Sunday, July 27, 2014

MUNICH: A 2005 FILM RELEVANT TO THE WORLD TODAY



Munich
A 2005 film from Stephen Spielberg.
In 1972 Black September, a terrorist Arab organization of the PLO took Israeli athletes hostage at the Olympic village in Germany. Eventually eleven hostages were murdered.

The film is a dramatic film, which studies and illuminates issues of retribution and unintended consequences in a world of conflict. In a special feature included on the rental DVD, Spielberg points out that while certain facts form the basis of the film, “Munich” is not a documentary.

The film has particular relevance to today’s war between Israel and Hamas. It is an intense, agonizing piece that looks inside the people tasked with finding and eliminating the Black September Arabs who murdered the Israeli hostages.

The film  came in for some criticism when it was originally released but Producer Spielberg points out that certain facts are indisputable: Hostages were taken by Black September and eleven were killed. Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized a team to find and kill the original perpetrators. That mission was successful.

“Munich,” is an excellent thriller, well worth watching with fine acting, rich production and stems from a finely researched and written script.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014



I read in the local newspaper to which I subscribe, about one of the Republican party candidates for governor here in Minnesota. Like so many conservatives, he echoed the knee-jerk line that we need more local enterprise and less government because government doesn't create jobs, only local investment does. That attitude disses the contributions of thousands of federal state and local government employees.

Here's a family I know about. Both wife and husband worked for the state for more than 25 years. Each. Filling jobs created by state agencies. Let’s just ignore the value of their work output. They raised 2 children who went to public schools. They paid income taxes, school taxes, real estate taxes, city assessments for streets and water and they paid excise taxes. They bought clothes, food, toys, and other stuff from local businesses and they saved money to invest in sound stocks and a pension plan. They bought insurance and cars. It sounds like a regular American family, right? So where do some politicians get off claiming that family didn't contribute to the American economy because "government doesn't create jobs?"

Folks that is a flat out lie. Without government there would be no economy. So-called small businessmen, the ones making 2-3 mil annually, make that money by selling goods and services to the people of the community which includes government workers at the federal, state, county and local levels. Candidates who tell you that government is bad for you and doesn't create jobs are lying to you and they should never be elected to public office.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

LYING IN WAIT A FINE CHILLING CRIME NOVEL



Lying in Wait   
Author: J. A. Jance
Copyright: 1994
ISBN: 0-380-71841-3<

This one will give you chills. It’s now available in a variety of formats and while it was written more than ten years ago, it holds up extremely well. I don't think Jance has written a better book; here she's at the height of her narrative powers. Expertly blending family and personal relations with a historical reality, Jance first introduces the reader to Seattle detective J. P. Beaumont's grandmother, a delightful old lady. Then the world turns dark. A fisherman is found murdered in a peculiarly brutal way and his widow turns out to be a woman from Beaumont's teen-aged past. The case quickly develops odd and puzzling elements. Jance provides clues aplenty in this complex story of terror and greed, but you have to pay attention.

Woven into the tight fabric of the main plot Beaumont pursues a better relationship with his grandmother, assists his new partner with some domestic problems, and resolves some lingering questions from his own background. The characters for the most part are fully-rounded, and the pace of this complex mystery may keep you up past your bedtime.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

QUESTIONS ABOUT PROPOSED FCC RULE CHANGING NET NEUTRALITY



As a former broadcaster, I’ve been watching the disagreements and flow of bad information over the recent maneuverings by the Federal Communications Commission to fashion new rules for the Internet. They have tried before to regulate the Internet only to be shot down by the courts for lack of legal foundation and missing logic.

The underlying question I can’t seem to answer is why. Why is this appearing now? The timing seems odd and I must have missed the economic reasons why some big users of the Internet pipes are pushing this now. I assume large Internet service users believe they’ll improve their incomes through an FCC approved method of regulating the commerce of the Internet. And what is the problem the FCC is trying to address?

The question and concern seems to be, will this proposed regulation leave smaller and start-up organizations at an unfair and economic disadvantage? There are a lot of petitions flying about the Internet requesting anti-rule signers. Most of those I’ve read take an extreme gloom and doom position, predicting that if the rule is passed, innovation and the creating of new apps and companies will die. Really?

A little history. In 1934, after long and sometimes acrimonious debate, the Congress passed the Communications Act, establishing broadcasting rules for the nation. If readers of this blog think the Internet is like the wild west, you should have heard radio in the USA in the 1920’s. Apart from the rabid blasphemous peudo-religious rants and the sale of dangerous and even lethal potions and drugs, anybody who wanted to could set up a tower and a broadcasting operation on any frequency they wanted. The result was total chaos.

When the FCC was created as a part of the 1934 Communications Act, a lot of the chaos went away—eventually. In the development of the act, foundations, civic groups and many educational institutions across the country made strong logical representations to the regulators, the Congress, that a number of radio and television channels should be reserved for the direct use of the public, and thus, the foundations for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting and a whole host of educational broadcasting enterprises were born and fostered. The people of American have been educated and enriched tenfold by the production and programming of non-commercial educational broadcasting over the past fifty-plus years.

So, why can’t the FCC use the history of the Communications Act of 1934 to fashion some amendments to the Act to solve whatever problems have developed. And, again, what are the problems this new Rule is designed to address?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SCHUBERT CLUB OFFERS AMAZING PIANIST



Schubert Club of Saint Paul tonight (3/11) presented Valentina Lisitsa,
Ukranian-born Russian pianist in concert at the Ordway. She presented
a solo piano concert of Liszt, J.S. Bach and Beethoven. The stage consisted
of the single Steinway grand piano. Lisitsa, a tall blond wore a bright
red strapless floor-length layered gown that radiated color.  Her style is
aggressive. The Daily Telegraph reported her essential attribute is a fevered
urgency. She certainly attacks the keyboard, but because there was a large
video display of the keyboard, the audience was treated to mesmerizing
fingering technique. Her hands and fingers went from anvil strikes on the keys
to liquid subtle finger movements of nuanced sound. At times one could see
her finger movements as more like snakes writhing across the key, bringing
sounds we didn’t know existed.  It was a stunning presentation, enthusiastically
acknowledged by the nearly full house.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

There are some things, people, events, monuments, that should not be replicated. That is, the painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, the Sistine Chapel, Big Ben, others. Everybody can think of personal favorites, unique events, pictures, things we prefer to view and remember in the original form. I include films in  that category of the inviolable.  What is the drive to redo significant films? Is is just money? Fame? Misguided overweening  ego?  So we come to the modern regurgitation of the Bonnie & Clyde story. The original with Warren Beatty, and Faye Dunaway is likely to be a minor masterpiece.  The recent disaster is not.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Bonnie & Clyde film stands up

A lot of gangster films don't stand the test of time. They are slow, contain action scenes not really believable, and dialog that sounds like grandmother wrote it. Hey! Maybe she did. Even so-called classics like Key Largo, in which at one point I thought E.G. Robinson was going to fall on the floor and writhe in an excess of evil.

Bonnie & Clyde stands up. Tense, funny, fast-paced. It all works. Yes, I know Barrow's sister in law, played by Estelle Parsons seemed overly shrill at times and she hated the portrayal--the real one, not Estelle. I was impressed. Of course, I'm easily impressed by ,murderous action, or so I'm told.