Category Archives: Film

Political topography: Two different nations


The stark outward differences between the two major party presidential candidates are also reflected in the “likes” of the Facebook followers, as revealed in a new state-by-state analysis reported by the Wall Street Journal.

First up, their favorite actors:

BLOG CW Actors

Next, their favorite musical performers:

BLOG CW Music

And then there’s their favorite books:

BLOG CW Books

White Boy Privilege: An Atlanta youth nails it


A 14-year-old student won the poetry slam at his private school in Atlanta, Georgia, with a devastating take on the privileges inhering in the simple fact of being born white and male.

To be fair, Royce Mann is a talented professional actor who has appeared in feature films and acted on stage. He also writes, produces, and directs.

From Sheri Mann Stewart:

Royce Mann, Age 14, “White Boy Privilege”, Slam Poem


Program notes:

Royce Mann, 8th grader from Atlanta, GA, USA, wrote and performed this slam poem as part of a competition. He ended up taking home first place.

And the story, from U.S. Uncut:

Royce Mann, a white eighth-grade student and rising acting star, recently brought the house down in a passionate slam poetry performance about white privilege that is spreading like wildfire.

Mann’s poem, “White Boy Privilege,” is about awakening to the fact that the world has set the 14-year-old up to succeed while stacking the deck against women, people of color, and immigrants. In the poem, he at first celebrates his privilege, saying he “loves it” that he has innate benefits as a white male in American society, but later comes to the conclusion that his privilege wasn’t created by his generation, calling on other young white males to reject their privilege and actively demand the privileges afforded to them be shared with the rest of society.

Read the poem in its entirety:

Dear women, I am sorry.

Dear black people, I am sorry.

Dear Asian Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a better life, I am sorry.

Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I am sorry.

I have started life at the top of the ladder, while you were born on the first rung.

I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I?

Probably not. Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome.

I’m not saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay,

I’m not saying any part of me for one moment has even liked it that way,

I’m just saying, I fucking love being privileged and I’m not ready to give that away.

I love it, because I can say “fucking” and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone of my skin color has a dirty mouth.

I love it, because I don’t have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to meet other people’s standards.

I love it, because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate, instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.

I love it, because when I see a police officer, I see someone who’s on my side.

To be honest, I’m scared of what it would be like if I wasn’t on the top rung.

If the tables were turned, and I couldn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.

If I lived a life by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I failed, the world would say ‘Told you so.’

If I lived the life that you live.

When I was born, I had a success story already written for me. You, you were given a pen and no paper.

I’ve always felt that that’s unfair, but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve been too scared.

Well, now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared.

Everyone should have the privileges that I have. In fact, they should be rights instead.

Everyone’s stories should be written, so all they have to do is get it read. Enough said.

No, not enough said.

It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s character by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.

It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear, and how short they cut their hair.

But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this, that we claim to live in an equal country in an equal world.

We say that women can vote? Well, guess what? They can run a country, own a company, and throw a nasty curveball as well. We just don’t give them the chance to.

I know it wasn’t us 8th grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.

Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV and feel like that could be me one day.

Because of my race, I can eat in a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware.

Thanks to my parents’ salary, I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.

Dear white boys, I’m not sorry. I don’t care if you think that feminists are taking over the world, or that Black Lives Matter has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bullshit.

I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be.

Hey white boys, it’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear.

It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.

And just for the fund of it, here’s another take on the privileges of being born white and male from comedian Louis C.K. presented in 2014 at the 3% Conference:

Louis CK “White Male Privilege”

Guns top parents’ ‘Home Alone’ concerns list


BLOG Kids

If you’ve seen Home Alone, you know bad things can happen when kids are left without parental supervision.

But what are the greatest concerns of parents about their children should they be left in the house with no one around?

From the University of Michigan Health System:

When school gets out for the summer, parents must make arrangements for supervision of their children. This can be particularly difficult for “tweens” – children 9-12 years old – who may view themselves as too old for a babysitter, but who may be too immature to stay home unsupervised.

In May 2016, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked a national sample of parents of children 9-12 years old about their expectations for summer supervision of their tweens.

Parent Views about Leaving Tweens Home Alone

Only 43% of parents say they are comfortable leaving their tween home alone for an hour or more. Staying home alone is a routine occurrence for 13% of tweens overall: 9% of younger tweens (9-10 years) and 19% of older tweens (11-12 years) stay home alone for at least two hours every week.

