new film review: the house bunny

I don't have much to say by way of introduction to The House Bunny. Not because it's too good a movie, like Tell No One, but because other than being funny, it's nothing more than a product for sale. Still, I did manage to meet my word limit. Read the review at www.thefrontpageonline.com (review may post at any time today) or www.inkandashes.net


new theatre review: bury the dead

A new theatre review over at The Front Page Online. Irwin Shaw's Bury the Dead, now on stage at the Ivy Substation in Culver City:

Dead Men, Lively Play


going veggie is good for the planet

I've been meaning to write a blog post on vegan issues, but until I actually get around to it, this article offers some interesting food for thought:

Going veggie can slash your carbon footprint: study

So there are really three reasons why it's good to go vegetarian/vegan:
  1. Good for our health.
  2. Good for animal well-being.
  3. Good for the planet.
Of course, some qualification is necessary...but that will have to wait until I get around to writing that blog post.

this is why republicans suck

GOP takes a hard line on abortion for its platform

Why would Hillary Clinton supporters defect to McCain again? Because they don't like Obama?


Calling All Californians! Always Choose Love...and Help Defeat Prop 8!

Dear Friends:

Gay marriage is legal in California thanks to a recent California Supreme Court ruling.

But it might not be for long.

The Forces of Intolerance have gathered to place a measure on the November ballotProposition 8. Their goal: deny gays and lesbians the right to marry the person they love. Their method: amend California’s constitution to define marriage as being solely the union between a man and a woman.

This will not do. Discrimination simply has no place in California.

If you’re like me, though, you don’t have money trees growing in the backyard or 28 hours in your day. So what can we do other than fundraise? What can we do to get INVOLVED given our busy lives? Answer: the Always Choose Love Initiative.

It’s simple, really. Call it wearable activism:

  1. Buy a t-shirt at cafepress.com/loveinitiative
  2. Wear the t-shirt
  3. Tell others
  4. Stay informed at loveinitiative.blogspot.com

No complicated mass protests, no fundraisers; just people wearing t-shirts, creating awareness about a critical civil rights issue – and defeating Prop 8 on November 2nd. When you go to cafepress.com/loveinitiative, you’ll find a choice of t-shirts at prices ranging from $9 to $20 featuring the Always Choose Love logo. No profit is being made here; this is a grassroots labor of love all the way. Just pick your favorite style and you’re set!

So please join me in campaigning against Prop 8. Buy a t-shirt. Wear it. Tell others. That’s all there is to it. Let’s make the Always Choose Love Initiative a phenomenon to be reckoned with.

Because in the end, the choice is simple: Love or Prop 8. Together, standing strong, we’ll send a message to California: Always Choose Love.

Thanks for your help and support. We can do it!

Frédérik Sisa


new film review: tell no one

There are some films for which the fun of discussion can only really be achieved between people who have seen the movie. For everyone else, there is the risk that a film review becomes a spoiler or a hype generator. Hence, the film criticism "law" I oh-so-humbly named after myself for lack of something more clever.

Tell No One
(also at www.inkandashes.net)

As an addendum to the review, however, I did want to point out another reason why it's sometimes rather difficult to write reviews of films that are hugely entertaining and of top-notch quality. If you consider The Dark Knight or Wall*E, there are allegorical/moral/philosophical implications that arise from the plot and characters. In other words, the story isn't only about what it's about, it's also about something more. Other films, however, are very straightforward, driven by plot and enriched by visceral characterizations. This doesn't count against the film, but it does mean that there is no grand artistic interpretation , no grander vision, to provide something to talk about in depth.


update: works in progress, facebook

Well, I've done it. I'm using Facebook now. MySpace just wasn't cutting it - clunky, slow, kind of like an old beater of a car that'll chug from point A to point B all the while sounding like it's going to die from some horrible respiratory disease in the process. Facebook actually seems like a lot of fun, and I'll be testing out its networking capabilities next Monday once I officially launch the Always Choose Love Initiative, which I alluded to a while back. More than that, though, I'm hoping I'll be able to stay in better touch with a variety of folks, even if it just an occasional chirp.

In other news, work on my novel, called Rebel in Waiting, is gradually drawing to an end. I'm getting into a fourth and last round of edits, after which I will try to find a literary agent. It's actually been quite grueling in addition to exhilarating. While I knew going in that it wouldn't be a novel for everyone, I'm hoping it will at least be a novel for someone - other than me. At the least, working to refine it has been a useful lesson in patience and taking the time to explore, in critical detail, what works and what doesn't. Even if the book isn't "for everyone," I can at least say that after four rounds of edit, the end result is vastly superior than that first draft, which can only fuel my excitement and bolster my confidence.

For all the talk about a niche book, though, I can safely say that my second novel - I'm well into Chapter 3 - will be accessible in the conventional sense of the word. I don't want to say too much yet, but it's fantasy of sorts along the lines of G. Garfield Crimmins The Republic of Dreams: A Reverie. It's about a forensic poet investigating art crimes in the County of Imagination, a land of artists. The language (conlang) I invented is actually getting put to use, and I've got all sorts of other goodies planned to give the book a Tolkien-like reality, albeit with a plot that doesn't involve war.

And just as exciting as seeing an end to the editing process for Rebel in Waiting is finally being within reach of a working draft for my poetry book, which I intend to enter in contests after an exhaustive editing process.

With so many pots in the fire, I'm really eager for the feast...


new column: I don't like it! don't do it! or, how to assassinate characters

It's a lot like the abortion debate, with both sides unable to make any philosophical headway on account to reaching different conclusions on the basis of very different premises. When debaters can't even agree on the definition and meaning of "life" and "personhood," it's no surprise that there's no argument on the ethics of abortion. The same applies to political discussions.

