April 9, 2019


"How can we keep giving more money to the Pentagon than it needs when 40 million live in poverty, 34 million have no health insurance, and 140 million can't afford basic needs without going into debt?"


Because we--and by 'we' I do mean the 1%, the major political parties and the media--prefer war and preparations for war to any kind of policy framed around the needs of people. Economies all over the world have become addicted to the stimulus of trade in weapons and armies. War is only a small part of the damage done by an economy under the stimulus of, if you think about it, the world's most widespread hallucinogen.

March 14, 2019


"Utah considers ban on shackling woman prisoners who are pregnant." I'm of many more than two minds about this. An excellent thing to consider, though I think they should expedite that phase as much as humanly possible. "We're shackling woman prisoners? I think we should seriously consider cutting that out." "I think so too." "Me too." Chorus of assent. "Well we're all in agreement. We're considering it, what next?" "Actually do it?" "Stop shackling pregnant women you mean?" "I do." Chorus of voices: "IT'S SO CRAZY IT MIGHT WORK!" "Carried unanimously then. Send guards around to strike off all those shackles."

Which is fine as far as it goes, but doesn't address the underlying difficulty: the Utah justice system allows for the shackling of pregnant woman prisoners. (A number of states do it seems on further investigation, and to be fair to Utah, it has previously prohibited the practice, but the prohibition hasn't been observed. Perhaps a ban will carry more force. Certainly it's a step in the right direction, but not having ever done it in the first place is loads preferable.) And that still leaves a large unanswered question: if we grant that male prisoners are rightly to be shackled (which some may doubt), what is it about women who aren't pregnant that makes them worthy of foot and hand bracelets of steel? I say nothing of the advantage horny guards might take: "You want out of those shackles, baby? I have just the ticket, right here in my pants." No, I think it wisest not to shackle female prisoners at all. I'm sure I'll be accused of liberalism, but there it is.

September 12, 2018

The Moving Picture Rewrites

I've decided to make one last try at reinaugurating The Moving Picture Writes, which disappeared years ago in a malware hack and briefly returned in an uncongenial format, here on Facebook on the page that was originally meant simply to link to posts from the page. Here is the inaugural column.
The Moving Picture Writes
With this column I inaugurate a movie/tv appreciation website. Under the above title I'll be offering, from time to time, memoirs of my encounters over the years with film and, increasingly, tv. Under other headings I'll be doing film reviews, background studies, film commentary reviews (the first of these for The Ruling Class, since I planned when I was writing the review to comment on the Criterion Edition Extras, but discovered that, besides making the piece of unwieldy length (particularly for an online essay), it combined two pieces that might best be considered in tandem (independently of each other). I took the same approach with Performance, discussing the principals' reactions to the film and its place in their careers under the heading 'Background', tackling the film in the mimetic, synergistic style I hope soon to be famous for in a second short essay, 'All the Way'.)
My colleague Andrew Tibbetts (who I hope will soon be joining in with some of his own erudite commentaries) contends that tv is currently much ahead of movies as a medium of artistic expression. Limiting the argument to North America as he does, I think it's pretty much incontestable; every serious two hour feature made in the U.S. in the past fifteen years (such as The Usual Suspects, Twelve Monkeys (why isn't anyone trying to line up Terry Gilliam for at least a mini-series? His currently on-again project, Don Quixote, certainly would make more sense within a wider frame) The Gangs of New York, Being John Malkovich) can be matched by at least one mini-series or extended series on television of comparable ambition (and the most innovative work by Suspects director Bryan Singer since Apt Pupil has been as producer of the series House): Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz, The Sopranos, In Treatment, Breaking Bad--not to mention fascinating torsos, cut off in their prime by premature cancellation like My So-Called Life. The only films that can potentially sustain a narrative in the same way as an extended series are the roman numeral franchises, and they tend less to delve deeper film by film into character and theme (if any) than to repeat, with as minimal variation as possible, what's gone before--and I think any art form's in trouble when its most sympathetic reviewers find themselves relentlessly parsing minute differences of style, energy and emphasis in the applied art of blowing things up real good. (Anyway who's ever going to top the killing of the serpent demon by luring it into Sunnydale High School, mined throughout with dynamite, setting it off and simultaneously blowing both school and demon sky-high?)
TV's been a mature artistic force in Great Britain almost from the inception of the BBC. Great films like Black Narcissus, Odd Man Out, O Lucky Man! and the two I mentioned above have been comparative rareties at all times in England, whereas from the sixties on, television as radical and powerful as Steptoe and Son, Culloden, Pennies from Heaven, Grievous Bodily Harm, Our Friends in the North, Absolutely Fabulous, North Court, Jekyll and Coupling has turned up with almost alarming frequency on the Beeb and, latterly, Granada (Peter Barnes' final masterpiece Babies) and ITV.
So I've no movie vs tv bias, and hope to give about equal attention to both media once I get a reliable substitute for the Toshiba wand I've been using on our DVD player, which stopped doing anything but basic start up and turn off when I switched the batteries--apparently you need to reprogramme it when you switch batteries, which you need the manual for and where is the manual? Where is the manual I ask you and well I might ask you since your guess is probably as good as mine. Should really get another wand, ideally a Panasonic to match our tv so it doesn't need fresh cuing every time I change the batteries for crying out loud! Once that deficiency's corrected I'll be able to see more than one episode in four per disc on my Buffy and Angel season sets and I can start telling you what I think of them--ideally after first having thought something. I hate it when people skip that all-important initial step.
Overviews will figure prominently: of particular artists (which I'll link to subsequent reviews of individual works); of series (which I'll link to reviews of individual seasons or sequences of episodes). Interviews, profiles? In time that too is possible. With any luck it'll be awesome. We'll talk.
We'll talk, and the pictures will move. I'll aim to post about once a week, working from previous material mostly for a while.

