September 19, 2008
Yeah, it’s not modern rock related, I just think it’s funny. You can click it to enlarge it, by the way.
August 28, 2008
Some years ago now, the NCAA took action against the use of racist Native American sports team mascots. The University of North Dakota has resisted change, however, and has tried to hold on to their Fightin’ Sioux mascot, despite the lack of official support from surrounding tribal communities. NBA coach Phil Jackson, an UND alumnus, lately took an opportunity to speak out against the mascot:
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — NBA coach Phil Jackson accepted an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, and asked the school to think hard about its Fighting Sioux nickname.
In his 20-minute speech during Monday’s ceremony, Jackson did not specifically say UND should do away with the nickname, but he asked officials to ponder what could be gained by keeping it.
Jackson said he had been asked by his Lakota friends to speak out against the nickname. He said UND has a chance to embrace change.
Under a settlement reached last fall with the NCAA, UND has three years to win the approval of North Dakota’s Sioux tribes if it wants to continue using the name without sanctions. The NCAA considers the name hostile and abusive, but school officials dispute that. – Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
Thank you, Phil Jackson!
March 9, 2008
First of all, the prehistoric special effects extravaganza 10,000 B.C. (or 4000 B.C., dependent on how old you think the world is) is a Roland Emmerich movie, which means you’re getting many movies in one. In this one, you’re getting a bit of Quest For Fire and Clan Of The Cave Bear, a lot of Dances With Wolves, some Braveheart, some Apocalypto, some 300 and the “Let my people go!” aspect of The Ten Commandments. You also get woolly mammoths, one saber toothed tiger (friendly), many prehistoric ostriches (not friendly) and vaguely Native American-like cavemen in dreadlocks (not that the movie takes place anywhere near the Americas). Now if you think this is going to add up to a serious movie about our distant past, well, to scare up a quote from my distant youth, “You must be high!” It’s also about historically accurate as The Land Before Time, and shares a similar approach to characterization with that movie. What 10,000 B.C. is basically is 109 minutes of goofy CGI action adventure, with a script that goes in such wild directions you may be inclined to think the scriptwriters were high when they were writing it. It’s elevated by some great location work, and a general desire to entertain. It’s definitely not a great movie, but neither is it boring, and as an undemanding popcorn movie, it works just fine.
MONKEY RATING: THREE (WOOLLY) MONKEYS
(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)
From the Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2008:
“Author admits gang-life ‘memoir’ was all fiction
By Bob Pool and Rebecca Trounson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
March 4, 2008
The gripping memoir of “Margaret B. Jones” received critical raves. It turns out it should have been reviewed as fiction.
The author of “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed autobiography about growing up among gangbangers in South Los Angeles, acknowledged Monday that she made up everything in her just-published book.
“Jones” is actually Margaret Seltzer. Instead of being a half-white, half-Native American who grew up in a foster home and once sold drugs for the Bloods street gang, she is a white woman who was raised with her biological family in Sherman Oaks and graduated from Campbell Hall, an exclusive private school in the San Fernando Valley…”
Though falsified memoirs and autobiographical works have become something of a literary trend lately, writers claiming Native American ancestry or connections who are subsequently exposed as frauds is something of a long standing literary tradition. Two years ago, Nasdijj, who had presented himself as a fetal alcohol syndrome affected Navajo writer, was revealed to be a non-Native who had previously tried to make a career out of writing gay erotica. Coincidentally, the day after the story broke, James Frey appeared on Oprah to confess fabrications in his memoir, A Million Little Pieces. Other writers who have falsely claimed Native ancestry or connections include Jamake Highwater and Forrest Carter, whose Education Of Little Tree, which was originally released as a memoir but is now classified as fiction, remains in print. Carlos Castaneda made millions writing “non-fiction” books detailing his mystical experiences with a Yaqui Indian, don Juan, whose existence has been called into question, if not flat out denied, by many respected anthropologists and scholars. Castaneda’s works also remain in print. Yet Margaret B. Jones’s book has been pulled by its publishers. To quote Pee Wee Herman, “What’s the significance? I don’t know!” Well, I do, more or less, as it seems faking Native American ancestry or connections seems to be the easy, and for many, the preferred way into the world of publishing. However, what has happened to Jones and Nasdijj seems to be the exception rather than the rule, as the works of Highwater, Carter and Castaneda all remained in print long after their authenticity was called into question. Clearly, the publishing industry needs to rethink its method of verifying the authenticity of the works it keeps offering to the public as “memoirs,” just as it needs to rethink on what grounds they choose to represent authors as Native American, or else those claiming to speak for Native Americans, and what they do when those authors are exposed as frauds.
February 23, 2008
Full blown audiobook production of Max Brooks’ zombie epic, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, features an impressive list of actors, most giving vivid readings: Alan Alda, Carl and Rob Reiner, Mark Hamill, John Turturro, Henry Rollins, Ajay Naidu and Jurgen Prochnow are some of the best known names in the cast. Brooks himself voices the journalist whose oral history gives World War Z its structure, as he globetrots to places as varied as China, Japan, Israel, Africa, Cuba, Chile and the United States, among other stops, to gather first person accounts of the decade long war against a worldwide epidemic of the flesh eating undead. The book is necessarily episodic, as the various sections explore how the zombie war impacts the world politically, socially, militarily, economically and psychologically in richly imagined and surprisingly very realistic scenarios. Some sections don’t work as well as others, of course, others are questionable, including one that portrays Iran as an irresponsible nuclear power, and there’s more than one descent into the cornball. One section in particular involving a Scottish character is afflicted by a difficult to understand performance, which fairly spoils that story. Those things aside, however, World War Z is generally absorbing and entertaining, often suspenseful and scary, and chock full of the walking dead. This abridged version of the novel may placate fans eagerly awaiting the forthcoming movie version, currently in development.
November 15, 2007
Totally killer album from Swedish band the Hives, who serve up their rock with “a little punk,” to quote Pelle Almqvist, their lead singer. The Black And White Album, produced by Pharrell Williams, is easily the most consistent record they’ve yet done, with only one cut I thought was a bit of a dud, “Giddy Up!,” and it’s not even that…dud-like of a track, really. It’s just not as good as everything that surrounds it, which is otherwise relentlessly high powered, infectious fun, 45 minutes wherein you’ll be sure you’re listening to the most fun, most rockin’ band there is now. Standout cuts: “Tick Tick Boom,” “Try It Again,” “You Got It All…Wrong” and “Bigger Hole To Fill.”