McFee's Musings

January 29, 2010


Filed under: Culture & Entertainment — dwightmcfee @ 3:59 am

Well I caved. My spouse Cayle Chernin and I succumbed, paid our twelve-fifty and saw the box office boffo of the winter of 2010. To give AVATAR it’s due – it is an achievement technically. At times stunning, beautiful and even magical. CGI comes into adulthood.

Yet through the ‘event’: the bad guy Industrial/Military/Corporate complex, the good guy Indigenous/Nature/Sacred Society, the naive/outsider/ lovers narrative, I was seldom believing in the allegory/parable/fairy tale. At four hundred million dollars I have to ask why?

The theme. Greed, rapaciousness. Respect for the ‘mother’ earth. Acceptance and understanding of the ‘other’. All laudable intentions. Delivered with a technical trick and shallowness that leaves a viewer disturbed that these ethical question’s; greed, treatment of our environment and attitude to our fellow ‘man’, will lose the seriousness that these issues deserve. After all this is 2010 not 1952. Is this a video game or the under twelves Bambi?

Mr. Cameron has thrown just about every myth into the CGI generator from Yahweh to Sinbad, David and Goliath to Jason and the Argonauts, Sin, Redemption, Revenge…to Warcraft.

In fairness, what is Mr. Cameron really trying to say about the world? This movie required a Hurculean effort to bring this off so he must have had cause. Is it that battles have to be fought in this world for truth? That corporate power, in this instance a mining corporation making 20 million dollars a kilo on a mineral or metal with the mother lode under THE TREE, can be stopped? That love conquers all? That wisdom resides in the mystical Shaman or woman of the ‘Tribe’? Or that the atavism of the mercenary ‘tribe’, in this instance a Duvallian colonel relishing factors of force and genocide, is the AVATAR for the corporation? The hanging question at the end of the film is: good on the Blue People for vanquishing the Dream People (dream what? gold, peace, knowledge, genocide) but at 20 million a kilo. you bet they’ll be back dreaming, with more firepower irrespective of how many dragons or prayers to Ewie are made. Sequel anybody?

There seems to be something for everybody. The scene of thousands at the Soul tree, singing and swaying to the drums in unison ( the music is manipulative) called to mind the fifties mega cinescope white Egyptians dancing for the Pharaoh and the Roman General, there are a few Busby Berkley numbers, the requisite flash cutting Top Gun battles and Crouching Tiger knife fights and the Hero taming the giant dragon like animal with a name that sounded like Muqtador. And then the Blue People defeat the U.S. like military. That’s when I turned to my wife and said quietly, “even Osama can use this”. Is this movie about defeating the invaders?

This movie will be seen around the world. What will people take away from this Mega effort?

In surveying some younger people than I, the response varied from “it was just like the Warcraft Game…cool” to ” It has a message”.

It was to facile, calculated and remote for me. I wanted to roll with it but it kept stopping me with a certain technical smugness. A ‘here you want a battle scene. watch this. Here you want a message, well maybe I think this too. This scene is for the corporate boy’s.’

And in the end, I think Mr. Cameron for all his abundant craft, cleverness and skill has conquered form. Mr. Cameron has learned to take heartbreak, loss, tragedy and the human spirit in films like TITANIC and AVATAR and turn great themes into sentimental, hackneyed stories with great inventive CGI and emotion qued music.

January 21, 2010

Obama One year Later: Part One

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 4:19 pm

What began with high expectations has now become mired in disappointment. The United States political landscape loves to  put roadblocks in front of any social welfare. A system built on self interest and injustice cloaked in economese and religeo-military ideology under a bastardized deliberate misunderstanding of freedom and democracy continues to gut itself in front of the world.

Mr. Obama was intended to be the candidate of change. The agent of the ‘people’. The opprobrium that has been heaped upon him by the far right christian dominionist cults with in the congress, the corporate think tanks that line lobbyist way have done an excellent job re-directing the anger and disappointment of the population onto the Obama shoulders irrespective of the horror’s that were thrust upon him coming into office: re: economic meltdown, wars, environmental degradation, joblessness, and the total breakdown of the civil society.

