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Archive for the ‘Film’ tag

You Should See the Film Called Spotlight (2015)

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I’m a lazy film reviewer, but I very much enjoyed seeing Spotlight, and you probably would too. 

Netflix will have it soon, or see it in the theatre

SPOTLIGHT tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. Directed by Academy Award-nominee Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.

  • Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
  • Michael Keaton as Walter “Robby” Robin
  • Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
  • Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian
  • Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron
  • John Slattery as Ben Bradlee, Jr.
  • Billy Crudup as Eric MacLeish

(click here to continue reading Spotlight (2015) – Rotten Tomatoes.)

Spotlight doesn’t resort to typical Hollywood clichés, there are zero car chases, there are no weapons being brandished, there isn’t a heart-pumping scene where a villain is just around the corner about to catch the hero as dramatic music swells, there is not even a heavy-handed monologue from some powerful higher-up at the Boston Globe trying to shut down the whole investigation. The reporters who make up the Spotlight team aren’t presented as larger-than-life super-humans, there are zero scenes about someone coming in drunk and belligerent, zero scenes about love-interests that have nothing to do with the plot, but simply exist to give “depth” to the character. The journalists slowly, methodically practice journalism, a dying art form. 

Instead, the film follows what actually happened as an investigative journalism team composed of Roman Catholics discovers how the institutions fail to protect the vulnerable. Cardinal Bernard Law doesn’t even get his comeuppance (in this lifetime, anyway). 

Wow. Highly recommended.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 8th, 2015 at 10:35 am

Snippets 11-21-15

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Mystified and Holding On
Mystified and Holding On

More copypasta for your more advanced stage news junkies…please, no gambling.

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Famous Nathan (U.S. 2014, 86 minutes)  chronicles the personal and public history of Nathan’s Famous of Coney Island, the iconic Brooklyn eatery and Coney Island institution created in 1916 by filmmaker Lloyd Handwerker’s grandfather Nathan Handwerker. 

The film debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Coney Island Film Festival and the Audience Award at the 2015 Jewish Film Festival in Berlin.

In 1984, Lloyd started filming interviews with former workers and family members, a journey that took him around the world, as he listened to stories, first-hand accounts, secrets and perhaps a few tall tales. Spanning a century, this Coney Island inspired rollercoaster ride of a film employs a kaleidoscopic blend of home movies, animation, experimental cinema, historic archival, family photos, never-before heard audio recordings of Nathan, and a series of emotional and sometimes hilarious interview ‘encounters’ with the Handwerker family, their tight-knit circle of friends and a group of former Nathan’s employees recounting the dedicated days of ‘hustle and bustle, fast food cooked at nano-second speed.’ A film about labor, family, immigration, and yes, food, Famous Nathan is a vivid testament to a true American success story and the fighting spirit of a consummate New York family-run business.

Nathan Handwerker raised in Jaroslaw, Poland, one of 13 brothers and sisters from a poor Jewish family, came to New York, in 1912, unable to read, write or speak a word of English. By the 1930s, with the love, support and dedication of his wife Ida and sons Murray and Sol, he’d created one of the most beloved places to eat anywhere in the world. For decades, millions flocked to the larger-than life playground known as Coney Island and without a doubt, Nathan’s, on Surf Avenue, was the soul of Coney Island. As the centennial of Nathan’s approaches in 2016, Famous Nathan stands as an intimately personal love letter, thirty years in the making, to parents, grandparents, workers, eaters, and all lovers of Coney Island and Nathan’s Famous.

(click here to continue reading.)

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“All of the biggest food companies in the country are looking at how to source non-G.M.O. ingredients right now,” said Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, adding that it seems that the government’s decision about the G.M.O. salmon was out of step with what the public is asking for.

Ms. Westgate said that about 34,000 products were now labeled with the Non-GMO Project’s seal, representing about $13.5 billion in annual sales. That’s up from January, when 24,500 products bore the seal. (The Food Marketing Institute estimates that total supermarket sales were $638 billion last year.)

Efforts at the state level over the last few years to mandate labeling of foods that do contain genetically engineered ingredients have largely failed by narrow margins, after heavy lobbying and campaign spending by the food and biotech industries.

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(click here to continue reading F.D.A. Takes Issue With the Term ‘Non-G.M.O.’ – The New York Times.)

 

Air Raid - Chicago - 1942
Air Raid – Chicago – 1942

It seems more than bit odd when you look at the GOP and other assorted right wingers as they heap their criticisms onto President Obama for his alleged lack of adequate action in the war against ISIS. Because when their golden boy George W. Bush was in the White House and progressives criticized the way he prosecuted the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the jerkweeds on the right claimed it was unpatriotic to do so.

I seem to recall that one of the favorite talking points from Republicans and their Fox News lapdogs during the Bush Administration was that it was wrong and even treasonous to criticize the Commander-in-Chief when we had troops in the field.

Here are 10 separate occasions when the right wing tried to claim executive privilege during war:

(click here to continue reading How Quickly They Forget: Here Are 10 Times Conservatives Said It Was Unpatriotic To Criticize POTUS.)

Her teeth were white lies

Her teeth were white lies 

Leaving aside the broader question of whether Wilson’s name should be removed, let’s be clear on one thing: Woodrow Wilson was, in fact, a racist pig. He was a racist by current standards, and he was a racist by the standards of the 1910s, a period widely acknowledged by historians as the “nadir” of post–Civil War race relations in the United States.

