- Suppression of whistle blowers
- Use of wire-taps and drones to spy on Americans
- Dispensing with habeus corpus
- Use of drones to kill citizens of Northern Warziristan
- Undeclared war on Libya and Yemen
- Implementation of kill lists
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Since I refused to use the Facebook app and have my personal information compromised (along with all the information about my friends), I have downloaded the AFI list and indicated if I have seen the film and have provided thumbnail reviews. So far I have commented on the first 20 greatest films. More to come, time permitting.
1. Citizen Kane (1941) - Yes
Best film hands down. If you don’t like this film, you are not worthy. Go and be worthy. If you don't understand why it tops everyone's list, read Pauline Kael's book and get a clue.
2. Casablanca (1942) - Yes
Overrated but good. When they play La Marseillaise to drown out Deutschland Uber Alles, I tear up every time. I crack up every time Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart walk away from the plane the end of the movie.
3. The Godfather (1972) - Yes
Brilliant, sprawling masterpiece. Amazing camera work. Would be the mob film if Welles made a mob film. Eisenstein must be proud to see what Coppola did with the concept of montage. Coppola must rend his robes whenever someone asks him if he saw SCTV's parody of his film.
4. Gone with the Wind (1939) - Yes
Plodding and terribly over-romanticized depiction of slavery; not enough gore from the battlefield. However that crane shot of Scarlet tending to the wounded saves the film. And when she ate that turnip.
5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - Yes
Great study of megalomania and Peter O'Toole is so goddamn pretty; however, David Lean should have left in that s/m Jose Ferrer scene.
6. The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Yes
Along with Sleeping Beauty, this is my favorite childhood film. Great songs, an unforgettable classic. Too bad Buddy Ebsen was allergic to the aluminum paint.
7. The Graduate (1967) - Yes
The original cougar movie. The entire cast is superb. Not sure if it would be as brilliant if Simon-Garfunkle hadn't done the soundtrack. Now that I think of it, this movie is the proto-MTV video.
8. On the Waterfront (1954) - Yes
Powerful film with powerful performances. Brando and Malden in their primes. The showdown with Johnny Friendly at the climax of the film is one of the greatest endings (or at least a contender) for any film I have ever seen.
9. Schindler's List (1993) - Yes
Pretty good for a movie about the Holocaust, and I would be ill-advised to knock a Holocaust movie. It is a bit long though and that ending with the red coat. Bad. Someone needs to stop Spielberg from ruining his movies in the editing room.
10. Singing' in the Rain (1952) - Yes
One of the most clever movies ever made. Donald O'Connor is phenomenal. And that other guy, what's his name? Not a bad dancer.
11. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) - Yes
Like Beethoven's 5th, familiarity of this film has bred contempt. It was great the first 200 times I saw it. Perhaps if I don’t see for a while and view it in 2020, I will have a renewed appreciation for it. I like this movie, but like Sound of Music, I know all the lines and have stopped enjoying it long ago.
12. Sunset Blvd. (1950) - Yes
Saw this one just the other day on TCM. Wilder was very smart to use actual old school actors to play Swanson's pals. The inclusion of Erich von Stroheim as the butler was genius. The cheeky dialog makes the film much more than an inverted plucky noir flick.
13. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) - Yes
Another amazing character study directed by David Lean. Gotta love a movie where the British are so proper even under duress and so stupid and so terribly stubborn. And how can you not love the Colonel Bogey March?
14. Some Like It Hot (1959) - Yes
Even Marilyn is good in this movie. She spreads across the bed in many shots like a sultry, bloated cow or like Anna Nicole Smith. Tony Curtis has wonderful comic timing, and the sexual tension between Jack Lemmon & Joe E. Brown is humorously played without being pejorative. Billy Wilder had an incredible touch as a director.
15. Star Wars (1977) - Yes
Yawn. Like Tron, glad to have seen it when I was 12, but it is nothing more than a vapid cowboy movie set in space. It has it moments and is heroic at times, but Chewbacca doesn’t get enough screen time.
