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    • CommentAuthorgrenville
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2006
     
    Last night I watched Larry Cohen's cult classic "God Told Me To" special edition. Its a cult classic from 1976 with Tony Lo Bianco (The French Connection) as a religious New York cop sort of investigating a series of bizarre murders and massacres in which the perpetrators when asked why they did it answer because "God told me to". There are some very large logic holes in this film but you can see why it became a cult classic. The audio commentary is OK too. Cohen makes an interesting observation that B horror/sci fi films like his often last longer than A films of the same period because every 14 or 15 years a new generation is introduced to them. Do teens of the present know who Spencer Tracy and other A team studio actors of the past are? No. But they do know who Legosi and Karloff are. Interesting.

    I just got some very disturbing news. Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region where its still the fcuking Chinese 14th century -- plague, dog stew, really strange regional dialects, corrupt, smelly, filthy, disgusting, nasty place --- is where I am off to live in the New Year. Assuming, that is, they can come up with a hardship bonus offer big enough (really, really, big, big).
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeAug 14th 2006
     
    Sounds like classic "So bad it's good" material. That stuff always sticks around. The thing with cult movies is that they have a small dedicated following, as opposed to the mass market success which has a bunch of people who just see something because they want to be diverted for a few hours. That's why they stick around...

    Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region sounds like hell. Will you be there long?

    ~tallman
    • CommentAuthorSamael
    • CommentTimeAug 14th 2006
     
    Christ almight. Why would they send you there? Sounds, as tallman so accurately said, like hell.
    • CommentAuthorgrenville
    • CommentTimeAug 14th 2006
     
    Its not really "so bad its good" because its not a bad film. Its not Ed Wood type bad/good, put it that way. If you were an average 1976 movie-goer you would perhaps think it a bit strange and offbeat but otherwise a decent sort of movie. It has that extra something -- intriguing plot which doesn't date, good acting and an understatedness which adds interest for the more intelligent horror/sci fi film enthusiast. People like us, in other words.

    Guangxi is a shit hole like all of China with the exception of Puxi area Shanghai and Xiamen (my favourite treaty port and a very interesting place. Make it first on your list of places to visit if you ever go mainland China travelling). Guangxi has nice scenery if you like limestone karsts and steep hill rice paddies. The problem is the 50 million or so medaeval types who inhabit it. They love their dog stew there. I'm in NZ and AUS until around December. I'll definitely be back in HK after Christmas back home and then off to Guilin -- for how long I don't know. Little as possible one hopes. I have to find a new apartment in Hong Kong first.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeAug 14th 2006
     
    God Told Me To is now in my netflix queue. We'll see if it ever gets to the top...

    Out of curiosity, if this place is so backwards, what will you be doing there? In any case, I hope you don't have to spend long there...

    ~tallman
    • CommentAuthorgrenville
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2006
     
    There is lots and lots of money in China. China is growing at 10 percent a year, probably by quite a bit more. Billions and billions of dollars for the taking -- even in Guangxi now. The new policy is to spread the money around a bit to the more backward provinces. Why should Shanghai and Guangdong get it all?

    China has hundreds of millions of peasants who can be forced into working 15 hour days 6 days a week for US$50 a month in disciplined work cities. Guangdong is saturated. Why not Guangxi? Labour is even cheaper there. Here's another big selling point. China has no environmental regulations to speak of, and where they exist you can bribe your way around them. You can dump just about any toxin you like in river and soil and if the locals get sick or start dying well who gives a shit? If you are rich and powerful and want someone's land, then you just take it. If the owners don't like it and, God forbid, protest, then you get police goons to beat them up and help them to leave. You can even get any troublesome ones arrested on trumped up subversion charges. China is what you might call "business friendly". The multinationals love the place. They are moving your job over there right now.

    Have a read of this, for one example that made its way into the media. Would you buy that iPod after knowing how it was made? Apple and its subcontractor is one of the better behaved corporations, incidently: www.zonaeuropa.com/20060623_1.htm

    Don't drink the water or live near a factory:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0623/p01s03-woap.html

    And if the peasants don't want to move from the village where their families have lived for centuries to make way for industry, the 2008 Olympics and luxury housing estates for the new rich you can always send these guys in to take care of it. This could be a scene from the Godfather:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kerim/172916107/

    It won't last. Its not sustainable economic development. It will all come crashing down one day. Everyone is out to get what they can right now and don't give a shite about the future because they have made theirs already so why should they care?

    Now, and this is where people like me come in, someone has to design and build those grandiose skyscrapers that stand half empty but let the Chinese think they are modern. Someone has to design and build a magnetic Maglev train in Shanghai that goes 430 kilometres per hour and delivers a tiny number of passengers mug enough to take it to a wasteland to be eaten alive by taxi touts. It is the fastest train in the world though, and thats the important thing for the Chinese. Someone has to teach the Chinese how to terrorise indentured labourers to make them build that mp3 player faster and with fewer mistakes. Someone has to supply the armour-plated black Mercedes the bosses love. Someone has to do due dilligance. Someone with real skill has to arrange the financing for all this stuff. And someone has to arrange the foreign boltholes for the bosses when it all goes pear shaped. That's why there is money to be made for people like me in China -- even in Guangxi.

    And you bought an iPod so you are just as guilty as I am.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2006
     
    Ah, what a wonderful morning. China's horrible and I read that war in Iran is "inevitable." Great.

    ~tallman
    • CommentAuthorSamael
    • CommentTimeAug 15th 2006
     
    Heh. I was thinking the same thing. I need to not read Gren's posts before lunch from now on, I think.
    • CommentAuthorgrenville
    • CommentTimeAug 16th 2006
     
    Sorry if I upset people. The links I provided were pretty tame. I love the picture of the eviction squad. Most Chinese cops look like they can't shave yet -- sort of gangling, droopy eyed, innocent and incompetent at a comical level. But there are special cops of a certain type who look just like the guys at the front of that eviction squad. You might remember from Animal Farm where Napolion breeds the doberman pups for the special purpose of keeping Snowman and the other animals in line. Those guys are the dobermans. You see them occasionally and its best to steer clear.

    If you want something disturbing to read after lunch try this:
    http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20060814_2.htm

    And don't read this if you love dogs, but it is an example of the mob mentaility and deliberate cruelty of the Chinese towards each other. The cultural revolution was the most horrifying example of this mentalily. I imagine the mob that carried out this anti-rabies policy got a real power kick from killing people's pets or forcing people to kill their own pets. This is a mentalily that lies just beneath the surface in China and its real scary. There are pictures of this incident on the net but I won't link to them:
    http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/8-1-2006-104112.asp

    That said. I love China. It is so raw and in your face its exilerating. And you do meet some fascinating people with experiences that people in the West could never, ever have. I love going there. I just wouldn't want to live there for any length of time. And I suspect that China is about to enter a very dangerous period in the not too distant future. With a bit of luck and authoritarian government it could pull through. Or it could implode in civil war and warlord rule and get very nasty indeed. History would suggest the latter.