Monday, December 29, 2008

My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

... and then came the giant and the music changed.

John Coltrane, Avant Garde Jazz, and the Evolution of “My Favorite Things” - a thesis by Scott Anderson

Evolution of lyrics.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The First Day
by Christina Rossetti

I wish I could remember the first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me;
If bright or dim the season it might be;
Summer or winter for aught I can say.
So, unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to forsee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom, yet, for many a May.

If only I could recollect it! Such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow.
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much!
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand! - Did one but know!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pop Corn Telephone

Popcorn Cell Phone Trick Revealed See How Its Done

Saturday, December 6, 2008

TO YOU - Walt Whitman

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true Soul and Body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce, shops, law, science, work, forms, clothes, the house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating, drinking, suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb;
I should have made my way straight to you long ago;

I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing but you.

I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you;
None have done justice to you—you have not done justice to yourself;
None but have found you imperfect—I only find no imperfection in you;

None but would subordinate you—I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you;
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups, and the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color’d light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus of gold-color’d light;
From my hand, from the brain of every man and woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are—you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries;
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you;
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk;
I pursue you where none else has pursued you;
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these balk others, they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed, premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you;
There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman, but as good is in you;
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you;
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I give the like carefully to you;
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame, compared to you;
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—you are immense and interminable as they;
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent dissolution—you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain, passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an unfailing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's A Wonderful Life

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nikola Kavaja: Hunter on Tito

BELGRADE, Serbia - Nikola Kavaja, who hijacked a U.S. passenger jet in 1979 with the intention of crashing it into Yugoslav Communist Party headquarters, has died. Kavaja, 76, died of a heart attack at his home in Belgrade late Monday.

The self-declared anti-communist hijacked an American Airlines Boeing 707 in New York and flew it over the Atlantic with the aim of crashing it into the party headquarters in a high-rise in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

He abandoned his hijack mission in Ireland, saying at the time he was not sure of the exact location of the downtown party office and did not want innocent civilians to die if the jet missed the target.

Kavaja was extradited to the U.S. and spent 18 years in a federal prison on hijack charges. He was released on parole before returning to Serbia in 1999. His parole was to expire in 2019.

Kavaja claimed in a number of interviews with Serbia's newspapers that Osama bin Laden must have "stolen" his idea of crashing jets into tall buildings during the 9/11 attack in New York and Washington.

FBI dosie
Nikola Kavaja was born in the Zeta Banate of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1933, in the Old Serbia area of modern-day Montenegro to a family drawing descent from Dečani in Metohija (western Kosovo). He is best known for his anti-communist activities, including one of the first attempts to turn an airliner into a weapon.
As a child he lived in Peć, Yugoslavia. In April 1941, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Yugoslavia and his family was split up and sent to different prison camps in Albania. In 1944 he returned to Peć to find his family. By his own account, he killed for the first time that year when he pushed a wounded German soldier into a well.

Military and intelligence career
Kavaja joined the air force and fought against the Germans. He also joined a secret Anti-communist group. In June 1953, as part of his clandestine activities, he sabotaged gas tanks at the Sombor airport. He evaded arrest, and a man who wasn't involved in the explosion was tried and executed. When his commander in the secret group was arrested, he deserted the air force. He was arrested by Yugoslav authorities while attempting to cross the border into Austria. After serving four years of an 18-and-a-half year sentence, Kavaja escaped and made it to Austria. He was detained by Austrian authorities and transferred to an American Army base.
After seven months of investigation by American authorities who suspected him of ties to the KGB, Kavaja began to carry out missions for the CIA against Yugoslavia and the USSR, including "sabotage, spying, exposing double agents, assassinations."
According to Kavaja, one of his major assignments from the CIA was to assassinate Josip Broz Tito, president of Yugoslavia. Tito traveled to Brazil and Kavaja followed, but the chance to kill the president was foiled when Tito stayed indoors for his entire stay. Kavaja followed Tito from Brazil to Chile, Mexico and the United States. Upon arrival in America, he and his companions had to be especially careful because he was wanted by the FBI, which didn't always share sources with the CIA. Kavaja claimed that in 1971 he staked out Camp David, disguised as a Maryland State Trooper, in order to kill Tito, who was visiting United States President Richard Nixon. Once again, he was foiled when Tito stayed indoors.

Freedom for the Serbian Fatherland
Kavaja was a central figure in an allegedly CIA-funded group called Freedom for the Serbian Fatherland (also known as SOPO). Kavaja claimed that this organization bombed Yugoslav embassies in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, Canada, and consulates in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto.
In 1978, Kavaja and "over a hundred" of his Sopo companions, including Stojilko Kajevic, were arrested in New York by American law enforcement. Kavaja was released on $250,000 bail, and after visiting his family in New York he promptly hijacked an American Airlines 727 (Flight 293 from New York City to Chicago).[2] He planned to demand Kajevic's release, then fly to Belgrade, Yugoslavia and crash into Ušće Tower, the Communist Central Committee Building. When he realized that Kajevic wouldn't be released, he let the plane's passengers go, retaining only a pilot, a co-pilot, a flight attendant and his own lawyer. He forced the crew to fly from Chicago to JFK Airport in New York City. There, he transferred to a larger plane. Initially hoping to still fly to Belgrade, on the advice of his lawyer he flew to Ireland, which didn't have an extradition agreement with the United States. Hoping for political asylum, Kavaja surrendered in Ireland and was returned to America to again face a criminal trial.
Kavaja was in prison from 1979 to 1997 and remains on parole until 2019. He violated parole by returning to Serbia; if he returns to the United States he would be arrested and returned to jail.

Arrest in 2003
Nikola Kavaja was arrested on April 1, 2003 during the investigation of Zoran Đinđić assassination.

Nikola Kavaja: Interview with an assassin

Nikola Kavaja lives in a drab, Communist-era high-rise in Belgrade, Serbia's crumbling capital. His two-room apartment is sparsely furnished: a single mattress and dresser in one room, and a scratched-up wooden desk, a couch, and a bench press in the other. The white walls are cluttered with pictures of the people who figure most strongly in his personal iconography: General Ratko Mladic, Saint Sava, Hitler, Jimmy Carter, and a young pin-up who is his current girlfriend. Guns and old military gear provide further ornamentation. A blue thermal blanket covers the street window.

By Christopher S Stewart
Sunday, 10 December 2006

Kavaja is 73, but he looks no older than 60. He adheres to a strict weight-training routine that gets him up every weekday before the sun. He is squarely built and muscular, with white hair cut to a military trim-line and a fighter's mashed-up nose. Except for the fine white thread of moustache, he is cleanly shaven. In his dress, he favours black trousers, black shirts and black combat boots.

Our conversation took place over three mornings, with classical music playing softly in the background. Kavaja spoke slowly and quietly, with an air of determined precision. At times, he paused to place his hand on his forehead in search of a long-forgotten detail. As he spoke, Kavaja stared off in the distance at nothing at all, or else looked down at his booted feet.

Stewart: You were a Second World War prisoner, a Communist soldier, a CIA hitman, a hijacker, and now a fugitive on the run (among other things). Where to begin?

Kavaja: Write down my name. N-I-K-O-L-A K-A-V-A-J-A. You can call me Nik.

Stewart: That's a start.

Kavaja: It is a long story. Do you want some schnapps?

Stewart: No thanks. I'm fine with water.

Kavaja: Water's for pussies.

Stewart: Most of the time I'd agree. But 10.30 in the morning is a little early for me to be drinking shots of schnapps.

