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Most of these broadcast on KUNM-FM; a few on KSFR-FM

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All © Jim Terr    (Audio versions at www.KUNM.org )

TheaterSalon.com - Newsletter and web site connecting performers and projects throughout northern New Mexico. A creative performance community supporting collaboration in creative possibilities!


All 2006 broadcast reviews, commentaries etc:

Review of Theater Grottesco’s “WENOMADMEN”

    Jim Terr – KUNM - August 06

There’s no theater company around here, that I know of, any more political than Santa Fe’s Theater Grottesco.

Their past two plays, including the new one, “WENOMADMEN,” are both post-Apocalyptic. And what’s more political and more relevant than looking at where we’ll be in 50 years or 250 years, after the Apocalypse has occurred, whether with a bang or a whimper – which I personally think is likely to happen unless we change direction drastically.

Theater Grottesco’s greatest gift – besides their obvious skill and discipline – is their daring, their willingness to try to create something out of nothing, at the risk of a small portion of the audience simply not getting it – which is sometimes the case, and has sometimes been the case for me, too.

In the new production, WENOMADMEN, we’re instantly thrown into a brave new world with a fearful, subjugated class of slaves and craftsmen, lorded over by a futuristic, stylized clique of bureaucrats. Everything in this production is stylized, exaggerated, minimalist, but the echoes of our own society and its anxieties are everywhere.

The tinny propaganda, the calls to heroism, the evocation of legend and of fear – it’s all there, but it’s all hanging by a thread in this primitive future where there’s not enough of anything to go around, where survival depends on a mad and probably hopeless voyage of discovery. And discovering what? Do we still think a place doesn’t exist til we “discover” it?

In this stark world, as a jury-rigged but sturdy ship sets sail to find a habitable land, drinking water is all that matters. And is there anything WE pay less attention to now, with water tables falling, and water supplies being polluted -- and privatized to boot!

The social order among the crew is quickly turned upside down. Rod Harrison, a Grottesco regular, gets a great chance to stretch out in his role as the fugitive, the stowaway whose past is finally revealed, but only after it has become almost irrelevant.

“Every 65 years a culling,” he says. “Why not make a holiday of it? Who doesn’t want to be a hero?” Why are these words so chilling, so resonant? What sort of culling are we in the midst of now? Why does this play remind me so much why SURVIVOR-type TV shows are so popular these days?

This is Grottesco at its best, creating a frightening, elegant scenario out of a deceptively simple, imaginative set; wonderfully original and evocative dance and movement, dedicated actors, a brilliant soundscape by J.A. Deane, and a finely-honed script.

Don’t miss Theater Grottesco’s WENOMADMEN, resuming tomorrow, Thursday, for its last two weekends at the Armory for the Arts in Santa Fe, call 474-8400.

This is Jim Terr.

FDR Book Review - KUNM - Jim Terr July '06

The use of the term, "the first hundred days" -- the practice of evaluating a president by what he's able to accomplish in that period of time, in his honeymoon period with the Congress and the people who elected him -- began with President Franklin Roosevelt's first hundred days in office.

Until I read "The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope", by Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, I didn't fully appreciate what deep doo-doo the US was in in the years and months before FDR assumed the presidency in 1933.

The Great Depression was on and people were out of work, banks were closing - big banks in big cities - and Alter paints the scene so vividly that we have no problem understanding why a great portion of the American public - perhaps a majority - and many major public figures - would have been fine with Roosevelt assuming dictatorial powers to bring things under control.

In probing FDR's upbringing and political history prior to his run for the presidency, Alter gives us insight into why Roosevelt resisted becoming a dictator when the role was probably available to him. He gives us a sense that FDR's essence is not easy to tease out, since the views of even those people who knew him and worked with him very closely, were sometimes contradictory.

To be sure, FDR was a politician at heart, a showman, devious and evasive when it suited him, but his policies reflected a deep faith and a sense of self-security instilled, probably most strongly, by a fiercely protective and self-confident mother, Sara. The story is told that when Franklin was a small boy, on a voyage that turned into a ship wreck, his parents kept their cool and sheltered Franklin from the chaos around him, determined that the family would continue to stick together and play happily even if the ship were going to sink.

Franklin's cheerful personality and self-confidence rubbed many the wrong way in college and in his early years as a bureaucrat, giving him a reputation as a dilettante and a lightweight - which in some ways he may have been. As fate would have it, this vibrant, social, theatrical, somewhat vain man-about-town was stricken by polio, losing the use of virtually his entire body below his arms.

His time spent in therapy, much of it among the super-poor rural folk in Warm Springs, Georgia, had a humbling and deepening effect on him, and created a sense of empathy which, most simply, characterized his term as president.

I also didn't know that he was almost assassinated during his first presidential run. The mayor of Chicago was shot instead, and eventually died, and this, too, evidently had a profound effect on Roosevelt.

Jonathan Alter, the author, is an openly liberal, Democratic columnist, and he must have worked hard to resist the temptation to compare FDR to the current president - which he does little to none of in this book. But one key difference appears repeatedly:

Many insider stories have appeared of a current president who does not question, does not explore and does not read. But Roosevelt was unique at that point in history for assembling a vast group of advisors, experts from academia, from business and government - his "Brain Trust", it was called -- , soaking up tons of often-conflicting advice, asking lots of questions, and being willing to try something and if it didn't work, trying something else.

Fortunately, FDR made many of the right choices. He was accused of being a socialist, a rich guy who betrayed The Club, for his bold moves to put the country back to work with an incredible array of government programs, resulting in many buildings and landmarks we still see today - and perhaps his most radical and lasting achievement, Social Security.

His ability to hide his crippled body from the public, his relationship with Eleanor, and her interesting relationships, and her role in bringing invaluable input from the street to Roosevelt - many fascinating threads are included in this book but Alter repeatedly re-focuses on the mysterious core of FDR and his sense of mission and his determination to make the country whole again, against all odds.

"The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope" by Jonathan Alter is a fascinating read, with more than a little relevance to our own perilous time.

This is Jim Terr.

A Dip into Utopia -- KUNM -- written July 5, 2006 ©

It's an old debate - or is it? - whether listening to the news causes depression, or whether being already depressed and listening to the news is -- like drinking and driving - almost certain to result in disaster.

In any case, I knew I was well into the despair zone when I heard the other morning that the subway crash in Valencia, Spain, resulting in the deaths of over 40 people, was due not to sabotage but to good old human error - and found myself feeling a little bit elated.

Yeah, the news is not good, as you've probably noticed. And for some of us, who haven't totally given up hope for a better outcome - and even for some of us who HAVE given up - the strangest things can provide a glimmer of optimism. Or at least a little manic uptick.

Perhaps this is why I was strangely moved by a preview performance of an original time travel comedy opening this Friday at Warehouse 21 in Santa Fe, called "It's About Time." Locally-written, and performed by a fine group of teen actors, the play is genuinely funny, clever and surprising. But it was the theme that got me, rather unexpectedly.

The time-travel story involves a future without conflict. I can remember when just hearing such a Utopian idea would have put me to sleep. And in fact I've probably seen and read a few things on this topic which HAVE put me to sleep.

But I'm older now, truly worn down by what I see going on in the world, and mercilessly immersing myself in the hopelessness of it all on a daily basis. So perhaps it was just seeing this play at the right time, hearing newly - for the first time in a long time - the suggestion of a world without war, without violence, that was so surprising and refreshing and moving. The fact that it was presented in a light, funny, almost innocent context, certainly didn't hurt. I recommend it.

Likewise, Santa Fe's treasured author, commentator and former human rights attorney Craig Barnes gave a talk the other night in connection with the release of his new book, "In Search of the Lost Feminine: Decoding the Myths that Radically Reshaped Civilization."

Barnes thoroughly scoured the surviving art of the Minoan culture for anything glorifying war or violence against women so common in subsequent times - and, dare I say it, even today - and found none. His thesis is that this advanced culture somehow existed without war, and he traces exactly when and why and how war and the subjugation of women began to climb the charts.

He insists that he's not projecting peacenik values backward, but simply putting on his attorney's hat and looking for evidence. Again, the idea of a world without war, without glorification of violence, celebrating nature, unexpectedly struck me like a runaway beer truck -- no doubt because of how deeply I've bought in to the current darkness, myself.

I recommend you take a dip into the Utopian and see if it doesn't help revive you as well.

This is Jim Terr

Essay: The Attack Industry, National and Local
     Jim Terr © 06-06 KUNM

STATION INTRO: For some people, the current state of political debate has become confusing and frustrating, and has left them longing for some real substantive discussion of issues rather than posturing. KUNM commentator Jim Terr says if anyone is benefiting from the confusion, they're benefiting greatly at this moment.

A friend sent me this morning – strictly for my amusement and amazement, I hope – a ten-minute clip of right-wing pundit Ann Coulter reading from her best-selling book.

I made it exactly one minute and nineteen seconds into the reading before my curiosity was overwhelmed by disgust. She was painting some grotesque, exaggerated and unrecognizable portrait of liberals – of whom I know quite a few and probably am one – for the benefit of those who don’t get out much, and don’t know any liberals personally. Except as they are caricatured by Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and others in what I can only see as The Attack Industry.

Later the same morning, I turned on the radio and immediately heard a caller accuse liberals of funding – not supporting or cheering but FUNDING – the insurgency in Iraq, to make George Bush look bad! This sort of wackiness can only flourish by a systematic idolizing of those who proclaim themselves most Godly – no matter how vicious they show themselves to be --, by demonizing those of us who question them, and by dismissing and demonizing the professional news media as either “liberal” or “corporate-controlled.”