16. All About Eve (1950) - Yes
George Sanders steals every scene. Extremely intelligent and witty film packed with memorable lines and tight performances. Bette Davis is pure brilliance.
17. The African Queen (1951) - Yes (sorta)
Seen it a couple of times and don’t recall why it's so celebrated. I remember scenes of Bogey pulling the boat and Hepburn bitching with mosquito netting on her head, and that's about it. Needs another screening.
18. Psycho (1960) - Yes
Perkins is deliciously creepy in this film. Watched it a dozen times. See if you don’t start sympathizing with Norman by the 13th viewing. You, too, will be cheering him on during the shower scene.
19. Chinatown (1974) - Yes (sorta)
Jack is good and so is Dunaway, but I don't remember much of the plot. Need to see it again, even if it is a Polanski film.
20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) - Yes
A masterful ensemble performance. Every scene is executed with precision. The ups and downs are so fast in this movie. Very powerful in its manipulation of mood and immediacy. Brad Dourif is esp. great. Glad Lily Tomlin did not end up playing Nurse Ratched. That would have been horribly wrong.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I tried to check into the hotel behind our house on Bank Street, but it was full with the Decatur High School Class of 1980 reunion (like I want to run into any of those fuckers) and a Jehovah Witness convention (like I want to run into any of those fuckers). I went up the road to the Holiday Inn by the Keller Memorial Bridge where they had one room left. I looked around the lobby and noticed teenage kids in these goofy-ass fantasy costumes. I asked the woman at the reception: “What's with the ears and the robes.” And she said: "Japanese Anime." (For more amazing pictures, click here.)
Initially my thought was to mock these poor nerdy, pimply-faced children. How stupid they looked (although a couple of them did look pretty hot)? But as I politely asked to take their pictures to post here for world-wide web ridicule, I began to marvel at their homemade costumes, courage to dress up in public, and proudly wave their freak flag -- far from the taunts of the jocks and the popular kids. And then I remembered, I dressed as the Elephant Man in high school, as Sid Vicious at the National Honor Society induction ceremony and began to chant in the Astro-turf covered convention hall by the cloudy indoor pool: "One of us! One of us!"
Friday, August 14, 2009
You are welcome, District of Columbia.
Yesterday after work, I witnessed a presumably white police officer chasing a presumably black man out of the grocery store. The alleged criminal ran across New York Avenue as the officer, who was close behind, hand on radio, yelled, "Stop! Help! Police!" Not sure if he yelled, "Stop! Help police!," I abandoned my quest for sourdough French bread and followed the pair on my bicycle.
Maybe I would witness some police brutality? Maybe the man being pursued was yet another Harvard professor being roughed up by The Man's always eager, always forthright law enforcement system? Maybe I could capture the incident on my phone and post the video on YouTube and be interviewed by Glenn Beck the following evening?
After running back and forth across the street, the pursued headed down 6th Street NW. I now stood at the corner as the man and the officer ran past me. I thought: Does the officer need my bicycle to catch this fleet-footed wrong-doer? Should I offer it to him? No, if he really wanted it, he would commandeer it like they do in the movies and in New Orleans during decimating hurricanes. As the two ran down the median, I pedaled alongside the traffic. How long will this last? Should I be doing something more than watching? The officer did ask for my help after all. For a brief moment I thought about riding up to the man and leaping off my bike and tackling him to the ground. This heroic act would surely be applauded by the likes of Greta van Susteren. But I thought better of it, fearing that the professor be might armed, hopped up on PCP, or pissed off from a five-hour layover after researching Yo Yo Ma in China.
As the two continued their early evening jog in our nation's capital, a car turned suddenly and deliberately into the on-coming traffic, thereby boxing in the professor and the policeman. The professor darted around the car and heading toward me. As he looked back to protest, blurting, "I didn't do anything," I hit him with the front wheel of my bicycle. He stumbled a bit, enough to slow him down. The policeman grabbed the man's t-shirt and spun him around in the middle of the street. The policeman screamed, "Get on the ground, mother fucker," to which the professor yelled, "I didn't do anything, man."