Kavaja: It's a hello. You drink some schnapps with me. We drink together.

Stewart: OK.

Kavaja: That's better. Salud. So - I was born in Montenegro in 1933. In 1941, when Hitler attacked Yugoslavia, my father and mother and I were all transferred to separate prison camps in Albania. My brothers went to the war. In October 1944, when the Russians forced the Germans out of the Balkans, I went back to Pec to find my mother. But she wasn't there. No one was there. I had to fight for myself. The first time I killed someone was that year - a German soldier. He was heavily wounded and leaning over the top of a well. He was getting water. I walked up to him, took him by the legs and tossed him in like garbage.

Stewart: You weren't afraid?

Kavaja: My dick, was I ever afraid. I hated them. I couldn't find my family anywhere. I searched for months. Eventually, I found my mother in Vojvodina. I learned that two of my brothers were killed in the war. I joined the air-force academy. They made me a war pilot. Around that time, my brother was thrown in jail for being anti-Communist. He wasn't. But Tito was a suspicious man. Tens of thousands of military officers finished their careers in prison. They all fought for Tito and then they were thrown in jail for bullshit reasons. What kind of leader does that?

Stewart: You never liked Tito?

Kavaja: I hated him. Around that time, I became a member of an underground anti-Communist group. That's where my life really started. My commander, Milutin Abramovic, was in the air force with me in Sombor. He knew about my brothers who were imprisoned and killed. I had cousins that went to jail too. That's why he started giving me top-secret missions, I think. Because my hatred was so personal.

Stewart: What was the first job?

Kavaja: He had me paint on the walls of the military barracks "Long live the Soviet Union"; "Down with Tito"; "Down with the Communist Party". It was a test, I think. But I did it. And for me, it was funny - a what-the-fuck kind of thing, you know?

Stewart: How did Tito like your sense of humour?

Kavaja: When I wrote that, it was Saturday evening. By Sunday morning, military intelligence officers were searching for who did it. There was a huge alarm. There were 4,000 soldiers at our barracks and none of us could leave. After two or three days of investigations, they started to lock people up. They arrested a major who was in charge of security that evening, and he got seven years in prison. Two of my friends were also arrested and sentenced to jail.

Stewart: You weren't afraid you'd get caught?

Kavaja: Who would have known? I was into football and girls. It made me laugh. The big assignment came next. It was June 1953. The order was to burn the gas tanks at the airport in Sombor. I knew all of those bases like I know my room. My commander gave me some time bombs and I set them up near the tanks, which held a million gallons of petrol. I placed the bombs around the tanks and walked away. When they went off, there was a massive explosion. It was incredible. I was far away but I could see huge yellow flames in the sky. I realised it wasn't a joke anymore. I was in big shit. Police swarmed to the base and all the towns nearby. They arrested hundreds. I knew seven of them. One was a major hero. He got the death penalty. For nothing! The others died in prison.

Stewart: You didn't feel guilty at all about this?

Kavaja: Guilt? My dick. You don't know about guilt. Schnapps?

Stewart: I'm still working on this one, thanks.

Kavaja: After my commander was arrested, I was told that a lot of officers were arrested at the airport, and they also asked about me and my friend Sveto. I took my machine gun, a pistol, three grenades, a compass, binoculars, and a bag of clothes, and I became a deserter. That's a very serious thing, punishable by death. I knew they would chase us. Sveto and I decided to cross the border illegally into Austria.

To get to the border, we walked only at night. It wasn't easy terrain. There were mountains and canyons and lots of snow. We slept in the woods. Sveto got so tired he couldn't walk. So I put him on my back. Then we came to this mountain. It was covered in heavy snow, up to my waist in places, and the temperatures were below zero. It would have taken days to go over. But there was a tunnel through the mountain for trains. I decided to take a risk and go through the tunnel. I put Sveto down and he followed. The tunnel was a kilometre long. Sveto kept falling, but I pretended not to see him because I couldn't carry him anymore. Somehow we got through.

Just before we got to the border, there was a canyon. If you made one wrong step you'd fall to your death. The darkness was deep and I couldn't see much. I heard footsteps. I turned and there was a shadow moving along the mountain road. We couldn't run away because we were so tired. I aimed my machine gun in the shadow's direction. It came nearer and I saw that it was a woman. She said to us, "Bless you." She had a hood on, and I pulled back her hood and asked who she was. "I'm a teacher," she said. I asked for her documents. She was telling the truth, so I let her go. I should have killed her because I knew she was going to report us. I don't know why I didn't.

We had trouble at the border. Someone shouted stop. Then there were shots in our direction. We were in open space. Behind us were woods. We got down and fired back. The fight went on for 10 minutes. I went through two clips and threw three hand grenades. But we managed to get back into the woods and retreat to our border. I fired all but seven bullets.

We walked for an hour or so, then tried the border again. That time was worse. We got ambushed from three different directions. It was the Yugoslav People's Army, my own fucking army. They surrounded us, three of them with machine guns. The commander approached and asked where we were going. I reached into my leather jacket and said, "We were just visiting Svatko Lacovic." The commander said, 'There's no one here with that name. Where are your arms?" I said, "We don't have any. I just have gloves." When I took out the gloves, I drew my pistol, put it to his forehead, and pulled the trigger.

Stewart: What about the guys with guns?

Kavaja: I had seven bullets left. I could have taken them all. But my gun jammed. From behind, I was hit with a machine gun and I lost consciousness. Sveto just stood there. When I came to, there were 20 or so soldiers around.

We were moved to a jail on the border. One morning, they took us out and put us against a wall outside of the barracks. I thought they were going to shoot us. My legs and my hands were in chains. The commander of the division marched out all of the troops - all 5,000 of them - and gave a speech. He said: "From our Communist hands, no one will escape. These men were organising against our nation. We will spit on these traitors." After that, all of them lined up and spat on us, one at a time. One of my cousins came around four times. I couldn't believe it! Five thousand people spat on me. It was a psychological thing, a show to boost morale.

Stewart: Pour me some schnapps.

Kavaja: I don't want to talk about the trial, about being beaten up every day and every night. I was sentenced to 18 and a half years. After four years I escaped into Austria, where I was picked up and shipped to a US Army base in Stuttgart. They thought I was KGB, but after months of interviews, three intelligence officers introduced themselves and offered me political asylum.

Stewart: Is that how you started working for the CIA? How did they ask you to join them?

Kavaja: They asked me, my dick. They didn't ask. They checked me out for seven months. They thought I was KGB. I had to prove myself. I bombed some Communist buses - Yugoslavian buses - in Vienna. It was their way of testing my loyalty. They liked me because of my history. I was young and fearless and hated Communism.

So I started to work dirty jobs against Yugoslavia, against Russia - sabotage, spying, exposing double agents, assassinations. I did some very bad things, but I accepted my destiny. In 1959, I uncovered a gang of Yugoslavians smuggling arms to Algeria. They would come in dressed up like priests. I tracked them down and killed them. There were never any reports about the people who disappeared. They might as well have never lived.

Stewart: So you were like God, deciding who would and wouldn't die?

Kavaja: My superiors made the final decisions. I killed. One person is on my conscience. She was a double agent from East Germany. I was sleeping in the desert in a tent because that was the only place safe from the war. I received an order from military intelligence to kill this woman. When I got her, she didn't know what I was going to do. She was probably 23 years old. I asked for her family name and where she lived. There would be no official report - she would just disappear - and I wanted to send a message to her family and say where they could find her.

Stewart: Why her?

