January Rambling: sweatshops, Steve Bissette and singing

Vernon Supreme for President. Just one of about four dozen candidates on the New Hampshire ballot.

From here: “When Steve Jobs died…, deification from the media and inconsolable consumers made gripes about Apple’s use of sweatshops seem like the cynical mumblings of contrarians. The problem is that there’s plenty of documentation and reporting that supports the criticism.” See also this: “Mike Daisey was a self-described ‘worshipper in the cult of Mac.’ Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out.”

Rich Kids For Romney.
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Hembeck is 59

It’s interesting to me that, in the past year, the one guy who most influenced me in blogging, comic book artist/scribe Fred Hembeck, has seemingly left the blogosphere. He hasn’t posted a thing since April 10, 2011. He started FredSez on January 1, 2003, and for a several years wrote almost every day, an inspirational pace. But the output slackened in the last couple years before he stopped altogether. Hasn’t used his Twitter account very much anymore.

Seems that his chosen medium Continue reading

Oscar Picks, First Pass

I tend to think of movie years from Academy Awards night to Academy Awards night, not so much because I’m an Oscars fan – though I am – but because some of the movies that get nominated don’t even make it to small markets such as Albany, NY until January or even February. Yeah, I know the Oscar nominations were very conservative this year, for the most part.

*means I have actually seen it

Best Picture
*The Artist

*The Descendants
*Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
*Hugo

*Midnight in Paris
*The Help

Moneyball

War Horse

The Tree of Life

Saw 6 out of 9, so far, 3 in the last couple weeks. War Horse is still playing, so maybe I’ll still see it. I’d love to watch Moneyball, which is available on DVD.
WILL WIN: The Artist, which I liked. It’s a film about film. I mean, so is Hugo, but not as directly.
WANT TO WIN: Midnight in Paris, or The Descendants
PLEASE! NOT: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Best Actor
Demian Bichir, A Better Life

*George Clooney, The Descendants
*Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

WANT TO WIN Continue reading

MOVIE REVIEW: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

While my wife was at a Tupperware party last weekend, I walked to the Madison Theatre in Albany to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. While ostensibly starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, the real lead is young Thomas Horn, as a quirky nine-year-old who starts a quixotic quest all over “New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”

I was a couple minutes late, and the film (actually the previews) didn’t actually begin until the moment I walked in the room. Eventually three others also saw the film that showing.

The good news is that the flashback relationship between the boy and his father is compelling. Continue reading

The Lydster, Part 95:Time

Someone recently told me that children don’t really develop a strong sense of time until they are eight years old. If this is the case, then I really look forward to the Daughter’s next birthday.

As the person who gets her ready for school almost every morning, I can say that there is no correlation between what time she gets up and when she goes out the door for school. There have been mornings that I have to, almost literally, drag her out of bed, but then she becomes more alert and gets to school in plenty of time. There are other mornings she wakes early, yet we are rushing to get there before the late bell Continue reading

MOVIE REVIEW: The Artist

Shortly after I saw the black-and-white, mostly silent film The Artist at the Spectrum in Albany the weekend before last, someone asked me what I thought of it. “It’s very clever,” I said. “But is it good?” “It’s the best silent film I’ve seen this century.”

None of this is to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the film; more to the point, I would see it again. It’s fun, it’s well-acted, and particularly so, precisely because it IS a silent film, though with music, and the actors have to convey so much sans dialogue. It’s just that there are not that many contemporary films to which I can compare it. Continue reading

B is for Baghdad

When I was growing up, Baghdad sounded wonderfully exotic and ancient. After all, it was in Mesopotamia, that area between the Tigris and Euphrates, which is “widely considered to be the cradle of civilization.”

The meaning of the city’s name may be a “Middle Persian compound of Bag ‘god’ + dād ‘given’, translating to ‘God-given’ or ‘God’s gift’…A less probable guess has been Persian compound Bağ ‘garden’ + dād ‘fair’, translating to ‘The fair Garden.’ Regardless of the derivation, I had believed for some time in my youth that there was a literal Garden of Eden at one point, and it was located somewhere around there.

While the city’s roots date back to ancient Babylon, as a settlement as far back as 1800 B.C., in 762 A.D. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Life Itself by Roger Ebert

Fairly early on in my reading of film critic Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself, I decided that, if I were ever to write my own autobiography – not that I necessarily would – it should be modeled on this book. Organized thematically, with an overarching, but not strict, chronology, using short chapters (55 in 420 pages).

But I’m probably not going to write mine because I doubt I could be so descriptive. Ebert remembers things from his childhood which would have eluded me writing about mine. More importantly, though, he writes with incredible honesty. The very first line encapsulates the sensation: “I was born inside the movie of my life.” Yet, though known as probably the premiere movie critic of his time, he got the job “out of a clear blue sky,” and without much thought that it would be his life’s work.

Since I’ve started following him on various movie review TV programs Continue reading

MOVIE REVIEW: My Week With Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn was based on a couple non-fiction book first published in the late 1990s. The Wife and I saw the film last Saturday at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, NY.

In 1956, Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) is directing and starring in the movie ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ in London. He hires American film icon Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) to costar with him. The 30-year-old MM, accompanied by new, third husband, the playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), is a sensation to the crowds in England. But Continue reading