Monthly Archives: April 2005

Big Winner

Well hot damn! The fundraising for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life is in full swing at the office. I’ve bought a king’s ransom of raffle tickets, lunch plates, fruit cups, fundraiser tickets for the last month.

Sanyo SPC-8100Today it paid off in spades. Check out my brand new cell phone baby! Bought a ticket just after lunch, and a couple hours later I got the call to come pick it up. Oh yeah, a brand new Sanyo SPC-8100 camera-phone, ready and waiting. Stopped off at IT&E on the way home, plopped down some cash for a prepaid wireless card, and I got a new phone, sucka’s.

So expect a flurry of blurry, drunken pictures in the next few weeks as I take my new toy out on the town and get silly with it. Maybe I’ll start photographing random slappings. I’m looking for any volunteers… Wes, I’m thinking of you. How about a trip back to Guam for a little slap dash fun?

This phone was a fortuitous windfall. My current phone sucks and I’ve never been happy with it. I was thinking of dropping it in a few months, once GTA goes with GSM phones and all that crap, but I’m willing to use IT&E instead. Hell, this is a cool little phone, and I’m looking forward to playing around with it. I know some people loathe cellular phones (CC? Any takers?) but I think they have their uses. I know several people that don’t even bother with land lines anymore, they just have a cell phone with a bajillion minutes. Makes perfect sense to me. My land line keeps giving me troubles, I think it’s because somebody drove into the pedestal on our street a couple months ago.

Anyway, you want my new number, email me and I’ll send it along. The old phone is going to get disconnected on Monday, so just toss the old 482 number. Tommy’s stepping into the next millennium with this phone.

Damn Torpedoes

I’m actually surprised I pulled this one out of my ass. Dianne asked me tonight where the phrase, “Damn the torpedoes” came from. It took me about five seconds to pull the answer out of my skull. Admiral Farragut said that during the Civil War, the Battle of Mobile Bay. Damn, I’m good. Did I happen to mention Quiz Nite is coming up next week? I’m gunning for top honors this time around.

Finally – The Real Reason Most Hollywood Movies Suck

I’m not a huge fan of Slate, but I do enjoy the occassional article. The current top bill on the site is a forthright explanation of the how’s and why’s of a big studio blockbuster: How To Finance a Hollywood Blockbuster. Basically it is easier to make money off a crappy big name fiasco like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider than to craft a small budget art flick like Sideways. Shadow companies, tax loopholes and subsidies make it easier to produce big budget pieces of crap instead of quality movies. How depressing.

I Got A Black Magic Woman…

Here’s a little bit of ‘news of the weird’ from our own little corner of the world: Police are investigating a woman who performed black magic on a Superior Court Judge’s seat in Saipan. The woman was caught on video entering the empty courtroom and pouring a dark liquid on the Judge Juan Lizama’s seat, calendar and microphone. As the Saipan Tribune puts it,

Superstitious practices that persist in the Northern Marianas believe that a type of black magic may inflict pain on the person who gets in contact with the substance. It is also believed to put the person under a magic spell, controlling his decisions.

Court marshals accosted the woman while she was still in the courthouse, and actually found her murmuring chants and surreptitiously touching the judge’s back. It looks like a guy facing a traffic citation asked her to hex the judge and sway the court in his favor.

News Of The Weird And Slightly Gross

Oh thank heaven for Yahoo’s bizarro news aggregator:

  • Yahoo! News – Judge to Woman: Jail of Packers Tickets – A woman convicted of embezzling $3,000 from a labor union in Oshkosh, Wisconsin faces a difficult choice: Either serve 90 days in jail or give up her family’s season tickets for the Green Bay Packers. Somehow I’m guessing she’ll be going to jail.
  • Yahoo! News – Flesh Chunks Found in Iowa Water Lines – Yummy. Chunks of unidentified flesh are flowing through the water lines of Carroll, Iowa. Flesh in the water, fingers in the chili, where is all this mystery meat coming from?

More Movies

That whole Blockbuster thing is a mixed blessing: I certainly am catching up on the movies I missed recently, but most of them are quirky disappointments. Here’s what I’ve watch on DVD or in the theater during the last week.