Kavaja: There was something about her. I just wanted to do her a favour. Even when I was in prison in the United States I dreamt about her. She was not the first one or the last one. But I felt sorry for her. She was so young. But she was a proud girl. She spat on me.

Stewart: And you shot her?

Kavaja: What do you think? I didn't rape her. I told her to walk ahead of me. And I shot her in the back.

Stewart: Did you think she deserved that?

Kavaja: I never worried about killing an innocent person. I wasn't trained to kill innocent people. I killed people on my level - soldier to soldier, agent to agent. It is not my job to think about innocence or guilt. She didn't ask for mercy. She was probably guilty. But she stays with me. No one else does.

Stewart: How were you paid?

Kavaja: By the job. For the bigger jobs, like assassinating Tito, I would be paid US$15,000. For most jobs, US$10,000. They dropped the money off at my house.

Stewart: You didn't assassinate Tito - but you tried?

Kavaja: Killing Tito was a big mission. For almost a decade, I hunted him. I was never a traitor - I wanted to save my country. That's why I was good for this mission. I was ready to give my life for it. If I died one second after I killed Tito I wouldn't care. He killed my three brothers. He destroyed my country. I went to jail. I lost everything.

In 1963 I got information that Tito was coming to North and South America for a tour. Our intelligence said it would be easier to kill him in South America because the security would be much thinner down there. Tito always travelled with his own agents, about 125 State Security Service men. These men went a few months in advance to clean up all the political dissidents. When I say clean up, I mean jail or kill. They had files on these people. Of course, they had a big file on me, too. The government wanted me dead. The State Security Service sent people to try to assassinate me. When I returned to Serbia in the 1990s, a Montenegrin man came and said to me, I was supposed to kill you in 1976 in the States, but I couldn't find you. We laughed about it.

Anyway, to kill Tito, I worked with Dragica Kacikovic and a third Serbian guy that I won't name because he is still undercover. We weren't maniacs. We didn't just decide, "Hey, we're going to go kill Tito." We got our orders from the CIA and planned it out carefully.

Rio de Janeiro was our first shot. Dragica went first. He got fake documents and travelled as a Mexican journalist with a sombrero and a video camera. I followed with the third guy. I took a Colt .45 and a .357 Magnum and I was disguised as a Catholic priest - with a long black robe and a black hat.

We had informants in the town who provided us with information. We knew Tito liked to go out on the town, eat, and see chicks. I waited for word that he was out on the town and then I would shoot him. But Brazil was not our time. Tito stayed in the house throughout his stay. He didn't move from the building for two days. We didn't see him come and we didn't see him go. One day he was there and then he was gone. Like a ghost.

Stewart: Was that a major letdown for you?

Kavaja: I didn't panic. From Brazil, I followed him to Santiago, Chile, then Mexico City. Then I got a message to come to Washington DC right away, because Tito was on his way. That was the most dangerous place for us as a group. The FBI was searching for us. They were working with the Yugoslav State Security Service.

Stewart: I thought you worked with the CIA?

Kavaja: But the CIA and the FBI didn't share informants. They were rival organisations. There were rewards for our capture from the FBI. My last attempt to kill him was 1971 at Camp David in Maryland. He was going there to visit Richard Nixon. No one can carry a gun around Camp David, but I went alone, dressed as a Maryland State Trooper. I couldn't get on the actual property, but I got up into a tree where I could see the chopper with binoculars. I had my sniper rifle with me. My thought was that at some point Tito would take a walk into the woods. He liked to take walks. It was beautiful, I thought. Who wouldn't take a walk? I waited all day and night.

Stewart: In the tree? You didn't sleep?

Kavaja: No. I couldn't kill him if I was asleep. You don't know anything about this kind of thing. Sleep! What a fucking joker.

Stewart: Did Tito ever go for a walk?

Kavaja: Never. After two days, he left. And that was it. Nothing. So I didn't get him. But I did a lot of damage to his regime and to Communism.

Stewart: You had a Serbian terrorist organisation didn't you?

Kavaja: It was a freedom group. I called it Freedom for the Serbian Fatherland - Sopo. We got money from the CIA. We bombed the Yugoslav embassies in Washington and Ottawa, and the consulates in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto. Bin Laden stole our strategies. But after that the State Department got a lot of pressure from Tito to track us down and extradite us. It was a big mess.

Stewart: Did they catch up with you?

Kavaja: Not until 1978. I was in New York on my way to a friend's house and more than 20 agents with guns ambushed me on

Third Avenue. They arrested over a hundred of us. A judge in Chicago found us guilty but delayed the sentencing for a month. I got out on $250,000 bail. The judge released everyone except for Stojilko Kajevic, who went by the name Priest. He helped me lead Sopo. The FBI thought he was the most dangerous. That was a mistake. After the trial I told Priest that I was ready to do a hijacking I'd been talking about. My plan was to land in Chicago, pick Priest up, and then fly to Belgrade and crash into the Communist Central Committee building.

Stewart: So that's what you did when you got out on bail - hijacked a plane?

Kavaja: First I returned home to see my family. One day I got a call from Priest. He said, "Send me the memorandum." I said, "For whom?" "President Carter," he said. That night, I went into my basement, where I made bombs. I made two of them built into two beer bottles. The telephone rang - this is funny - it was an FBI agent from Chicago, Al King. He said, "Hi Nik, how are you?" I told him, "I'm making a bomb for tomorrow." He thought I was joking. It was a big scandal in the trial later on. You can check the court files. It's all there. After I finished, I went upstairs. I took some long socks from my daughter's room and stuffed the bottles in my trouser legs. I put on my trousers and looked in the mirror and you couldn't see that anything was in there. I was ready. I went to sleep at around 1am.

Stewart: How could you sleep?

Kavaja: I had done a hundred more difficult operations. I never feared that I would make a mistake. I woke up at five, just like any other day. My wife woke up with me. She cooked me a steak for breakfast. That's all I eat - steaks. I said goodbye like any other morning. I had the bombs strapped to my leg and dynamite in a leather suitcase. A cab took me to the airport. I ordered a brandy at the airport bar and relaxed. I checked in and waited by security for the right moment to pass. I knew if a police officer stopped me, I would have to kill him. I was going to get on that plane. That's all that was on my mind. I saw an albino couple with a lot of camping equipment passing through security. So I went with them. They set the alarm off. The police stopped them, but not me.

I got on the plane to Chicago. It was an American Airlines 727. My seat was number 23 on the left side of the plane. Next to me was a woman from Poland who had never been to the United States. Imagine that. She has to get on my plane! We drank a brandy together. We talked. Fifteen minutes before we landed, I said goodbye to the her and went to the bathroom.

I got the bombs ready, then went to the cockpit. The stewardess asked me what I needed. I said, "Give me the key to the cabin." She was paralysed. I put my hand in her pocket, took the key, and opened the cabin. There were four pilots. They didn't hear me open the door. When one of them tried to stand up, I forced him down. His name was Mitchell. I showed them the explosives and said, "This is my plane now, I am responsible for your lives, if you make a mistake, we will all go to God."

After a few minutes, Mitchell asked me what I wanted - money or what? I told him to get me in touch with the FBI. Al King got on the line. He was absolutely crazy! He said, "Nik, you're late for court." I said, "Listen, in five minutes I'm going to fly over the courthouse. I told you last night that I was making bombs." He said, "Why do you make jokes?" I said, "You'll see me in five minutes."

I flew over the courthouse three or four times. The stewardess brought me a brandy. Eventually, we landed and I parked the plane at the far edge of the airport. There were 128 passengers and eight crew members. Hundreds of police surrounded the plane on the runway. The FBI asked me what I wanted. I said, "I want Priest." Passengers kept asking for things. One woman said she was going to give birth and I said, "What the fuck is going on? I'm not a doctor, I'm a terrorist."

