Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blog #45: Earth from 31 Million Miles

Want a great image to start the week. Check out this NASA image of the earth and moon from 31 million miles away, thanks to Eric Berger’s science blog in and of course NASA and YouTube. As you are checking it out you can pretend you’re either leaving earth, or better yet, discovering it for the first time.

Too happy for you? Prefer a depressing thought instead? Try this one on for size: our soon to be erstwhile president George W. Bush and his main man for vice, Dick Cheney, feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever over the near irreparable damage that together they have inflicted upon the U.S. constitution and American values, with their unlimited detentions, their illicit trawling of email traffic thanks to the generosity of cooperating telecoms, the lies and distortions they used to run up to the invasion of Iraq, and their conscious running of the war in Iraq for the economic profits of big corporations, and most especially those associated with veep Cheney. In point of fact I’m quite sure they sleep with the innocence of babes, and in their waking moments they probably take a great deal of pride in the damage they have managed to inflict on the American Way of Life.

Quote of the week: It is really, really, really hard to put a finger on Bush's worst blunder. I mean they all could stand a good chance of taking that title. Environment, oil company tax breaks, tax cuts for the rich, Iraq, Iran, play cowboy antics, et. al. This guy is quite simply the worst acting president (Cheney is vice-president in chief) this country has ever had. And while he continued to destroy the environment he destroyed almost everything else he touched as well. – a comment by rkoenn posted in the Huffington Post appending an article on Bush and Global Warming.

Enter satire eager to help those of us burdened with both a conscience and a feel for traditional values deal with today’s surreal happenings. Will sharp humor help us t0 retain our sanity during the countdown to the end of the Bush administration? The New Yorker tried its hand this past week with its cartoonish cover depicting a muslim clad Barack Obama and his well-armed wife Michelle bumping fists in the oval office, as an American flag burned in the fireplace, and a picture of Osama Bin Laden looked down approvingly from the wall. Every right wing fantasy you’ve heard of served up in that one cover, right?

Well, the only media person who seemed to see this for what it really was, funny and inconsequential as regards the presidential campaign, was surprisingly, James Carville, the former advisor for the Clinton White House who is generally credited with having created the campaign slogan which got Clinton elected the first time around, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” Most media types chose to affect an air of being offended, including Obama himself who said he didn’t mind it personally, as running for the presidency soon outfits you with a rather thick skin, but he decried how it might offend Muslims. However Jon Daily of the Stewart Show (his own juxtaposition by the way) put all of the media uproar, and Wolf Blitzer in particular, in proper perspective and then some. To experience it go here:

Little Eddy note: while it is refreshing to be able to access episodes of The Daily Show online, and we’re really glad that the Daily Show and Comedy Central have their own web site and are doing well with it, will somebody please explain to Sumner Redstone who is continuing Viacom’s suit against YouTube for doing exactly what he himself is now doing online, will somebody please explain to him that the reason Comedy Central is doing so well in its online offerings is because YouTube did it first and showed the public’s need for online access to tv, that videos from tv shows was something they would want to see? Comedy Central is directly benefitting from what YouTube created, it even allows its videos to be embedded on other people’s websites so they can be picked up and spread all over the web, like mushrooms popping up in the woods and the fields in late summer. However, we did not embed it here for fear of riling Viacom further, being as how Google and YouTube are being sued as we write.

If it’s Election Time it must be JibJab time. Satire on a different plane from our favorite creators of politically hilarious animations, the brothers JibJab. Their latest creation, to the tune of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A’Changing, is called It’s Time for Campaigning. You’ve probably seen pieces of it on the news channels. In the JibJab tradition it is a no holds barred brilliant and funny exposition of the electioneering process. You can see it here:

And as an added bonus you can even put yourself or a friend in the video. Just follow the instructions at the end of the video.
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The Tech world, or a least a substantial part of it, went ga-ga last week over Apple’s latest variation of the iPhone, called the iPhone 3-G. In spite of the tech hell experienced by many during activation on first day purchases, most people who went through the two or three hours of activation nightmares, seemed to be forgiving, even those who were not able to activate while still in the store.