Wilson’s racism wasn’t the matter of a few unfortunate remarks here or there. It was a core part of his political identity, as indicated both by his anti-black policies as president and by his writings before taking office. It is completely accurate to describe him as a racist and white supremacist and condemn him accordingly.

(click here to continue reading Woodrow Wilson was extremely racist — even by the standards of his time – Vox.)

Exit, Zimmerman

Exit, Zimmerman 

This weekend marks the centennial of the old Duluth Armory, a once-proud venue that played host to luminaries from Duke Ellington to Johnny Cash.

Located near the waterfront, just across London Road from Leif Erikson Park, the armory today stands vacant and run down, a far cry from its glory years. But as Duluth celebrates the building’s rich past, there’s new hope for its future.

The Minnesota National Guard built the armory in 1915 for military training. It even featured a specially constructed dirt-filled pit in the drill hall for teaching field tactics like digging trenches. But it doubled as a concert hall and civic center. And it quickly attracted world-renowned performers, including Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1920.

As it turned out, Beasy Latto would be one of the last people to see Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens perform. Three days later, after a concert in Iowa, they died in a plane crash, bound for Moorhead, Minn.

Beasy Latto’s friend and classmate Bob Dylan was also at the concert. He recalled that 1959 night nearly four decades later, when he won a Grammy for his album “Time out of Mind.”

“And I just wanted to say, that one time when I was about 16 or 17 years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth, the National Guard Armory, and I was three feet away from him, and he looked at me,” Dylan said. “And I just have some kind of feeling, that he was, I don’t know how or why, but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.”

(click here to continue reading Long-silent Duluth Armory may hear music once again | Minnesota Public Radio News.)

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Back in January, Geoffrey Smith, an assistant professor of early Christianity at the University of Texas, came across one such item: a 1,700-year-old papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John. The starting price? $99, no reserve.

The fragment had six partial lines of text on it, written in Greek. It was John I, 50-51, from the New Testament. And searches in a database of known New Testament manuscripts showed no such artifact — this was a “new” find for the scholarly community.

(click here to continue reading Scholar finds rare New Testament manuscript on eBay priced at $99 | The Verge.) 

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The so-called “New Jersey First Act” of 2011 aimed to ensure state government employees actually live in New Jersey full time. Christie sent an initial version of the bill back to the Legislature for technical changes, but said, “ I commend the sponsors for their efforts to increase employment opportunities for New Jersey residents, by ensuring that citizens throughout the state enjoy access to public positions in their communities.” He signed the amended bill in May of that year.

A Christie administration fact sheet says “all employees are covered by the law,” which imposes a strict residency requirement as a condition of continued employment by the state. The fact sheet says residency is defined as meaning “the state (1) where the person spends the majority of his or her nonworking time, and (2) which is most clearly the center of his or her domestic life and (3) which is designated as his or her legal address and legal residence for voting.”

The Christie-backed law explicitly says it covers “state officers” in the executive branch. It says any public official violating the mandate “shall be considered as illegally holding or attempting to hold” a public office. If a person fails to satisfy the residency requirement within any 365-day period, the law says, “that person shall be deemed unqualified for holding the office.” The legislation empowers New Jersey state courts to oust the violator from office if “any officer or citizen” of New Jersey files a formal complaint.

State officials may avoid the law’s requirements, but only if they formally apply for an exemption to a commission comprised of a majority of Christie appointees. That commission has approved roughly 975 such requests, a Politico analysis of state data showed. But it has also rejected requests from employees who want to relocate to neighboring states to live near family members. The Christie administration’s website does not show that Christie applied for an exemption from the law in the last few years.

(click here to continue reading Chris Christie Imposed Strict Residency Requirement, Then Spent Hundreds of Days Out Of State.)

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What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.

Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?

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(click here to continue reading The Farce Awakens – The New York Times.)

In the primaries, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers privately concede that she will lose some votes over her Wall Street connections. They declined to share specific findings from internal polls, but predicted the issue could resonate in Democratic contests in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan, where many have lost homes and businesses to bank foreclosures.

Mr. Sanders zeros in on Wall Street donations to Mrs. Clinton in an aggressive new television commercial that started running in Iowa and New Hampshire on Saturday: “The truth is, you can’t change a corrupt system by taking its money,” he warns.

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Continue reading the main story One of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent supporters in Ohio, former State Senator Nina Turner, defected to Mr. Sanders this month in part, she said, because she felt he would be tougher on special interests. And some Democratic superdelegates, whose backing is crucial, said Mrs. Clinton’s ties to big banks, and her invocation of 9/11 to defend her ties to Wall Street at the Nov. 14 debate, only made them further question her independence from the financial industry.

“My parents had a saying in Spanish — ‘Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres’ — which means, ‘Tell me who you’re hanging with and I’ll tell you who you are,’” said Alma R. Gonzalez, an uncommitted superdelegate from Florida. “A lot of my Democratic friends feel that way about Hillary and Wall Street.

(click here to continue reading Wall St. Ties Linger as Image Issue for Hillary Clinton – The New York Times.)

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Ingrid Bergman, an A-list Hollywood actress, was eviscerated in the tabloids, who painted her as a wanton harlot. The insanity reached a fever pitch when, on March 14, 1950, Senator Edwin C. Johnson (D-CO), a rank moralist who opposed FDR’s New Deal policies, slut-shamed the actress on the Senate floor.

