Archive for October, 2009


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Ave Atque Vale

There shall be sad partings,
And farewells exchang’d
As we move through
Turnstiles of living;
Tears are no better than laughter
For those who hold love true.


In this connection let me quote here the poem by Catullus:

Through many countries and over many seas
I have come, Brother, to these melancholy rites,
to show this final honour to the dead,
and speak (to what purpose?) to your silent ashes,
since now fate takes you, even you, from me.
Oh, Brother, ripped away from me so cruelly,
now at least take these last offerings, blessed
by the tradition of our parents, gifts to the dead.
Accept, by custom, what a brother’s tears drown,
and, for eternity, Brother, ‘Hail and Farewell’.

Gaius Valerius Catullus

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Thoughts on Moscow Cloud
In what seems a rerun of Independence Day, a pale gold halo was observed over the Russian capital city’s Western Dt. on  last Wednesday. Meteorologists have concluded it as an optical effect, ‘Several fronts have been passing through Moscow recently, there was an intrusion of the Arctic air too, the sun was shining from the west – this is how the effect was produced.’
We always want a logical explanation from what phenomenon say a rainbow or twister we see. But can we always reduce everything into cut and dried; or put away into pigeon holes? Flashing lights noticed in the sky or any other just because defied a simple explanation gave rise to far more bizarre ideas: UFO, alien abduction etc. We have never for once unearthed a foolproof evidence to support these.
There are two groups of people when it comes to the idea of exobiology or life on other planets. On one hand we do not accept the progress we as species achieved on our collective endeavors. This group cannot imagine man could achieve worthwhile since he is merely a cut above his ape ancestors. So his achievements owe to active help from some super-intelligent Aliens. Number of books have been written and lapped up by so many. Why so? We want to believe in something. OK pyramids are Alien- made to house men who, as X-rays reveal, were merely pharaohs in name and suffered from TB, Marfan’s syndrome,  bad teeth and so on.

Rest of us fall in the other group that foresees conquering other worlds and colonizing these. Here also I see wishful thinking overtaking good sense. We haven’t conquered ourselves or our silliness. Who shall hand over kingdoms to us, some microbes or Aliens? Despite my skepticism we may still learn to reach outer planets by some technological marvel. But would we behave as gods or as men? My skepticism opts for the latter. We may even learn to become robots. That reminds me of a fellow who was sent by his father do medicine and ended up as a butcher’s assistant in some meat packing factory.

We, coming to think of it, are funny creatures. The more chance we have to be rightly informed in this internet age, we are dying from misinformation. A symptom of this is the number of conspiracy theories we have to wade through at every turn.

Strength of two individuals coming together produces synergy and it grows exponentially. Thus one plus one is numerically two. But what they can achieve is however of a different league.
Having said the above in the interplay of several nations, tribes, individuals what is run off is progress, which is unlike anything that existed before. Somewhat like Moscow Cloud.


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In media coverage before the moon strike, many observers said they were disappointed at the lack of spectacle. Just because the band played the anthem or a flag was waved one should not think it is July 4th.


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Is the first film that brought Miloš Forman international fame and he followed it with such classics as One flew over a cuckoo’s nest(1975) and Amadeus(1984). Forman’s early movies are still very popular among Czechs. Many of the situations and phrases are in common usage: for example, the Czech term zhasnout (to switch lights off) from The Firemen’s Ball, associated with petty theft in the movie, has been used to describe the large-scale asset stripping happening in the country during the 1990s. Having introduced the director let me now get on with my appreciation of the movie.

Loves of a Blonde (Czech: Lásky jedné plavovlásky) is a 1965 Czech film and it works at different layers. On the surface it is a simple story of  Andula, a young factory girl falling head over heels with a traveling musician for whom it is a one night stand. Whereas the girl her whole life she has invested ,-for its emotional depth I can only cite Renoir’s une partie de campagne (1936) for comparison, and must salvage it from falling to pieces.  Unlike Henriette the Czech girl dares to follow it up.

The film begins with the general (’my hooligan love’ a pseudo Beatle number) to the particular musically represented by  ‘Ave Maria’ at the end. The Bach-Gounod number in this case is meant to be a paen to the blond working girl who in her elemental goodness stands as a modern Maria.

It is also a social satire.

The film takes place in the provincial Czech town of Zruc, which Forman sketches in a few shots: a train station, a housing block, a shoe factory that could have been lifted from any of the East European films of the communist era. Andula, the blond protagonist of the film is a worker in the shoe factory, one among some 2000 who outnumbers male population by 16 to one. The film opens with the benign manager of the factory asking army officials to place a regiment in Zruc, as a way of redressing the local imbalance of available males and yearning females. “They need what we needed when we were young,” the manager says to an avuncular Major who can well understand the manager’s predicament. ‘Sex liberates woman from their drudgery and social isolation’ seems to be the watchword and how the government tries to meet the expectations of the female workforce touches the very flaw of party manifesto as written and in practice.

