Friday, November 30, 2007

Vanina Marsot in Vietnam

(click image to enlarge)

more water lillies

copyright, © 2007 Vanina Marsot

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back open for Lunchtime!

Click on the panel below for the full meal...

fairfax sermonette

copyright, © 2007 Wyatt Doyle

More on "Bread and Circuses"

from Plato Jesus, in response to "re: Bread and Circuses":

First, is the Frank Miller quoted the same Frank Miller who, when running for the highest office of his country (Canada), refused to debate the opposition? Or, is it Frank Miller the filmmaker who inaccurately glorifies Dorian Spartans -- who practiced slavery and human sacrifice, fought against Athenian democracy, and incidentally were the ones who made homosexuality part and parcel of military indoctrination -- and in contrast to historical records, paints the multicultural Iranian Empire, which tolerated and integrated a variety of Semitic peoples as well as introduced Cuneiform, as savages in the film 300?

Both are great illustrations of the Western mentality that feels it knows everything and has no need to engage anyone else.

Now to the merits of the comment:

First, at no point does Wyatt Doyle (or me for that matter in my comments) celebrate other cultures or try to say they are equivalent or equal in their merits. We only critique the representation presented. So this comment does not refute our points -- that most political representations of other cultures are more alarmist then informed.

Second, as someone who teaches in "American Higher education" -- if such a monolith exists, which is unlikely -- it is a total myth, if not outright fabrication, to say it promotes equality of cultures. Most college classes do not dwell on other traditions; indeed, core requirements are based on the Western cannon of the ancient Greeks to deconstructionism and critical theory out of European traditions. Beyond esoteric advanced classes or obscure graduate programs, there is absolutely no equal treatment of other cultures. The "cultural relativism" movement has been relegated to the margins at most universities.

Third, the whole "clash of civilizations" thesis, particularly as applied to the Middle East, is flawed. Empirically it is not culture at the roots of armed conflicts. For instance, such a representation cannot explain the Sunni-Shiite divide, tribal rivalries in Iraq, NATO's intervention on behalf of Muslim Albanians against Slavic Orthodox Serbs, or the current civil war among Palestinians. If we scrutinize history over time, a vast majority of cultural interactions have not produced conflict, but cosmopolitanism. Look at Jerusalem, Sarajevo, or most world cities at the crossroads of cultures, ethnic and religious groups live together peacefully for most of their history. It is when politics interjects this grievance and creates this macro-narrative that ignores some divisions and embellishes others.

If we do want to think of cultural units -- and by that I mean, aggregate the actions of countries that are in a particular tradition -- which civilization has promoted worldwide conflict more than others? It's by far the Judeo-Christian traditions of the Western world. This is not to say other cultures aren't violent or aggressive at times, but in terms of attacking, and indeed destroying foreign cultures, as well as occupying their traditional lands, it's the West, hands down. By the start of the 20th century, European imperialism had conquered nearly 90% of world. That is to say, if a comparison of violence based on a sense of cultural superiority is to be made, here the West can rightly proclaim its pre-eminence.

We're #1! We're #1!

copyright, © 2007 Plato Jesus

for more on this topic, see:


If you think the WGA strike is bullshit...

...or don't understand what's going on, exactly, Ed Naha spells it all out for you here.

It's worth your time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A World Without Culture

Fun And Games .

"Mindfuck skins auto-pilot's cat" said John Crouse.

+ + +

Here's some good ones from our "new age" friend Joseph Chilton Pierce:

"Culture is the enemy of Biology"


"culture cannot be improved and it should never be sustained"


"Culture depends on violence. Culture breeds violence. And culture thrives on violence"


The establishment is never changed. Whether it’s a technological establishment or not makes no difference. Culture functions as culture, which is based on fear, and blocks our biological unfolding. And that’s right across the board; I find no exceptions to that whatsoever. Culture never absorbs the new ideas cropping up within it that would lead to transcendence. It kills them off. Now what you end up with… culture can wear a million different faces. It can take on all these trappings. But its underlying basis of fear, anxiety, and self-defense, defensiveness is always there. That never changes.

and and and and

Go ahead. Listen to the pod casts. Don't be afraid. Don't be.

+ + +

And then there's Adam Curtis. He wrote an article called "The TV elite has lost the plot." You don't have to read very far to get to the part where he says

First of all, the people who do blogging, for example, are self-selecting. Quite frankly it's quite clear that what bloggers are is bullies.

and just a wee bit further

I've talked to news editors in America. What they are most frightened of is an assault by the bloggers...They're terrified if they stray one way they'll get monstered by bloggers on the right, if they stray the other way they'll get monstered by bloggers from the left.

