Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

June 21, 1953 – December 27, 2007


"When I was a very young child I remember I was always against violence. It was an era when people used to go shooting and hunting. I remember once coming out on the veranda in our home in the countryside -- and my father was teaching my brother to shoot a parrot and... I remember seeing the parrot fall down dead and bleed, and I remember being appalled by it. And I remember the parrot fluttering and I can't bear to see blood to this day or killing. I'm very much against war and conflict and the taking of life, and I think that seeing that little bird -- green and beautiful and living and chirping in the tree, and then falling down dead -- did have a profound effect. It sounds silly to say that I should feel so strongly about a bird, but I remember my father telling me when he was facing the death sentence that 'I remember the little girl who cried so much because a bird died, how she must feel.' So for me, human life is very, very sacred."


"...before [my father] died, I had my last meeting with him, in the death cell, and he said that, 'You have suffered so much.' I had been in prison myself, and he said, 'You are so young. You just finished your university. You came back. You had your whole life and look at the terror under which we have lived.' So he said, 'I set you free. Why don't you go and live in London or Paris or Switzerland or Washington, and you are well taken care of, and have some happiness because you have seen too much suffering.' I reached out through the prison bars, and I remember grasping his hands and saying, 'No, papa, I will continue the struggle that you began for democracy.' "


"If you believe in something, go for it, but know that when you go for it there's a price to be paid. Be ready to pay that price and you can contribute to the welfare of society, and society will acknowledge you and respect you for it. And don't be afraid. Don't be afraid."


"I think that as nation states begin to become weaker because of the force of globalization, there will be a greater reversion to ethnicity and to religious violence. I fear that the international community lacks a mechanism for conflict prevention or being in a position to end the conflict. Everyone is looking towards America, and the American people have their own problems. They can be there if there's a strategic concern, but they can't be there everywhere. So there is a lack of growth of regional institutions that could deal with regional violence and leave the global problems or the strategic problems to the more global powers. I fear the 21st Century could witness a period of contradiction where there is the greatest era of peace -- the super power rivalry having gone -- but there is a lot of localized violence."

--Benazir Bhutto (Interview from October 2000)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Kate Nash


"Your art is too delicate. If you margot2desire the pat on the back too much, then you're not going to be true to the purest form of it. It's a constant struggle not to need the feedback, to try and stay true to your innermost voice. You need to protect it with a strong force field."

-- Nicole Kidman

"As an actress you have to be willing to be bad. margotYou have to be willing to jump off the ledge, which is a lazy metaphor but the best I can do right now. But, you know, a willingness to fall on your face and know that your director is going to catch you. If you don't have that, if you're protecting yourself in your performance, it's not going to be good."

-- Jennifer Jason Leigh

From separate conversations with Michael Cunningham about their new film Margot at the Wedding for Interview Magazine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Best Movies of 2007 (New York Times)

"I know it’s hard to believe, but during the past 12 months I sometimes went two or three weeks in a row without finding anything to mock, deflate or be disappointed by, and my inner curmudgeon was frequently elbowed aside by a wide-eyed, arm-waving enthusiast."

-- A.O. Scott

"These aren’t necessarily the year’s best (impossible to determine given the glut of films), just the two that matter most to me, that dug in the deepest and rearranged my own givens."

-- Manohla Dargis

"The betrayal of the body, decrepitude and death: in 2007 an unprecedented number of serious films, along with the usual slasher movies, contemplated the end of life. Might they be a collective baby-boom response to looming senescence and a fraying social safety net? Or do they reflect an uneasy sense that humanity is facing end times, when global warming, terrorism, nuclear proliferation and the war in Iraq, or any combination thereof, could bring on doomsday?

-- Stephen Holden


My Man, My Moon

1 2 3 4


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Emotional Risk Is Where It's At

Starring Frank Langella, Lauren Ambrose, Lili Taylor, Karl Bury, Anitha Gandhi, Sean T. Krishnan, Jessica Hecht, and Adrian Lester"Starting Out in the Evening...takes on a character who, in his daily grind [as an author], approaches the question of transformation. He looks at character, he looks at life, and he's looking for the collision between the two in order to speak about what humanity goes through. But the irony here is, in his own life, he's removed himself from the intimacies that put him at risk.

"I suppose one of the things that the struggles of my own life have taught me is that emotional risk is where it's at. That's where real change comes from. That's where real growth comes from. That's how we stretch our life muscle as artists and that's how we make our relationships work. We avail ourselves. We open ourselves. And I find that theme dominating almost everything I've been working on for the last ten years. This idea of surrender. This idea of opening rather than closing."

