Jungle Talk

Are we hard wired to run a sustainable planet? And are we accountable to the entire world that we live in? For me the Jungle is something made up of so many fascinating elements; a journey of intriguing possibilities. That kind of sounds like "life" on planet-johnson.

Can I travel with a presence that allows my footprint to add value to the world that you live in while "capturing moments" that tell a compelling story? Karma is a belief that all of your actions will have equal reprecussions, affecting you and I. This journey is a search for some balance, a little discovery and hopefully some visual poetry?

This blog will humbly attempt to see my world through the experience of TRAVEL, photos and sincere examination of an experential and visual karma. And I will find a way to incorporate some positive travel experience into that karma with the perspective of a Digital Camera. Photography and writing have become my "love affair" with life on planet-johnson. Hopefully I can share my passions for the best of this crazy world!

Please join in and welcome to the jungle! 

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3:10 to Yuma: Acting Clash

"False face must hide what the false heart doth know"    Shakespeare

This is a kick ass action western with a "classic" heart and soul. Christian Bale is the heart of this movie and Russel Crowe is its soul. They come into the movie with diametrically opposed moral senses and eventually develop a karma bond that gives this movie its classic mojo. Crowe is the killer with the silver tongue and dark spirit while Bale is Dan Evans, the peg legged war veteran and rancher hungry for respect from his family. Crowe`s Ben wade is feared and respected for his strength (in all its evil form) while Bale envies that kind of power. Crowe, in turn ,comes to envy the crippled Dan Evans, a man of sacrifice. This is a pot of acting heat that boils into karma power!

 Russell Crowe needs to be watched. He is a force of "acting nature" who really starts this movie in a walk. I thought maybe he had just shown up for the payday and was cruising through the part. But after watching the evil that Ben Wade can do to a fool with only a fork, then he`s got our "bad ass" attention. And we see cracks in the armor of his sociopathic soul when a young boy questions his motives. "I can`t do something good, it might become a habit" Ben Wade.  Then follow his transformation and watch for the "moment" when his acting genius really shines through.

Bale explores a vulnerability and sense of duty to his family that is  probably the best acting he`s done. His emotional angst bleeds onto the screen through a heroic transformation that conquers the devil in Crowe`s soul. This is serious good guy and bad guy shite that will stand the test of movie time.

Life has not been fair to either of these characters and they evolved in completely different worlds that could be expected to  settle into a classic "cowboy" shootout, but that would be too routine. And Director James Mangold doesn`t choose routine. He uses Peter Fonda as a crusty Pinkerton agent and  Ben Forster as Crowe`s psycho, sicko gang member, and runs the action onto a ticking clock that ramps up our interest. Bale will try to take Crowe`s character through the town streets to the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. The action for the movie`s final scene is fast and violent with transformation and bonding of both characters ringing true.

The final minute of Crowe`s soul felt change becomes the movie moment. Watch his face, read his emotion and anger in a look that only a great actor could generate on this level. Then back to Bale and know his relief, his pride. If you really love movies this final scene and moment are about as good as it gets this year on the big screen. Special scenes like this are the magic that rings the "classic movie" bell loud and clear. This is the film that you can use as a model for your screenwriting class. Simple, powerful, transformational, action packed and a draw for good actors. Another keeper for a cowboy classics collection!




    "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history" Mohandas Gandhi

 Matt Damon humbly hosts an evening of passion and giving through a showcase (the Academy awards could learn so much from these guys) of talent and "karma awards" that leaves anyone in this audience appreciating that we can know and do so much more for the Africas of planet earth. Like Damon has said: comparing our lives with the people of the desperate conditions in Africa is "outrageous". Its like a Parallel Universe or another planet where people wonder if they will drink water tomorrow. Will the well be dry or contaminated and will I be thirsty again? Thats why he created which is a bucket of hope for people in desperate need. One man trying to make a difference.

And the theme of the night is set. We hear acceptance speeches from "OneXOne making a Difference" awards that make me want to walk on water and carry Africa on my back to the land of hope and muse. This was so good that I thought Gandhi might be resurrected and lead us out of the Four Seasons Center and take us on a pilgrimage to nirvana. Yeah, I`m getting a little carried away but this night felt pretty special. And I`m thinking that I need to make this the best inspirational moment of the rest of my life. There`s a lot of good to be done and the message is that we can do it "OneXOne".

 Listen to Wyclef Jean sing about Rawanda and his hope for a "United States of Africa" with the African Children`s Choir. This was the best moment of so many! Listen to Richard Gere speak of American supported horrors of 1980`s El Salvador and of the need for each of us to take responsibility for the world around us and to try and make some change "OneXOne". Listen to Matt Damon`s rendition of the powerful hope he sees in visits to African Millennium Villages and the difference it makes in the lives of thousands of Africans. He`s seen a scientific process that rises above corruption and neglect to make a life saving difference. (see Jeffrey Sachs vision)
Listen (and gawk at) to the stunning supermodel Petra Nemcova speak of her need to rebuild the lives of children in devastated Asia. The Happy Hearts Fund    She barely lived through the Thailand Tsunami of 2004 and needs to give something back.

