Sunday, September 30, 2007

Friedman Gives Enchilada Excuse to Rant

Since Times Select is no longer, I now can read what the opinion makers at the New York Times have to say. I was not going to pay extra to read these people, and apparently lots of other people felt the same way.
The Thomas Friedman article, which is the most emailed today, basically states that we have become a stupid nation since 9/11, which is entirely true. It is our great misfortune that this incident happened to be on the watch of the stupidest president ever, so our great leap backward is exponentially compounded.
Friedman complains that leaving or entering this country by airplane has become so absurdly stupid and humiliating that one thinks twice about showing up at an airport. I don't blame any tourists that look with serious reservations at the prospect of being treated almost like common criminals once they deplane. They may rather spend their money and their time in places where they are appreciated, not viewed with irrational suspicion.
The situation has become untenable. The moronic ritual of taking the shoes off, the humiliation of being treated like cattle by murgatroids with, let alone no education, but no training and no prospect of using sensible criteria if indeed one of us turns out to be a terrorist. My rosewater is confiscated because it may turn out to be explosive. Lip gloss is not allowed, but lipstick is. This is insane and there is no justification for such stupidity. Things like these do not make us safer. Intelligent screeners and smart measures make us safer. The whole process seems to be designed in a punishing way, as if wanting to leave the country, either for business or pleasure, is some kind of morally dubious enterprise. It is provincial and xenophobic, which is what this country is fast becoming.
The other day I accompanied a friend to the airport. The machine that screens the big luggage collapsed, stalling the passengers who not only had to drag their own bags to it but still had to go through the metal detectors and the sock showing dance. However, there was an identical machine functioning in perfect order two feet away, with very few passengers, but it didn't seem to occur to anybody to get that machine to screen the bags for this flight. Too much trouble to drag those bags two extra feet.
Friedman is right. Our airports are dumps, our cellphones are medieval, we do not have enough public WiFi and the United States now lags behind on everything that characterizes the 21st century, from gay unions to making technology accessible to everyone. But as long as someone can make a buck, someone will come up with a twist. I saw at JFK these branded machines that I'm sure you pay to screen your info so you don't have to go through the security nightmare. This should be the case with all passengers and one needn't have to pay for it. I wonder who is going to get rich with that concession. Halliburton?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Obama in my hood

In case the media failed to report that there were a lot, a lot people yesterday at Washington Square Park to see Barack Obama, I'm telling you there were. Lots of young students from NYU, but lots of old codgers from the nabe and lots of very diverse people. Very lovely. It was great he chose the center of Greenwich Village to preach to the converted. I would have stayed, had it not been for a stupid advertising event I had to attend and which I regretted the moment I walked in the door. I'd much prefer to listen to what Obama has to say that to scream inanities in a noisy bar full of advertising people. By the time I left the joint, it was too late, the rally was over. Department of Wrong Priorities.
Oh well.

What A Pill!

The Grande Enchilada is obsessed with weight just like everybody else, and so was curious about the new non-prescription weight loss pill called Alli, that comes in a very beautiful case with very pretty, colorful lettering.
Since the Enchilada is always deeply suspicious of medicines in general, and of diet pills in particular, she did a little research. According to the Enchilada the only truly successful way to lose weight is to stop fressing (something that she is not quite prepared to do), so a diet pill that everybody can buy is deeply suspicious. No more than half a second into the research, Enchilada finds the catch: not only do you have to eat a low fat diet while you are on this pill, but if you don't, you crap in your pants. The pill only allows you 15 grams of fat per meal, which as far as the Enchilada, amounts to starvation.
However, my question is, if you already have to be dieting and starving, why the hell do you need a pill that gives you the runs? You stick to the low fat diet and you will lose weight without shitting in your pants.
Meanwhile, people in Africa, etc, etc.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Department of Why is This News?