So-called major media reporters can’t be counted on to ask obvious questions like “Excuse me, what did you say the war in Iraq has to do with avenging or preventing another 9-11, again?” – but they are constrained to bring a degree of balance and verifiable reality to what they report.

I know a few Republicans and conservatives, all nice people on a personal level, wanting the best for everyone as far as I can tell, and it frankly amazes me how they can buy into what I see as the obvious lies, fear-mongering and hate-mongering of the current administration and their many spokespeople. And they probably think I’m equally deluded.

The divide between what I see and what conservatives see has grown so large, the willingness to listen has grown so small, that this polarization, this hostility, is now a bigger problem than almost any of the other issues that we face. Perhaps we can all agree that none of our major issues are truly being addressed because most of the energy and focus are on the mutual hate and suspicion -- fighting each other instead of addressing our real problems – and I don’t meant the mostly phony “culture war.” Yes, I can get away with anything – including sabotaging your best interests – if you think I’m protecting you from THOSE guys.

It’s a situation that promotes the horrors and absurdities we read about every day – and our resulting impotence, confusion and frustration – which can only benefit up-and-coming demagogues and dictators, and Big Business. And I frankly have no clue how to attack the problem, except for an occasional salvo of satire.

Looking at this on a local level, our new Republican gubernatorial candidate, John Dendahl, has just let us know explicitly that we will be getting no discussion of anything substantive or risky during his gubernatorial run, but only attacks. At least he's honest about what we can look forward to, but isn't this exactly what Republicans are always pretending to complain about Democrats for -- all criticism and no solutions?

And the current Governor has let us know through his spokesman that he will not commit to debating Dendahl. If the Governor doesn't have the self-confidence to rebut Dendahl's attacks in person, in real time, and doesn't have enough respect for us voters to favor us with a public debate, I would never vote for him again.

The fact that I have to worry about whether that statement will bring down the Governor's wrath -- as so many others evidently do worry -- shows what a banana republic we've become. Fortunately I don't think I've asked or been given any favors by the Governor, so hopefully don't have much to lose.

Finally, the fact that the Governor and Senator Bingaman are so bloated with campaign funds that they're already battering us with warm, fuzzy ads about how great and benevolent they are, speaks volumes about how corrupt the system is and how badly public campaign financing is needed. That’s an issue that we will NOT be hearing anything about from these three gentlemen.

Boy, I can't wait to vote in this exciting process!

This is Jim Terr.

Essay: Support locally-written feature films
Jim Terr - KUNM-FM 6-6-06 (c)    LISTEN

NOTE: I regret that I didn't mention the Governor's Cup competition as fostering New Mexico creativity/filmmaking. I didn't mean to slight it -- I simply forgot to mention it.

INTRO: Commentator and reviewer Jim Terr has watched a lot of Hollywood films which were produced in New Mexico -- and he's directed and acted in a few films himself. He has some thoughts on feature films that are WRITTEN here as well.

If case you haven’t noticed, New Mexico is in the midst of a movie boom. We’ve got more Hollywood movies shooting in the state at this moment than we’ve had in an entire year at times in recent decades. There are three separate Hollywood feature films shooting at one movie ranch near Santa Fe right now!

This can only be considered a good thing, bringing lots of money and employment to the state, and credit should go to the many forward-thinking politicians and private citizens who brought about the incentives that have resulted in this boom.

But there’s another side of feature film making that could be just as profitable for the state, and even more exciting. And that is the production of home-grown, locally-written feature films.

Think about it: We have the crews to pull off a good-looking, good-sounding film – which is no small feat. We have the varied locales to create virtually any look, including small-town Midwestern. We have more creative talent – good writers and good actors – than we know what to do with.

And finally, we have an extraordinary number of people for whom a quarter-million-dollar investment in a feature film would be no big deal, no catastrophic risk. Even Los Alamos, a town you don’t usually think of as particularly wealthy, has a greater proportion of millionaires than any city in the country – according to recent news reports.

A quarter-million dollars is one one-hundredth of what a relatively low-budget Hollywood film costs, but enough to pay cast and crew and get a good-looking, good-sounding movie out of a first-time feature film director looking for a chance.

And what would an investor get for his or her quarter-million dollars, potentially? Well, we all know about “The Blair Witch Project”, which cost only $25,000 to shoot and which made a quarter-BILLION dollars worldwide. That may be the exception, but it’s possible. There are hundreds of ways to market and profit from a good, low-budget film, especially with the emergence of so-called new media.

New Mexico had one of the first on-the-spot filmmaking festivals, “Flicks on 66”, at which I had the privilege of writing and directing the first runner-up film in 2001. It was a tremendous opportunity for all of us, and the opportunity continues with this summer’s Duke City Shootout in July.

I dare say I’ve seen short films written and produced in New Mexico that are more entertaining than many of the Hollywood feature films that have been shot here –with all due respect. Hell, I’ve got scripts that are more interesting – and I’ll write in your wife, daughter or any other would-be star, and make ‘em look good, too. A regular HollywoodMe right here in New Mexico!

Tomorrow night at the Albuquerque Academy, some serious young filmmakers will be pitching for funding for a feature film. And Sunday night at the Hispanic Cultural Center, some serious documentary filmmakers will be pitching as well.

Hey, how about liquidating some of that Wal-Mart stock and taking a chance on New Mexico filmmakers?

This is Jim Terr.

TAG: Details on the two upcoming filmmaker presentations mentioned in the preceding story are at www.LasVegasNMFilm.com

NOTE: Please also see www.HollywoodMe.com

** "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days"
            Film review
© 4-06 Jim Terr

"Shocking", "compelling," "transfixing," "devastating" - these are the sort of adjectives commonly thrown around by reviewers. Sometimes, perhaps, the shock and the devastation recede a bit in the weeks and months following the writing of a review, making the reviewer wish he or she had chosen words a little less dramatic.

It's been over four months since I saw "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days", at the Santa Fe film festival, and that feeling of shock and awe that I felt at the time has not diminished in the least.

The Oscar-nominated film is starting its run at The Screen in Santa Fe, and I'd like to recommend that you go get shocked and awed for yourself.

If you saw the unusual documentary, "Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary," you may remember that right near the end, Traudl Junge, the secretary, says that it was many years after her service to Hitler, as she walked one day past a statue of Sophie Scholl, of the short-lived White Rose Society resistance movement, that she finally realized the horror of what she'd been a part of. "It was no excuse to be young," she says, "It would have been possible to find things out."

"Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" recounts the crime that got young Sophie and her brother arrested - leafleting an empty university building with anti-Nazi fliers - and the days of interrogation leading up to their execution.

The film utilizes transcripts of her interrogation which were discovered only recently, and the producers evidently felt no need to spice up the narrative with romance, comedy or car chases. All the drama you could ever need - yes, "Shocking", "compelling," "transfixing" and "devastating"- unfolds as Sophie tries at first to evade prosecution, then faces up proudly to what she's done.

She's even given a chance to avoid execution in the process, but she goes bravely to her fate, and gives the Nazi kangaroo court an earful while she's at it.

Julia Jentsch gives a brilliant, slightly understated performance as Sophie Scholl - sweet, almost innocent but totally resolute -- that will burn itself into your soul.

Even the movie's website, www.SophieSchollMovie.com - manages to capture some of the tension of the film, and there you can read the text of the leaflet that led, ultimately, to the execution of this small band of heroes, The White Rose Society. That text, reproduced on the website, will surprise you.

"Sophie Scholl: The Final Days," is playing at the Screen in Santa Fe, and I truly hope it will be booked soon in Albuquerque as well.

This is Jim Terr

"Too Hot Not to Handle"
HBO documentary review © Jim Terr 4-06

HBO's new documentary, "Too Hot Not to Handle," illustrates in excruciating, frightening detail the great increase in the frequency and severity of killer storms, killer heat waves, droughts, and other symptoms of a long-term warming trend. No snowpack, no water, dying crops, greater transmissibility of tropical disease, longer allergy seasons, 185 mph hurricanes, hundreds dying from heat waves in Chicago, thousands in Europe - it's all happening, with more to come.

Evidently no scientists except those whose research is sponsored by the fossil fuel industry, question that this is likely due to the greenhouse effect, caused by the millions of tons of gases and particles from fossil fuels we've been burning over the past century. Glaciers are receding. The film shows many side-by-side, before-and-after photos of identical locations in Alaska, Greenland and in the Arctic, taken 30 or 50 or 100 years ago, huge glaciers then and fragrant meadows now.

When all the glaciers in Alaska melt, sea level will rise one foot; Greenland twenty feet; when all ice caps melt - 200 feet! That will indeed make a few beachfront properties and major cities and countries uninhabitable.

But wait - those unfrozen ports, that unfrozen land will make it so much easier for oil companies to drill for new oil in those formerly-ice-locked regions. And we'll gladly use that oil - isn't that convenient for everyone?

"Too Hot Not to Handle" doesn't explore the world view of those who willingly deny this trend and the imperative to do something about it. Do these people not have children and grandchildren? Do they expect to live in colonies on Mars, or elsewhere in heaven, when things get even worse, when their beachfront properties are submerged? But that isn't within the purview of this documentary; it's just one of those little things I wonder about.

