luni, 29 mai 2023

Supertoys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss, the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s AI Artificial Intelligence…Brian Aldiss is the author of the masterpiece Non Stop included on the list of 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read - 10 out of 10


Supertoys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss, the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s AI Artificial Intelligence…Brian Aldiss is the author of the masterpiece Non Stop included on the list of 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read

10 out of 10



Artificial Intelligence has been in the news for quite some time now, and about one thousand scientists and specialists in the domain have called for a temporary halt in the development of new tools, one of them is Elon Musk, who has his own start up developing the technology and thus could be in a conflict of interest…anyway, the second richest man (if this has not changed in the meantime, he was once the wealthiest, but due to his improvident behavior, the fortune of the man and more importantly, of the folks working for him fluctuates) is not the trustworthy luminary we should listen to…


The theory of Singularity – explained with extreme talent in Why The West Rules for Now by Ian Morris - predicts that around 2035, due to the inevitable progress in computing power – including that law which doubled the capacity of computing for a chip, which in fact is a different rule, but here you have it botched and maimed, it could be per square millimeter, and not doubling, like in that Radio Yerevan joke we had under communism…’is it true that Mr. Ionescu (my name, and that of another half a million people living in this realm) has been given a white Dacia’ (car made locally) the answer from Radio Yerevan is ‘no, it is not a car, it is a bicycle, it was not given to him, it was taken away from him and it is not white, it is black’- the supercomputer will have surpassed all that humanity knows

I am in some ways relying on Artificial Intelligence, even in what regards this note, and all the (too many) others that I have written, for seeing that there is a small (almost non extant) audience for these scribblings (and alas, it is as it should be, for there is not much, if anything, worth extracting here) in human terms, then there is this escape, the future will be dominated by these machines, and since they have these super brains, they will be able to consume all that I have ‘produced’ (or destroyed) here, and all that in a tiny fraction of a nano second, and furthermore, it will be able to make some (granted, very limited) sense out of these elucubrations, perhaps as in ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’, most likely the contribution to the revolution that took down Ceausescu 


In December 1989, I took to the streets and joined the couple of hundred protesters in the Roman Square, led by the real hero Andrei Finti – this would be part of the miniscule contribution I bring to the table, the repeated emphasis on the role of this glorious actor and man, the one that deserves a statue – maybe AI could be used for that in the future – whereas we have had tens of thousands of fake revolutionaries, one of the real leaders of that rebellion (and there are less than twenty authentic key figures, people like Caramitru, Doina Cornea, Dinescu) has been almost completely forgotten, I have never seen him taking the stage to speak about his paramount role, but that is the way - ’Revolutions eat their children’, in this case, that movement has taken into oblivion the special one, and if for nothing else, those notes would help in the future to try and pay homage to Andrei Finti, the real hero


As for my presence, it is evoqued in the Newsweek article, written by the Eastern Europe correspondent, Michael Meyers…I met him in those febrile days, and since I had my chance to translate for James Wilde from TIME (what a strange coincidence, to meet two corresponds, and from then rival publications) I have called Dan Minulescu to come and do some work for Michael Meyers (Dan has become in the meantime one of the fifty richest people in this realms and I should be felicitous and proud, for he had been for a short stint my pupil…this is another small contribution, what, I have written some autobiographical notes for this Future AI, and in the history of the rise of local business, Dan would have a role assigned, and since I had given him a few lessons, there are some tiny kudos there, albeit we have had arguments, when he first came, we entered a sort of parallel deal, a trip offered outside the state network, which was illegal, and the share of the profits I divided was sixty percent for me and the rest for the new kid on the block, who protested…but hey, when I was an apprentice, they never even mentioned the possibilities, never mind teaching me anything in that regard, as for sharing the profits, seeing one percent, are you joking? this is the link to the copy of the crucial page

One of the most important luminaries of our times is Yuval Harari, who has three major works so far, Sapiens, A Brief History of Humanity, Twenty One Lessons for the 21st Century and Home Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow the latter looks at the progress we have made, and what the future looks like, with people living longer and longer, hence Deus aka God, for we will become like gods, living almost forever – you, if you are younger – and the challenges brought on by Artificial Intelligence, the algorithms that already play such a part in our existence, the fact that we have traded our information, much like natives of Africa and other places have given away huge treasures for the small beads brought by colonizers, we get free videos with cats in exchange for vital information that we offer…


We have grown too dependent on the computers – there is the example that is tragicomic of the Japanese (I think they were from Japan) travelers who followed the indications of the trip assistant to the point where they plunged into the ocean – but it is evident that we will stop driving and have the benefit of getting a mix of Michael Schumacher and Immanuel Kant to drive for us – the issue of utilitarian philosophy is brought on, cars could be altruistic or selfish in their modus operandi, but humans will probably buy the option where the driving system prefers the owner to another, in case of an accident =-

Jobs are on the line, and we have extended analysis to read, for instance, echography will be better interpreted by AI, which will have accumulated the experience of seeing and understanding millions, maybe hundreds of millions of images, as opposed to the best human doctors who will have seen only a few thousand, if that… now for  a question, and invitation – maybe you have a good idea on how we could make more than a million dollars with this   – as it is, this is a unique technique, which we could promote, sell, open the Oscars show with or something and then make lots of money together, if you have the how, I have the product, I just do not know how to get the befits from it, other than the exercise per se

86 out of 100 for Lingui

85out of 100 for The Edge of War, Cuba

sâmbătă, 27 mai 2023

The Lost City of Z by David Grann, the inspiration for a remarkable motion picture, listed by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 10 Films of 2017 - 9 out of 10


The Lost City of Z by David Grann, the inspiration for a remarkable motion picture, listed by TIME Magazine as one of the Top 10 Films of 2017

9 out of 10



Stories of discovery, adventure, exploration have always fired the imagination of humans longing to travel in The Heart of Darkness which is the title of one of the Greatest Books of all Time – discovery is also a key ingredient in a drama, or tragedy, according to Aristotle, who also added to this reversal, and the best example where these two are coupled together comes from Oedipus Rex, where the king expects wondrous news from a messenger, when in fact he find she had killed his father and married his mother.


