Breathe Again: May 31st is World No Tobacco Day

#CommitToQuit         #AntiTobaccoDay

The World Health Organization designates May 31st as World No Tobacco Day, a day to encourage people to quit smoking.  The theme for 2021 is Commit To Quit.  And considering the combined effects of COVID-19 and being a smoker, there’s good reason to quit.

Quit tobacco to be a winner

World No Tobacco Day 2021 campaign – Commit to Quit

The saying goes that “quitters never win,” but in the case of tobacco, quitters are the real winners.

When the news came out that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco. But without adequate support, quitting can be incredibly challenging. 

The nicotine found in tobacco is highly addictive and creates dependence. The behavioural and emotional ties to tobacco use – like having a cigarette with your coffee,  craving tobacco, feelings of sadness or stress  – make it hard to kick the habit. 

With professional support and cessation services, tobacco users double their chances of quitting successfully.

Currently, over 70% of the 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide lack access to the tools they need to quit successfully. This gap in access to cessation services is only further exacerbated in the last year as the health workforce has been mobilized to handle the pandemic.

That’s why WHO launched a year-long campaign for World No Tobacco Day’s   – “Commit to Quit” theme. The campaign aims to empower 100 million tobacco users to make a quit attempt by creating networks of support and increasing access to services proven to help tobacco users quit successfully.

70% of smokers may have no access to help in quitting, but 100% of smokers including children under 14 in developing countries have daily access to tobacco products and advertising that encourages it with few laws restricting it.  As laws restricted smoking in wealthy countries and incomes in developing countries grew, the death merchants (tobacco companies) switched their focus.  Governments in wealthy G20 countries allow and encourage them to predate on children and call it “international trade” and a “domestic problem in their country, not ours”.  I call it racism, because the G20 countries are mostly white and developing countries are mostly Brown and Black.  (Most of the tobacco peddlars are in the US or UK, but there’s one each in China and Japan.)

A big part of the problem is money.  Tobacco wastes health care resources on treatment, and it’s not taxed enough.  The World Health Organization estimates US$1.4 trillion is wasted annually due to tobacco.  Australia did the right thing by raising cigarette prices (AUD$35 for a pack of 20 coffin nails, or US$27) but here in Taiwan, it’s still a piddling NT$100 (US$3.60).  It’s still profitable to sell death, so they do.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes quitting and prevention even more important.  Contrary to myths, smoking and vaping increases the likelihood of dying from COVID-19.  Smoking does NOT “protect” them.  Multiple reputable sources confirm this, only those taking money from the tobacco industry disagree.

More below the fold.

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Good News To Report: A horrible spring finally comes to an end

Taiwan’s spring 2021 has been wretched after all the positives for the country in 2020 (in terms of international recognition and profile, I mean).  The combination of a mass outbreak, the worst drought in decades and the PRC’s meddling and military threats.

As of yesterday, the Plum Rains have finally started to fall, which may finally fill the depleted reservoirs (some as low as 3% capacity) though the potential for flash floods exists.  With everyone inside and businesses closed, few people have been affected by them (except for a teen without a driver’s license who drove without permission, killing himself while speeding in rain).    If we get two weeks of this, and the combination of new waste water equipment purchased may solve the water problems for the year.  China should pay attention to their own problems, considering that floods have already started and threaten to be worse than they had in 2020.

Taiwan’s government did not race to import vaccines because of good management and the island’s isolation.  Unfortunately, the selfishness of a few individuals have caused a mass spread that led to at least a month of lockdown, some speculate could last until October.  Two weeks in since the emergency and Level 3 procedures were announced, the numbers are starting to decline.  If people don’t become lax, it’s possible we could be back to normal by the start of July when vaccines will start rolling out in numbers, both the imported AstroZeneca and locally made Medigen.  Thus far, Taiwan’s government has ordered enough doses of Medigen for 5 million people, on top of the doses purchased for import.

