MEEK AT THE MOVIES : THE COUNSELLOR ( 2.5 stars )

Counsellor

^ mixed up shook up bad gals and bad guys : including Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz in Ridley Scott’s “The Counsellor”

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Not so long ago the Coen Brothers deviated from their usually quirky fare and wove a hard-boiled yarn about lawmen and criminals playing it loose and lethal as they pursued an elusive satchel of money back and forth across the Southwest border.  The basis for that masterpiece came from the laconic and acerbic prose of Cormac McCarthy’s similarly titled novel, “No Country for Old Men.” And in an odd and intriguing, first time move, the scribe, for iconic director Ridley Scott (“Alien” and “Blade Runner”), has delivered his first original screenplay. The result is full of pointed soliloquies, diatribes imbued with philosophy and poetry and even daubs of philosophy regarding poetry; but the mainstays, of course, are protracted dissertations on death and destiny, followed invariably by death.

Just as in “No Country” the plot is driven by an accidental anti-hero ensnared in a macabre web of underworld misdoings. In short, McCathy has cooked up an assured rearrangement of “No Country.” It’s not on par by any means, but it is entertaining. And, if you haven’t gotten enough of him lately, Michael Fassbender tackles the eponymous role (that’s all he’s ever called), as a square-jawed, fashionably stoic defender, who, while very dapper and upper crust, has a litany  of unsavory clients. One, an imprisoned mama kingpin (Rosie Perez put a lot of pizzazz into the brief role), asks him to pay a fine for her son who’s in jail for a traffic violation (going over 200 mph). He reluctantly complies, but doesn’t know that the kid is involved in a scheme to hi-jack a 20 million dollar drug shipment. Which doesn’t matter, because by sheer association he’s now considered one of the brains behind the ever expanding plot.

Zanies and assassins from every corner of the muted desert town start to drift up. And, if the similarities to “No Country” haven’t hit you over the head at this point, Javier Bardem drops in for good measure as the shady club operator who has a few nascent business dealings with the Counsellor. Bardem’s real life wife, Penelope Cruz, shows up too, as the Councilor’s betrothed, but she’s mostly just garnish and a bargaining chip. The real feminine fire power comes from the gams of Cameron Diaz as the high priestess of the Southwest gangland. She’s flip, enjoys Gucci and Prada and doesn’t value life too much, and, if she so desires it, she’ll fuck a Ferrari (no joke).

Brad Pitt’s in the mix too as another shady sort who advises the Counsellor on how to get his neck out of the noose, but his role, like Cruz’s, feels more ornamental than substantive and perhaps somewhere out there, there’s  a studio exec who thought it would be devilish fun to release Pitt and Fassbender in this western noir the same week the pair appeared in the more serious, “12 Years a Slave”–celluloid buddies to save the day at the box office?

The problem with “The Counsellor” isn’t so much the every twisting and inward folding machinations that keep the engine humming. That works quite well, the problem is that none of these people are likable and Fassbender’s Counsellor is such a stiff, you never really give a rat’s ass if he gets offed or not. But the film looks great. Scott has always been a visual stylist and really summons up the dusty milieu with artistic elan.  McCarthy too packs it with some rich treasures and a potpourri of indelible underlings. Heads roll (literally) and the stash of drugs is carted around a septic truck that from time to time gets shot up and re-patched so that the shit don’t stink. That’s the wicked type of fun “Counsellor” has. It’s not much, but it clicks along just enough.

— Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies

BOSTON MAYOR : ADDITION, NOT SUBTRACTION

Image

^ addition versus subtraction ? Politics at its most basic lesson

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My friend Dan Winslow, an insurgent, civil rights Republican to whose US Senate campaign I consulted before gearing up Here and Sphere, liked to say to me, “addition, not subtraction.” Every time I groused about our campaign finding favor with this or that constituency whose agenda or outlook I disagreed with, he would say it to me : “Addition, not subtraction.”

Winslow has since left the State Legislature — a huge loss for imaginative politics in Massachusetts and for a constructive GOP — but his observation remains so true. In our democracy of many, many communities, interests, and individuals, the successful campaign draws from many people different. More singly defined campaigns tend otherwise. There are so, so many voters; hardly any single interest can compass more than a small portion. It’s a losing situation in almost all cases. And once the “everybody else” begin to not see themselves within that single interest, the single interest campaign is cooked.

