Powerful Political Art from Cuba

WOW!  “The Untouchables”

1601266_10152393487790987_8327577495533895_nThe first image refers to pedophilia in the Vatican. Second child sexual abuse in tourism in Thailand, and the third refers to the war in Syria. The fourth image refers to the trafficking of organs on the black market, where most of the victims are children from poor countries; fifth refers to weapons free in the U.S.. And finally, the sixth image refers to obesity, blaming the big fast food companies.

The new series produced by Cuban artist Erik Ravelo was titled as “The untouchables”, are photographs of children crucified for his supposed oppressors, each for a different reason and a clear message, seeks to reaffirm the right of children to be protected and report abuse suffered by them especially in countries such as Brazil, Syria, Thailand, United States and Japan”

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Meanwhile Somewhere Near the End of Western UnCivilisation

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What I’m Listening To (Jan 2016)

Gary Moore – not the namesake my ex mayor in Christchurch – is my favourite guitarist and easily one of the best in the world.  Loving this live album at Montreux a classic performance of Moore (like Queen Live at Wembley).

Anyhoo here’s some awesome sauce from the album.

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Early Easter Bunnies (Face of the Day)

WTFriggy?  Give us some kind of holiday between please

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The Revenant (2015) Di Caprio Meets Snow

This is Leonardo Di Caprio’s latest outing and a real departure for him.

I have to say Leonardo is emerging as a leading actor of our generation and I suspect will become the A-Listing legend over the next decade on a par with Anthony Hopkins (who really just plays the same character: “Remains of the Day,” “84 Charing CRoss Road,” “Shadowlands,”  “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Edge,”  Odin in “Thor” etc). Don’t get me wrong, I like Hopkins but Di Caprio has far more reach, tone and variety in his acting.

This is a fantastic performance; one of his best.

I’ll blog a review on this movie when I have more time; but for now I TOTALLY RECOMMEND IT. And go see it on the big screen. In a nutshell it’s “The Edge” 1997 (Hopkins/McPherson/Baldwin) meets “Dances With Wolves” 1990 (K.Costner) meets “The Grey” 2012 (Neeson) but is better than all three.

For now here’s the teaser trailer. Review on way whe I get time.

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Bowie Irony

bowie_on_tourNo one has talked about Davy Jones aka David Bowie for decades. Now that he’s died He’ll be A Hero…at Least For One Day!

If I hear just one more “Star-man – waiting in the sky” allusion I’ll jettison in to outer space myself. All this sentimental pap.

Major Tom…over and out

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What is Charles Up To? (Iran)

scialabba_floatslikeavulture_ba_imgWhat has my favourite columists over at The Washington Post got to say for himself?  Charles is hot on Iran

“If you’re going to engage in a foreign policy capitulation, might as well do it when everyone is getting tanked and otherwise occupied. Say, around New Year’s Eve.

“Here’s the story. In October, Iran test-fires a nuclear-capable ballistic missile in brazen violation of a Security Council resolution explicitly prohibiting such launches. President Obama does nothing. One month later, Iran does it again. The administration makes a few gestures at the U.N. Then nothing. Then finally, on Dec. 30, the White House announces a few sanctions.”

This is the problem with this kind of diplomacy; it’s just empty words which is what the Israelis are always on about regarding America or more specifically the Obama White House.

“They are weak, aimed mostly at individuals and designed essentially for show. Amazingly, even that proves too much. By 10 p.m. that night, the administration caves. The White House sends out an email saying that sanctions are off — and the Iranian president orders the military to expedite the missile program.”
The great liberal refrain “Give Peace A Chance” – at all costs (to peace).

“Is there any red line left? [a reference to Netanyahu’s UN speech on Iran] First, the Syrian chemical weapons. Then the administration insistence that there would be no nuclear deal unless Iran accounted for its past nuclear activities. (It didn’t.) And unless Iran permitted inspection of its Parchin nuclear testing facility. (It was allowed self-inspection and declared itself clean.) And now, illegal ballistic missiles.

Remember al this in the late thirties with the new Chancellor of the Third Reich?  “Nowe’re all aboit peace and we’ll not need to go in to/have no claims over…[insert names of countries]…”  A peace treaty with Russia etc.

FSmyCxH“The premise of the nuclear deal was that it would constrain Iranian actions. It’s had precisely the opposite effect. It has deterred us from offering even the mildest pushback to any Iranian violations lest Iran walk away and leave Obama legacy-less.

So we sacrifice stability in the Middle East and peace on earth for the sake of Obama’s political ego and legacy?

“Just two weeks ago, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards conducted live-fire exercises near the Strait of Hormuz. It gave nearby U.S. vessels exactly 23 seconds of warning. One rocket was launched 1,500 yards from the USS Harry S. Truman.

“Obama’s response? None.

Mom-jeans.