Cynthia Gorney (another Mexican Jewess!) writes a very entertaining and informative article in last week's NY Times magazine about the Hispanic ad agency Grupo Gallegos and through them, about Hispanic advertising in particular. I admire Grupo Gallegos, for it tries to do original and fresh creative work. But my beef is why this article sounds like news when Hispanic advertising agencies have been doing it for years.
Regardless of whether Hispanic ad agencies choose to do cheesy ads with abuelitas and piñatas or not, it is a frustrating reality of the Hispanic advertising world that people still react to it as if it was newly minted, or as if it is a remote and exotic thing they know nothing about.
Even though, the growth of Hispanic spending has mushroomed to hundreds of billions of dollars a year, as the article points out, the pace at which most American corporations are adapting to this trend is still glacial, and their budgets still puny. Hispanic agencies and production houses are used to performing miracles with budgets that would be considered laughable in the general market world.
Then there are the corporate clients. Some are relatively enlightened and respectful of the cultural differences, even if they find it difficult to understand them. No client wants to hear that their wonderful global campaign needs to be tailored, sometimes beyond recognition, to reach the Hispanics here. But many clients are ignorant and indifferent, and deeply resistant to spend on Hispanics, even if it means making more money for their brands.
Sometimes, some of the worst clients tend to be acculturated Hispanics themselves (I've had a couple of cases of this) who look down on the recent immigrants. They tend to underestimate the intelligence of the audience because of an ingrained prejudice that tells them that these people have to be talked to as if they were mentally incapacitated. There are those Hispanic executives that champion the market and fight to get their brands out there, but those are not in the majority.
Most of the time though, bridging the gap in Hispanic advertising between client and consumer feels like an endless limbo of incomprehension (you feel you are from Mars, because that is how they see you) and it takes enormous effort to educate clients (then your newly enlightened brand manager leaves to be replaced by another one who doesn't understand zero and you have to start from scratch). Some agencies, like Grupo Gallegos, do not believe in talking down to their audience, although I found it rather frightening that someone there would think that their audience doesn't know who Napoleon is. I once worked for a Hispanic chief creative officer who thought that Mexicans didn't know about the pyramids in Egypt or who Cleopatra was, but she wanted us to change the pyramids to the time of the Aztecs to sell a car. We had a screaming fight trying to convince her that Mexicans were not going to appreciate someone defacing their historical monuments with a pickup truck. This kind of patronizing, contemptuous attitude oftentimes comes from agency people themselves. And as is usually the case in immigrant communities, the worst culprits are those who feel ambivalence towards their immigrant origins, people who may have been seriously discriminated and disenfranchised when growing up here and who don't wish to be confused with the illegals still arriving today. The reality is that those of us who make commercials are college educated upper middle class people with all this entails in terms of Latin American class prejudice, which is plenty.
I have always felt that advertising should raise the bar, not lower it. And if some in the audience don't know who Cleopatra or Napoleon are, the commercial should encourage them to find out.

There are 11 million Hispanics in this country. There is Ugly Betty on TV. There is more Latino influence in the culture than ever before, but people choose to be oblivious, if not patronizing.
One would think that people would be a little bit more attuned to the brown people among them.
But don't get me started. At this point, this magazine article should not be so didactic. Hell, at this point it shouldn't even be news.

Department of the Obvious

People are all in a tizzy because Giuliani had a fundraiser where he asked people to donate $9.11 to his campaign. It is execrable, but my question is why are people so shocked. The man has been exploiting this incident, which is the only thing he has going for him, since 9/12, 2001. So has the retard we call President, and for even more nefarious purposes. Let's pool our collective outrage and vote these schmucks out of our public life.

I'm starting to hate facebook

1. I get an advertising from that new TV show Gossip Girls in my page, as a "sponsored"post. I don't want it there but I can't delete it.
2. I don't want to know that this friend or the other changed a period into a comma in his or her profile every five minutes. But did you know that in your preferences you have a kind of equalizer console that allows you to get more news from some friends and less from others? It's sick and brilliant at the same time.
3. What's with all the applications? I got an invitation to an application that happened to be sponsored by Travelocity. And they warn you that they can look at your information. Too Orwellian for my taste.
4. Is facebook substituting actual human social contact?
5. I got a request for friendship from someone that is more of a strict business acquaintance. I don't even actually know this person in person. She is a supplier. I think Linked In (another waste of time) is more appropriate for that, no?
6. I started receiving several posts from a blogger. I wrote him that I felt he was spamming me and now I am in mortal fear of having offended him. I could send all my facebook "friends" every post that appears on this here blog, but I don't: a). because it is annoying and b.) because I figure that if my url prominently appears on my facebook page, people can use their fingers to click on it and read, if they so desire.
7. I have a feeling that I don't really know how to use facebook.
8. I'm having facebook anxiety. And I'd much rather have analog social anxiety. At least you can sidle up to the bar and order a gin and tonic.

Thanks to fierce Mimosa from Paris for inspiring this article with this link.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shocking Nazi Photos

Forget about the usual horribly morbid pictures of Jews in Hell.
Quite astonishing are the pictures of the Nazis who ran Auschwitz frolicking happily around at the camp in their merry SS uniforms, playing the accordion, etc.
The pictures are quite chilling.

Run, Sarko, Run!

What is cooler than Nicholas Sarkozy, plenipotentiary ruler of Vive la France, running in Central Park with an NYPD t-shirt?
Absolutement rien.
Can you imagine both sarcophagi Mitterand or Chirac donning the same? Mais, non!
Go, Sarko!

I'm having a heart attack

Call 911. They are putting a Starbucks across the street. On the corner of Houston and West Broadway.
I am seriously hyperventilating. This is the beginning of the end.

Middle Enchiladita and her husband, who are in town from DF, fail to see the harrowing implications of such a development. They look at me as if I was totally deranged.

I suffered in semi-silence when Subway, the sandwich chain arrived (2 in a one block radius). I kvetched to no end when Kim's Video materialized into a Duane Reade. I'm looking at the new Pinkberry on Bleecker St. with deep distrust. I rue the day that my Price Wise Pharmacy became a stupid North Fork Bank. And now this. This is pathetic. It's the last straw.


I loved the headline of The New York Post today, a paper I usually loathe:

The Evil Has Landed.