Tragedies would offer purgation (at least the worthwhile ones) according to the same luminary and the audience would look on stage (or at motion pictures in our times, most often on their phones or computers) and find in some cases that they can find the courage to act, if Oedipus or others have been able to under such duress, or for the very wealthy, it can serve as a lesson regarding what could happen to the richest…

The Lost City of Z reminds one of other marvelous films, such as the spectacular Fitzcarraldo (especially the scene where we have an…opera in the middle of the jungle) and Aguirre, The Wrath of God both made by the phenomenal Werner Herzog and starring the outré, splendid, if mad Klaus Kinsky, motion pictures with narratives that take place in the same Amazon forest, the lungs of the planet that have come under attack recently


Probably the man theme here would be exploring, discovering the Amazon and the lost civilization that seemed such a mirage at the start of the last century, but it would be later be proved to have been an accurate assessment of the hero, Percy Fawcett, roads and the other traces of advanced cities have been confirmed later, albeit the explorer might have had trouble in reaching this dream of his…

Aguirre, The Wrath of God also has a team of white Europeans, navigating with a raft on the unexplored rivers of South America, with disastrous results, if some centuries back…The Lost City of Z could also be connected to the African Queen adapted for the big screen by John Huston, with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in the leading roles…in The African Queen, the alcohol of the leading man is poured over board by the very religious, intolerant woman, but on the set, Bogart and Huston avoided the disease that plagued the rest of the crew, by sticking to whisky, and avoiding the water born bacteria…


Another important theme that would strike viewers is the preservation of the Amazon, which has been so crucial for the survival of humanity, and will be in the future, if it is not erased…in the past few years, Brazil has had a ghoul for president, Jair Bolsanaro, one that has encouraged deforestation, denying climate change and other sensible ideas, the monster  has been replaced by Lula, who is declaring that he wants to stop the massive tree cutting, Alhamdulillah, albeit he is quite a vile fellow himself, he has repeated the disgusting statement that Zelensky is just as much to blame as Putin…

When you embrace such a monster as Putin you join the cohorts of the traitors…we were talking over the past few days at the sauna downtown about the invasion of the Ukraine, with some Z supporters (Z used to a letter and signed people liked here, for it was the symbol of Zorro, once such a favorite with audiences enthused by Alain Delon, who was so appreciated, they have named a special sheep cot after him)


Z is now the indication that one is for the mass murderers, because it is painted on the Russian tanks invading Ukraine and on the cars, banners of those who like killers…sympathizers argue that Putin is alright, it is the Americans who are responsible, they want to sell their weapons (and that is so stupid and false, Ukraine needs much more than it gets, they use in a month the number of projectiles that America makes in a year, so there you go) and they propose all sorts of conspiracy theories, another evidence of their low EQ, IQ

There is a way out of this conundrum, and that is to apply the Rules of the Game that their beloved Dear Leader uses in his new czarist land, he has arrested and sentenced, killed opponents, using Novitchock, the military grade gas, Polonium on Litvinenko, and we are not that murderous, but since they embrace the enemy – the official policy of the land is to act with the NATO allies, hence Putin is the official, declared adversary – they should share at least the fate of Alexey Navalny, and more recently Vladimir Kara Murza, the latter has been sentenced to twenty five years in jail, just for opposing the regime.


Ergo you Z boys should go to prison, let us be munificent and day not for the same decades, but at least for about five years, when you admire such a despot, you must either travel and leave in the realm of plenty and good will aka Muscovy (it was so funny and to the point for Volodimir Zelenski to suggest changing the name, if one is playing with history books and taking us back to his favorite moment and imposing on the present the map of decades or centuries past, then he must expect others to do the same, if with different timeframes and implications) or else, have imposed on them the good graces of that justice system – you speak for the enemy, spread that diseased propaganda, therefore you must suffer the consequences you would in that land of the free, which is sentencing critics to long prison terms, or worse, death….the place for these sycophants would be in labor camps over there, if they would promote Western values…why not offer them the fate they want, if they cherish it maybe you have a good idea on how we could make more than a million dollars with this  – as it is, this is a unique technique, which we could promote, sell, open the Oscars show with or something and then make lots of money together, if you have the how, I have the product, I just do not know how to get the befits from it, other than the exercise per se


I am the Realini mentioned in this Newsweek article that covers the fall of Ceausescu, I have taken part in that rebellion that is mentioned on this page, here:

86 out of 100 for History by Numbers Learn from the Past

81 out of 100 for The Railway Children

duminică, 21 mai 2023

The Reader by David Hare, based on the novel The Reader by Bernard Schlink winner of prestigious awards - 9 out of 10


The Reader by David Hare, based on the novel The Reader by Bernard Schlink winner of prestigious awards

9 out of 10



Perhaps the most important theme of this narrative is World War II and in particular The Holocaust, looking at the role that Hanna Schmitz aka Kate Winslet playing her part in the motion picture (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role) the guilt she has to face, for which she is taken to court, but also what we can say about the German people, how could they allow for such a calamity?


