Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Do I Fancy?

What captures my fancy!
Aircraft carrier
Slim HD TV
Cable TV
Fiber optic
NIC Card/Ethernet
Love for Airplanes
Dot Matrix Printers
Color TV
Color Printers
Color Pictures
Color Magazines
Heart Transplant
Space shuttle
Telescopes (?)
Watches (both mecanical or digital)
for now

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Boss, by Farhad Farnia (Mehr "Jay" Shahidi)

“Boss”, Finally a Television Masterpiece
“Boss”, Finally a Television Masterpiece

A Commentary by Mehr “Jay” Shahidi

Boss is a must-see for all of us who are concerned, worried and outraged about the current shape of our social, economic and political conditions, not only in America but the world. It is a meticulously-crafted cinematic work intended to entertain while simultaneously demonstrating, questioning and wondering as to why we humans are corruptible and have been so through the ages.

It is stimulating and thought-provoking but deftly, subtly and politely leaves the judgment to the viewer.

Not since Westwing, starring the great Martin Sheen, have I seen or heard of a fictional television mini-series with socio-political dimensions, which comes close to the caliber of Boss, an eight-hour Starz Channel production which ended last Friday. The first season will be re-shown starting December 26, 2011 on cable, satellite and direct TV. Or, you can get it on-line. Boss differs from Westwing, in substance, design, intent, mood and outlook. It is much more pernicious and outrage-producing. It is similar to it only as it relates to the lives and acts of political leaders. But, Boss shows us the hidden side. Both productions, however, endeavor to take great strides in elevating the status of for-profit home screen up to the level of public television’s Masterpiece Theater and the best of documentaries while competing with the best motion pictures such as God Father, Platoon and All the President’s Men.

Boss is a different type of made-for-TV movie. It is a fiction but feels like a docudrama. It is also masterfully thrilling, suspenseful, intriguing, and awe-inspiring. Yes, it also has profanity, sex and blood.

Kelsey Grammer, the acting legend of television’s comics “Cheers” and “Frasier”, is now demonstrating his electrifying dramatic abilities as the autocratic and fearsome mayor of Chicago, Tom Cane, the Boss. His performance is so powerful that after watching the first episode my imagination transformed Grammer, the actor, into the indispensable mayor of that city. (I remembered the real Boss of Chicago who ruled in the sixties and seventies). And, after watching the eighth episode diligently, I felt I was in the same daze as when I had read King Lear and Citizen Cane.

The story was created and written by Farhad Safinia, of Apocalypto fame, and he, with the help of luminaries such as Gus Van Sant, Brian Sher, Richard Levine, Lyn Greene, Stella Bulochnikov, Grammer and others wrote the acting scripts and executive-produced it. Most of the initial reviews were so positive that the financiers decided to produce the second series before the first episode of the first series was aired in October. It is a thriller. But it is meant for highly intellectual and mature audiences. This is no film made for TV to increase the consumption of beer and popcorn. And, if you have no patience to watch each show alertly, keep the frequently alternating scenes in your head, and, concentrate to memorize names, dates and places, then, this set of movies is not for you.

Safinia, unlike Shakespeare, uses the colloquial American English esoterically to dissect and expose the current socio-political psyche of America’s power-politics, power-economics, power-corruption, power-control, power-immorality and power-ego-tripping. He brings into action highly profound issues of life, liberty, prosperity, justice and the “promised” democracy. Who rules America and how do they do it? How do our elite pursue their goals? What means do they use? Does the end justify the means? Any means? Is timely garbage collection from the streets more important than the democratic process? Is staying in power for the benefit of the rich and powerful more valuable that the lives of innocent children? Is might, any might, always right? Cane, becomes so drunk with the arrogance of his power that nothing and no-one could or would stand in his way. He even would use his wife and the one and only daughter as instrumental objects to maintain and accumulate raw power. Then, he becomes sick. Would the thought of his mortality transform him into a better or worse person? Watch, analyze and form your own take.

In a preview of the series, Safinia says of the fictitious mayor “he is not a bad guy, but, he does very, very bad things.” What has happened to American politics? Why does a political leader have to do bad things to stay in power? Why do we, the people, or at least most of us, keep silent and acquiesce to the perpetual state of undemocratic conduct and, indeed, tyrannical rule by some members of our elite? Safinia identifies, analyses, and brings to our attention what is and what is not possible. He evokes that notion once uttered by Don Quixote: you realists want the world the way it is. We idealists want it the way it should be.

