Wednesday, September 13, 2006


When I went to India in May I downgraded my phone/cable/internet package to the cheapest one I could get without having to return the equipment. Since returning I've maintained the status quo -- meaning there's no HBO, Sundance, Showtime or BBC America; using the Internet is akin to tapping out messages on a telegraph,; and I must pay for each and every long-distance telephone call. But it's worth it. Why? Because it saves me $100 per month. In a year that's nearly $1200 which is nearly a plane ticket to India.

The savings means, of course, that I can splurge a little bit elsewhere -- especially since I've been borrowing India documentaries from the library (Did you know that between 273 BC and 232 BC. the Maurya gained control of most of what is now India, plus Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan -- and that after winning a war against the Kalinga in which 110,000 were killed, King Ashoka-the-Great put down his arms, embraced his Buddhism and implemented a ton of social reforms that included protecting animals, promoting vegetariansim and treating his subjects as equals regardless of their religion, politics and caste? Or that freedom fighter and Pakistani prime minster Mohammad Ali Jinna was cornered into demanding a separate Muslim state? Or that in addition to meaning "Land of the Pure" in Urdu, the name "Pakistan" is an acronym for its states, including Punjab, North-West Frontier (Afghania) Province, Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan? Or that "No Full Stops in India" author Mark Tully loves trains, was born in Calcutta and speaks fluent Hindi/Urdu? Or that the rickshaws in Pakistan are white, and their trucks are even more elaborately decorated than the ones in India? The things you can learn by going to the library....).

Anyway I've been saving a bit of money, so today I couldn't stand it any more and joined Netflix.

Yes, I should become a member at local independent film and video gem (and former employer) Facets. And I will. One day. When I have more $$$.

So there I was, re-joining Netflix.

When they asked my birth year and gender I answered "1900" and "male."

This must have confused the computer. When I was deciding what to put in my queue (Raang de Basanti, Friends with Money, Lovely and Amazing, Grey Gardens, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Earth (1947) -- all of which are huge hits among the hundredsomething male set) -- the thing kept making recommendations.

Some of them made sense.

Others, of course, did not (no, I do not wish to see "Grizzly Man" or "Murderball" or "Earth vs. the Flying Saucer" or "Rocky" in Hindi -- even if I am 106).

But I scrolled down to the bottom of the last list of suggestions anyway.

And there I saw the weirdest heading of all:

"Also starring Noam Chomsky"

It was something that had never occurred to me -- that the famed MIT professor emeritus of linguistics, author and social critic is also something of a swaggering leading man.

LIke Patrick Swayze in his City of Joy days.

Or Matt Dillon, nowadays -- only older.

And taller.

And smarter (although Dillon is no idiot).

Makes you think, doesn't it?


For the record, the movies "starring" Chomsky could also serve as titles for his prog-metal albums and / or books about chess strategy:

Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without a Pause
Noam Chomsky: Distorted Morality
Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky: Imperial Grand Strategy


  1. You MUST see Murderball, easily one of the best films released last year. I'm a little biased, of course, as I'm the director, but if you can sit through hours of Bollywood films I'm not sure why you'd disregard an American-made eye-opening documentary.

  2. Actually, yes, I know some of that stuff.

    Didya know, on 13 Sept 1882 Britain invaded Egypt?

    And a Noamism for ya>
    All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.