Category Archives: Media/Entertainment

Unser Täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread) Oh What the Lord Might Say…

Our Daily Bread (English title) draws its title presumably from The Lord’s Prayer of the Christian Bible, and after watching it I have to ask myself–what would the Lord say about what we’re doing to our food supply? I can only conjure the oxymoron “roaring silence” to describe this completely unbiased documentary of the food production industry in Germany (probably more tame than the U.S.’). The only source of any dialogue exists in bantering and chit-chat of the laboring workers, be they in a pork slaughterhouse or deep below the Earth’s surface in a salt mine.

There is no Alec Baldwin narration, no naming of corrupt FDA traitors–simply a display of contextual truth. We, the audience, are completely encouraged to make our own conclusions on the matter. Rather than the “bread of life” that Jesus referred to in the Bible, it seems quite apparent that our modern food system revolves around a mechanized “bread of death,” with little regarded to the fact that our food was once alive. The rendering of meat, which was once very human and in perhaps an esoteric way sacred, is now enslaved to cold, stoic process–completely for the sake of yield.

As silly as it sounds I watched the perfectly-engineered, steel behemoths slaying bull after bull, pig after pig, salmon after salmon and I couldn’t stop thinking about the Terminator franchise, where humans are at war with machines. Watching the efficiency of these systems–I have to think that the war as it stands has already been lost.

If you’ve ever seen the size of a full-grown bull, seen the capriciousness of a feisty pig, or seen the majesty of a full-breadth salmon, it becomes depressing to see their lives ended so quickly, their entrails so effortlessly plucked. I see it as not only a bastardization of the entire human condition throughout history, but a blasphemy towards what this documentary may cite as divine providence.

Even the very right of reproduction is engineered with these animals. The mighty bull takes his natural mount behind the heifer only to have his essence extracted and stolen for later use–or genetic engineering. He may have even been lucky compared to the piglets, comprising one of the most graphic scenes, who are swiftly made eunuchs and left tail-less while their head clamps prevent them from protesting the matter. If only Snowball and Napoleon could see this…

Being long enough to be excruciatingly thorough (92 minutes), Our Daily Bread covers a full gamut of the industrial food chain and not just the aforementioned animals. The highly dosed and doused plant crops are shown, as are their robotic attendants. Salt mining is illustrated, olive tree harvesting demystified, and a lovely landscape scene showcases a crop duster–having its way before the combines raze the stalks in the impeding harvests.

Our Daily Bread is by no means an exciting film, nor is it necessarily invigorating as are many of the shock-value films of our current times. It is however completely honest and very thorough, making it suitable and palatable for the seasoned, food-enthusiast or the life-long factory farm diner. The verdict will of course be up for grabs.

Special thanks to Meredith Miller at Icarus Films for recommending this film for review.

Surfwise: A Film I Just Saw, and Suggest to You the Same.

Surfwise originally came to theaters and DVD last year (2008). It’s definitely worth seeing – even if you’ve never touched a surfboard.

Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz leads the sort of life that the weak ridicule, the mediocre lament and only the strong will attain. At face-value it may come across as an observation of zealous pride and cult-like elitism. As Stanford cum laude Medical graduate and the head of Hawaii’s American Medical Association, Doc chose at the height of all worldly and societal comforts to leave it behind for a soul-searching odyssey that ultimately gave him a third wife, nine children and a lifestyle of controversy and admonishment. His vessel on this quest–the surfboard.

After first introducing the art of surfing to the shores of Israel, one of his journey’s first stops, he came to the conclusion that his sexual ineffectiveness precipitated the loss of his first two wives. From that epiphany he set forth on a crusade of sexual mastery, learning new techniques (one in particular he labels as “life-changing”) and developing a “male deficiency quotient” system to rate women that he encountered. Upon taking his highest reading at a 93, he chooses a young woman from California and after an incredibly short courtship he proposes to a gladly-accepting bride-to-be.

In as short a time as anatomy would allow his wife is with-child and stays in said condition or nursing for the next ten years. His initial decree to her is that he would not be outdone by any monkey (or other primate) and so if it breast fed for two years than he would expect her to follow suit. With the children falling into order, so begins the wild chapters of the film–the rearing years, all housed in one form or another of a 24 ft. RV.

A Paskowitz family portrait in front of the RV

A Paskowitz family portrait in front of the RV

Surfing, true to its definition, becomes the only constant platform guiding the family through life’s waves of change. All of the children are taught to surf and the eat healthy, surf clean-live clean mantra becomes their code. Docs rules are absolute and simple, a demand to surf and a demand to stick to the family program–fireworks ensue.

Because of their perpetual movement and wave-chasing, the Paskowitz children were never formally schooled and didn’t necessarily exist in the “system.” Doc’s intention was to teach them the difference between knowledge and wisdom, the latter being the greater in his philosophy and therefore set out to give the children as many experiences as possible, thereby forging wisdom. The now-grown children reflect on this, at first with a resentment and ultimately with a gratitude for the irreplaceable memories. It’s beyond me to say if their upbringing is a viable crutch for their difficulties in reaching certain goals. Ultimately they all leave the 24′ nest for their own pursuits, all seemingly quite successful (by society’s standards). Only one son has chosen to replicate his childhood with his on progeny.

Adding raw gems of wisdom to the film is Dorian; commenting on true health (as opposed to the absence of illness), the healing power of the sea, human nature and the conquering of strife. Even beyond his high-brow education, he is a brilliant man and has the sort of grounded self-understanding that few can experience–even through someone else. His methods are his, pure and uncompromising; any substitute would be likened to blasphemy of his very being.