The future is scary--yes it sure is!

I wonder if Adam Curtis has read Chris Rich's latest (outstanding) offerings?

+ + +

Getting back to culture, (you know, "the enemy of biology") this take on culture popped up in a delightful little book called Islam Explained by Tahar Ben Jelloun:

Define the word "culture" for me.

I'm tempted to say it's everything that makes us different from animals. Culture comes from the word "to cultivate," that is, to plow the earth and plant seeds in it. Human beings need to eat and drink and to be in good health. But they have just as great a need to learn about the world they live in. Culture is the product of intelligence, which makes it possible for us to develop our minds, to think better, and to make contact with what our ancestors have left us. Culture is passed down from generation to generation. The whole of its expressions and developments are called "civilizations."

+ + +

Later in that pod cast I asked you to listen to Joseph Chilton Pearce says:

"Well first of all I would say that we have no civilization."

and later

"After 2000 years of hymn singing, bible thumping, proselytizing, missionaries, cathedral building, witch burning, and so forth, human nature has not changed one iota. We are every bit as murderous, and far more efficient at our murder of each other now than we were 2000 years ago when Jesus crops up on the scene. Thousands of years of meditation have not changed human nature one iota. We are every bit as murderous toward each other now as we were at the time of Buddha or any other time."

+ + +

"Culture is what makes us different from animals."

I had a land lord once who said humans are the product of an "alien super species" who came to earth and fucked a lot of different animals: pigs, apes, chickens, snakes and the like. If you believe (as I do) that everything is a fictional narrative, said notion sits as comfortably as any.

There aren't a lot of cows carrying guns. There aren't a lot of pigs building nuclear power plants. There aren't a lot of chickens exporting jobs over seas. There aren't a lot of snakes running the fixed income-markets. It's all done by their alien super species half brothers and sisters.

Has anyone read "A World Without Us?" No, me neither. From what I understand, Mr. Weisman went to places were there were no humans--like the land mind littered strip between North and South Korea. In the absence of humans, or, in the absence of culture biology flourished.

Speaking of animals, who here has read anything by Temple Grandin? You gotta love Temple Grandin for a number of reasons. Two of which, when combined, make for a fun mental feed-back loop: Temple Grandin has done more than just about anyone to make the slaughter of animals more peaceful and humane. (Combined with) Temple Grandin has done a lot of work for McDonalds. By making the slaughter facilities hired by McDonalds more peaceful and humane, she has made them more efficient and profitable.

Is McDonalds a friend of Biology?

Is McDonalds a friend of Culture?

Is McDonalds our culture?

Is it really possible to be part of the solution and the problem at the same time?

In Animals in Translation she says this:

Mammals and birds have the same core feelings people do. Researchers are just now discovering that lizards and snakes probably share most of these emotions with us, too...We know animals and humans share the same core feelings partly because we know quite a bit about how our core emotions are created by the brain, and there's no question animals share that biology with us. Their emotional biology is so close to ours that most of the research on the neurology of emotions--or affective neuroscience--is done with animals.

+ + +

Animals (and humans) have similar emotional biology.

Are we animals?

Are we "rooted in nature?"

Does anything mean anything anymore?

+ + +

It's probably too early to say for sure, but so far Build a Nation is in the lead for best release 2007.

copyright © 2008 Stanley Jason Zappa

"Levy me alone" by Lindsay Griffith Armistead Baldwin

copyright, © 2005, 2007 Lindsay Griffith Armistead Baldwin


Recent NTB post subject John Doe is being honored by The Sundance Channel for his numerous contributions to much that is good and worthwhile in music and film.

Check out their "Spotlight" here.

The man's even blogging now: What Would John Doe Do?

Good on ya, J.D.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"That's Newstastic!" by Plato Jesus

Plato Jesus strikes again with five (count 'em!) fresh installments in his ongoing "That's Newstastic!" series. Click the headlines to get your news on:

"Mr. Toilet" Builds Commode-Shaped House

Badminton and Peacekeeping in Southern Lebanon

You Silly Boys: Blondes Make Men Act Dumb

At Jets Games, a Halftime Ritual of Harassment

UN Diplomats Miss Out on Knicks Season Tickets When Team Loses - Again

Uncle Steve brings it.

