ah, the fraud of democracy…

How those talking heads love to yack on and on about Democracy as if it’s a law of physics or the only form of crowd control allowed upon god’s green earth… They seem to have conveniently forgotten that most of humanity, most of the time, has gone along without it. It seems like it is pretty much the least used of political forms historically and also seemingly one of the most unreliable. When I think of its modern spread and how closely that seems to be tied to the industrial revolution and tremendous corporate growth (one should remember that business entities have played a very minor part in history until recently, also) I am thinking that the reason that America likes to promote democracy is that in other forms of government there is one person (or a small group of people) in charge who make the decisions and are not really accountable to anyone. If you have an agenda they are opposed to, that causes such unneeded stress. The general public are easier to manipulate and mislead and the “voting” process is so easy to undermine, why not install a “freedom loving democracy” and either scare (aka, mislead) the voters or just stuff those ballot boxes! These days, it seems that democracies may exist primarily for the benefit of First World Corporations because it is the easiest form of government to subvert.

But maybe I’m just feeling grumpy because we just watched Why We Fight, which may be the best of the anti-“Iraq war” documentaries I have seen yet. it goes back to Eisenhower and it basically covers the creation of the “military-industrial-congressional complex” (that’s how it was originally spelled out) and its quick evolution to the level that we have it now. It then views the imperialist antics of the Iraq war in those contexts. It is really quite good. Lots of good interviews: some Eisenhower’s, some military officers, some politicians, some military consultants. One thing I like that they bring up is something that I’ve always felt is overlooked. Which is that this Bush/Iraq thing isn’t anything new (Kissinger/Nixon in Vietnam, Clinton with Somalia, Reagan support of Iran and Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war, Kennedy with Vietnam and the Cuban missile crisis, Truman and Hiroshima).. American leaders using dishonest practices and false reasoning and our military power for the political and financial gain of a certain group of people. It is an old trick, used, in fact, by most countries throughout history who have had the ability. One should remember that it wasn’t the Bushes that those old founding father types were warning us against… It was politicians and greed and arrogance in general. None of this is new, it’s just that the media coverage has changed.

For some good old hometown cheer and a nice little dose of crime, I sat down for Portland Expose! Based on the same true-life shenanigans as the Portland Confidential book, but it’s a 1957 noir movie. The story of a nice family who buy a restaurant and get talked into getting a pinball machine. Of course, when hoodlums from Seattle muscle in on the scene, they force this poor guy to take on their pinball machines and other sinful entertainments and he decides to fight back… by going undercover. Well, it’s not the best noir by any stretch, the story’s not that interesting and the actings not great, but it’s fun to see the old place of fifty years ago and hear the narrator go one about the place. He says alot of nice things about this town. Plus, yeah, it is an organized crime film with some of those great old lines, silly violence and backstabbing.

We then watched Inside Deep Throat. Well, the original film is, honestly, a bit gross and dully bad (but then, what 70’s pornos aren’t?), but I’d always been fascinated by the mafia angle and wondered how on earth so many celebrities ended up going to see the damn thing in the theater. Well, they cover that here, and alot more. Maybe too much. There are so many odd angles to the history of this silly movie that try to talk about all of them in one film is a bit of a task and so it seems like a lots of things are breezed over (though they do show more of Deep Throat then is really needed). The movie’s pretty alright, though. There is some hokey stuff and dumb editing techniques, but they’ve dug up some interesting oldsters to interview and that can be pretty entertaining. I would have liked to hear more about the mob angle and the Peraino’s, though.

films biggest stars of the seventies?
inside deep throat
Sliding Doors. Okay, I liked this, and I think that romantic comedy is a bit of a misnomer, as it really isn’t much of a comedy. It is most certainly a chick film through. I’m pondering that and thinking that while most of them are insipid there are a few I like. And it occurs to me, all the ones that I’ve liked (which includes Me Without You and Bridget Jones)… Are British! Hum. So there. Anyway. This chick goes of to work and gets fired. But her fella has some dame come over for illicit activities. Meanwhile, the lead girl, one her way home misses the train. And catches it and yes, we’re off! Following two storylines for her, two romantic interests and two career paths… There is the “if she catches the train” and there is the “if she doesn’t catch the train”, we watch to see how each story unfolds.Blood in the Face. Wow. It’d been years since I watched this wondrous thing but now I’ve got my hands on a copy again, this is another one that is sorely in need of a DVD release! Brilliantly horrifying… Watching a bunch of dumb (yet strangely well-read) inbred-looking Michiganites (in SS uniforms, Klan robes or kilts) use strange interpretations of the stories in the bible to espouse: very blunt racist creationist views, holocaust revisionism, ZOG-theories, Aryan gibberish and a humorously excessive pile of paranoias. The worst are the Christian identity minsters who are going on and on about the divisions of Vietcong in BC, soviet troops in Baja and 50,000 Mongolian mounted soldiers stationed in Yucatan (with specially bred horses that can carry 700 pounds!), all in preparation for the upcoming, and eagerly awaited, race war (maybe around 25-30 years, one of them estimates). Sadly, even though the ol’ USofA is the setting for Armageddon, these fellows don’t really instill much warrior confidence, not like the olden Norse Berserker’s that they seem to be descended from. Anyway, to the point, basically an hour and a half of wandering around some kind of American Nazi Party gathering (with some old footage of Rockwell and Duke), filming these folks as they let us know what’s what. Some of the stuff (especially the commies hidden everywhere and the sinister people out there carrying 69-pound nuclear bombs) presages the ridiculous terrorist ramblings and National Threat Advisory’s of our current administration so much that I cant help but wonder if they’re connected… Hmmm.. One of these fellows was from Arkansas! I wonder if he’s part of the Arkansas Project?! Also, it features a few scenes of early Michael Moore doing some of the interviewing and the subjects readily admitting that they are agreeing to let this movie be filmed to further their agenda, regardless of what the agenda of the filmmakers might be… Which I thought was a nice, freedom loving attitude.