Word from the early reviewers seems very positive too, even though a couple of major deficiencies which the first phone suffered from were evidently not corrected in the second. No cut and paste, for instance, and still a battery which can’t be swapped out as needed, but when it will no longer charge must be sent back to the factory for replacement. However, in addition to the faster 3-G service and the inclusion of a GPS positioning chip, the main improvement seems to be Apple’s new online App Store, to distribute the programs that developers have been working on since the SDK was distributed some months ago. Word is that with it’s rapid fire internet access it’s collection of true computer programs being written for it, the Apple iPhone is the first true mobile computing platform which the entire breed of smartphones will be measured against. And for the first time ever a good many laptop users will be able to leave their laptops at home on that next trip, having their computing needs met by their iPhones.

For a good time at iPhone’s expense check out JamesWax, who posted a very funny blog called, Why We Wait in Line for iPhone 3-G and You Are Inferior.
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It is a truly interesting age, this age we live in, is it not?. If you are online the word of the day, any day, is discovery. Last Sunday I was checking out Mininova, the site that bills itself as the ultimate bit torrent site, and which claim the latest survey bears out, with Pirate’s Bay coming in second. Usually I know what I’m after, so I type the name of whatever I’m interested into the search box at the top of the page and go from there. However, on this day I had nothing specific in mind, so I scrolled down Mininova’s list of favored offerings. When I got to the movie section I was intrigued with the very first title on the list. It was called: Y. P. F. (which stands for Young People doing what that famous onomatopoetic Carlin seven word that begins with an F refers to. I’m sure just about everybody alive knows the word, but for some strange reason we’re not supposed to say it on television, or in polite company.)

At any rate, what an intriguing title. Damn, what could it be about? Is it a serious? Or pornographic? Either way I’ll take it, but it would be neat if it was serious. Well, two clicks and it was added to my download queues. And although movies are large files which usually take days to download, there was something like 61 people seeding this movie, and it completed downloading in well under four hours. Whee!

Folks, it is a fascinating movie. About, well even a seven year old knows from the title pretty much what it was about. But of course, what you don’t know was whether this was a serious attempt to document mankind’s most popular and fruitful pastime, or was it just another X-rated piece of trash. I’m happy to report that it is the former, a fascinating and at times humorous attempt to cover several types of sexual escapades. It is well acted and well filmed, a straightforward legitimate movie completed with help from the Canadian Film Board. There are no actors I recognized in it, which for me makes it all the better, for I have no preconceived notions about them. It’s just with a title like that, how is it going to find an audience? True it found me by way of bit torrent. But that’s not going to help the film company pay its bills.

I decided to write about the movie in my blog, because I found it a film well worth seeing, reminiscent of some of those foreign movies I used to seek out in the 1950’s, and I thought if you read about it one or two of you out there might want to see it when it is available. The first thing I did was to do a search at to see if a DVD was available. Nothing came up. Then I returned to Google and did a search for: movie Y. P. F. (Young People Fucking) which is how it had been listed in Mininova. And this generated a movie revue by, of all people, Roger Ebert:

Ebert’s review reported that the film opened June 13 in Canada, and is scheduled to open later in the summer in the U.S. From his revue: “Having seen the film and been pleasantly surprised by it, I now have more thoughts about the title, which is "Young People Fucking" on the print itself, and "Young People F***ing" in the advertising. I'm not convinced the title does the film any favors. Yes, it calls attention to itself and generates publicity, but it doesn't suggest that this will be a good-humored, thoughtful, observant film, which it is.

“To get the essential question out of the way at the beginning: Yes, this is an "adult" film, but only technically. It is not hard-core. It contains no genitals of either sex, and no "money shots," as the porn industry inelegantly calls them. It is simply about five couples who meet, talk, and have sex. Sometimes they even seem to be making love. It was shot in five apartments, and some doorsteps.”