“Mr. President, now that the stupid film about a pregnant woman and a volcano [Stromboli] has exploited America with the usual finesse, to the mutual delight of RKO and the debased Rossellini, are we merely to yawn wearily, greatly relieved that this hideous thing is finished and then forget it? I hope not. A way must be found to protect the people in the future against that sort of gyp,” he proclaimed. Sen. Johnson then proposed a bill wherein movies would be approved for licenses based on the moral compasses of those behind the picture, insisting that Bergman “had perpetrated an assault upon the institution of marriage,” and going so far as to call her “a powerful influence for evil.”  

(click here to continue reading When Congress Slut-Shamed Ingrid Bergman – The Daily Beast.)

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A 23-year-old man in Melbourne, Australia, voiced his frustration with Facebook in January, claiming that it had repeatedly deleted his account. The site’s reasoning? Almost certainly the man’s legal name: Phuc Dat Bich. 

If this dude wanted to go viral, he couldn’t have picked a better way. After spending the better part of the year as a sleeper post, Bich’s rant suddenly exploded this week, even becoming a national Twitter trend in the United States.

(click here to continue reading Man named Phuc Dat Bich wants Facebook to stop deleting his account.)

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There are not many NBA players who are as well-rounded and multiculturally engaged than the 14-year veteran and two-time champion. Born in Barcelona, arguably the most diverse and cosmopolitan city in Spain, and to two parents who are in the medical field—his mother, Marisa, a surgeon, and father, Agusti, a nurse administrator—Gasol developed a bigger-than-basketball mentality at a young age.

He started taking piano lessons at 8 and could play Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky at 13 (he has a keyboard at his home in Los Angeles). At 11, he wanted to become a doctor, motivated to cure after hearing about Magic Johnson’s HIV-positive announcement in 1991, and later enrolled in medical school at the University of Barcelona where he cut open cadavers. He also speaks Spanish and Catalan, teaches himself French and Italian, reads historical novels and watches documentaries. Oh yeah, he’s also been the Bulls’ bowling and ping-pong champion.

“[My brothers and I] grew up in a very open-minded environment,” said Gasol, who would like to pick up Spanish guitar one day. “Our parents did a great job I think really educating us, with values such as respect, tolerance, honesty, have respect for everyone, the ability to listen. And our school did a great job of teaching us those values.”

(click here to continue reading Global Gasol: Bulls Star Pau Gasol Expands his Palette in Philanthropy and the Arts | NBPA.)

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Then the conversation took a turn. “Am I off base suggesting that newspapers stick to print?” someone formerly of the Tribune suggested. He saw advantages in going back to the old ways and he said what they are: “the superiority of print as a reading medium”; its “exclusiveness,” which some advertisers might value; its ability to provide readers with “a calm and uniquely authoritative daily harbor apart from the ceaseless digital crap storm.”

Alan Solomon, also formerly of the Tribune, responded “I heartily agree,” and offered a seven-point plan to put print-only daily journalism back on its feet. “Be prepared to lose millions early,” he advised. But after two decades of desperate investment in digital, Solomon said, newspapers “not only have come up empty but, in most cases, have hastened print’s obsolescence.” He wondered, “Why not redirect all that effort and money in producing a publication that, once again, compels folks to pay attention and pony up?”

The next person to comment was a nonjournalist who spends ample time online yet professed that holding a newspaper in his hands is “the only way I feel I can know what’s happening in the world. . . As newspapers fade out, so will our freedom, I’m convinced.”

(click here to continue reading Commenters urge the Trib to reinvest in print | Bleader | Chicago Reader.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 22nd, 2015 at 11:37 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with ,

Quick Hitters – November 16th, 2015 Edition

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Gentle Wandering Ways
Gentle Wandering Ways…

Apologies if you are one of the few brave and foolhardy souls who still subscribe to my daily newsletter. Your email contained a bunch of gobbledygook links today. Some background: before Twitter and Facebook, there was a social URL-sharing network called Delicious. Users of Delicious shared snippets from webpages, which is sort of how I still use Twitter1

Delicious was, and still remains, integrated with Google’s long neglected RSS engine, Feedburner. In other words, if you subscribe to my email newsletter, or use my blog’s RSS feed, you see Delicious links, Flickr images as well as occasional actual blog posts like this one merged together. But2 yesterday I started using a new RSS reading app. NetNewsWire has been my RSS reading app of choice since 2002, but it is feeling increasingly neglected, without much integration into the web services of 2015, so I purchased a competitor, Reeder, and lo-and-behold, posting directly to Delicious is an option! If I can press a button and post to Delicious, I’ll use the feature more frequently. With NetNewsWire, posting to Delicious meant logging in the site, copying and pasting the URL, copying and pasting the snippet, adding tags – about the same amount of effort would yield an actual blog post. With Reeder, I just press a button, and if I want, add tags. Much simpler. Except as I discovered this morning, the Delicious post gets mangled somewhere between Feedburner and Reeder. Basically, the URL is not properly formatted and looks like

The%20Great%20Controversy%3A%20Ben%20Carson%2C%20 Ellen%20G.%20White%2C%20and%20Seventh-day%20Adventism  [del.icio.us] Posted: 16 Nov 2015 12:33 PM … [del.icio.us]

Reeder Fail

Reeder Fail

Not acceptable. Oh well.

Here are the five snippets I wanted to post, but didn’t have the stamina nor time to annote/respond to. One snippet I did manage to later turn into a blog post, but I’m including it here anyway …

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The Great Controversy: Ben Carson, Ellen G. White, and Seventh-day Adventism

Ben Carson has famously said that a Muslim who wishes to become president of the United States must “reject the tenets of Islam.”