  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Not bad, not great. This movie looked superb; they really did a great job of recreating a seventeenth-century Dutch city and Jan Vermeer’s studio home. The sets and costumes looked great, too bad the characters filling them were complete ciphers. The two main characters spoke barely a dozen lines between the two of them, and Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth were laconic for most of the movie. It left me befuddled about motivation and meaning to their actions. Perhaps I bear some blame for my confusion because I was doing paperwork while the movie was playing, but the movie contained long silent scenes without a line of dialogue, only Johansson’s googly-eyed gaze wandering through a room and Firth’s taciturn, brooding stare from a doorway. I guess that meant they were kindred spirits; they certainly shared a bond of reticence. Girl With a Pearl Earring is a quite movie, full of simple pleasures and beautiful subtlety. Kind of like Vermeer’s paintings.
  • When Will I Be Loved? – Hmmm, I’d call this a ‘smarty-pants’ kind of movie. It tried very, very hard to dazzle with an urban, rapier wit, but it left me ambivalent. The first scene opened with Neve Campbell masturbating in a shower, and that set the tone of subtlety for this film. I don’t know what to think about director James Toback. This movie left me a little less than impressed, though I did enjoy his Two Girls and a Guy from a few years ago. The dialogue was witty, fast and intelligent, but I was a little worn out by the endless talking. The final act was quite enjoyable, right up to the very end, moving in a great circle. I will give the DVD credit for having a “sexplanations” special feature, which dissected each sex scene with commentary from Toback and star Neve Campbell. Cut right to the chase, huh?
  • What the <bleep> Do We Know? – I’ll admit, I stopped watching this piece of nonsense after 20 minutes. There was a gigantic scratch in the DVD, which stopped the movie cold, but by that point I could tell it was a waste of my time. I could sense the train wreck coming in this movie, as it brought together New Age karma bullshit with quantum mechanics, splicing together interviews of reputable physicists with New Age crackpot reincarnation gurus and some inane filler material featuring Marlee Matlin. What the <bleep> was I thinking when I rented this?
  • Sideways – Call me Johnny-Come-Lately, but I finally got a chance to watch this enjoyable paean to wine and friendship. Believe me, it’s not my fault; this is exactly the sort of movie that never plays at the multiplex on Guam. So I grabbed it from Blockbuster the first time I saw it was available. It took me a couple days to watch, probably because I wanted to devote my full attention to the movie. I finally settled down on Monday night and watched it. It’s a very good movie with a wonderful, funny script, beautiful cinematography, and good performances. I don’t know if ‘actorly’ is a word, but Sideways was an actorly movie. Each character portrayed with humanity and soul, with both the good and the bad traits. They are all treated warmly and with respect, and Virginia Madsen, whoa Nelly. Best movie of this bunch, that’s for sure.
  • Code 46 – There’s something not quite right with this movie, maybe the plot, maybe the characters. Perhaps it is the movie’s worn out vision of the future, a tiresome dystopia melange of Brave New World and 1984. Seriously, been there, done that – dozens of times. Why is every movie set in the near future stuck in Blade Runner mode? Isn’t there a compelling vision of our future that doesn’t involve massive polyglot cities, desolate ex-urban areas, soulless global corporations, vague Kafka-esque world governments and a brave band of zealots combating the faceless forces of evil? Crap, Woody Allen pilloried this nonsense back in 1973 with Sleeper. I think I might have mentioned that the future will look nothing like this in a few other posts on this blog… And did I hear right? Wasn’t Tim Robbins having sex with his mother’s clone? Shouldn’t they call that a Code 69?
  • Sin City – I wandered into the movies last night and watch Richard Rodriguez’ latest blood and style fest. Wow, it was an eye-popper, straight from the malevolent subconscious of Rodriguez. Ridiculously violent, exorbitantly violent, Sin City was an ecstatic frenzy of righteous murder and mayhem by a series of lone-wolf antiheroes and their sex fantasy female companions. I never saw the original comics -excuse me, graphic novels – but this movie looked like nothing else I’ve seen in a long time. I dreamt of murder last night, and leather-clad whores wielding whips and machine guns. Who’s to say that is a bad thing?

The China Syndrome

I know I’ve mentioned nuclear power before: James Lovelock’s plea to adopt nuclear power to limit the effect of global warming, that Alaskan village looking at instaling a reactor instead of continuing with exorbitant diesel fueled generators, and research into pebble bed nuclear reactors. Well here’s an article from Wired about the current demand for nuclear power, and it is coming from China.

China’s booming economy requires more power, and plans are currently underway to build a vast array of nuclear reactors by 2020 in the Middle Kingdom. And one of the main thrusts of research is the pebble bed reactor. It sounds like a viable idea, capable of producing hundreds of megawatts safely, and affordably. I wonder if a nuclear reactor lies in Guam’s future? It would certainly offer that possibility of cheap electricity for the island’s population.