Parents report that summer plans for tweens include 24% staying home alone or with siblings, and another 11% staying with a babysitter or adult relative; 23% will attend summer school or other organized activities, while 42% will stay home with a parent.

Parents have varying levels of confidence in whether their tween will be able to handle situations that might arise when parents are not home. Most parents are very confident that their tween will go to a safe place if there is a tornado or severe thunderstorm (82%) and will immediately leave the home in the event of a fire (78%). Fewer parents are very confident that tweens will recognize when they need to make a call to 9-1-1 (64%). Only 53% of parents are very confident that their tweens will not play with a gun while the parent is not home. Mothers and fathers give similar confidence ratings; parents are more confident with older vs. younger tweens, but they do not have different levels of confidence for tween sons vs. daughters.

Implications

The question of what age children can begin to stay home unsupervised, and for how long, is a vexing one for parents, particularly as children move into the tween years. Parents take into account many factors, including the maturity of the child, the age of siblings, neighborhood safety, and the proximity of friends or relatives. There is no single “right age” that indicates children are ready to stay home unsupervised. This poll shows that 13% of tweens stay home alone for at least two hours every week; tweens’ time home without a parent likely increases in the summertime, when children are out of school.

As parents make decisions about leaving their tween home unsupervised, they often consider whether the child is responsible and knowledgeable enough to make good decisions for the situations that might arise. Many parents explain and provide examples of safety practices, such as finding a safe place to wait out a storm, or knowing what to do in the event of a fire. Many schools teach about safety, either through direct lessons or as part of fire or storm drills. This national poll suggests that most parents are confident that tweens have learned these lessons and will know what to do if faced with a storm or fire while home alone. Parents have less confidence about whether tweens will be able to distinguish when a situation is serious enough to warrant a call to 9-1-1; parents likely recognize that this type of situational decision-making is more difficult for children to learn.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Farewell to one of American journalism’s greatest


Sydney Schanberg was the greatest boss I never got to work for.

Back in 2001, I talked extensively with Schanberg about a new weekly newspaper he was preparing to launch in New York. He agreed to hire me, though the pay wouldn’t be much at first.

No problem, I said, eager to work in the most powerful city on earth for a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for whom I had deep respect.

We had a lot in common, two stubborn men who had each been driven out of prestigious journalism jobs, his at the New York Times and mine as the lead investigative reporter for the Sacramento Bee, because we had dared to ask important questions about very important people.

But then came 9/11/ and with it, funds for the new venture evaporated.

Schanberg went on to write columns for the Village Voice and I would soon be hired as managing editor of the Berkeley Daily Planet.

And today, Sydney Schanberg is gone.

From today’s New York Times obituary by Robert D. McFadden:

Sydney H. Schanberg, a correspondent for The New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for covering Cambodia’s fall to the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and inspired the film “The Killing Fields” with the story of his Cambodian colleague’s survival during the genocide of millions, died on Saturday in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was 82.

His death was confirmed by Charles Kaiser, a friend and former Times reporter, who said Mr. Schanberg had a heart attack on Tuesday.

A restive, intense, Harvard-educated newspaperman with bulldog tenacity, Mr. Schanberg was a nearly ideal foreign correspondent: a risk-taking adventurer who distrusted officials, relied on himself in a war zone and wrote vividly of political and military tyrants and of the suffering and death of their victims with the passion of an eyewitness to history.

Indeed, if folks today remember Shcanberg it’s probably because of the hit film based on his book about the Cambodian genocide.

Here’s the trailer for the critically acclaimed 1984 feature film:

The Killing Fields

Program notes:

OSCAR WINNER: Best Supporting Actor – Haing S. Ngor, Best  Cinematography, and Best Editing.

A New York Times reporter and his Cambodian aide are harrowingly trapped in Cambodia’s 1975 Khmer Rouge revolution. After the war, the adviser is imprisoned in Pol Pot’s work camps in Cambodia, and the journalist lobbies for his release. Sam Waterston, John Malkovich and Oscar winner Haing S. Ngor star in this shattering true story.

Schanberg won a Pulitzer for International Reporting for his coverage of the Cambodian killing fields, and his return to the Big Apple should have marked the beginning and a rise to the top.

But Schanberg had a problem as one of his Times colleagues explained to me: “He covers the city like a damned foreign correspondent.”

Indeed.