Stephen King in TIME magazine:

"You know, I just filmed a segment for Nightline, about [the movie version of his novella] The Mist, and one of the things I said to them was, you know, "You guys are just covering — what do they call it — the scream of the peacock, and you're missing the whole fox hunt." Like waterboarding [or] where all the money went that we poured into Iraq. It just seems to disappear. And yet you get this coverage of who's gonna get custody of Britney's kids? Whether or not Lindsay drank at her twenty-first birthday party, and all this other shit. You know, this morning, the two big stories on CNN are Kanye West's mother, who died, apparently, after having some plastic surgery. The other big thing that's going on is whether or not this cop [Drew Peterson] killed his... wife. And meanwhile, you've got Pakistan in the midst of a real crisis, where these people have nuclear weapons that we helped them develop. You've got a guy in charge, who's basically declared himself the military strongman and is being supported by the Bush administration, whose raison d'etre for going into Iraq was to spread democracy in the world.

"So you've got these things going on, which seem to me to be very substantive, that could affect all of us, and instead, you see a lot of this back-fence gossip."

Read the whole thing here.

re: Bread and Circuses

Heard back from a number of folks about the "Bread and Circuses" post of 23 November. One response I particularly appreciated wondered:

Do you also make a check on data that supports your own agenda?

Then went on to say:

In the words of Frank Miller, the greatest

disservice of American Higher education is that it
brainwashes its sheep into believing that all
cultures/religions are somehow morally equivalent
despite the barbarianism that pervades many.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I very rarely get email "forwards" that promote any of the causes I support. I wish I did! But it makes a kind of sense, I guess, since in my experience the purpose of these emails is to encourage alarmist thinking, and off the top of my head I can't think of any alarmist causes I stand behind.

As far as Frank Miller's statement, I don't know how you quantify barbarism, exactly. Certainly there are more blatant forms of it on display in some cultures when compared to another, but you don't have to dig very deep into the daily operations of any culture to find examples of commonly accepted behavior that you or I might define as barbaric.

What's more, if a culture (or a religion/institution/person) is as reprehensible (in whole or in part) as you (or me or anyone else) insists it is, then no one should feel the need to resort to the invention of lies to illustrate the point.

copyright, © 2007 Wyatt Doyle

more on this topic here:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Memphis Bleak

Sandee Curry's all fired up about the West Memphis 3, and if you're not too, you should be.

Read her thoughts here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bread and Circuses

My older brother lives on the other side of the country. He often sends me email "forwards" that he receives from his friends and clients. I suspect he does it not because he agrees with their messages so much as he knows they'll get a rise out of me. They usually do.

A disturbing number of them are transparently designed to prey on our emotions, targeting our sense of patriotism while promoting ugly and distinctly un-American agendas, all gift-wrapped in blatant lies. Frequently the goal of these emails is to stir up antagonism toward "foreigners" (read: non-whites), both at home and abroad. The messages are passed from inbox to inbox without hesitation, each recipient-turned-sender secure in the knowledge that the person who sent it—their friend!—can vouch for its authenticity.

But with everyone in the chain thinking like that, no one is checking the facts. So these transmissions are "grandfathered in," accepted and shared unquestioningly—though none of the recipients have any more reason to regard them as truth than they would the rantings of a loudmouth at a bar.

This week I was sent one that featured a series of photographs purporting to show

"An 8 years (sic) old child...caught in a market in Iran for stealing bread... In the name of Islam he is being punished, his arm will be crushed by a car. He will loose (sic) forever the possibility to use his arm again. Is this a religion of peace and love?"

Under the photos, in the body of the email, one sender concluded:

"No religion can ever justify such hideous crime... Pass it on... let the world know what's happening in the name of religion... Pass this to all for public awareness"

Others, earlier in the chain than my brother, had added their thoughts:

"Such a really really gross and disgusting act!! Poor boy... How can this happen..."

"Should be compulsory viewing for the politically correct mob. The atrocity..."

"I think these people are out of their minds. How could they do this to an 8-year old child."

Reading them, I couldn't help but feel like I was in an uncomfortably warm room, surrounded by pasty old ladies in Sunday hats as they fanned themselves into a righteous indignation.

But it wasn't their indignation that bothered me. It's that none of them took the time to do just a little poking around to determine whether or not the alarming information in this email was even remotely true.

My own fact checking took all of 30 seconds, and I easily found the information I was looking for at the first place I looked:, where I usually go to sort out this kind of thing. If you don't know it already, Snopes is an exhaustive, non-partisan resource designed to confirm or debunk all manner of rumors and urban legends. It's very simple to use: simply type a few relevant keywords into their "search" field (I entered "bread," "Iran," and "truck") and you'll get a full listing of possible matches from their extensive archives. If they can confirm it's true, they'll tell you—just as they'll tell you if they can confirm it's false. And if they don't know for sure one way or the other, they'll even tell you that. I have never not found what I was looking for, and they haven't steered me wrong yet.

