Some of my thoughts about the controversial US TV series, '24' are down below - but first a message from our sponsors:
THE WIND CRIES MARY
My new album has only been available a week but already nice things are starting to happen. First internet sale. First sale at a live gig. (You always remember the first!) There will be a review of the album in Australian Guitar in the next couple of issues and they've asked to include 'Cocaine Lil' on the bonus CD that comes with the magazine. They must have liked that 48 bar smokin' guitar solo at the end. You can hear a fragment of it on my SONICBIDS PRESSKIT if you are curious. The following beautiful letter came from US Gold Star Mother for Peace, Nadia McCaffrey. I have included some of her son's photos this week:
How thoughtful of you. I love the CD, thank you, Joe. Thank you for the sweet dedication, "Gift." I will treasure it. I was very moved by the Irish song "Rocks of Bawn" a song for my son: Patrick Ryan McCaffrey . . . My war continues, in the next few days, 4 years of that horrific nightmare. I will be speaking almost daily for the next 3 weeks . . . . I will play some of your songs for people to hear.
Attachments: Some pictures of Iraqi Children that my son loved, he gave them water and food regularly (it was forbidden), so they always give Patrick flowers and fruits. In Peaceful Service. Take care Joe. Your friend, Nadia
MORE FAVOURITE LETTERS OF THE WEEK
Re: Harvey High School Class of 1965
Tom Hurley wants you to know he still remembers your dancing in wooden shoes at St. Mary's. Roberta
(Note: Dear Robbie, that's before I was a real boy.)
For the life of me I can't figure out how you have my email address. I don't remember having met you. If I did meet you some night drunk in a bar and though it would be cool to be on your mailing list, I apologise - having now sobered up, that part of my brain has deleted you. Please delete me, too. SG
(Note: SG, Although you have been deleted in NewsLetter, you will always remain in NewsSpirit. Thanks for that memorable night, by the way. You were really out of it. I will drop off your Daffy Duck flippers and needle-nose pliers, roto-rooter and 12-volt battery at the bar. xxx Little Apeman)
After reading "What makes you so strong, black man?" in your last newsletter, I realise how far we have yet to go in this country. Australia's first Aboriginal surgeon graduated the UNSW in September 2006. http://www.unsw.edu.au/news/pad/articles/2006/sep/Aboriginal_surgeon.html site
Maybe we need to look closer to home. Regards, David Carter
(Note: David, When I first came to Australia, in 1979, I compared Aboriginal-White relations in this country to African American-White relations back in the States. But after a few years, I began to see the Australian situation was more akin to Native American-White relations in the US. The Native American 'Indians' are the aboriginal peoples of North America. There are similarities in the attempts to wipe them out, convert them to Christianity and to take their land. Also, both the Aboriginal Australians and the Native Americans have strong spiritual ties to the land which were practically obliterated by us white folk. On the other hand, African-Americans were transported by ship from Africa, as slaves, in a similar method to the English who were transported here as convicts. Comrades of the Chain.)
It's wierd, it's funny, it sometimes makes me sick, but I love this newsletter, so keep it up for another five years (at least). kind regards, Greg C
I like the "Boom Boom's". And yeah, Russ is a funny bloke!
'What about the Scotsman who went back to Scotland to get his tart'n jumper . . . took her into the fog and mist !!' Cheers, Terry D
(Note: He wouldn't have embarrassed himself had he asked his friend to guide him - for although she was only the optician's daughter, two glasses and she made a spectacle of herself.)
Subject: 'The Kabuki Actress Who Said Noh on the First Date'
There's no such thing as a kabuki actress. It's all guys, some in drag. Alicia BL
(Note: Ah Alicia, I think you're referring to the AGNOSTIC Kabuki actor - who said he didn't Noh.)
You've stirred my interest in limericks, puns and all such silliness, so I've come up with this one:
"Did you hear about the impotent stained glass maker who put together his glass and CAME?"
Best, JJ ps. CAME : a slender grooved lead rod used to hold together panes of glass especially in a stained-glass window.
(Note: JJ, not bad. Needs some work. How's this for a revision:
The over-eager stained glass window apprentice who clumsily
soldered his leadlight and came.
Here are some others:
The drunken Swordfighter who parried and then fainted.
The Little-Carpenter-Who-Could that just gave it his Awl.
The clumsy Physicist who stumbled into a Black Hole but caught himself in time.
The hard-of-hearing Apache warrior who ambushed a wagon train of doctors and took their scalpels.
