Archive for February, 2005

Calcutta’s Red Light Kids

Born into Brothels Kids

A week after watching Born into Brothels, it sticks with you. The subtle way the film captures beauty in such an unusual place (Calcutta’s red light district) sucks you in. It captures so well the pure simple joy at life that only kids can express. And seeing the creativity Zana’s photography class allows the kids to discover in themselves is inspiring. But this all happens with an undercurrent — seen in that millisecond break in a smiling kid’s facade that reveals sadness; in those suspect happenings that catch the corner of your eye and quickly pass off-camera. The things the camera isn’t meant to see.

The bits of this undercurrent caught on film are what really gives Kauffman and Briski’s work its power. Because, ultimately, the directors are only in the brothels temporarily, passing through and doing what they can, transformative as it may be for those kids who participate in Zana’s program. The kids live there. And that’s why you’ll be thinking about the brothels long after the lights come up.

Not since 1994’s Hoop Dreams have I seen a documentary that so honestly captures what it is to be poor. The recent story of Collin Warner on This American Life is another worthy example (real audio).

image grabbed from imdb

Botched Fab Four

fabs-fishkill.jpgThe news today that the PS3 chip might be having a few fabrication snags brings a bit of deja-vu. Remember how much trouble IBM had getting the Apple’s G5 fabs up to decent volume? You might also recall that Steve Jobs was forced to apologize when when IBM didn’t come through on the promise to hit 3ghz by June 2004. Here we go again?

In most cases, this bad news for Sony’s console chip would be good news for console competitors Nintendo and Microsoft. Back in 2003, though, IBM won the contracts to produce the CPUs for all three next generation consoles. So, in this strange case, Sony’s pain has the potential to translate into pain for its competitors as well. Each of them have to be checking their watches, their wallets, and hoping that they aren’t stuck with another G5. Three more botched fabs makes four.

That’s worst case, though. To be fair, the Cell is pretty damn complicated and IBM did a great job with the Gamecube chip. Let’s hope it’s this IBM we see for the next gen chips. Bizarre as it is, if their fabs go bad this time nobody wins.

image via big blue

Wow! Computerized Hookers!

killer-sex-queens.jpgIf you search imdb for “Harvey Firestein” and misplace a few letters, you end up finding out about the director of the fine family film Killer Sex Queens from Cyberspace. Before you recoil in horror like a good American, though, take a little trip through the cast list:

Virtual Cassandra
Virtual Hooker
Virtual Hooker
Jerry Springer … Himself
Larry Flynt … Himself
Michelle Monroe … PJ
Mistress Screaming Bitch
Danny Fangorelli
Lou Lou
Software Salesman
Porno Salesman
Porno Salesman
Harvy Firestein Jr. … Porno Salesman #3
P.J.’s Aerobics Partner
Tammy Monin … Hand Holding Telephone

Now, blue movies certainly have their share of entertaining credits, but these folks have gone above and beyond. I mean, two virtual hookers, the real Jerry Springer and Larry Flynt, plus Mistress Screaming Bitch and the hand holding the telephone? Untoppable.

There are some classic quotes in there, too: “Quite frankly, it’s the safest sex you can buy,” “These were not designed to flip burgers.” (pointing to her breasts), and the timeless classic “Wow! Computerized Hookers!” Okay, now go wash your hands obsessively for a good half hour.

image grabbed from joe bob

We Aren’t the World


Good buddies Europe and US, ain’t we? So good that this float was featured in a German carnival parade earlier this week and nobody missed a beat. Seems like we’ve got a bit of a global MO going. Shocker, no?

At least folks on this side of the pond seem to be getting the message finally. Who we blame, though, is a different question. Remember, we’re the folks that boycotted everything French and ate Freedom Fries when Chirac balked at Bush’s Iraq invasion. Mature.

It’s this kind of mess that makes a certain poorly judged bout of marital indiscretion seem pretty minor.

image grabbed from reuters

iPod Defies Gravity

ipod-shuffle-gravity.jpgThat’s right — with all the twisting, flying, bumping, grinding, and acrobatic diving going on in each iPod ad, the damn thing still never manages to touch the ground. Ever.

Then again, the historic roll that Apple’s been on makes it a fair bit less shocking that they’ve added rewriting physics to their repertoire. You don’t need to look at the sales figures to know how well Apple’s doing, though. The fact that the regular checkout mob at the Apple store persisted this weekend in spite of the shuffle and mac mini being sold out says it all.

image grabbed from the shuffle ads

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