspect of blogging into a surrealistic future, in which the blog author literally and metaphorically bares his heart. The artist-blogger wears a GPS-enabled Heart-rate monitor throughout parts of the day, then blogs the data along with matching personal experiences, events, and musings.
Video of them playing "Tanzmuzik" from that album here (no vocoder on this track though), with links to other videos on the Youtube page, including The Robots (including vocoder) from '77, and you can hear and see how far they took the concept of "machine music" in 4 short years.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the average funeral in the United States costs about $6,000. Many exceed $10,000. Even cremation typically costs more than $1,000 — and has its environmental downside: Cremation uses energy and releases dioxin and mercury (up to 6 grams a body) while preventing nutrients in bodies from enriching the land.
Josh Slocum, of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a Burlington, Vt.-based federation of advocacy groups, said natural cemeteries provide "another choice for consumers, and that's always good."
"Most of what we think of today as the traditional funeral — embalming, expensive caskets, manicured cemeteries — are practices started in the 20th century when burying the dead became an industry," he said. "This is really nothing new. It's what the pilgrims and the pioneers did ... Really natural burial is as old as death itself."
From the chilling opener "Arizona" to the final classicist grace note of "The Boxing Mirror", it’s an album that implicitly traces Escovedo’s journey from the brink of death to wellness and an enhanced creativity and wisdom. The varied stylistic hallmarks of his previous albums are found in full force alongside new modes, moods and musical variations. With Cale’s able assistance, Escovedo truly raises rock’n’roll to high art and deepens and expands his gift for personal expression with universal impact and appeal. Arriving just a few short years after a time when it was feared that he might never record and perform again, the album is something of a miracle and well as a prime contender for the title of masterpiece.