150,000 of Moderna doses from Germany landed yesterday, with Japan offering to send some of their supply if needed.  For the second time (last year from Poland), China Airlines planes have intentionally flown around PRC airspace.  The first time a in 2020, it was because Beijing refused permission.  This time it was (my speculation, not proven) to avoid a repeat of Belarus illegally forcing a plane to land.  China has been trying to tempt Taiwanese with their substandard vaccine, though few here are willing to accept it.  If China were so concerned, why is it meddline in the BioNTech deal, pressuring the company not to ship to Taiwan?

[Addendums, May 31.  Local updates and news of the weird.]

Taiwan has decriminalized adultery, though civil suits for personal damages can still be filed.  Part of me is thinking, “Is this really a priority?  Will people see it as an excuse to start fooling around?” while another is thinking about how it will affect polyamourous relationships.  This is coming at the same time that full marriage equality is happening (i.e. people from countries where their marriage is criminalized who marry Taiwanese people).

A man who tested positive for COVID-19 attempted to leave the hospital, and stabbed three nurses who tried to restrain him.  The first question everyone is asking is, why the hell wasn’t he searched or his clothes not changed when he was hospitalized?  How did he (and why was he allowed) to get a knife into a hospital?

Some people are getting touchy because Dr. Lim Wooi Tee from Singapore said in an interview that Taiwan should go into a full lockdown.  I’ve been saying that since May 14, do a two or three week lockdown and get this over quickly.  As a lone anonymous voice, I didn’t get much of a backlash, and none of my friends said that would be an overreaction.  Dr. Lim, on the other hand, is being harangued by those who want to reopen immediately.

Dr. Lim’s advice may be an overreaction now that Taiwan’s transmission rate is down to 1.02 (which might allow reopening by June 14, as the government planned) but being cautious is not being reckless.  The anti-maskers and COVID deniers criticizing Lim are the reckless ones.

Slaughterhouse Five Exists: Greg Abattoir is making Texas into one

It’s clear that Texas governor Greg Abattoir wants Texas to be a slaughterhouse.  And he’s doing it in five ways:

Right now, he’s signing his new “guns everywhere, all the time” law.  No permits, no registration, and white people can carry guns openly and threateningly without restriction.  What are the odds racist cops will shoot Black people who carry (not use) guns, but not arrest racist whites who shoot Black people and other minorities “if they had a good reason” (e.g. “he was talking back to me”, transphobia and homophobia)?

He’s also signing an “anti-abortion bill” that will turn women’s bodies into state property, criminalize women for natural events like miscarriage.  As numerous feminists have noted, when the punishment for having an abortion is death but the punishment for rape is a few months, you know it’s a war on women.

In January, Abattoir knew there wasn’t enough natural gas to keep Texas’s electrical grid working.  He knew people would die by his inaction, his failure to acquire LNG from other sources.  He actively let it happen because he wanted the poor to die.

In 2020, Abattoir’s department of corruptions wasted US$1.1 million fighting a lawsuit filed by prisoners asking for soap, hand sanitizer and other materials to fight the spread of COVID-19 within prisons.  It would have cost less to buy the stuff than to fight the case.  And taxpayers will be footing the bill instead of Abattoir and the republicans, and countless prisoners will be killed by the state while “tough on crime” believers laugh.

And, of, course there’s the new whites-only and wealthy-only voting law that will ensure his re-election.  I’ll bet white trash will be carrying guns around voting booths to “discourage” anyone who isn’t one their own from voting.

As the saying goes, you can’t spell slaughter without laughter, and Greg Abattoir is laughing all the way to the voting booth.

Culture Shifts: The buybull thumpers won’t like this

It’s called the buybull because believers buy the bull.

George Barna of the “Cultural Research Center” at Arizona Christian University, has published a paper entitled (the link is to a PDF of the paper):

American Worldview Inventory 2021

Release #3: The Seismic Generational Shift in Worldview:

Millennials Seek a Nation Without God, Bible and Churches

The fact that they’re studying this tells you they’re worried, and not just because their numbers are shrinking and aging, much like baseball’s fanbase and Fox Nuisance viewers.  Religious fanatics are losing the “culture war” because their own policies hurt the younger generations, so the kids have rejected it.