I sent my brother the link to the Snopes article, which clearly explains the photos were not documenting a public punishment, but a recently-developed approach to panhandling I call "Extreme Begging," in which people appear to do alarming and distasteful things to themselves in an effort to separate passersby from their money. Whatever the stunt is—whether it's fire-eating, glass-walking, sword-swallowing, or being run over by a truck—it's just that: a stunt. And this was also a stunt. The little boy's pained expression? Showmanship. The child is apparently fine.

...Or at least as fine as a child can be, when he's so destitute his family makes him stick his arm under the wheel of a truck a few times a day in an effort to shake down tourists for spare change.

I added this to my response, because it also seemed worth saying:

There is plenty about Islam that doesn't fit in neatly with our sensibilities here in the West (and is therefore frightening/threatening to us from the get-go), and barbarous behavior is barbarous behavior and inexcusable, no matter where you live or what religion you follow. But I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any organized religion (or culture) that isn't guilty of acts of extreme barbarism and brutality—acts that very often are at odds with their professed religious and/or moral codes. It doesn't make it right, but it is far from uncommon, and to behave as though any one religion (or culture) is "worse" than another is to deny the facts.

The only worthwhile thing about this email is the one line of the text after the final panel that recommends everyone take a long hard look at religion in general; unfortunately, the deliberately misleading explanation of the photos makes it obvious that this is clear anti-Islam propaganda, being shared for the sole purpose of making people from another culture seem like alien monsterswhich then makes it that much easier for us to not give a fuck when we invade and begin killing them, even instilling a sense of moral outrage (false, but who cares?) to somehow justify our actions.

So yes, it's more xenophobic bullshit.

Certainly there are a lot of these emails floating around. Probably you sent a few of them to your Trash folder even today; I don't blame you. But the next time you get one of these, why not start a habit of taking a moment to visit a site like Snopes to confirm the truth or falsity of what your friends and family are circulating. If what they sent you is untrue, take another minute to pass your link back to the friend or family member who emailed you in the first place. While you're at it, why not include everyone in the chain who passed it along to them?

As strongly as I believe these emails are created and started by people with a very ugly agenda, I also believe that the majority of people who pass them along do so because they truly feel they are doing a good and noble thing. The only question is, does this streak of nobility that compels us to forward an email run deep enough that we'll spend an extra minute confirming whether or not we're spreading lies?

There's no shortage of bullshit being tossed around. That's the way of the world. But now is as good a time as any to share a little truth where you can.

copyright, © 2007 Wyatt Doyle

Plato Jesus responds:

If you can't win wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, then sanctimoniously feel good in the fiction that the horrors produced by the US do not overshadow the con games of poor people in less developed countries.

The child in this picture is victimized by poverty and likely manipulated by those around him. His participation in a world where there is monetary enrichment in perpetrating physical sacrifice is forced.

Those who view the picture and make judgments about inherent tendencies of certain cultures are manipulated at another level to a whole other effect. And who forces their participation? No one.

Everyone has basically become aware that many people say things online they would absolutely never say face-to-face. But there is no equal appreciation of how this extrapolates to online political representations. Point-and-click political statements such as these have destroyed our appetite and ability to challenge narratives that comfort the powerful.

copyright, © 2007 Plato Jesus

more on this topic here:

and here:

Give thanks for Lunchtime

Click on the panel to enjoy the full bounty!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vanina Marsot in Vietnam

(click image to enlarge)

Japanese covered bridge, Hoi An

copyright, © 2007 Vanina Marsot

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One happened in Holland, the other happened in Holland

Right On Schedule / Exactly As Planned

Great work everybody! Great work!

Lunchtime is serenity time.

Achieve satori by clicking on the panel below.

Vanina Marsot in Vietnam

(click image to enlarge)

monks on street, Hoi An

copyright, © 2007 Vanina Marsot

"Javier and the White Duck" by Andy Biscontini


Javier and the white duck had finished their chicken salad sandwiches, and Javier quietly worked up the nerve to ask his question. It was unpleasant to ask the duck anything. Once, Javier had asked the duck if it was at all disturbing to eat chicken salad sandwiches, knowing that the chicken had once been a living fowl not unlike himself.