TV Turnoff

Okay couch potatoes, next week is TV-Turnoff Week, so get off your duffs and do something besides staring vacuously at flickering images. Try experiencing reality instead of reality television.

Portents O’ Doom

It’s only Monday, and we already have a winner in this week’s best letter to the editor of the PDN.

Paul Zerzan, local teacher and dedicated letter writer, writes in to warn everybody about the imminent disaster of the Anatahan volcano some 200 miles to the north. He predicts a massive explosion on Anatahan, akin to the cataclysmic eruption of Krakatoa in the 19th century, sometime this year. The resulting havoc will decimate the island of Guam with killer tsunami over 100 feet tall.

That would be a hell of disaster. I’m glad I live on high ground.

Buddhist Figurine Spurs Hindu Devotion

A votive figurine launched from Burma in mid December was propelled across the Indian Ocean unharmed, before being found by Indian fisherman from Tamil Nadu a month later.

The figurine, one of thousands launched every rainy season by Burmese Buddhists, was credited with saving the lives of all 980 inhabitants of the small village of Meyurkuppam. It was found afloat upon a bamboo raft with devotional candles and a few coins.

The ‘Buddha Swami’ was happily accepted into the Hindu village, and is enshrined beneath a large banyan tree.

The Long Emergency

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Even Rolling Stone gets it. The Long Emergency is a harsh look at what is going to happen to our country and our planet when the supply of cheap oil goes away. Look, I’m not some sort of Luddite or cultural critic, but our way of life is going away, and much sooner than people realize. There is a gigantic energy crunch coming, and the effects of this global brown out will be devastating.

Battlestar Galactica Season Finale

I got home late last night, but not too late to catch the repeat showing of Battlestar Galactica. It was a good season finale, and I will eagerly await the next season. Good job and kudos to all involved.

Now if only this hangover would pass me by. I drank a little too much whiskey last night I’m afraid. But please understand, I was doing research. Unfortunately I must retract my earlier statement; none of the half dozen nubile, young dancing girls I interviewed last night were med students. So I apologize for that assertion, it was made in the heat of, uh, passion. The troubles I go to for my credibility…

Lujan Responds

In the interest of fairness, I thought I should reprint Jesse Lujan’s weekly editorial column from the Marianas Variety. Senator Lujan publishes his views in the newspaper every Thursday, and this time around he takes on the recent claims made in the PDN by Dr. Nathaniel Berg. It’s a wonderful piece of writing, that truly lays out what Jesse Lujan is all about:

Jesse’s Corner

Berg Will Be Exposed

There has been some controversy generated by Dr. Nathaniel Berg over statements in articles about me that were published in the early 1980’s more than 20 years ago. The main thrust of Berg’s efforts have been to publish articles which contain statements attributed to me that I am a medical doctor. Berg has extensively published this information on his radio talk show on K57 and pushed for and obtained front-page article coverage in the statesider-owned Pacific Daily News of this fact. I have denied and continue to deny ever representing myself as a medical doctor and cannot account for and should not be required to account for inaccuracies of news reporters in their articles.

According to Berg, he has pushed for this publicity to ensure that I have the moral legitimacy to become chairman on the legislative committee on health should the current chairman, Dr. Mike Cruz, be deployed to Iraq. In that event, as the vice chairman of the committee, I would step forward as chairman. Berg and others like him are petrified of that possibility because I would have the full power to fully investigate what I believe to be questionable dealings at the Guam Memorial Hospital. Berg and his cronies have threatened and in my opinion attempted blackmail against Dr. Cruz and me in am attempt to derail our investigation into the potential financial shenanigans at GMH.

Therefore my moral authority to chair the committee on health is not Berg’s true motive. His true motive for threatening to publish and publishing what he considers to be embarrassing facts about me, is to prevent me from pushing forward to get to the bottom of what I consider to be his questionable sweetheart contracts with GMH. Berg also intends to deter me from investigating and bringing into public view questionable business dealings he has had with at least one member of the GMH board of trustees.

This member of the board may have played a critical role in granting Berg those lucrative GMH contracts in the first place. If Berg obtained contracts from the GMH board of trustees and then entered into business dealing with any member of the board, it could potentially be considered bribery and should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Additionally, in my opinion, Berg has also improperly used his friendship with Dr. Landstrom, who is on the Medical Examiners Board, to limit competition to his practice to the detriment of the people of Guam.