“The Gulf Arabs — rich, weak and, since FDR, dependent on America for security — are bewildered. They’re still reeling from the nuclear deal, which Obama declared would be unaffected by Iranian misbehavior elsewhere. The result was to assure Tehran that it would pay no price for its aggression in Syria and Yemen, subversion in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and support for terrorism.

This is why Trump is doing so well.  As I’ve said elsewhere; Trump’s inexplicable rise is directly linked to Obama’s political mis-management.

“Obama seems not to understand that disconnecting the nuclear issue gave the mullahs license to hunt in the region. For the Saudis, however, it’s not just blundering but betrayal. From the very beginning, they’ve seen Obama tilting toward Tehran as he fancies himself Nixon in China, turning Iran into a strategic partner in managing the Middle East.

“This is even scarier because it is delusional. If anything, Obama’s openhanded appeasement has encouraged Iran’s regional adventurism and intense anti-Americanism.

“The Saudis, sensing abandonment, are near panic. Hence the reckless execution of the firebrand Shiite insurrectionist, Sheik Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, that has brought the region to a boil. Iranians torched the Saudi Embassy. The Saudis led other Sunni states in breaking relations with Tehran.

So this is Obama’s Peace strategy?

“The Saudis feel surrounded, and it’s not paranoia. To their north, Iran dominates a Shiite crescent stretching from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. To the Saudi south, Iran has been arming Yemen’s Houthi rebels since at least 2009. The fighting has spilled over the border into Saudi Arabia.

“The danger is rising. For years, Iran has been supporting anti-regime agitation among Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiites. The Persian Gulf is Iran’s ultimate prize. The fall of the House of Saud would make Iran the undisputed regional hegemon and an emerging global power.

“For the United States, that would be the greatest geopolitical setback since China fell to communism in 1949. Yet Obama seems oblivious. Worse, he appears inert in the face of the three great challenges to the post-Cold War American order. Iran is only the most glaring. China is challenging the status quo in the South China Sea, just last week landing its first aircraft on an artificial island hundreds of miles beyond the Chinese coast. We deny China’s claim and declare these to be international waters, yet last month we meekly apologized when a B-52 overflew one of the islands. We said it was inadvertent.

“The world sees and takes note. As it does our response to the other great U.S. adversary — Russia. What’s happened to Obama’s vaunted “isolation” of Russia for its annexation of Crimea and assault on the post-Cold War European settlement? Gone. Evaporated. John Kerry plays lapdog to Sergei Lavrov. Obama meets openly with Vladimir Putin in Turkey, then in Paris. And is now practically begging him to join our side in Syria.

“There is no price for defying Pax Americana — not even trivial sanctions on Iranian missile-enablers. Our enemies know it. Our allies see it — and sense they’re on their own, and may not survive.

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Face of the Day (Idaho M. Lion)

Aren’t they all inbred in Idaho?

1452456671732A mountain lion with a strange deformity has baffled United States biologists.

The young male mountain lion was tracked by a hunter and killed on December 30 after it attacked a dog in a rural area of Idaho.

But the hunter found a strange thing growing from the mountain lion’s forehead when he cornered the large cat.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said the mountain lion had fully-formed teeth and what appeared to be small whiskers growing out of the hard, fur-covered tissue on the left side of the animal’s forehead.

The department said it could not entirely explain why the abnormality developed.

“It is possible that the teeth could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that died in the womb and was absorbed into the other fetus.”

Another possibility was that the extra teeth and whiskers were a teratoma tumour.

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A Year of Good Reads (Ideas for Summer)

Looking for good reads this summer?  Here’s a selection of some of my favourite reads over the last year.  Click the title to read more on each. What were my best and worst?  I really enjoyed Edward Wilson below; and re-reading the Real Trial of Oscar Wilde (which led to several posts on his Profundis) see 14 August 2015.  But these are all good reads.  My least favourite was Angelology (a rework of The Vintner’s Luck meets Dan Brown. See May 2015).  Clementine was also excellent.  ENJOY!

5890750-3x4-340x453“What Days Are For” (Robert Dessaix)

As I mentioned in mid-December, my find for 2015 was Robert Dessaix. a-gay-man-writes-against-gay-marriage/ He is brilliant and I’m reading the memoir of his heart attack “What Days Are For,” and loving it. Robert is a gay man who lives in Tasmania (so … Continue reading

 

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.21.36 AMChariot of Fire in The Polar Wastes. What I’m Reading (Dr Edward Wilson)

Klingon daughter of SLO gave me this for Christmas, and I am enjoying every line.  It is out of print, my copy is a 1936 ninth edition. I love ‘Snow adventures’ Antarctic/Arctic/North West Passage/Everest exploration books (have read heaps of …Continue reading

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.21.57 AMWhat I’m Reading (Clementine Churchill)