The obese Patient who cut in front of the line (queue) in hopes he might lose some wait.
The uncurious Chicken who decided to walk down the MIDDLE of the road.
The suicidal Gourmet who jumped off the Grand Canyon and gorged himself.
(Can I have a boom boom, one time?)
24 of One, Two Dozen of the Other
Personally, I love the US series '24'. Not as once-weekly television, of course, which I can't bear, but on DVD, as sustained, and uninterrupted serial drama. It is now possible to watch the first five collections in sequence, twenty-four episodes in each collection, a mega-total of 120 chapters, in one long cinematic, almost Victorian-like novel, pacing it as you wish, with no commerical interruptions. I can't think of anything else in film or television that can give you this experience. And Season Six and Seven will add another forty-eight chapters - not to mention the three movies that are planned. That's a big flucking DVD novel!
But let me also clarify that I totally detest the right-wing politics and philosophy of '24' co-creator, Joel Surnow, a close mate of the braindead, Rush Limbaugh. (Surnow says he cries when he thinks of how great Reagan was! Say no more.)
Joel Surnow is credited as co-creator, director of twenty-eight episodes and Executive Producer. (Kiefer Sutherland, the star, is also credited as a Co-Executive Producer.) But I don't know what any of these titles really mean and how much real production power Sutherland actually has, as there are also credits given to a whopping 6 Executive Producers, 8 Co-Executive Producers, 10 Producers, 6 Co-Producers, 4 Associate Producers, 4 Consulting Producers and 1 Supervising Producer. Sounds like a Producer Conspiracy that CTU ought to look into. Kiefer Sutherland, at least from the interviews I have read, seems to lean a little more to the left in his politics.
Fortunately, Joel Surnow, with his extreme right wing views, does not play a character in the '24' series himself, as the closest he might come, would not be Jack Bauer, the star agent anti-hero, but one of the dodgy hawkish spin doctors to the limp-wristed Presidents. The kind of guys we are always hoping get it in the neck. And they always do.
Now - how is it possible to love the series, but dislike its creator's views?
Probably due to the fact that the show is fiction, almost science fiction, even though, because it is in real-time, it resembles reality. Much like the Bush Government. But I also like following the Adventures of the Butt Naked Chef, Hannibal Lecter, but would not really be interested in hanging around real serial killers like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Ed Gein, or John Wayne Gacy.
So it's important in the arts to separate fact from fiction, and reality from make-believe.
Why is it then that I - as a basic non-violent person - can condone the violence in this show without having moral constipation?
Well, in '24' we can see clearly that the bad guys actually have some WMDs. We can see them being activated. The timers are ticking. Sooner or later, we know exactly where they are going to go off. There is no doubt. They are 100% money back guaranteed to explode in your face. Therefore, we KNOW that the bad guys deserve the bruising Jack's about to give them, (usually they have already bruised the young and the innocent themselves) so they will tell us where the bombs are - which WE know THEY know the whereabouts, thereof - in time - before the episode's over. We have incontrovertible FACTS before us (which we can see from our couch potato GPS positioning) and complete and utter certainty of 'badness' in the bad guys. No grey areas.
We also know that they are all actors and nobody really gets tortured or really gets killed. It's make-believe, remember? Wooden swords and water pistols, and the like.
How does this relate to the real world?
Well, the behind-the-scenes political intrigues of REAL LIFE are completely GREY to us punters. We can't see ca-ca from our couch. We only know what we read in the newspapers. We never know clearly what the REAL danger is, where the WMDs REALLY are, or even if they exist at all, or who has them. In '24', the good guys are never interested in OIL or stealing LAND, or gross things like that. Or Empire-building, god forbid. But Bull Dust and Spin is the name of the Real Life Pea-Under-the-Shell Game We aren't certain of anything we read in the newspapers - that a person being held incommunicado is guilty at all, or knows anything. Think Abu Grahib. Think Guantanamo Bay. Real life torture at those places is based on chicken-feed facts and elephant-feed blind faith. If they tried to make a TV show with the TRUTH behind September 11th, Abu Grahib and Guantanamo Bay, everyone would instantly, in disgust, change the channel to American Idiot.
Rather, give us some 'ticking time bomb' fiction. I prefer it. At least I know when it's over and I can go and make a sandwich - not endure another four years of reruns of George the Monkey Boy, like in real life.