But what about members of his own church — The Seventh-day Adventist church? Must they reject its doctrines in order to become president?

The SDA church was co-founded by Ellen G. White, who was its original leader and prophet. She is to Adventists what Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, and Muhammad are to Christian Scientists, Mormons, and Muslims, respectively (not respectfully). And her book, The Great Controversy, corresponds to Science and Health, the Book of Mormon, and the Quran. And it fully deserves to be among them, as one of the the worst books ever written.

Someone should ask Dr. Carson if he believes in Ellen White’s prophecy in The Great Controversy with regard to the “big role” that the United States will play. Specifically, is the United States the two-horned beast that speaks like a lion of Revelation 13:11?

If so, he should renounce that belief (along with the rest of White’s “prophecy”) before anyone should consider voting for him for president.

(click here to continue reading Dwindling In Unbelief: The Great Controversy: Ben Carson, Ellen G. White, and Seventh-day Adventism.)

78.7

Björk on Iceland: ‘We don’t go to church, we go for a walk’ Björk used to walk across the tundra singing at the top of her lungs. John Grant left America for its rocky grandeur and Sigur Rós’s music captures its isolation. What is it about the Icelandic landscape that hypnotises artists?

(click here to continue reading Björk on Iceland: ‘We don’t go to church, we go for a walk’ | Music | The Guardian.)

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Cornel West tears into hypocritical “sister Clinton” while filling in for Bernie Sanders at an Iowa BBQ “Democratic socialism isn’t some kind of alien element. It’s organic and indigenous in the history of this nation.”

West turned to Sanders’ main opponent for the Democratic ticket, claiming that “we have to be honest about our dear sister Hillary Clinton — when it comes to my gay brothers and my lesbian sisters, one year, she says ‘marriage is just male and female.’ A few years later, she says she’s ‘evolved.’ I say, ‘I’m open to evolution.’

“But there’s certain issues that should cut so deep,” he concluded, “that you don’t need to be a thermometer — you can be a thermostat!”

(click here to continue reading Cornel West tears into hypocritical “sister Clinton” while filling in for Bernie Sanders at an Iowa BBQ – Salon.com.)

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The Velvet Underground – see the video for Some Kinda Love (live) The new Complete Matrix Tapes box set is a brilliant insight into one of rock’s greatest bands – and we’ve got this track from the set

This Friday sees the release of The Complete Matrix Tapes, bringing together all the recordings made of the Velvet Underground at the San Francisco venue on 26 and 27 November 1969. Heard in their entirety, the recordings are revelatory – you get to hear wildly different versions of the same songs, Lou Reed chatting and joking with his audience, and a rock band exploring the limits of their performance – right up to a 38-minute version of Sister Ray.

While most of the 42 tracks on the four-disc box have been heard before, nine are exclusives. What’s more, the tracks previously heard on The Bootleg Series, Vol 1: The Quine Tapes were in nothing like this level of fidelity. In a world of box sets packed with unnecessary fillers, this one is anything but.

(click here to continue reading The Velvet Underground – see the video for Some Kinda Love (live) | Music | The Guardian.)

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Ryan Gosling confirms role in Blade Runner sequel

The actor will star alongside Harrison Ford in the sequel to the sci-fi classic

he offered this fairly long-winded account of where Deckard has been living following the events of the original film:

We decided to start the film off with the original starting block of the original film. We always loved the idea of a dystopian universe, and we start off at what I describe as a ‘factory farm’ – what would be a flat land with farming. Wyoming. Flat, not rolling – you can see for 20 miles. No fences, just plowed, dry dirt. Turn around and you see a massive tree, just dead, but the tree is being supported and kept alive by wires that are holding the tree up. It’s a bit like Grapes of Wrath, there’s dust, and the tree is still standing. By that tree is a traditional, Grapes of Wrath-type white cottage with a porch. Behind it at a distance of two miles, in the twilight, is this massive combine harvester that’s fertilizing this ground. You’ve got 16 Klieg lights on the front, and this combine is four times the size of this cottage. And now a spinner [a flying car] comes flying in, creating dust. Of course, traditionally chased by a dog that barks, the doors open, a guy gets out and there you’ve got Rick Deckard. He walks in the cottage, opens the door, sits down, smells stew, sits down and waits for the guy to pull up to the house to arrive. The guy’s seen him, so the guy pulls the combine behind the cottage and it towers three stories above it, and the man climbs down from a ladder – a big man. He steps onto the balcony and he goes to Harrison’s side. The cottage actually [creaks]; this guy’s got to be 350 pounds. I’m not going to say anything else – you’ll have to go see the movie.

(click here to continue reading Ryan Gosling confirms role in Blade Runner sequel | Consequence of Sound.)

Footnotes:
  1. if you follow me, and why shouldn’t you, you’ll notice the majority of my my tweets are links to news and other articles []
  2. and you knew this was coming, right? []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 17th, 2015 at 10:34 am

Going Clear and the Ridiculousness of Tax Exemption for Religious Organizations

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Ideas and Not Battles…
Ideas and Not Battles…

I hope you’ve seen, or plan to see, the documentary by Alex Gibney called Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. Besides the whole insanity of Xenu, and thetans and Suppressive Persons, a big question raised is why exactly did the IRS classify L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction stories as a religion, entitled to evade taxes? Was it a result of Operation Snow White? Or some other reason?