Froman always had a felicity in casting the right actors for the parts. Just as he made the roles of Baron von Sweiten, Count Rosenburg and the valet in Amadeus memorable the three ‘old farts’ of army reservists who try to date the three workers are unforgettable.

In honor of the army reservists brought to the town a party is organized where girls in all sizes and expectations take part. The age old mating game played in the pub has plenty of room for comedy which the director uses to lead the viewer to the heart of the film. Andula catches the eye of the comparatively dashing young pianist, Milda (Vladimir Pucholt). The next morning, the traveling musician assures her repeatedly, “I do not have a girlfriend in Prague.” Milda leaves town, as expected, but Andula has fallen in love with him, and decides to journey to Prague to track him down. A low-key black-and-white ensemble comedy, Loves of a Blonde was cast predominantly with non-professional actors.

In Prague Andula meets the dysfunctional family of Milda and it is clear that in his parents we have the duplicate the blonde and her feckless groom on the making. Forman’s dark comedy must be seen to be enjoyed. His comical sense reaches its best in the part where the parents try to cope with a strange girl who has intruded upon their private space though it is for one night. From that point the director tickles the funnybone, as it were with a scalpel, and only later we realize that whatever future happiness Andula may have with Milda shall only be a downer, an anti-climax to the trite line we are so familiar with, ‘and they lived happily everafter’.

‘Over the course of the three acts, the film’s context evolves from social satire (set in a public space) to emotional intimacy (confined to the private space of a single room and a single bed) to domestic drama (set in the awkward private-public space of a family apartment). The thematic shifts reflect the shifts in setting: the first section is centered on youth and infinite possibility; the second on young adulthood and romantic fulfillment; the third on maturity and inevitable disappointment.’ (DAVE KEHR Feb 12, 2002-criterion collection)
Similar Works
Dolgaya Schastlivaya Zhizn (1966, Gennadiy Shpalikov)
The Pornographers (1966, Shohei Imamura)
Kitchen Stories (2003, Bent Hamer)
The Firemen’s Ball (1967, Milos Forman)
Noa at 17 (1982, Isaac Yeshurun)
Adoption (1975, Márta Mészáros)

( ack: wikipedia,criterion collection, Allmovie)

It was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967. It is also known under an alternate title of A Blonde in Love.

Directed by

Miloš Forman

Produced by

Doro Vlado Hreljanović

Rudolf Hájek

Written by

Miloš Forman

Jaroslav Papoušek


Hana Brejchová

Vladimír Pucholt

Vladimír Menšík

Music by

Evžen Illín

Running time

90 min.


(reprinted from cinebuff.wordpress.com)

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Does the individual hold right to information?

Trafigura was a relatively anonymous trading company based in London. One fine morning they hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. They were slapped with a lawsuit dumping toxic sludge at the front yard of one of the poorest countries in the world. The 30,000 Africans were certain their lives and health were put at risk by the wanton greed of some trading company three thousand miles away. Suddenly the company was faced with a PR problem. ( It is better to grub money in anonymity than be found doing so like a poltroon. Certainly creeps come in Saville Row suit these days and yet reveal unawares their guttersnipe days. Their talk of million dollar deals notwithstanding.) What Trafigura wanted least was to be shown for what they really were. They blinked and yet their problem didn’t just disappear.
Trafigura then went onto the offensive. They hired best libel lawyers and threatened the Press all over the world; they cut a deal with a judge to suppress an embarrassing document that the press had got hold of. A new word was coined: super-injunction by which even the existence of a court order could be put away from public scrutiny.
On October 12 on Monday a British MP, Paul Farrelly tabled a question about the so-called super-injunction  in Parliament. This news found its way on the front page of the Guardian.
Following this Mr. Alan Rusbridger to quote his own words, placed this message on Twitter.
“Now Guardian prevented from reporting for unreportable reasons. Did John Wilkes live in vain?”
The twitttersphere became soon inundated with the issue. By midday on Tuesday ‘Trafigura’ became the most searched term  in Europe. Just as the Guardian was due in court Trafigura’s bluff to ride the storm of their own puking just vanished.
As long as an individual has curiosity and ask questions in order to ferret out the truth, no body of unjust men whether it be governments or Corporations can be secure behind a wall of secrecy. We individuals have the right tools for it. Internet is one among many. (Ack:Guardian Newspapers,Ltd,2009)

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