Roger’s favorite of the tales he reports on was the story titled The Roomates. He writes: “Here we get Gord (Ennis Ermer) and his roommate Dave (Peter Oldring), and Gord's girlfriend Inez (Natalie Lisinska). Gord suggests Dave join him and Inez in bed. Dave, a quiet kinda guy, goes along with it. Then it turns out Gord would rather watch (while eating a submarine sandwich) than participate. Then Gord starts coaching Dave: "She really likes it when you grab her hair!" Then Gord's hand is on Dave's butt, which Dave does not appreciate. Finally all three are smoking cigarettes.

“And so it goes. Not a great movie, but fun, and the title makes it sound cheaper than it is. I liked a sequence in which a girl employs a sexual device on her guy(’s hindquarters), the guy afterwards complaining that when he said "wait," "stop," and “no" nothing happened. He complained, "When a girl says 'no,' that means to stop!" You have to admit he has a point.”

In Little Eddy’s summation, I can’t imagine this film arriving at your neighborhood multiplex any time soon. But I suspect it will draw comfortable sized audiences to the Art Theatre of your choice. Most probably if the producers are smart it will also come out on DVD sometime soon, so you’ll be able to wrap your eyes around it in the privacy of your own home. If you just can’t wait to see it and your computer is into bit torrents you can go where I went: However, when I tried this link on Monday, the day after I had downloaded the movie myself, I drew a blank. Y. P. F. wasn’t listed under Monday’s movies, and when I went to the top of the page and did a search for it, nothing came up which could lead an observant person to speculate that the movie was pulled for one reason or another. However, I did another search in Google for: movie Y.P.F. (Young People Fucking), and once again I got Roger Ebert’s revue at the top of the page, but the second listing offered a free bit torrent download of the movie. Which I suppose you can try if you’re interested. If it’s in Google it must be real, right? Good luck .
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Speaking of films, the London Telegraph has released correspondence to and from the late film director Stanley Kubrick, who directed such films as 2001, A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, as well as Spartacus, Lolita, and Eyes Wide Shut. The full text of the letters may be found here:

Spartacus was the film that would establish Kubrick as major force in cinema. But not everyone was happy throughout filming.

June 5, 1959 To Laurence Olivier

Dear Larry, I am sorry the rushes were late yesterday and I was unable to come by for that drink. I hope that when you see the finished film you will be less disturbed about certain things than are now. In any case, I should like to thank you for the decent way you have behaved about the things with which you were in such disagreement. Good luck and Best Regards, Stanley.

LOLITA, 1962 (with James Mason as Humbert and Sue Lyon as Lolita)

Laurence Olivier, who had originally agreed to star as Professor Humbert Humbert if he could co-write the script, pulls out of the project.

December 15, 1959 To Stanley Kubrick from Laurence Olivier

Having scrutinised the book curiously and intensely during the last week I do not feel my mind grasping a film conception of the subject and I therefore don’t feel that I can very well bear the onus of the responsibility of partnership in the script of a subject concerning which strong doubts are so uppermost in my mind. These doubts come from a conviction that the chief merit in the book lies in the author’s brilliant original and witty descriptive powers and I can’t see how this particular virtue is photographable. I fear that told in terms of dialogue the subject would be reduced to the level of pornography to which I’m afraid quite a few people already consign it. I could not guarantee to myself that I would be much use in getting it right and therefore cannot feel that I should guarantee to you that I would play the part whatever happened. Full of admiration as I am for the book my faith in it as a film subject is shaky.

Kubrick outlines the project to Peter Ustinov, perhaps with a view to casting…

May 20, 1960 To Peter Ustinov

I think the most important thing to say about Lolita is that it is a love story. A sad tender eventually heart-breaking story of passion-love. Humbert’s love is a passion-love. It is in the tradition of the middle ages, the tradition of courtly love, a love that is at once scandalous, masochistic and tortured. It is a very different love than the modern ideal, where the values are placed in “maturity”, “togetherness” and “health”. The literal meaning of the word passion will quickly suggest how far from the modern ideal it is. The passion-lover is sick with his love. His passion fills his entire being to the total exclusion of everything else. He expects his mistress to make him suffer and submits willingly to her cruelty and enslavement ... the censorship thing does not concern me very much. The film will be fairly innocent as far as what the eye will see.

