Saturday, December 15, 2018

Poetry: STAR-KARTING

I

By night
the raptors
high in the palm-lined
air
are deep
in their pre-sleep rituals
chirping their
regrets
and resolutions
the city lights twinkle their
approval
from afar and
overhead
the sky is a blacktop
upon which stars
zoom along
careening so fast they seem
suspended
pointy go-karts trailing
cosmic dust in their wake

II
in the afterglow
of a late
afternoon squall
and
a steamy tempest
of our own making
you rest
your head on my
chest
and feel the ever-flowing
circuitry om y still-flushed
heart
the maddening rush of
intimacy and contentment as we
share new secrets
and inwardly mourn the
dying
of the day's light
signalling
an end
to the reverie and a return
to the anxious
and uncaring
world

III
Mystery moon pushes
 against late evening
clouds
already spent
and the damp hilly
air
while insufficient to
keep dogs alert
is as invigorating as
the throaty wail
of Nina doing
"My Way"
as comforting as
 the Duke's tinkling
keys
as reaffirming as
Trane's urgent call
to action
words pass like
comets
as the sprawling
bejewelled capital and
the spartan heights assert
their respective
philosophies
your eyes
easily surpass them both
as love
stronger than
the overproof rum
subdues my
reasoning
and the perfect meal
obliterates it


Friday, December 14, 2018

Music: Farewell, Nancy Wilson, Song Stylist Extraordinaire

 Nancy Wilson, the Grammy-winning "song stylist" and torch singer whose polished pop-
jazz vocals made her a platinum artist and top concert performer, has died.
Wilson, who retired from touring in 2011, died after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, a California desert community near Joshua Tree National Park, her manager and publicist Devra Hall Levy told The Associated Press late Thursday night. She was 81.
As per Wilson's request, there will be no funeral service. She is survived by her son, two daughters, sisters and five grandchildren.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Business: Bolt to Run for Xoom

Xoom, PayPal’s international money transfer service, today announced eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist
Usain Bolt as its global brand ambassador through 2020. The partnership kicks off as Xoom expands its send money service to customers in Canada who will be able to send money, reload phones and pay bills for loved ones in more than 130 countries globally.

Known by many as the ‘World’s Fastest Man,’ the Jamaican-born sprinter will be part of Xoom’s inaugural international ‘Money Go Xoom’ marketing campaign launching this month in Canada and the United States. The new campaign, that underpins Xoom’s ability to provide a fast, secure and convenient way to pay bills or send money to people around the world, will be brought to life with Mr. Bolt in a variety of digital and broadcast spots.
“At Xoom, we’re deeply committed to delivering the fastest possible money transfer experience to our customers, so Mr. Bolt was a natural fit to serve as our global brand ambassador,” said Julian King, Vice President and General Manager, Xoom. “We look forward to working with Mr. Bolt during an exciting time as we continue to expand our services and help new populations in need of fast and reliable international money transfers.”
Having experienced the difficulties of sending money to my own family back home in Jamaica, I’m thrilled to endorse and partner with a company that’s focused on delivering a fast and convenient way to send money or pay bills for family from afar,” said Usain Bolt.
Xoom partnered with Mr. Bolt for his global association with speed and his shared values of supporting local communities around the world through service. In 2014, Mr. Bolt created the Usain Bolt Foundation, which creates opportunities for Jamaican youths through education, sporting provisions, and cultural development. PayPal and Xoom have a longstanding history of supporting the local communities in which they operate and hope to continue these efforts through their work with Usain Bolt over the next two years.
To send money internationally in a few simple steps from Canada or the United States, download Xoom’s mobile app on Android and iOS or go to xoom.com.

Business: Apple to "plant new seeds" Across the country

Apple said it plans to invest $1 billion to build a new campus in Austin, Texas, that could eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.
The tech giant said it would also open new offices in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, Calif.—adding more than 1,000 employees in each place. It also plans to add hundreds of jobs in Pittsburgh, New York, Boulder, Colo., Boston and Portland, Ore., over the next three years.