The Millennial Spiritual Revolution

There are more than two dozen examples of Millennials being substantially more likely than any other generation to reject biblical principles in favor of more worldly spiritual perspectives and practices.

Millennials, defined in the CRC research as people born between 1985 and 2002 (i.e., aged 18 to 36 at the time of the survey), are far more likely than any other generation to:

Define success in life as happiness, personal freedom, or productivity without oppression

Consider an abortion performed to reduce personal economic or emotional discomfort to be morally acceptable

Consider premarital sex with someone expected to be their future spouse to be morally acceptable

Deem reincarnation a real possibility• Be liberal regarding fiscal and social policies

Champion liberal theology

Be among the “Don’ts”—people who either do not know if God exists, do not believe that He exists, or do not care if He exists

I fail to see how Millennials and GenXers are “threatening” anything other than stopping religion’s stranglehold on society.  They’re not worried because “young people are immoral”, they’re worried because religion no longer has power and blind obedience.

Joining the Gen X Spiritual Repositioning

Those spiritual transitions represent a continuation of dramatic changes introduced by Gen X prior to the arrival of the Millennials. George Barna, the veteran sociologist who has been studying national religious patterns for more than four decades, pointed out that the reshaping of America’s religious landscape began nearly 60 years ago. Baby Boomers were the most aggressive initiators of spiritual change, he noted, embracing dramatically different beliefs and behaviors than their predecessors. Their successors, Gen X, realigned the nation’s religious boundaries even further. The youngest adult generation of today, Millennials, are now threatening to reshape the nation’s religious parameters beyond recognition.

Together, Gen Xers and Millennials (i.e., two generations currently in their late teens through mid-50s) emerged with many beliefs that stand in sharp contrast to those held by Boomers and Builders (the two generations in their mid-50s and older).

The table below (a screenshot of page 3 in the PDF) shows the change in attitudes by generation.  What I don’t buy is the “You treat others as you want them to treat you” claim which is self-reported.  I wager younger people are simply more honest, that the older generations were self-serving and dishonest in their attitudes on racism, sexism, LGBTQIA rights, etc. (i.e. kindness is reserved for those you like).  The idea that being older and more religious equates to “morality” is laughable, especially considering the behaviours of their own leaders.


Read this tripe from page 5 where they whine and lie about “indoctrination in schools”, “religion hasn’t pushed back”, “responsibilities of government have been significantly broadened”:

A Challenging Time for the Christian Church

This is the 30th anniversary of the publication of Barna’s breakthrough bestseller, The Frog in the Kettle (1990). The author of more than 50 books since then regarding faith and culture, Barna pointed out that the American Church has been like that frog in boiling water for the last three decades—and the frog is barely surviving.

“Gen X and the Millennials have solidified dramatic changes in the nation’s central beliefs and lifestyles,” Barna noted. “From a nationwide perspective, the Christian Church has done shockingly little to push back. The result is a culture in which core institutions—including churches—and basic ways of life are continually being radically redefined.”

Asked to give examples of such change, he expanded his comments. “The family unit and traditional family practices have been reshaped, with some long-term, fundamental family ideals and practices outlawed. The responsibilities of government have been significantly broadened and transformed. The influence of the Christian church has diminished while the influence of arts, entertainment, and news media has exploded. As millions of parents discovered during the pandemic, public schools have become indoctrination farms rather than places for teaching basic life skills.”

The US teetered on the brink of becoming a fascist theocracy where eliminating “them” almost became policy, governmental force as the tool of religion, and they have the sads because it didn’t succeed.

Hurry Up And Wait: Two weeks turns into a month

This post was started on Monday but I’m only finishing it now.

On May 14, Taiwan closed down all schools for two weeks (public and private) along with all public places where people gathered.  No pools, no libraries, no entertainment venues, and all restaurants are take out only.  Due to the increase in cases to 400 positive tests per day, closures have been extended to June 14th.  The numbers have levelled off in the past week and (I hope) will start to decline.

As mentioned elsewhere, the cause of the spread was pilots and wealthy people assuming they were exempt from quarantine and social distancing rules (having large dinner parties together).  It’s also due to “tea house hostesses” (sex work related businesses) visited by those wealthy men.  Dozens of the women working in those places have disappeared after testing positive.