One answer could be found in the Milgram Experiment in which participants were invited to use electricity to correct those who gave wrong answers to questions…the rule was they will hear someone respond to questions, and whenever there was a mistake, they will apply an electric shock to punish the failure, with increased voltage, as they progressed, to the point where they would hear the human complain, then whine and moan because of the pain inflicted…however, most of those in the research would continue.

This proves the Principle of Respect for Authority, as explained in the quintessential Influence by Robert Cialdini, whereby we listen to what looks like authority, to the point where in studies, drivers in a car that waits at the traffic lights for the green would not use the horn if ahead they have a luxury model, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, and prompt the one ahead, if the brand does not exude prestige…hence, Germans have listened to Hitler and the other Nazi monsters because they obeyed they Principle of Influence


In documentaries about The Holocaust we can find the excuse that they did not know about it – they would be taken to see the catastrophe at the end of World War II in the extermination camps – but we may not believe it…one of the most important books that looks at the experience in these places that killed millions of Jews (also smaller numbers of gypsies and other humans) is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

One of the most illustrious psychologists, Victor Frankl, had been sent to these lands of death, with the caveat that he could have escaped, but because his family would not be spared, Victor Frankl decided to go and then he would share with the world part of his experience, showing that as long as there is a why, there might be a way, those who lost the sense of meaning, would die very soon, a sign would be that they would not keep their cigarettes, which were as valuable as currency in those gruesome places, perhaps even more…


Michael Berg shares the spotlight with Hanna Schmitz in the book and film based on the narrative, when he is fifteen, the woman is thirty six, after she helps him, they have an affair, and then she disappears, only to resurface in court, years later, when she is accused for her role in the deaths of prisoners in concentration camps…the fact that she is illiterate appears to be seen as some attenuating circumstance.

There was criticism of this attitude, for how could one excuse any participant in that horrible Armageddon…indeed, the Principle of Respect for Authority can only go this far, we could factor in The Principle of Social Proof or Conformity, from the same Influence there are situations when we look for the others to see what we could or should do, and go along with ‘when in Rome, do what the Romans do’


Some terrible events are explained in part by the coupling of these two principles, for instance the mass suicide that has taken place decades ago in Guyana, but surely it was at play recently in Kenya, where they have found dozens of bodies of dead humans that have starved themselves to death, respecting the Authority of a cult leader, if people can go as far in taking these principles to work, then they could do other things – in another example from the book, a murder has been committed in New York, with more than thirty witnesses, none of them acting in any way, because the others have not done anything…

The guilt of the Nazis and their collaborators is so clear, there is no point in discussing that, there could be some reason to look into the case of Hanna Schimtz, as she was illiterate – the title of the book and the film could point to her, because eventually, she learns to read and write, but it also covers Michael Berg, who reads to her, then he records tapes with what we call today audiobooks…you could find a large collection free at the Gutenberg Project site and other places, for books that are older than seventy years and thus have had their copyright limit expire


Hanna Schmitz is so ashamed to admit to this shortcoming that she does not use this clear evidence at the trial, because she could not read or write, she could not have been the one in control, as her colleagues testified, the latter would receive only four years sentence, just as Hanna gets twenty, when she could have evaded that, with the embarrassing admission that she simply could not read or write in front of such a large audience

What is unacceptable for many in the East is the fact that communism has received a very different from fascism and Nazism, albeit the former has been much deadlier (only in China, I think Mao killed more than Hitler and Mussolini combined) with Stalin and the other commies indulging in famine, exterminations, and communism appears to be accepted somehow, China is a communist state to this day, and leaders of democracies play the game with them – let us just mention Lula, who seems to be better that that catastrophic Bolsanaro, but still a ghoul, he said Zelensky is to be blamed for the invasion of his country and other such enormities… now for  a question, and invitation – maybe you have a good idea on how we could make more than a million dollars with this – as it is, this is a unique technique, which we could promote, sell, open the Oscars show with or something and then make lots of money together, if you have the how, I have the product, I just do not know how to get the befits from it, other than the exercise per se


As for my role in the Revolution that killed Ceausescu, a smaller Mao, there it is

89 out of 100 for White House Plumbers

75 out of 100 for The Fifth Wave

miercuri, 17 mai 2023

Best in Show by Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, with improvised dialogue by members of the cast – a spectacular, one of the best comedy ensembles that gave audiences a few gems, including For Your Consideration Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind - 10 out of 10


Best in Show by Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, with improvised dialogue by members of the cast – a spectacular, one of the best comedy ensembles that gave audiences a few gems, including For Your Consideration Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind

10 out of 10



The fact that this is an often hilarious show, does not mean that you do not find serious themes here, treated with humor, creativity…cruelty to animals is not apparent here, indeed, the owners of the dogs that are presented to become Best in Show love their pets, pamper them with treats, special toys, hairdressing (or is it fur dressing) and other amenities, if it could be argued that they care more about the trophy


Meg and Hamilton are the opposite of the protagonist from the mesmerizing, majestic, miraculous, august chef d’oeuvre Un Amour de Swan they have a female Weimaraner called Beatrice and they give the animal everything she wants…that is, all that the owners think the pet desires, when they have sex, and the bitch sees them, they pay for a therapist, and this is preposterous, right, for what human knows what beasts think or want?