In the '24' of TV land, the President of the USA is a weakling, pushed around by his advisors, the Vice President, his wife, and family members, and driven to make politically expedient decisions, sooner or later, bereft of morality. (Ok, that much is accurate - I will concede.) But the TV President depends - because he is such a numbnuts - on morally intuitive field agents, like Jack Bauer, who know when and just how far to break every law known to man and beast to achieve results to insure we don't become nuclear toast with bio-virus jam.
In REALITY, however, there are no morally intuitive field agents. Even an anti-hero like Bauer could not exist in the real world because although ".. Bauer never enjoys inflicting pain . . . [he] remains coolly rational after committing barbarous acts, including the decapitation of a state's witness with a hacksaw. Joe Navarro, one of the F.B.I.'s top experts in questioning techniques [said] 'Only a psychopath can torture and be unaffected. You don't want people like that in your organization. They are untrustworthy, and tend to have grotesque other problems.' "
Grotesque Other Problems. G.O.P. (Hmmmmm . . .? Nah, just a coincidence.)
Let's try to separate some of the fact from the farce of '24':.
1. Farce: The dramatic spine of each episode of '24' is built
around the 'ticking bomb' plot. (ie. 5-4-3-2-1- BANG! Nuclear
toast with bio-virus jam.)
Fact: Terrorism experts agree that the 'ticking bomb' plot never occurs in real life terror scenarios.
2. Farce: In '24', during torture, it is generally agreed that
everyone eventually 'talks' if they are tortured enough.
Fact: In real life, it has been proven that the torture of someone willing to die for their beliefs actually strengthens their resolve to resist. And if the 'ticking bomb' scenario really was in place, then it would only add greater strength to their resolve as they would know that there was a finite end to their suffering at which time they would be released into Paradise.
3. Farce: '24's central premise is that it is acceptable and
somehow legally permissable for 'The Letter of American Law' to
be sacrificed for the country's security.
Fact: The United Nations Convention Against Torture, specifies that "no exceptional circumstances, whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." ie. It is CRIMINAL. Do not pass JAIL.
4. Farce: In '24', violent torture is the most effective way
of producing results.
Fact: In real life, non-violent procedures such as 'rapport building' yield the most effective results.
Joel Surnow, the show's creator, says he now wants to make a film that portrays communist witch-hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy as the US patriot he really was, much along the lines of Ann Coulter's arguments - except he can't get support because, "The Blacklist is Hollywood's orthodoxy," he said. "It's not a movie I could get done now."
But maybe he - and Mel Gibson - could work together on something else. Here's an idea that should appeal to both of them:
Jesus Christ has been taken prisoner by the Romans. Only Judas Esterrorist knows where he is being held and the place where he will be cruxified, (thus taking away the Light of the World, etc. which is equivilant in the First Century to exploding a WMD.) Therefore, Apostle Jack Bauer tortures Judas by hanging him on a Gefilte Fish hook while taking out an eye with his kosher eggbeater. Judas finally talks, in exchange for an immunity agreement, a safe house on the West Bank, and thirty pieces of silver. Jack Bauer, and his deep cover black bag Apostle SWAT team, break Jesus out of the Roman prison - thus saving his life but, unfortunately, putting an end to Christianity, which has now lost the central symbolism of the Cruxifiction. (There's still the Sermon on the Mount, of course, but that doesn't have much action appeal.)
a. Alternate ending 1: When Apostle Agent Bauer breaks into Jesus's cell, Jesus reminds him that he's SUPPOSED to be cruxified, Doh! asks him to please leave, and reports him to CTU Division for not thoroughly learning his HOLY SCRIPT like he was paid to do.
b. Alternate ending 2: Agent Bauer switches places with Jesus, and is cruxified instead, in a cliff-and-cross-hanging ending, also accidentally starting a religious movement called Bauerinanity, but in the next season of Episode V-III, it is revealed that J.B. has actually escaped from the tomb via a hidden tunnel and is now a Kosher butcher in the Witness Protection Program in Tel Aviv.
c. Alternative ending 3: Jack Bauer is a double agent who actually works for the Roman C.T.U. (Centurion Terrorist Unit), and captures the rebel Middle Eastern terrorist, Jesus Bin Laden. Jack learns from informers that Jesus's plan is the replacement of the Roman Empire with the Kingdom of Heaven, via some WMDs (Words of Mass Deliverance). Jack, disguising himself as a Roman legionnaire, tortures the prisoner via scourging and cruxifiction, but Jesus still refuses to tell him what he wants to hear, other than to forgive him (which doesn't play that well on the little screen - but have your people talk to our people. We can bring in another producer.) Jesus dies. A best selling book is written. Christianity Happens. And well, you know the rest . . . . the Bush Administration.