Admiring their unorthodoxy is not really my intent, however I do agree with one of the son’s in that people spend entire lives working, acquiring assets and preparing to live their ideal lives when this man was simply able to let go of everything and seize it, that spiritual utopia. I acknowledge and respect Dorian as a romanticist and someone who taught his children essential principles, but as paramount gave them his passion. In many of my other articles I’ve mentioned life priorities and how we actually allocate resources towards them. I think this man loves his family and surfing, hence they harness the finite energies of his life.

To learn more about the Paskowitz Family through their Surf Camp website>

Try Not to Starve After Watching Food Inc.

Ammonia-soaked beef “product,” patents on “life” and 46,000 food products all coming from three main manufacturers are some of the snippets of info you’ll find in Food Inc.–the traceable food movement’s latest effort to educate the population on society’s nutritional woes.

The film hits me close to home considering my hometown of Salisbury, MD–also home to Perdue Chickens is featured in the film, though they declined comment. Unlike an uncouth PETA documentary, there are few shocking images trying to turn people away from carnivorous diets altogether but instead a focus on what created the monster factory farms in the first place–money.

Corn is the lifeblood of our modern, industrialized food industry and the film very thoroughly links farm subsidies in corn to the decrease in meat prices for consumers (but at what real cost?), saturation of corn-derivative products and even the increase in Mexican immigration when subsidized U.S. corn and NAFTA precipitated the unemployment of 1 million (yes million) once-employed in Mexico corn farmers. Meanwhile so many Americans are wondering why they don’t just find jobs in Mexico. They then had footage of a meat-packing company, who notoriously hires the immigrants in the U.S., instigating INS raids on their worker housing to deport unneeded, undocumented workers instead of offering due-diligence through layoffs.

Killing the appetite further is the legal aspect of the food system, from the protection of companies over the consumers, as seen in the denial of Kevin’s law (not me), to the veto of California’s GMO labeling act–shot down by Governor Schwarzenegger (shame on you Arnold). Putting a face to the names of these bastards, they listed several FDA and governmental decision-makers all making a direct transition to and from executive slots in the global food conglomerates. It’s nice to see the governmental regulators are watching out for our best interests.

Sowing the greatest seeds of wisdom in the film are by far the actual farmers, who thoroughly understand the nature of the proverbial shaft they’re being subjected to through the law of economic scales. One of the film’s traditional and organic farmers beautifully encapsulates our food system by saying that we have become a nation of technicians constantly asking “how” we are to achieve the next objective, but never considering “why” that may or may not be a good idea in the first place.

Being only 93 minutes, it doesn’t have the depth of each individual topic as King Corn does for corn production or In Defense of Food can for dietary revolutionaries, but it’s a palatable start and will hopefully act as a wake up call for the populace–people may even make the obvious connection that eating garbage will turn us into exactly that.

If you want to change to an unadulterated, nutrient-rich diet I suggest exploring realmilk.com and the Weston A. Price Foundation. Be warned the rabbit hole of information goes deep, but it just might save your life.

PS – Another thing the movie stated is that I could probably be sued for saying that factory-farmed food isn’t good for you. Bring it on : )

Network (1976) A movie everyone should watch.

This movie is incredible, and just as relevant today as it was in 1976. Find it and watch the whole thing.

2010 Oscars: Live from Bollywood

Slumdog Millionaire was no doubt a great movie, but compared to the other nominations is it possible that it received inflated success? In questioning this, I don’t intend to belittle its accomplishment or its very ingenious and moving plot–but rather to explore what’s going on behind the scenes. If you’ve been reading the news, Bollywood has been growing leaps and bounds and recently, the connection between the two is undeniable.

Bollywood/Hollywood joint projects 2007>

Reading this, we know that we are going to see many more movies produced and funded by Bollywood enterprises. Could it have been that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was simply watching out for its collective future interests in voting as it did?

In winning the awards that it did:

• Best Achievement in Cinematography
• Best Achievement in Directing
• Best Achievement in Editing
• Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
• Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
• Best Achievement in Sound
• Best Motion Picture of the Year
• Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

We see a winning production team. All the key elements–except actors are here. The case could be argued that with the right group behind the scenes, any film or actor could be made a stellar-success. Obviously Bollywood has some agreement with this statement since they were willing to throw down huge cash for Steven Spielberg.>

The idea that the Oscars are fair is naive, they’re just like any other popularity contest. Not that there is deliberate malicious intent, but people tend to have herd mentalities when it comes to trends. Such greats as Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick never won Oscars, unfortunately not even in the case of Hitchcock when his film “Rebecca” won Best-Picture. Apparently he was difficult to work with–as said by many of his actors (also voters for the Academy).

Other subliminal encouragements pushing American-acceptance of Bollywood are seen in the opening number with Hugh Jackman. His big-band, grand musical is in classic American style and I thought it was wonderful. Upon conclusion though he exclaims “the musical is back!” Psychologically, this tactic uses an existing schema we have, the American musical, and pushes it later in the program to the Slumdog music performance. Musicals are ironically a backbone and staple of Bollywood.>

Before I started studying messaging and influence, I don’t think I would’ve been this interested in these connections. Knowing how messages are used however it is plain to me that with a definite intent, the American audience is being groomed to accept more Bollywood involvement in American media. It is a completely symbiotic relationship. Hollywood definitely needs their cash and in many cases cheaper production capabilities. Bollywood wants the acceptance, the acknowledgment and the cinematic genius that created Hollywood in the first place.

See Slumdog Millionaire; enjoy its dynamic action and heartfelt story. Just be sure to watch the other nominees and make your own conclusions.

Other interesting Oscar facts>