Consider this excerpt from journalist Edwin Diamond’s 1993 book From Behind the Times: Inside the New New York Times:

In the fall of 1977. . .Sidney Schanberg, his distinguished overseas service behind him, was back in New York, on a senior editing track, and being talked about as the “next Abe Rosenthal.” Like Rosenthal a decade before, Schanberg was running the Times Metro desk and seeing New York with the fresh eye of a a foreign correspondent. In a memo to Rosenthal, Schanberg proposed major new treatment of the homosexual community of New York, which he described as “ large and increasingly middle class. According to Schanberg, “many people still think of homosexual life in terms of interior decorators, Fire Island, and leather bars, but increasingly it’s also very much a world of lawyers, physicians, teachers, politicians, clergymen and other middle-class professional men and women who, aside from their sexual experience, live like their ‘straight’ counterparts,”

Rosenthal replied that while he would always give attention to Schanberg’s ideas, he didn’t “want a whole bunch of stories or a series. A great amount of coverage at this time would simply seem naive and deja vu. It was “a question of perspective” for the Times. “Yes, there are many homosexuals, just as there are many of almost everything in New York, I have a gut feeling that if we embark upon a series for now or a bunch of pieces, it would be overkill. And here he set down his principle of inclusion-exclusion, old hand instructing the new man: There is also a question of what we want to do with our space. Space is gold, The proper use of space is the essence of our existence, because it reflects our taste and judgment. . .It is the areas of taste and judgment that, in the long run, are our most important areas of responsibility.” Schanberg’s ambitious series never appeared.

Chris Hedges, a former New York Times colleague and fellow Pulitzer winner, described Schanberg’s experiences in a 17 July 2013 interview with The Real News Network:

Sydney Schanberg, who worked for many years for The Times, was eventually pushed out of the paper as the metro editor for taking on the developers, who were friends with the publisher and who were driving the working and the middle class out of Manhattan (so now Manhattan’s become the playground of hedge fund managers primarily), says correctly that your freedom as a reporter is constricted in direct proportion to your distance from the centers of power. So if you’re reporting from Latin America or Gaza or the Middle East as I was, or the Balkans, you have a kind of range that is denied to you once you come back into New York and into Washington.

Hedges had more to say in a 27 June 2011 essay for Truthdig:

Many editors viewed Schanberg’s concerns as relics of a dead era. He was removed as city editor and assigned to write a column about New York. He used the column, however, to again decry the abuse of the powerful, especially developers. The then-editor of the paper, Abe Rosenthal, began to acidly refer to Schanberg as the resident “Commie” and address him as “St. Francis.” Rosenthal, who met William F. Buckley almost weekly for lunch along with the paper’s publisher, Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger, grew increasingly impatient with Schanberg, who was challenging the activities of their powerful friends. Schanberg became a pariah. He was not invited to the paper’s table at two consecutive Inner Circle dinners held for New York reporters. The senior editors and the publisher did not attend the previews for the film “The Killing Fields,” based on Schanberg’s experience in Cambodia. His days at the newspaper were numbered.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

And now for something completely different. . .


The late Ryan Larkin [and previously] was an enormously talented and deeply troubled Canadian artist and animator who lived his life on the streets.

For today’s ANFSCD we bring you two of his musical animations for the National Film Board of Canada, the boundless font of visual wonders.

First up is a 1971 animation from Greek mythology with a solo flute accompaniment:

Syrinx 

Program notes:

Borrowing from classical mythology, this very short film illustrates the story of Syrinx, the nymph who attempts to escape the goat-god Pan’s amorous advances by fleeing to a nearby river for help, only to be transformed into hollow reeds. Syrinxis the first film by Ryan Larkin, an Oscar®-nominated director who began his animation career in Norman McLaren’s student group. The technique employed is charcoal sketches on paper; the accompanying music is Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx” for solo flute.

Directed by Ryan Larkin – 1965

Our second offering, from 1972, features members of the community he called home, the streets.

STREET MUSIQUE


Program notes:

Visual improvisation on music performed by a popular group presented as sidewalk entertainers. The illustration is by a young film artist and animator who sees life with an amused and imaginative eye. His take-off point is the music, but his own beat is more boisterous than the musicians. He ranges from the most convoluted of abstractions to caricature of familiar rituals, including the bath. A film without words.

Quote of the day: America’s deep racial divide


Following up on our previous post, few have expressed the deep nature of the impact of America’s deep racial divide than a former Philadelphia high school teacher.

Jesse Williams, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery in ABC television’s hit series Grey’s Anatomy, has devoted much of his recent time to involvement in Black Lives Matter, producing and narrating a documentary film, Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement, for BET, where it aired last month.