Here is a brilliant look at '24' by Jane Mayer: site
A mega - and I mean mega - Wikipedia '24' Archive site
SURREAL 24 GENERATOR (CLICK HERE)
Three Blondes In Heaven
Three blondes died and are at the pearly gates of heaven. St. Peter tells them that they can enter the gates if they can answer one simple question.
St. Peter asks the first blonde, 'What is Easter?'
The blonde replies, 'Oh, that's easy! It's the holiday in November when everyone gets together, eats turkey, and are thankful...'
'Wrong!,' replies St. Peter, and proceeds to ask the second blonde the same question, 'What is Easter?'
The second blonde replies, 'Easter is the holiday in December when we put up a nice tree, exchange presents, and celebrate the birth of Jesus.'
St. Peter looks at the second blonde, shakes his head in disgust, tells her she's wrong, and then peers over his glasses at the third blonde and asks, 'What is Easter?'
The third blonde smiles confidently and looks St. Peter in the eyes, 'I know what Easter is.'
'Oh?' says St. Peter, incredulously.
'Easter is the Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus and his disciples were eating at the last supper and Jesus was later deceived and turned over to the Romans by one of his disciples. The Romans took him to be crucified and he was stabbed in the side, made to wear a crown of thorns, and was hung on a cross with nails through his hands. He was buried in a nearby cave which was sealed off by a large boulder.'
St. Peter smiles broadly with delight.
The third blonde continues, 'Every year the boulder is moved
aside so that Jesus can come out ... and, if he sees his shadow,
there will be six more weeks of winter.'
(thanks to Frank Dolce)
FAVOURITE SPAM SUBJECT HEADINGS OF THE WEEK
Kristina: Australia's Prime Minister Survived a Hear
Esteban: Prime Minister Survives a Heard Attack
Walter Cronkite: Iraq War a "Disaster"
By Hank Plante
CBS 5 San Jose
Friday 23 February 2007
It was in 1968, when CBS Anchorman Walter Cronkite did a combat tour of Vietnam, and came back highly critical of that war. His pronouncement that the Vietnam War was unwinnable led to such a shift in public opinion against the war that President Lyndon Johnson said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost America."
The 90-year-old Cronkite was in San Jose on Friday addressing
the Commonwealth Club. In an exclusive interview with CBS 5, he
weighed in on the situation in Iraq.
"We should have gotten out a long time ago. This is a mistake, this entire war there, its a disaster. And the earlier we get out the better," Cronkite said. "It's a terrible disaster. Look at the loss of lives of our young Americans there and those who have been maimed for life, for what purpose? No purpose we can define."
What's more, he says, America will pay a future price for going into Iraq.
CBS 5 asked Cronkite if Americans were any safer because of the Iraq war?
"No, I don't think so. I think were probably less safe," he responded. "The entire Arab world has now put us down as an enemy. It's going to be a long time for us to take back any suggestion of friendship with those nations."
CBS 5 then asked if his strong words against the Iraq War would have the same impact as his words against the Vietnam War.
"Well, I think its a little late for that now," Cronkite said. "I would like to think it would be helpful in getting us out of there. Anybody who can put another match to that fire, to get us out would be, I think welcome"
Cronkite is still active at CBS, with his voice on the introduction of the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric." He retired from the anchors desk in 1981 at the age of 65, a decision he regrets. article
As Candidate, Obama Carves Antiwar Stance
by Jeff Zeleny
Senator Barack Obama is running for president as one of the few candidates who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, a simple position unburdened by expressions of regret or decisions over whether to apologize for initially supporting the invasion. article
A lawyer married a woman who had previously divorced ten husbands. On their wedding night, she told her new husband, "Please be gentle, I'm still a virgin."
"What?" said the puzzled groom. "How can that be if you've been married ten times?"
"Well, Husband #1 was a sales representative: he kept telling me how great it was going to be.
Husband #2 was in software services: he was never really sure how it was supposed to function, but he said he'd look into it and get back to me.
Husband #3 was from field services: he said everything checked out diagnostically but he just couldn't get the system up.
Husband #4 was in telemarketing: even though he knew he had the order, he didn't know when he would be able to deliver.
Husband #5 was an engineer: he understood the basic process but wanted three years to research, implement, and design a new state-of-the-art method.
Husband #6 was from finance and administration: he thought he knew how, but he wasn't sure whether it was his job or not.