The professor was forcibly pushed to the ground. As he struggled, now face down, hands behind his back, the policeman gave the perp two swift kicks to the side. Police brutality at last, but I did not have my camera phone at the ready and missed my chance. Sorry, Glenn. By now five police cars had descended upon the scene. Somewhat expecting a knuckle-bump from the arresting officer, I looked around the sea of men in blue and decided to get out of their way.
As I stood on the sidewalk, I called my wife and told her that my trip to the grocery store had been postponed as I was busy fighting crime. After stating that she feared that I might have gotten injured or killed, she told me not to forget the French bread. "Sourdough, right?" I asked. "But I am a hero. You would think that one of the cops would have come over and shaken my hand and thanked me for helping them catch the bad guy." "Hurry home," she added. "Company will be here in 10 minutes." I lingered a bit and finally left the clampdown, but not before the shackled professor leered in my direction as he was pushed into the back seat of a police car.
To be continued? Hopefully not. But I was still pumped from the adrenaline. I should do this more often. I have a cape, some wrestling tights, black boots, and a luchador mask. Hey Five-0! Let's go crack some heads, I thought to myself in the Safeway checkout. On my ride home, to every law enforcement officer, I gave a knowing nod, a nod only a fellow member of the thin blue line would understand.
The image used above does not accurately represent the incident of August 13, 2009. But I am originally from Alabama and that image and the image of Heather Whitestone winning Miss America have been seared into my brain.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
In the 13 varied vignettes that wry writer Michael Merino has alertly assembled ... the uses, misuses, abuses, disabuses, ruses, muses, tenses and tensions of language and its rocky on-again off-again relationship with the truth are explored and exploded for our entertainment and edification.
Don't miss this thought-provoking political satire on language and communication. The future of democracy and "truthiness" depends upon your participation.Brett Abelman
Fringe and Purge - posted July 19, 2009
Digests from the Capital Fringe Festival
When and Where
- Saturday, July 25 @ 9:30 pm
- Sunday, July 26 @ Noon
Redrum @ Fort Fringe
612 L Street NW, Washington, DC
Tickets are $15 can be purchased at www.capitalfringe.org
or by calling 866-811-4111.
Cast and Crew
This production presented as part of the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Quick Brown Fox Jumped over the Lazy Dogs will have its world premiere at the Capital Fringe Festival, July 18 - 26.
Written by Michael Merino and directed by Kerri Rambow, this funny, political satire about language and intent explores how we communicate and mis-underestimate each other. Guided by works of Lewis Carroll and Donald Rumsfeld and inspired by messages of fear and hope, the play reveals the “sub” and “con” of “text.”
- Saturday July 18 @ 2:45pm
- Sunday July 19 @ Noon
- Friday July 24 @ 9:30pm
- Saturday July 25 @ 9:30pm
- Sunday July 26 @ Noon
Redrum - at Fort Fringe
612 L Street NW, Washington DC
Tickets can be purchased at:
607 New York Avenue, Washington, DC
or online at http://www.capfringe.org/fringe-festival.html
This production presented as part of the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Huh? You kidding me. I'll be the first to admit I am kinda tiny. So what if I am smaller than the Moon. And Io. And Europa. Okay, I admit it. I am smaller than Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, and Triton as well. So what? It's the motion in the Milky Way that counts, right?
And yes, I like the fermented Tang, and sometimes have an irregular orbit, weaving into Neptune, making him the ninth planet at times. Rules are made to be broken. Tell it to those heliocentrists, Copernicus.
Now my major concern is the kids. Pluto is always thinking about the kids. They're the future, you know. How are they gonna remember the planets now. The mnemonic device is just gonna go: My Very Educated Mother Just Sat Upon Nine .... "Nine what?" Timmy is gonna ask. It aint right. It doesn't make any sense.
Come on people. Throw Pluto a bone here. Write your congressmen or astronaut. Heck, write John Glenn -- he's both. Save yourself a stamp. See, Pluto is full of ideas. Just saved you 42 cents.