“Fuck you,” the duck had told him, “If it was him sitting here instead of me the two of you would be sucking me out of noodle soup.”

They sat next to each other on the green bench in the middle of the garden that Javier had landscaped and cultivated over the last twenty years on a lot where seventy years before a crowded tenement had burned to the ground.

They sat quietly as the sky above them darkened to blue green and the streetlights flickered orange. The air was thick with salso music and smog and the spicy smell of dinners simmering inside windows.

“My friend,” Javier said, finally ready.

“Cigar?” the duck produced a box of Garcia Vegas from under his wing and offered them to Javier.

“No thank you,” Javier said, tapping his chest, “It’s no good for my health.”

The duck rolled his eyes, “Jesus, Javier. How many cigars have you smoked so far this week?”

“Two,” Javier said.

“Well three cigars in a week ain’t gonna kill you.”

Javier smiled and shrugged and took a cigar.

The duck lit it with a dexterous flip of his zippo, then took a Cuban out from under his other wing and puffed it to life. He leaned back, exhaled a ring through his bill, and said, “I’m definitely a summer person.”

Two young women in scant dresses walked by, on their way to a night on the town. The duck watched them walk away.

“I do love the city in the summer,” he said.

Two winters before, the duck had come up from Florida to visit for New Year’s Eve. He stayed with Javier and his family. It was a disaster. The duck and Javier’s wife wound up hating each other, and he didn’t like the way the duck leered at his daughter and terrorized his son. Nobody was sorry to see the duck get on a southbound Greyhound. Javier accompanied him to the Port Authority. “I’m just not an inside person,” the duck had said.

Their cigar smoke curled up into the night.

“My friend,” Javier began.

“How’s that cigar?” the duck asked him. “You enjoying it?”

“Yes,” Javier said.

“Hey,” the duck said, “I ever tell you about the friend of mine who died?”

“I don’t think so,” Javier said. The duck told him so many stories, and never seemed to mind that Javier didn’t enjoy hearing them.

“So this friend of mine,” the duck said, “His whole life, his policy for everything was ‘Just a little bit.’

“Drugs? Just a little bit. Booze? Just a little bit. Fried food? Just a little bit. You name it, he’d have just a little bit of it.

“So one day he drops dead. Boom. All of the sudden. Terrible. So, being a generally good guy, he goes to heaven. And he asks St. Peter, ‘What was it? What did me in? Was it drugs? Booze? Fried food?’

“Saint Peter checks his chart and tells him, ‘A little bit of everything.’”

Javier looked ruefully at his cigar.

“The moral of the story,” the duck said impatiently, “Is that you’re gonna die one way or another, so you might as well enjoy yourself.”

Javier disagreed with the duck’s interpretation, but didn’t want to argue. Besides. He had something to ask the duck. He gathered all his nerve.

“My friend,” Javier began, as he had rehearsed so many times; in front of the steamy bathroom mirror as he shaved, in the side-view mirror of his delivery truck, in the darkened television set on sleepless nights, after everyone else had gone to sleep.

“My frieind,” he finally said to the duck that evening in the garden, “Things are not good.”

The duck agreed. “These are troubled times,” he said.

Javier, emboldened, continued, “My landlord wants to raise our rent by a thousand dollars a month. He wants us to move out so he can bring in wealthy young people.”

“The neighborhood’s changing,” the duck said.

“My wife,” Javier said, “She cannot work anymore. The carpal tunnel syndrome is so bad in her hands that she can’t sew as fast as she used to, and the arthritis is so bad in her knees that she can barely climb the stairs to the factory every day, and there is no elevator.”

The duck shook his head, “Does that woman do nothing but complain?”

“My daughter,” Javier said, “She is pregnant. The boy she’s dating told her that he loved her and wanted to be with her, but when she became pregnant he re-evaluated his priorities and has gone away to college to improve himself. He doesn’t return her letters anymore.”

“That little prick,” the duck said, “You ought to track him down and kick his ass.”

“My daughter is only sixteen. I don’t want her to have to go through an abortion, but I cannot afford to support a baby and I will have to find a way to pay for the operation.”

“Well,” the duck said, “Maybe from here on out she’ll know to wrap the package before she sticks it in the mail.”

“My son,” Javier said, “He is doing terribly at school. He is tormented by the students and ignored by the teachers. I am afraid he is beginning to take drugs. It is difficult to talk to him anymore. But I cannot afford to send him to a good school, and his grades are slipping so much I’m afraid soon they won’t even accept him. He is a sensitive and intelligent boy.”