And Kubrick shows that he is against “sexing up” the film for more liberal European audiences.

October 3, 1961 To Eliot Hyman, Lolita’s executive producer

Dear Eliot, RE: Addition Humbert crawling into bed segment. Needless to say the confusion and chances for screw-ups don’t seem to balance the questionable gain of the sequence. The people who will be disappointed that Lolita is not a filthy picture with slobber love scenes, semi-nudity and outrageous postures will not be appeased, while on the other hand there are some people who will be horrified, shocked and offended by this sequence which is not in the same genre of the film. Artistically it contributes nothing that would otherwise be lacking. I would strongly recommend that we drop the idea.


In pre-production, and casting matters arise, but Kubrick ever has his eye on the money.

November 19, 1962 To James Harris, producer

Thanks very much for the Gene Kelly matter. I think he’ll be a fabulous off-beat choice if we can work things out with him. Please try to create the impression in his mind that we’re very tight on money (we are).

July 22, 1963 To Jack Wiener, in Columbia Pictures, Paris

I have checked a number of sources (most of them in France) on the subtitle. Bim bam bombe sounds like a Jerry Lewis picture.

Late 1963 Telex to Editor of the London Evening Standard

I must correct a false impression… In the case of Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the choice of England was solely dictated by the fact that Peter Sellers’ presence in England was required during the filming in order to appear in court for his divorce. But don’t get me wrong. I love England.

December 17,1964 To an un-named advertising executive

If you place any value on my friendship you will discontinue this bewildering display of rudeness. I am not used to being treated as a pest. I am used to having my phone calls promptly returned – not being brushed off to assistants. You are the only one who has ever done this to me and my willingness to accept this method of operation has apparently destroyed all perspective as to what might constitute reasonable treatment of me. The lack of what might even be considered routine planning has resulted in no proper screening facilities being available for the Academy. It has also resulted in an amateurishly mis-booking at the Crest theater which can contribute little to the nominations, opening the day before the ballots are sent. I know you are very busy, but so am I. I am working around the clock with a writer who has a tax deadline by which he must leave the country. And I have two stars who are making almost daily trans-Atlantic phone calls trying to juggle other start dates. The whole thing has virtually stopped all work on my script and between the realities of the problem and the maddening attempts to reach you the effect has been disastrous to my time.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, 1968 The process of collaboration between Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke begins.

March 31, 1964
Dear Mr Clarke, It’s a very interesting coincidence that our mutual friend Caras mentioned you in a conversation we were having about a Questar telescope. I had been a great admirer of your books for quite a time and had always wanted to discuss with you the possibility of doing the proverbial really good science-fiction movie. My main interest lies along these broad areas naturally assuming great plot and character.

1. The reasons for believing in the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life.
2. The impact (and perhaps even lack on impact in some quarters) such discovery would have on earth in the near future.
3. A space probe with a landing and exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Would you consider coming sooner with a view to a meeting, the purpose of which would be to determine whether an idea might exist or arise which could sufficiently interest both of us enough to want to collaborate on a screenplay?”

And so went the letters. After experiencing masterpieces such as Kubrick’s films it is refreshing to note that their creator was not omnipotent after all, but human, very human. And in realizing his projects he was faced with frustrations not unlike those the rest of us are daily faced with. If you find yourself really getting into Kubrick be sure to go to Chris Hasting’s interview with his widow, Christiane Kubrick, for a more complete picture of one of film’s more interesting icons. You can find it here:

Little Eddy, who was for many years a film buff, places Stanley Kubrick in such lofty cinematic company as Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish born explorer of the vagaries of the human personality, and Luis Bunuel, the Spanish born father of cinematic surrealism. Kubrick’s epics have in some cases changed society’s behavior, for example Dr. Strangelove, which turned the spotlight on the US Cold War paranoid practice of flying nuclear armed bombers right up to Russia’s borders, then back to their bases.

Thank you for visiting us this week. We hope to see you again next week.

The Real Little Eddy

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