The FBI sent a lawyer out to the plane to talk me out of it, but I said it was too late. Then he begged me to release the passengers. That was the riskiest moment. I worried that the FBI would attack. But I had the bomb trigger in hand and I told them not to mess around because I could blow the plane up in a second. The briefcase of dynamite was at my chest. I gave the passengers five minutes to get off. You should have seen these fat Negroes! It was hilarious. Looking at them you wouldn't expect them to be so fast. But they were off in seconds. At the end there were four people left: Mitchell, a co-pilot, my lawyer, and the stewardess.

Stewart: What about Priest?

Kavaja: Priest finally called me. But it wasn't good. He said, "Brother Nikola, I'm not coming with you." That was the most difficult moment. I sacrificed everything for this, my wife, my kids, my life. We had a deal. We were going to take the plane to Yugoslavia. It was his job to show me the building we were going to hit. I hadn't been back to Yugoslavia for decades. The Communist Central Committee building was built in the 1960s. I didn't know the land. I didn't know what to do at that point. But he got off the phone and it was over.

I told them to fuel the plane and then I told Mitchell we were leaving. There were 40 or 50 cars following the plane as we drove down the runway. Mitchell asked me what the plan was and I said, "New York." On the way, I demanded a 707, a much bigger plane, and a new crew to meet me at JFK. No one knew what I was going to do. When we landed, the 707 was there. We pulled up. I took Mitchell and the co-pilot and tied them to me. I wanted to make sure I didn't get killed on the way across and that the new pilots were not impostors. There were hundreds of police snipers. But I had this living wall around me.

After we left New York, I finally told my lawyer the plan. You should have seen his eyes. He was a baby. We flew for hours. But then I had second thoughts. I was ready to die. But I didn't know where the Central Communist building was in Belgrade. I didn't want to kill regular civilians. That was never my job. I wanted to kill Tito and the biggest symbol of the Communist Party - not go down as the guy who killed innocent people. My friend betrayed me and I lost the target.

Stewart: So you're up there with a stolen 707, a bunch of hostages, and nowhere to go.

Kavaja: I didn't want to lose my life for nothing. That was the point. But you don't have time to think. My lawyer said that Ireland didn't have an extradition agreement with the United States. I'd get political asylum, I'd be safe. So we landed there. I gave up the explosives and let everyone go. Then the negotiations started between the authorities of Ireland, my lawyer, and the States. Of course, they all betrayed me. Ireland sent me back to the US. That was it. This time it was over for real.

I was in prison from 1979 to 1997. First, I went to Marion prison in Illinois. Solitary confinement. Noriega was in the same place. I never left my cell. I had three shirts, three pairs of trousers, three towels, and two blankets from like World War One. I had a mouse friend who visited me at night. There was no regular toilet - it was in the floor and you had to be a good pilot to get everything in there. I did push-ups - thousands of them a day - and thought about my wife and kids, and I thought about Tito.

Stewart: After 20 years, they let you out.

Kavaja: Yeah. It was a long time. And I'm on parole until 2019.

Stewart: So how did you get back to Serbia?

Kavaja: I'm supposed to be in the States. But I left. I didn't ask anybody. Now I can't go back or they'd send me to prison. I can't see my wife or kids. I went to Mexico and then Brazil and then South Africa. From there, I went to Athens, then Serbia.

Stewart: How were you treated when you returned to Serbia?

Kavaja: I had a reception at a military bunker in the mountains. It was early 1999, when Kosovo was going on. They were cooking mushrooms. That shit's not for me. I only eat steak. I told them, "We need to fight on their territory. Let's go to Albania and Macedonia and fight the Albanians that way. That's the only way we are going to win." They didn't listen. A few months later, they bombed Belgrade. And the war was over.

Stewart: Do you have enemies?

Kavaja: I have lots of enemies - ex-Communists, State Security Service from Tito's day - but I'm not afraid. I have protection. And I can take care of myself. If someone wanted to assassinate me, I know how they'd do it because I was an assassin myself. See this? This is my best friend in all my life. It's a German gun from before World War Two, made in 1938. A Luger 9mm. Very good gun.

Stewart: Is it loaded?

Kavaja: Not right now.

Stewart: What's the point of having a gun under your table if it's not loaded?

Kavaja: You know nothing about guns! There are bullets in it, but they aren't engaged. I can engage it in a second. My dick. You're a silly man!

Stewart: So you're still ready to fight?

Kavaja: I'm still strong. I work out every day except Saturday and Sunday. My hands are scarred from explosives, but I can still get down on the floor and do push-ups. I do 200 push-ups, squats, like this, off the side of bed. At one time, I could do 3,000.

Stewart: How many people have you killed so far?

Kavaja: There are so many things that I can't even tell you. How many I killed is not important. I count to 17 and then stop counting.

Stewart: Seventeen?

Kavaja: It's just a number. My first kill was when I was 14 and my last was, I don't know, maybe in 1976. But I'm not going to talk about that. I probably shouldn't have said a lot of the things I said. I have my wife and kids in the United States still.

Stewart: What does it feel like to assassinate someone?

Kavaja: What the fuck?

Stewart: After such an extreme life, it must be hard to settle down and call it quits?

Kavaja: It's not over. I still fuck good. I've got a couple of young girls. You see this one here? Her tits! Her hair! I also have other jobs to do, but we won't talk about that. I have money and girls and that's a good life for me. I've got a house in Montenegro, a big apartment in Novi Sad. I got this apartment in Belgrade. I'm set up.

Stewart: I see pictures on your wall of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. Are they idols?

Kavaja: These are big men.

Stewart: And big murderers.

Kavaja: American presidents killed too.

Stewart: How do you think you'll be remembered?

Kavaja: Evil.

Original article can be found here

Documentary: Nikola Kavaja - Hunter on Tito (1:27)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mad as Hell

"There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no Third Worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems! One vast and immane, interwoven, interacting multi-variant, multinational dominion of dollars! Petrol dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reich Marks, Rins, Rubles, Pounds, and Shekels!"
"It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today. And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone! Am I getting through to you Mr. Beale?"
"You get up on your 21-inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT and AT&T and Du Pont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today."
"What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state? Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments just like we do."
"We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime."
"And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit in which men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused."

"....At the bottom of all our terrified souls, we know that democracy is a dying giant. A sick, sick, dying, decaying political concept, writhing in it's final pain. I don't mean that the United States is finished as a world power. The United States is the richest, most advanced country in the world, light-years ahead of any other country, and the Communists won't take over the world because the Communists are deader than we are. What is finished is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourishing of every individual in it. It's the individual that's finished. It's the single, solitary human being that's finished. It's every single one of you out there that's finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It's a nation of some 200 odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings, and as replaceable as piston rods. Well, the time has come to say is "Dehumanization" such a bad word. Whether it's good or bad, that's what is so. The whole world is becoming humanoid. Creatures that look human but aren't. The whole world, not just us. We're just the most advanced country, so we're getting there first. The whole world's people are becoming mass produced, programmed, numbered......"

"......I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their jobs. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. The banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep guns under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street. Nobody anywhere seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. We sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides, and 63 violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be! We know things are bad. They're worse than bad, they're crazy! It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world were living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "please at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and my TV, and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything, just leave us alone!" Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest, and I don't want you to riot, and I don't want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression, and the inflation, the Russians, and the crime in the streets. All I know is that first you've got to get mad! You've got to say, "I'm a human being godamit! My life has value!..... So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One Way Road To Heaven

This is one of my personal Top Ten movies, and Robert Duvall is on my Top Five Best Actors List. I don't remember seeing him in a bad movie, or in a bad role.