The latter half of Going Clear delineates how David Miscavige uses the above dogma to create a financial empire built on celebrity outreach, with the organization’s Celebrity Centre being a major landmark, and Hubbard’s directive of “fair game” (i.e., harassment and threats to enemies labeled “suppressive persons”). The result is extensive research and testimony based on the experiences of former church members, some of them former senior members, with allegations of torture, labor camps, re-education camps, human trafficking, and a non-profit religion that has at least $1.5 billion in the bank. If you or I paid someone who worked for us 40 cents an hour or forced someone to mop a bathroom with their tongue, we would probably be looking at spending some time in a courtroom.

However, because Scientology has tax-exempt status as a religion, these practices are protected by the First Amendment as “self-inflicted” punishments by adherents of a religion.

That tax-exempt status was also important in saving Scientology from bankruptcy. Going Clear asserts the church was looking at a $1 billion tax bill in 1993 after fighting the IRS for decades. Not only was the tax debt forgiven, but the classification of Scientology as a religion also means sales of Dianetics and other Hubbard books are not taxed either, since they’re considered “religious texts.” And all of this is supposed to be given a happy face by trotting out celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and others so they can peddle Scientology in other countries and attempt religious recognition in Europe and elsewhere. However, Cruise is shown to be the equivalent of manipulated royalty within the church. Church insiders paint a picture of him as pampered and coddled to be Scientology’s ambassador to the world, with his every whim attended to, but Miscavige dictates who can be close to Cruise and is jealously protective of his own relationship with the star. And Travolta is implied to be either indifferent to the religion’s abuses or a “captive” who stays in his place because of the threat of blackmail.

(click here to continue reading ‘Going Clear’ offers a devastating exposé of greed and abuse.)

Truthfully, I don’t understand why any mega-rich church gets to be tax exempt. My taxes partially go to support schools, I don’t object to that despite me having no children of my own. I understand the idea of the public good – a well educated society is better for all of us. I pay for the park district, and I don’t object to that. I use the parks, I am happy to see others using the parks, families, dogs, whatever. But what good to society is Scientology doing? or any of us who aren’t Tom Cruise or John Travolta?

I don’t think the Catholic Church should be tax-exempt either, but at least they seem to do a small amount of good for the public – soup kitchens, outreach, etc. What is Scientology doing for the community? Other than separating rubes from their money? 

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center reports that more than 100 501(c)(3) organizations are stripped of their tax-exempt status each year. The reasons can vary, covering the violation of laws that govern private benefits, lobbying, political campaign activity, unrelated business income, the obligation to report annually and maintaining operation in accord with stated exempt purpose.…

According to the film, Church of Scientology Chairman David Miscavige ordered the organization’s members to file individual lawsuits against the IRS for its failure to recognize it as a church. Overwhelmed by 2,400 individual suits and the prospect of defending itself against all of them, the IRS agreed to grant Scientology tax-exempt status in exchange for the withdrawal of the cases.

A 2011 tax filing reveals that the three organizations comprising Scientology claim a combined value of $1.5 billion, a sum that has allegedly been built on the backs of members who pay thousands of dollars to rise within the organization, are paid 40 cents an hour for labor and have been tortured for dissent, combined with the organization’s vast international property portfolio. “This issue is not about whether Scientology is a religion,” Gibney told TheWrap. “The issue is whether or not Scientology is pursuing policies that are not in the public interest.” The government simply needs to determine whether there’s a “fundamental overriding interest” in declassifying an organization involved in the above activities as exempt from taxation.

According to the IRS website, to be tax-exempt, an “organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.” An IRS representative told TheWrap he’s unable to comment on whether there’s currently an investigation into any organizations or individual cases.

(click here to continue reading HBO’s ‘Going Clear’ Triggers New Scrutiny of Scientology’s Tax-Exempt Status.)

Church of Scientology London
Church of Scientology London

So how exactly did the Scientologists get the IRS to reverse itself? There are many still unanswered questions:

For 25 years, I.R.S. agents had branded Scientology a commercial enterprise and refused to give it the tax exemption granted to churches. The refusals had been upheld in every court. But that night the crowd learned of an astonishing turnaround. The I.R.S. had granted tax exemptions to every Scientology entity in the United States.…The landmark reversal shocked tax experts and saved the church tens of millions of dollars in taxes. More significantly, the decision was an invaluable public relations tool in Scientology’s worldwide campaign for acceptance as a mainstream religion. On the basis of the I.R.S. ruling, the State Department formally criticized Germany for discriminating against Scientologists. The German Government regards the organization as a business, not a tax-exempt religion, the very position maintained for 25 years by the American Government.

The full story of the turnabout by the I.R.S. has remained hidden behind taxpayer privacy laws for nearly four years. But an examination by The New York Times found that the exemption followed a series of unusual internal I.R.S. actions that came after an extraordinary campaign orchestrated by Scientology against the agency and people who work there. Among the findings of the review by The Times, based on more than 30 interviews and thousands of pages of public and internal church records, were these:

*Scientology’s lawyers hired private investigators to dig into the private lives of I.R.S. officials and to conduct surveillance operations to uncover potential vulnerabilities, according to interviews and documents. One investigator said he had interviewed tenants in buildings owned by three I.R.S. officials, looking for housing code violations. He also said he had taken documents from an I.R.S. conference and sent them to church officials and created a phony news bureau in Washington to gather information on church critics. The church also financed an organization of I.R.S. whistle-blowers that attacked the agency publicly.

