Tuesday, October 6, 2009
And Jesus says: "I cannot heal you my son...you have a pre-existing condition."
That's just one of many hilarious scenes in Michael Moore's latest offering -- CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY. Although most reviewers refer to Moore's films as documentaries, they are clearly more one man's one-sided point of view regarding serious issues in contemporary America. If you have ever spent a couple of hours (or more) listening to folks like Limbaugh, Hannity or Beck, Needtovent strongly recommends you give Michael Moore 120 minutes of your time as well. We are confident that you will walk away from the theater entertained, enlightened and, most likely, infuriated as Hell.
CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY is probably Moore's best film to date -- it is certainly his most personal since ROGER & ME. And although he continues to use a scattershot approach, the enormous size and complexity of the subject matter this time around actually lends itself to his style of filmmaking. Among the multitude of issues explored are:
"Dead Peasant Insurance" -- life insurance policies taken out by Fortune 500 companies on executives, and, in the case of Wal-Mart, lowly "associates" as well. Should the insured die, the beneficiary is the company, not the deceased's family. In these cases, the company actually profits when their employees die, the sooner the better, thus collecting up to $5 million in hard, cold cash as one of the cases explored up-close and personal revealed. While the origin of the name "Dead Peasant Insurance" remains unknown, it certainly serves as a metaphor for the prevailing attitude of callous corporate America.
Another topic explored is the risky, reckless, rapacious Wall Street gamble known as "derivatives." These "spin-off" investment instruments are so complex not one of the three financial experts, including the Department Chairman of Harvard's Finance School, can explain them. In fact, some are apparently so complicated that they are created by computers and not even the software authors fully understand them. The bottom line: if there is a default on a mortgage, the investor wins -- big. And if there isn't a default, the investor can still hedge his bet by also betting the derivative will fail. (How convenient.) It's a win-win for the investment firm -- and a toxic, egregious lose-lose for the average American family.
Other segments explore:
The horribly low pay for airline pilots -- we are shown a "Give a penny to a pilot" jar at the boarding gate of an airliner to underscore the severity of the problem (first-year pilots often earn less than the assistant manager at Burger King).
The widening gap between the richest and the rest of America -- the richest 1% of the population has as much accumulated wealth as 95% of the poorest. Citibank has even declared in private memos that America is now a plutonomy. It sure seems like we need more Howard Beales and fewer Walter Mittys among 95-99% of our population.
The foreclosure epidemic -- one family in particular is profiled as they are unceremoniously kicked off their farm that has been in the family for over four generations.
But perhaps the most revealing sequence is the fascinating, dynamic archival footage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appearing on camera advocating a Second Bill of Rights. According to our sources, this Movietone News footage, shot at the explicit invitation of an ailing FDR at the end of his last State of the Union address, has never been seen previously -- for some reason it wasn't included in the newsreels of the day. Of course, with Roosevelt's death this Second Bill of Rights was never enacted here, in the United States, although many of its provisions are now in the constitutions of Germany, Italy and Japan -- which were all authored with considerable American input and involvement after WWII ended.
Love him. Hate him. But don't ignore him. CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY is definitely worth seeing. Roger Ebert said it best, at the very least you'll come away realizing that with corporate greed and Wall Street shenanigans the order of the day, capitalism means never having to say you're sorry.
Please go see CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY. We predict you'll leave mad as Hell...and that's a good thing.
Friday, October 2, 2009
One of Needtovent's favorite movies is BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA. Directed by the incomparable Sam Peckinpah in 1974, the film was recently selected by none other than Stephen King as one of his favorites also. Needless to say, during the course of this often-overlooked gem poor Alfredo's noggin receives more abuse than the average Comal County taxpayer.
(Warren Oates -- with Alfredo's head in a paper bag. No seat belt?)
But when it comes to depraved head games, Peckinpah is more than trumped according to a recent article by Nathaniel Vinto, a New York Daily News Staff Writer. Since we at Needtovent can not possibly embellish the shocking revelations presented by Mr. Vinto we have elected to simply re-print just some of what Vinto has written.
("Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer." -- Ted Williams)
From the New York Daily News, Friday, October 2 -----
Workers at an Arizona cryonics facility mutilated the frozen head of baseball legend Ted Williams - even using it for a bizarre batting practice, a new tell-all book claims.
In "Frozen," Larry Johnson, a former exec at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., graphically describes how "The Splendid Splinter" was beheaded, his head frozen and repeatedly abused.
The book, out Tuesday from Vanguard Press, tells how Williams' corpse became "Alcorian A-1949" at the facility, where bodies are kept suspended in liquid nitrogen in case future generations learn how to revive them.
Johnson writes that in July 2002, shortly after the Red Sox slugger died at age 83, technicians with no medical certification gleefully photographed and used crude equipment to decapitate the majors' last .400 hitter.
Williams' severed head was then frozen and even used for batting practice by a technician trying to dislodge it from a tuna fish can.
The chief operating officer of Alcor for eight months before becoming a whistle blower in 2003, Johnson wrote his book while in hiding, fearful for his life.
He told the Daily News then he had received death threats and was moving from safehouse to safehouse. Johnson plans to come out of the shadows Tuesday, with his book and an appearance on ABC's "Nightline."
The book describes other atrocities at Alcor's facility in Arizona, including the dismembering of live dogs that were injected with chemicals in experiments, and a situation in which human blood and toxic chemicals were dumped into a parking lot sewer drain.
Nothing in the book is as gruesome as Johnson's descriptions of what happened to Williams' body after it was sent to Alcor at the direction of Williams' son, John Henry Williams, who died of leukemia in 2004.
Johnson writes that holes were drilled in Williams' severed head for the insertion of microphones, then frozen in liquid nitrogen while Alcor employees recorded the sounds of Williams' brain cracking 16 times as temperatures dropped to -321 degrees Fahrenheit.
Johnson writes that the head was balanced on an empty can of Bumble Bee tuna to keep it from sticking to the bottom of its case.
Johnson describes watching as another Alcor employee removed Williams' head from the freezer with a stick, and tried to dislodge the tuna can by swinging at it with a monkey wrench.
The technician, no .406 hitter like the baseball legend, missed the can with several swings of the wrench and smacked Williams' head directly, spraying "tiny pieces of frozen head" around the room.
Johnson accuses the company of joking morbidly about mailing Williams' thawing remains back to his family if his son didn't pay his outstanding debt to the company.
Reprints of invoices show that Alcor president John Lemler charged $120,000 for the honor of "suspending" Teddy Ballgame's body.
("Ted Williams studied hitting the way a broker studies the stock market." -- Carl Yastrzemski)
Johnson said he hopes his book will help fulfill the wishes Williams expressed in his will - that his body be cremated and the ashes "sprinkled at sea off the coast of Florida, where the water is very deep."
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Step aside Nostradamus. The same for Terry Morris, my personal gridiron guru. Yes, a new clairvoyant has recently surfaced and we at Needtovent believe he is the greatest of them all -- at least based on his uncanny prediction over this past weekend during an otherwise meaningless Seattle Mariners game in Toronto.
Meet Mike Blowers, a one-time player for the Seattle Mariners who now does the color commentary for the American League team. Blowers was participating in a pregame segment called “Picks to Click” when he was asked which Mariners player would end up having a big day. He went with M's infielder Matt Tuiasosopo, a player who had just been recalled from the minors and whose brief major league career had been fairly rocky at best. But there's more, oh-so-much more ----
Blowers then went so far as to predict Tui’s first big league home run...
That it would be hit on a 3-1 count...
That the pitcher that the home run would be hit off of would be Blue Jays starter Brian Tallet...
That the at-bat that the home run would be hit in would be his second of the game...
That the pitch that the home run would come off of would be a fastball...
And, finally, that the location of the home run would be left-center field.
Everything came true, exactly as projected by Blowers.
I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that nobody, and we mean nobody, has ever correctly made a baseball prediction as insane, as detailed, and as accurate as this -- never, ever...
Truly unbelievable -- but don't take our word for it. Here's a link for Mike's pre-game prediction and for the actual play-by-play call from Tuiasosopo's 5th-inning tater in Toronto.