I’ve devoured several inches, well actually it’s more like feet, of weighty Churchillian tomes over recent months (an enduring fascination). Not so much as a drooling celebrity-stalking of an unsullied demigod, but as the flawed, yet genius, human being and surrogate-conduit of politics … Continue reading

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.24.55 AMWhat I’m Reading (Josephus)

I’ve read this about three times and I think everyone should read it at least once. It is perhaps the most detailed and descriptive record of any singular event in ancient history alongside perhaps Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War. It is written by … Continue reading

urlThe World’s Last Night: What I’m Reading Christmas Day (2015)

I’m working Christmas Day but also reading…this.  C.S. Lewis (Narnia) was perhaps the best Apologist of the twentieth century.  He writes so clearly so concisely yet so engagingly.  I especially enjoyed the essay “The World’s Last Night” which is the … Continue reading

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.31.44 AMWhat I’m Reading 11/11 (Hitler’s Valkyrie)

This is a relatively new book, the uncensored biography of Unity Mitford, who was born in, literally, “Swaztika” and became an English aristocratic paramour of Hitler’s.  She stalked him in Munich and they eventually met over 140 times, sometimes alone. … Continue reading

What I’m Reading (Zand and Grant)

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I’ve just finished this “The Madness of Alexander the Great” which is a complete new theory about Alex the G. and turns several historical tables over in the academic temple. My youngest son Alex (who we call Zand, as in … Continue reading

Grant (26 Sept)

A real treat from SheWhoFlysHigh on my birthday.  I’ve visited Grant’s grave in New York, and am really looking forward to this collection of letters and memoirs, as it will take me right there, in the man’s own words.  Grant, … Continue reading

 

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Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.36.21 AMThe Trial of Oscar Wilde (What I’m Re-reading)

I first read this in 2006 and it was riveting.  Being myself now threatened with a $600,000 defamation suit, along with two other men I do not know, and this week new threats of even more damages being piled upon me simply … Continue reading

 

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.37.57 AM(May 2015). Angels & Red Planets

I am just about to start this, Danielle Trussoni’s “Angelology” but only because I couldn’t get “The Martian” (soon to be a film) that my daughter recommended and has just finished. Anything she likes, I’ll read. She’s always right. Angelology is … Continue reading

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.39.08 AMGarrison Keiller (Feb 2015)

Not so much in to Garrison as a person, he’s way too Liberal and cynical for me, and I’m pretty cynical, but I adore his writing, and this book makes me laugh out loud. He’s the guy who does the … Continue reading

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A Chicago Comedian Stops DRinking for Two Years (Here are the results)

I really like this; sound advise and results on so many levels

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.15.39 AMWhat I learned by not drinking for two years

Two years ago, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I last got drunk. It was the closing night of the Lincoln Lodge, a fantastic comedy venue in Chicago in the back of a now-closed diner.

They’ve since moved, but after that show, I thought I should take a breather from drinking – and eating meat – and focus on productivity.

Here’s a short list of what I’ve accomplished since I stopped drinking:
– Lost 75 pounds (34kg)

– Bought an amazing loft apartment.

– Finished a first draft of an advice book.

– Started exercising three days a week, then four.

– Went from a size XXL to size Large.

– Performed in three comedy festivals.

– Got an amazing new job.

– Finished multiple drafts of multiple television and movie scripts.

– Went from a 42-inch waist to a 36-inch waist.

– Went from hating myself daily to relatively enjoying myself.

A lot of this is what I externally accomplished, what I can show on paper. But I think that last one is the most important.

I’ve learned a lot in two years, so I thought I’d share that with you, in case you’d like to take a break from the booze cruise. Also, that’s what I tell myself: I’ve taken a break. Maybe I’ll drink again. Maybe I won’t.

But overall, life seems to be a whole lot better for me because I took a break. Perhaps it could be for you too.

Things I’ve learned:

1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DRINK TO HAVE FUN

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.15.18 AMWhat a shocker! As someone who’s been drinking since senior year of high school (sorry, Mum, we weren’t just “hanging out” in the basement), most events in my life revolved around booze.

Almost everything does: Comedy shows, concerts, after-work functions, meetups, dates, conferences, dinner, museum tours. But guess what? The events don’t change if you decide not to drink!

You’re still you. Maybe you’re more “inhibited,” but is that altogether terrible? I’ve found that when I hang out with folks who have been drinking, I start to feel the same way I felt – in terms of becoming silly, goofy, fun – when I was drinking too.

And I remember everything that happened during the events, which is always nice.

2. YOU HAVE WAY FEWER REGRETS

Since I stopped drinking, I’ve yet to wake up and look at my phone, see something I texted, and go, “Ugh, wwwwwwhhhhhy.” I’m in control of my actions basically all of the time.
I think longer before I respond to something someone says. If I’m angry, it gives me time to calm down. Drinking definitely helped my inner jerk come out a lot more often. Now I am better at keeping the jerkier side of me locked up. It still comes out, sure, but at least I have more control over when that happens.