*The decision to negotiate with the church came after Fred T. Goldberg Jr., the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service at the time, had an unusual meeting with Mr. Miscavige in 1991. Scientology’s own version of what occurred offers a remarkable account of how the church leader walked into I.R.S. headquarters without an appointment and got in to see Mr. Goldberg, the nation’s top tax official. Mr. Miscavige offered to call a halt to Scientology’s suits against the I.R.S. in exchange for tax exemptions.

After that meeting, Mr. Goldberg created a special committee to negotiate a settlement with Scientology outside normal agency procedures. When the committee determined that all Scientology entities should be exempt from taxes, I.R.S. tax analysts were ordered to ignore the substantive issues in reviewing the decision, according to I.R.S. memorandums and court files.

The I.R.S. refused to disclose any terms of the agreement, including whether the church was required to pay back taxes, contending that it was confidential taxpayer information. The agency has maintained that position in a lengthy court fight, and in rejecting a request for access by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act. But the position is in stark contrast to the agency’s handling of some other church organizations. Both the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and an affiliate of the Rev. Jerry Falwell were required by the I.R.S. to disclose that they had paid back taxes in settling disputes in recent years.

(click here to continue reading Scientology’s Puzzling Journey From Tax Rebel to Tax Exempt – NYTimes.com.)

Xenu dot Net
Xenu dot Net

From the IRS manual, your organization only needs to check these boxes off to be classified as a religion, and not even check all the boxes:

The Service considers all the facts and circumstances in determining whether an organization is a church, including whether the organization has the following characteristics:

  • a distinct legal existence
  • a recognized creed and form of worship
  • a definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
  • a formal code of doctrine and discipline
  • a distinct religious history
  • a membership not associated with any other church or denomination
  • a complete organization of ordained ministers ministering to their congregations
  • ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
  • a literature of its own
  • established places of worship
  • regular congregations
  • regular religious services
  • Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young
  • schools for the preparation of its ministers

The above list of 14 church characteristics (first published by the Service in 1978 as a news release, IR–1930) is not exclusive—any other facts and circumstances that may bear upon the organization’s claim for church status must also be considered.

An organization need not have all of the characteristics (few churches do, and newly-created churches cannot be expected to); thus, no single characteristic is controlling.

Some of the characteristics may be given more weight than others in a given case.

(click here to continue reading Internal Revenue Manual – 7.26.2 Private Foundations Defined – IRC 509(a)(1) Exlcusions (Other Than IRC 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)) and IRC 509(a)(4) Exclusion.)

Church of Scientology
Church of Scientology

Written by Seth Anderson

March 31st, 2015 at 11:46 am

Posted in News-esque,religion

Tagged with , , ,

Photo Republished at The Biggest Box Office Bombs of the Modern Era | American News

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My photo was used to illustrate this post

The Biggest Box Office Bombs of the Modern Era. #6, John Carter. Photo Credit – Flickr User – Seth Anderson.

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The Biggest Box Office Bombs of the Modern Era | American News

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Written by eggplant

July 22nd, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Links

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Looking At Lolita (Sue Lyon) was uploaded to Flickr

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My photo doesn’t give this contraption justice – basically a slide show viewer as would be used by Humbert Humbert (James Mason). You could move the magnifier to view different slides.

From the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA.

http://ift.tt/VXrVPZ

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/dZmJbq

I took Looking At Lolita (Sue Lyon) on February 01, 2013 at 02:49PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 03, 2013 at 05:46PM

Stanley Kubrick Lenses was uploaded to Flickr

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Some of them anyway, at display at LACMA.

www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/stanley-kubrick

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/dZmrR5

I took Stanley Kubrick Lenses on February 01, 2013 at 02:41PM

Written by eggplant

January 13th, 2014 at 9:39 am

2013 Year End Music Reviews – Marie Antoinette Soundtrack

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Marie Antoinette Soundtrack

Rating: B+

I don’t recall why I bought this soundtrack, as I’ve never seen the film, nor am I much of a soundtrack person. That said, I kinda like this mix of instrumental chamber music and artists like New Order, Gang of Four, The Strokes, Bow Wow Wow and so on. You can probably get a used copy without much effort, which is what I did…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 18th, 2013 at 10:09 am

Posted in Music

Tagged with ,

Brian Sanders Creates ‘Mad Men’ Poster for New Season

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It’s the Future

It’s the Future

Earlier today…

The image recalls work that Mr. Sanders did for an even more famous screen project. In 1966 he was asked by Stanley Kubrick, who had seen some of his experimental, noncommercial collages, to spend months with unfettered access to the set of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and illustrate scenes from the filming. Most of the images remained unpublished for decades. (Kubrick, famously averse to set photographers, seemed to have been ambivalent even about drawings.) But the experience was a formative one for Mr. Sanders in honing an illustration style that balanced slightly trippy abstraction with a concrete feeling of reportage.