The documentary's job - and it does it well - is to interview several scientists about what's going on, just how bad it is, and how incredibly long it will take to reverse this trend - even if we start now, if it's not already too late.

After thoroughly scaring the crap out of you, "Too Hot Not to Handle" offers a few solutions, a few examples of businesses, cities and other entities who find it makes sense to pitch in and save our planet as a habitat for human life.

Small solutions add up, I suppose: conservation, alternative energy, hybrid cars, biodiesel trucks, ethanol. Now there's one I never understood: growing corn and depleting the water table to make fuel for cars. But the documentary claims that a significant source is the silage that's otherwise thrown away, so that makes a little more sense anyhow.

Albuquerque is one of a handful of US cities committed to a comprehensive energy policy to address this problem. Mayor Martin Chavez explains why:

(MAYOR audio:) "As the mayor of a major city, it is frustrating to watch the federal government dicker when the reality of global warming is here. America's mayors don't intend to let federal inaction deter us from doing the right thing for our planet."

Get outraged, get informed, get hopeful (but as for me, not TOO hopeful!); see "Too Hot Not to Handle," during the next few weeks on HBO.

This is Jim Terr.

theater review Jim Terr 4-06 ©

There's something thrilling about watching great craftsmen at work, seeing someone doing something really well - whether building a house, fixing a car, teaching a class, or creating live theater.

Santa Fe's fine small theater company, Ironweed productions, has put together a production of Sam Shepard's "True West" which grabs you from the first moment, and pretty much never lets loose.

In the performance I saw, in a beautiful small corner set carved out of El Museo Cultural in Santa Fe's railyard, Scott Harrison plays the good brother, screenwriter Austin, hanging out at his mom's house outside Los Angeles while she's on vacation, so he can finish up a screenplay and have a meeting with his agent, named… Saul! (Thanks for the subtle touch there, Mr. Shepard!)

Hanging around and making Austin mighty nervous is his black-sheep brother, stringy-haired, psycho petty thief, Lee, played perfectly by Eric Kaiser. High-strung, violent, blaming everyone but himself, just in from the desert where he hides out, Lee would make anyone nervous.

But Austin is trying to get some serious work done in preparation for a meeting with his agent the next day, and he gives Lee the keys to his car only very reluctantly in order to get him out of the house so as not to interrupt.

Of course it doesn't work out quite that way. Well…it doesn't work out anything near that way. In fact, things take such a bizarre turn that you know you're not in the so-called real world any more, you're in theater-land. Who's the good guy, who's the bad guy, who's nuts and who's not, who's going to succeed in Hollywood and who's going to succeed in the world of crime - everything spins out of control as True West enters phase two.

Adding to the suspense and interest is trying to imagine each actor playing the other role. Because in addition to the role reversal that occurs in the story, in Ironweed's production the actors actually do switch roles at various points in the show's run, so for a discount price you can see the play a second time, with the lead actors swapping roles to play the other brother!

In keeping with a great tradition in Santa Fe theater, there is no phone number or website listed on the program to make it easy to recommend the play to friends you'd like to see it, but I've got the inside information:

Call 660-2379 for play dates for this very fine performance of True West at El Museo Cultural, and try to go a second time, another evening, to see the reverse casting. That's 660-2379.

This is Jim Terr.

"All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise"
    (review - HBO) Jim Terr April 5, 2006 © - KUNM-FM

It's often said that support for gay rights and gay unions and gay adoptions increases as people who are opposed, simply get to know some living examples, rather than living with their worst fantasies and stereotypes.

A new HBO documentary should go a long way in advancing the real-life experience over the stereotypes and fantasies.

A couple years ago Rosie O'Donnell and her partner organized a one-week Caribbean cruise on one of the world's largest cruise ships, for 1,500 people - gay, straight, families, young and old. The documentary about the cruise, despite the un-promising title, "All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise," is moving and eye-opening.

As a viewer, I had to set aside my ideas about how the only thing more boring than a cruise would be a film about a cruise, but my own pre-conceptions quickly fell away as I got drawn into the many intimate portraits of loving couples and their beautiful, happy, and sometimes startlingly articulate children.

I always think it's hilarious that gay people are sometimes described as "sissies" - as happened when this group disembarked in the Bahamas and ran into an anti-gay demonstration - when in fact it obviously takes unusual courage to be gay if you're gay, and for you and your children to put up with the inevitable harassment. Rosie O'Donnell isn't the only tough cookie on this cruise.

One of the most moving sequences was hearing from former NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo about having lived a secret gay life while he was competing, and coming out for the benefit of his children, whom he adopted from within his family. Like anything new, getting to know these families as they enjoyed this week in a safe environment, was a real revelation. I guess I, too, needed to meet more gay people - particularly families.

Director Shari Cookson says it was an eye-opener for her, as well. A straight women, she returned with her husband and family for the next cruise, a year later: (audio…)

"All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise" will play on HBO for the next several weeks. This is Jim Terr

(Broadcast by KUNM-FM 03-28-06) © 2006 LISTEN

If you’ve never thought about it, or tried it, finding a good name for a website is a fascinating exercise. There are websites which sell these domain names, as they’re called, and which can instantly look up any names you have in mind, to see if they’re taken.

For every name that someone has purchased to use for an actual website, there are probably five that have been bought to speculate with, to try to sell to someone else who comes along later and might actually need it and will pay top dollar for it. So when you're trying to find an original, catchy, memorable domain name at this point, the pickings are slim because most names you're likely to think of, have been taken.

What’s fun about it, though, is that as you tear through the possibilities to see what might still be available, you get the feeling you’re matching wits with other would-be marketing geniuses out there, almost like you’re playing a real-time, on-line chess game.

I recently looked for a name for a website I was putting together for my radio jingles, and the first one I tried, the most obvious one for me, JingleJim (dot-com), was of course taken. JTJingles and JimJingles were available, but not too compelling. So I checked out a few others, all of which were taken: SingleJingle, Jingler, RadioJingles, JingleJungle, and Jumpin Jingles. A few which WERE available were Jingle-Minded, JingleJive, and Jingular.com – which made the final cut which I later put out to my friends for a vote.

OK, now I’m really getting into it. I thought of names that are puns or references to other things and other phrases. JingleFever, JingleBells and JinglesAllTheWay were taken, but JingleFile, JingleHanded, JinglesWild, JingleBook, and Jingleheimer were available. As were TinyJingles, -- get it? (sing: “TinyJingles…”), JinglePiper (a reference to Peter Piper – I think), JinglesMalone (referring to Potatoes O’Brien), and JingleWeed (a reference to – well, I’m not sure). JingleShot, JinglesAway, WholeLottaJingles, and JingleBoogie WERE available, and also made it to the final nine for voting. At this point I sent a preliminary poll out to friends, and a friend of mine, a pretty big radio talk show host, suggested It’sAJingleOutThere, perhaps a little too cute for me, but which I did include in the final ballot.

Then there’s the sort of generic category, little added-on phrases that you could apply to anything you’re selling – gift cards, kitchenware, pet supplies. Like JingleCity, JingleWorks, JustJingles, JingleJoint, JingleThing, JingleHound, JinglePie, MisterJingles, DoctorJingles, BigJingles, and JingleBarn – yech!! -- all taken – and the following which WERE available but also too insipid to use: JingleJar, JingleJug, JuicyJingles, UncleJingles and JinglePark.

Finally those that were just plain stupid and don’t ask me why I even considered them: JingleJuice, JingleJustice, JingleSprings, JingleSwings, JinglesWithHam, JinglesWithFries, JingleBoat and EternalJingles.

When I put the finalists out to friends for a vote, it was pretty much a tie between JingleBoogie, It’sAJingleOutThere, and Jingular – dot com.

As is my prerogative, I broke the tie, and the winner is..., let’s see... opening the envelope here... – www.Jingular.com! A singular choice, I’m so honored, and I’d like to thank my… oh well, never mind.

This is Jim Terr.


      documentary review for KUNM, 3-15-06, Jim Terr

Like Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, or the Ten Commandments, most of us have heard President Eisenhower's dire warning in his 1961 presidential farewell address, about the emergence of a "military-industrial complex." He invented the term to describe a monster with a life of its own, feeding itself, corrupting the political process and generating a state of permanent warfare to keep itself alive. But like those other famous speeches, how many of us have paid attention or really done anything about it?

As the Supreme Allied Commander in World War Two, Eisenhower saw it coming even then, as the country built up to fight that war, and as president he was in a unique position to observe and understand - as he said - the politics of the defense industry and how it seduces politicians and the public for its own ends. And it gave him the credibility to make this unexpected charge during his farewell address.

The new documentary, WHY WE FIGHT, examines what has developed in the 45 years since Eisenhower gave his startling warning, which obviously went unheeded. The US's military budget dwarfs that of the next eight countries combined. (What ever happened to the peace dividend that was supposed to result from the collapse of the Soviet Union, by the way?) When a new weapons system is approved, the contractor often makes sure that components are manufactured in all 50 states, so every senator and congressperson has a stake in supporting it, to bring home the bacon and ensure their re-election.

Did you know that the accepted equation is that 100 jobs equal 500 votes?

WHY WE FIGHT effectively follows several individuals through time, as the film lays out its case in a relatively balanced manner. Two are American bomber pilots who tried to take out Saddam and his leadership early in the current war.