"The Apostle" is a 1997 movie, written, directed and produced by Robert Duvall, who stars in the title role. It was filmed in and around Dallas, Texas, as well as in Louisiana. Duvall wrote the script in the 1980s but could not find a studio willing to film it. He eventually decided to direct and finance it himself. It was first screened at the Toronto Film Festival. The film went on to have a $21.3 million worldwide theatrical gross, with a combined production and advertising budget of $8 million.

Duvall plays main character the preacher, good man with a bad luck and temper. For his performance, Duvall was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. I cut from the movie only scenes where Duvall is preaching. It's so impressive and he looks so natural in the role of preacher. I can't decide is it improvisation, or written and well executed scenes.

The major themes of The Apostle include forgiveness and accountability. Duvall sympathetically portrays Sonny as a sincere gospel preacher whose passions get the better of him. After fleeing from Texas, he re-baptizes himself -- symbolizing a fresh start -- and seeks to accomplish as much good as possible before his inevitable capture. Sonny's arrest closes the moral circle of the narrative, showing that evil acts do not go unpunished. Yet, his final sermon motivates the fledgling church to carry on a life of faith and good deeds.

An Interview with Robert Duvall at Journal of Religion and Film
"The Apostle": An Interview with Robert Duvall
by Bill Blizek and Ronald Burke

[1] The JOURNAL editors recently had the opportunity to interview Robert Duvall about his new movie, "The Apostle". The interview was especially interesting because it is so much Duvall’s own film. He wrote the script, starred as the lead character, and directed the film. When no Hollywood studio would produce it, he also turned to his own production company (Butchers Run Films), put up his own money (five million dollars), and produced the film himself.

[2] Many people have interviewed Duvall in recent months about the film and about his entire movie and stage career. We focused our interview more narrowly on the picture of religion in the film and on the morality of the lead character Duvall plays, the preacher, Eulis "Sonny" Dewey.

Some Fake; Some Great

[3] What does Duvall think of southern Christianity and revivalist preachers in general? He has a fascination for them which began more than thirty years ago when he visited a Holiness church in the small town of Hughes, Arkansas. He says that he was intrigued by the cadence, rhythms and honest faith he witnessed in the songs and tent-meetings there. For Duvall, these revivalist tent-meetings are "an important part of American culture." The preaching is "a distinct American art-form."

[4] "The best preacher I ever met," says Duvall, "was a 96 year-old black man from a little church in Hamilton, Virginia. He seemed to me more spiritual than the Dalai Lama or Mahatma Gandhi. This guy was great. He had a great cadence of preaching, a great honesty." Duvall invited a Jewish film-director friend and his Catholic wife to hear him preach. "It was terrific," Duvall recounts. "The director told me a year and a half later that he could never get the preacher entirely out of his mind. He was that impressive."

[5] "A lot of these preachers are phony, but a lot of them are not."

[6] It was from the same black preacher that Duvall borrowed an introduction and a song. The preacher ended every sermon with the same words: one day he expected, he said, to get into a little airplane. He would fly off not to London or Chicago or New York or any earthly city. He expected on that day, his last day, to fly past the sun and the stars and directly into heaven. Then the preacher would pause and the whole congregation would begin to sing, "I’ll Fly Away."

[7] That kind of borrowing, from the actual preachers and congregations of Holiness churches, is typical of the film.

Sonny is an ordinary guy

[8] What about the lead character, Sonny himself? Sometimes he seems pretty good, sometimes he is pretty bad. What was Duvall saying about Sonny?

[9] He pointed out there have been other movies about Pentecostal religions, but they never gave the people and their religion their due. Movies such as "Leap of Faith" (Steve Martin and Debra Winger) and "Elmer Gantry" (Burt Lancaster) were fakes. "They patronize," Duvall says. "They put quotation marks around the preacher. They don’t give the minister or his congregation their due."

[10] "Some religious people might ask why I would make such a movie and emphasize that this evangelical preacher has weaknesses. And my answer is that we either accept weaknesses in good people or we have to tear pages out of the bible. I would have to rip the Psalms out of the bible and never read them again. Because no one less than the greatest king of Israel, King David, the author of the Psalms, sent a man out to die in battle so that he could sleep with his wife. And that was a far more evil thing than anything Sonny would ever, ever do.

[11] "So here’s King David, the great poet of the Psalms that we laud and he did something that was far worse than anything this present preacher would do. But because this is today, and not removed romantically to the past, we judge Sonny quickly and harshly. But, you know, he’s just an ordinary guy. He did not commit premeditated murder. He didn’t go to that church social and the baseball game with the intention of killing the young preacher. It just happened. Smack!

[12] "I still wanted to show that crime doesn’t pay. He didn’t have a great lawyer, and he didn’t get off without punishment. No more than Karla Faye Tucker should have gotten off without punishment in Texas, despite what Pat Robertson might have thought. Crime does not pay. If you are saved and accept the Lord, you cannot use that as an excuse to avoid punishment.

[13] "Sonny doesn’t escape punishment. But he’s a man of action. After killing the man, guys like us would probably wait around to be caught, but Sonny takes action. He knows he’s done something wrong. It happened involuntarily, and so he leaves. He kneels at the crossroads and prays, ‘Lord, lead me.’ He abandons his car and goes off to do something to make himself better.

[14] "No, he was never a bad guy. He was a good guy. But he did something bad. So he is full of good and bad. Sonny’s a good guy; he believed he had a calling from the time he was twelve; and he errs like most characters do, you know?

[15] "He’s a kind of percentage mixture at the beginning and at the end. There’s a certain percentage chance he will do good and a percentage chance he will again err. But he knows he has erred and that he needs confession and redemption.

[16] "He’s working in the restaurant in Bayou Butte, Louisiana and he sees his new woman-friend, Toosie (Miranda Richardson), whom he has dated a couple of times. She’s together again with her family at the restaurant. That really hits him. He suffers a broken heart. Humanly, he knows he has defeated himself. He has himself sent her back to her husband, back to her family. But that "success" hurts him. He has the pain of a man losing something, his relation to Toosie. It was something he had thought might become beautiful. But he knows it’s right that she’s back with her husband and her children.

The Power of the Holy Ghost

[17] We asked what Duvall thought about the value of the Pentecostal revivalist religions. In the movie’s beginning, Sonny stops at an accident scene, finds a wrecked car, and a guy and girl lying motionless inside it. He reaches through a window, puts the girl’s hand on the boy’s, prays for them, and then her hand moves. Was there a message in that?

[18] Duvall: "Definitely. When we did it, I said to the cameraman, ‘Frame down to her.’ And so we showed her, and I put her hand on her boyfriend’s hand so we are all connected. And I wanted that look: her hand to move, to show that the power of prayer works. The healing of someone. The movement of something. God moving in mysterious ways. Exactly. This power is based on the biblical authority, ‘Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there’. Every time I saw that I got goose pimples on my arms. That scene really tells a lot: that Sonny is doing good work and that the power of the Holy Ghost was there.

[19] "Sonny knows he is serving the Lord. He walks back over to his own car, where his mother is waiting. ‘Mama,’ he says, ‘we made news in heaven this morning, we made news in heaven!’ Yeah, that scene was meant to be there. It was the power of the Holy Ghost.