Welcome to NY, You Medieval Vantz*

So the President of Iran went to Columbia University today and he got a good taste of what freedom of speech is about. I applaud Mr. Bollinger for challenging him in no uncertain terms. Mahmoud is a gifted provocateur and he should get as bad as he gives. Why should anybody treat him with kid gloves?
He is a liar and a hypocrite and a world-class manipulator, and when he got a chance to answer to some pointed questions, he didn't. Why? Because as a tyrant he only knows demagoguery. He is not used to open, frank debate; just to spin and sophistry.
He loves to bandy freedom of expression about, but in his country people are not free to express themselves unless it suits the Islamic revolution. He denies aiding terrorism; he is simply lying. Hezbollah exists because Iran pays for it. He claims there are no homosexuals in Iran, which got him apparently, the most scorn. Perhaps he thought he'd be talking to a bunch of American yahoos. He was sorely mistaken.
Basically it was a conversation with a skilled sociopath.

As I have pointed out before, his extremely savvy oversimplification of the fate of the Palestinians and the Holocaust presents, in my view, his most dangerous argument, because it looks to delegitimize Israel.
Ignorant people will just nod their heads in agreement when asked what do the Palestinians have to do with the Holocaust? Well, there are many historical circumstances and missed opportunities and deeply complex political reasons why the Palestinians ended up the way they did. Had the Arab countries not attacked Israel in 1967, perhaps a different fate would have ensued. There is no pretending that Israel has been entirely blameless, but Israel is certainly not the only culprit of the situation today. The Arab countries don't give a whit about the Palestinians as long as they continue being their pretext to attack Israel (which allows them to divert their citizens from the realities of their own appallingly undemocratic countries). If they cared, they'd be helping get these people a state and an infrastructure and a functioning economy, not just sponsoring terror groups, as they do. They would achieve so much more by creating the economic and social conditions where a state would be inevitable. The way it stands right now, how can anybody think something resembling a state can be achieved, when the Palestinians are killing each other for power?
Israel and the Holocaust cannot be blamed for that. History does not work in a neat, linear way, as Mahmoud would have it.
On both sides, ideology and sheer hatred have trumped common sense and pragmatism. As long as that continues, with louses like Mahmoud fanning the flames, there will never be peace.
In the meantime, I wish him the worst.

*louse in Yiddish. An obnoxious, disagreeable person. A nit.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Oliver Sacks writes an amazing article in this week's New Yorker about a man with the most severe case of amnesia ever recorded, who nevertheless never forgot how to play and conduct music.
I have always wondered why amnesiacs forget everything but can speak and walk and do most mechanical functions. Well, Dr. Sacks explains it beautifully, as always. I will not attempt to explain it back to you and completely maul the text and the science of it. But in a nutshell, we have different kinds of memories and their centers are located in different parts of the brain. Memories of the past are different from the memory that allows us to learn how to perform tasks, so that you could be an amnesiac like Guy Pearce in Memento and still be able to talk, walk and write or drive a car.
But without memory of the immediate past, you have no life. If you have no memory of the immediate past, everything happens for the first time every second, kind of like Groundhog Day, but much more nightmarish and scary. You live in a dark limbo of non being. I'm still trying to understand the implications of the different kinds of memories and how they work together, for I sense that this subject is deeply metaphysical, not only scientific. It's about how memory is identity and how having a past means having a life, and it is about the nature of time and of emotion. Stuff that requires lots of brainwork.
Sacks also talks about how we remember music, which he explains, we not actually remember it, but we relive it every time we hear a melody again.
The fact that this man was able to lift himself (temporarily) out of the darkness of a life without memory through music and through love is something enormous. I just hope they don't make the Hollywood weepie about the triumph of love with Reese Witherspoon as the wife.
It's tempting to give it a stab, though.
Please read the article. It is astounding.

Evil, cont'd.

Some "community" center in Florida is sending a bunch of illegal Mexicans to Canada with the false promise of an easily granted asylum. Canada grants asylum to people who can prove they were persecuted due to politics, religion, sexual orientation, etc. The poor Mexicans who are flooding into the Canadian border have only been persecuted by indifference and poverty and the increasingly incoherent and hypocritical immigration policy of the US. So it is highly unlikely that they will be allowed to stay. But this brings up an interesting point. Why is poverty not cause for asylum? Isn't it even more permanent and insidious than prejudice? Isn't it the child of prejudice?
We all know that the number one answer to this rhetorical question is that if poverty were good reason for asylum, every rich country on Earth would be drowning in poor people. But that means is that we are willing to tolerate poverty as a status quo, much more than some less boring miseries. And still poverty is the worst of all.
In any case, Jacques Sinjuste, the general director of the Jerusalem Haitian Community Center has been charging these poor folks $400 a pop to help them fill out Canadian asylum applications.
Anything with a Biblical name on it that charges money to help somebody fill out a form is already very sinister in my view. Why charge so much for the service? Mr. Sinjuste, an apt surname if there ever was one, claims it's not a fee but a donation. Yeah, right. This is malicious and meanspirited.
And I truly wish my hardworking compatriots would not be as gullible and as desperate as to believe everything they hear. The Mexican government should be protecting them, not the Canadians, who apparently are showing up to welcome them with food, for the time being.