Mr. Obama is  a thoughtful pragmatic consensus builder by nature and experience. A community organizer, a constitutional lawyer and a brilliant orator. However he lives in a country that demands action NOW. Assuming the office he is now responsible for all past and current policies, whether they were enacted by the christian, military or market fundamentalists or not. That certainly is what the ‘right’ in America have been able to do. Obama has been tagged and stuck with being everything from an abortionist, Islamo-fascist, racist, socialist and every other ‘ist’ you can think of.

One of the six rules of politics is: Whatever your doing that is devious tag the other guy with it. Seriously looking at the last year that has been the strategy of the right. Create overwhelming deficits: Obama did it. Bail out banks: He did it. Immigrants: Obama is intent on killing the white race. And we can go on about many issues culminating with the Health Care Act: Deficits. Facts don’t get in the way of the assaults for the Glen Beck’s and the Rush Limbaugh’s and the Joseph Coor’s and the Mitch McConnell’s.

While we all like to see some kind of attempted harmony and compromise in the deliberation’s of public policy in our parliament’s and congress’s, we seem to be living in an age of desperate power grabbing exemplified by the Greed Merchants of wall street.

And this is where Mr. Obama lost the backing of  the population. Having the foxes in charge of the hen house without applying severe payback and regulation was a major mistake. Perceived as not being one of them, Mr. Obama, by acceding to George Bush’s direction became one of ‘them’. In America it has, will and always will be the great unifier: The ‘OTHER’. It’s what unifies a fractious country. There always has to be the other to be fearful of. It’s the glue that keeps racism, classism, eliteism, anti-intellectualism alive. That and a myth so ingrained as to be genetic: You to can be a millionaire.

Mr. Obama, after the election but before the inaugeration, in deference to the lame duck incumbent and to the wall street money in his campaign went along with the fiasco and lost his base. He did not believe enough that his base would go through a depression to change and assign accountability for the America they saw had gone off the tracks, as the world around them were so aware.

With the continuation of this policy,  the appointment of  Geitner at Treasury, Summers at the White House and the endorsement of Barnake at the Fed, Obama, perhaps unwittingly institutionalized the ‘to Big to Fail’ doctrine as well as the socialization of debt and the privitization of profit ideology that the true America, Corporate America, had been working towards for three decades.

PART 2 to follow: The Right Wing and the Media Murder of American Idealism.

January 16, 2010


Filed under: Quotes & Ideas — dwightmcfee @ 6:23 am

We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness,

which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from

which we come at last to regard the world.

                                                                                 MARCEL PROUST


Filed under: Quotes & Ideas — dwightmcfee @ 6:16 am

A talent for speaking differently, rather than for arguing well,

is the chief instrument of cultural change.

                                                                               Richard Rorty

Open Letter to Mr. Harper

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 5:53 am


This open letter was sent to the blog by my brilliant sister Cynthia Dutkiewicz which I thought should be shared. After all for us over fifty zoomers a million sounds great! 
Dear Mr. Harper,
Please find below my suggestion for fixing  Canada ‘s economy. Instead of giving billions of dollars to banks and car companies, that will squander
the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan:
There are about 20 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
 1) They MUST retire.  Twenty million job openings – Unemployment fixed.
 2) They MUST buy a new Canadian CAR.  Twenty million cars ordered –
 Auto Industry fixed.
 3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing
 Crisis fixed.
 4) They must send their kids to school / college /university – Crime
 rate fixed
 5) Buy $50 of alcohol / tobacco / petrol a week… there’s your money
 back in duty / tax etc
It can’t get any easier than that!