[20] "There was a guy there, a tough old Holiness church guy, watching us film. And he said later that when he heard Sonny say those words he also got chill bumps. That told me those were the right words. It meant something to those people themselves, in their churches. It was definitely meant to be there. The power of the Spirit.

[21] "The scene sets the stage for the rest of the movie. Sonny tries to help people and God can heal. God does guide the lives of individuals and does fill them with the Holy Ghost."

People’s Own Religion

[22] In "giving people their due," Duvall used many non-actors who were part of the small-town Holiness churches. What was the objective there?

[23] Duvall: "I tried to mix the non-actors with the actors. I tried to turn the whole film-making thing around as much as possible. I didn’t want to come in and tell them what to do. I wanted them to show me what they do. That is why we used non-actors with that kind of background.

[24] "The assistant director, who helps coordinates the scenes, holds the non-actors within certain limits, but within those limits their performances are a very spontaneous thing. Like those little twin boys, playing in the church aisle. How are you going to direct them? You don’t direct them. They were born into these churches. So when they want to jump up and down, they are going to jump up and down. That’s why we used so many non-actors. We tried to let the story come out from their own community.

[25] We asked Duvall about two of the most prominent characters in the church scenes, Sister Johnson and Sister Jewell. We learned that neither was a professional actor and that both exemplified the religion to which they belonged.

[26] Duvall: "One we got from one of the Holiness churches in Lafayette and one came from Shreveport. There was a state-wide convention of churches. Ed Johnson, the casting director, and I went there and watched. And the whole Louisiana mass choir -- we got them for the movie. We chose a guy who had just been confirmed as a minister and another from way out in the country in Louisiana. We tracked him down after he had been at the state convention.

[27] "And Sister Jewell, who gave testimony, that was all her own testimony. She came up with it herself. That is what the people in the Holiness churches do. So we just planned it as much as we needed. We put the camera on long lens and just let things happen. We wouldn’t say ‘Now it’s your close-up time. Are you ready?’. Instead of doing it that way, like in most movies, these people never necessarily knew when the camera was coming on them."

Off the bulldozer and accept the Lord

[28] We asked where Duvall had gotten material for the script. Again it came from the people themselves. He said he had been collecting stories and phrases for more than thirteen years, in pretty disorganized fashion. But he collected a lot of stories and phrases he used in the film.

[29] Duvall: "Yeah, I know a preacher, Paul Baggett, who was with us in the team-preaching scene (in New Boston, Texas, outside Fort Worth). He told me that years ago a guy came on a bulldozer, planning to destroy his meeting tent. So Paul took out the bible and put it in front of the bulldozer. He said, ‘Go ahead and go over my bible.’ And the guy wouldn’t do it. He had a pistol and everything, but he wouldn’t do it. Later he was saved, but the reason he was coming there with the bulldozer was because his girlfriend had already come to the tent and been saved. And so now she wouldn’t shack up with him anymore! That’s why he was so mad.

[30] "So I pieced Paul's story together with another one that reinforced it. This story was about a guy who was going to put a firebomb in a church in the Bronx. The preacher dared him to come in and the guy got down and accepted the Lord. So maybe we are all on a kind of search . . ."

Sonny’s strength

[31] We asked about Sonny’s strength. He seemed to weather so many storms and disappointments and yet come out with happiness and re-dedication.

[32] Duvall: "Yeah, he does. He sees things positively. You are the first ones to say that, but I remember way back, when I first thought of the character, I knew I wanted him to be really sanguine. I envisioned a guy who would just keep going, seeing the will of the Lord, and not be like those that might just sit on their hands.

[33] "Sonny always has one foot in really trusting what he believes in, even though he errs. If someone took your church, like Jessie took his, and if someone took your wife, like the youth minister took Jessie, it would be a hard thing to deal with. He didn’t intend to kill anybody, but it happened on the spur of the moment. ‘Oh, my God!’, he knows he’s done something wrong.

[34] ‘I gotta leave,’ he thinks; ‘what do I do?’ ‘Lord, lead me,’ he says. He still depends on the Lord, you know, even though he has sinned. So he begins an odyssey, the whole film is an odyssey journey.

Both loud and soft

[35] We saw there was a lot of shouting in the film, loud singing and Sonny shouting personally at God. And yet there also were some important moments of quiet. Did that have special meaning?

[36] Duvall: "You’re sure right. It did. Sonny shouted as loud as Job ever did. There was nothing wrong with shouting at God. I like that scene where I go through the commandments. And then I say, ‘The 11th commandment, "thou shalt not shout," (pause) does not exist!’ Yeah, I made that up. Right there. That’s the way he felt and the way these people felt.

[37] "But I wanted to make something else obvious. Sometimes these people yell and carry on, and sometimes they get quiet and are sincere. There’s that time I was sitting alone in the borrowed pup-tent. We re-edited that scene to make it clear. I am sitting there, meditating, listening for "the still, small voice" [I Kings 19] of Jesus. As it says in the bible, there is a time to ‘Go in thy closet and the Father will reward thee openly.’ There are two sides to these guys.

[38] "And then, just before I go into the church to preach with Brother Blackwell (John Beasley from Omaha), I step back. I just want a moment to myself. I got that from watching these preachers. They often want to be alone for a second. They turn around and bow their heads. And then they go to do something."

Different religions, same goal

[39] "Another thing I want to emphasize is the cultural contrast I saw between religions. By the time we were finished cutting, that was not obvious. Like Catholics have a lot of mediators, going through saints and Mary or whatever. But I love the directness of these people. They relate directly with God, not going through anything.

[40] "Protestants in general, but especially these people, say things to God directly, like I do in the film: ‘I always call you "Jesus"; you always call me "Sonny".’ ‘I’m on the devil’s hit-list; I’m gonna get on Jesus’ mailing-list!’ ‘Holy Ghost explosion,’ ‘Short-circuit the devil!’ ‘I’m a genuine Holy Ghost Jesus-filled preaching machine here this morning!’ I use those phrases in the film. I heard them from the preachers and from the people. These were their terms. God is immediate to their lives.’

[41] "Sonny sees a Catholic priest blessing fishing boats as they leave the harbor. He says, ‘You do it your way, and we do it mine. But we get it done, don't we.’ That’s the tension between religions. There are different forms and prejudices, but I wanted Sonny to show an acceptance of another religion because both were trying to achieve the same end.

[42] "Faith helps Sonny feel positive about the future. That was something I wanted to show in the movie. We all have a cradle-to-the-grave journey to make and, in between, what do you do? There’s got to be something hereafter. And I think, underneath, what Sonny wants to do is constantly to make amends so that he is ready for that day when he is called home. So that’s kind of like the underlying thing and we all think of it."

The Final Product

[43] Last of all, we wanted to know if Duvall was happy with the final product. How did the final editing go?

[44] Duvall: "Just before release, we got another opinion, and thirty minutes were cut, but the cuts stung me. We lost the ethnic points, the religious differences. Previously, things had added up and it’s so easy to mess them up. So it was a tough time for me. I had painted myself into a corner: the shorter the film the more showings you can get and the more money it would make. But some things I didn’t want to lose.

[45] "So, I sat down and addressed sixty things I didn’t like about the cuts, explaining them, and so on. Then the final version went to about two hours and fourteen minutes and it was, to my eye, like a trimming process rather than a degutting, which is what I felt before had happened. That would’ve been death. I would’ve gone crazy.

[46] "But this way I like it. It’s more trimming than slashing. Cutting here, this, that, taking a little out of the flat patter scene. Oh, it’s okay. It’s better.