It is a testament to the endurance of human evil that throughout history good inventions are promptly put to bad use by evil people. Witness a perfectly fantastic invention like the train, used by the Nazis to transport people to their deaths.
Today, as we know the internet is used for nefarious sex trade purposes and spreading hateful ideas, etc. But there is more: kids at school now use their cellphones and internet to bully other kids.
Cyberbullying is even more cowardly than regular bullying, because at least in the second instance you have to make the effort to show up in person, whereas with cyberbullying you can hide behind the anonymity that technology affords. How despicable.

Little Rant

I hate the word "community". I think it's overused.
Now everything is a community.
The internet is a community. Aspiring filmmakers are a community.
Two people with a toe fetish are a community.
People who don't floss are a community.
I resent that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I say bring him on!

Let that despicable louse try to come to ground zero. I suggest people take out their firearms and take a shot at him. We'd be doing the world a favor.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bertie Russell

Sir Bertram, to you, is my new best friend. For I am now enthralled with his History of Western Philosophy. It's the entire megillah of Western thought explained through the views of a smart, curmudgeonly atheist, which is super fine by me. I figure it was high time I finally found out what all the fuzz about philosophy is all about (I was very scared of it in college) and he is probably one of the best people to ask.
I love the book because he has opinions, of course, and mostly they are against religion, barbarity and superstition. He is very idiosyncratic. Sometimes he talks at length about things like logic, sometimes he gossips (my favorite parts). His sense of humor is dry and crackly, elegant and understated.
Surprisingly, the huge tome makes for relatively breezy reading, for Bertie writes in a very personal, entertaining way, except when he gets all logical on me. He is an excellent bedtime (and bathroom) companion, and after several enlightening bedtime pages, he is very conducive to a good night's sleep.
He blames religion for setting back the cause of science and progress and is sometimes willfully incomprehending of certain faith based actions that to us mere mortals sound exaggerated but typical of believers. We expect them to behave like that.
For example, he says that the Jews who rebelled against the Greeks were heroic for silly reasons like refusing to eat pork or not to be circumcised. Well, these reasons may seem silly to him, but it was not the pork or the prepuce in themselves, but what they signified. To the Jews these arrogant, disrespectful threats meant breaking the pact they made with God and they felt they could not do that without seriously compromising their identity.
Another example: He can't for the life of him understand why St Augustine was so obsessed with the fact that when he was young he stole some pears from a tree. According to Bertie, the illustrious saint goes on and on and on in his Confessions about the terrible sinfulness of his youthful prank. Does it occur to Bertie that perhaps St. Augustine is not being merely morbid and masochistic, and that he may be trying to understand the root of random, unnecesary evil in the soul of a young man? I agree that it is a bit too much; that we need to have a sense of proportion (not a quality typical of saints, by the way); but I welcome the exploration. Why indeed steal when you are not hungry and you don't need to? It is an important philosophical question, no?
So far I'm only up to the Church fathers, not even in the Middle Ages yet, but I can tell you, from what I've read, I'm with the Epicureans all the way.
I have always hated Plato, because even when I first studied him in high school and college, he made no sense to me. People who glorify absolutes scare the shit out of me, and he was a fascist, as far as I'm concerned. The lust for perfection (purity, superiority, etc) can lead to some really horrid ideas, like Nazism. I do not wish to be living in an imperfect world, knowing there is a perfect world somewhere that I'm not privy to. What good does that do me? It is elitist and snobby and horrible. I don't mind living in an imperfect world and we all recognize its failings and its wonders. I don't, in fact, mind imperfection. We should embrace it. All this striving for virtue and perfection has brought humanity nothing but grief. All this denying that evil is as part of our nature as good, is just untenable. That's why you get self-righteous pricks trying to force their virtuousness on everybody else. We cannot excise evil from our nature, but we can tame it and neutralize it and make it useless. We can also dial up the good without being total pests like the people from PETA.
Instead of trying to be superhuman, we may just want to make things better for our fellow man during our short stint on Earth and fuck whatever happens next somewhere else, which is entirely irrelevant. That is my philosophy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Madonna is our new saviour

She is in Israel talking about peace with Shimon Peres. This is the new way the world goes. The Jews and the Arabs can't bring themselves to talk to each other, but rock stars are willing to do their part.
Apparently some Rabbis are objecting to Madonna's interest in Kabbalah, because she is a Catholic, even though she is now aka Esther. If the Rabbis are not going to do their part, it should be none of their business if some enterprising pop star wants to take the heavy, useless mantle of holiness away from them and actually do something useful. I'd love to know what conclusions Shimon and Esther reach in their spiritual talks. Perhaps through her divine intervention the problems of the Middle East will suddenly be solved.
There is something about incredibly wealthy celebrities looking for spiritual realization that really rubs me the wrong way. Don't really know why. It just does. I have to say, when normal people do it, it bothers me too, but celebrities get way too much mileage out of their piousness, whereas nobodies are just a pest to their family and friends. Still, I have to say, if they put it to good use, one should not complain. People are always going to make fun of Madonna and her latest mishegoss, and she can cry all the way to the bank or the little red thread wrapped around her wrist. At least she's not a scientologist.
I think it is high time Esther finally converts to Judaism. So all Jews can count her as Jewish and all the gentiles can complain about how Jews rule the world.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Department of Dinosaurs

