OK. Got up early (for me) and here are some random morning thoughts, before I finish the death penalty index.
It's taken a couple weeks, but this 365 self-portrait photo project is starting to be fun--sort of like slo-mo improv. (Thank you to everyone who encouraged me not to drop it.) I started out thinking about fine art photography and photojournalistic documentary work, but gradually I thought, this could be playful, like a Star Trek project. Much preferable.
It also nudges me to be brave, but not too awfully.
It's been a while since I pushed myself to try something unfamiliar like this. It reminds me of going on a trip--almost always I resist at first; but once I'm on the road I think, Why don't I do this more often?
Speaking of humor, of course I still love Stephen but I've already grown tired of The Colbert Report. It's good enough, but satire has to be pretty much the same as the thing it's mocking, and since I don't enjoy personality-based news, or even TV news at all, much less dimwits who are sure they are right, watching Colbert be a self-important dimwit news pundit got old really fast.
Satire and irony are fine tools for precision work, to use them over and over for everyday cutting makes them dull.
I just like it when people send me their favorite clips--then I don't have to watch the whole show. Same with Jon Stewart (thank you momo!).
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Colbert said that he loves doing his character, but finds it can be limiting when he's interviewing interesting people: "Sometimes I just want to talk about the Human Genome Project," he said.
Me too--I just want to listen to his interviewees talk and not trip over themselves trying parry his wit. Where's the fun in watching an amateur fence with a pro?
More to my taste was the one-hour mockumentary I watched last night: Forgotten Silver (1995), by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings--that's him in the color inset photo) and Costa Botes. It's about Jackson discovering an unknown New Zealand filmmaker from the early days of filmmaking.
It's not satire, it's a loving tribute to moviemaking, even though the whole thing is made up, including, of course, all the "found" footage.
What's so impressive is the way they made all this old film--from scenes of the trenches at Gallipoli to a recreation of Jerusalem supposedly in the NZ forests--but really using the steps of a government building in Wellington, which they covered with jungle plants. The "Making of" feature was almost as good as the movie itself.
They showed Forgotten Silver on NZ public TV without saying it was a joke, and people got very excited about it. It's so well done and the jokes are so subtle, it's very believable. When the joke was revealed, however, people were enraged, and Jackson received a lot of hate mail. Funny how people like to watch other people fall for a joke but hate to fall themselves.
Now back to the death penalty index.
I was surprised to find in a 3-12-09 Economist article a new argument against it--new to me, that is: the whole process is very expensive, costing more than keeping someone in prison for life.
The article states:
"As state governments confront huge budget deficits, eight more states have proposed an unusual measure to cut costs: eliminate the death penalty."
You probably know, this past March 19, New Mexico banned capital punishment. I don't think they said cost was a factor, but it seems a very American line of thinking: "We'd love to kill you, but it costs too much."
That's one reason it's hard to tell if Forgotten Silver is a joke or not--it's hard to come up with inanities of human behavior that cannot be believed.
"Is it not absurd that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves?"
--Cesare Beccaria, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, Italy: 1767
For me, the central question of the death penalty is, Who do we, as a civilization, want to be?