Via:
Brian Sanders Creates ‘Mad Men’ Poster for New Season
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Written by eggplant

March 12th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Advertising,Links

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I’ll tell you what’s funny (to me)

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Truth and Mister Rogers

Truth and Mister Rogers

Earlier today…

To quote the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (one of my favorite online resources): “Almost every major figure in the history of philosophy has proposed a theory, but after 2,500 years of discussion there has been little consensus about what constitutes humor.”…Considering what we know about MacFarlane’s politics – he’s a liberal, an Obama donor, a supporter of LGBT rights, etc. — it’s unlikely that he actually intended to come off as a sexist boor who was belittling women. Indeed, it’s possible he intended quite the opposite – but as any grad student in literary theory could tell you, artistic intention isn’t that important. His shtick was fundamentally confusing: What kind of comedy was the boob song – juvenile and sexist mockery, or institutional parody? Or both at once? And who was its intended target? Worst of all, the confusion evidently struck many viewers, especially women, as profoundly unfunny.

Via:
I’ll tell you what’s funny (to me)
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Written by eggplant

March 3rd, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Links

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I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down | MetaFilter

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Johnny Cash once called 1968 the happiest year of his life. It was the year his masterpiece At Folsom Prison came out, the year he was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, and the year he married the love of his life, June Carter. So it was a fortunate time for a young filmmaker named Robert Elfstrom to meet up with Cash for the making of a documentary. Elfstrom traveled with Cash for several months in late 1968 and early 1969. The resulting film, Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music, is a revealing look at Cash, his creative process and his ties to family.

Via:
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down | MetaFilter

Written by eggplant

September 29th, 2012 at 9:45 am

Posted in Links

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Bill Murray on Del Close

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Party On
Party On – Garrick Theater, home of Second City

In an alternative universe, I would have been an actor, and even better, an improv actor.

Scott Raab interviews Bill Murray for Esquire:

If you keep saying yes, they’ll stop asking you, too. That’s a much more likely event. I think we’re all sort of imprisoned by — or at least bound to — the choices we make, and I think everyone in the acting business wants to make the right choices. You want to say no at the right time and you want to say yes more sparingly. I came out of the old Second City in Chicago. Chicago actors are more hard-nosed. They’re tough on themselves and their fellow actors. They’re self-demanding. Saying no was very important. Integrity is probably too grand a word, but if you’re not the voice of Mr. Kool-Aid, then you’re still free. You’re not roped in.

Scott Raab: Your Second City teacher/mentor Del Close is a guy I’ve never read enough about. What was it that made him so influential?

Bill Murray: Well, he was a guy who had great knowledge of the craft of improvisation. And he lived life in a very rich manner, to excess sometimes. He had a whole lot of brain stuck inside of his skull. Beyond being gifted, he really engaged in life. He earned a lot. He made more of himself than he was given. Came out of Manhattan, Kansas, and ended up hanging out with the Beats. He was incredibly gracious to your talent and always tried to further it. He got people to perform beyond their expectations. He really believed that anyone could do it if they were present and showed respect. There was a whole lot of respect.

SR: Sounds like a great teacher.

BM: He taught lots and lots of people very effectively. He taught people to commit. Like: “Don’t walk out there with one hand in your pocket unless there’s somethin’ in there you’re going to bring out.” You gotta commit. You’ve gotta go out there and improvise and you’ve gotta be completely unafraid to die. You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have to die lots. You have to die all the time. You’re goin’ out there with just a whisper of an idea. The fear will make you clench up. That’s the fear of dying. When you start and the first few lines don’t grab and people are going like, “What’s this? I’m not laughing and I’m not interested,” then you just put your arms out like this and open way up and that allows your stuff to go out. Otherwise it’s just stuck inside you.

SR: Respect. I think that’s also a Chicago thing: Friendship is no substitute for gettin’ the job done.

BM: When I work, my first relationship with people is professional. There are people who want to be your friend right away. I say, “We’re not gonna be friends until we get this done. If we don’t get this done, we’re never going to be friends, because if we don’t get the job done, then the one thing we did together that we had to do together we failed.” People confuse friendship and relaxation. It’s incredibly important to be relaxed — you don’t have a chance if you’re not relaxed. So I try very hard to relax any kind of tension. But friendship is different. I read a great essay: Thoreau on friendship. I was staying over at my friend’s house and there it was on the bedside table, and I’m reading it and I’m thinking it’s an essay, so it’s gonna be like four pages. Well, it goes on and on and on and on — Thoreau was a guy who lived alone, so he just had to get it all out, you know? He just keeps saying, “You have to love what is best in that other person and only what’s best in that other person. That’s what you have to love” —

(click here to continue reading Bill Murray Interview – Bill Murray on Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom – Esquire.)

Oh, and I’m stealing this phrase for sure:

SR: “Everything happens for a reason.”

BM: That drives me nuts. I want to give them five on rye when I hear that. “Everything happens for a reason.”

SR: Five on rye?

BM: Five on rye.

SR: A knuckle sandwich.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 23rd, 2012 at 8:57 am

Posted in Arts

Tagged with ,

links for 2011-01-19

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  • In 1964, Lyndon Johnson needed pants, so he called the Haggar clothing company and asked for some. The call was recorded (like all White House calls at the time), and has since become the stuff of legend. Johnson’s anatomically specific directions to Mr. Haggar are some of the most intimate words we’ve ever heard from the mouth of a President.

    We at Put This On took the historic original audio and gave it to animator Tawd Dorenfeld, who created this majestic fantasia of bungholiana.