3. PEOPLE WILL JUDGE THE HECK OUT OF YOU

This was the weirdest one to deal with. Many, many folks will give you attitude for not drinking. Here are some things I’ve been told:

“C’mon, dude, just have one beer! It’s not like you’re going to meetings or whatever!”

“I can’t trust someone who doesn’t drink.”

“You’re not fun unless you’re drunk.”

“When you don’t drink, it makes me feel bad about myself, which makes me not like you.”

“I can’t date someone who doesn’t want to get drunk with me, sorry.”

I’ll bet I said some of these things myself, back when I used to drink – because when you’re around someone who doesn’t do something you like doing, you can be taken aback by it.

I’ve had friends who’ve stopped hanging out with me because I don’t drink anymore. I’ve had relationships end (or not even start) because of it. I have been sent screen shots of people I know talking smack about me to other people because I choose to not do a thing.

It’s weird. But it makes you realise the bad relationship with booze that other folks must be having. And for that, I have empathy. And I hope they figure it out.

4. YOU SLEEP SO MUCH BETTER

I haven’t slept this great since before high school. Man, it’s fantastic. I could point you to all the studies that show how alcohol affects your sleep, but hey, take my word for it.

5. YOU GET LESS SAD

Screen shot 2016-01-09 at 9.15.27 AMI don’t know if I have depression, but I used to get bummed out a lot. There were days when I wouldn’t want to leave my apartment, or see anyone, mostly because I hated myself. I don’t hate myself nearly as much as I used to. I’m generally OK with my life and who I am. Positivity is now my go-to emotion, even when something bad or terrible happens to me.

It’s like I flipped this switch inside my brain: Instead of going to negativity, I try to find the reason something is positive. It’s definitely weird to have this happen to me.

6. YOU DEVELOP MORE EMPATHY FOR OTHERS

A few weeks ago, this guy blared on his horn because I was crossing at a crosswalk and he wanted to turn, and he almost hit me with his car, then he flipped me off and cursed at me.
Old me probably would’ve stood in front of him, not moved, taken a photo or video of him, shared it on the Internet, explained, “Hey, look at this jerk who tried to hit me with his car!” and felt smug and wonderful about it.

Instead, after an initial moment of fear and anger, I realised this dude was probably having an awful day. Maybe he was late for an appointment. Maybe he was trying to get to the hospital to see his son who has cancer. Maybe he didn’t have parents as loving as mine and that’s filled him with resentment his entire life.

Either way, that guy had something going on, and I wanted him to be happier. Then I felt weird, because my brain has been wired forever to be a little twerp to anyone who wrongs me. But now? I generally jump to empathy. I like that.

7. YOU SAVE SO MUCH MONEY

I bought an apartment. I’d like to pretend as though it wasn’t because of how much money I saved by not drinking and buying food while drunk, but probably a quarter of my down payment came just from abstaining from booze.

Yeah, I know.

8. YOU GET TIRED EARLIER

It’s pretty hard for me to stay up past 11pm. most days, even on weekends. When I was drinking, booze was a magical fuel that kept me going, trying to find a new adventure.

Now that I don’t drink, I’m not constantly searching for adventure, trying to find one more fun thing that will fill the empty void inside of me. I’m content with what I’ve done for the day, and my body wants to go to bed. I dig that.

9. YOU BECOME AMAZINGLY PRODUCTIVE

When you’re not spending most of your free time at bars, you get a lot done. I read more. I write more. I learn more.

I spend more time working on bettering myself and my skills than I ever would have sitting at a bar, chatting with a buddy or two. I’m much less social than I used to be, but I’m also creating more art and failing a lot more than ever before.

In the end, I know I’m going to die. I’d rather there be a few things of me still hanging around after I’m dead, some sort of personal expression that others can enjoy. That requires me to put in the time to work on projects, make something tangible and real for people to enjoy.

That seems, now, like a better use of my time than chatting with some pals at a bar. That conversation may have been great, sure, but in the end, it dies with me and those people. If I can create a few things that last longer than me, it makes my life last longer. It means I mattered a little more.

I’m glad I haven’t been drunk for two years. Sure, I’ve done a few shots of Malort with people who’ve never tried it. And yes, there was that one time a dude threatened to kick my rear if I didn’t drink that shot of whiskey he bought to congratulate me on “being so funny” after hearing me tell jokes about how I don’t drink anymore.

If you ever think, hey, this drinking thing isn’t fun anymore, it’s OK to take a break. I just quit. For me, it’s been relatively easy, and I know it isn’t easy for everyone. But just know I’ve found countless rad people who can have fun without booze. And you can too.

Good luck.

Andy Boyle is a comedian, writer and web developer in Chicago.

– MCT

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