Archive - November 2000



December 2014
« Jan    
20.08 20082

Zoltar Speaks!

Zoltar Live!

My grandmother had a sort of her own spiritual advisor. It was a nomadic woman in her mid twenties that would stop by once a months or so to remove spells, get rid of a Jinn (Genie) or two that permanently lived in their basement it seemed, and finally write some prayers that my aunt in particular needed to wear around her neck until her next visit. I never liked her and could copy a couple of her acts even better than she performed them but confronting her with all her tools was hard, particularly after she made a Jinn speak one day and even put imprints of her hoofs on a plate of soft flour as a form of a signature to promise to leave the family alone. After her, my exposure with people of “celestial” powers has been limited to the Bahama Mama (her words) who tried to lift my wallet while performing her magic, the Toronto “Gypsy” (her word again) who made me leave upon seeing my palms and declaring my “evil” and "probably anti-Christ” and finally one last example that I will leave out as it involves the pubic area and not that fun to read. But last week I’m in San Fernando Valley (I know, I got to stop going there) for an appointment and as soon as I get out of my car, somebody calls me from behind. I turn and this Sikh man about my own age in a light blue turban is rushing towards me. I am not sure if he was speaking to me in Hindi or his English accent was so thick I really didn’t understand what he was saying. When he got to me, he started with “you are a very lucky man”, pointing to a small mole on my forehead that presumably acts as a third-eye. I thanked him and asked what I could do for him, thinking his car has broken down or needs to use a cell phone or any of other thousands of reasons we could need one another as human beings. That’s when he crumbles a tiny piece of paper and puts it in my palm and while writing on another small yellow square piece of paper, starts to dissect my life, or at least my future: • I am one lucky man (general.) • 8/26/2008 will be a lucky day for me. • Two garlic every morning (not clear as to cloves or whole pieces) good for my health. • I have two children. You have none? Then you WILL have two. • His prediction; my favorite color is blue and my favorite number between 6,7 or 8 is 7! I picked blue and 8 but he quickly scratched 8 and made my second choice 7! No wishes granted, unlike Zoltar, the wish granting fortuneteller of Big. Finally and after about 7-10 minutes of this, the main pitch comes. He opens the brown hand-made but inexpensive small folder he has been using all this time to write on to show me two of his pictures while sitting in a temple. “My name is Baba ___” (I can’t remember it) “and people help me with 100, 150” (never mentioning ‘dollars’) and closing with “what can you help me with today?” With that, the back and forth volley of demands and excuses between us starts. I start with “got no cash on me” but he points to my hand “you have your checkbook”, ouch, a good shot but I’m not done. “I’m going to an appointment and that’s for them” forces him to back down and go back to a cash position: “what can you help me with right NOW?” I need to go for broke, besides I’m being late: “Right now? Nothing. If you’re still here after I get back in 20 minutes, I’ll help you with $5” He is disarmed but tries one last time “Okay, help me with $5 right now!” and I question his honesty next: “Why? Are you taking off and will not be here in 20 minutes?” He’s defeated. All he can do is threaten now: “I’ll see you in 20 minutes then!” As I turn and within 20 feet, I see an older partner of my “Zoltar” with a similar handbag offering advice and seeking “help”. Seems like helping is a group sport. Meanwhile, all I am thinking is that I wish they indeed had the ability to foresee the future. They would then know that my appointment is for two hours and I’m planning to get some food afterward. In my head I say goodbye to them; “See you in 4 hours Zoltars!”

read more
13.08 20080

Beijing faked ceremony fireworks

By: Pedram Categories:Sports, The World

Beijing Olympics 2008

The land of fake Rolex watches and Gucci belts, has now progressed further into the realm of virtual reality opening ceremonies.

Watching the opening ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympics almost made me ill. What sickened me at first was the obvious effort to show off, to overspend, to exaggerate. I think I heard they spent 10 times more than Athens did on their opening ceremonies a few years ago and even that was a huge number. Let’s be real, what does the ceremony have to do with the “spirit” of the sports, athletes or even the nature of Olympic games? Maybe instead of synchronized drum works, individual athletes’ achievements could be highlighted. The hard ways they have had to take to get there. Or how some countries don’t have a single venue within Olympic standards and have yet to managed to produce world quality athletes. However, the more nauseating element of NBC’s coverage was having to listen to the commentators. Bob Costas and Matt Lauer only read from the scripts they were given and stuck to the prepared “talking points” not only in praising the host nation (sometimes in overly dramatic ways such as mentioning how the nation that could not protect its youth at some point is now strong, during the flag raising ceremony) but also politicizing the event by not focusing on athletic, but political introductions as many of the athletes entered the stadium. Well, now I can finally breath easier as if the smog has lifted from Beijing’s sky. It turns out what we were watching was in parts faked by magic of digital imagery. So, when Lauer was almost climaxing with "This is actually almost animation," it wasn’t really that magical. To make things palatable for TV viewers, Crystal Digital Technology Co. was called to help and as Beijing organizing committee spokesman Wang Wei describes, “because of the poor visibility of the night, some previously recorded footage may have been used." Ah! China. The land of fake Rolex watches and Gucci belts, has now progressed further into the realm of virtual reality opening ceremonies. How divine! Makes me feel less guilty about making fun of those photoshoped Iranian missile test.

read more

    Los Angeles