The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Posts from — August 2009

“Run Honey Run” by John Martyn

I didn’t do this, of course, but stole it from YouTube. The reason I went looking for it was because it is the background music to a BBC documentary about the loss of bees across the world. Every class of herbicide, pesticide, and fungicide are found in bees. This cocktail may very well be affecting their navigation systems. They can’t find their way back to the hives and die. Try to imagine what this cocktail is doing in our own bodies. It turns out the problem is monocultures, large crops covering thousands of acres, like almonds in California, created by destroying the natural habitat and kept in place only through large doses of water, fertilizers, and pesticides. The almonds depend on being pollinated by honey bees that are transported thousands of miles on trucks to do their jobs. Of course, we’re doomed to extinction. We’ve doomed ourselves. No populist movement will save us, nor any individual, because our government (and almost every other government of the world) is in the hands of those who have created this situation and benefit from it. So, run, honey, run and hide in the wind.

August 31, 2009   1 Comment

Swedish Defending

Swedish Defending

After being benched and released by Fulham, it’s nice to know that Carlos Bocanegra is playing well at left back for Stade Rennais in Ligue 1. He covers well, delivers pinpoint crosses, overlaps when it’s on, is in the box on set pieces, and is solid in back. I wonder why he sometimes looks out of place with the U.S. national team. Perhaps, as captain, he tries to do too much. In Stade Rennais, he plays alongside the Swedish defender, Petter Hansson, who lost his pants recently during the match with Lens. I’ve never seen that before, not even with the groups of gangly kids with XL shorts I used to coach. My dad, being a good Norwegian, would call it “Swedish defending.” In fairness to Petter, it’s quite possible that the number 22 had something to do with it.

August 31, 2009   Comments Off on Swedish Defending


Bitter history
Aggrieved by inventing tales
Of venality.

August 31, 2009   Comments Off on 209

Projection in Politics

One of the most enduring characteristics of the human psyche is that it “projects” what it fears most about itself onto others. Although most of us do this (projection) most of the time, this mechanism is more active and pronounced in those with hysterical personalities—characterized by superficiality, egocentricity, vanity, dependence, and by dramatic, reactive, and intensely expressed emotional behavior (according to Webster). Nowhere is this more evident than in American politics.

Consider the issue of Social Security. One effect of this program has been to dramatically reduce the suicide rates for the elderly, which have declined 56 percent since 1930, according to Jacob Weisberg. Consider what would have happened had the Republicans prevailed in privatizing Social Security during the Bush administration. We’d have older people dying younger and committing suicide more often. Of course, this is exactly what the Republicans accuse Obama of wanting to do. Interesting, isn’t it?

I’m sure you see how it works. Accuse Obama (the black demon without a birth certificate) of doing the very thing you do yourselves, but don’t dare speak it’s name. Of course, you must mobilize the most vulnerable and hysterical members of the population (mostly poor whites) by telling them that the Democrats want to kill them. You invent death panels that decide whether they will live or die based on socialist priorities, and repeat this in various and sundry ways through the media (who are more than happy to help).

This stuff would be funny if it weren’t so sad and destructive. The very people who could benefit most from public health care are the ones who fight most strongly against it. Ask yourself how it’s possible to have a functional democracy when a large percentage of the population is incapable of understanding the issues being brought forth.

This has been going on for decades now. You have moneyed interests funding smear campaigns using conservatives as mouthpieces to mobilize an ignorant population into voting and acting against its own interests. How is this possible? Projection. It works every time, though it must be said that the process has been used so often that it is becoming obvious, even to its targets, who are slowly waking up to the fact that they’ve been had.

August 29, 2009   1 Comment

Flying Wooden Duck

Flying Duck

This piece was a retrieved from a desert island off the coast of Borneo. After bringing it home, I promptly forgot it until my wife slipped a rock beneath it and set it on the piano. Of course, now I can see what it is—a flying wooden duck.

August 29, 2009   Comments Off on Flying Wooden Duck

Inglourious Basterds

No one plays a violent, sadistic bastard better than Brad Pitt. His portrayal of Jesse James was marvelous, and now he has reprised that role as Lt. Aldo Raine in Quentin Tarantino’s wonderful World War II flick turned-on-its-head, Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino shows us that torturers and murderers, no matter what their stripe, or their cause, are simply killers, ruthless men who learn to love their task all too well. It is a film that Lars von Trier, the badman of world cinema, could have made. The fact that we enjoy watching it should teach a lesson, though, I fear, few will learn it.

August 28, 2009   Comments Off on Inglourious Basterds


Untainted by sin,
The child explores the hidden
Pathways of the heart.

August 28, 2009   Comments Off on 208


I use Akismet to eliminate spam on my website, though, of course, it doesn’t stop people from trying. Since March 20, 2009, I’ve had 88 spam comments, which Akismet automatically eliminates. I don’t even see them. What some spammers don’t know is that their IP addresses are recorded, and with enough ingenuity and the cooperation of their ISP, these individuals can be identified. Of course, I don’t care enough to do this. Very few people do. What I find amazing is that anyone would waste his time trying to spam my site. I have no more than a handful of readers each day. Why bother?

August 25, 2009   Comments Off on Spam

Mother and Child

This is a piece I’ve had around for a while—one of those I can’t quite bring myself to sand and oil to a final finish. It’s of a mother and child. Notice how the mother is perfectly poised and balanced, cradling her child (I want to say “knave bairn”) with maternal ease. It reminds me of the figures I did when I first started carving. God only knows what’s happened to them. Probably used as firewood during blackouts.

August 24, 2009   Comments Off on Mother and Child

The City Addicted to Crystal Meth

Smoking crystal meth

Of course, this city is Fresno, California, a farming center that has been in economic decline for decades. Also, of course, Fresno is an example of other cities in the United States where poverty, broken families, and lack of education have led to addiction, especially when a highly addictive substance like crystal meth is so inexpensive and readily available. Meth is not simply a problem in our ghettos, as many of us believe, but in mainstream America among caucasians. It has been estimated that over 50% of our crimes are related to it, but those who are addicted are largely forgotten, except by the police. Interestingly, the reason we know that Fresno is the meth capital of California is not because PBS produced a program about it or any other news service in the United States reported on it, but because Louis Theroux, an Englishman, created a documentary for the BBC.

The details are harrowing—mothers leaving their children for days at a time, women driven to prostitution, people cooking it in their kitchens, wild bouts of sex, staying awake for weeks, addictions lasting twenty or thirty years until death finally puts an end to it. Ask yourself why this is occurring in the United States, and you need look no farther than the conservative hypocrites who act as proxies for the drug and insurance companies, proclaiming that universal health insurance is socialism. Health care for all Americans is a moral imperative. It is ethically unconscionable to leave large segments of the population to rot and do nothing effective to stop it.

As much as we want to believe it, as much as society tells us it is true, we are not islands. We do not exist in isolation. The suffering of the least of us affects us all.

August 23, 2009   Comments Off on The City Addicted to Crystal Meth