Lit: Jamaican author Hazel Campbell dies

Noted short story writer and children's book author, Hazel Campbell passed away this morning at the
University Hospital of the West Indies, following a brief illness. 

She was 78 years old.

During the course of her professional life, Campbell taught at Ardenne High School and worked at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) where she was a feature writer and editor.  She also worked at the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC) where she managed several video productions.
Since 1987 she has been as a freelance book editor and consultant.

Her first publication was “The Rag Doll & Other Stories”, followed by “Women's Tongue” a collection of eight short stories, and “Singerman”.    

Campbell also wrote three short stories on the environment entitled “Juice Box and Scandal” as a statement on the proliferation of the use of plastic bags commonly called “Scandal Bags”.  Those stories were originally published in 2005. 

Her greatest joy however, were her children's stories and she penned several books for the young and the young at heart, including “Tillie Bummie and other Stories”, “Ramgoat Dashalong” and “My Three Moms”, among others.

Campbell, a fierce advocate for Caribbean authors, was also affiliated with several local publishing companies including Carlong Publishers, LMH Publishing and Peepal Tree Press.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Movies: "Girl-Power" Leads Box Office, Study Finds

Female-led films outperformed movies with male leads at the box office in the period between January 2014 and December 2017, a study researched by Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and shift7 found.
The study looked at the top-grossing U.S. films and found that female-led films outweighed male-led films on all budget levels. Films were categorized into five budget levels (under $10 million, $10 million – $30 million, $30 million – $50 million, $50 million – $100 million, and over $100 million) and further identified films that had a woman listed as its lead actor. In every budget category, films with female leads performed better at the worldwide box office.
“This is powerful proof that audiences want to see everyone represented on screen,” Amy Pascal, who leads the content-focused working group alongside shift7 CEO Megan Smith, producer Liza Chasin, Geena Davis and CAA Agent Alexandra Trustman, said.  “Decision-makers in Hollywood need to pay attention to this.”
Davis applauded CAA and shift7 for furthering the conversation about gender balance in the industry: “I started commissioning data back in 2004, realizing there is so much unconscious bias in this space. The truth is that seeing women and girls on screen is not only good for everyone – especially our children – it’s also good entertainment and good business.”
“This analysis affirms data showing that diversity has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line,” TIME’S UP president and CEO Lisa Borders added.  “As studios consider their fiduciary responsibilities to their investors, these findings offer a clear approach to delivering the best results.”