Sunday night Williams was honored by BET with its Humanitarian Award, and his acceptance speech is one of the best statements we’ve heard in recent years on the plight of black Americans:

“Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

“Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.

“Now, I got more, y’all.

“Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him , so I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television, and then going home to make a sandwich.

“Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012, than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.

“Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back. To put someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid with brands for our bodies. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we pay all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here.

You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.

“Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight here, just a little side note. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”

We would have loved to have included a video of the speech, but, alas, WordPress allows us to post only YouTube and Vimeo offerings.

When we searched YouTube, all the video postings had been replaced by this:

BLOG Jesse

Viacom, the owner of BET and its brand, is, in turn, owned by a very old, very rich white man, Sumner Redstone, who also owns the Los Angeles Clippers.

And who is Redstone?

Well, consider his remarks recorded by then-companion V. Stiviano, herself of African and Hispanic heritage:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to? You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”

You can hear the whole recording here.

And now for something completely different. . .


Believe it or not, esnl was something of a geek in his younger years [yah, we know, it’s obvious].

We fell in love with film very early, because we were going to movie theaters before we ever had a television at home. We’d either sit very close to the screen or up in the balcony [the latter if it was a horror film, the former for cowboy flicks, then a staple of Saturday matinees at the Plaza Theater in Abilene, Kansas].

We were six when we got our first TV, but it was always film that was our first choice.

We were in high school when we became conscious of directors, in part because one of the greatest, Alfred Hitchcock, had a weekly crime series on the tube.

But the first director to compel out attention was the great Stanley Kubrick, who shot movies the way we would shoot still photographs — understandable, we later learned, because he was also a passionate still photographer, with an incomparable eye for composition.

Four films he made during the 1960s would revolutionize our experience of film, starting with 1960’s Spartacus, a film that played a central role in last year’s Oscar-grabbing Trumbo [which, strangely, neglected any role for a Kubrick character].

We were a passionate student of Roman history, and Spartacus brought to live an era and people we had studied in our high school Latin class. And for its time, the film was a true spectacular.

The following year came Lolita, and then in 1964 came the film that changed our life, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the stark and brilliant filmed devastating satire on the horror that lurked in deepest recesses of everyone’s mind at a time when children learned“duck and cover” exercises in the classroom and weekly nuclear attack siren tests shrieked out every fourth Friday at noon, chilling every spine at the height of the Cold War. The film was a profound catharsis, forcing us to laugh at the thing we most feared.

And then in 1968, that pivotal year in Western culture when Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were shot and students revolted in Paris and Chicago, came 2001: A Space Odyssey, probably the greatest psychedelic film ever made [and, yes, we were stoned the first time we saw it, as were most of the people in the audience in a geodesic dome theater in Orange County, California].

Other equally memorable films followed, but it was that four that awakened our deep appreciation for film, along with those Ingmar Bergman films every college student with intellectual pretensions flocked to back then [and, yes, they, too, were brilliant].

So what made Kubrick’s films so compelling?

For that we turn to a video from Channel Criswell Extra:

Stanley Kubrick – The Cinematic Experience

Program notes:

SONG LIST:

0:24-1:39 Handel – Sarabande
1:37-4:40 Schubert – Piano Trio In E-Flat
5:08-6:09 Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
6:20-8:45 Strauss – Voices of Spring Waltz
9:11-10:46 Rossini – The Thieving Magpie
10:50-12:22 Handel – Sarabande (Duel)
12:45-13:47 Gene Kelly – Singin’ In The Rain
13:53-15:44 Dr. Strangelove – Try A Little Tendreness
15:44-16:40 Mozart – March From Idomeneo
16:57-18:12 Beethoven – Ode To Joy
18:12-18:41 Strauss – The Blue Danube
18:46-20:04 – Strauss – Thus Sprach Zarathustra
20:05-20:30 Dmitri Shostokavich – Waltz No.2

It wasn’t just Crisswell and esnl who were permanently affected by Kubrick’s masterpieces.

The folks at a certain TV show were, too.

From Konbini.com via Really Dim:

#kubrick – The Simpsons – Candice Drouet

Program notes:

Stanley Kubrick And The Simpsons – Candice drouet

Here you have 25 years of visual references

Music (Midi) : Christian Cabrera / bit.ly/1TGpNdr
Paths of Glory / Dr. Strangelove / 2001: A Space Odyssey / A Clockwork Orange / Barry Lyndon / The Shining / Full Metal Jacket / Eyes Wide Shut