And just when you`re struggling with your conscience and searching for a cheque to support everything or diving for an exit,  the Gala producers pace the night of emotion and inspiration with a performance from a 13 year old Jazz singer who leaves us breathless with her absolutely phenomenal talent. Nikki Yanovsky is a voice we`ll all know very soon. A truly righteous talent!! And then Wyclef Jean and Shakira team up for Latin passion and Haitian rhythm that has people dancing in the aisles. Karma Party till you drop in the land of Wyclef.

This event and its promise are the creation of a "KarmaDawg" named Joelle Adler. She`s a model of hope wrapped in the form of an obviously intelligent and compassionate woman that Matt Damon introduced as his favorite "ball buster". A lady who has found a true reason for affluent people to party. Party for a better world.

And the stage heart of "OneXOne" is clearly Wyclef Jean, a Haitian born American rapper, humanitarian whose talent and mojo ability to move a crowd with his music is only surpassed by his need to make a difference for people that can`t do it themselves.

So, whether its Damon`s H2oAfrica, or Wyclef`s Yele Haiti,  Sachs` Millennium Villages or Petra`s Happy Hearts Fund this is about building Karma, OneXOne. And You don`t have to be a Celebrity to make a difference as shown with the award given to Bonnie and Fred Cappuccino ringing loud and clear. They raised 21 children (19 adopted overseas) and started a foundation for children in India. And Fred is still wondering how he pays for Bonnie`s muse?

I partied like a fool to the music of Wyclef Jean and his Gandhi band of promise and I came away believing that I can make a difference and be part of a "revolution of hope". Now I can`t wait to be part of OneXOne 2008 and ride that party train of karmadawg`s and dreamers that might just make a difference!




Dirty Little Secret

    "Seven out of Ten Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless"  Pras Michel

Pras Michel could be a spokesman for his generation. Maybe all generations.  Prakazrel Samuel Michel, known as Pras, (born October 19, 1972) is a Grammy Award-winning Haitian-born American rapper, actor, producer, and member of the superstar hip hop trio The Fugees, and he has created a docu-movie called "Skid Row".

What do Pras Michel, John Edwards and the City of Toronto have in common? They give a shite about poverty and homelessness and are doing something about it. Edwards is just another American Presidential candidate but he`s got the poor and homeless on his mind (what the frack is going on here?) which is kinda refreshing after all the usual warmongering and homophobia that naturally comes to the vacant mind of your average politician. John Edwards has a low ball chance at winning the race but maybe Bobby Kennedy`s spirit will resurface in "in an America gone wild and greedy".

The City of Toronto with all its financial woes, and no help from the Provincial or Federal governments has tackled homelessness head on. There are still plenty of homeless in Toronto but so far nearly 1200 people have moved into permanent housing directly from the streets since 2005. The program is called "Streets to Homes" and its the right thing to do. Toronto seems to have this funny notion that everyone deserves decent shelter as a right to life. Crazy stuff!

So, my minor effort at highlighting our "Dirty Little Secret" will be to find the news of the desperate and bring it to this site on a fairly regular basis. The "truth is out there" on sites like this! e.g.  Homeless News Headlines in Canada. For now I`ll focus on Canada but there`s a big desperate world of poverty waiting to be found! And I`m looking for the Karmadawg`s who can help make this right? Pras Michel, John Edwards and Toronto are on the right track! Lets talk dirty little secrets!



A Mighty Heart

"Soul meets soul on lover's lips"    Percy Bysshe Shelly

First a disclaimer to prepare readers for my obvious bias. I`ve got this thing for Angelina Jolie (don`t tell Brad) and I`m pretty much impressed by any acting she does. Guilty! And I`m a sucker for a great "Love Story" which "Mighty Heart" is in spades. Suspense, Intrigue, Angelina and a great Love Story. Now that`s movie chemistry!!

Jolie plays journalist Mariane Pearl, the widow of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman), who was kidnapped and murdered by jihadists in 2002. Its a shame that we know Daniel Pearle`s fate before the movie starts but the intense pace of this story conceived by Director Michael Winterbottom is amazing. For 5 weeks Marianne Pearle (Jolie) and Karachi Police track Daniel Pearle`s kidnappers and its so well done that I`m actually hoping that they rewrite the story and save this guy`s ass. And they come so close!

The movie really tells two stories. One is of the boundless love and devotion of two people from a world that I could embrace with passion.   "But our differences in background and in culture make us well matched. We know naturally when to hold back and let the other speak. I make Danny laugh to help him forget his worries; I make sure there is silence when he concentrates. And we engage each other in endless philosophical debates -- about truth and courage, about how to fight preconceived ideas, about how to learn from and respect other cultures." A Mighty Heart, pg.5, Marianne

And the second story considers the horrors of terrorism and the frantic desperation of losing your soulmate into the bottomless pit of a "neverland" we can`t imagine. Karachi, Pakistan becomes a manic version of a third world "Crank". Like doing good "acid" at rush hour but its like this every day and night. Hordes of people, commerce and survivors wrapped up in an urban nightmare. This will definitely not be a fairy tale full of happy endings.