March 31, 2018


"53% of Ontarians like Wynne's daycare plan, while 56% would prefer a balanced budget." Do you see why I don't reflexively believe the numbers I encounter in surveys and polls?

March 24, 2018

Dumb As

The only answer to a bad guy with a gun is a classroom of kids with a bunch of rocks. Wouldn't they have to keep individual samples in their desks to be able to reach them in time? Wouldn't they need practice (at least a period a day) to enhance their throwing skills? Wouldn't a David-style slingshot at least be advisable as a delivery system? I'm not sure this idea has been thought out.

"If you have a 5-gallon bucket full of river stones, and we have 25 students and a teacher, it will serve as a deterrent."

November 9, 2016

Coffee Break


Well, quite a few of my friends voted for him, especially those who don’t have a job and maybe I soon won’t as well, they’re thinning the herds—people working for half what they used to because of outsourcing and weak unions giving way to avoid outsourcing, slightly less than’ll put food on the table, do you blame them for being discontented? I sure don’t, but who do you elect logically as your champion if you want to fight the elite, the 1% who everybody you’re likely to see on a ballot with odds of a win will belong to or obediently serve? A man who’s honoured fewer contracts than he’s violated, a man with minimum skills in business who barely managed to boost his inheritance by the amount it would have increased with ordinary interest, whose towers topple into bankruptcy like dominoes leaving others to pick through the rubble and pay off the debt, very much including stiffed employees whose wages were never paid because there wasn’t money to cover them after more highly approved, less indigent creditors were satisfied, a man who said he’d invite states to a competition which could lower the minimum wage most? Reg voted for him, because he’s making nine dollars an hour at a dead end job, no hope of realizing the pension his company pissed away in its own bankruptcy proceedings (though the funds are likely in a bank in Switzerland, Panama or the Caymans), and he thinks DJT has a magic wand that’ll pouf! make jobs appear whichReg and others like him can step into as easily as a pair of workman’s boots. Nine dollars an hour? Wait’ll you’re making four fifty an hour with our new president’s blessing.
            A man who. . . that’s maybe the key point in his favour for testosterone America, much as it shames me to admit it in this day and age. The woman running against him was no prize, deep in the pockets of the self-satisfied hoarders who may be ready any day now to turn this republic into an out-and-out unabashed plutocracy, but she was considerably outmatched for duplicity, outright lying and behavior on the borderland between criminality and gaming of the law with its many loopholes for the wealthy by the man who now says he’ll close all those loopholes so the wealthy will be unable to act as cockily and irresponsibly as he has all his life. Believe that and I’ve got a castle in the air I can get you at a very reasonable price, tremendous castle, stupendous air, you’ll be very impressed by the size of the castle and the low down payment.
I asked a friend, you want his finger near the red button? and he said better that than my wife’s pussy, he wouldn’t like that much, he’s used to higher grade. Seriously though, it’s time the U.S. built up its nuclear deterrent again, we’re lagging behind the Russians. Pig’s eye we are! We’ve got a stockpile still functional that more than doubles Putin’s, and if we had half the weapons they do would a sane foreign leader attack us? It’d be more than enough, still, to wipe out any nation that tried it.
The smartest among them will be wondering what they were thinking soon enough, and repent at leisure as the saying goes.
What if only one of the felony charges hanging over him results in conviction once he’s sworn in, as it’s likely more than one will? An administration run from behind prison bars? Sure it’s happened in a third world country or two, but I don’t think America’s ready for that yet. His vice P.’s almost as much of a horror, but he might have to step into the breach.  How far down the chain of command would you have to go to find an acceptable server who’d do a not too shabby job? Maybe one of the janitors that cleans up after the honourable members.

And on top of all that, you know what? This company issued coffee is just as lousy as it’s been for the last thirty years. Wouldn’t you think I’d know better by now and bring a thermos of the good stuff from home?