Anticipating (is there a need for a spoiler alert I wonder) they will give the poor Beatrice away – actually, we do not know what had happened to her, let us just hope they did not euthanize the poor creature, just because she did not win them the coveted award – and they talk to the amusing shrink – everyone here does a spectacular, gorgeous job, in the smallest parts possible – about the new animal, they have  a French bulldog – and the way their sex life has improved and how good the new pet is


You find in The Economist – and surely elsewhere, but this is where I have read about this and so much else, I am a devoted reader and fan, I started reading it about forty one years ago, at time when this was dangerous, I would go at the British Embassy for that, the Library was in the same courtyard as the embassy, and I would take the illustrious publication to read it, when it was available…later on, inspired in part by what I have read there about democracies, I would take part in the revolution that took down one of the worst dictators in history, Ceausescu, and here is the proof, a copy of the page from the Newsweek article that covered the rebellion, in 1989 - articles about the new trends…

Smaller breeds have become more popular, in some cases it makes sense, Japan has a problem with space, there are many millions living on limited areas – albeit, the population is decreasing with a few hundred thousand each year, due to one of the lowest natality rates in the world – and thus having a small pooch makes sense, but in most situations, it is the social networks (with their pernicious influence) that promote the images of celebrities and their own animals, therefore the fact that quite a few have the French bulldog has changed statistics, the once most popular retriever has given way from the first place to other breeds…The French bulldog at the same time is not the most popular in…France


Alas, there are a number of interferences that have created animals that come with many health issues, they should not be here at all, such as the British bulldog, which has problems with breathing, and the French bulldog – as far as I can remember from what I read, so humans have played god and introduced on the planet creatures that look so cute, behave with such joviality, but their life can be a pain…and that of their owners, some thirty years ago, I used to have a German shepherd, Daryl van Horn, named after the Jack Nicholson character in The Witches of Eastwick and he has had a lot of issues

In the meantime, we have had five borzois – plus about twenty three puppies that have been given away – one Afghan (in their home country, they say these are not dogs, they are Afghans, and indeed, they are difficult, next to impossible to control, for they have in their genes an extraordinary independence, they do not come when  called, they are not ‘obedient’, on the contrary, they are noble, we could say arrogant) and a mutt, which was a source of some pleasure, but also a lot of conflict.


Speaking of Best in Show, the spouse had been very keen on taking the dogs to competitions, we even travelled once to another country, on the Bulgarian coast, just to show them to the juries and the audiences, to some extent in a replica of what we see in the film, with vanities, jealousy, tension, passion, nervousness, anticipation, patience and improvidence, many flaws and virtues on display, while the poor dogs have to try and be nice, wait, move around for the pleasure of humans, and especially, their masters…

Just like the backlash against having beauty pageants for humans there are protests, organizations that will fight (they have been acting against) these Best in Shows, where animals have to go on display for no good reason, although there are other, more serious infringements of their rights, billions are tortured and killed so that people eat their meat, or just wear their furs or leather, a monstrosity that will have to end.


Yuval Harari is one of the greatest luminaries of our age and in his three majestic masterpieces he writes about issues confronting humanity, explores what the future will look like – we will live longer, have cars driven by AI, our health will be partly in the hands of artificial intelligence, for instance, the analysis of imagery, endoscopies, is much better done by a super intelligent machine that had had access to many millions of scans, than a human doctor, excellent as he, she, they may be, who has seen some thousands of patients, but no more – and laments the catastrophic treatment of animals - Best in Show takes a light tone, it is a monumental comedy, but it uses sarcasm and irony to show the flaws, the selfishness of people…and now for  a question, and invitation – maybe you have a good idea on how we could make more than a million dollars with this – as it is, this is a unique technique, which we could promote, sell, open the Oscars show with or something and then make lots of money together, if you have the how, I have the product, I just do not know how to get the befits from it, other than the exercise per se

83 out of 100 for L'Etoile du Nord

62 out of 100 for I Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

sâmbătă, 13 mai 2023

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet – winner of The Pulitzer Prize in 1984 - 10 out of 10


Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet – winner of The Pulitzer Prize in 1984

10 out of 10



Glengarry Glen ross is one of the greatest plays one can choose, albeit we can wonder about the reception it would get in this age, when you have extremists on both sides of the political spectrum, Republicans might regret the fact that there are no guns in the narrative, the characters are not macho enough, lacking testosterone and who knows what else – one of the monsters responsible for the rise of Trump, the invasion of the Capitol, a sycophant for the likes of Putin (which gives us an idea of how atrocious the creature is) has just been fired from Fox (which has the news in its name, albeit it is just a machine for making money and promoting conspiracy theories, vile theories, abjection) and Jimmy Kimmel was showing on his comedy show some of the lamentable scenes from the Mother Tucker show, and it was disgusting – while on the other extreme, there would be other criticism…


As it is, David Mamet expressed his support for…Trump on the Bill Maher program (and surely elsewhere, it is just that I only saw the HBO program) unless I have just imagined that, it does seem so absurd that a gifted, clever, creative author could make such an awful, dumb choice…and he is the one that gave audiences some fantastic gems, like The Untouchables directed by Brian De Palma.