One is a young man who sees no alternative but to join the military. One is a father, a hard-boiled New York City cop, who lost a son in the 9-11 attacks and who wants revenge, who even asked that his son's name be written on a bomb to be dropped during the current war, and who was startled and sickened to hear President Bush admit later that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. Why he didn't figure this out earlier is another story, and an important one, but is not the subject of WHY WE FIGHT. One of the interviewees points out that war profits are up 25% in just one year, and when profits go up - surprise! - war becomes more likely. A bumper sticker I saw yesterday, that said "I'm against the NEXT war," becomes more relevant and less funny in this context.

WHY WE FIGHT lays out plainly Dick Cheney's lifelong career as an industrialist and hawk, now in the frightening position of creating policy exactly as he would like it. Dan Rather makes the obvious but chilling observation that one hallmark of a fascist state is a chorus of government officials and senators singing in unison the praises of the great leader. Sound familiar?

The most effective ongoing interview in my opinion is with Lt. Gen. Karen Kwiatowski, who served for years in the military and the Pentagon and finally quit in disgust when it became clear to her how the defense industry dictated policy to the Pentagon, and how the Pentagon - especially in the run-up to the current war - blatantly manipulated the available intelligence to sell a bogus war that was in the making long before 9-11.

Right up there with Lt. Kwiatowski is CIA veteran Chalmers Johnson, who provides the most extensive narrative, coldly explaining HOW the defense industry, the military and the Congress got in bed together and will evidently be unable to get out, short of a general uprising in the country. WHY WE FIGHT stands a fair chance of generating that uprising, and should be seen by everyone - liberal, conservative or simply concerned about where all the money and lives are going.

WHY WE FIGHT is playing at the CCA in Santa Fe. This is Jim Terr.

documentary review - Jim Terr © 2006

I don't know why, exactly, but I've always been struck by the plight of the convicts who have been released from prison, due to examination of stored DNA evidence by methods that weren't available at the times of these crimes and convictions, some as long as a quarter century ago.

A new documentary called "After Innocence," which won the Sundance Festival's Special Jury Award, and which has been featured and lauded at many other festivals as well, examines the lives of several men released from prison through the work of The Innocence Project (which originated, I'm proud to say, at the law school of my alma mater, Northwestern University). Over 100 prisoners have been released due to the work of these attorneys and law student volunteers.

"After Innocence" examines the stories and struggles of five released men, some of whom were in prison for as long as 23 years, and some of whom were on death row. Shockingly, up until very recently, there was no provision in any state for any official apology, let alone compensation for time and life lost, nor even expunging of the prison record.

That's right, if you're exonerated and released from prison after 10 or 20 years, you not only don't get any apology or any money, you have to pay an attorney to fight with the state to get your record expunged, so you can have some hope of finding a job! It's discouraging to think how many innocent men and women are still in prison and will stay there, or have died there, due to lack of evidence that could have exonerated them - and the resistance of some prosecutors to re-opening cases in which they've already won convictions.

One of the exonerees featured in the film was at the showing I attended at The Screen in Santa Fe. He languished in a Florida prison for three years AFTER he was exonerated, and he reports that he felt the prosecutors and many in the penal system were angry that he was innocent! The stories in "After Innocence" are heartbreaking, but also encouraging in the dignity of the exonerees, their commitment to not letting anger and hatred get in the way of enjoying what free life they have left, and the courage of their families and the volunteers who helped free them. "After Innocence" is a must for anyone interested in social justice.

It plays this week only at The Screen in Santa Fe. This is Jim Terr.

doc. review Jim Terr 2-15-06

Filmmaker Amy Maner worked for years putting together her documentary, "LUBBOCK LIGHTS", about the hidden musical legacy of her home town, Lubbock, Texas. I say hidden because "LUBBOCK LIGHTS" is not about the strange number of well-known stars who grew up in or near Lubbock: Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Bob Wills, Mac Davis, and one of the Dixie Chicks.

Rather, the documentary focuses on some of the lesser-known, but perhaps equally brilliant singer/songwriters to emerge from Lubbock: Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock - known collectively as "The Flatlanders", local country music king-turned-guru Tommy Hancock and his family band, now called The Tejana Dames - who lived and developed musically in the forest near Questa, New Mexico, by the way - Santa Fe's own artist/writer/performer, Terry Allen, and many others.

Maner wanted to capture what's been called "the most magically drab space in the world." Or, as one of her interviewees calls it, the "violent emptiness" of West Texas, that many songwriters and performers have credited with somehow vaulting them into creating something even more real, more magical, in response to that great void. One of the interviewees says that in this void, this emptiness, the music drifting in from Mexican powerhouse station XERF was like "secret messages from the other side of the universe" - exactly like KOMA out of Oklahoma City was for me when I was a teenager.

Lubbock is the biggest town within 300 miles, its Cotton Club the biggest honky-tonk between Dallas and Los Angeles, making it a magnet and breeding ground for so many up-and-coming artists, some of them now famous, some semi-famous, and some now gone. Tommy Hancock says of Lubbock, "I would describe Lubbock to an outsider as a great place to live. But I wouldn't want to visit there."

I found "Lubbock Lights" thrilling and captivating, and not just because I've been privileged to know so many of the artists featured. The friend I watched it with, who was totally unfamiliar with the artists, found it just as rich and satisfying. It's a film so full of heart; in their wonderfully thoughtful ways, all the interviewees shed light on how landscape, history and culture can combine to bring out the musical and spiritual best in a crop of remarkable artists.

The film somehow misses the one singer/songwriter of this bunch I really like best - David Halley - but regardless, "Lubbock Lights" is a fascinating, wonderful documentary, rich in beautiful, moving, original music, and shouldn't be missed. It plays this weekend only at the Film Center in Santa Fe. This is Jim Terr.

Film Review - Jim Terr 2-8-06

For various reasons, I would be about the last person likely to enjoy and appreciate an Israeli movie set in the world of ultra-orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, during the holy days of Sukkoth.

"Ushpizin," the title, refers to the "holy guests" who may miraculously show up during this holiday, to take shelter in a small structure called a "sukkah", built just for this purpose. Moshe is a poor, devout rabbi, struggling not only with poverty but with a childless marriage. The two visitors who show up unexpectedly to take shelter in the sukkah which Moshe has been very lucky to find and assemble, are far from holy, however, and try to draw Moshe into his surprising, much shadier past.

He and his doubting wife Mali (spouses in real life, incidentally) shower these friends with hospitality nonetheless, for it is their duty, and they do not take their obligations to God lightly.

To Moshe, everything is a matter of faith. Just when things are at their worst, and when Moshe and his wife are praying the hardest for a miracle, they get one. Belief and reality clash repeatedly, however, in the finest style of a great story by, say, Isaac Bashevis Singer -- or Mark Twain for that matter. This movie is being promoted as a comedy, and it does have its incredibly funny moments, but it's got the full-bodied texture of heartbreak as well, conveyed beautifully by flawless, believable actors.

Suffice it to say that my moviegoing friend and I had to forgo some of our usual extra-curricular movie-watching amusements so as not to miss a single line of this movie - it was that compelling. The fact that the world in which this story takes place is so foreign to us, makes its effectiveness even more of a miracle.

What a lesson in moviemaking and storytelling is this small wonder of a film. "Ushpizin" is just beginning its run at the CCA in Santa Fe, and I hope you won't miss it. This is Jim Terr.


DOMAIN NAME SEARCH (Jingle Name Search) essay Jim Terr 2-24-06

If you've never thought about it, or tried it, finding a good name for a website is a fascinating exercise. There are websites which sell these domain names, as they're called, and which can instantly look up any names you have in mind, to see if they're taken.

For every name that someone has bought to use for an actual website, there are probably five that have been bought to speculate with, to try to sell to someone else who comes along later and might actually need it and will pay top dollar for it. So when you're trying to find an original, catchy, memorable domain name at this point, the pickings are slim because most names you're likely to think of, have been bought.

What's fun about it, though, is that as you tear through the possibilities to see what might still be available, you get the feeling you're matching wits with other would-be marketing geniuses out there, almost like you're playing a real-time, on-line chess game.

I recently looked for a name for a website I was putting together for my radio jingles, and the first one I tried, the most obvious one for me, JingleJim (dot-com), was of course taken. JTJingles and JimJingles were available, but not too compelling. So I checked out a few others, all of which were taken: SingleJingle, Jingler, RadioJingles, JingleJungle, and Jumpin Jingles. A few which WERE available were Jingle-Minded, JingleJive, and Jingular.com - which made the final cut which I later put out to my friends for a vote.

OK, now I'm really getting into it. I thought of names that are puns or references to other things and other phrases. JingleFever, JingleBells and JinglesAllTheWay were taken, but JingleFile, JingleHanded, JinglesWild, JingleBook, and Jingleheimer were available. As were TinyJingles, -- get it? (sing: "TinyJingles…"), JinglePiper (a reference to Peter Piper - I think), JinglesMalone (referring to Potatoes O'Brien), and JingleWeed (a reference to - well, I'm not sure). JingleShot, JinglesAway, WholeLottaJingles, and JingleBoogie WERE available, and also made it to the final nine for voting. At this point I sent a preliminary poll out to friends, and a friend of mine, a pretty big radio talk show host, suggested It'sAJingleOutThere, perhaps a little too cute for me, but which I did include in the final ballot.

Then there's the sort of generic category, little added-on phrases that you could apply to anything you're selling - gift cards, kitchenware, pet supplies. Like JingleCity, JingleWorks, JustJingles, JingleJoint, JingleThing, JingleHound, JinglePie, MisterJingles, DoctorJingles, BigJingles, and JingleBarn - yech!! -- all taken - and the following which WERE available but also too insipid to use: JingleJar, JingleJug, JuicyJingles, UncleJingles and JinglePark.