In this election, there is a single interest campaign almost feral in its singularity. Martin Walsh is a fine, fine man, and a hero of civil rights and personal struggle. By no means should any one disparage him. His friends follow him passionately : that says a whole lot. But as a candidate — on the large picture — he has defined single interest politics. He is a labor leader, labor unions are his career, his expertise, his theme, his following. Articulate he is — though not in debate — and, on many issues, extremely well informed. But everywhere he goes it is palpable that his goals are labor union goals. Labor union’s goals are not, however, everybody’s. Union labor comprises about 14 % of Boston voters. That is a mighty small minority. And the City’s wisest labor leaders know it. They know that if union labor is to advance it must join with other constituencies, other interests, and add to a coalition, not stand alone.

Marty Walsh has worked tirelessly in his campaign to attract other interests. He addresses arts issues, school issues, diversity, interfaith, even innovation; has commissioned 40 position papers, 37 of which his campaign reports are now written; has won to his side many politicians from Boston’s communities of color plus some State Legislators and two Boston Congressmen. Clearly he knows that without allies, his labor union following cannot win.

Walsh has bet the farm, that his outreach will not expose labor’s numerical weakness. This is to risk a lot.

He has allowed labor unions to become a major issue in this campaign; and that is bad for labor unions ; because labor unions aren’t exactly popular with most of the public, even in Massachusetts. Strikes send an unpleasant message of intimidation and intransigence. Take the school bus drivers’ walkout, for example. Yes, Walsh condemned it. But the impression made was not an untrue one. Everyone also remembers the Verizon strike, with its images of angry picketers and stories of vandalism. Nor have Boston’s public worker unions exactly made friends and influenced people. Arbitrators’ awards that risk the City’s finances and portend cuts in other City services make City unions look militantly selfish. Same too for the Boston Teachers’ Union (BTU), which so far refuses to accept that school transformation will happen and that it would be better to help forge it rather than doggedly resist it.

Walsh rejects none of it. How can he ?

Thus his campaign has put labor unions under public scrutiny, in all their stubbornness, their resistance to change, their adversary attitude to everybody else. The passion, the heavy-handedness, the rush of politicians to get with Walsh because they don’t want to break with labor — all of it has been a disaster for labor because it has engendered criticism of labor unions from people who would not have gone down that road, and because those criticisms have now become the common perception.

Labor actually emerges weaker from this campaign than had Walsh not become a candidate. As the respected leader of a powerful force in the city, Walsh had enormous influence. As a candidate, he has risked that influence upon a pitiless test : the judgment of the voters.

ALL the voters.

Meanwhile, John Connolly keeps on adding to his following the “everybody else” who are not members of City labor unions or followers of Walsh’s labor-allied office holders.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

OUR 5 YEAR OLD’s GETTING MANDATORY SEX-ED?

Passed in Chicago Mandated Sexual Education for Kindergartners is like a cold case file. It was a heated debate at the start of the school year, only to make NO headlines since. Outraged as a parent vs my abstract — usually unbiased journalism side, I decided to ask around our area — the south coast, for input on the matter. Here is the result of the things combined above……..