To call Boss “….a sinister melodrama that defies common sense and cheapens the thrill of bad behavior”, as Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times does, is insulting to the audience. Of course we know that not all politicians, even the late Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, were that way or that bad. Safinia’s job, as an artist and social critique, is not to simply chronicle and report the society’s people and events. He laboriously has created and assembled several plots into his story simultaneously and, at times, he does border on exaggeration and satire, in order to capture our attention and drive his points. And, he does it eloquently. Francis Coppola did not mean that most of Italian American leaders belong to the Mafia and Charles Dickens did not brand all wealthy people as being Scrooge.

Boss is not just a magnificent work of theatrical production. It is a biting critique of our collective social malaise. It is a call to action. It is a courageous indictment by Safinia, and his eclectic cast and crew, of our corruptible nature when we gain power (and/or money). But, it is also an inspiring testament to our resiliency that, despite all odds, we keep dreaming, wishing and trying (the reporter, the daughter, the neurologist).The tale needles our inner being to awaken, motivate and strive for correction. It is a condemnation of the bad. It is a tribute to the good. Cane, himself, vacillates between man the vulgar and man the noble. For a relatively new writer-producer in Hollywood, Farhad Safinia has now proven his extraordinary intelligence to see the dark side of our political/corporate existence and boldly devise an exemplary artistic creation to tell us about it.

M. J. Shahidi is a small business owner and human rights activist living in Minnesota.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Religion and Peace - Can they Coexist? One Man's Efforts

My friend M Jay Shahidi who lives in Minnesota is a human rights activist among other hats he wares.

I have these Youtube videos following him around and recording some of the conversations and interviews. On the first video congressman Keith Ellison is present and shows his support.

September 21, 2010, International Day of Peace

*** 2nd Video***

***third Video***

*** Last Video ***

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Terrifying 15 Minutes Dream

I had a terryfing dream.

24; Not and nothing to
do with Jack Bauer!
The following takes place between 11:30PM and 11:55PM (Music to follow: Dang Knock dang dadang dang dadang.
It’s 11:30 PM and I’m fast sleep... I must have fallen sleep soon after going to bed and a short while later fell into deep sleep, the dreaming stage. Here is what I started dreaming of:
I walked in on them and I must have surprised him. But I know he didn’t care (one of them was my old buddy whom I have never met in real life!) There blood all over the sheets on the bed! The room had a totally different look. It was day time, but all the shades were drawn, except on some corners where you could see the light. One would draw that there was daylight and a bright sun shining outside. Very much like a Vegas bedroom scene. Both of them were still laying in the bed, but not sleep. And what a huge bed it is. I must have especial ordered it, because it was clearly bigger and wider than a California King. It was probably the same size that Sahquille O’Neal or Kareem Abdul Jabbar would buy. I must have loved sleeping in it. I quite couldn’t figure what might have happened there the night before or at least most of the night. The room had a different look and smell to it. It was cluttered and messy and I realized that most of my furniture was gone!
I asked, what the hell was going on! As I stretched my hand in front of him, before I finished saying another word, he grabbed my arm and bit me. His bite punctured my arm and I could feel the extreme pain shooting through my spine. I didn’t have time to scream foul! His teeth bit me deep! Blood squished out of my arm just above the wrist, where he had deeply punctured it. He did not let go of my arm or his bite. He and I both knew he had done something horrific and awful, but there were no regret or sorrow in his eyes. He must have known the he’d be infecting me too. He was HIV positive and his open soars were bloody.
He was pissed at the world and anyone who wasn’t HIV positive. He knew that not only I wasn’t gay and not interested in men, I was very careful and my playboy days were long past.
I grabbed his face to relief the pain in anger. The adrenalin rush had just instinctively put me into a defensive fight or flight mode. I couldn’t run since he had a good grip on my arm. As a result I grabbed his face and as much of his jaw that I could. I don’t know why I didn’t punch him on his head or on his face. Trying to separate myself from his tight grip, I grabbed his upper lips and nose. I tried very hard to open his jaws and force his mouth open. I used all the power in my left hand to force his mouth open mean while blood started gushing out but I knew it was too late run. I was fighting back. My left hand’s fingers and his upper jaws were all bloody now. Screaming in pain, from the top of his lungs, he let go of my arm. But now, I was the one who had grabbed his jaws, with all the power in me, was trying to split his jaws, face and skull.