The most galling part is the failure of hospitals.  ALL people in Taiwan, citizens and foreigners, have ID cards, even if they don’t have medical system cards.  And yet some hospitals doing COVID-19 tests were letting people write down contact information instead of checking IDs.  Some people who tested positive gave fake names and numbers.  It’s a damning statement when (before they were ordered to close) night clubs were doing a better job of checking and photographing ID cards at the door than are the hospitals.

I have to wonder why the government didn’t go for a full two or three week lockdown and go around to test all neighborhoods.  Shut down everything.  It would be far more effective than partial closures which (as we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere) people start rebelling against.

What about people who now have no income for over a month and this turns into two months or three? There is a provision for unemployment benefits that even I am eligible for, not just citizens. But depending on the person, their income and a variety of factors, people could be broke within weeks. Myself, I could theoretically go several months without working (as long as my work and residency visa isn’t voided) but I would rather not.

Vaccines are finally starting to come in, but they won’t be distributed soon enough. Taiwan has directly accused China of blocking Taiwan’s attempts to acquire vaccines.  Given China’s blocking of Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, WHA and other harassment and intimidation (e.g. Chinese fighter jets have invaded Taiwan’s airspace multiple times), I know who gets the benefit of the doubt in this war of words.

Taiwan says ‘China’s intervention’ blocked vaccine deal with BioNTech

Taiwan has directly accused China for the first time of blocking a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccines, in an escalating war of words after Beijing offered the German-made mRNA shots to the island via a Chinese company.

Taiwan has millions of vaccine doses on order from AstraZeneca and Moderna, but has received only slightly more than 700,000 to date, and has only been able to vaccinate about 1 per cent of its population as coronavirus cases surge.

The locally made Medigen vaccine can’t arrive soon enough.



On the bright side, people in my neighborhood keep daytime hours and there’s little traffic.  Air pollution is already lowest between 1AM and 6AM, and with no cars, it’s even lower than usual. The roads are empty so I’ve started riding at night.  Cops patrolling the streets have seen me riding but never stopped me since I’m always wearing a mask.

The gyms are closed and use of fitness equipment in public parks is banned to prevent the spread, but kilometres of road are open and stretch resistance bands work inside my apartment. Maybe I’ll come out of this physically fit and down a few kilos.

What A Sight To See: Did anyone catch the lunar eclipse?

On May 26 around 19:00 local time (11:00 UTC), there was a lunar eclipse.  Unlike last June’s solar eclipse where I had to travel 200km to see it, this time I only had to walk 500m to the riverside park and cross the levee to reduce light pollution.  There were quite a few other shutterbugs out taking their own photos.

Gizmodo posted an item entitled “13 Spectacular Pics of the ‘Super Blood Moon’ Eclipse From Around the World” with much better pictures than mine (below the fold).

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The Sellout Sells Out: John China and his cowardly apology to Beijing

John China (as many are calling him online) has spent his entire career kowtowing to and obeying others, whether Vince McMahon, directors, and now Chinese politicians.  For someone who plays a “tough guy” on screen, he has the spine of a jellyfish, ready to bow and scrape on command.

John Cena Apologizes to China for Calling Taiwan a Country

John Cena on Tuesday posted a video in which he apologized to fans in China after he referred to Taiwan as a country.

[. . .]

“I made a mistake,” Cena said in his apology video, according to The New York Times. “Now I have to say one thing which is very, very, very important: I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m very sorry for my mistakes. Sorry. Sorry. I’m really sorry. You have to understand that I love and respect China and Chinese people.”

Cena made the Taiwan comment in an interview with Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS, where he reportedly said, “Taiwan is the first country that can watch [F9].”

You might initially think I’m saying this as someone living in Taiwan with ambitions of dual citizenship, but that’s not the reason.  What I want to know is:

Where’s the white outrage at all those pandering to the CCP?