As news of a Led Zeppelin "one time" reunion spread, over 20 million people tried to get tickets to attend. Screw Genesis (puhleeze). Screw The Police (they keep adding shows in NY and somehow, that makes me think ill of them). This is rock'n roll news.

Hey mama see the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove

Even I like them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Department of Proud Aunts

Little Enchiladita reports that my darling nephew, Little Enchiladito I, is genetically inclined to anticlericalism, a trait that definitely runs in one side of the family.
This is what the five year old had to say apropos his imminent visit to temple tomorrow:
"Going to shul is the worst".
"Why?!", asked his mother.
"Because at school I go to listen and learn and at shul I just go to listen. I'd rather go to school to learn".
Well said, my little budding atheist! God bless your smart little kepaleh.
I'm kvelling so much, I'm almost plotzing.

Honey Cake Crisis

Happy Rosh Hashana to one and all. To Jews and non-Jews (of the non Jew-hating persuasion. Jew haters can rot in hell today and forever).
Today I will buy a challah bread and some apples and will dip in honey. I will not attempt to bake my mother's wonderful honey cake, as I have in Rosh Hashanas past when I would suffer what was diagnosed as Honey Cake Crisis. This fleeting syndrome tended to happen a couple of days prior to the holiday in which I would want to commemorate the new year, not by going to temple and praying, God forbid, but by trying to have exactly the same honey cake my mother used to make. A futile notion, if there was ever one. No store bought honey cake could ever wish to get anywhere near my Mom's honey cake, which was dark and rich and moist. The recipes I found did not approximate it either, though one came close. I think the secret is that she used Nescafe.
So today, in order to avoid the malady, I will forgo the search and procurement of the Honey Cake, and will make do with Challah and honey instead.
May you all have a happy, healthy, peaceful, creative, joyful year.

It's Not Good to Be King

I bought the tickets in January to have the privilege to see Sir Ian Mckellen as King Lear yesterday.
We sat in the nosebleed section which I'm sure gives us a completely different experience than that of those sitting in the orchestra seats. From up there, I could see a termagant audience member who decided to rest his sneakered foot on the stage, which was very close to the first row. Had I been an actor, I'd have taken a sword and chopped his foot right off. Geez.
Shakespeare live is dicey, to say the least. Done badly, it can be beyond excruciating. All you can do is try to hang on to the text and forget everything else. This production by Trevor Nunn (the man who gave us Cats, among other things) and the Royal Shakespeare Company, cannot be counted among the Shakespeare done bad, but it has its ups and downs. One expects the members of the RSC to be proficient in Shakespeare and they certainly are. Sitting as we were, in Olympus, we could hear perfectly well. If the actors are miked, the mikes are a marvel, if they are not miked, well then I am in awe. The sound was natural and clear, though as is usual with Shakespeare, not everyone spoke clearly (although they did speak more clearly than most local productions I've seen).
Given that Lear is a long play (it clocks in at 3:30 with a 15 minute intermission) Mr. Nunn kept it moving as briskly as possible. Thus, the pacing helped immensely, even though I kept anticipating the intermission as long and hard as I anticipated the storm scene. Both took a while to finally arrive.
The one advantage of sitting in the heights, is that you can see the mise en scene very clearly and this production was clean, spare, solid and well paced.
But you must be raring to know, so what up with Gandolf? Well, one thing is clear: his schlong, which he exposes during the storm, is as long as the play, as even from the heights it was clear to see. Now that we got that out of the way, I kind of kept wishing I could see Michael Gambon play the part. Don't get me wrong, Sir Ian is great. He's got all the chops, and I wonder, sitting where we were, if we did not miss the nuances you can only get from up close. He was a suitably imperious king, prone to violence, stubborn, proud and stupid, but not pathetic. I saw the Laurence Olivier production on TV and his Lear was kind of feeble, weakened by dotage, asking too much for sympathy. Not Sir Ian. He got a lot of mileage out of the physical old age -- the trembling hand, the wobbly walk -- but he was strong of mind. However, I missed the tenderness in some scenes. My favorite scenes of his were the quiet ones, when he has Cordelia in his arms, when he asks of nature what is it that hardens men's hearts. But when he was proud and fierce, he growled too much and there were chunks of gorgeous text I strained to understand. His rhythmic choices were sometimes too virtuoso for my taste. I was a bit frustrated with all that growling.
For some reason, people were dressed like Russians at the time of the czars in the XIX century. It took me like an hour to figure out what historical era they were supposed to be in, until they started to dance like Russians and all that was missing was the dancing bear. The music was confusing too, sometimes Russian, sometimes early XX century vaudeville. Perhaps the melange is intended, it doesn't matter much. The same with the weapons. There are rifles, but people fight with swords (no doubt to show off the magnificent fencing abilities of the actors. The fights rocked). The sounds of war sounded like bomb blasts from more current times. As is usual with productions for current audiences, there is a lot of trying very hard to be funny at the beginning so that people can feel they get the jokes. In some instances, it mildly works; for the most part I find it obnoxious. People laugh at the actors mugging and telegraphing their gestures, not at anything in the text. I hate it when Shakespeare productions pander to the audience. But that is soon forgotten because thankfully King Lear is a dark, dark play.