His lover now was frozen and stunned in his place on the bed. I was taken back of how much adrenalin must have been injected into my muscles, to be able to tear his mouth and jaw apart. He was becoming red and blue and his face and was becoming quite disfigured. He was going into shock and losing consciousness. His lover, by now, knew that he had practically destroyed my life and killed me too as well.
I gradually calmed down and realized that everything from my decorative and expensive bachelorette pad was missing!
It seemed I must have had this penthouse apartment for a while. It was single condo with a very large huge dinning & living room. Why the bed was in the living room? I guess it could’ve been a single apartment. I don’t know, but that‘s all I can tell you about it. I didn’t see any other rooms or a kitchen in my dream! But, I had this intuitive feeling that I must have had this place for a while and my friends used to come and party and crash. All of the expensive decorative paintings and the rest of the furniture, except for the bed and night stands were gone. In my terrifying dream, it was easy for me to put 2 and 2 together to realize that “he” (I can’t remember his name from my dream) must have sold them to satisfy his insidious and incautious coke and drug habit.
With my heart beating fast and pounding my chest, I woke up terrified of what had I just dreamed of! It was now 11:55 PM. And all of this was a short terrifying 15 minutes dream! I got up and had a cigarette and pondered about this dream. It had been a long while since I had a such a scary dream.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Dream of Flight

Childhood, Adolescence & Adulthood Dreams or just my dreams at nights.
The Knight'sDream by Antonio de Preda
Read about dream here in Wikipedia, but I’m talking about another kind of dream & it’s not day dreaming either!
For the past year or so, my dreams have become so engaging and fun that I really enjoy them. Everynight, I look forward to another episode full of fun and adventure.
The BEST part about it that I become some kind of a super hero-like character. I don’t have any another special powers except the ability to flay and soar above ground at high or low altitudes. I have no special gear or wing or anything either. It’s just a will power & a Superman like flight, but I don't go nearly as fast him. The other nice thing about it is that i'm always involved in a pleasant and fun filled adventure. No crary dreams. At times I wake up and I feel like I could write it all done, but the following morning I don’t remember anything except that I had one of those fun dreams.

I used to have a different kind of dream (not while sleeping) when I was in high school. I never wanted to be an astronaut, but I wanted to be involve in creation and conception of futuristic space exploration vehicle of some sort and perhaps work for NASA. One of my earlier heroes was Dr. Werhner von Braun, the German scientist, the designer of the Saturn IV rocket in the Apollo Missions which took the astronauts to the moon. This reminds me of one of my favorite songs David Bowie’s Space Oddity and hear another gorgeous version by Natalie Marchant.

Here is just an off-the-wall song which has nothing to do with this dream of mine, but it’s a note worthy song, an Artetha Frankling’s Day Dreaming and when I fly above rivers and lakes I’m reminded of this perhaps for when I land and arrested for speeding: Bridge over trouble water

The Dream of Flight

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Homeland Security Dependents on God

Atheists sue over reference to God in Kentucky homeland security law.
See Here or Here

Atheists sue to take God out of state's terrorism law!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

John McCain - The Manchurian Candidate (2008)

Look for the similarities between the three Manchurian Candidates and draw your own conclusion!

John McCain – The Manchurian Candidate (2008)

Plot Summary

While in captivity in Vietnam, was he brainwashed (became a sleeper agent) by the Communists into believing he can run for the President of the United States? Was he ordered to select Sarah Palin (the queen of diamonds/Alaska) as his running mate, a heartbeat away from becoming the next President of the United States? Won’t this result in the biggest blow that the Communists could inflict on the United States?

Alternate Plot

The Manchurian Candidate 2008 is an American thriller saga about a Republican Party white hair dude’s (John McCain) campaign for the presidency of the United States of America. It is about the Son of a prominent US Navy family who has been brainwashed while in captivity as POW in Vietnam into becoming an unwilling assassin for the Communist Party.

The Communists intend to use McCain as a sleeper agent and using the queen of diamonds (queen of Alaska, Sarah Palin) in a political campaign as a subconscious trigger compel him to have a fatal heart attack 24 hours after he was elected the President of the United States and Sarah Palin as his vice president.

John Sidney McCain III :"(born August 29, 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Arizona and presidential nominee of the Republican Party in the 2008 presidential election.
McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973, experiencing episodes of torture and refusing an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer; his war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations."

Read about Hanoi Hilton, a name used by the Vietnam War POWs to refer to a North Vietnamese prison here.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962):
"The Manchurian Candidate is a 1959 thriller novel written by Richard Condon, adapted into films in1962 and 2004. It is about the son of a prominent political family who has been brainwashed into becoming an unwilling assassin for the Communist Party. The novel has been banned in communist states "for political reasons" and was "condemned by the American Legion."