“He’s a pussy,” the duck said.

“Please,” Javier said, “My friend,” it was the moment of truth, “Will you lay an egg for me.”

The duck sighed and stretched his neck out from side to side. “Javier, Javier, Javier,” he said, “Is that the only reason you hang around with me?”

Javier didn’t think that was a fair question to ask. It made him feel guilty, and in the twenty years since he’d known the duck, he had never asked anything of him before, while working hard to maintain the garden so the duck had someplace to spend his summers and defending him to the other men in the neighborhood, who didn’t like him.

“Heese noah why dock,” Alvarez the barber had said when Javier tried to explain that the duck had meant no offence when he compared Mrs. Alvarez’s ample thighs to a pair of dancing seals, “Heesa why deek!”

Javier began to resent the way his friendship with the duck had isolated him from his community.

The duck read the frustration in his face.

“Javier, look,” the duck said, putting his wing on Javier’s knee,“Do you remember the first time I laid an egg?”

Javier remembered it well.

It had been the first year after he had planted the garden. The duck, who had been seen around the neighborhood, but hadn’t made any attempts at conversation with anyone, lingered by the garden gate while Javier worked. The duck told Javier that while his knowledge of horticulture was limited, he had an interest in urban gardens. He asked Javier who owned the property.

They went to the hall of records and found out that the lot was owned by a Hassidic Jew named Fleischstein. Later that day, Javier and the white duck and first sat down for chicken salad sandwiches. The duck asked Javier what he wanted from the garden.

Javier told the duck about a dream he’d had shortly after making the decision to move his young family to America. In his dream, he was an old man, strolling through a lush green garden with his grown children, dressed in white linen, singing and laughing and eating fruit from the trees.

The duck told Javier to contact Fleischstein and arrange for a meeting.

So it was that on a cool June morning twenty years before, Javier, the white duck, and Fleischstein the landlord met in the young garden and the duck, under considerable strain, his bill twisted, his brow furrowed, crapped an egg the size of a bocce ball made of solid gold.

Fleischstein had the egg appraised and papers were subsequently drawn up, transferring ownership of the lot to Javier. The duck had declined being named in the paperwork, due to problems with the IRS, but told Javier, “All I want is your solemn promise that I’ll be able to come up and use the garden at my discretion indefinitely.”

Javier remembered how bright the future had seemed in those years, when the garden was young. He looked up past the streetlamps and marveled at how far away such hope now seemed.

“Javier, listen,” the duck said, “Do you have any idea what this lot is worth on the open market these days? Millions. Have you been paying attention to the commodities market? The biggest egg I can crap isn’t going to bring you millions. With that money, you could buy land, Javier. Land. You could have a real garden. You could have an apple orchard. Hell, Javier, you could have a white fuckin’ picket fence!”

“But my friend,” Javier asked, “Where would you go?”

“Don’t worry about me,” the duck said, “I got lots going on. All I ask is a fair cut of the sale due to the fact that it was my egg that you made the initial investment. Say twenty percent.”

“Of course, of course,” Javier said, as the future suddenly brightened again.

“We’ll make some phone calls in the morning,” the duck said.

Javier shook the white duck’s wing and thanked him. That night, he dreamed of a white picket fence surrounding a lush orchard, through which he strolled with his children, dressed in white linen, singing and eating fruit from the trees.

copyright, © 2006, 2007 Andy Biscontini

Monday, November 19, 2007

The delicious smell of Lunchtime

Click on the panel below for complete enlightenment.

Clayton is a movie star.

My brother is a movie star.

Enjoy his cameo appearance in this trailer as a hostile salesman at an upscale furnishings store.

I should mention this character is very different from the real Clayton. For instance, the real Clayton wears glasses only occasionally.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What's a girl to do?

Bat For Lashes gives us a little bit of The Ronettes, a little bit of DONNIE DARKO, a little bit of THE WICKER MAN... What's not to love?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kate Romero reports from the front lines!

Photographer Kate Romero was out showing some shutter-clicking love to the striking writers picketing Fox and my old stomping ground, Paramount.

Click the links in the text above to join her on the scene.

Viva huelga, baby.

Hack up some funds for Destri!

Destri Martino is one of my favorite people.

We met when we both were struggling to survive our jobs at Warner Brothers years ago, and I don't think I've met anyone before or since who has been as supportive both in word and deed to the cause of independent film and filmmaking.

Incredibly organized and ridiculously generous with her time, energy and expertise, Destri has been there for independent filmmakers time and time again, whether on the set, in the office, or in the screening room. Now it's her turn.