--Director Andrew Wagner in conversation with Elvis Mitchell on KCRW's The Treatment (12.12.07)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Making an Object of God

Rick Scibelli Jr. for The New York Times

"Enlightenment? I don’t like the subject at all...but the question really is, what is satori in the first place? About satori, I believe you can find all sorts of different descriptions of it in the bookstore if you go there and I feel a lot more coming to the bookstores, a lot more different descriptions."

“Buddhism does not acknowledge the existence of a world-creating God. But having said that, Buddhism does not at the same time reject the existence of God.

"There are a lot of different books out there. But the moment someone says the truth or God is an object or takes it as an object, that is already a mistake. God is neither object nor subject. The moment you say any little thing about God, you’re already making an object of God and Buddhism cautions you about that. At that moment you’re making an idiot out of God, you’re making a fool out of God."

--- Sasaki Roshi, "A Very Old Zen Master and His Art of Tough Love," Ralph Blumenthal, The New York Times (12.9.07)

Real Red Blood

"In high school, you know, there really wasn't that much around in terms of music. I mean , grunge was kind of happening, but me and none of my friends were old enough to go...We had kind of a top 40 station. But Nashville Skyline -- my parents owned it. I knew Dylan's name, but I dusted that record off and put I it on because of Johnnie Cash. It took a long time for the rest of that josh_ritter2record to sink in, but 'Girl from the North Country' hit me hard. I really think it was like somebody discovering punk for the first time.

"That was my moment when I realized that music was something that anybody could do. You know, here it is -- it's imperfections and it's excitement and the fact that it's real red blood making this record. And really singing. It sounded like they'd been up all night. You could almost tell that they needed to shave.

"Without that song, I might not have ever discovered it. I mean, it was just such a huge moment. I really think it was like seeing the person you want to marry. Either that day or the day after, I went down to Kmart and I got a guitar."

-- Josh Ritter discussing the influence of Bob Dylan on his musical career (Studio 360, 11.23.07)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That Empty Space

Writers are often asked: "How do you write? With a word processor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand?" But the essential question is: "Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas - inspiration." If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn. When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. "Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?"

-- From Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (12/08/07)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Money Makes You Numb

"Radiohead is not the first act to try what one of its managers, Chris Hufford, calls 'virtual busking.' But it’s the first one that can easily fill arenas whenever it tours...After fulfilling its contract in 2003 with its last album for EMI, 'Hail to the Thief,' Radiohead turned down multimillion-dollar offers for a new major-label deal, preferring to stay independent.

"'It was tough to do anything else,' Mr. [Thom Yorke, the band’s leader] said during Radiohead’s first extensive interviews since the release of the album. 'The worst-case scenario would have been: Sign another deal, take a load of money, and then have the machinery waiting semi-patiently for you to deliver your product, which they can add to the list of products that make up the myth, la-la-la-la.'

"Signing a new major-label contract 'would have killed us straight off,' he added. 'Money makes you numb, as M.I.A. wrote. I mean, it’s tempting to have someone say to you, You will never have to worry about money ever again, but no matter how much money someone gives you — what, you’re not going to spend it? You’re not going to find stupid ways to get rid of it? Of course you are. It’s like building roads and expecting there to be less traffic.'”

-- From "Pay What You Want for This Article," by Jon Pareles, New York Times (12/09/07)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Drifter's Song

Photo of Chen Xing taken by Gideon D'ArcangeloA ballad by Chen Xing featured in a Studio 360 segment (11/16/07) by Gideon D'Arcangelo. "One hundred million Chinese have left rural homes to work in the booming cities of northern China. Their lives are hard, dangerous, and lonely."

On the way to work, I meet you.
There's so much sadness I share with you.
We never ask, Where are you from?
But when you need me, I'll be there for you.

We fall in love when we work together.
There are so many expectations we share together.
We bring each other the hope of happiness.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We Wii, Whee!

Two boys are bowling in their living room. They cheer when they make a strike and laugh when the ball rolls into the gutter. While one is taking his turn, the other looks ready to snatch the bowling_ballwhite remote control device from his hand.

I can't tell whether their happiness comes from: (1)knocking down a respectable number of pins, (2) WiiTM ownership, (3) the novelty of the device and/or the specific game, (3) getting it for free, or (4) an awareness of being watched.

Rather than pointing out the limits of the boundary between entertainment and advertising, it is one more sign of how permeable that line has already become. I'm convinced this is only the beginning. While it feels hollow, it also feels like I'm missing out on something fun. The stronger feeling defines me as being inside or outside the market -- for the show and for the product.