Husband #7 was in marketing: although he had a nice product, he was never sure how to position it.
Husband #8 was a psychologist: all he ever did was talk about it.
Husband #9 was a gynaecologist: all he did was look at it.
Husband #10 was a stamp collector: all he ever did was . .
. God! I miss him!
(thanks to Joan Chenery via Dai Woosnam)
Melting Ice Gives Birth to a Strange New
by Steve Connor
Herds of sea cucumbers on the move, fields of sea squirts and forests of glass sponges. These were just some of the fantastic sights scientists captured on an underwater expedition to a remote region of Antarctica.
Marine biologists made a unique inventory of lifeforms on a part of the seabed that had been sealed off for thousands of years by massive ice shelves before they suddenly broke up. Waves of colonising plants and animals quickly moved in to exploit the new habitat which had opened up after a region of ice a third of the size of Belgium had disappeared and let in daylight and oxygen.
"This is virgin geography," said Gauthier Chapelle of the International Polar Foundation in Brussels. "If we don't find out what this area is like now after the collapse of the shelf, and what species are there, we won't know in 20 years' what has changed, and how global warming has altered the marine ecosystem."
More than 50 scientists from 14 countries spent 10 weeks making the first comprehensive biological survey of the seabed underneath the Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves, which disintegrated in 1995 and 2002 respectively. article
Up Your Nose
By Peter Pindar,
(on hearing that Big Brother inspectors are to fine people smoking in public in the UK. With apologies to Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, and their great classic song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes")
'There, sitting in a pub,
With my ready-rub,
I lit up. This bloke
Murmured as I did,
"Thanks that's fifty quid."
I asked him how he knew
What smoke-rings I blew.
The inspector cried
That I couldn't hide
From the lens that spied.
I said "Who, the flaming hell are you?"
He said "I suspect a crime.
Just a puff is evidence enough.
Now it's collection time."
And instant fine to pay
Changed my life that day:
Now I smoke at home,
Nightly without fail,
While the kids inhale.'
(Thanks to Dai Woosnam)
ONLINE VIRTUAL GUITAR CHORD MAKER
Use your cursor to create any chord formation and then 'strum'
it to hear what it sounds like and it will also tell you the name
of the chord you have created. Very handy device.
Penne Con Smerigliatrice
Rotta Della Carne
(Penne as a Result of a Broken Meat Grinder)
I had some eye fillet and a piece of pork fillet left over so I planned to grind them together for a nice earthy penne bolognaise but as I started grinding, the mechanism jammed and the spindle broke. (Cheap Chinese grinder!) I was forced to chop the meat as finely as possible by hand. (Luckily I had just sharpened my knife on my old electric chisel grinder - I found that one at the second hand market for $15 but in great nick - man, those old machines are made like tanks!). Anyway, the texture of the dish came out fantastic and quite different from a traditional bolognaise.
10 cm piece of eye fillet
10 cm piece of pork fillet
1 broken meat grinder
1 sharp knife
250 gr penne
1 carrot, peeled and chopped in 1 cm pieces
1 onion, chopped finely
1 small piece of pancetta, chopped finely
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tble tomato paste
1 cup white wine
2 cloves of garlic
handful of pitted Ligurian olives
1 fresh basil leaf
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 tble sugar
red chili flakes
Chop the two meats together as finely as possible. Place the
tomato paste in a small dish, add a little warm water and mix
Place some olive oil in a large saucepan and heat until almost smoking. Add pancetta and anchovy, stir for a minute or two, mashing the anchovy into the oil until it dissolves. Add the chopped onion. Stir for about two minutes. Add the garlic. Stir for a minute. Add the finely chopped meats. Cook for a few minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, olives, carrot and white wine and bring to a boil for a couple of minutes until the alcohol evaporates. Add the chili flakes, basil leaf, salt and pepper, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer over very low heat for about an hour. Check to make sure liquid does not evaporate. Add a little water if necessary. Keep on low simmer while you make-a the pasta.
Bring another large pot of water to a boil. Make sure there is enough water to totally cover the penne with plenty of room to spare. (The main reason for gluggy pasta is not enough water to cook it in so the starch gathers). Add the penne and cook until al dente. Check it periodically to make sure is isn't undercooked or overcooked.
Drain the pasta and toss directly into the pan of sauce and stir until the penne is well coated. Serve on large plates with grated parmesean cheese, and a side mixed leaf salad with large olives.
Throw away that useless meat grinder.