Destri's making her own film, and she could use a little help. But I'll let the talented and charming Ms. Martino explain herself, her film, and her proposal, via this email she sent to her friends, family and potential investors.

Whaddaya say you join me—even if it's just a couple of bucks—and let's all get our names in the credits?

As you know, I've been quietly going after this little dream called directing for many years now. And, after honing my craft with several small, micro-budget productions, I'm very happy to tell you that I've arrived at where I am now—a real, fully-budgeted, fully-crewed short!

That's right, I'm finally making that short film I've been talking about for years. It's called Phlegm and it's about a shy 9-year-old girl who takes a sick day at her aunt's flower shop and eventually finds her voice in the form of a phlegm-globber. Recently, I participated in the Filmmakers Alliance Short Film Lab which allowed me to develop Phlegm to its full potential and ready it for production under the guidance of experienced filmmakers. In fact, it was so well-developed and well-received that it was recently named as a finalist for the Los Angeles Short Filmmaking Grant!

So, the script is ready to go and I'm ready to take the leap and challenge myself with a bigger crew and bigger expectations. Of course, all these big things mean that I need a bigger budget—one that goes well beyond my own personal savings. The current estimated total budget is $20,000 - $30,000. Yeah, that's a lot of money.

Enter, Fundraising. Not only am I writing this letter to ask for your vote of confidence (which honestly means a LOT to me on this journey) but I'm also writing to ask if you could make a monetary donation to the production of Phlegm, which is scheduled to shoot in early April.

I know it's a lot to ask, especially at this time of year, but there is a reason I'm sending you this request now. Since Filmmakers Alliance has agreed to be my fiscal sponsor, donations made to the production of Phlegm may count as a tax-deductible charitable donation (do check with your tax person to confirm that it'll work for your situation). So, if you've been looking for an end of year write-off, here it is. In exchange for this service, I give FA (a wonderful independent film organization, and 501(c)3, that I've been involved in for years) 3.5% of everything I raise. But most importantly, I give you the incentives listed below.

Thank you in advance for considering a donation. I have a long road of fundraising ahead of me, so any amount you can give is VERY much appreciated.

Checks made payable to FILMMAKERS ALLIANCE can be sent to the following address:

Destri Martino
4470 W. Sunset Blvd., #407
Los Angeles, CA 90027

I hope this email finds you well and I look forward to catching up with you soon!


P.S. If you'd like to learn more about me or my project,
Phlegm, check out my new website: , I'd love to hear from you.

Tax I.D. # 95-444-9125

To show my gratitude, I'm offering the following incentives to my generous donors.
For cash or in-kind donations totaling:

$20,000 - $30,000 +
- Executive Producer credit – Opening Titles
- Full-Access set visits throughout shoot
- Free event photography (2 Events)
- Floral arrangement valued at $100
- Listing in end credits "This film could not have
been made without…"

$10,000 - $19,999
- Co-Executive Producer credit – Opening Titles
- 2-day set visit
- Free event photography (1 event)
- Floral arrangement valued at $100
- Listing in end credits "This film could not have
been made without…"

$5,000 - $9,999
- Associate Producer credit – End Titles, split
- Free event photography (1 event)
- Listing in end credits "Very Special Thank
You to…"
- Floral arrangement valued at $50
- Free house, pet or baby sitting

$1,000 - $4,999
- Free event photography (1 event) or free house,
pet or babysitting
- Listing in end credits "Very Special Thank
You to…"
- Floral arrangement valued at $50

$500 - $999
- Free event photography (1 event) or free house,
pet or baby sitting
- Listing in end credits "Thank You to…"
- Cut flowers valued at $20

$100 - $499
- Listing in end credits "Thank You to…"
- Free event photography (1 event) or free house,
pet or baby sitting

$1 - $99*
- Listing in end credits "Thank You to…"

*I really appreciate any amount that you can give— it all helps!

The following notes apply to all giving levels
(Can you tell I work at a law firm?):

- Free photography incentive does not cover the cost of
film and developing.
- Floral arrangement incentive is designer's choice, but
you pick the color— unless, of course, you give me gobs
of money, then you can have whatever you want!
- Free babysitting covers 1 day/night while free pet or
house sitting covers the duration of a vacation.
- Sorry, photography, floral and sitting incentives only
available in Greater Los Angeles area.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"The Dog Baby" by Andy Biscontini


Somebody put a curse on my neighbors and turned their baby into a dog.

I heard it happen through the wall.