Those who blew their stack over Black athletes kneeling called them “traitors” despite the fact said Black athletes want the US to improve and fix its problems.  But when the NBA, a fake athlete like John Cena and hollywood studios cower and cater to Beijing, there’s nary a word.

The public and governments say nothing (*) when olympic athletes are threatened with expulsion for talking about human and LGBTQIA rights during the olympics (especially 2022 in China) because “that’s political”.  And yet the same public and governments claim it “isn’t political” when mass murdering dictatorships bribe their way into hosting the olympics and world cup.

(* Well, governments do say something, but usually it’s “shut up and run”, as Slavery Avery told US athletes in 1968.)


As seen today:


The Undeclared State: Somaliland celebrates 30 years of independence

Somaliland is a small nation on the Horn of Africa which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, and celebrated its 30th anniversary on May 18, 2021.

Unlike Somalia which is recognized by the United Nations and most countries in the world, Somaliland is a breakaway state recognized by few and not a UN member.  Also unlike Somalia, Somaliland has a stable government with democratic elections.

Somaliland, along with Taiwan, is a member Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, an organization for unrecognized states and ethnic groups (e.g. Uigyurs, Tibetans) that seek independence or better treatment and human rights from the nations they belong to.

After colonialist and imperialist rule of Italy, the UK and others, Somaliland  was the first to break away in 1960.  When Somalia created its own nation separate from Ethiopia, Somaliland made the mistake of forming one nation with Somalia instead of independence and UN recognition.  It’s very similar to Taiwan’s past insistence on still being the legitimate government of China, thus losing its chance at UN recognition.

Somaliland is (unsurprisingly) predominantly muslim, though unlike others there is no law against conversion to other religions.  Government run schools include islam, but private schools do not.  And most interesting, the country’s constitution does not allow political parties or movements based on religion.  It cannot be called a secular state, but unlike most countries in the region there is no oppressive imposition of religion socially or legally.

More below. . . .

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Let’s Celebrate: Happy World Goth Day to you all

May 22 is World Goth Day.  Contrary to the stereotype and claims made, Goths are not “depressed and suicidal”.  Quite the contrary; the Goth community is one of the most Intersectional and non-judgemental subcultures you find.  If you say you’re a goth, you’re one of us.

There are fascinating articles and videos on the origins of Goth culture and music (“Before Bauhaus: How Goth Became Goth”).  Many think it starts in the 1970s, but one could trace its roots back to Nina Simone, Screaming Jay Hawkins and Robert Johnson, and even into the late 19th century Victorian era.  Goth has a long history.  There are many more articles than these.

Louder Sound: Goth: Everything you need to know

Atmostfear Entertainment: The Origin and Development of the Creative Goth Subculture

Post-Punk: Goth So White? | Black Representation in the Post-Punk Scene

Love To Know: Goths And Fashion

More below the fold, pics too.

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The Inevitable Happens: Lockdown

Due to the selfish actions of a few, COVID-19 has spread to multiple cities around Taiwan.  The government has enacted Level 3 of its four levels for pandemics.  Level 4 will happen if there are seven consecutive days with at least 100 new cases per day, which might happen. [Addendum below.]

As of today, all schools and most businesses are closed, so I’m off unpaid for two weeks, stuck at home.  All entertainment venues are fully closed: bars, clubs, arcades, movie theatres, pools, gyms, you name it.

All government services are now online only.  Good luck doing my taxes, though they have extended the deadline a month to the end of June.  On the bright side, all indoor religious congregations are banned, and they’re actually going to adhere, unlike those in South Korea, the US or Canada.

Taiwan confirms 333 new domestic COVID-19 cases; total passes 2,000

Taipei, May 17 (CNA) Taiwan on Monday confirmed 335 new cases of COVID-19, of which 333 were classified as domestic infections, breaking its daily record of local cases for the fourth consecutive day.

The new domestic cases are 189 females and 144 males, ranging from under five years of age to over 90, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said.

Taipei reported the most cases, at 158, around half of which are residents of Wanhua District. New Taipei had the second highest number, at 148, with 41 reported in Banqiao District.

[. . .]