Here I must stop and say that Shakespeare rules. Whether he was one or many, male or female, dog or cat, he, it RULES.

Some of the actors were terrific. William Gaunt was a stupendous Gloucester. Frances Barber was a fantastic Goneril, and I really liked Oswald, Goneril's servant, played by John Heffernan.
But I hated the fool (Sylvester McCoy). The fool is the truth teller, and he is the closest person to the King. Here, unfortunately, they decided to make him into a hamming, cheap music hall performer and he strenuously overdid every single line. It's bad enough that we audiences today cannot ever hope to laugh at some of the obscure Shakespearean puns; but the actual funny, ironic lines were lost in a merciless barrage of singing and dancing that grated on the nerves. You are supposed to feel enormous pity for the fool, and enormous admiration for his smarts and his love and loyalty. Instead you want him to shut up.
The same with Cordelia (Romola Garai) and Edgar (Ben Meyjes). I liked that this Cordelia was not saintly but fierce and opinionated. However, Miss Garai overacted every gesture and flung herself in all directions rather mechanically. As for Edgar, he was boring, no small feat for an interesting part. When virtuous characters are pains in the ass, it's not a good thing.
All in all, it's a good production of a great, challenging play.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Poor Britney

Since MTV is the most irrelevant entertainment in the world after Miss Universe, at least we have the internets to alert us to the fact that there were MTV music video awards yesterday, in which poor Britney Spears performed. This girl needs a good consigliere fast.
Let me point out that I couldn't give a shit about Britney Spears and her troubles, except inasmuch as she brings up my pageviews today; but as I read all over my computer screen that she looked fat, I had to see for myself. She looked comatose, lobotomized, and utterly farblondget, but I'm extremely concerned by the fact that news reports said she looked fat. She may have seemed a little chunkier than her normal prancing self when she was 17 years old, but for a trailer trash woman with two babies and a steady diet of cheetos, she looked fine to me, as she was wearing only sparkly panties and a bra (and a potentially wayward wig).
Please do take a look at the growing numbers of obscenely obese people in this country (at your nearest mirror), and then tell me in all seriousness that Britney looks fat. It's not fair.

Why do people hire Sarah Silverman? She is the most unfunny, obnoxious woman in the annals of comedy, perhaps the history of the world. But her leaden, mean-spirited, witless shtick served a purpose yesterday. She made me pity poor Britney.

New and Improved!

I have finally arrived at the 21st Century of blogging, long after everyone already departed for the next one, but I am a late adopter. In the new layout you will find convenient labels where you can peruse and find your favorite topics more easily. I have spent the entire weekend labelling the posts, which are like 800 in toto. So far, about 200 posts are labeled, from the latest one down and I intend to label them all, even if it takes me another century to do it. The only ones that are not labeled are the ones that defy categorization, like this one. You will find the list of labels on the second side bar on your left, below the Enchilada Files. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

OMG! Major Makeover!

Do not panic, dearest readers. It's moi! I just decided to get a bit of virtual plastic surgery, because I was tired of the freaking dots. I hope you like my new look. I think it's classy.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Naming names

I have decided that in the event I have offspring or a pet or a new piece of lugagge that I particularly adore, and according to the Latin Caribbean tradition of naming discussed elsewhere in this blog, I will name them Netflix. And in further accordance to the penchant for misspelling the names of those they wish to honor, I may spell it Nethfliz. It's gotta a nice ring to it and it's unisex too.

Tastes like Buttah

My problem with the curious news that popcorn kills is the following:
Why do we need butter FLAVORING? Can't we just add the butter chez nous?
Having said that, I have noticed that movie theater popcorn makes me antsy. I don't know if it's the vast amounts of salt or something more sinister, but after eating popcorn I feel as if I had two cups of espresso. If anybody shares this experience, please come forward. We may have found a relatively healthier and much cheaper form of cocaine.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The funniest thing ever in the NYT

Thanks to formerly exotically named Mimosa for sending me this item from the NY Times.

Hugo, "Fidel Jr. " Chavez, wants to enact a law whereby he limits the astounding naming capabilities of his fellow Venezuelans, who apparently take the cake when it comes to inventing the most involuntarily hilarious names for their children. To wit:

So long, Hengelberth, Maolenin, Kerbert Krishnamerk, Githanjaly, Yornaichel, Nixon and Yurbiladyberth. The prolifically inventive world of Venezuelan baby names may be coming to an end.