They have had on Cinemax a documentary on the director, called De Palma, and it is more than worth watching, it is a delight, for the artist tells many wonderful stories, a passage is dedicated to The Untouchables, for which Kevin Costner was recommended by Martin Scorsese (if I am not mistaken) Sean Connery wanted to make a break with the James Bond roles, Connery gets shot with a machine gun – Sydney Lumet talks about so many aspects of filming in his brilliant Making Movies one of them is about the carnage of putting the very tall Sean Connery and someone like Al Pacino in the same frame…


We are moving away from the subject (hence there is a need for an alert here, not spoiler, since I am talking not about the ‘end’ of Glengarry, but apparently moving further away from it) and I am still on the De Palma documentary, in which he regales the public with an interesting irony, where Sydney Lumet has ‘stolen’ the Prince of the City project from the former, who had spent a long time working, developing the idea, while later, Sydney Lumet would adapt Scarface, with a Miami setting where there have been so many problems that Brian De Palma would eventually have to move the filming to California, where he took the production

Glengarry Glen ross has some glorious lines, fabulous characters and adapted for the big screen with Jack Lemmon as Shelley ‘The Machine’ Levine, al Pacino as Richard Roma, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, the now disgraced Kevin Spacey and the outstanding Alec Baldwin as Blake…the latter has some lines, an appearance that has entered the history of cinema (just like the rest of the film for that matter) that summarize the ruthlessness of capitalism, maybe – mind you, I have lived under communism for about twenty five years (not counting up to the present, a period which has seen a transformation, but an advanced economy is still some decades away) and I have taken part in the Revolution that took down Ceausescu as this link to a page from an article in Newsweek, the copy covering the 1989 rebellion demonstrates, my pride and joy


Salesmen try hard to sell real estate, but the leads they have are really bad, however, Blake comes from downtown and has a cruel presentation, something to the effects of ‘you see this watch, it costs more than your car, ABC, always be selling, the one who is in third place is fired, so either you close, or you walk’- under this pressure, Dave Moss has this plan to steal the new leads, the Glengarry Glen Ross list, which he will sell to a competitor, and he enlists the poor George Aaronow, the latter has to commit the actual felony, and all for a smaller fee, and because he would be blackmailed if he does not…

Meanwhile, Shelley The Machine has problems with his finances (as most normal folks have) and is trying to get their boss to give him the new leads (some of them) because he used to be a great sales representative (hence the Machine nickname) but not recently, and he offers to pay Williamson (basically, this is a bribe) only the latter wants much more, fifty for each name and ten percent or more from the future sale, and the money upfront…the one that rides high is Richard Roma, who sells to James Lingk


Kevin Spacey is Williamson, the evil, stupid boss, who refuses The Machine and then ruins everything for Roma – the most successful employee is all over the reckless manager, telling him that the ‘first rule in this business is to never open your mouth, if you do not know what the game is’ and there is tirade, with expletives and fury, for Roma had worked really hard, he was going to get the first prize, the Cadillac, but Williamson says the wrong thing, and instead of having the deal sealed, it is all off now…

The real estate office is robbed, and we do not know who it is, albeit we suspect that it must be George aka Alan Arkin, it needs to be emphasized again that this is crème de la crème, nec plus ultra, you cannot get a better team of actors no matter how hard you find, and what is more, they are at their zenith, in top form (if you take Pacino and maybe some of the others and look at more recent work, well, then there is not much to enjoy there) who was blackmailed by Dave Moss and maybe pushed to commit the crime…


There could obviously be a surprise there – Aristotle explains in his analyses of drama, tragedy that two ingredients are needed, one is reversal and the other revelation, and they could be mixed together, as in Oedipus Rex wherein the king finds from a messenger that he has killed his father and married his mother, all at the same time…other possibly interesting links would be and maybe

88 out of 100 for A Spy Among Friends, E1

63 out of 100 for And Just Like That, Be a Merit Finder

marți, 9 mai 2023

Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice - 10 out of 10


Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

10 out of 10



This note should be one of gratitude, since this work may well be the one that has cheered me up the most, knowing some of the lines – ‘What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening…prove to me that you’re divine, change my water into wine…cut the confessions, forget the excuses, we want information…’- I tend to sing them, alas, that means that those around do not cherish the same lyrics, for they get on their nerves, if I am the singer, albeit they could also laugh at the performance and then ‘everything’s all right’


Earlier this morning, at the decaying Downtown club – this thing is called world class, as if the service you find there is of that incomprehensible level, but it is getting to be a joke really, you never know when you get there what facility will be, what access denied, which absurd excuse they will throw out, one Jacuzzi is closed because of the Radisson hotel (yes, another lamentable outfit there, but let us move on), the other is off since one client vomited inside (which is so abject, because it has not happened, except maybe once, some years ago, and then they push it as a disgusting justification forever)

When you point out that employees have seats reserved, which means customers will have to stand on occasion (as in when the pool is busy, because saunas, Jacuzzis are not usable) the manager gets angry and says ‘of course, the swimming instructors have to sit down’…wtf, what hospitality business does that- indeed, this absurd situation is somehow similar to what the King of Comedy Kingsley Amis describes in his magnum opus Ending up one hilarious, if preposterous, situation where the waiter comes at the table with the order and…sits down


Another joyful situation would be when the delivery person comes at the door, and after giving you the package asks to see the paintings…such is the context at this bizarre company, where they need not salute, the manager confirmed that as well, when told that they have an attitude that ruins your day, she more or less said there it is, if clients are like that – it is the guests they blame for the saunas, for they put too much water on the stove, and they use paper to start the hammam, and then when other items are not functioning, it is the higher echelons that take the heat…’you want me to pay from my pocket?’