Finally those that were just plain stupid and don't ask me why I even considered them: JingleJuice, JingleJustice, JingleSprings, JingleSwings, JinglesWithHam, JinglesWithFries, JingleBoat and EternalJingles.

When I put the finalists out to friends for a vote, it was pretty much a tie between JingleBoogie, It'sAJingleOutThere, and Jingular - dot com.

As is my prerogative, I broke the tie, and the winner is, let's see here, opening the envelope here - Jingular - dot com. A singular choice, I'm so honored, and I'd like to thank my… oh well, never mind. This is Jim Terr.


       documentary review Jim Terr 2-7-06

It's not a new observation that our Western culture regards death as not only unwelcome, but foreign, something to be ignored and regarded as something other than part of life.

So-called Third World countries such as Mexico and India come to mind as places where death is more studied and accepted, or at least expected.

A documentary debuting this weekend at The Guild in Albuquerque and showing Saturday only at the CCA in Santa Fe, called "Ganges: River to Heaven," examines the role of the Ganges River and the Indian city of Kashi, in the Hindu view of death.

According to the documentary, Hindu lore assures that provided a person lives a good life, their soul will find eternal rest if it is cremated and deposited, according to ritual, in the Ganges River, in the city of Kashi. The film centers on a charitable hospice in Kashi where people have brought their dying mothers, grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, sometimes from hundreds of miles away, to live out their last few days before undergoing this ritual, which is carried out mostly by members of the "untouchable" caste.

There is a thriving industry in Kashi, providing wood for the funeral pyres, fabric wrapping of various grades for the bodies, and even clarified butter or "ghee" to help with the incineration.

Although much of this ritual seems so foreign, I found a certain resonance in the prescribed practice of the oldest son being shaved before setting the funeral pyre ablaze, and in regarding the flame as part of a larger, holy, eternal fire connected with Shiva and with this ritual.

Although the movie lacks a certain dramatic arc present in most documentaries these days, it is beautifully shot and produced, and there's a lot of value for a Westerner like myself, and possibly yourself, in simply contemplating the relatively matter-of-fact manner in which death is regarded in India. Even the cows, dogs and monkeys in ample supply on the streets, shown in the film, convey a sense of unthreatened peace which also feels worthwhile to absorb.

There is little grief portrayed in the film, among the attending relatives, but it's hard to know whether the grief response is actually different in India, or whether this simply reflects a respectful approach by the filmmakers.

The film doesn't shy away from the health and environmental problems caused not only by decaying bodies, but sewage as well, deposited in the Ganges. There are some fascinating discussions with Indian scientists who fully recognize the problem, and are trying to find solutions, but who still recognize that they're of two minds, one scientific and one religious, when it comes to the river and its role in the Hindu religion.

"Ganges: River to Heaven" premieres this weekend at the Guild Theater in Albuquerque. Producer Gayle Ferraro, along with Camille Adair-Norwick of Project Life Stories, will host a discussion after the early evening showing Friday night at the Guild in Albuquerque, and at the single showing at the CCA in Santa Fe, Saturday at 3:15 pm. This is Jim Terr.



Jim Terr © 1-29-06

Santa Fe's Theater Grottesco has deservedly built a reputation as a consistently skilled, daring and innovative company. While a few of their pieces over the years have eluded me, they can never be accused of getting in any sort of rut, or sticking with any sort of formula for success, but rather always trying something new.

Grottesco's current offering, playing only one more weekend, is called "Winter One-Acts", two pieces co-written by Santa Fe writers, and both co-developed with Grottesco founding member Elizabeth Wiseman. Wiseman also plays a brilliant part in the first of the one-acts, "Swimming in the Gases of Jupiter, a modern Fairy Tale," co-created by Santa Fe actor Anna Bogaard, who co-stars.

The drama starts immediately when school teacher Bogaard arrives in town and finds a homeless, wheelchair-bound woman squatting in the flat she has rented, and calls the police after being unable to convince the woman to leave. The homeless woman turns out to be another sort of being entirely, confined to a wheelchair for a startling reason, and as the historical and moral issues begin to unfold, magical realism rears its head in flights of beautiful, imaginative stage work that few but Grottesco can accomplish. "Swimming in the Gases of Jupiter" grabs you and won't let you go - again, if you're open to Theater Grottesco's daring leaps.

Then comes the second piece, "Motherland," co-created by performance artist Barbara Z. There was a book once called something like "Motel of the Gods," which imagined what archeologists of the future would make of prehistoric artifacts dug up from a 20th century motel -- their religious significance, the wild guesses at the purpose of various objects and pieces of furniture. Keep that in mind as members of this prehistoric band on stage strike out to explore the land across the river, once they figure out how to lay out rocks in order to cross.

The beginnings of agriculture, even the concept of creating a bag to put things in, are played out before our eyes in ways that are amazingly believable, and wonderfully reminiscent of a child's sense of discovery. Actor Todd Anderson is back with Grottesco again, and he's a whirlwind of intensity and awe.

Barbara Z, who's also an on-stage performer in the piece, had a near-fatal brush with cancer recently, and has also got an inquisitive little boy, and both elements seem to have added a great authenticity and urgency to every quest and every gesture in "Motherland." Even the syntax of this primitive band is fresh with discovery and invention. A beautifully graceful and simple chorus of dancers underscore the drama at just the right moments. And just what are those metallic relics they discover scattered and hidden around the landscape and across the river?

Watching this brilliant piece, I was reminded several times of a wonderfully wise dictum attributed to Kinky Friedman's father, Tom, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times: "Treat children more like adults, and treat adults more like children."

Theater Grottesco's Winter One Acts continue only through this weekend at the Armory for the Arts in Santa Fe. Call 474-8400. This is Jim Terr.



"BuDDy" commentary on 1-31-06 State of the Union address. 2-1-06 (broadcast on KUNM "Free Form")

This here's old Buddy, supportin are president,
Which everybody should do, if you're a US resident.
He's tryin his best, he's a human you see
Which is why folks like him, at least folks like ol Buddee.

You might not agree with every little war he starts,
You might not think of him as a patron of the arts.
You might not like his hard-partyin twin girls,
But he's got in his mind the best innerests of the world.

He's bringin freedom to the world, ain't that worthwhile?
Even if it cost us a few of are freedoms here at home,
        can't you still just smile?
We're runnin out of Arab countries where we can get our awl.
So he's sayin let's use some of our extra land and water
       to grow some ethanol.

So maybe his speech wasn't real big on a bunch
      of figures and facts.
But this is a guy who don't just talk, he acts.
You gotta do the talk or the walk, you can't have both.
Just like ol Buddy, ol GW would just like to see
      Some peace, justice and economic growth.

All right, a word from ol Buddy, how bout it. …some balance. Daily podcast with are news and views if we can find a sponsor. Maybe somebody who grows ethanol, how bout it?

( BuDDy's Old Fashioned Web Site )

documentary preview J
im Terr © 1-18-06

Actress, artist, dancer and producer Christine MacKenzie calls her documentary, THE SPIRIT OF CLAY, "a mystic journey", and says she really didn't set out to produce a film that would find success at film festivals; it just turned out that way.

Featuring the work of Galisteo clay artists Isabella Gonzales, Priscilla Hoback, Elizabeth Rose and Vicki Snyder, the documentary focuses on the history of Galisteo, NM, and the role of clay in the art and culture of the area, all the way back to its original residents, the Tano Indians.

So what WERE MacKenzie's intentions in producing the film? She says it stemmed originally from a deep wish to pay homage to the earth itself. Quote: "Like the native Americans, I firmly believe we need to love and respect this planet and everything on it unreservedly, as it provides us with life-sustaining energy and everything we could possibly want or need."

Secondly, says McKenzie, again quoting: "I too am an artist and therefore enjoy discovering and recognizing the artist in others, it's a 'kinship' kind of thing. I also must confess that I adore the wide open spaces and creative energy out here, the fabulous light we're blessed with… So in a way, this is my love letter to Galisteo."

"The Spirit of Clay" will show this Sunday at 2pm at the Santa Fe Film Center at Cinemacafe in St. Michael's Village, a benefit for the NM Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Santa Fe Film Center. Light dinner will be served, and the artists and the producer will be in attendance. For information and reservations call 988-5225. This is Jim Terr

Congress essay - © 2005 Jim Terr (ran 1-03-06 on KUNM)

My fellow liberals would probably be surprised to know that I feel I actually learned something from my years of listening to Rush Limbaugh, before he got so repetitive and predictable I couldn't stand to listen to him anymore.

Of course this was back in the days before the Republicans took control of Congress, and Rush doesn't make quite the same critique of the House and Senate these days, but anyhow he used to harp on how the Democratic Congress had the agenda, consciously or unconsciously, of making the public dependent on them, thereby increasing their own importance and power.

Now I watch for that and see it quite clearly, especially now that it's the supposedly smaller-government Republicans who are in power. One of the main things that gets clearly incompetent and bankrupt people re-elected to congress is their ability to bring home the pork.

How did it happen that so much of our wealth now goes to Washington, that everything from our highways to our community centers depends on federal grants, and on our Congresspeople being able to scam those funds for us?