    (tags: youtube LBJ humor)
    artofjazz.jpg
  • In “The Soul of A Man,” director Wim Wenders looks at the dramatic tension in the blues between the sacred and the profane by exploring the music and lives of three of his favorite blues artists: Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J. B. Lenoir. Part history, part personal pilgrimage, the film tells the story of these lives in music through an extended fictional film sequence (recreations of ’20s and ’30s events – shot in silent-film, hand-crank style), rare archival footage, present-day documentary scenes and covers of their songs by contemporary musicians such as Shemekia Copeland, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Garland Jeffreys, Chris Thomas King, Cassandra Wilson, Nick Cave, Los Lobos, Eagle Eye Cherry, Vernon Reid, James “Blood” Ulmer, Lou Reed, Bonnie Raitt, Marc Ribot, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Lucinda Williams and T-Bone Burnett.
  • Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr tweeted on Thursday that he is planning to write an autobiography. According to Marr, no deal has been made but he has been approached with a serious offer to pen a tell-all about his time in the Smiths.
    (tags: music_history)
    79640354.jpg
  • How’s this for true grit? Famously combative, alcoholic, and drug-addled filmmaker Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs) is, as Chevy Chase might joke, “still dead” (he passed away in 1984 at the age of 59) — but that doesn’t mean Bloody Sam can’t make a comeback. Vulture has learned exclusively that producer Al Ruddy (The Godfather, Million Dollar Baby) recently unearthed a script for a Western called The Texans that Peckinpah wrote in 1980 but never got around to making.
    (tags: film)
  • Antonio McDyess is the chillest chill bro in the Association. He’s Serge Gainsbourg, stubbled, disheveled, and in love. McDyess is the serpentine rise of smoke from Tom Waits’ cigarette. He’s Chet Baker’s My Funny Valentine—the especially long version that forgets you’re listening. Antonio McDyess is all these things and a Quitman smile.
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    Inky Lautman of the Philadelphia SPHAs, circa 1939-40
  • Orson Welles and I were talking one time about the relative merits of John Ford and Howard Hawks at their best, and finally Welles summed it up: “Hawks is great prose; Ford is poetry.” There haven’t really been very many poets in pictures, but the one pretty much everybody agrees about now is the Frenchman Jean Renoir. He was also Orson’s favorite director—as he is mine—and Ford was so impressed by Renoir’s Grand Illusion (l937) that he wanted to remake it in English. Luckily, studio-head Darryl Zanuck told him to forget it; he would “just fuck it up.”
    (tags: film_history film)
    box-thumb-305x409-54278.jpg

Written by swanksalot

January 19th, 2011 at 7:02 am

Posted in Film,humor,Links

Tagged with , , , ,

links for 2011-01-01

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  • The film journeys northward from the heartland of rural Illinois to the mostly African-American and impoverished south side of Chicago; from Bridgeport, home to five generations of an Irish family named Daley, to Pilsen, hub of Chicago’s Hispanic community; from the colorful chaos of the Maxwell Street Market to the high-rise ghettos of the Cabrini Green public housing project; and from the yuppie boutiques and blues clubs of Lincoln Park to Lakeview, where Halsted is the backbone of Chicago’s gay community. …
    Narrated by Studs Terkel, Halsted Street, USA is a thought-provoking crash-course in American cultural geography that will enhance a variety of courses in American studies and history, popular culture, sociology, and ethnic studies and multiculturalism.
    (tags: film chicago)
    Don%27t+Mix+Em-770976.jpg

Written by swanksalot

January 1st, 2011 at 7:00 am

Posted in Links

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Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb

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This looks rather interesting

Roscoe Holcomb is one of the giant iconic figures in American traditional music. He personified the “high lonesome sound” so celebrated and admired today for its powerful and haunting effect. His style of singing and his brilliant banjo and guitar playing transport the listener straight back to the earliest roots of American music, a style that remained vital in his native eastern Kentucky long after disappearing everywhere else. Although Roscoe died in 1981, his masterful performances have only gained in recognition and respect since then. This DVD gathers together 2 documentaries about Roscoe made by filmmaker John Cohen and classic performances captured in the 1960s. It presents a comprehensive overview of Roscoe’s great and varied artistry as well as offering an incisive and intimate portrait of the man himself and his background and environment.

(click to continue reading Amazon.com: Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb: Roscoe Holcomb: Movies & TV.)

ABC published this:

Odds are you haven’t heard of Roscoe Holcomb. If you’re a fan of American music, though, his is most certainly a voice worth hearing.

Holcomb was the “high lonesome” singer of eastern Kentucky, a man whom performers from John Cohen to Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton revered as a source of spare, original mountain music and the hardship behind it. His voice, which reached almost into falsetto at times, told of work and pain and wondering — stoicism and emotion delivered by a man on a porch with his banjo and the traditions within him.

In the early 1960s, Cohen, a musician and historian, traveled to Kentucky to film a stark, black-and-white movie about Holcomb called “The High Lonesome Sound.” It helped propel the aging Holcomb into a career that took him away from manual labor and, for a time, into a world of performance where people appreciated him for his music.

Now, Cohen has taken unused footage from that session and several others to create a compelling new movie, “Roscoe Holcomb From Daisy, Kentucky.” It is the anchor of a definitive new DVD called “The Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb” that also features other rare video of performances and a copy of the original 1962 movie.

Quiet, introspective and moody, the new film reveals a man trying to make sense of his life and his music — a kind of music that Dylan referred to as “an untamed sense of control.” In long, lingering clips around Holcomb’s house, interspersed with performances, he comes across as a man lost in time, figuring himself out. In short: authenticity, the kind that any Nashville wannabe today would hand over his pickup and his hound to acquire.

(click to continue reading Review: DVD Revisits a ‘High Lonesome’ Musician – ABC News.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2010 at 3:36 pm