February 27, 2005

E.T., we love him!

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 12:18 am


So since I recently revealed my love for less than stellar movies, it should come to NO surprise that I love E.T. Like many children of the 1980s, it had a profound impact on my under-developed psyche, representing a high-grade form of formative trauma that balanced out what was a more or less life or privilege otherwise marked by a much lower grade of constant trauma borne from a higher than statistically normal number of flying dishes, the direct outcome of a less than loving marriage.

So in 2001 when the movie was released, I of course had to go see it in big screen. I was pretty sure that despite my love of trash, the movie would bore me, its thrill, extending only out to a 10 year old girls/boys psychology. I mean I knew I would dig the hardware hacking scene but I was fruitfully surprised by the critical complexity of the film.

While at dinner on Thursday with a bunch of anthro friends, we somehow got on the topic of Speilberg movies and most of them, very sadly, loved the Indiana Jones trilogy but did not share my adoration of E.T. (who I love more now that I know my mom thinks of herself as E.T. due to her really wrinkled skin). There was one friend who, however, did not only share my fondness for the brown stodgy creature from the very far-reaches of outer space but LOVES HIM EVEN MORE than me. The news was surely exciting to me and my immediate reaction was a typical 1970s expression of deep inner joy: FAR OUT.

But as it turned out, there was more excitment than I could ever imagine. She revealed that there was a Bollywood, yes Bollywood movie loosely based on E.T, Koi Mil Gaya (and of course the first thing to pop to my IP-obssessed mind was is that even legal and damn where can I rent that?)

But even better is that my friend, which is one of the geekier things I have seen produced by her, has written a fairly in-depth commentary comparing these two wistful movies cocentrating on the social and political implactions within the narrative which ultimately is the journey of boyhood into manhood.

So if you love (or possibly hate) E.T. as much as I do, Gen’s analysis is pretty stellar:

“It is for this reason that Koi Mil Gaya is far more violent than ET and also far more hopeful. In a more human and social world, confrontation is inevitable but victory is possible. Although both stories tell a child

February 23, 2005

Skating Dog

Category: Humor — Biella @ 9:10 pm

So Sato is a Puerto Rican street mongrel and while clearly the dog about to be portrayed ain’t no pure bred mutt, he is a Roaming Sato in so far as he can skate. Bitchin’

February 22, 2005

Hungry Hungry Hippos and the representation of a relation

Category: Personal — Biella @ 1:47 am

SO I usually don’t have high standards when it comes to movies. I have an uncanny ability to lose myself in plot, kick back, and just be with the movie. But there are certain movies that I like more than others, and, Donnie Darko is one of them. The reasons for the higher than normal attraction are many, too many to lay out here but they span from its representation of sacrifice to the silliness of the following scene when Donnie was talking to his shrink while under the spell of hypnosis:

Donnie : My parents didn’t get me what I wanted for Christmas.
Dr. Lilian Thurman : What did you want?
Donnie : Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Dr. Lilian Thurman : And how did you feel, being denied these hungry, hungry hippos?
Donnie : Regret.

Sometimes one scene, one phrase, like when Donnie Darko says ‘Hungry Hungry Hippos” that just seals the deal for me–> I decide I really like the movie.

Like many folks of my age, background, and politics, I tend to like the genre of “hipster” darkish underground movie that eventually reach a state of cult classic, like Harold and Maude, Garden State and Donnie Darko. I have to qualms of admitting that my like for these movies indexes the type of person I imagine myself to be and you call can fill in the blanks as to what that may be.

That aside, one of the things I like about them is that through a very powerful trope common to many blockbuster flicks, i.e. the transformative power of romantic love (all of these are uber-romantic, even Harold and Maude), they get to a much broader scope of love, that transcends individual/sexual need and fullfillment and in the words of Thomas Merton to represent love as “an intesification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life. We do not live merely to vegetate through our days until we die.” And to awaken to this intesifcation, is to bear one’s heart, mind, and eyes to the fact of tragedy and pain. It comes with the package, so to speak.

