A fresh beginning...

For many months now my writing outside of the blog has been in a dismal state. I cannot go on like this! I believe it's partly to do with the nature of blogging; or it's rather the nature of how I tend to blog...spontaneously like an email. I would like my blog to give back more to me and others if I plan to continue. So, I've decided to make a few changes to how I do things. I hope it will be for the better. I'll be tweaking it until I feel it's just right. In other words, I'm getting my act together in a serious way and I'm going to be trying out some new things.

In the short term I've decided to take a look at a few books in detail in a new post feature called Reading from...

I'm going to do a re-review of Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 film, The Battle of Algiers. I've recently purchased the Criterion Collection edition of this film. After sporting my bootleg version for a few years and reviewing it in a Manny Farber style last year, I think this new version with all the goodies in two additional DVDs is going to provide for a much more interesting review. Some of the additional material is 1) A 37 minute documentary narrated by Edward Said 2) a documentary that includes interviews with the director, cinematographer, composer, editor, actors, and film historians 3) Five Directors: a short documentary with acclaimed directors Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the film's influence, style, and importance 4) √Čtats d'armes: a documentary excerpt featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution to combat the rebellion 5) The Battle of Algiers: A Case Study: Richard A. Clarke who is famous for speaking out against the Bush administration as former national counterterrorism coordinator and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror is featured in this short documentary where he discusses the films's relevance with Michael A. Sheehan, former State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, in a conversation moderated by Christopher E. Isham, chief of investigative projects for ABC News 6) Gillo Pontecorvo's Return to Algiers: the filmmaker revisits the Algerian people after three decades of independence. There's more, but that's a few of the other things I'll be writing about.

Also, I'll be doing a review of Abbas Kiarostami's film Ten. If you're not familiar with him, he's one of the most acclaimed Iranian directors. Kiarostami is famous for Taste of Cherry and Through the Olive Trees. In Ten he explores the nature of the Iranian woman's intricate sexual and social politics with a digital dashboard camera capturing video of eavesdropped conversations with various female passengers. The result is a fascinating collage displaying the complexities of modern Iran through the female lens. I'll do my best considering I'm a lowly male. [update: I might review Taste of Cherry in addition, since Ten is so sparse and conceptual.]

My Reading from... segment will begin by addressing the classic books of the martial arts of Asia. I'll do the Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, and others I've yet to decide on. Perhaps I'll just begin with typing out my favorite entries. Sometimes I'll offer some commentary, sometimes not. These books are centuries old, so you can read along with me if you click the links to the left.

And finally, for the political part of the fresh beginning...I'll be reading from The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy. This is a fascinating look at the NY Times. A newspaper I blame heavily on going a long way to justify the war on Iraq because of its famous role of being the paper of record. It was written and researched by Howard Friel [founder and president of Differentiated Information, Inc. (www.diffinfo.net), and is the author of Dogs of War: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and the Right-Wing Campaign Against International Law] and Richard Falk [the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University. He's also written Unlocking the Middle East and The Great Terror War]. It's exhaustively researched and eloquently damning. I'll be putting up excerpts and then commenting on them with emotional and factual detail.

I hope this exercise in restraint and focus will carry me out of this terrible writer's block. I'll do some emotional ranting, too. But it will be less of a feature and more sharp than before...again, I hope!

If not, at least it will be both interesting for you (I hope! ;) and I.

I feel good about curbing my criticism of the Bush administration (most of the time), and focusing on how sick the NY Times paradigm makes me feel. I'll have ample chance to lay-into disgruntled, delusional, passive and patronizing leftists, too. Muah ha ha haaaaa!!!

The small irony of having to slam the Times in this fashion is that I really appreciate the work of some of its reporters and editorialists, like Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman, and especially Nicholas Kristof...all thoughtful lefties. I've got a big soft spot in my heart for Nick (hahaha, inside joke). But I really think it's a dangerous newspaper that needs to change to reflect reality if American foreign policy is to be represented in news print with any sort of integrity. Otherwise, it is just serving the neocon idealogues in the Bush administration more than it is serving the greater portion of liberal-thinking Americans.

Anyway, yada yada...

I'll slip away now, watch Ten again, and cook up something tasty.

Much peace everybody!



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