[47] "But the thing about it, which is really nice, is that people understood the film. Like in New York, in hip New York, they got it. And then I was worried about the religious side, but the 700 Club wants me to talk on it. So like, you know, it’s being accepted. It is a strange crossover. Very often some of the religious miracle plays you see on television can be very corny, I find. And so simplistic. But here’s one that’s different.

[48] "Somebody said, ‘Well, maybe you’re finally showing the south the way it is instead of making L’il Abner out of it.’ And you know, that was my intention. I wouldn’t even want to go near the subject if I didn’t give people -- these people -- their due. Whether you totally agree or not, you don’t have to. There’s a lot of it I do like, a lot of it, but I want to give them their due and once again turn film-making around so that the story comes out from them. It is very important to me.

[49] "I even heard that David Denby, in the New York Review, said it was the best film ever made in America on a religious subject. He’s a guy who usually rips everything and he really ripped Tender Mercies. But he knows you can’t write those people off. You get below the Mason-Dixon line and you have some of the best music, culture, the two races, the literature, and it’s so rich, so deeply rich in many things. So why not try to get it right if you’re going to make a film of southern religion? That’s what I wanted to do."

Conversation Charlie Rose with Robert Duvall January 29, 1998

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Cowboy Code by Gene Autry

“The Cowboy Code”

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man or take an unfair advantage.
2. A Cowboy must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. A Cowboy must always tell the truth.
4. A Cowboy must be gentle with children, the elderly and small animals.
5. A Cowboy must not advocate or possess racially or religiously interolerant views and ideas.
6. A Cowboy must help people in distress.
7. A Cowboy must be a good worker.
8. A Cowboy must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.
9. A Cowboy must respect women, parents and his nations’ views.
10. A Cowboy is a patriot.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Four Women

Nina Simone

My skin is black
My arms are long
My hair is wooly
My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain
Its been inflicted again and again
What do they call me
My name is aunt sarah
My name is aunt sarah

My skin is yellow
My hair is long
Between two worlds
I do belong
My father was rich and white
He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me
My name is siffronia
My name is siffronia

My skin is tan
My hairs alright, its fine
My hips invite you
And my lips are like wine
Whose little girl am i?
Well yours if you have some money to buy
What do they call me
My name is sweet thing
My name is sweet thing

My skin is brown
And my manner is tough
Ill kill the first mother I see
Cos my life has been too rough
Im awfully bitter these days
Because my parents were slaves
What do they call me

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008


by Ogden Nash

Hopeful each morning I arise
And splash the cobwebs from my eyes.
I brush my teeth and scrape my chin
And bravely at the mirror grin.

Sternly I force myself to say,
Huzza! Huzza! Another day!
Oh happy me! Oh lucky I!
Another chance with life to vie!

Another golden opportunity
To rise and shine in the community!
Another target for my aim!
Another whack at wealth and fame!

Almost I feel within me stir
A budding force of character,
Who knows, indeed, but what I might
Perhaps have altered over night?

Today may be the day, who knows,
That sees me triumph o'er my foes:
Gluttony, simony, and sloth,
And drawing on the table cloth;

Perjury, arson, envy, pride,
And renting tales of homicide;
Barratry, avarice and wrath
And blowing bubbles in the bath.

The differences this day may bring!
Perhaps I'll work like anything;
I'll travel to my tasks on foot,
And in the bank the carfare put,

And buy a haircut when I need it,
And if I get a letter, read it.
And every eve improve myself
by inching through the Five Foot Shelf.

The things I want to do I won't,
And only do the things I don't.
What lordly aspirations dawn
The while I draw my trousers on!

Oh beamish morning, big with hope
And noble tasks with which to cope,
If I should fail you, do not sorrow;
I'll be a better man tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Old Man of the Mountain

Noun 1. old man of the mountain - whitish hairy plant with featherlike leaves and a few stout stems each bearing an especially handsome solitary large yellow flower head; mountainous regions north central United States. Synonyms: alpine sunflower, Hymenoxys grandiflora, Tetraneuris grandiflora.

The Old Man of the Mountain, also known as the great stone face, was a series of five granite Granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire New Hampshire, that, when viewed from the correct angle, appeared to be the jagged profile of a face. First discovered in 1805, the outcrop was 1,200 feet above Profile Lake, and measured 40 feet tall and 25 feet wide. It collapsed in 2003
High above the Franconia Notch gateway to northern New Hampshire there is an old man. He has been described as a relentless tyrant, a fantastic freak, and a learned philosopher, feeble and weak about the mouth and of rarest beauty, stern and solemn, one of the most remarkable wonders of the mountain world. The Old Man of the Mountain may be viewed from Interstate 93, northbound, in Franconia State Park from several cutout parking areas. The area is well marked and you will have no trouble locating the viewing areas. Southbound on Interstate 93, take Exit 2 into the Canon Mt Tramway parking lot and follow the signs for the "Old Man viewing area".

The old man of the mountain
1933 animated short in the Betty Boop series, produced by Fleischer Studios. Featuring special guests Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, the short was originally released to theaters on August 4, 1933 by Paramount Productions. Calloway, who voices all of the characters in the cartoon save for Betty herself (voiced by Mae Questel) performs all of the music in the cartoon, including three of his own songs.

The Old Man of the Mountain
The legend of Hassan-ibn-Sabbah
Rick Lewis

The legendary Old Man of the Mountain was Hassan-ibn-Sabbah, the founder and grand master of a radical Islamic sect in the 11th century. His followers were viewed as heretics by other Muslims; according to the hostile reports of their contemporaries, they ate pork and held all their women in common.

Hassan's devoted followers were prepared to follow his orders unquestioningly, even when this would result in their own certain deaths. He frequently sent them on missions to kill hostile princes, the generals of armies sent to oppose him, and anyone else of whom he disapproved. His fanatical, highly-trained and highly-disciplined killers would blend with the enemy population disguished as merchants or soldiers, awaiting their opportunity. They would then sneak into their target's encampment or palace, and dispatch him with their long daggers. They were known as Hashishin from their habit of smoking hashish, either to generate visions of paradise or to give themselves courage before their (usually fatal) missions. This is the origin of the English word “assassin”.

After earning the undying enmity of most of the rulers of central Asia, Hassan-ibn-Sabbah was forced to retreat with his followers to the inaccessible mountain fortress of Alamout, which was reputed to be impregnable. There he lived to the enormous age of ninety, dying in 1124.

Hassan was succeeded by other grand masters who, like him, used assassination as a political weapon in an attempt to impose their ideas upon Islam. In the 13th century they made the mistake of tangling with Genghis Khan, who in 1255 sent a vast army to capture Alamout, finally stamping out the sect of the Assassins.

Click here to read more how Richard I used the Old Man of the Mountain assassins to remove his opponents.


After reading this article by Isaac Asimov I started to search the origin of the name "the Old Man of the Mountain". It was interesting enough so I decided to share it with you.

