Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I still look through young man’s, eyes though skin and bones are aging,
My mind’s eye disagrees with it, despite what mirrors are displaying.
How could I have these coltish thoughts, I should be out there playing,
Some say it’s time to pack it in, and spend more time with praying.
This cannot be, I shall not let, this existence be simply delaying,
the inevitable, the lonely slide, death’s scythe in tense belaying.
so off I go to enjoy some romp, though hair is quickly graying,
I’d rather spend my time in sowing than on the winter haying.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I saw today that Iran is proposing to outlaw the ownership of dogs. As they mull this measure, I can envision the squads of basij dogcatchers roaming through the suburbs in search of muslim mongrels. Apparently not only are clerical authorities concerned about the threat pets pose to the faith, but the keeping of dogs (and cats, I understand) is apparently deemed too Western for their tastes. No doubt there is a class element at work here as well (as wealthy Iranians supposedly took up the ownership of lap dogs). I can almost see in my mind the cartoons forming in the minds of political pundits and critics of this oppressive regime!! Immediately I envisioned a possible cartoon of an Iranian woman wearing a burkha walking down the street, with a little dog (also wearing a beaded veil) tucked under her arm, and a basij confronts her, and the caption reads: "But Brother, this is not a dog. . . " In America, next to even considering restricting any aspect of gun ownership, people would simply be apoplectic if someone proposed taking away our pups. People would rebel, they would fight. I wonder if this measure is also aimed at those who are not Muslim (will they be allowed to own dogs), or if this is another way to isolate the few that still live there. I don't quibble with someone of faith choosing not to own a dog, but to impose the restriction on everyone is exactly why I quibble with governments control by religious zealots. As long as one is not imposing on one's neighbor (say, their dog barked all night or deposited gifts in their yard), they should be left alone. I don't believe ownership of dogs is that widespread in Iran, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are 500,000 to 1,000,000, so will there be a terrible slaughter of animal innocents. Maybe a grandfather clause can be established that would allow dogs to live out their natural lives (yeah, can't see that happening, cause it would just give malcontents the opportunity to thumb their noses at the clerics). Personally, I think Allah will be bit irritated, as he stretches down and scratches the heads of his greyhounds.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011


It is no wonder that Bahman Ghobadi’s award-winning (Cannes) and beautiful homage to the underground music scene in Tehran, No One Knows About Persian Cats, was banned from Iranian movie screens. If I were a fundamentalist cleric there, I too would fear the message this wonderful story about two young Iranians seeking to gather a band (Take It Easy Hospital) and obtain visas to play a concert in Europe (if not completely escape the oppression against the arts, and generally live a freer life). Ghobadi lovingly and humorously pokes fun at the truly terrible (and often frightening) realities of police and basij suppression of expression and freedom in Iran. Two scenes stand out: when Nader, the somewhat shifty, unreliable, yet enthusiatic music-lover and “fixer” who wants to be the manager of the group (played well by Hamed Behdad), is grilled by an official censor after thousands of dvds (and some alcohol) are confiscated from his apartment, and he humorously (and successfully) defends his case; and when the two protagonists, played by real-life artists Negar Shaghaghi and Ashkan Koshanejad, are stopped in their car because local thugs want to check the cleanliness of their pet dog (her yelp as the dog is dragged through the window was unnerving and totally convincing). Using a small crew and modern technology, Ghobadi followed the intrepid pair of aspiring musicians as they seek additions to their band. Their aspiring manager takes them to many secret locations—ranging from soundproofed cellars to ramshackle additions on rooftops, dairy barns to open fields—and in the process the viewer is introduced to a startling diversity of musical genres and sounds in the process (jazz, indie rock, heavy metal, traditional, even rap). I will try to buy the soundtrack cd, that's how impressed I was. I was stunned and pleased with the quality and variety of the music (perhaps I should have been embarrassed as well to not have expected there to be so many divergent voices). Since I am not an authority on Iranian music, I suspect some of these performers had some sanctions against them within Iran (and I wouldn't be surprised if many have alreeady fled); their appearances in the film must have come at a high level of bravery and danger to themselves. Another strong scene is when the pair is frustrated when they seek illegal assistance from a Mafia-looking pair who promise to provide them with fake official papers. What shines through most in this movie is the recognition that the urge to create (and this extends to the whole spectrum of artistic endeavors) cannot be contained by thugs in the end. What was also surprising, though, was the almost good natured way that victims of oppression accepted the challenges of playing their music and laughed in the face or danger. Thank God/Allah for rebellion. Thanks as well to brave movie makers and musicians who provided and entertaining, critical movie. I enthusiastically encourage people to check out this movie.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Life was tough for Kurds living along the border between Iran and Iraq, especially during the war, as many men turn to smuggling from Iran into Iraq to make money. Humping supplies over snow-covered mountains on their backs or via mule, the smugglers had to avoid robbers, border patrols, and land mines in addition to dangerous terrain and dishonest brokers, as well as the side effects of giving the mules too much alcohol. The Iranian movie A Time for Drunken Horses follows the efforts of a group of orphaned children (the eldest girl about 15, the eldest boy 12) as they struggle to make money and try to save their crippled brother who desperately needs an operation in Iraq. It is a remarkable film, that reveals a different corner of the world and tells a compelling story. What is heartbreaking is the level of work expected of the kids, who often forgo education to pitch in; the jobs are tough and poorly paid, such as carrying loads. Despite the difficulties faced by this family, they sacrifice almost everything to save their brother, against incredible prognoses, and also a deep sense of love and family shines through. I encourage film lovers to give this movie a try.

Friday, April 1, 2011


There is something seriously wrong with me, and there has been for a long time. My son, he can't handle transitions; me, I am deeply affected by endings. When I graduated from high school, I was damn near sick. Happy, but unable to handle the emotion of walking away from my comfortable world. Same thing when I leave a job. Down to just thinking about it at night (in which case I will not be able to sleep for several hours), to finishing of a television series I enjoyed: MASH,FIREFLY, ANGEL, BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA. Doesn't matter. If I invest some level of interest into the characters or storyline, I will suffer when it comes to an end. And so it is tonight, as I finish the finale episodes of DOLLHOUSE. I really enjoyed this Whedon series (which ones haven't I?). The second season was far superior to the first, and I loved the tender parts best. . .how Victor and Sierra kept loving and refinding each other no matter what. I loved the development of Topher. I am going to miss this ensemble, ever bit as much as I missed the FIREFLY/SERENITY crew (many of whom were in both shows). I'll just have to find some other show to give me that melancholy.