It took half an hour and sounded painful.

In the fuzzy green light between daybreak and dawn, my neighbors’ baby began to cry. The father tried to comfort it with soft parental coos, but the crying got worse, and worse, and worse, interrupted by guttural baby-barks.

The father called the mother. Her footsteps were punctuated by a gasp, terrified and confused.

I heard my neighbors’ baby’s cradle tip over and smash against the floor.

I heard my neighbors panic.

I heard my neighbors’ baby thrash around the floor in a fleshy interzone of half- dog half-babiness.

I heard my neighbors cry.

Then I heard my neighbors’ dog that was their baby bark and sprint around their apartment with all the novelty, surprise, and curiosity of a human, suddenly graduated from its mortal vessel of limited physical capacity into the somewhat more capable body of a mid-sized terrier.

A couple of days later, coming home with my groceries, I ran into my neighbors in the hallway, taking their dog who had been their baby out for a walk. They all looked happier than I’d ever seen them.

My neighbor’s dog greeted me with the same vague, friendly familiarity with which my neighbors’ baby had always greeted me.

I looked at my neighbors. They looked at each other.

They told me, “He’s had his shots. He’s licensed with the city. He’s popular among his peers at the park. Beautiful women stop him on the street and scratch him under his chin. We’ll likely endure the pain of his death before ours, but we’ll know that he had lived a good life, because we had given it to him.”

I don’t know.

Maybe it wasn’t a curse.

copyright, © 2006, 2007 Andy Biscontini

Get your Lunchtime on!

Click on the panel below to read the whole comic.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Love in bloom at Lunchtime!

Resist the siren song of romance at your peril!

Click on the panel below to read the full comic.


We have some catching up to do with our friend Jason Cuadrado, whom you'll recall from a previous post as the fearless indie writer-director responsible for TALES FROM THE DEAD.

A lot has happened since we last checked in. Jason and TALES were invited to participate in the Independent Feature Project's prestigious Independent Film Lab, and as of just under two weeks ago, he's wrapped post-production on TALES.

Now he's written an essay for the IFP Independent Film Lab about the final leg of TALES' journey to completion, chronicling his "adventures in post."

Click here (or on the pic of Jason) to read one horror filmmaker's advice on surviving the terrors of post-production.

Harlan Ellison, telling it like it is

Preach on, Brother Ellison.

For more information on the DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH feature film, click here.

For more information on Harlan Ellison, click here. Better still, read a book. My recommendation: An Edge in My Voice.

Not convinced? Susie over at Felber's Frolics has some thoughts on the matter, also.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Ladies and Gentlemen, the man is unstoppable.

Click on the panel to read today's strip.

By the apples

A contentious Irishman and his equally contentious wife were troubled by a rodent that had taken up residence in their basement. So they went out and purchased great, heavy rat traps to eliminate the nuisance.

Deciding how to bait the traps proved problematic. The wife insisted the only proper bait was fresh fruit, while the husband assured her it was madness to try to catch a rat using anything other than nuts. Unable to come to an agreement, they set two traps: one using chunks of sliced apple, the other with salted cocktail nuts.

Late that night they were awakened by a loud SNAP as one of the heavy traps was sprung. Determined to see who was right, they both raced from the bed. The squeamish wife remained at the top of the basement stairs as her husband ventured below.

"Got 'im!" The husband announced to his wife.

"And did ye catch him by the apples?" She called.

"Er, no..." He replied.

thank you Redd Foxx.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lunch is served!

Lunchtime Comics has posted a new strip.

Click on the panel below to be whisked there at once!

Quote of the Day

"...It is a fallacy to assume that every painting must represent something. As for me, I get pleasure very often out of a wholly meaningless arrangement of lights and colors. There are fabrics which tickle me vastly. I have, for example, an Irish poplin necktie of purple shot with vague greens that pleases me more than most pictures."

H.L. Mencken (in a letter to Willard Huntington Wright), 1913

Thursday, November 1, 2007

¡Vamos a Matar!

One of the all-time great Italian Western trailers, for one of the all-time great Italian Westerns: 1970's ¡VAMOS A MATAR, COMPAÑEROS! (aka COMPAÑEROS), directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Tomas Milian, Franco Nero and Jack Palance. Music by the always incredible Ennio Morricone, naturally.

Somehow this trailer didn't make it to the otherwise excellent US DVD release (initially from Anchor Bay, now available from Blue Underground), though if memory serves it was included on the (once much sought after) DJANGO, KILL! Japanese laserdisc.