Assassination - Isaac Asimov,
Published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October, 1989

Assassination is defined as murder done by stealth, or from ambush, as opposed to a death in open fight, in battle, in a duel, or in a barroom brawl. Somehow, though, assassination has come to be associated with political murders, with the killing of public figures.
In fact, when a public figure is killed, a political motive is usually found for it.
For instance, Harmodius and Aristogeiton were two young Athenian lovers in 514 BC. At the time, Athens was ruled by two brothers, Hippias and Hipparehus, and the Athenians were restive under them. Apparently, Hipparchus was the hypoteneuse of a love triangle and Harmedius and Aristegeiton decided to solve the problem by killing the brothers. They managed to kill Hipparchus, but Hippias survived, grew very nervous and became tyrannical. He saw to it that Harmodius and Aristogeiton were unpleasantly executed, for instance.
Hippias was expelled in 510 B.C., and the Athenians established a democracy. Harmedius and Aris-togeiton were then made into po
litical heroes, and the murder for personal reasons became an idealistic political killing. The grateful Athenians proceeded to put up statues to them as freedom-fight-ers.
In 336 Be, Philip of Macedon was getting married to a new wife. His old wife was going to be shucked off and his son (the later Alexander the Great) was to be disinherited. At the marriage feast, Philip was killed. Everyone thinks the first wife and son planned it. Purely persona, l, but, of course, it had a political effect.
Then there are political killings. When a political figure wins big, an angry loser may decide on revenge--so Marcus Brutus kills Julius Caesar in 44 b.c., and John Wilkes Booth kills Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
But how did all this come to be called "assassination"? Well, toward the end of the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks were doing very well. They beat the Byzantine Empire and took over most of Asia Minor. They also beat the Fatimids of Egypt and took over Syria and Palestine. The Turks and the Fatimids were both Moslems but of different varieties. The Turks were strong Sunnites, and the Fatimids were strong Shiites. The split between them came in 661, only twenty-nine years after Muhammad's death. In that year, Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, was killed. The Shiites supported Ali, the Sunnites opposed him, and the split between them has continued ever since right down to the present day, thirteen and a half centuries later.
With the Sunnite Turks winning big, the Shiites had to do something. The Ismailis were a group of Shiite extremists and one of them, Hasan ibn al-Sabhah, seized a valley in the rough country south of the Caspian Sea (in what is now Iran, as it happens). Ringed by mountains, it was virtually impregnable, and al-Sabbah (as well as each of his successors) became known as "the Old Man of the Mountain."
His followers were trained in absolute loyalty to the Old Man. It is said that he encouraged them to chew hashish, and then explained the drug-imposed hallucinations as visions of heaven--a heaven they would enter immediately, if they fell in the line of duty.
Because of this, the followers of the Old Man of the Mountain were called "Hashishim" ("hashish-smokers"). To Europeans, this became "assassins."
The method of operation of the new sect was simple, if terrifying. They did not act against the common people, or attempt to organize armies. They organized secret agents, instead, whose mission it was to kill rulers, generals, and leaders. They struck at the heart and were virtually unstoppable, since they knew they were going to heaven the moment they were killed while engaged in this task, and therefore made no effort to get away. A killer who is not in the least interested in getting away is almost sure to succeed sooner or later. It is only the difficulty of getting away that complicates most such plans. It is because of the activities of this sect that any political killing is now called an "assassination."
The prime targets of the Assassins were, of course, the Sunnite leaders, although the killers also aimed at those Shiites who were the wrong sort. (It is hard to satisfy an extremist.) Their first great coup was the assassination of Nizam al-Mulik, the vizier Seljuk, in 1092.
He was the most capable of all the Seljuk officials and without him, the kingdom split into fragments that began fighting each other. It couldn't have happened at a worse time, for in 1096 the Crusaders were on their way. They'd have been smashed if Nizam al-Mulik still guided a united Seljuk realm.
While Crusaders and Turks fought it out bloodily, the Assassins dashed nimbly in and out, aiming at both with grim impartiality. The Turks tried to crush the Old Man of the Mountain by military force, but they were easily held off once they entangled themselves in the wild mountain ranges. And while the Assassins defended their fastness, they established subsidiary strongholds in Mseopotamia and Syria. For a century and a half they kept up a unique reign of terror, and no ruler in the Middle East could sleep in security.
What happened to the Assassins? Well, they met their match. In 1206, Genghis Khan unified the Mongol tribes of central Asia and proved to be, perhaps, the greatest military genius of all time. Out of almost nothing, he created unstoppable armies, with a spy service, with communications, with mobility that wasn't matched until the mechanized armies of the twentieth century.
In 1255, a Mongol army under Hulagu Khan, a grandson of Genghis, moved into what is now Iran en route to the great city of Baghdad. They passed the Caspian Sea and they knew all about the Old Man of the Mountain and had no intention of fooling around. Hulagu sent his army swarming into the valley and up the mountains, and simply wiped them out, stronghold after stronghold. The Mongols weren't very pleasant, hut you had to admit they got the job done.
Se you see the role played by religion. You can offer hit men money but that leaves them careful. They want to live and enjoy the money. Offer them heaven and they don't care if they live.
It's not just the Moslems. During the religious wars in Europe, the Netherlands was fighting a long war for independence from Spain. The Netherlanders were Protestant; Spain was Catholic. The Spanish king, Philip II, an extreme Catholic, offered a reward for the assassination of the Netherlandish leader, William the Silent. On July 10, 1584, William was shot by Balthasar Gerard, a Catholic extremist.
Henry III was king of France at the time. He was a Catholic, but the exigencies of polities forced him to move into alliance with Henry of Navarre, a Protestant. That was enough. On August 1, 1589, he was killed by a Catholic extremist, Jacques Clement.
Henry of Navarre eventually became king of France as Henry IV. He turned Catholic in order to qualify, but that wasn't enough. On May 14, 1610, he was killed by a Catholic extremist, Francois Ravaillac.
I don't suppose that we'll ever be able to do anything about the assassination of political leaders. Four American Presidents have been assassinated and there have been failed attempts at several others.
In 1989, however, something new was added. A religious call went out to kill the author of a book that some people found offensive. It was complete with the offer of money and premise of heaven.
Now many books are offensive. One can refuse to read them. One can denounce them. One can demonstrate against them. I can easily (all too easily) imagine books that I would find so offensive I would join · marsh against them.
But it is wrong to attempt to force people not to read it, or use force against the writer. Think what a horrible precedent that would set. Any book, any book at all, is offensive to somebody Or other. If the present threat succeeds, it will encourage future threats of the sort. Think of what a chilling effect that would have on free speech. Even the United States wouldn't remain a haven. What is the defense against fanatics? It takes only one.
Will it become necessary for writers to weigh every word? Is this going to offend the baby-carriage manufacturers? Is that going to offend the pole-vaulters?
A certain well-known Cardinal denounced the book in question and said he would recommend that Catholics not read it because it offended another religion. And of course he was against the threatened murder. However, was he doing the right thing?
Since then, there has been a threat to blow up Dante's tomb be. cause in "The Divine Comedy," he placed in Hell some individuals that are revered by other religions. Would the Cardinal suggest that his flock not read Dante? Is he going to disown the Crusaders? Is he going to disown Philip H of Spain? And how about Torquemada? I find him offensive.
In other words, where does this sort of thing stop?

If you want a friend

It was then that the fox appeared.
"Good morning," said the fox.
"Good morning," the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing.
"I am right here," the voice said, "under the apple tree."
"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."
"I am a fox," the fox said.
"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."
"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.
But, after some thought, he added:
"What does that mean--'tame'?"
"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"
"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean--'tame'?"
"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"
"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean--'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."
"'To establish ties'?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."
"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower . . . I think that she has tamed me . . ."
"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."
"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.
The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.
"On another planet?"
"Are there hunters on that planet?"
"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"
"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.
But he came back to his idea.
"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
"Please--tame me!" he said.
"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."
"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . ."
"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . ."
The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . ."
"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.
"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--
"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."
"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And then he added:
"Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret."
The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.
"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."
And the roses were very much embarrassed.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.
And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."
"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ."
"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

From: “Little Princ” by Antoine de Saint Exupéry