How does it happen that there's money for a $300 billion war which, whether you agreed with the original stated reasons or not, now appears more clearly than ever to have been a war of choice, and a bad choice at that, when the schools have to hold the proverbial bake sale, and we have one of the most bloated and inefficient health care systems in the world, which leaves millions unprotected?

How does it happen that the Congressional re-election rate has shot up to 98%, using every trick in the book, including grotesque gerrymandering of congressional districts, in order to make it nearly impossible for a challenger to unseat an incumbent?

When was the last time you heard your Congressperson question this, or any other such institutional outrage?

When was the last time your Congressperson - or you - confronted the observation of the Roman historian Tacitus, who said "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous its laws"? How many laws do you suppose you've broken today, in your life or your business, which a zealous prosecutor could bust you for if necessary? When was the last time your Congressperson initiated some legislation that was of actual interest or benefit to you, long-term or short-term?

I am fortunate to have one Senator and one Congressman whom I admire and respect, who I consider genuine, thoughtful, clear-eyed and progressive. But even so, I am feeling like I will vote against them - and anyone else - who doesn't take the lead in proposing universal, single-payer health care, among the thousands of other arcane or special-interest or grandstanding bits of legislation which seem to eat up all their time.

I'm completely fed up that I and so many people I know and don't know have no health coverage, and will be bankrupt or dead if anything serious happens. Somehow other countries, even poorer countries, manage to arrange health care for everyone. Let's give that single issue - as they like to say - an up-or-down vote. This is Jim Terr.

Selected reviews & essays prior to 2006:

THE ARISTOCRATS review & commentary
(bleeps) inserted for radio reading, which ran on KSFR-FM, Santa Fe, "Journey Home" show - 12-30-05

There's an interesting film playing at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, only through Thursday. It's called "The Aristocrats", and it concerns a sort of comedians' inside joke that's supposedly been around since the days of vaudeville. It's an inside joke because it's so filthy that there's not really much opportunity for comedians to tell it in public, so it serves mostly as a jazz piece for comedians, something for them to improvise on and amuse each other.

Well, okay, the joke goes like this - and I'm not giving anything away, because the framework for the joke is spelled out at the beginning of the film, and most of the comedians you've ever heard of and not heard of, tell their variations, discuss it and analyze it.

Ok, so the only essentials are that a guy walks into a talent agent's office and describes his act - a family act, in fact - and here you fill in the most vile details you can imagine - and therein lies the craft, the art, the improvisational skill of the comedian - and after the act is described in excruciating detail, as long and as graphically as possible, the astounded agent says "What do you call this act?" and the guys says "The Aristocrats!" Get it?

Well, obviously, if you're easily offended, or don't have at least an academic interest in the process of comedy, this is not going to be your movie.

It gets worse than just fucking and sucking and shitting and pissing involving Mom, Dad, the children, Grandma, Grandpa and the dog.

But it's interesting, hearing some very thoughtful and very funny comedians reflect on the dynamics of comedy in the course of deconstructing this joke and giving some very funny variations, including a mime version, an Amish version, a card trick version, a South Park version, a feminist version, a clean version, and so on.

Paul Reiser and George Carlin, predictably, deliver a couple of the funniest variations and most interesting discussions of the joke, its history and rationale - even the sad, ironic undercurrent beneath it -- and Bill Maher gives it a great twist.

Robin Williams tells a joke I've always liked and have told many times myself, involving a piano player, which, it never occurred to me, is just a variation on the Aristocrats joke. "The Aristocrats" starts to drag a bit once the subject matter is fairly well exhausted, and it makes you feel like you need a shower afterward, but it makes you think, especially if you've ever dabbled in comedy or have thought about what makes it work. And in my case, it of course inspired an idea for a parody version of this movie, taking exactly the opposite approach in every respect.

The showing I attended this past Friday at the CCA was a benefit for a loyal and remarkable CCA volunteer, Mary Burford, to help with the costs of her cancer treatment. Now there's an obscene joke for you, a variation on the bumper sticker, "I long for the day when schools are well-funded and the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers." In this case, the CCA has to hold a benefit to collect a few dollars to save someone's life because we have no fucking universal health care in this fucking country.

But I digress. Go see "The Aristocrats" at the CCA in Santa Fe, through Thursday, or at least drop by and make a contribution to Mary Burford's cancer fund. This is Jim Terr.


Internet scam essay
- KUNM - Jim Terr ©2005

It's been a summer of humbling experiences for me, one after another, and I suppose that's a good thing, perhaps a good thing for anyone, but especially for someone with an admittedly inflated ego.

A few weeks ago a friend suggested that his ex-girlfriend, who was going out of town for a month, should let me advertise her house for rent while she was away, in order to make her some extra money, and myself some money as commission. I took some photos and posted the ad on Craig's List, an internet bulletin board for real estate and just about everything else.

A few days later I got an e-mail from a "John Young" in England, acting as agent for a "Pastor Moses Johnson" from Canada, who was soon to visit Santa Fe for some sort of conference. It seems Pastor Johnson's congregation had awarded him $5,000 for this purpose, for lodging and rental car, but Pastor Johnson, evidently being a humble man himself, had decided that $5,000 was too much, and rather than bother the church committee to reduce his stipend, wanted to get $3,500 of that $5,000 back from me, as rental agent at this end, and use it to help other pastors attending the conference, with their car rental fees.

Well, I must admit I had the thought that perhaps Pastor Johnson wasn't going to use that $3,500 entirely to help other pastors attending the conference with their car rental fees, but I figured what business is that of mine. After settling on various details such as fees for feeding the cat and for housecleaning, it was all set and a cashier's check arrived from Canada, drawn on a Houston bank, along with detailed instructions of how I was to wire the $3,500 balance back to Pastor Johnson in care of a car rental agent in Texas.

It struck me as odd that someone who didn't know me would trust me to wire back several thousand dollars of their funds, but I think at some level I fancied that my extraordinary sense of integrity had somehow communicated itself through my e-mail messages. I mentioned this odd situation to a few friends, who agreed that it was odd, but hey, go for it.
After I received the cashier's check and deposited it at the bank, I dutifully purchased some money orders with the several thousand dollars in cash back I got from my deposit, and sent the money orders to the car rental agent in Texas via Federal Express. Due to my not following instructions precisely, I got a testy e-mail from the heretofore gentlemanly Mr. Young, and this exasperated phone message:

"Yeah this is… Young. I would like you to call me back because you made a mistake on the information I gave, it's not supposed to be money order it's supposed to be Western Union transfer. So you go back and cancel this transfer and send it cash to the name I sent to you. OK? Bye bye." [Actual recording is in essay posted on www.KUNM.org]

Well, that didn't exactly sound like the John Young from England I was expecting, but never mind. I was still dazzled by the thought of my commission on this house rental deal.
For that same reason, I didn't plan to mention this story to my brother, who's an attorney, because, well, he can be such a wet blanket about such things.

I did happen to see him that afternoon in his office, however, so when I started to tell him this whole strange tale, I was no more than half a sentence into it when he reached into his wastebasket and pulled out a copy of the state government newspaper, with an article from the attorney general's office about cashier's check and money order scams, which made the whole thing plain as day.

Now in a panic, I called up Federal Express and intercepted the outgoing package, though of course the address "Young" had given me was bogus anyhow - which is why he wanted me to wire the money. Good thing I didn't get that part right.

I called the bank and told them the cashier's check was probably counterfeit, which indeed it was. The issuing bank in Houston said oh yeah, this happens all the time, constant scams using copies of our cashier's checks, usually in amounts about like that, $5,000 and you're supposed to return, typically, about $3,500.

The agency I called to report this, to offer the phone message above, to help in identifying this scammer, wasn't really that interested, since I hadn't lost anything. All I can do is share this story with you, the listener, so that when the next variation on this scam comes along, in your direction, you won't be quite as gullible and as blinded as I was.
Humbly yours, this is Jim Terr.

     book review KUNM Jim Terr 7-25-05

I first became aware of Sharon Waxman while watching a documentary called OVERNIGHT, about a bartender-screenwriter-musician who became the hottest thing in Hollywood for about 15 minutes, before his overblown personality deflated the mania and excitement that had overtaken the city about this great new talent.

Sharon Waxman was about the only bright spot in this very dreary tale. Then the movie reporter for the Washington Post, now for the New York Times, Waxman was interviewed, as I recall, about how Miramax's Harvey Weinstein dropped this genius as soon as he figured out what a pain the guy was.

Waxman has written a book called REBELS ON THE BACKLOT: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System. The mavericks in question are Quentin Tarantino, whose PULP FICTION revolutionized and invigorated the film business, David Fincher of FIGHT CLUB, David O. Russell, director of the marvelous film, THREE KINGS; Spike Jonze, who directed the mind-boggling BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, Steve Soderbergh of TRAFFIC, and Paul Thomas Anderson, whose BOOGIE NIGHTS was the only movie featured in this book which I wasn't crazy about, but whose MAGNOLIA is one of my favorites of recent years.

Waxman doesn't pad her narrative; she doesn't need to. REBELS ON THE BACKLOT is filled with fascinating, fast-moving stories of where these directors came from, how they grew up, their peculiar personalities, how they broke into the film business, and the struggles each of them went through to get their pet projects made. One thing that amazed me in reading these stories was how, even after the big financial success that most of these films represented, the directors still had to fight to get the next project financed, and to retain creative control. There are always executives who think they know better - and sometimes they're right.