Plot summary
"Captain Bennett Marco, Sergeant Raymond Shaw and the rest of their platoon are captured during the Korean War in 1952. They are all brainwashed into believing Shaw saved their lives in combat, for which he receives the Medal of Honor when they return to the United States. Years after the war is over, Marco, now an intelligence officer, begins to have a recurring nightmare in which Shaw murders two of his comrades while being watched by Chinese and Russian officials. When he learns that another platoon member has been having the same dream, he sets out to uncover the mystery.
The Communists intend to use Shaw as a sleeper agent and, using the queen of diamonds in a deck of playing cards as a subconscious trigger, compel him to follow their orders, which he does not remember afterwards. Shaw is controlled by none other than his own politically ambitious and domineering mother, who is working with the Communists in a plot to overthrow the U.S. government.
Film adaptations
 The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
 The Manchurian Candidate (2004)"

The Manchurian Candidate (2004):
"The Manchurian Candidate is a 2004 American film based on the 1959 novel The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon, and a reimagining of the previous 1962 film. The film stars Denzel Washington as Bennett Marco, a tenacious, virtuous soldier, Liev Schreiber as Raymond Shaw, a U.S. Representative from New York, manipulated into becoming a vice-presidential candidate, Jon Voight as Tom Jordan, a U.S. Senator and challenger for vice president and Meryl Streep as Eleanor Shaw, also asenator and the manipulative, ruthless mother of Raymond Shaw."

"Maj. Ben Marco (Denzel Washington), is a war veteran who begins to doubt what is commonly known about his famous army unit. During Operation Desert Storm, Sergeant First Class Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) supposedly rescued all but two members in his unit, of which Marco was the commanding officer. While this made Shaw a war hero, gained him the Medal of Honor, and launched him into a career in politics, Marco and other members of the troop feel that while they remember that Shaw didrescue them, they do not actually remember him doing it.
The members begin to come together in the dystopic near-future of 2008 after Shaw, now a United States Congressman, becomes his party's candidate for Vice-President. He is an unexpected candidate, as Connecticut Senator Tom Jordan (Jon Voight) was the leading choice for some time. Jordan is pushed aside by Shaw's mother, Virginia Senator Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep), who blackmails the party leaders into nominating her son. An obvious rivalry exists between Eleanor Shaw and Tom Jordan, partly due to a past relationship between Raymond Shaw and Jordan's daughter Jocelyne (Vera Farmiga).
After Shaw is nominated, Marco begins investigating what really happened during the war. Allied with a female FBI agent named Rosie (Kimberly Elise) he links the mystery of his lost platoon to Manchurian Global, a global conglomerate with major political connections, including the Shaw family. Soon Marco discovers Manchurian Global's brainwashing of his "lost" platoon, and their plans to take over the White House with Shaw, under the power of the company and Eleanor Shaw, who is even more power hungry than she appears.
Soon Eleanor Shaw begins to take matters into her own hands, trusting Manchurian Global less and less. Her ruthlessness is shown when she uses her own brainwashed son to assassinate Senator Jordan, who had been contacted by Marco and had begun to support his investigation in an attempt to expose her plan. As she becomes more and more controlling, it is soon revealed that the Vice-Presidential spot is not what she has in mind for her son, but the presidency. On election night, the newly elected president will be assassinated, and the planned assassin of Shaw's running mate is none other than Marco himself, who was also brainwashed in the war. With the help of the FBI, Marco arranges a private meeting with Shaw in a school which he was to cast his vote in. Marco tries once again to convince Shaw of what is happening to him. Shaw seems to agree, and gives Marco his Medal of Honor, which he says he does not deserve. Marco takes it, and Shaw receives a phone call from his mother, who wants to talk to Marco. Marco answers it, and is soon "activated" by her.
Shaw and Marco begin to regain a conscious state even while under Manchurian Global's control. At the election night celebration party, the newly elected Shaw and Major Marco realize what must be done. Shaw leads his mother onto the stage with him, and Marco fires one shot, killing both of them as they hug. Just before Marco can kill himself (which had been part of Eleanor Shaw's plan), Rosie stops him by shooting him in the shoulder. The FBI covers up Marco's involvement, pinning a Manchurian Global conspirator with the shooting. In the last scene, Rosie takes Marco to the compound he was brainwashed in, apparently in conjunction with the FBI investigating. Marco realizes what has happened, and lets the sea take away a picture of the "lost platoon" along with Shaw's medal of honor as if erasing what happened in that compound."