Of the 333 cases, 155 were linked to a cluster of infections involving hostess teahouses in Taipei’s Wanhua District, while 86 involved people who had recently been to Wanhua.

Six were related to a religious tour in southern Taiwan, five involved a Lions Club International organization based in New Taipei, and three were linked to games arcades in Yilan County.

One of my best friends lives smack dab in the middle of Wanhua, crying and telling me she sees people openly walking around and ignoring the mask mandate.  And that nothing has been done to shelter the homeless until the end of the month.  Infuriating.  I hope they all get hit with the NT$15,000 fine (US$533) for ignoring it.

Given the two week lag between exposure and symptoms, the thousand new cases in the last few days were a result of the pilots’ actions a few weeks ago.  Two weeks of everyone at home will do a lot to curb the spread.

The plan was to have the domestically produced Medigen vaccine rolled out in July.  Those who wanted could pay for AstraZeneca, but those appointments have been suspended.  Only about 1% of people are vaccinated; they’re trying to minimize travel and people entering hospitals, especially after one hospital became a hotspot.  Now I doubt if I can even get to the testing sites.  I was in Wanhua visiting my friend on May 1, and I walked through an open air market where some people weren’t wearing masks (I was).  The government didn’t announce it was a hot spot until this week, exposed from April 24 to May 10.



And as I type this, I get a phone notification: another rolling blackout is coming in thirty minutes.  Somebody screwed up at one of the power plants a few days ago, so the effect is being spread across the system gradually.

This is incomplete, I’ll come back and finish when I’m sure the power is reliable. It turned out to be a non-event in my area, but there were shutdowns.

Back to the plot, more below.


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Well, This Sucks: Selfish pilots, AGAIN

For the third time, there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in Taiwan caused by returning airline pilots who are ignoring quarantine rules. When are they going to learn that they’re not exempt?

After the first two outbreaks, the CECC got things under control quickly.  This time, however, a group of pilots and flight crew went out in Taoyuan to restauarants and other packed venues, and they travelled, exposing potentially hundreds at a time. It has now spread to I-lan (a small east coast town). There are currently a hundred infected, and the CECC issued statements that there could be many unknown carriers at this point.

As of last week, ALL outdoor events of 500 or more people and indoor of more than 100 are banned. Nightclubs are now limiting entries and ID is mandatory for tracking people. This means no Dragon Boat Festival (June 14) for the second year or any large gatherings, but that’s no hardship. What really makes this annoying is that flu season is over and it’s already 30°C to 35°C outside. Nobody wants to be wearing masks and dealing with the discomfort.

Thankfully, aside from a few ignorant conspiracy theory clowns, there isn’t much resistance. I really wish the government would deport the foreigners spewing that garbage.

I also wish the government would take my recommendation for pilots: Work four weeks on, six weeks off (two of them in quarantine). House them at airport hotels between flights so they’re well rested, and don’t let them mingle with the general population.  The hotels need the business to stay open.

There are a hundred infected now and possibly up to a thousand island-wide. The CECC has done an excellent job thus far, and it shouldn’t be ruined by selfish individuals.

Chen declares Taiwan has community transmission

During a press conference on Tuesday (May 11), the Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that with the outbreak of five local cases in Yilan and one case of unknown origin in New Taipei City, Taiwan has “entered community transmission.”

In an interview with Hit FM on May 3, Chen said that two and a half months after the Taoyuan General Hospital cluster infection, Taiwan is faced with the China Airlines cargo pilot and Novotel hotel employee cluster infections. At the time, Chen was concerned about case No. 1,129, who is a housekeeping department employee of the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport Hotel.

What Chen said is worrying is that two family members of case No. 1,129, identified as cases 1,134 and 1,136, both had an extensive period of community activities during the infectious period, and not all community contacts have been identified. When it comes to the children of case No. 1,129, Chen warned that Taiwan is on the “verge of community transmission.”

Let’s Backtrack: Fritz Lang’s classic thriller “M” turns 90

Fritz Lang’s classic thriller “M” was released on May 11, 1931, ninety years ago.  It’s a gripping film about a serial killer, a town living in fear, and the criminal underground more concerned and competent at catching him than the cops.  Films of such dark topics were exceedingly rare in those days, Hitchcock only creating his first films in the late 1920s.  It still stands up with films of today, not needing blood or shock value to disturb its audience.