January 14, 2010

channel 13, the curtains, and me by Columpa Bobb

Filed under: Poet's Pot Pouri — dwightmcfee @ 6:15 am

This is a good friend, actress, teacher, activist’s latest which we hear at the blog found a full cup of anguish, anger, love and searing searching. Columpa Bobb take it away…


channel 13, the curtains, and me

The wind throws up inebriated air like a poetically pathetic barfly on a tear
licking though the pain at the dirty drapes hanging bare,
the tempests howl and the black box pyre’s remotely flared
with an unwanted undaunted haunted beam
and the T.V. blue rages on, selling bleaching creme,
an innocent dreamand youth in a tube
while a lude-n-crude-tattooed-n-rude dude
is Tony Hawking shoes on a sk8bored man
and o-m-G IC u rrsp-n about mebehind that Rockwell
Warhol Hollywood tin man brand name whore red soup can
gonna sell me the spotlight as a bling bling ding-a-ling hollow yes man
It’s almost enough to drown out my Kah-ranial-does-it-grey-matter
It’s almost enough to radiate my heart in HDTVR I P-p-pretty people pixel smatter
and the plastique a/v deep-lied KFC money grabbing montage batters me,
until the only things left alive are the loose legged curtains
and a High def’ning ssssssscheme
And me, I wish I could forget how to breathe as my heels click
and I flick-flick-flick through the tiny green screen,
trying like hell not to kill my own damn scream

Columpa C. Bobb

January 13, 2010

A Reading List for the Winter

Filed under: Reading List — dwightmcfee @ 6:28 am
( To be intermittently updated )
John Ralston Saul: A FAIR COUNTRY  &  The DOUBTER”S COMPANION – a dictionary of aggressive   
common sense
 Tom Paulin: The Secret Life of POEMS
Stephen Henighan: A Report on the Afterlife of Culture: When words deny the world.

Paul Muolo and Mathew Padilla: Chain of Blame

McChesney: The Political Economy of the Media

Ravi Batra: Greenspan’s Fraud

Jimmy Carter: We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land

Peter Urmetzer: Globalization Unplugged

Robert O. Collins: A History of Modern Sudan

Paul Collier: Wars, Guns, and Votes

Paul Palango: Dispersing the Fog (RCMP)

David Spaner: Dreaming in the Rain (How Vancover became Hollywood North)

Hans Fallada: Every Man Dies Alone

Michael Signer: Demagogue: The fight to save democracy from it’s worst enemy

Michael J. Panzer: When Giants Fall (an excuse for apocalyptic greed)

Stephen Swartz: The Other Islam

Clancy Martin (edited by): The Philosophy of Deception

Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman: ENOUGH, Why the world’s poorest starve in an age of plenty

Suzanne Simon: Master Of War: Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and the business of war

T.C.F. Hopkins: Empires, Wars, and Battles The Middle East from Antiquity to the rise of the New World (Ancient roots of conflict)

Godfrey Hodgson: The Myth of American Exceptionalism

Peter Maass: Crude World, The Violent Twilight of Oil

Gordon Hempton: One Sguare Inch of Silence ( Silence )

Willem Vogelsang: The Afgans

Dragan Todorovic: Diary of interrupted Days ( Fiction re: Yugoslavia in the 90’s )

Cleo Paskal: Global Warring. How environmental, economic and political crisis will redraw the map of    the world.

Check my friend’s site at

Mr King and the Preacher

Filed under: Quotes & Ideas — dwightmcfee @ 6:13 am

Mr. King ended his Hawaii speech by quoting a prayer from a preacher who had once been a slave, and it’s an apt description of the idea of America today: “Lord, we ain’t what we want to be; we ain’t what we ought to be; we ain’t what we gonna be, but, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”

January 12, 2010

Steven Harper Pro-Rogue

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 1:13 am

Much is crossing the MSM, Facebook and the blogosphere condemning the parliamentary manoeuver ( prorogueing ) as well as writers condemning the condemning for their ignorance of the historical prerogative of the Prime Minister to –  Pro-Rogue this session. But both viewpoints are only concerned with the form. The content is the context in this particular proroguing.

It’s disingenuous for the Prime Minister to offer as the prime reason for ending this session of parliament the cynical excuse of having to re-examine the governments course, in effect the mandate of his government. Mandate’s are given by  citizen’s after an airing in an election.

The Prime Minister using the obvious  politics of division has the opposition cornered. The Liberals and the NDP have not advanced practical yet visionary policies for the Canadian Peoples to coalesce into a force for a Canadian Democracy. The Prime Minister will continue to wear the sheep’s clothing of populism. He must be exposed as the corporate wolf until a vision of a fair, forward and fearless country can be articulated.

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