In other words, she is blaming her bosses, and this is also as skewed, outrageous as can be, for when you get a bad service or none somewhere, you do not want to know that the bakery delivered the bad cakes, the CEO of the company is no good, actually, this somehow confirms my objects, I realize now, when you pass the can like that, you reject the blame, but confirm there is a problem, and a serious one…


To end with the splendid club and return to Oh Jesus, this morning there was not enough water in the pool, yes, there was some, maybe about half of the quantity required, but not enough to swim in it, so this is really a joke, you do not know what prank they play on you when you get there…which needs to be solved with Jesus Christ Superstar, in particular, the lines that go ‘try not to get worried, try not to turn to problems that upset you, don’t you know everything’s alright, close your eyes think of nothing tonight’

I remember how I rejected this rock opera, the first time I had the chance to listen to it, which might have been in 1987, when I girl I liked, colleague of mine in the Faculty of Geology, a student there as well, gave me a cassette, which might have sown the seeds of love as in the Tears For Fears song


Some time in 1988 I was sent down (or up, because on the map, this is way north of here, the capital city) to Felix, near the border of Hungary (where I have paid for sex for the first time, with a packet of Kent cigarettes, at the time they were not rejected as messengers of death, but coveted, they were about as valued as dollars, hard currency) where one night I had the chance to see and hear Jesus Christ Superstar, aired on the Hungarian channel, during Ceausescu we had had two hours of television in this country (per se, not such a bad thing, seeing the effects it has…Bhutan was the last country to bring in television, sometime in the late eighties maybe, and the result was a drop in the happiness levels)

This is not about Jesus Christ Superstar apparently, since I went off a tangent long ago, so let me brag about my tiny contribution to the fall of Ceausescu (by now, there is probably no one to annoy with these elucubrations) in 1989, when I went down in the Roman square, with friend Laurentiu, and protested with the couple of hundred people that had the courage to face the militia (army, or whatever they were) led by a man who deserves a statue, actor Andrei Finti, but has been largely forgotten, when he is one of the real, few heroes that we have, it is not just a local trend, a national defect, because we can now look at was once the greatest democracy in the world and the abject leaders it elects.


Biden is alright, old and a bit confused as he is, but I refer to Trump and the cohort of mini Trumps that are so ghastly as to seem to exit from horrible comedies, Marjorie Taylor, that fellow from New York who lied about everything, his mother being in the twin towers, stole money from charity (but here he has that monster as model, same old Trump) even pretended to be part of a volleyball team in an university which he never attended…if you see such figures in a film, you do not believe it, dismiss the plot and say, come on, you want me to buy this…in this realm, thousands of liars have taken certificates, ‘proving that they fought against Ceausescu’, when in fact they have seen it all on television…

As for me, this is the link to an article in Newsweek – I met Michael Meyers in December 1989 and then he mentions me in his coverage of the fall of Ceausescu – because I ended up working for James Wilde from TIME, I called a friend to translate for Michael Meyers, and the friend is now one of the top fifty richest people in this country, evidently, not connected with journalism (although, he could have been a media tycoon, I just realized) he is dominating the food market, frozen, diary and more


JCS makes me do this

86 out of 100 for Faites Comme Si Je N'étais Pas La

82 out of 100 for Hartia Va Fi Albastra

sâmbătă, 6 mai 2023

Beat the Devil by Claud Cockburn, publishing under the pseudonym James Helvick, because in the McCarthy years publishers avoided writers with previous communist activity, and Claud Cockburn had been an agitator - 8 out of 10


Beat the Devil by Claud Cockburn, publishing under the pseudonym James Helvick, because in the McCarthy years publishers avoided writers with previous communist activity, and Claud Cockburn had been an agitator

8 out of 10



Under normal circumstances, I would avoid at all costs a communist agitator, and since the writer had been one, Beat the Devil would be on the black list – anathema, just as it happens in America now, the red states, such as Florida, which has a mini-Trump at the helm, who wants to be president and thus he attacks Disney, woke culture and offers red meat to the crowd of cult members that want MAGA forever, with all the scandal involving porn stars, cheating charities, using extortion on Zelenski, starting the attack on the Capitol hill, and singing with the felons that participated in the insurrection, to name just a few – but I only found about his history after watching the John Huston and Humphrey Bogart film, which also stars Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre and Jennifer Jones


However, we are living in interesting times – on CNN, they used to have a China correspondent that quoted in their promos the proverb ‘may you live in interesting times’, only our greatest philosopher, Constantin Noica has taken down proverbs, which could proffer so much nonsense, or get the falsehoods established as wisdom…’appearances deceive’ goes one and that is so far from the truth, since when you see someone begging on the street, you must not think Prince and Pauper, fairy tales and a tycoon hiding in rags, it is someone with issues and problems and the list is long, continuing with ‘opposites attract’ which is false per se, and if taken as an incentive, it means so many broken marriages

Think of Blink – the Power of Thinking Without Thinking by luminary Malcolm Gladwell, explaining how The Thin Slicing theory works, with the background of millennia of ‘fight or flight’, and how it operates in fields like medicine, where it saves lives, war, where it wins battles, if not wars, in art, where you could read about the Getty museum and the ‘ancient Greek statues’, or the proportion of very tall CEOs at the top of business and the Harding Effect, which goes back to a lousy president, nonetheless dozens of times better than Trump


Speaking of that, Beat the Devil is about scoundrels, that have nothing to show when placed against the biggest fraud in the world, the one who climbed to the top, to become the most powerful creature, and the most astounding crook in history…the characters of Beat The Devil want to get to Africa and take possession of the uranium deposits that had been so valuable – they still are, one habit of the candidate for the top job on the planet in 2024 is to keep saying ‘he does not use the N word, there are two N words one must not use, and one is nuclear’ and he keeps talking about it, proving continuously how dangerous he is…