Their mother abandons her dirty dishes to investigate the enthusiasm. After the gods closed the door early on the development of her height, they opened a million virtual windows into homes across the country. She tells them she once played on a league, but the idea of a real bowling alley, its smoke-filled air laced with rental shoe disinfectant, sounds as inconvenient as relying on a dull pencil to manually track the results of one turn based on the outcome of the next.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Highest-Resolution Photograph in the World

From "Masterpiece Home Theater," by Virginia Heffernan, New York Times Sunday Magazine (12/02/07):

"'Water Lilies' is the second-most-popular cellphone wallpaper sold by water_liliesBoston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which opened a new digital-images shop in September. This service is only the latest future-shock innovation at the museum, a civilized institution that has nonetheless adopted what one tech reporter scarily described as a policy of “aggressive digital-capture.” Having taken high-resolution photos of 350,000 works in its collection, and having magnanimously made almost all of them all searchable on its Web site, the M.F.A. now has one of the biggest image databases of any art museum in the world...

"Really, though, the high-res 'Water Lilies' has nothing on the stratospheric-res 'Last Supper,' which you can see free at the Web site That’s right: da Vinci’s glorious mural — which time has rendered as delicate as a watercolor, and which you can’t see for even 15 minutes live in Milan unless you have a reservation and have been professionally decontaminated — is now the subject of what is said to be the highest-resolution photograph in the world.


"Under the direction of the curator Alberto Artioli, an Italian tech firm called Hal9000 took nine hours earlier this year to shoot the mural, using a robot-controlled Nikon D2X digital camera that popped a wincing but harmless flash on 1,677 distinct pieces of the mural. Shot at 12 million pixels each, these pieces were digitally stitched together like a computerized quilt, radically increasing the resolution. The result blows the mind: an image that can be scrutinized as closely as if you had your nose to the mural, in perfect daylight, with 20/10 vision, wearing contact lenses made of microscopes."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happiness Regardless of Conditions

"The sage accompanies and welcomes all that happens, both that which is arising and that which is dying...This is why his joy is unconditional."

-- Feng Yu-Lan

"Thought is not the enemy. Your enemy is the lack of moment-to-moment clarity about the arising and passing of thought. Thought is every bit as much part of the flow of nature as body sensations are. Indeed, your entire being is part of nature...In enlightenment, the unconsciousness and fixation associated with ideas and body sensations which produce a sense of self get eliminated. The sense of self becomes a home rather than a prison. You can come and go freely."

-- Shinzen Young

As It Is

Wednesday (11/28) was "the 250th birthday of William Blake, born in London (1757), who was 4 years old when he saw God's head appear in a window, later saw the prophet Ezekiel sitting in a field, and once came upon a tree full of angels. He tried to tell his parents about these visions, but his father threatened to beat him for lying, so he stopped mentioning it.

"Instead, he began drawing pictures, and his work was so promising that his parents sent him to art school to become an engraver. He learned how to engrave copper plates for printing illustrations in books, and he went on to produce the illustrations for books about architecture, botany, and medicine. His work was so good that he was commissioned to come up with his own illustrations for the work of Chaucer, Dante, and selections from the Bible, which are now considered among the greatest works of engraving ever produced. He even invented a method of printing illustrations in color, and art historians still aren't sure how he did it.

"But as he became more famous for his artwork, Blake also began telling the artists and publishers he worked with that he was regularly visited by angels, and that he had conversations with him. He told a friend that he had discussed Renaissance art with the archangel Gabriel, and Gabriel preferred the paintings of Michelangelo to those of Raphael. Blake's work as an illustrator grew more and more bizarre, until finally he could only make a living by selling watercolors to a small group of private collectors.

"Blake had also been writing poetry for much of his life, and since he had his own printing press, he decided to print it himself. He developed a process of writing his poems directly on copper plates and then engraving illustrations around them. He would print a few dozen copies and stitch them into pamphlets, which he sold himself. His books got no attention in his lifetime. Most critics dismissed him as a madman. He died in 1827, and it wasn't until 1863 that a biography about him persuaded people to read his poetry for the first time."

--The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor


If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

--William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Beauty of Building an Image

"I was once told that the age you are is the age you were when you became who you are. Does that mean I am perpetually 11? portmanI’m not sure I want to have that strict an image. In the movie business, there is such a temptation to stick with a particular persona. There is a kind of artistic branding. Sometimes I think I like the Glenn Gould approach. He obsessively played Bach’s Goldberg Variations over and over until he achieved a kind of perfection. Julia Roberts has a Glenn Gould-like career. And then there is Cate Blanchett. She is different all the time. I respect both approaches, but I don’t really want to always play a version of myself. The beauty of building an image is then you have something to break."

-- Natalie Portman, "Screen Goddess," Lynn Hirschberg, New York Times Style Magazine, 12/2/07