But it's not necessarily about absolute versus relative morality. In fact, to view politics as being between absolutist conservatism and relativistic liberalism actually misses the point. Rather, it's about different kinds of ethical reasoning, either one of which can be absolutist or relativist - although it's not all that important to classify them as one or the other. Very few people are actually relativistic, that is, few people would argue without reservation that the truth of moral reasoning is entirely the product of cultural perspective. We like to think that there is some of mathematically-true quality to the logic of ethics. The two different kinds of ethics is the topic of this week's column at The Front Page Online

I Don't Like It! Don't Do It! Or, How to Assassinate Characters


new review: the mummy - tomb of the dragon emperor

If you were to force me to choose between another dose of Wall*E or The Dark Knight - arguably two great movies of this (and any) year - I'd go with Wall*E. It's not because The Dark Knight is necessarily inferior to Wall*E. It isn't. Instead, the reason has to do with my reaction as a movie goer. With Wall*E, it's a case of laughing, crying, almost falling of the edge of the seat, and getting a morality tale to boot. For The Dark Knight, although there is some black comedy to soften the edges ever-so-slightly, and even a small dollop of hope towards the end, the film has an unremitting tone that borders on the wrist-slashing. It's more philosophically complex than No Country For Old Men, that banal meditation on enduring the inescapable presence of evil in the world, but still, it lacks a certain something.

That certain something is where films like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor come in. Granted, these aren't the pinnacle of cinematic storytelling. But in terms of pure entertainment value, in terms of letting the ol' cerebellum idle for a while, there's nothing quite like a glorious B-movie. Hence, this week I propose...

Celebrating the B-Movie with the Mummy


capsule review: eastern promises

I was skeptical going into Eastern Promises. David Cronenberg, although a skilled director, never inspired much confidence in me based on his filmography. And the synopsis – about a dangerous Russian gangster under threat from a woman who knows too much - excited me about as much as any movie about gangsters tend to excite me, which is to say, not at all. But as the saying goes, an optimist can never be pleasantly surprised and boy was I pleasantly surprised. Eastern Promises, first and foremost, is a real looker. Cinematography, direction – I think it just clicked why Cronenberg is so well regarded. Even the violence, which is incredibly raw and graphic at times is never gratuitous. Brutal, unnerving, yes, but justified given the nature of the characters and plot.

And then, there’s Stephen Knight’s script. Here’s a literate character study in the guise of a tense thriller set within the internal operations of the Russian mob in London. This is writing that seamless molds impressive performances – Armin Mueller-Stahl and Viggo Mortensen shine, shine, shine. This is writing with depth. Relationships are hinted at, but not consummated. Shades of grey are relentlessly and authentically human. Organic plot developments come by their surprise honestly. Eastern Promises is layered, complex, and captivating to the end.

new column: flyer, flyer, pants on fire

If you live in California, you've probably received one of these flyers by now - the flyer warning about Sacramento banning stuff that keeps our food safe and fresh. Suspicious, I did a little research. The results actually surprised me a little.

Flyer, Flyer, Pants on Fire


sound, fury, and the opening ceremonies

The opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics were many things: technologically sophisticated, elaborate, technically impressive - even "mighty." And yet, for the high-tech prowess, it lacked heart. It lacked spirit. It felt like one those special-effects driven blockbusters that forgot to develop plot and characters. Even the cast of thousands (mostly men!) with their synchronized shticks came to feel repetitive. All flash, no bang. Sound and fury, no significance. Bigger isn't necessarily better.


new review: only for you

Y'know, I struggled with saying something interesting in my review of this nice (but...) indie film. I'm at an ever greater loss for words in this preamble. So, in an effort to conserve electrons, I'll just move on to the links.

Only For You: Only For The Middle of the Road




the age of hanging in there

So you’re paying bills. And getting a paycheck. And paying more bills. And getting another paycheck. It’s a working stiff’s fucking Groundhog Day. But you keep up with it. Gas prices are high. Food prices are high. The rent’s not getting any lower, nor is the mortgage. Car insurance? Oh yes, you’re paying that too. Breath money in, spit money out. But you keep up with it. You’re getting by. It’s the Age of Hanging in There.

The politicians, they talk. Then they talk some more. And just when you think they’ve made their last vacuous promise, spoken their last empty bit of rhetoric, they talk some more. Oh, they all talk about change. Some are even convincing – damn convincing. You want to believe. Hell, you need to believe. And all the meanwhile, the media blathers on about lapel pins and haircuts, fake controversies and personality cults. They blather on about nothing, and you wonder how it’s possible to get overloaded on so much meaningless information. Signal to noise, it’s called: a whole lotta noise, not much signal. But you stick with it, hoping against hope because the alternative is unthinkable. It’s the Age of Hanging in There.

The environment. It’s bad. We know it. They know it. But they – the Powers That Be – have their hands stained cash-green. It’s not only bad, it’s worse. Water shortages. Animal extinction. Rainforest loss. And that? Oh yes. That. Global warming. How much worse can it get? Of course, we’ve had our share of disasters. Epidemics. Catastrophes. Nuclear bombs. Somehow, we’ve squeaked by – and we might still squeak by if we get off our asses and do something – beginning with keeping our tires properly inflated. That’s good advice, actually. A sign of the Age of Hanging in There.

We had the Age of Reason. Then came the Nuclear Age. Now it seems that we’re all in the same boat. Ask anyone how they’re doing – chances are, they’re hanging in there.


new column: the economist has no clothes - or legs

Continuing last week's discussion on the economy with a scary scenario: What if...

The Economist Has No Clothes - Or Legs


new film review: x-files - I want to believe

I didn't like the series. Still don't. But I did like "I Want to Believe." A sign that the world is coming to an end? Probably.

X-Files: I Want to Believe