These stories were even more fascinating to me personally because I've dabbled in film directing myself, had a few shorts in film festivals, and wrote and directed a film that was first runner-up in the Flicks on 66 Film Festival a few years ago. That festival's successor, the Duke City Shootout, is happening right now, this week, with seven film crews running all over the county, scrambling to finish their short films in just a few days, for the big screening and awards ceremony Saturday night at the Kiva.

The results of this effort are often mixed, but the excitement, and the opportunity for local filmmakers, actors and crew to practice their craft and put their vision on screen is invaluable.

Waxman's book takes us deep inside Hollywood, where many of our local filmmakers no doubt hope to achieve fame and fortune someday, and perhaps some will. REBELS ON THE BACKLOT gives us real people to relate to, young directors who are in some cases pretty unsavory, hypersensitive, unstable and - surprise! - egotistical! To Waxman's credit she doesn't gloss over these faults, even though these are people she has to deal with on a regular basis. I guess they need her, too; after all she is the film editor of the New York Times.

Whether or not you read it with an eye toward New Mexico's own burgeoning film industry and the passionate, eccentric personalities who no doubt populate our own film world, REBELS ON THE BACKLOT is a fascinating read, a wonderful insight into the making of many of the films that have jolted us the most in the past 15 years. This is Jim Terr.



"The Naked Emperor" -Jim Terr 3/05

How many times in the past few years have I thought of the story of the emperor strutting around with no clothes, and hardly anybody noticing?

President Bush is less than half way through his 60-day, 60-city tour to convince the American public that the so-called Social Security crisis needs serious attention. Now, if the president were some sort of genius in economics I'd think twice about this alleged crisis, even though most experts, Democratic, Republican and non-partisan, say there's more of a crisis with Medicare. In fact, most economists polled recently say that the budget deficit is our biggest threat, bigger than terrorism.

The sad part is that if President Bush woke up one morning with a different obsession, say, an urgent concern with global warming, or with the fact that 25,000 people are starving to death every day, then he really would be questioned as to why he's obsessed with something so off-the-Washington-radar.

But the White House has a magical ability to focus the attention of the press and the public wherever it wants, so that while the Pentagon says that global ecological disaster is right around the corner, and the World Watch Institute notes that food production has reached its limit, topsoil and water supplies and water tables are dropping, and the world population is expected to double in 45 years, with 25,000 people a day already starving -- the President's response is "There's a crisis in Social Security, and I'm going to spend the next 60 days on the stump, raising the alarm, talking to the people about it." Talking at the people, hand-picked, agreeable audiences, is more like it.

And that IS what we'll hear about on the news, til he moves on to the next crisis, the next diversion. Why is it that I so often imagine Karl Rove chuckling, "Can it really be this easy?" Evidently it's well beyond the bounds of polite journalism to discuss whether the president might in fact be governing by crisis, distraction and diversion, and might just be - obsessed!

NPR's coverage is little better than the rest of them on this score. They're evidently unwilling to find skeptical, truly alternative, perhaps impolite interviewees on this and most other subjects. I don't mean to pick on NPR News, except that I depend on their coverage and wish they were more "alternative."

Would it really be that hard to find a psychiatrist who might characterize the president's 60-day barnstorming tour about a non-existent crisis, his strange tendency to insist that people are coming around to his point of view while the polls show just the opposite - as obsessive, compulsive, delusional behavior?

Faith and steadfastness are fine in their place, but is disconnection from reality really a reassuring quality in our number one policymaker?

But I can't really blame the president for getting away with whatever he can, when a good portion of the electorate is willing go along with such things as the idea that invading Iraq was a reasonable response to the 9-11 attacks, somehow a much more reasonable response than, say, attacking Mexico or Canada.

Certainly the soldiers risking their lives in Iraq, and their families back home, have to believe, at least for now, that the people in charge must know what they're doing, that they certainly wouldn't lead us into something so horrible for devious reasons. That they wouldn't, for instance, hijack the events of 9-11 to justify an invasion they had on the books for months and years before.

But I don't have family in what is oddly referred to as "postwar Iraq," so I'm free to contemplate what it might be, what horrible possibilities, that we're so willing to be distracted from.

I wish legislators would consider how they'll answer their grandchildren in 20 years -- if we make it that far - when they ask, "Grandpa, what did you do about this? Didn't you see it coming? Or were you one of those who thought the Rapture was coming soon so it didn't really matter anyway?" That's something else you won't hear about on NPR. This is Jim Terr.



Documentary review: "Mad Hot Ballroom" *
Jim Terr 7-05

I'm re-reading a book called "Wildest of the Wild West" by Howard Bryan, whose premise is that my home town, Las Vegas, New Mexico, had a much more violent history than even the fabled gunslinging capitals of Tombstone and Dodge City. I've always wondered whether Las Vegas' violent past trickled down to the somewhat rowdy behavior that prevailed on the school grounds, or whether that was just normal for an American junior high school in the 1960s.

In any case, I thank God for the refuge I found in the sock hops that provided an alternative to hanging out and looking for trouble. This daily Swing fest took place in the gym, McFarland Hall, during the lunch hour, and the girls were only too happy to teach me how to jitterbug, since there were relatively few guys participating. At least I learned one thing in junior high, and jitterbugging has been a continuing pleasure ever since. And I suspect that the experience made relating to the opposite sex a little easier as well, for all of us.

A new documentary called "Mad Hot Ballroom" follows several groups of fifth graders, about 11 years old, participating in a ballroom dance program and competition offered in New York City schools. In this 10-week program, the students learn Merengue, Tango, Rumba, FoxTrot and - yeah! - Swing! Over 6,000 students have participated in this program, and watching these kids move through their awkwardness to real enthusiasm and skill in dancing, makes me think once again that such a program should be offered - perhaps even required - in every junior high school in the country. And - get this! - the kids are listening to and absorbing real music!!

Many of the students in "Mad Hot Ballroom" - and in the group the film follows most closely - are of that beautiful, Dominican-mixed, rainbow variety so prevalent in New York City. And that was for me one of the great pleasures of the film. Not only do kids in New York still speak in complete sentences, often with surprising wisdom and frankness, but most of these girls sound like Rosie Perez!

The dance instructors are an inspiration as well - skillful, empathetic, and totally dedicated to the success of their students. They recount several examples of this dance program saving kids who were lost or headed down a dangerous path. One of the greatest sequences in "Mad Hot Ballroom" is a strategy meeting and free-for-all dance with the instructors themselves, where their own enthusiasm for dance is plain to see.

The film makes clear the hidden value in so many aspects of the program: the importance for some of these kids of seeing that a man - in this case their dance instructor - can be something other than a tough, macho figure; and that learning to dance can develop skill at relationships and friendships. The kids themselves are quite clear about this. One girl says of one of the boys: "Rudy used to be rowdy and difficult, but he's become more understanding and gentle." One of the boys observes that learning to dance isn't really that hard. He says: "It's fun; how can you forget a fun time?" It's not fun for the kids who don't win the final trophy in the city-wide competition, but watching their sorrow is just another of the many revelations of this fabulous film.

"Mad Hot Ballroom" has been compared to "Strictly Ballroom" and "Spellbound", but since I haven't seen either of those films, it reminded me most of "Born Into Brothels." Although these kids aren't in such dire circumstances as the children of prostitutes in Calcutta, many of them come from materially disadvantaged homes, and their wisdom, and their joy when presented with a new opportunity and experience, are just as uplifting. With our state's leaders contemplating what to do with over 240 million dollars in increased revenues, designating the coming year as "The Year of the Child," I can't think of anything that would contribute more to the socialization, self-esteem, joy and fitness of our kids than such a ballroom dance program in all of our secondary schools. Let's be first in something positive for a change!

"Mad Hot Ballroom" is playing at the DeVargas Theater in Santa Fe. This is Jim Terr.



** DOWNFALLfilm review (& commentary) Jim Terr 5-13-05

Perhaps you've seen the 2002 documentary, BLIND SPOT: Hitler's Secretary, featuring the reminiscences of Hitler's private secretary, Traudl Junge, almost 60 years after she signed on to Hitler's staff as a starstruck young woman of 22.

Downfall, the new dramatization of Hitler's last twelve days in his Berlin bunker, as the Russians closed in, brings to life the drama that Junge described, as the glorious Third Reich collapsed in a whirlwind of disillusionment, recrimination and chaos. If you haven't seen that earlier documentary, no problem.

Downfall opens and closes with excerpts of that previous testimony, as the now-over-80-years-old Junge expresses her regret for not having appreciated the evil around her, to which she lent secretarial support. Downfall is probably the most powerful, in-your-face war movie I've ever seen, and one of the most powerful films I've ever seen, period. Not only are the scenes of tragedy and destruction on the streets above the bunker vivid and heartbreaking, but the scenes in the bunker below are almost too banal and bizarre to be believed, but they have the ring of truth and were in fact re-created from several historical works on the last days of Hitler and his staff.

German actor Bruno Ganz delivers an earthshaking performance as Hitler, looking older than his 56 years, frail yet monstrous, railing against the reality of his inevitable defeat, shouting orders at his generals, some dubious and some willing to carry out their Fuhrer's insane wishes to the end. The screaming rages, alternating with Hitler's moments of kindness to his dog, his beloved Eva Braun - whom he married shortly before they committed suicide - and some of his staff, accurately reflect everything I've read and imagined about him. Some have criticized the very idea of portraying and therefore humanizing Hitler, but watching Downfall only added to my appreciation of the evil of this madman and of war in general.

