Is the Tall Man Happy?

is_the_man_who_is_tall_happy_an_animated_conversation_with_noam_chomsky

Driector Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) is currently flummoxing viewers with his persistently inventive “Mood Indigo.” But of all his blazingly original creations, the 2013 documentary “Is the Tall Man Happy: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky” might be his most densely wonderful work. Gondry and the indispensable linguist and social critic Chomsky have a wide-ranging chat. But instead of filming the discussion, Gondry animates it (beautifully and strangely). The result is simultaneously light and trippy, heavy and profound – and consistently mesmerizing.

News Quiz

News Quiz

Who said what?

“This act of violence shocks the conscience of the world.”

A) Eric Holder, on the Boston Marathon bombing.

B) Reverend Al Sharpton, on the slaying of another unarmed black man by American police.

C) Prime Minister David Cameron, on the downing of Malaysian Air #17.

D) None of the above.

“They are killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and . . . → Read More: News Quiz

Tom Chang’s “Tongue & Groove”

tongue & groove

Guitarist Tom Chang’s debut recording,Tongue & Groove,is an arresting, curry-flavored gumbo of jazz, contemporary classical, and South Indian Carnatic music. What this mélange sounds like is newness personified, a foreshadowing of the globalization of musical cultures. The sonic unfamiliarity doesn’t jar; it seduces. The title track opens with a 30-second vocal percussion solo that would make Bobby McFerrin smile, followed by a blazing groove worthy of Brian Blade. The album features tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, acoustic bassist Chris Lightcap, drummer Gerald Cleaver, Akshay Anatapadmanabhan on kanjira and mridangam, and Subash Chandran on konnakol. And at the nexus, Chang, who can (and does) use his guitar like a master ventriloquist channeling distant voices.

. . . → Read More: Tom Chang’s “Tongue & Groove”

Encouraging Suicide Note

noose for death

I’m hoping something good will come of my early exit. So it won’t have been a big waste.

I’m optimistic, but I’m also realistic. Jesus Christ died for all our sins yet we find increasingly perverse ways to thank him and his Father. He just wanted us to love each other. That’s the challenging part for us, right?

You could say “some things never change.”

Or do they?

Will they?

That’s up to you. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the people who can change the world.

You won’t let my death be in vain.

If you think I’ve done a good thing for our world, if I’ve left the home nest a little better than I found it, a little more secure for everyone else, then I shall depart this planet with a humble request.

Honor my memory by loving each other.

Honor my “sacrifice” by taking care . . . → Read More: Encouraging Suicide Note

Pandora’s Promise

pandora's promise

Committed environmentalists know that nuclear power is bad. Evil. The worst. We’ve been trained by incidents like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima to fear the inevitable disasters that radioactivity will surely wreak upon our energy-hungry world. Not to mention the apocalyptic weaponry that nuclear power begets. It’s a settled issue. According to the provocative and enlightening documentary “Pandora’s Promise,” a beautifully made and persuasively argued challenge to progressive-minded Groupthink, the issue is far from settled. Indeed, director Robert Stone suggests that thanks to third- and fourth-generation reactors, some of which are being designed to use their own radioactive waste as fuel, nuclear power may prove to be a better answer to our energy questions than wind and solar. Crazy? Blasphemous? A cynical propaganda ploy by rich folks with atomic investments? Watch, learn and decide for yourself.

 

 

. . . → Read More: Pandora’s Promise

Additional Golden Rules

golden rule

The original Golden Rule — “treat others as you wish to be treated” — sounds fantastic in theory, but isn’t really possible to apply practically, as evidenced by the lives each of us lead. Or maybe it is being applied and is difficult to recognize. Maybe how people wish to be treated is “horribly,” which explains all the reciprocal cruelty and malice that comprises standard treatment.

Perhaps the Golden Rule is just too darned complicated, too nuanced, an ongoing invitation to misinterpretation. We need something simpler. More concrete. Less subjective.

Like these.

 

1) Be an encourager, not a discourager.

2) Make love — with everyone.

3) Be generous — with everything.

 

Maybe we should stop trying to treat others as we wish to be treated. Maybe it’s more important simply to be an encouraging, loving, generous person.

. . . → Read More: Additional Golden Rules

The Shape of Content

shape of content

The painter, writer, and progressive thinker Ben Shahn died in 1969. But his thoughts on Art and Life read today like a freshly-digitized TED talk. His famously provocative — as in provoking genuinely new ways of looking and cogitating — series of 1950s lectures at Harvard were collected into a graciously illustrated short book, originally published in 1960, called “The Shape of Content.” You may know Shahn from his portrait of Martin Luther King on the cover of Time (1965). Reading him 50 years later reminds all of us, creative and otherwise, that the What of art, the content part, has and always will be a meandering path to social justice.

Israel’s Final Solution

Conflict Ender

Enough already. We’re sick and tired of hearing about the conflict in Gaza, especially when there’s a new turtle movie coming out.

Sure, our tax dollars pay for Israeli and Egyptian weaponry, and, yeah, OK, that sort of makes us involved. But, really, what does this decades-old grudge match have to do with us here in America? Can’t it just end so our newspapers can return to reporting good news, like the discovery of more frackable shale in North Dakota?

Supposedly there’s no way out of this deplorable situation. Supposedly there’s no answer acceptable to all three parties (Hamas, Israel, and USA). Upon first and repeated consideration, that seems about right. Water and oil will never mix – unless you add a bonding agent, but never mind. It’s a foregone conclusion: Israel and Hamas will never come to terms.

Have you not read the Hamas Covenant? Are . . . → Read More: Israel’s Final Solution

Brandon Wardell

young brandon wardell

Remarkable comedic talent in young people is easy to spot. It presents itself insistently and clearly. What the precocious possessor of the talent will do with it — develop it or let it wither — is hard to predict (as demonstrated by our previous comedy New Discoveries). In the case of DC-raised, Los Angeles-based comedian Brandon Wardell, 22, we have a hunch that he’s going to be making people laugh for a long time. Already, he’s a fine joke writer and a confident orator, with flashes of conceptual brilliance that recall Bo Burnham, another young man intent on doing his own thing. We sense in Brandon Wardell a nascent artistry, a growing acceptance of his comic individuality. It should be an interesting journey to watch.

Religious Champions of Discrimination

rights can't wait

America’s religious leaders, some of the most esteemed and respectable citizens in our republic, are helping us understand that our precious freedoms — the ones our brave soldiers fight and die for in faraway dust bowls most of us can’t find on a map — are once again under attack. This time the perpetrator isn’t a hairy Muslim in pajamas or an angry white guy with an automatic weapon and the phrase “2nd Amendment is 1st in My Heart” tattooed on his shoulder. This time it’s the White House.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order this week that barred anyone doing business with the United States government from discriminating against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, or transgendered Americans. The upshot: if you want to hang onto your tax exemptions, government contracts and subsidies, you must hire the ungodly and unworthy, the sodomites and Sapphos and freaks.

Now, this . . . → Read More: Religious Champions of Discrimination