too little, too late…

First off, I received multiple shocks this week when I learned that Michael Anthony had been booted from Van Halen! First shock was that it happened (have eddie and alex no shame?) and the second shock was that I had no idea. Yes, admittedly, I haven’t paid them no mind since Diver Down came out… But still! He was my old favorite example of “cushiest job in the world”. Of course, it’s not traumatic like it was when they hammered the last nail in their rock coffin and fired Diamond Dave back in ’85, but still surprising. To fire a 30 year member of the band and replace them with someone 15 years old? Let lil’ Wolfie start his own darn band! Well, whatever, I just had to gripe. Really the band should have retired 20 years ago before becoming a lame pop machine.

Oh, but what about movies? Not too many and none too dramatically memorable.

But let’s see:

We rented The Hunting of the President. I thought it was alright. Basically lots of information about how big a fraud the Whitewater scandal was. How nothing wrong even happened, how corrupt the grand jury was, the creepy ties between all of these people… The Arkansas Project, the current Bush Administration, Reagan judges, the American Spectator… Of course, like all of these, it only goes to remind us how corrupt people in power (and people wanting to be in power… See: Kissinger) can be. But it was good to watch.

The Shop Around the Corner. Well, this was pretty cute. I thoroughly enjoyed the funny little plot twists and the thought that you could support yourself well and a half dozen full-time employees with a sparsely filled shop selling knick knacks certainly beckons one to think of the good old days! Anyway, it’s the story of a couple (Jimmy Stewart!) who work together and dislike each other yet have unknowingly fallen for each other via mail. Of course, it all rotates around if they will discover each other (the truth!) in time. There are some wonderfully fun performances (I particularly like Frank Morgan as the shop owner) and also suspicion, infidelities and false accusations. Another good and fun romantic comedy drama where Stewart plays the arrogant fool.

Then continuing on the King path, we watched The Storm of the Century! Certainly one of the better Stephen King TV miniseries, though plotwise it was rather the same idea as Needful Things. The story, while interesting, seemed a bit overdone for what the twist ends up being. I feel like sometimes you can get people to agree to things without killing lots of them first… But what do I know? Anyway so a bad man comes to town and people start dying. It doesn’t take long to realize he’s behind it but he won’t tell people why… He basically just says, you’ll have to wait to find out what I want, but in the meantime, I’ll kill some more…. Then a storm comes along and cuts them off and chaos and paranoia ensue! The acting is mediocre, but it doesn’t look as cheap as most of them and it’s quite watchable.

On a cheerier note, we watched The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. This was a fun and entertaining movie. The true story of a mother who enters contests to help support her family due to her knack for writing jingles and her drunken husband’s inability to take care of things. It’s a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and Julianna Moore is great as the mother will stop at nothing to keep her head high and her family afloat and Woody Harrelson (ugh) is also pretty good as the father whose failures lead him to stop at nothing to drag his family down. It is: engrossing, fun, sad and a great glimpse into some of the charming aspects of yesteryear (primarily, when you actually had to do something to win something, not just send in a proof of purchase).

We went to the theater to finally see the new Jim Jones Documentary, Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple. If you’re familiar with this stuff, it’ll be pretty be what you’ve seen in the other documentaries and with Powers Boothe in the Guyana Tragedy. This one features some unseen footage (some good early days of the Temple stuff and film of Ryan’s visit and departure) and some good new interviews with survivors and family members. Both of us can’t get enough of Jim Jones… And watching these totally brings back memories of watching it on the news. Man, the things people do to belong. I feel bad for the kids and I’ve aways felt sorry for Rep. Ryan.

Anyway, though I don’t mention it much, we do tend to watch alot of DTvD’s. It’s been more interesting this week so here’s what we’ve been up to. We have set out to watch all of The Sopranos again, in order. This week we’ve done the first season and maybe half of the second season. Though I’ve seen these seasons all too many times it’s as good as always. I’m also thinking hat the second season isn’t as bad as I’ve remembered it to be. We also grabbed the first volume of the SCTV Dvd’s. We’ve watched some of those and, yes, as my teenage memory would attest to, I do like them alot more than SNL. John Candy? Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy? And the always brilliantly funny Catherine O’Hara! it’s pretty much all just very funny and it’s a real pleasure to be able to watch Bob and Doug MacKenzie again!

ready for vermont…
sctv episode 1
Plus we got the sets of the first season of Perry Mason! High highly recommended! Yes, I know that it’s on TV everyday (heck it’s played weekdays at noon on channel twelve for all of my rememberable life), but this beats it! It turns out that the broadcast episodes each have as much as 10 minutes chopped out! What?! And Perry seems nastier and sneakier here, which I like. Anyway, the best TV series of all time has finally struck DVD and even if you watch it on TV you owe it to yourself to pick these up! 30 years of watching and I’m no where near sick of it!

Then we trotted off to the theater for For Your Consideration. Um. Not too good. The story of some folks working on a small film (story of a Purim homecoming in the south) when buzz starts spreading that some of them might be under consideration for Academy Awards. It’s about them running around wanting to get Academy Awards, then they start getting press and then the Academy Awards come. I think everyone did a good job with the acting and all and there was some fun make-up but the movie just seemed to be missing something Like somewhere to go.


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