If electoral officials here get their way, a bill introduced last week would prohibit Venezuelan parents from bestowing those names — and many, many others — on their children.

What a bunch of killjoys. Listen to this:

The children in the Vargas family have names like Kleiderman Jesús, Yureimi Klaymar, Yusneidi Alicia, Yusmary Shuain, Kleiderson Klarth and Yusmery Sailing..
I can't stop laughing. I will attempt some etymologies:

Yornaichel I'm sure is in honor of George Michael, formerly of WHAM.
Kleiderman Jesús, which is my second favorite after his brother Kleiderson Klarth, may very well be indebted to the genius of piano muzak, Richard Clayderman. Whereas Hengelberth, probably derives from Engelbert Humperdinck, the lounge singer.
Yurdiladyberth? I have no idea.
Whimsical names can also be found in other Latin American countries. Honduras has first names like Ronald Reagan, Transfiguración and Compañía Holandesa (Dutch Company), according to the newspaper El Heraldo. In Panama, local news media this year reported name-change efforts by an Esthewoldo, a Kairovan and a Max Donald.

But Venezuela’s naming tradition rivals or exceeds that of its neighbors, many people here say. Some first names in Venezuela include Haynhect, Olmelibey, Yan Karll and Udemixon, according to a list compiled by the novelist Roberto Echeto.

Other names here easily roll off the tongue in English, like Kennedy or John Wayne, or in Russian, like Pavel or Ilich, reflecting influences from the cold war era.

“The children of my cousins are named Keiserlin, Jeiserlin, Keifel, Yurubi, Arol Kiling,” said Leidy Marrero, 29, a budget analyst.
Arol Kiling?
Some parents exercise that right more liberally than others.

Software searches of the voter registry find more than 60 people of voting age with the first name Hitler, including Hitler Adonys Rodríguez Crespo; eight Hochiminhs, among them Hochiminh Jesús Delgado Sierra; and six Eisenhowers, including Dwight Eisenhower Rojas Barboza.

I don't know about Hitler (and the parents of the poor little Hitlers, what scumbags!), but you gotta admit that Hitler Adonys has a certain charm to it.

Read it and weep

Some machiavellian spin devil has come up with the idea of having politicians, members of congress, presidential candidates, etc, "write" a book, so we all know that they are actually human.
Apparently, POTUS is the latest. He didn't write it, since he is incapable. But he did give a number of interviews to a journalist. The book is called Dead Certain, which I don't know if it's funny or creepy or both. So without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, here are some chicken mcnuggets of wisdom from the President of the United States:

"I've got God's shoulder to cry on. And I cry a lot. I do a lot of crying in this job. I'll bet I've shed more tears than you can count, as president. I'll shed some tomorrow."

Let us know at what time tomorrow, so we can count them. Let's see if there are as many tears as Iraqi civilians and American soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq.

He also said: "I do tears".

Well, guess what? I do vomit. And I do pipi and caca.
What the hell kind of language is this for the leader of the free world?

Apparently, decisions in the Bush White House are made like they are in kindergarten, with a simple show of hands, like: who wants peanut butter and jelly? Who wants tuna fish?

Draper tells of an April 2006 dinner at which Bush asked aides for a show of hands on whether his divisive defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, should be fired. The vote: 7-4 to get rid of him, with Bush siding with those who wanted him kept on for the time being. Rumsfeld was replaced after the elections that fall switched control of the House and Senate to Democrats. White House aides who wanted Rumsfeld out were privately dismayed when retired generals called publicly for his ouster, fearing that would steel Bush's resolve to keep his defense chief, the book says. Bush, without addressing that meeting, suggested to the author that the ex-generals did get under his skin.
"My reaction was, 'No military guy is gonna tell a civilian how to react,'" he said.

Exactly. Why listen to the generals? And there's more:
• Said he wants to make money — "replenishing the ol' coffers" — after his presidency. He said he could make "ridiculous" money on the lecture circuit, citing the experience of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, as well as his own father.

Bush sample lecture: I do shit. I do farts. I do pee. I do jokes. I do God.

And finally:

"I wouldn't be president if I kept drinking. You get sloppy, can't make decisions, it clouds your reason, absolutely."

Abuse of the honest

I got stopped by a policeman in North Salem, NY for speeding. I was speeding allright. He gave me a ticket. I was going 50 when I should have been going 40. I pleaded guilty as charged.
The fine is $50. Fine by me. Upstanding citizen that I am, I'm ready to pay for my offense.
So yesterday I get the official thing in the mail. My guilty plea was accepted and now it turns out that I have to pay $130 and they don't accept personal checks. Needs to be a money order or a certified check.
What, no credit cards?
Apparently, there is a mandatory $75 surcharge imposed by NY State. WWWWWTTTTTFFFFF?????
On the grounds of What is this surcharge? And if my math is correct 50+75 = 125, not 130. WTF?
Why should the State be abusive to those who break the laws? There is no reason for that. If the fine is $50, then it is $50. If they want to make it steeper they should, but what is this surcharge business?
It's abuse of the honest citizen.
I hate Albany.

