2014/09/27

The Equalizer


The Equalizer reminds me of Machete in that the hero appears very physically formidable and can take and dish out lots and lots of physical abuse. Liked the relationship between our hero and the sweet young woman he sets out to avenge. He also relates well to the ordinary folks he works with during his day job.   

2014/09/17

Double Indemnity


Finished watching the 1944 movie “Double Indemnity” today. Quite good! Barbara Stanwyck has two big challenges, both of which I believe she passes with flying colors. The first is that she has to make us believe that she's so incredibly sexually desirable that Fred MacMurray (Yup, the dad in My Three Sons) loses all sense of reason and proportion and is actually willing to kill for her. Not only that, she does so while staying within the highly restrictive Hays Code, a code that states: “Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown” and demanded, among other things, that couples couldn't share a double bed, but had to sleep in two singles.

Second, her step-daughter Lola (Jean Heather) describes how Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) carried out a cold and cruel act and then stood there without showing any sign of remorse. Stanwyck does a good enough job building the character of Phyllis that Lola's description of Phyllis comes across as entirely believable.

The description given by Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) of always listening to his “little man” is a hilarious side-note. I also understood why films after the Hays Code felt the need to allow at least a few sympathetic characters to get away with it all and to make their way to sunny resorts.

2014/09/11

New York City People's Climate March Sep 21


How big is the upcoming march going to be? The Green Party of Philadelphia has a number of buses going from several points in town. Normally, buses leaving from the city for out-of-town marches and rallies leave from just one central point. Now the Greens are confident they can fill buses from all over. I was on a conference call last month where we discussed people using the floors of churches to put their sleeping bags on. Even back then, all such space was already booked. 350.org has a section on the march which is our go-to, central point of information. Why is the organization named 350? In order for human beings to be safe, the CO2 in our atmosphere should be at or below 350 parts per million (pre-industrial civilization had around 275 ppm) and we're now above 400 ppm. 

But this issue has been around for awhile. Why is this march now gathering so much enthusiasm and attention? My own thought is that global warming has previously had a direct, observable effect on far-off places, Pacific islands, the Arctic and the Antarctic, etc. Now, Venice, Italy and Norfolk, VA are affected. Both land masses are heavy and weighted down by cities and are thus sinking very slowly into the sea, but that doesn't account for all of the gains that the sea has made on both cities. In both cases, sea levels from global warming are clearly having an effect. Parts of Norfolk, the main US Navy base, are regularly flooding with salt water, so the Navy is very intimately aware of the effect that global warming is having as they can see the sea rising right in their front yard. 

There are many other effects that global warming is having, “Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast, threatening the primary source of clean water for millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places.” 

Is global warming implicated in violent world events like the Arab Spring? Evidence indicates that warming is a “stressor.” It's not a cause of violence and revolution, but it adds to the volatile mix that causes social upheavals. 

A person prominently featured as a speaker for the march is the reporter Naomi Klein (Author of The Shock Doctrine), who argues that our economic model may not be compatible with human survival.