Writers can be awesome as creators and terrible as human beings – the fact that Claud Cockburn had been a commie agitator is loathsome, and here is a joke to make it not more palatable, but more jestful –‘who is not a commie when young, has no heart, who is still a commie when old has no brain’ only heart has nothing to do it, it is true in both cases, young, old and all ages that to be a commie is gruesome, and I know it, we lived through it and I risked my life to try and change it in 1989, as this page from the Newsweek covering the events proves it

Intellectuals by Paul Johnson details how great writers have been marvelous when thinking of Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen, and we could name Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Jacques Rousseau…the latter has abandoned his (were they more than eight, I wonder) children at the door of the orphanage, in an age when nine out of ten died in the situation (come to think of it, in his defense, maybe seven out of eight dies anyway, orphanage or not)


Beat The Devil has some wonderful quotes, gems – as in The Third Man by Graham Greene ‘In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce…The cuckoo clock” - one musing on time ‘the Swiss manufacture it, the French hoard it, Italians squander it, Americans say it is money, Hindus say it is nothing, and I say it is a crook’ “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour…Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute…That's relativity’ says Albert Einstein

What is more, time is an essential component in reaching Peak Experience, Being in The Zone, as it is detailed, explained in the life-changing Flow by the co-founder of Positive Psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – time is relative when you reach zenith, as examples – a ballerina that reaches Flow, when on stage, feels her minute there is like a week or more, whereas the brain surgeon who had been operating asks for lunch and is told this is already evening now, he has had such an intense experience in the operating room, ten hours felt like one


Seneca, one of the greatest thinkers of humanity, a wondrous Stoic, analyzed the life span, said that we have enough time in our lives, even if most or all complain, it is just that we treat as an insignificant commodity, we behave as if it is endless and this is the problem, when we say we ‘have some time to kill’, we should instead use the memento mori aka remember you are mortal, the words whispered in the ear of a Roman dignitary, so that he could keep a sense of proportion, but useful in trying to use life and have as much flow as possible

Beat the Devil made me think of The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, albeit there is nothing – or so little I did not notice it – about the ‘real’ devil, the one that the Bible or other holy books present…it I a metaphor maybe, the notion that crooks are inspired by the devil, and their victims should try and Beat the Devil…I recommend this special technique and if you want the secret, call me

88 out of 100 for Ceux Qui Restent aka Those Who Remain

83 out of 100 for Arved

joi, 4 mai 2023

Marriage Italian Style based on Filumena Marturano by Eduardo de Filippo - 10 out of 10


Marriage Italian Style based on Filumena Marturano by Eduardo de Filippo

10 out of 10



Even seen for the second time, Marriage Italian Style, based on the play Filumena Marturano by Eduardo de Filippo, provides more than entertainment, unless the viewer identifies too much with the protagonist, or if he, she or they use too much of the rigor of Cancel Culture, Woke or other modern censorship rules.


If we see too much of what is going on in the screen with the lens of personal experience, it can be a liability, or worse, fun, humor will be replaced by chagrin, whining and thinking of personal failures, the contemplation of missed goals

We find reading in The How of Happiness about Happiness Activity No 10: Committing to Your Goals-picking one, two or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devoting time and effort to pursue them


Thus, we have to be careful, and follow the advice and see that one other rule of happiness is that relationships matter more than other things.

Indeed, there are tens of thousands of experiments, tests, research and they have looked at the happiest people on earth, and they do not have massive wealth in common, but excellent relationships with family and friends.


You could argue that the protagonists of Filumena Marturano, especially the heroine, and Domenico Soriano aka Marcello Mastroianni are happy in this continuous conflict and this is their way to Flow, Peak Experience

About Being in The Zone, or Peak Experience you have no better guide than Flow by the co-founder of positive psychology Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Among the conditions for reaching a zenith of emotions, experience you have the idea time becomes relative, or as Albert Einstein explained it so well “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour…Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute…That's relativity.”

Other rules of Flow are challenges meet skills – for instance, when you play tennis with a much better or worse player, you get bored, because you either do not reach the returns of the better one, or the opponent is so weak that he or she does not get to your hits


Filumena seem to be more at war than infatuated with each other – ‘all is fair in love and war’ was one stupid saying, and it confirms the error of relying on proverbs…here is another one ‘appearances deceive’

Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates in his classic of psychology Blink The Power of Thinking Without Thinking the ineptness of the proverb


We take decisions, form opinions in less than one minute, due to The Thin Slicing Effect, the fact that for millennia humans have had to use the ‘fight or flight’ instinct to survive, and let us name the experiment in which participants have been shown the video of less than a minute, after which they have had to rate a professor, and their evaluations matched those of students who had spent a semester with the teacher.

In other words, a semester or less than a minute led to the same conclusions, and then we have the other research which involved the CEOs of many of the Top 500 Fortune companies, and the revelation that about a third of the leaders were very tall, and the at that height, they represent a much smaller percentage (I think it was about ten times less) of the population at large, so this demonstrates the validity of the principle


It is called the Harding Effect, from the American president who got elected about one century ago, because he was tall, had the appearance of someone who could be a good leader, and he turned out to be one of the worst.

