Saturday, April 18, 2009

How the Crap Economy Ate Parkway Theater

Oh, dreads, the contemporary iconic community art house, Park Way Theater (aka Speakeasy) closed down March 22, 2009. A much beloved venue where you can enjoy excellent programming while lounging in one of the cool couches, sipping on beer and chomping on pizza. Built for $200,000 in 1925 by the The Golden State Theatre Group, this historical building has at various times showed live vaudeville, Chinese opera and even porn. Architect Mark T. Jorgensen's eclectic design includes Spanish Renaissance influences in the exterior with a mixture of Egyptian and East Indian motifs for the interior.

Abandoned in the less than desirable neighborhood along Parkway Blvd,
owners Catherine and Kyle revived it in 1997. It quickly morphed into all that represents Oakland showing everything from B-horror movies to second run films and hosting festivals ranging from educational porn to the African diaspora. More recently, they showed TV extravaganzas like the inauguration, the Oscars and the Super Bowl.

The bad economy, torn relations with the landlords and possibly expanding too quickly may have hastened the closing of this phenomenal space. But, as it is much loved, the Oakland community have come together in an effort to save it. This effort inludes the Facebook group that is growing in the thousands. Hopefully the momentum will wield positive results. I have made my contribution and hope others will help with the cause.

Watch the Fischers say their goodbyes below.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama's New Puppy : Loki Lookalike

The Obamas just received their 6-month-old puppy as a "gift" from Sen. Ted Kennedy. Named Bo, this Portuguese Water Dog has very similar markings to my darling Loki. Bo is pictured below with a lei and Loki is to the right.

More Portuguese Water Dog puppies.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quefing for Gender Equality?

Recently, South Park dedicated a whole episode to quefes. What is a quefe you ask? Well, to put it mildly, heck, there's no mild way to put it -- it's when air escapes the vagina causing a sound. This onomatopoeia historically embarrasses the heck out of women. Often mistaken as a fart, thus it's nickname, "*ussy fart," quefs can also connote being loose down there.

So, the boys at South Park decided quefing, like farts, should not be shunned but rather celebrated. They strongly implied it empowers women, if for nothing else, to have something as silly as farts to torment the opposite sex. Though I can see the point behind the humor, I personally think it's a human issue and not just a woman's issue. We ALL fart, and women quef. It's natural and actually, pretty damn funny. So, there should be a global movement to do away with prudes and let our bodies be free. What do you think?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

YouTube vs Hulu

I wrote last year about how Hulu is the future of entertainment. At that time, Hulu had licensing and financial support from NBC and Fox. They are rumored to shortly secure Disney which includes ABC programming. This along with cable networks like E and SciFi, Hulu has graduated to a verb, as in Hulu-ing.

Naturally Hulu was compared to YouTube, one has quality and legal programming while the later was plagued with copyright infringements. When I saw Hulu on YouTube, I thought, "Ah, good idea. That makes sense." After all, YouTube is still king/queen of destination sites, along with their parent company, Google, so it seemed like a win-win situation (check out graph below). However, it appears YouTube is not satisfied with just showing Hulu, they also want to BE Hulu.

Starting April 16, YouTube will abandon its current navigation scheme -- which funnels users into "videos," "channels," and "community. It will be replaced with a new design offering four tabs: Movies, Music, Shows, and Videos. The idea is to highlight professional movies and TV shows with commercials and sponsors. It's a good idea to copy damn brilliant user interface design and commendable to follow a solid business plan, but it's a mistake to try to be Hulu, and I'll tell you why.

I love YouTube, I do. I think it's totally empowering for random people to upload their rants or whatever else they deem important. Shit, I do it all the time as part of my hopeless endeavor to be a weblebrity, but that's another story. Back to YouTube, I also appreciate how it's evolved to include quality programming with the likes of channels such as sXephil and communitychannel.

sXephil is the brainchild of 23-year-old med school drop out (or did he ever get in), Philip DeFranco. His 3 minute average, whip smart(ass) remarks about society is freakin' insightful beyond his years. His best stuff are blatant (but sarcastic) racist remarks and condemsation of the Catholic church. communitychannel is another example of original programming by ordinary people like you and me. Aussie tart, Natalie Tran, has some crazy-ass "situational" skits where she plays all the characters. Her clips now always includes wise-cracking "your mum" jokes and features viewer comments with porno background music! Plus she has mad editing skills and enough humor to bust any gut.

YouTube should concentrate on cultivating these talents instead of acting like greedy bastards in a hopeless game of catch-up with Hulu for TV and film programming. It seems rather than leading the pact in the evolution of web entertainment, YouTube is experiencing a hard case of identity crisis. This leads to poor business plans and disappointing "upgrades."

As huge fans of both Hulu and YouTube, I wish them both the best during this period of growth and change. Your thoughts?

Kaiju Scary Beasts Hit the Big Screen - Big Man Japan

Out in theaters this May will be "Big Man Japan." Described as the Japanese "Hancock," it is about a pathetic middle-aged coward with the unfortunate ability of transforming into a giant man. In Godzilla-like form, he fights off Kaiju, or beasts, that resemble the uber popular scary Japanese toys based on manga characters. However, the citizens think he's a joke and even call him "fat." In a mocumentary style, this film parodies some of our favorite Saturday Japanese monster flicks. I look forward to it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Domestic Violence - How to End It?

Seems with recent media exposure of domestic violence, in particular the Chris Brown beating of Rihana, this issue is staying in the news. In fact, I don't know why it is not reported more frequently. Keira Knightley recently acted in a harsh video about the issue.

This is not something we just see on the movie screens. So many of us have been victims of or witnesses to many forms of domestic violence. Here are some startling statistics for you.

It is common:
Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. Of people who report sexual violence, 64% of women and 16% of men were raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. This includes a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date.

It's fatal:
In the year 2000, 1247 women and 440 men were murdered by an intimate partner in the United States – compared to 1357 men and 1600 women in 1976 and around 1300 women in 1993.

For rape:
  • 13% of adult women had been victims of completed rape during their lifetime
  • 22% of rape victims were assaulted by someone they had never seen before or did not know well.
  • 9% of victims were raped by husbands or ex-husbands.
  • 11% were raped by fathers or stepfathers.
  • 10% were raped by boyfriends or ex-boyfriends.
  • 16% were raped by other relatives.
  • 29% were raped by other non-relatives, such as friends and neighbors.

It affects all ethnic/national groups:
Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18. In a study of African-American sexual assault survivors, only 17% reported the assault to police.

For Asian American women, in a Bay Area research, 81.1% reported experiencing at least one form of intimate partner violence (domination/controlling/psychological, physical, and/or sexual abuse as categorized by the researchers) in the past year.

It affects all ages:
Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

According to the best available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for protection.

As startling as the statistics are and universal the problem, domestic violence persists. How is this possible is up for much investigation. It it institutions including religions groups that promote gender control, or society that has yet to be outraged by it, or individuals who cannot break out of their own "cages"? Possibly it's all of the above.

My brother-in-law, who happens to run the only program in the nation specifically addressing the perpetrators, mostly male, said to me,
"It doesn't matter your race, age, class or even education. You can be smart with all the money in the world and still be a domestic violence victim. So much of it is also the mental prisons women keep themselves in." This is well exemplified in a footage above of a beating on the streets of Viet Nam captured by an on-looker. As the voice over states, "Even in the 21st century, women have not found equality. Women endure beatings because they don't know a way out and think they are protecting their family."

Your thoughts?