But one thing that has frankly deply annoyed me about the new instantiations of flicks that tend to embody certain Harold and Maudesque qualities (although the Sci-Fi element of DD stands on its own for sure… Hmm side-track –> notice that all of the men in these three flicks were in some capacity deemed as a little nutso? I also find it significant in H and M that meds were never an option. Sending him to the military was considered before meds! Can you imagine that today? Impossible but that is a whole other subject… ) is that they have the balance between yin and yang all off. I better restate that as a whole sentence:
But one thing that has frankly deply annoyed me about the new instantiations of flicks that tend to embody certain Harold and Maudesque qualities balance is that they have the balance between yin and yang all off

Simply put in the newer breed there is too much yang and too little yin. The female characters in all of these movies bring the males to some greater understanding of love, that leads them out of a paralyizing cacoon. And Maude, despite being a nearly 80 year old chix0r, stood fully on her own as a compelling character. And perhaps it is just a function of her age, but I think it goes beyond that. She had a dynamic force that simply is not there with the female counterparts in GS and Donnie Darko. The female characters are anemic, which I don’t think is a function of bad acting, but of the role given to them in the screenplay. They are some lesser vessel, brining the males to a higher place, and then at the end we sort of throw out the vessel to focus our gaze on the hero-male.

And this yang ying dealio, I don’t think it is simply or at all about gender balance. It is more about the fact that the form is not true to the conent. The relationship between the two characters is one in which one realizes oneself in the other and vice-versa. There should be some sort of symmetry there (even if they occupy different roles and positions at different times), in which both characters are fundamentally transformed in ways that are interesting for the audience. For all I care it could be between man and humanoid-duck but there seems to be something un-even in which one character gets all the plot-glory (even while he for examples sacrifices himself to saved his beloved and the rest of the world, ok, so DD is a super-hero but still…), and the other is short changed, in the processes shortchanging the viewer.

I think it is harder for sure to capture the transformation into love, in which nuance is given to two characters instead of one. But if it is a relation being explored, I think that the challenge is there to be met… But in the meantime I will still enjoy my Hungry Hungry Hippos…

February 20, 2005

jitterbug sparkle sauerkraut

Category: Humor — Biella @ 12:47 pm

Once in a while I receive a piece of spam whose combination of words in the subject header I think would make for some very fine poetry or a really cool name like:

Jitterbug sparkle sauerkraut.

“Hi, Tony, my name is Jitterbug Sparkle Sauerkraut…. Yes indeed I was raised in a macrobiotic-eating circus-hippy farm in the backwaters of Vermont run by a band of fun loving, tree-hugging, houligans who loved to make huge vats of crunchy, zingy, sauerkraut, which we gave freely to anyone who wanted.”

February 17, 2005

The crossroads of pain

Category: Personal — Biella @ 11:22 pm

Taken from an energetic standpoint alone, pain is a very potent and powerful entity. It is a strange beast that I am sure animates people to produce works of sublime beauty, a foil by which to save oneself from the drowning always at the crossroads of pain. And of course a good many people at some point decide that the pain is unbearable, ending their life by the force of their own hands.

At least once a week, my mother tells me she would rather die than lead the life she does. And much of the time, I am not sure what to respond and my reaction ranges from erecting more protective layers, to silently agreeing that maybe such suffering is not worth it, to trying to skillfully change the subject to keep her mind off her pain and end the torture of hearing such talk from someone who you love. It is frankly some of the most painful words I have heard in my life and yet, I know as my mother’s health declines, there is more in store. The tip of the iceberg is starting to reveal its larger mass.

Years ago in college, I immersed my self in the study of religion concentrating on Buddhism. Since then I only occasionally have stepped foot in a church or temple or have given my sight and mind to Buddhist scripture. While in SF, there was a little more connection through the mere fact of osmosis. It seems like everyone and his cousin as a spare yoga mat in their car and is involved in at least one of the

February 15, 2005

Bemoan the Maroon

Category: Not Wholesome — Biella @ 11:33 pm

I decided the title of my last entry is misleading. It is not what Posner is smoking, but what is he NOT smoking. He needs to lighten up a little, and experience some aspects of the world and life (like perhaps suffering and the “poor” as opposed to the “nonpoor” he refers to.),

On the other hand, the Chicago Maroon needs to get a better fact checker or their reporters need to be smoking less dubbie when writing thier articles. This is the third article they have written about SOSHI and this is the third time we will be writing them to tell them they got simple facts *wrong.* So in this article they claim that:

SOSHI estimated that if effective changes are not made, graduate students could pay up to $1,375 for their insurance by the 2009-2010 academic year.

Well, that would be AWESOME being that the basic rate is currently over $1600. Though I wont be here in 2010, it would be pretty nifty if students only paid 1,375 in the future. Fat chance though.

