You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

February 15, 2010


I took a break, but I'm finally back. Also finally, here is some genuinely funny and intelligent political protest:

Protesters against Israel's policies in the West Bank have added a colorful twist to demonstrations, painting themselves blue and posing as characters from the movie Avatar.

Pro-Palestinian participants in weekly demonstrators against the route of the separation fence in the village of Bil'in, and the takeover of Arab homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, have also donned long hair and loincloths to resemble the 10-foot blue-skinned Na'vi of Avatar.

The demonstrators compare the Palestinians to the Na'vi - an indigenous people on the moon Pandora who find themselves up against militarily superior foreign invaders who seek to oust them from their homes.


Thank you, James Cameron. I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know whether it's any good or not, but at this point who cares? To come up with a language for this that's now understood all over the world is a truly beautiful thing.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at February 15, 2010 09:50 AM

I knew it! James Cameron is an anti-Semite!

Seriously, look at those terrorists! They're armed! The poor IDF, outgunned and outnumbered, will have no choice but to blow them away.

Posted by: Duncan at February 15, 2010 10:50 AM

I agree completely. I hear a lot of complaints from intelligent people that the message of Avatar is blunt. But there's something to be said for archetypes once in a while ("it's not a cliché, babe, it's an archetype.") And it takes bluntness to reach a wide range of people.

Posted by: Cloud at February 15, 2010 12:05 PM

Farewell Angelina.

Posted by: Dano at February 15, 2010 12:09 PM

"The poor IDF, outgunned and outnumbered, will have no choice but to blow them away."
You are SO right! Looking at these strange creatures, IDF must have felt "EXISTENTIAL" threat....

"Bilin Reenacts Avatar Film 12-02-2010 By Haitham Al Katib"

ps do not miss the info column on youtube page. this a must watch video.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at February 15, 2010 12:46 PM

I haven't seen the movie...

Actually you probably have, when it was called Dances with Wolves and didn't suck.

Posted by: John Caruso at February 15, 2010 12:54 PM

It turns out the natives only needed a white man to lead them.

My favorite quote about it is "This is what white people do, they eradicate populations then overidealize them afterwards in order to make themselves feel better."

Pilger on the Oscars.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at February 15, 2010 01:30 PM

And, this is just additional info BTW.
"state of Texas will give more than $2.5 billion over the ten year period. For the same amount, over 2 million people could have been provided with primary health care."

Above from....
"No Wonder Israel is Able to Invest in R&D!"
Questioning the "Special Relationship" with Israel

ps in his book "Dark Hope", Prof Shulman mentions that the stench of the gas from 'gas cannisters' did not leave for hours even after moving away from the area.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at February 15, 2010 01:30 PM

That is a brilliant protest.

Posted by: N E at February 15, 2010 03:14 PM

And not only an "existential" threat -- remember that these Palestinians, armed with toy bows and arrows, are Goliath, while the IDF, armed with billions of dollars' worth of state-of-the-art armament, are David.

John Caruso: "... when it was called Dances with Wolves and didn't suck." Actually Dances with Wolves was pretty bad. (I presume you're using "suck" as a negative.) I still haven't seen Avatar, so I can't compare, but it doesn't sound like it's any more heavy-handed or obvious than Dances with Wolves was.

Posted by: Duncan at February 15, 2010 04:26 PM

Israel has committed crimes with impunity using the excuse of existential threat ( ET ), real and imagined...........
I have talked to my activist Israeli friends and the feeling of ET is real for some. Not being Jewish or living in Israel, I can not question it. However, imho, the real threat to Israel is from within. What is happening now in that society is not pretty.
Below is a "shocking" video and I never thought I would see anything like that.

Sheikh Jarrah demonstration Friday 25-12-09

continued below.....

Posted by: Rupa Shah at February 15, 2010 05:48 PM

Continued from above.......

And significant number of demonstrators at Sheikh Jarrah are Jewish Israelis. They are being arrested in greater numbers and treated more harshly as the number of demonstrators keeps increasing every Friday. And though this article is from Aug 2009, the situation has only worsened.

"The writing on the wall seen from behind bars in Sheikh Jarrah"

Posted by: Rupa Shah at February 15, 2010 06:01 PM

Any flaws in Dances with Wolves are minor compared to casting white people as Indians, putting a lot of makeup on them, then having them whoop and holler while they ride their ponies in circles shooting at the wagon train. The history in the movie was right, and the Indians acted like other real people instead of pretending that they should all be standing in front of a cigar store. Compared with what preceded it, Dances with Wolves rocks. If you don't believe it, ask Tonto.