A Mighty Heart avoids exploitation and sensationalism and doesn`t seem to take sides but its heartfelt "love story" and emotional loss is something that crosses the barriers of hate and politics. Everyone can feel for loss at this level and nobody should be able to accept corruption of innocence like this for politics. Its pretty damn frustrating to imagine that anybody could slaughter my love in the name of God or Allah. A jihad by sword corrupts a jihad of the heart and soul. And everybody seems to lose.

Jolie`s total immersion in this role keeps the movie`s rush of detail on an even keel. We feel her pain on the news of Pearle`s death (its pretty sensational acting) and you`l need your crying towel for the next few minutes. But Marianne Pearle maintains a superhuman grace in grief as she holds Daniel Pearle`s spirit close. Its a truly haunting reverence for a power of the human spirit to overcome loss in the presense of senseless evil.

You need to see this movie to appreciate how Winterbottom and Jolie honor the spirit of Daniel and Marianne Pearle`s love and commitment to each other and a greater good. A Mighty Heart is a fitting eulogy for a love that deserves to live forever!



Sicko:Searching for the American Dream

    "Success can become somebody else`s failure"     A Sage

I think the American Dream used to cry a mantra of all men created equal. But America is in the "Bush Leagues" now and , as bluntly depicted in Michael Moore`s new movie "Sicko", it seems a sordid tale of greed, creed and absolute disregard for those that haven`t learned to play the game of wealth. And a sick game it appears to be in the American "Health Scare" economy.

Moore sensationalizes and dramatises endless sad stories of death and disregard from the HMO money machines. The standard Moore critique is that he over sensationizes but lets face it, how can he avoid that approach when he`s in a story of life and death coated in greed. He needs to grab our passion before we turn to CNN, FoxNews or ABC. We won`t find any HMO truth in there while they and Pharma keep feeding the "advertising revenues". The truth about this "Heath Care" debate is as likely in mainstream media as the possibility that Exxon will go green! Moore needs to grab our brains and squeeze them hard. He`s fighting the most powerful greed on the planet. "Capitalism gone wild".

 Moore is trying like hell to inspire America to a fair minded idealism that might transcend it`s obvious, recent decadence.  How bad is it when Doctors are encouraged by a bonus system to deny HMO health care applications? The more patients that they turn away, the more wealth that they receive!? What a prescription for corruption!! Moore documents a congressional confession of one of these Doctors overwhelmed by her guilt. How many deaths is this bonus system and its appeal to greed responsible for? She can`t imagine?

Then Moore contrasts the British Health care system where Doctors score points for improving patients health care. The patient receives proactive prescription and advice. The less often a patient returns the more success the Doctor shows. The "Health care" versus the "Health Scare". Yeah, I think I`ll try the British model.

Moore solicited his 'Health Scare"  examples from people on the internet. Some had no insurance ,like 47 million Americans, but some had insurance and still suffered HMO denials and neglect. The horror stories are numerous and truly frustrating enough to piss off the most hardened capitalists. The message is loud and clear. Private Health Care is a greedy, scary and deadly proposition while Universal (social) Health Care, as contrasted in examination of the French, British and Canadian systems, fairly offers everyone an inherent Universal Right. A fair chance to live and die on equal terms. Not much to ask for, is it?

Sicko is a truly radical political film for Americans, though not so much for the rest of the developed world where death by deceit or life if you can afford it are universally obscene concepts. The Movie becomes a challenge to American ideals and the American Dream from Michael Moore.  He interviews a British politician who suggests that American politics focuses on keeping people fearful and insecure for political stability (or is that status quo?). And he interviews British, French and Canadian citizens who are proud of their time off, sick days and health care while laughing off the "American Creed".

Do most Americans believe that 9-11 volunteers who suffered lung damage don`t deserve health care? Do they really believe that Americans don`t deserve paid vacations? I kinda doubt it. But if most Americans really disagree with Moore then the "American Dream" has become something very different from historical ideals of equality that we all admired.

"We must stop talking about the American Dream and start listening to the dreams of all Americans"  Rubin Askew

Michael Moore is an idealist and a impassioned patriot who seems to be in a battle to remind America what it once stood for. This is a fascinating Docu-Movie that should help us all to consider what is most important in any Health Care debates. "Greed is not Good!" And maybe this becomes another "Inconvenient Truth" for America?



Consider Live Earth

"When you make the finding yourself - even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light - you'll never forget it" Carl Sagan

An Inconvenient Truth becomes a force of nature through rock and roll. Live Earth was a motherfracking mega concert for the ages. Even if you can`t see the forest for the trees you could feel the passion of musicians and their fans worldwide. It was very very cool. And inspires hope for the kids and their kids! If you are committed to a future that rocks under blue skies for generations to come then consider signing this pledge?