Meanwhile, enjoy the silence!

Some NYC cab drivers are striking because they don't want GPS, credit card and advertising technology installed in their cabs. I agree with the GPS and the advertising. A cabbie should know how to go places. He's supposed to be the GPS. The advertising nobody needs. But the credit cards? In many other cities in America cabs have credit card machines and it is very convenient for the passenger, particularly if you are traveling for business. I bet a lot of people would take advantage of the fact that they could easily expense a cab ride with a credit card, instead of waiting for a car service to show up.
Truly, when a ride from the airport costs almost 60 dollars, they can't expect everybody to fork out cash. It's medieval.
However, I don't see why it is the drivers who have to pick up the 5% surcharge for use of the credit card. That should be picked up by the cab owners, who as far as I understand, are succubi from hell.
Or, if they are going to be carrying plasma screens showing ads, they should get a cut of the profits somebody is making with these screens. That would be fair, no?
As you know, the sorry state of cabs in NYC is one of my favorite rants. I bet there is much more urgent stuff to reform in the cab industry than installing GPS and advertising plasma screens. Like for instance:
• Why doesn't the city institute a program to help cabbies afford to own their own cars? Like microloans or something. Cabbies are almost like indentured slaves the way things are. Why does a medallion have to cost a fortune?
• Why do cabs have to be gas guzzling monstrosities, instead of fuel and space efficient compact cars? • And lastly, why has nobody implemented my sensible suggestion to deliver an electric shock to the netherparts of any cabdriver who honks a horn unless it's a matter of life and death?
Actually, we could implement this program with ALL drivers. Aural bliss is what would follow.
As you ponder these apparently intractable questions, enjoy the relative quiet on the streets today, brought to you by all those striking cabbies that are mercifully not out honking their horns as usual.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Amateur Weekend

For the past two nights we have been subjected to a proliferation of trashy, misbehaved people shrieking drunken incoherences and flaunting their uncouth vulgarity in the streets of Manhattan. Truly, you can't go out on a Saturday night anymore. It's not for amateurs, it's for retards. If, on a weekend such as this one, there happen to be 2 Saturday nights instead of one, you might as well barricade yourself at home.
First outing: dinner at Panna II, Indian restaurant off 6th St. I've eaten there many times, alas never on a Saturday night. Well, never again. Apparently Panna is famous for celebrating people's birthdays with a decibel level that is beyond human endurance. Their motto (and they are an inexplicably joyful bunch, considering the kind of customers they have to contend with) is, and I quote from their business card: "Where chili-pepper lights meets Christmas-tree lights".
On the night in question there seemed to be a birthday party on every table. Because it's byob, and the alcohol is thus cheaper, celebrating bands of miscreants get sloshed out of their wits and toast and scream as if they were living in a cave all by themselves. Panna is the width of a subway car, if not narrower, so if you are not in the mood for the kind of sensory torture reserved for Abu Ghraib inmates, you should find your aloo motor gobi somewhere else.
After such an edifying repast we wandered around the streets of the East Village, where you can still find absurd white kids having the enormous gall of asking you for money. A friend wanted to go to a hookah bar and, having never done so, we set out to find one. We settled on the one on the corner of 6th St and Ave. B. We puffed on a hookah that had a "fresh apple" taste and it was mildly mellowing and diverting. We were sitting outside on a lovely night, chilling out, while the waitresses seemed to be stressed out of their wits. We soon found out why. The shrew who runs the place unceremoniously came to our table, after screaming at our harried waitress in front of us, and bellowed at us that we had to go because she was going to lose her business. They apparently are not aware, being from an unspecified hellhole in the Middle East (could be Israel, could be Egypt -- this here is an egalitarian prejudice), that there is such a thing as LAST CALL, where you gently inform the customers that they need to start getting mentally prepared to decamp.
In general, the population out on a Holiday weekend in NYC gives one pause. Now I know why everybody leaves town.
Still, yesterday morning, after a well deserved lunch of soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai, where the crowd organization skills of the staff could be put to good use in Iraq, we took a long walk east on Grand St, all the way to the FDR and then to Alphabet City and Loisaida. And lo and behold, NY was calm and quiet and lovely and gorgeous. Our amigos at the barrio were busy barbecuing in their lovely community gardens, and everybody was enjoying the fine weather. This leads me to believe that the culprits of the barbarian invasions are not in our midst, but probably come from the netherworld that is across our sundry bridges out of the city. By Sunday night we were back to barbarism, witnessing on West Broadway an old, fat, bald, squat man abusing a young woman. To the credit of the revelers many set out to defend her and somebody actually called the police, who arrived tout suite. This, plus the requisite gangs of drunk, retarded, potty mouthed screamers. In nights such as this weekend's I have a deep fantasy that I own a long range semi automatic rifle, or some such accoutrement, and like a Sheriff, I establish law and order in my beautiful town.