|It's strange listening to an album in which the artist has passed away, especially when much of the content is about death and overcoming death. While Johnny's voice is as fragile as ever, the tone of the song has drastically changed from American V: A Hundred Highways, an album emphasizing suffering to one of peace in American VI: Ain't No Grave. This is evident from various songs such as "Help Me," "If You Could Read My Mind," and "I Came to Believe" from American V to "Ain't No Grave," "Redemption Day," and "1 Corinthians 15:55" in American VI. The song titles should be self evident in the change in tone, but this is even more so with the lyrics.|
O Death, where is thy sting?
O Grave, where is thy victory?
O Life, you are a shining path.
And hope springs eternal, just over the rise,
When I see my redeemer beckoning me.
-1 Corinthians 15:55
|-The Elephant Man is one of the best movies I've seen in quite awhile and may be one of my new favorite movies. You can always read my short review on Flixster, but I guess I can elaborate on what I think of the film, specifically the characters, here. There is a great appreciation for Joseph (John) Merrick. It amazes me as to how a person who has been abused, deformed all his life, and persecuted be so gentle and thankful for so little in life. For some reason, he was aware of his deformities in such a way that he seemed to sympathize with his offenders, to be so understanding and forgiving. As he said non-grudgingly, "People are frightened by what they don't understand," to a couple that was either disgusted or nervous by Merrick's presence. It was also very moving when he said, "My life is full because I know I am loved." To have so little and to live such a fulfilling life amazes me. It makes me reflect that as hard as I already try, I don't come close to Merrick's character and resilience. I simply don't share his optimism. On the contrary, I'm very pessimistic, but at the same time try to understand others in a way as to not hold a grudge, but that is not the same as Merrick's level of character.|
-On the other hand, I believe the movie really highlighted the depravity of normal people who are so much more well endowed than Merrick. This is done in different degrees. The obvious example is Bytes and the security guard who abused Merrick and used his fame to make money. But I was surprised as to how Dr. Treves lowered himself to Bytes' level. Instead of using Merrick to make money as Bytes did, he used Merrick to increase his fame in the medical community, despite his good intentions. "Am I a good man? Or a bad man?" While I would give Dr. Treves the benefit of the doubt as being kind and nurturing, I was surprised that he was so conscious of it. To not be so hard headed in the intentions of his actions, to contemplate his actions in such a way so contrary to his intentions. Maybe that's how we should be? Maybe that is what makes us good, considerate, or at the very least, better?
-Another reason I was impressed by The Elephant Man were the characters' body language and level of sympathy. As Merrick met Mrs. Treves for the first time, the topic of Merrick's mother came up. Merrick believed that he was a disappointment to his mother's beauty, but Mrs. Treves disagreed. Merrick replied, "If only I could find her, so she could see me with such lovely friends here now; perhaps she could love me as I am. I've tried so hard to be good." Mrs. Treves begins to cry. At this point, I was incredibly moved, not just because of Merrick's response, but of Mrs. Treves reaction because I felt the same way as her, or at least wanted to. Or maybe I'm just very sympathetic. Dr. Treves was also an interesting character as you know he means well and cares for Merrick, but also has a mannerism that is slightly awkward, hesitant, and distant. I thought this was an interesting combination, but was sympathetic of it as well.
-This story seems to be the antithesis of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, of which I thoroughly enjoyed just recently. To have such an intelligent antagonist that knows poetry, different languages, and the root of his own problem is a refreshing take on any antagonist. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is truly a classic, but has a major similarity with Merrick as their intelligence and ugliness is emphasized. Yet, the characters are completely opposite in gentleness. And the amazing thing is that it is Merrick's story that is true.
-Make sure you go out of your way to watch this movie. It is superb in the writing, acting, body language, and score. You can watch it on imdb.com or Hulu. I watched it on Hulu and had some commercials which was distracting but was acceptable as I was so engrossed in the film. But be warned that it is hard to watch at times because it is rather sad. By the way, it is based on a true story.
"Luck, my friend, luck. Who needs it more than we?" -Plumed Dwarf
|Simply put, Sigur Ros is amazing. They are unique and stirs up intense feelings few musicians can do (i.e. Clint Mansell, Parachutes). The mix of Icelandic and Hopelandic (gibberish) adds an aspect of ambiguity to the music, making it mean whatever I want it too.|
-A very good book about U.S. foreign policy and instead of just criticizing it, it actually offers solutions the U.S. could take to combat these problems if it was its true interest. The book covers a wide range of issues such as democracy in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, the Israeli Lobby, the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia, anti-semitism, U.S. interests, and many details in between. Generally, the U.S. will support democracy as long as it coincides with its interests.
-On criticizing U.S. foreign policy on Iran, Chomsky points out how the U.S. are friends with Saudi Arabia, but not Iran despite how Saudi Arabia is more fundamental and how "Iran looks like a beacon of women's emancipation" relative to Saudi Arabia. Chomsky also points out how there was a bargain between the EU and Iran to stop uranium enrichment if the EU took care of Iran's "security issues." Iran stopped their enrichment, but EU didn't keep their bargain under U.S. pressure. Therefore, Iran continued to enrich uranium, while it was reported that Iran violated its committments.