Posted by: N E at February 15, 2010 06:15 PM

This article has captions for the individual pictures, unlike the one you linked. Apparently they got teargassed.

Posted by: godoggo at February 16, 2010 01:37 AM

More: I just did a search of the Unrepentant Marxist, and he's got an embedded youtube of the protest:

And here's his interesting post on the movie:

I dunno. I thought it was pretty entertaining, plus bonus points for no Kevin Costner.

Posted by: godoggo at February 16, 2010 01:51 AM

N E: Those are significant differences, to be sure, but they don't make a good movie, any more than superior CGI or flashy 3-D effects do. They're just minimal requirements before a good movie can be made.

Posted by: Duncan at February 16, 2010 08:42 AM


Dances with Wolves did win Best Picture at the Oscars, so it obviously can't be brilliant, but I thought it was a very good epic. Costner is no great acting talent, and the 1980s hairstyling was a little painful, but the story was pretty good history, the characters were human, and the cinematography and score were great. I grew up in that part of Indian country and still have many relatives there, and that type of landscape makes me feel at home, but it's a harsh place, and the Lakota reservations are rife with addiction and unemployment and all the problems those things breed. It would be harder to make a movie about that depressing state of affairs, and a movie like that probably wouldn't get any Oscars, but Dances With Wolves helped restore some Indian pride, which has taken a brutal beating in the past century, and the movie made non-Indians think about Indians in a little more human way, so I give it five cheers if not five stars.

That being said, those Palestian activists were smart to paint themselves blue instead of wearing Lakota costumes. The United States is not going to give the Black Hills or any useful part of the country back to the Indians, and Pine Ridge and Rosebud and Cheyenne River etc. are more like what the Palestinians are getting than what they want. (Though the Sioux reservations have Siberian winters as well as scorching summers.) So that's not a precedent the Palestinians should invoke. Probably more than a few Israelis feel like every other nation has taken what it can, but they are expected to be better. I'd bet they resent that, in much the same way that Germans resent (or once did anyway) that we Americans don't seem so tormented by our own genocides. (Twenty-five years ago, Germans would get almost visible gleeful upon discovering that I was from Indian country--it was their favorite subject. And I wasn't even chatting them up about Dachau or Auschwitz!)

Posted by: N E at February 16, 2010 09:58 AM

If you don't believe it, ask Tonto.

Ever notice what "tonto" means in Spanish?

The Jay Silverheels soul is worth half a million of the more common variety.

Ever see that Jeep TV commercial where, in middle age, Mr. Silverheels consented to once again put on all the old deerskin stuff, and intone "Get-um up, Scout" while patting some damned vehicle on the fender? It was to weep.

Posted by: joel hanes at February 17, 2010 04:43 AM

Joel Hanes, the weeper, is paying attention. Given that "kemo sabe" supposedly meant 'faithful friend' in the injun netherworld of HiHoSilverland, whoever picked "Tonto" as the trusting side-kick's name was quite a funny guy.

How hard it must have been to be a real Indian. Just imagine Ota Kte, aka Luther Standing Bear, born near the Black Hills around the time that Red Cloud and Crazy Horse and the rest of the Lakota defeated the cavalry and secured most of the Dakotas, Wyoming, and eastern Montana for themselves, supposedly forever. When that didn't last, Ota Kte was sent east to the Carlisle school in Pennsylvania to learn to live like a white man. (Half the children who were sent east to Carlisle died, from disease, the change in diet, and the enormity of the culture shock.) Later, having become Luther, he joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, and after that went to Hollywood, where he played an Indian in silent films, circling wagon trains. The American dream, Indian style.

Wiki says the Wounded Knee Massacre was particularly disturbing to him.

He wrote some books that tell his story, and the story of his people, for those interested.

Posted by: N E at February 17, 2010 08:34 AM

Re: Avatar

It's not an intricate or nuanced script, but it is good story-telling (lots of dramatic tension) and the visuals are amazing (in 3D). It was the most amazing movie experience I've ever had, even if it's not one of the best movies. In that sense, Cameron has achieved something pretty extraordinary.

Posted by: scudbucket at February 17, 2010 04:43 PM

Rupa S., I tried to send these links from JSF before but Kismet ate them.

They, including the comments, helped me understand this video.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at February 17, 2010 09:23 PM