Movies: A Brief History of the "X" Rating

-Vulture


The classification system of the Motion Picture Association of America, implemented on November 1, 1968, originally consisted of four ratings:
·     G — Suggested for General Audiences
·     M — Suggested for Mature Audiences (parental discretion advised)
·     R — Restricted. Persons under 16 not admitted, unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.
·     X — Persons under 16 not admitted.
There would be modifications: the M was rechristened GP in 1970 and then, again, to PG in 1972; the minimum age for R-rated movies was raised from 16 to 17 in 1970; the PG-13, nestled between the PG and R, was added in 1984. But no single rating caused more commotion and controversy than the X, initially intended merely as a label for films made for, by, and about adults. (A good number of those films will be celebrated, on the 50th anniversary of its commencement, with Quad Cinema’s “Rated X” series in New York this month.)
And for a brief period in the late ’60s and early ’70s, this honest-to-goodness adult rating not only worked, but thrived. “Our first objective of classification,” MPAA president Jack Valenti explained in 1968, “is to free the film maker, to loosen the artistic fetters around his ankles in segregating pictures.” That unfortunate analogy aside, the newfound freedom provided by the X allowed filmmakers to engage fully with the era’s shifting mores, to explore new perceptions of sex, violence, race, and authority, and to do so without the interference of the local censorship boards that had cut pictures to ribbons since the art’s introduction.
Films like Midnight Cowboy (the first X-rated Oscar winner for Best Picture), A Clockwork OrangeMedium Cool, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, I Am Curious (Yellow), If…, and Last Tango in Paris pushed the content limits to break new ground in social commentary and psychological examination, while the likes of Greetings (the first narrative feature to carry the X rating), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Fritz the Cat, and Myra Breckinridge gleefully used the anything-goes spirit of the X (and the times) to produce full-throated social satire and/or straight-up silliness.
But there was a snag. “The theaters that show the nudie sexploitation movies,” reported Newsday, “will continue to cater to the bizarre tastes of their adult clientele with the same cautious exclusion of minors as in the past.” As the decade drew to a close, those “nudie sexploitation movies” — soft-core comedies and erotic dramas from directors like Russ Meyer and Radley Metzger — gave way to hard-core pornography. Porn-makers and distributors moved their wares from private “loops” and viewing booths to public theaters, emboldened both by the loosening of obscenity laws and the adoption of the MPAA ratings.
And the MPAA had made a crucial error: Though the G, R, and (eventual) PG were trademarked, the X was not. As a result, the New York Sunday News explained in 1969, “several fly-by-night film makers have placed X ratings on cheap sexploitation flickers,” meaning that, in the eye of the rating, there was no difference between “an excellent movie such as Midnight Cowboy and a vulgar one such as I, A Woman II.” The issue was flagged early — in a first-year report on the success and failures of the ratings systems, the National Association of Theatre Owners pinpointed “a need to distinguish between X-rated pictures made strictly for exploitation and those made with serious artistic intent.” But Valenti and the MPAA did not take this recommendation, and as the 1970s continued and porn went chic, its distributors cheerfully began to apply not only the X rating, but its nonexistent (yet undeniably titillating) cousins, the XX and XXX.
Unsurprisingly, the rating’s original intent was lost. For a brief period, when curiosity was at its peak (particularly for sights and sounds unavailable on the living-room television), X-rated pictures proved a profitable enterprise; “Trade ponders: X the Key to B.O.?” went a 1970 Variety headline, using the publication’s shorthand for “box office.” But as the X became synonymous with hard-core porn, the atmosphere around it changed. Mainstream theaters put rules into place prohibiting the distribution of X-rated movies — any X-rated movie. Newspapers and television stations wouldn’t advertise them. So with nowhere to show these movies and no way to promote them, studios (understandably) stopped making them.
Even in its early, optimistic period, there weren’t many X-rated movies; on the first anniversary of the system’s implementation, the Times reported the application of 25 X ratings (compared to 101 Rs, 170 Ms, and 139 Gs). In the 1970–71 season, at its height, 48 films carried the rating. The next year, that number dropped to six. “Everybody was caught in the newfound freedom,” MGM president James Aubrey told Variety. “The industry wallowed in it. But while permissive films might have been successful six months ago, they aren’t now. The whole country has undergone a big reversal of taste, one of the most remarkable in recent times.”
Film critics and industry observers attempted to save the rating, or at least its more artistic iteration. The New York Film Critics Circle proposed a revision of the ratings system to fix the problem; one of its members, New York film critic Judith Crist, penned an open letter to MPAA head Valenti, writing, “You have forced upon established filmmakers a marketplace level of bargaining, interfering with their creative concepts when, for sheer survival, they must cut their films to get an ‘R’ rather than ‘X.’”
In responding to these complaints, Valenti pivoted from his 1968 position, and held a new one for the rest of his life. “The movie rating system is made for parents, repeat, parents, not professional critics or movie historians,” he wrote in a 1972 editorial in the Times, in response to film critic Vincent Canby. “That’s the rating program. No more, no less. It is not for Mr. Canby or anyone else over 17 who is not married or, if married, childless.” The idea that his newfound mission was actually censoring art geared toward the unmarried or childless was something Valenti couldn’t imagine — or, more likely, refused to.
And thus, the mainstream X died. Some studios “publicly vowed not to produce or distribute films which might get that tag,” reported the Associated Press, while “others have no such announced policy, but say privately they ‘probably wouldn’t’ now make a picture that would get that kind of rating.” Instead, in the years since, such pictures would be carefully recut and resubmitted for the R rating, often with helpful suggestions from the ratings board — a trim here, a shuffling of shots there. Occasional genre films would wear their X classification as a point of pride, as The Street Fighter did in 1975. Others, like George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, declined their Xs, and were released “unrated.”