-On the War on Terror, Achcar and Chomsky talk about how the U.S. commits terrorism, and how the government cannot officially define "terrorism" due to the inability to distinguish terrorism we do to others and terrorism they do to us. They also quote Bush on "states that harbors terrorists are terrorists states and have to be treated as such." Yet, the U.S. will not extradite Luis Posada Carriles, a conspirator of the blowing up of the Cubana airliner that killed seventy-three people in 1976 and various other terrorist acts, and now lives safely in America. The same goes for Orlando Bosch, a co-conspirator of the Cubana airliner and according to the FBI, "involvement in about thirty terrorist acts." Bosch received a presidential pardon by Bush Sr.
-They also argue how in the beginnings of Afghanistan, the U.S. threatened to cut off foreign aid to Afghanistan, potentially starving millions of civilians to death or how the U.S. simply wants to "flex their muscles" in Afghanistan by bombing it. It goes on to say how the war is irrational. The U.S. was in contact with the Taliban, telling them to handover Bin Laden without any evidence. If the U.S. had evidence for Bin Laden being responsible for 9/11, they'd consider handing over Bin Laden. There were options to negotiate, but the U.S. ignored it and bombed Afghanistan, "flexing their muscles." If the U.S. really cared about Bin Laden, the U.S. should conduct an investigation, seek extradition for Bin Laden, and provide evidence for his involvement in 9/11.
-On democracy they continue to argue that the U.S. promote democracy only if it is in its interest to do so. They cite the beginnings on the war in Iraq, how the countries that supported the Iraq War was democratic, despite its unpopularity in the polls. Where as Turkey did not support the war, as reflected by its population by over 90%, lacked "democratic credentials."
-Chomsky once gave a lecture on anti-semitism and how it has changed. He read a racist, anti-arab document, but replaced the word "Arab" with "Jews". The document read like it was from the Nazi archives and there were gasps from the audience. When Chomsky revealed that he misled the audience and how the quotes were actually about Arabs, "there was a sigh of relief in the audience. [I] hadn't anticipated this kind of reaction; apparently, as long as extreme racist comments of the kind that sound like Nazis are about Palestinians and Arabs, then it's fine. But if you were to say anything like that about Jews, the place would blow up."
-On American democracy, Chomsky argues the major shortcomings of the U.S. He mentions the Brazilian Worker's Party how the president was actually a person from the general population and there are many labor movements and organizations to join. As opposed to the 2004 election where both candidates came from "extreme privilege and political power, both went to the same elite university; both joined the same secret society... for training people to be members of the ruling elite." Later on, Chomsky continues to further the point by citing Cheney. "When ABC News Martha Raddatz cited polling data showing majority opposition to the Iraq war, Cheney responded, 'So?" Asked, 'So-you don't care what the Amercan people think?' he responded, 'No,' and explained, 'I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.'... White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was asked whether the public should have "input." Her reply was: "You had your input. The American people have input every four years..."
|-I've watched the Watchmen Director's Cut for the second time, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. As before, I did not have a problem with its length even though it runs more than 3 hours. It's been awhile since I've seen the theatrical version, but if I remember correctly, the director's cut was better. The opening fight scene between the Comedian and Veidt with Unforgettable by Nat King Cole playing in the background is somewhat twisted and amazing. The opening credits combines powerful imagery of reality and alternate realities such as the famous WWII kiss, grassy knoll assassination of JFK, and Kent State shootings with The Times They Are A Changin by Bob Dylan that captures the era perfectly. As most people agree, Rorschach (Haley) was a great character, filled with uncompromising principles though maniacal, still somewhat respectable. The jump between memories and present time was great, especially with Dr. Manhattan, which shows his perspective of time as best as film can offer. His narration shows distance from humans and adds to the character development.|
-Personally, the most interesting character was Dr. Manhattan because of the cold reactions and behavior of the way he views humans and the environment. The movie's theme seems to be wrapped around the Dr. Manhattan. What happens when you're invincible? What if you knew everything, see everything, and can change everything? Surprisingly, it shows distance and fatalism, not engagement, free will, and change. He shows how insignificant humans and civilization is, and how significant humans are, all at the same time. Dr. Manhattan brings up many issues such as free will (although he was very fatalistic), miracles, God, absolute power, many other symbols and paradoxes, and many political implications.
-Rorschach's principles are essentially neoconservative, viewing good and evil as black and white. Hopefully, this will be as glorified as a person of such principles will be glorified. In addition, the death of Hollis Mason was great. While the graphic novel was somewhat light on his death, and the theatrical version had it cut out, the director's cut did it justice. It gave Hollis Mason a fighting chance combined with the nostalgia of the "Golden Age," fighting as if he was fighting his old arch enemies made you cheer for him, though he still tragically died.