As Hitler coolly discusses the method of his suicide with his doctor, as Hermann Goering and his wife carry out the poisoning of their five children -- whom they can't imagine living in a world without Nazism --, as Hitler screams hysterically at and about his generals who he feels have betrayed him, as the staff and soldiers party on with the abandon of the doomed, the insanity of this gang becomes more and more real and mesmerizing.

In several scenes, various people beg Hitler to make it easier for the civilians up above to evacuate Berlin. Hitler's response is telling: "I have no sympathy for the German people. Compassion is a primal sin, a betrayal of nature." The German people willingly joined him on this great venture, he says, and they should no more want to survive its aftermath than he does.

Forgive me if this makes me think once again of our current leadership, many of whom reportedly believe in Armageddon and The Rapture as the endgame for all of us, including the unwilling - even unwilling Republicans!

As an epilogue to Downfall, we see some footage of Traudl Junge, the secretary, who died shortly after her interviews were recorded, and before her documentary was released. It was many years after her service to Hitler, as she walked one day past a statue of Sophie Scholl, of the short-lived White Rose Society resistance movement, that she finally realized what she'd been a part of. "It was no excuse to be young," she says, "It would have been possible to find things out."

A devastating and masterful film, Downfall is currently showing at The Screen in Santa Fe, and opens May 27 at the Fountain Theater in Mesilla. This is Jim Terr.



MY THOUGHTS - Jim Terr Commentary broadcast on KUNM-FM 9-28-04

Someone asked me "what I think." And when I think about it, I see a bright red sky.

The world is getting more angry, insecure and belligerent, American political dialogue being just the most obvious example.

So, naturally, more and more nations want the best they can get to defend themselves - nuclear weapons - and probably will get them in the next three or four years.

I think, whether or not this is really the "End Times" described in Revelations, that we are on the edge of world chaos, politically, militarily, environmentally, and in terms of disease, poverty, starvation and general desperation and misery.

This isn't just opinion. Anyone who cares to read a newspaper, and read the information and reports that are out there beyond most American daily newspapers and newscasts, can know it. I suppose the survivors of the 30,000 people who die each day of starvation and starvation-related illness would say we're already there, past the edge of chaos.

I don't entirely blame those Americans who latch on, with a religious or quasi-religious level of faith and belief, to authority figures with a belligerent, strutting, self-righteous stance and a simple if improbable world view, wrapped in a sugar-coated, patriotic, inspirational package. I suppose that's one way to respond to the uneasy inklings we all probably share and feel somewhat powerless about. But I think this is the path of going down in flames.

I think our only chance of averting the final chaos - and I think there is very little chance - is a shared vision of a world that works for everyone - no one excluded - encouraged and implemented by a leadership with a positive, radical, compelling vision, willing to put our energy, resources and influence into such a vision and such a world.

A leadership such as we have not been offered thus far, but hinted at by Illinois senator Barak Obama in his recent speech where he said (and I've taken great liberty in cutting this up): "It's not enough for just some of us to prosper... we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child... that makes MY life poorer... that threatens MY civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief - I am my brother's keeper... It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams..."

But that is, as I say, a radical vision, not one you're likely to hear again from candidates or commentators.

It shouldn't surprise me that I've been sleeping restlessly, and I should probably stop looking for medical causes. We'll either start exporting aggressively, very soon, a radical vision of a livable world, and the strategies and resources and carrots and sticks to make it happen, OR the tools and strategies and weapons to further reinforce the desperation and the fortress mentality and the End Times.

The bright red sky I see is either nuclear or - less likely, but just trying to be optimistic here - a bright red dawn.


       Talk in Santa Fe 3-21-05

I heard Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of the "Tikkun" movement, speak recently in Santa Fe, the first time I'd heard him. I thought he had a brilliant analysis, and I'd like to summarize it here as accurately as I can.

Although Lerner is openly liberal/Democrat, I have no problem sharing this with conservative/Republican friends as well, because the logical extension of it, as I see it, does not ultimately benefit liberals any more than conservatives, but rather society in general.

Lerner's analysis is that whether or not you think that Republicans or Democrats' policies are really more humanistic, pro-life and "moral," the Republicans have clearly cornered that market because they're not afraid to use the "language" of "morality", of "values" - again, whether or not you think their policies are at all in line with those values.

Many liberals and Democrats, on the other hand, because of having been burned by religion or whatever, go out of their way to avoid anything that reminds them of religion, and therefore don't want to think or talk about "morality," "spirituality" or "values" in public policy. Therefore, those voters who are concerned about what they consider "values" issues, naturally tend to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt, because "at least they're talking about it."

Lerner recounted an interview with a young, single mother in Colorado who said she didn't agree with Bush on the war and a lot of other things, but she felt so threatened by a world where her 12-year-old daughter is being pressured to act more sexual, dress more sexually, and is bombarded by all sorts of "immorality" in the media and in her life, that only the Republicans seemed to be aware of anything amiss, judging from their rhetoric, so she has a vague feeling that they're more likely to do something about it, so therefore she voted Bush and Republican.

So Lerner's conclusion, which I agree with completely as far as it goes, is that liberals/Democrats need to take these concerns seriously, talk about more than just economic equality, and quickly get over their hesitation to talk about these problems and possible solutions, in the language of "morality" and "spirituality", beyond just saying "I pray and go to church," if they ever hope to get a majority of the vote again.

Now, at first it seemed to me that spreading this bit of wisdom around would reveal something which the Republicans could then appropriate to their further advantage. But then I realized that if this whole issue were totally out in the open - which is what Lerner is after - that it would not only eliminate the Republicans' corner on the "morality" market, their ability to beat Democrats over the head with it, but it would in effect force all of us, and all politicians, to confront this situation, instead of just using code words and using it to divide.

I take it even further, wondering why, for instance, it's no longer assumed that your kids can run around town -- whatever town -- all day, as we did when we were kids, and come back for dinner, alive and well. Is the situation so far gone that we just accept that the world will never be safe again, or could we begin to address the issue of life-as-we'd-like-it-to-be, if were all focused on it?

And let's include the larger issue of the preventable death and suffering in the world that the US might contribute its energy toward ending, if we were not wrapped up in the right-left hatred which is largely manufactured.

Politicians are people, too, and while primarily concerned with keeping their jobs, they also at some level must perceive these deep problems and would probably like to do something about them, in a non-self-righteous, non-polarizing way, if they felt they had public support and wouldn't be considered oddballs for doing so.

So I'm all for bringing this discussion out in the open, the issues whose solutions might call be called "spiritual," as widely as possible. Thank you, Rabbi Lerner. This is Jim Terr.

PARAGRAPHS DELETED FOR TIME/ SPACE: (I'm leaving out half of Lerner's argument, by the way, which relates to the tension between a looking-out-for-number-one, survival-of-the-fittest, get-whatever-you-can-for-yourself-before-somebody-else-gets-it point of view, versus an interconnected, co-operative, we're-all-in-this-together point of view, because I think that tension exists within each of us and is therefore largely irrelevant).

Personally, I've often thought about just such situations as the one described by the woman in Colorado, and more. In fact I used to enjoy listening to Dr. Laura Schlessinger, when we could get her on the radio here, for just this sort of discussion.


** "MY ARCHITECT" documentary review 3-13-04

When architect Louis Kahn was three years old, before his name was Louis Kahn and of course long before he was an architect, he took some coals from the stove in his home in Estonia, and they ignited his clothes, burning him severely. His father wanted to let him die, but his mother insisted on helping him survive, saying that his injuries would make him a great man.

In the film, "My Achitect", nominated for the Oscar for best documentary, and currently playing in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn tries to piece together the life of this father he barely knew. Louis Kahn had a wife and child, and two children by other women, colleagues, none of whom ever met until his funeral. He died alone and bankrupt in the men's room of New York's Pennsylvania station in 1974, his body unclaimed for three days.

Yet all the well-known architects interviewed in this film seem to agree he was the best of all, a genius who tapped into something primitive and eternal and inspired in his captivating buildings.

It was during a trip to Asia, studying mostly ancient ruins, that he finally felt he understood the essence and the imperative of timeless, monumental design. And it wasn't until he was 50 years old that he designed something, a bathhouse, that he felt was really worthwhile and original, and that this was when he discovered himself. The architect E.M. Pei says in this film that it is more important to create three or four masterpieces, as Kahn did, than 50 or 60 buildings in a lifetime.

This portrait of a truly possessed, passionate genius who perhaps cares more about his vision than about the people in his life -- his lovers and his children -- can be distrurbing, but it becomes clear that this focus on the eternal is genuine, a sense of immateriality and nomadishness that causes him to sleep more often on a rug on the floor of his office, than in a bed. His relationships were as original as his designs.

He believed that the surface of a building should reveal the process by which it was made, and he speaks of asking a brick what it wants to do, honoring what it wants to be. His Indian and Bangladeshi colleagues considered him a true guru, more at home in the East than the West, who understood and talked about matter in spiritual terms, who understood that everything was alive.

The mesmerizing building featured in the advertising posters for "My Architect" is the government complex of Bangladesh. It's fitting that this magical project was his last, taking 23 years to build, by hand, in the poorest country in the world. He never got to see it completed. During Bangladesh's war for independence in 1971, Pakistani pilots said they didn't bomb this building because they thought it was an ancient monument. Its power is absolutely undeniable, as is the power of this documentary, "My Architect."

This is Jim Terr (2:34)