Indeed, Malcolm Gladwell mentioned him as the worst, there was some debate, Ulysses Grant had been a candidate for that unfortunate place, but Trump has managed to beat all expectations, and he is a calamity for any sensible human


At least this is how I feel, and there is nothing anyone can say to convince me otherwise, which could prove not just feebleness, but also a sort of obstinacy, mule like stubbornness that is shameful and embarrassing

Bill Maher has just had his latest show, in which the New Rules referred to Trump and the attempt to have him scented for the Stormy Daniels affair – now there is a small connection with Marriage Italian Style which I have more or less abandoned from the start – which Maher rejects, but then Maher has been a grumpy, acid, unlikeable comedian for some time, in my view, putting out with arrogance statements like ‘I use private jets’

I am surprised I did not go off on the tangent of my own Marriage Italian Style, the problems that have made this just a convenience connection, when for financial reasons there is no legal separation, but in spirit, there is animosity and little, if anything connecting these two people, however, there is a way out:


Written by Revolutionary Realini – here is the page from the article in Newsweek that covered the rebellion that took down Ceausescu, in which I am proud to say that I played a small (maybe miniscule, microscopic) role

95 out of 100 for Jockey

84 out of 100 for Alexandre Dumas Le Flamboyant

luni, 1 mai 2023

Das Leben der Anderen aka The Lives of Others by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – one of the Top Rated Movies, placed at 58, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language, BAFTA, Cesar, a total of eighty awards - 10 out of 10


Das Leben der Anderen aka The Lives of Others by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – one of the Top Rated Movies, placed at 58, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language, BAFTA, Cesar, a total of eighty awards

10 out of 10



This is such a magnificent, monumental motion picture that even if the subject is avoided by this cinephile, it is still an exalting, exuberant experience to watch it the second time…since I have lived on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, art dedicated to communism does not appeal, on the contrary, I skip the oeuvres that center on it, DDR was paradise, when compared with the Ceausescu regime, or at least it was thought so.


Let me brag upfront and give you this link which has the copy of a page from Newsweek, written by their correspondent, who came to Bucharest to cover the fall of the Ceausescu regime, a collapse to which I have brought my own, small contribution, tiny perhaps, but probably the most important act of my life, if we place it in perspective.

It has not transformed my own existence – there is pride connected with the presence among the protesters that faced the retaliation of the repressive regime, on December 21, in the Roman Square, where Andrei Finti was our leader (a hero that has no statue, though he deserved eternal, massive gratitude) but I must confess that I have also had regrets connected with the aftermath, and the lack of ‘compensation’


There have been many fraudsters, hooligans, crooks, scoundrels, fools that have claimed and received the ‘revolutionary certificate’, and with that a series of financial and other privileges and benefits, and though I can understand that it looked so embarrassing, shameful to join this cohort of fakes, and benefit from a heroic act, still, I would have been one of the very few that deserved some recognition.

I had not watched the events unfold on the television screen, as most of the beneficiaries of the revolution (who had special tax [I think it was no tax in fact] status, received property, the right to take over commercial space and so on, reached the heights of economic, social, political life) had done, on the contrary, I had taken to the streets and faced ‘the music’, potential catastrophic consequences, and I have nothing material to show for that, except for that article, and the memories I have of the brave stand


This later aspect could be the most important, and I should be aware that even with much more money, there is the Hedonic Adaptation phenomenon, the lottery winners experiment and it is not cash that makes us so much happier.


The story line of The Lives of Others is too familiar, and that was one reason I have mentioned that I stay away from the communist subject – indeed, there is more than an adversity for the left wing humans, seeing that we have had the ‘chance’ to live under the left (extreme, but still left) and could see what atrocities it can cause – with one of the nomenclature falling for a woman he likes and trying to have her.

A minister wants the STASI to find dirt on Georg Dreyman (the actor in the role is wondrous Sebastian Koch) a famous writer, who is intimate with the actress Christa –Maria Sieland – the actress is the fabulous Martina Gedeck, admired in another one of the best films in decades The Baader Meinhof Complex -  Christa Maria is the ‘trophy’ that the apparatchik wants to get in his paws, and for that he is willing to use all his power, abusing and if need be taking the STASI into the home of the author, to get the proves of illegal activity


Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler – portrayed by excellent Ulrich Muhe - is placed in charge of the spying operation, with microphones placed around the home, agents listening in and making reports on the sexual acts, conversations, with the goal of finding the proof of ‘activities against the state’, but without success for quite some time, for people were aware of the continuous spying, the huge network of collaborators…

Albert Jerska, a friend of Georg Dreyman, had been blacklisted and since that meant the end of his productive life, losing the sense of meaning, the artist committed suicide, DDR being one of the countries with the highest rate – was it second only to Hungary – and the regime had decided to stop publishing the numbers…Dreyman and his friends decide to send a letter to Der Spiegel, in the West, taking huge risks.


This was a very dangerous stand, it would be the equivalent of treason, and the punishment would be decades in prison, maybe life, and when they prepare the ground, they try to test and see if the STASI listens in what happens in the home of the writer, pretending they plan an escape with the car, at a specific border point – with the agents spying, they were sure that the car would be stopped, only it is not.

It is because Gerd Wiesler is becoming a ‘turncoat’, he moves to the right side, and instead of reporting to his loathsome superiors, he fabricates reports that have no mention of the dissidents and their plans (spoiler alert) with the result that the article that is attacking the policies of the communist state is smuggled and published, with the secret police trying to find another weak spot, using the drug addiction of the actress against her


There are also a couple of jokes, we had versions of those in the countries of the Eastern Block, with the leader of the local commies talking to…the sun – with Honecher, the sun salutes, until the end of the day, when he says kiss my ass, I am in the West now, while our local version had Ceausescu saluted by what he thought is the sun, playing to his vanity and accepted because of his immense stupidity, until he gets the answer from the ‘sun’: good day comrade Ceausescu, my name is Manu, lieutenant Sun has been replaced…

93 out of 100 for Putin - A Russian Spy Story

88 out of 100 for Succession, Scandinavia