I actually admire the Maroon staff more than I portray here. These kids spend like 20 hrs a week, slaving away unpaid and produce a good solid newspaper. But three times in a row is starting to look like a pattern.

February 14, 2005

What is Posner smoking on the other side of the midway?

Category: Not Wholesome — Biella @ 12:51 pm

There is a man on the other side of the midway as we say here in U of C, whose name is known in many circles, Judge Posner, and whose theories on medicare are over the top, insane. In a nutshell he believes:

As a matter of economic principle (and I think social justice as well), Medicare should be abolished

Here is the core of his “rosy’ view in which individuals are “free riders’ while corporations and the free market will be able to provide in a way that is just and equitable for those otherwise hardworking Americans.

hen the principal government medical-payment program would be Medicaid, a means-based system of social insurance that is part of the safety net for the indigent. Were Medicare abolished, the nonpoor would finance health care in their old age by buying health insurance when they were young. Insurance companies would sell policies with generous deductible and copayment provisions in order to discourage frivolous expenditures on health care and induce careful shopping among health-care providers. The nonpoor could be required to purchase health insurance in order to prevent them from free riding on family or charitable institutions in the event they needed a medical treatment that they could not afford to pay for. People who had chronic illnesses or other conditions that would deter medical insurers from writing insurance for them at affordable rates might be placed in

February 11, 2005

Better Livin’ through Evil

Category: Humor — Biella @ 9:24 am

System administrators are really thier own breed of people.
Firely independent, they exude a cowboy sensibility, a lone ranger, who fixes the server crash with nothing short of arrogant bravado.

So apparently, some of the HOTTEST sys admins (ie, hot as in can administer a box with no problem) have a little help from the red man below:

It has long been a widely-acknowledged fact among the System Administrator community that fixes to broken servers involve what is commonly known as “Voodoo” — That is, illlogical sequences of actions which, despite their apparent stochiastic reasoning, nevertheless seem to fix the problem at hand.

We here at Satanic SysAdmins suggest a more “scientific”, quantifiable approach. We maintain that there are definite, easily laid-out steps which can resolve various daily problems with a minimum of fuss. All it takes is absolute compliance to these simple instructions and unswerving devotion to our Lord and Master, Lucifer Light-Bringer.

You can muck around with jumper and software settings for hours, but in our experience, the most simple and direct solution involves the ritual sacrifice of a domesticated fowl, i.e. the common chicken or duck. Under a full moon, slay the chicken with a Tongan war club. Setting parapherneilia like candles, bells, and naked nubile dancers is recommended but not obligatory. Drip the blood of the newly-slain beast onto a Tibetan prayer scarf, and wrap said scarf around…

February 10, 2005

Ode to PGP

Category: Humor — Biella @ 11:40 pm

I have been somewhat absent on this blog as of late in part because of teaching responsibilities and I think my absence will only grow more apparent (to be explained soon).

In class this week we read some material on crypto and privacy such as Database Nation, and Steven Levy’s Cryto Rebels. The student response papers really grappled with the many complex issues surrounding ‘privacy’ which as one student noted is such a catch all term that it does not do justice (often in fact occludes) to the very diverse issues that get tagged onto it.

So one student in his response paper decided to tell an ironic story about downloading PGP, worth sharing (with permission of course)..

9:05AM: I download the PGP installer from www.pgp.com and install the encryption program. I am surprised by the interface

the awe from lack of sleep

Category: Personal — Biella @ 11:22 pm

Often when I am very tired, life seems even more odd and strange, wicked and wonderful than it probably is. And today it was one of those days when everything seemed to be hang by a delicate string, but that string, no matter how thin, is one that transmits some small bits of wonder, that strike as such only because you really need more sleep. But I happily will take those small bits of wonder even if an artifact of some otherwise troublesome insomnia.

So, for example, today, as a way to keep myself awake I decided I was so tired, I must wear my bright orange sweater and this satorial decision elicited two considerably positive responses (one from a student after class, the other from a Hyde Park south sider while walking home). It seemed to make both of them incredibly happy and I was equally happy that a sweater of a certain color could induce such an effect.

Earlier in the day I also had a long conversation with someone about LISP, one of the geekier computer languages. Apparently this woman’s b-friend was a Lisp-Lover, and free software developer and it was just cool to talk shop with a fellow anthropologist about the arcane world of geeklandia that she knew from her partner. So when I came home only to find out that my friend seth had recommended I listen to a humorous song about LISP I was very excited.