Saturday, February 25, 2006


Just a few, quick plugs for the 3 or 4 of you out there checking up on me.

My review of South Africa's Oscar nominated film TSOTSI can be found HERE. It is a wonderful film and, if there's any justice, will walk away with a bald, gold statue.

I was also honored to interview South African sensation Zola. Zola is a hip hop icon in Johannesburg and contributed songs to the aforementioned TSOTSI. He was an inspiring man to speak with and was kind enough to dub me with an African name... NHLAKNITHO ( N-H-L-A-K-N-I-T-H-O). It is the Zulu word for wisdom (and I'll let you ponder that for yourselves). "We have a saying in Africa," Zola explained to me, "... he who listens wins the argument and you have done exactly that."

You can read more of my talk with Zola HERE.

And last, but definitely not least... as some of you well know, I have been producing a series of featurettes for the MASTERS OF HORROR DVDs. The title of this series is WORKING WITH A MASTER. Well, the first review is in and guess what piece gets mentioned in the first paragraph? I guess they like my style over at "Fangoria"

Check out the first mainstream review of my work HERE

That's all for now (and believe me it's plenty). I'm too disgusted to rant about the civil war brewing in Iraq, the knuckleheaded deal to sell our ports Bush is cooking with Dubai and South Dakota's turning back the clock by totally ignoring Roe V Wade and banning abortions -- even if the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest (lovely). There is an exception if the life of the mother is threatened (wasn't that nice of those SD pilgrims?).

With two new Bush appointees to the Supreme Court, you ladies can pull out your petticoats again. You have no say in the matter, apparently.

And I said I wasn't going to rant.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


As the chaos continues over the Mohammed cartoons, might I offer a diversion. My review for FINAL DESTINATION 3 is up. I by no means recommend this film as an antidote to all the stirring of the pot being done by Muslim radicals and the utterly clueless Danish press, but in a world where FINAL DESTINATION has reached its THIRD installment, can anything be taken seriously.

The review can be found HERE

And just because I can't help myself...

A representative of the Danish press corps (his name escapes me at the moment -- probably because idiots are meant to be forgotten) tried to apply some free speech logic to their actions. I'm paraphrasing here... "If we were to take into consideration everything that offended the different religious groups, we would be prevented from expressing any difference of opinion." Again I'm paraphrasing here. I must take issue with this. If you are someone who disagrees with affirmative action, you don't write an editorial featuring the "N" word no matter what free speech guarantees you. If you object to all the cover up of pedophilia in the Church, you don't publish a cartoon of Christ eyeing a little boy. Free speech demands responsibility. The Danish press, in practicing their right, were utterly irresponsible.

Now because this is a balanced blog (except where it comes to the current administration)...

I have a conundrum for the overly-outraged Muslims out there. If it is forbidden to depict the Prophet, how do you know what he looks like? And, if you don't know what he looks like, how do you know it's the Prophet in those cartoons. (NOTE: This is a trick question. The Danish press actually stated that the cartoons were of the Prophet. I'm just trying to come around to a point.)

This bit of rhetoric was supposedly the point of the original article the Danish paper published in September 2005. It was meant to point out the slippery slope of self censorship. "We are on our way to a slippery slope where no-one can tell how the self-censorship will end.", was the point of the editorial. (For more, see the BBC overview HERE) A salient point? Yes. Justification for the irresponsible nature of the cartoons themselves? Not really.

Look, I maintain life is an offense. I'm not trying to be cynical. We are many different people of many different views and tastes sharing the world together. At some point someone is going to offend someone. Maybe it will be foul language. Or a loud necktie. It could even be the fact that your next door neighbor thinks Jesus was just a fantastic rabbi. To self censor yourself to the point where self expression is sacrificed is the antithesis of free speech.

But common decency and respect for your neighbors in no way threatens that freedom. The Danish paper Jyllands-Posten should have known better.

On a thinly related topic, I just want to offer my praise to the speakers at Coretta Scott King's Funeral Service. It's time for those dissatisfied with the state of the Union to speak up and loud. It's also time to force the current administration to listen. Some may consider using Mrs. King's memorial as a platform as bad form. These people obviously have no idea what Coretta Scott King and her husband were all about... speaking out against injustice with the hopes of achieving harmony.

I say this is a thinly related topic to the Mohammed overreaction because I don't believe people are burning embassies over a cartoon. I think they are raging against a Western machine that, with Bush's War as a maiden head, doesn't show Muslims respect. It's like the LA riots over Rodney King. That wasn't about a verdict. That was a rebellion against a state of life.

So let's be the grown ups, apologize for the cartoons and solve the real problems that are allowing tempers to blaze.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Who's more embarrassing?

I'm not sure who to be more embarrassed by. The paper that publishes an offensive cartoon of a major religion's prophet or the masses of that religion burning and calling for the execution of the offenders.

As some of you may be aware, 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten back in September and reprinted in European media this past week. I am shocked at the Western world for repeating such a bigoted expression in public papers. When Europe is dealing with the frustration of Muslims at the hands of those who seem not to respect or tolerate them, why pour fuel on the fire? No religion or point of view should ever be ridiculed. One may differ in opinion, but there is a well demarcated line between disagreement and insult.

That said, the response to such an offense is not destruction and violence. Protest, yes. Burning embassies, not quite. Groups like Hamas and their leader, Mahmoud Zahar, have called for the cartoonists to be punished by death. "We should have killed all those who offend the Prophet and instead here we are, protesting peacefully." he said. While it is true that Islamic law forbids any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and that death may be the response to insulting his name, the followers of Islam, while a not so silent majority, have to realize that not all of the world adheres to their laws. It is hard to practice tolerance in the face of massive intolerance (actions of the French government, the Iraq war, etc.), but abstaining from mass violence will go a long way towards having your protest succeed.

(Just for the record... the British protestors in the picture below (the ones with those orange signs) got it right and their slogans go to the very heart of the matter. "WE DO NOT FEAR DEBATE OR CRITICISM, BUT NO ONE LIKES ABUSE." Well done!)

Is an apology warranted? Absolutely. Should the cartoonists be fired from the paper? Yes and for an utter lack of responsibility at the very least. Should the governments of the countries who reprinted the cartoon apologize? Well...

Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is right. You can't apologize for the results of free press. Dissenting opinions, even ones of reckless hate, are a risk of such a system. Yet in free societies, as well as life, you must take the good with the bad. The goal, however, is to continually strive for the good. It is here that I find myself embarrassed by both sides. If either the editors of the European papers or the protestors valued the good in life, they wouldn't have given in to the bad so easily. The cartoons would not have been printed and reprinted. The embassies would not have been burned. Are we regressing to the days of Holy Wars? Have we forgotten that, at heart, we all seek the same level of harmony? Yes, there are agitators... extremists, if you will... on each side. Some more extreme than others. This doesn't excuse reckless acts of inhumanity.

For an overview of the tumult click HERE