He did that by possibly participating in an effort to delay and ultimately deny a Filipino cancer specialist from practicing in Guam. It is exposure of this potential malfeasance that motivates Berg to try and embarrass me.

You might ask why have these shenanigans by Berg not been investigated and placed on the front pages of the statesider-owned newspaper and radio station talk shows on Guam? Where are their investigative journalists? When it comes to malfeasance by statesiders, the stateside-owned news media on Guam is exceedingly silent and even absent. If Chamorros or Filipinos had perpetrated these possible Berg shenanigans, there would be no doubt Berg’s contracts and business dealings with at least one member of the board of trustees of GMH, would make front-page news and would be the main topic of discussion on K57 talk shows. Instead we have seen the statesider-owned newspaper on Guam focus on defending one of their own – the past administrator of GMH. This is an administrator who could not even keep papers cups in the emergency room of GMH. Even when exercising the most basic common sense by any manager, a first priority should be to put basic supplies in the hospital operating rooms and emergency room.

Let me put Berg and his cronies on notice. I am still coming. You can bet on the fact that I will continue to expose your shenanigans. You can threaten, you can blackmail me, and you can do whatever you want to do to me. As long as I have a breath in my body and the people of Guam give me their confidence, you will not get away with using our hospital as your private piggy bank while our family and friends are dying in a substandard and mismanaged hospital facility.

Well, I guess Senator Lujan is a true Republican. He’s a uniter, not a divider. All that diatribe about ‘statesiders’ and their corporations are code words, designed to push the buttons of the electorate. They mean outsiders, foreign devils, people not beholden to the pare system. Last time I checked, Guam was not only part of the United States, it was fervently patriotic. I sure see enough of those magnetic yellow ribbons festooning automobiles on Marine Corps Drive. So why lay down such vitriol against a fellow American and loyal American businesses? What is Lujan’s agenda? Perhaps Lujan is taking a cue from the Republican play book and manufacturing a ‘wedge issue’ to divide the electorate? No, everybody knows Republicans never spread the seeds of discord and rancour; that’s a trick of the liberal mainstream media. Republicans are uniters not dividers.

This editorial lays bare the Government of Guam’s true intentions. Less than two weeks ago, the Chamber of Commerce and GEDA sponsored an economic development forum that touted Guam as the ideal destination for ‘statesider’ businesses to locate. Lujan’s vitriol exposes how readily the local government puts the wedge issue into play. I guess all that administration talk of enticing mainland businesses to invest in Guam is really just a snow job. The fact of the matter is this island is controlled by a very few elite, who control the political agenda, the economic development and the social catastrophe that is Guam. This ruling junta is quite content with the way things are on Guam and why shouldn’t they be? They’re on the top of the heap, and they’ve stacked the deck against the rest of the population. They can pay lip service to the idea of courting national businesses, but they are quite content to control their little island monopolies and fiefdoms.

Sorry, I was veering off into wingnuttery there. Let me get back to Senator Lujan. Laying the blame of GMH on a fellow Republican official like Bill McMillan by fingering him as part of an evil statesider cabal with nefarious designs on Guam is pretty low. Anybody going into GMH with a reform agenda is facing off against a powerful and truculent foe, the entrenched bureaucracy at the hospital. Like most of GovGuam, the staff at the hospital are a restive and statist bunch, fiercely protective of their positions and salaries. It is well nigh impossible to fire a GovGuam employee, as indicated by the recent tussle concerning a woman that cannot be laid off from Public Works despite the contracts she rigged and possible fraudulent activity that occurred while she was at the Guam International Airport Authority. Instead she got a new job with higher pay in the government bureaucracy.

McMillan threatened the status quo at the hospital, and his position became untenable. The staff was engaged in an outright revolt against him, with physicians refusing to treat patients, nurses threatening walkouts and vital equipment mysteriously failing for weeks at a time. But his problems were nothing new. Previous administrators met the same resistance and failed in the same way.

Nothing is going to change at the hospital because the powers that be like it that way. Let the proletariat masses tire themselves out in unending struggle against each other while the political and economic elite sit tight and enjoy their fortunes. Senator Lujan is the lap dog of the elite, barking and snapping at their beck and call. After all, if it weren’t for them, he’d still be handing out towels at Tarza to tourists. Such is the way of the world, and Guam.