Background 150 people were polled at random, 125 men 125 women from all social, financial, sexual, and political — as well as age brackets. With such diversity in our surveyed pool — for sure there would be a fairly decent ratio of No vs Pro Sex-Ed for 5 yr old’s, RIGHT? WRONG, instead we found that actually only 2% agreed with the idea. When it was revealed that this law had already been passed — AND — became effective in Chicago IL. Public School Systems THIS YEAR……Our polled parties were beside themselves, some angry, others terrified — but ALL posing the question –“But HOW could parents ANYWHERE allow schools to take over like that?” THE QUESTION and ANSWERS posed later in this article  seemed to silence all. If only for a few minutes of self-reflection, and deep thought. As the school year approached, and parents began to hustle for last-minute needs and supplies — parents of kindergartners were preparing in a whole different way. For many,this would be your first year with your baby/ babies in the “trusted hands” of the public school system. This year would begin your journey into uncharted territory — full of unknowns, unthinkable’s,proud moments, and those Kodak Captured milestones — as parents you knew were going to come eventually. Yet the moment that matters is the moments you were living. The moments where you as a parent were in complete control of the outcome. Then you find yourself at that pivotal moment in time — where it stands still — and you realize THIS IS WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT… Letting go……Handing the reigns, even if only for 6 hours a day –over to someone else. This was the time you loosen your tight grasp, slowly disengaging your entangled hands — and allowing your child to go into the world and BEGIN to learn……Begin to grow into their own….Begin the next chapter of their life’s storybook. BUT DID YOU CONSIDER FOR ONE MOMENT — THAT YOUR BARELY SELF-SUFFICIENT, AUTONOMOUS, FREEWHEELING  5 YR OLD  WOULD BE ((MANDATED)) TO HAVE SEXUAL EDUCATION TAUGHT TO HIM OR HER??  Didn’t think so….. Well parent’s of Chicago IL. kindergartners got just that. A reworked, updated curriculum — with a mandated sex-ed course starting in kindergarten. Chicago Public School or CPS officials say that the “sex ed curriculum will use age-appropriate language to teach children the correct names of body parts” ———-Are they serious? ” Okay yes CPS, that’s just a brilliant idea — I mean screw the part where what “we as a family unit and PARENTS of said children think or feel — HELL, as long as they are not calling their “thingy” a D**k, and she doesn’t really think the name of her “bubbles” are boobs BY ALL MEANS GO AHEAD…….” In the same statement CPS says it’s curriculum will teach the kids about “bullying, and the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.” — ????????????????????? (Okay maybe were way off base here but I’m pretty sure any GOOD PARENT, has had the basic what is okay and what’s not conversation as soon as possible with their child/children. The one’s who haven’t either felt no need “yet” or — at the other end of the spectrum should not be parent’s at all, perhaps more focus on that end would be better than telling “OUR” children things that cross lines. Lines put in place to separate what the public see’s and feels is RIGHT or OKAY — versus how ANY other household may view these  subjects. After looking through comments and quotes made to the press, and even general statements and press releases — made by everyone from the CPS to (SIECUS) better known as Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States — a reoccurring barely noticeable trend was emerging. In EVERY statement about the curriculum — there always seemed to be loosely used terms poignant enough as to redirect the reader’s attention. We will demonstrate as we move on. Right now we will redirect you ourselves back to our polled people. After confronting them with the question — and the rebuttal they gave (see top for refreshing.) The question was then posed…… Who did you vote for in the last 2 elections? obama its the right thing to do Our polled  group  made up of 47%  republican(only 23% of which conservative republicans) — 45% Democrat (30% of which considering themselves liberal democrats) — and the other 8% being an undisclosed or chose not to identify with either party.  When revealed that they had ALL except 11% voted for President Obama — it was actually quite startling. Ages 18-65 — married, single, divorced, separated — poverty-stricken to wealthy — childless to hands full, and /or expecting — ONE COMMON DENOMINATOR — ALL VOTED OBAMA! Now what does Obama have to do with any of this you may wonder? Well our participant’s did too. The answer is not at all black and white, cut and dry, with very little grey area — actually the more we researched the more we discovered how very deeply into “the grey” this subject is.  Yet Obama does factor in and here is how, In 2003 Barack Obama supported even “pushed” for the proposal of mandated sex-ed for kindergartners — he went on to continue defending his stand on this matter, when running for president in 2008’s election cycle. In 2003 Obama who was the then chairperson for the SIECUS committee, voted in favor of a bill (SB99) or Senate Bill 99 — that suggested making changes to the existing Illinois sex-ed law which at the time required instruction for grades 6-12 that included topics like AIDS how it is transmitted, spread, and how to prevent it. Illinois law also said “schools must teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.” SB99 would have eliminated all mention of marriage in the Illinois sex-ed code. It would have REQUIRED that all material used in classrooms be “age and developmentally appropriate, and medically accurate”. AND PAUSE — here is one example of A.) SPIN, and B.) Redirection from the main point. The main point here is that because heterosexual monogamous marriage is not the only kind of relationship it was discarded and no longer worthy of respect and honor. Also the fact that  “age and developmentally appropriate, and medically accurate.”materials be REQUIRED well (sigh of relief) for a second we thought by trying to veer away from the point of teaching our 5 year old’s sex-ed — AND, taking away ALL mention of marriage, and attempting to redirect our focus — whereby putting us at ease with words like age-appropriate, and medically correct — just might have been the goal. (PHEW glad we cleared that up)……. Age-appropriate….Developmentally-appropriate….Medically-Correct — Here is where it gets sticky…. Who decides what age is appropriate? Is it the same age for everyone? (Especially since males supposedly mature slower than females.) What about the special education students? Or how the term medically correct actually means anatomically correct and human body accuracy. Who is the deciding voice? Who has come into OUR homes and asked OUR “opinion” on what our children are taught? Who asked the parents of these little ones what their beliefs — religious, or otherwise are? class of kids ((CRICKETS))??? Thought so. The SB99 bill — even with Obama’s support and push as he called it, DID NOT PASS in 2003. However here are some highlights to keep in mind. Here is a video from a Planned Parenthood convention on July 17th, 2007 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in D.C. A “peer educator” in the D.C. public school system asked the then U.S. Senator Obama what his intentions where regarding the continued pushing forth with the teaching of “medically accurate, age-appropriate, and responsible sex-ed”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zQryISazAc Obama proclaims with much conviction that “SEX-ED FOR KINDERGARTNERS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!” Obama is seen in this video joking about Alan Keys a running mate using the truth that “Obama had worked with Planned Parenthood to pass a bill on the topic mentioned above about sex-ed for our 5 year old’s — during the time he served in the Illinois state legislature. Again the terms “science-based, fact-based, age-appropriate etc, are tossed around so freely. But as our polls indicate in (Many if not the majority of households here in the south coast and across the U.S. — sex-ed is NOT something that is taken so lightly. Not every household whether by dynamic or religion, or other variable sees this as a topic to be discussed or even touched upon at such a young and possibly detriment causing age. In many households sex-ed is a “FAMILY MATTER”and should not be left in the hands of teachers unfamiliar with each family the curriculum may affect. Key wording would be Family Matter.” Sex-ed at ANY level at this age is usually discussed at an age and time frame a family / parent’s have deemed appropriate” says one Chicago mother of three. Megan Morrow: ” I am pissed the hell off she tells Here and Sphere. I am a mother happily married — my husband of 9 years is in the military, active duty at the moment. Our youngest child is adopted, he is 5. We adopted him when my sister passed away when he was 1 month old. We have not told him ALL of his story yet! ((she sobs)) ……. The new curriculum teaches them all about the different family dynamics and “types of families” including adoption…… “Why some kids look nothing like their “parents”etc. Our son adopted or not has bright red hair — his fathers genes were clearly dominant — the rest of our family are dark-haired, olive complected, dark-eyed….((more sobs)) — he is a very bright child he will know.” she exclaimed…. “I don’t want to play beat the clock to tell him first, unprepared with my husband lands away — ITS JUST NOT FAIR…… There are so many similar stories it is heart breaking. Delving deeper into the curriculum we dug up a “teacher’s memo” showing things no media outlet has even touched on. Such as our 5 year old’s spongy little brains  may be just test subjects in a 7 year implementation of curriculum — developed to assess if it has low-mid-high or no impact on  Chicago’s nationally higher documented STD and underage, unwed pregnancy rate among K-12 graders. The “teacher’s memo” consists of these sentences:

  • Part of the National multi-year Evaluation of Adolescent pregnancy prevention approaches funded by the office of Adolescent Health U.S. Department of Health and Human services.
  • Conducted by Mathematica Policy RESEARCH.

Here is the link you be the judge — http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/assets/ppa_chicago_implementation_report.pdf When researching for a broader opinion and/ or more facts regarding the curriculum — we also happened upon Thinkprogress.org — they seemed to have a very non-surprising, conservative bashing, liberal take on the matter. A quote from the article found on their site reads: “So what’s at the root of all this concern? What kind of salacious details will Chicago’s youngest student’s be receiving, thanks to the new sex-ed guidelines? What does Obama want to force kindergartners to sit through?” Well for starters now that the bill has passed this year, it reads much like the SIECUS curriculum. Mandating instruction to our Kindergarten classes on things such as same-sex relationships, appropriate touching, correct terminology for anatomy. “Students will take a look at the different types of family structures that exist in today’s society” and  “When discussing same-sex relationships — we will use non-graphic terms” —— AGAIN let me point out the sugar-coating “non-graphic terms” (OH I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER)……Not remotely….. Using these what may be age-appropriate or non-graphic terminology to some — may be a whole other overwhelming, mind-blowing, and startling thing to a 5-year-old who has already had to endure the harsh truth of war, drug overdoses by parents, or family members and the list goes on………BUT WHERE DOES THIS ALL STOP? ENOUGH with the diversion tactics the smoke and mirrors, street magician bullshit –(bring your attention HERE……….and if we are lucky enough you won’t see what we are up to over…………..HERE, HELL we might even get you on board the very train you wanted to derail…..Right? After all is said and done the fact remains that it is only a matter of time before Massachusetts and Rhode Island legislature attempt this in our homes , Cities, Towns, States, are you in the know? Where do you stand we want to hear from you? Comment, share, ask around these ARE OUR CHILDREN AFTER ALL………. sexed Written by: Heather Cornell of Here and Sphere hereandsphereprofileshot

OUR 5 yr OLD’S MANDATED TO HAVE SEX ED?

The Local Vocal

Passed in Chicago Mandated Sexual Education for Kindergartners is like a cold case file. It was a heated debate at the start of the school year, only to make NO headlines since. Outraged as a parent vs my abstract — usually unbiased journalism side, I decided to ask around our area — the south coast, for input on the matter. Here is the result of the things combined above……..

Background

150 people were polled at random, 125 men 125 women from all social, financial, sexual, and political — as well as age brackets. With such diversity in our surveyed pool — for sure there would be a fairly decent ratio of No vs Pro Sex-Ed for 5 yr old’s, RIGHT?

WRONG, instead we found that actually only 2% agreed with the idea. When it was revealed that this law had already been passed — AND — became effective in Chicago IL. Public…

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