Peter Lorre plays Hans Beckert, a serial killer with a compunction for killing children.  And every time his desire comes on, he whistles “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg, which was already a haunting piece of music.  The townsfolk live in fear as their children go missing.  We never see the murders, but the sight of Beckert’s shadow and the floating balloons he used to lure the children are enough to give you chills.

Beckert terrorizes the town with his actions, leaving people paranoid, incompetent police baffled, and the criminal underworld so frustrated they decide to catch the murderer themselves.  It’s a “police procedural”, psychological horror, and social statement all in one, about whether the mentally ill can be held responsible for their actions.  At many points, the audience almost feels sorry for Beckert until we are reminded of his crimes.  The chase, the capture, the “trial” by the criminals, and Beckert’s pleas for understanding make for one of the most memorable endings in film.

And then, we are left hanging, no resolution or happy ending.  We never learn Beckert’s fate, what happens to the criminals who were going to kill him.  All we are the left with is Frau Beckmann, mother of Elsie Beckmann (the first victim) giving a warning to the audience.

“M” is also noticeable for Lang’s use of sound.  Unlike most early “talkies” that filled them with dialogue and music, “M” was sparse.  Words were only spoken when necessary, with intentionally long periods of silence.  And the two minute long camera shot of the beggars’ hideout is all the more amazing considering that steadicams wouldn’t be invented for another forty five years.

Fritz Lang had a long and successful directorial career both before and after “M”.  “M” was Lang’s first “talkie”, but it wasn’t his first groundbreaking film.  1927’s “Metropolis” (available on youtube) remains one of the most important, influential and stunning science fiction films ever made.  After his escape from Nazi Germany following the release of “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse” (which Joseph Goebbels censored) he created many classic films in Hollywood (e.g. “The Big Heat”, “Cloak And Dagger”, “While The City Sleeps”, among others).

“M” isn’t just a psychological horror film, it had political and social commentary, something Lang put into many of his films.  The National Socialist Party were already well established and rising in power within Germany.  “M” was Lang’s criticism of “othering”, of his concern with the Nazi Party’s language and demonization of jews (such as Hungarian-born Peter Lorre, who also escaped Germany for the US) and other minorities.  Hollywood prevented Lang from including a scene in “The Big Heat” (1953) damning racism and the lynching of Black people.

Lang’s concern for decency in society was a strange dichotomy, considering that he was known for horrific and abusive treatment of his actors and film crews.  Hitchcock (again) was abusive, but was a sweetheart compared to Lang.

As mentioned above, Joseph Goebbels prevented the release of “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse”, but he recognized Lang’s talent and wanted him to make propaganda films for the Nazis. Unsurprisingly, Lang was mortified by the idea, but he played along until he could effect his escape, first to France and then the US.

“M” is now in the public domain, free to watch and download.  You can find it on the Internet Archive, youtube and elsewhere.  It is one of the highest rated films on Rotten Tomatoes, and revered by many film buffs and art critics both for its story and Lang’s filmmaking.


And since I mentioned Vangelis recently, here’s “The Friends Of Mr. Cairo” by Jon and Vangelis, a paean to the Film Noir era, was released in fall of 1981.  It’s rare that a twelve minute song gets played on the radio.


How Feelings Can Change….

My thoughts about “mother’s day” this year:

I never begrudge this May weekend to those who came from good families and those who turned out to be good parents. I’m glad they never went through what I did and that they treat their kids with love and respect. And it’s also not wrong for me to feel nothing for the two who genetically produced me.

Last Thursday, my little sister-by-choice Katisen and I were watching “POSE”, episodes five to eight from the first season. The fifth was called “Mother’s Day”, where Blanca hears that her biological mother died, then she attends the funeral.  Blanca had been thrown out into the street years before.

Blanca is met with nothing but hostility, deadnaming, hypocrisy and insults from everyone except for one aunt. I never went back when either of them died, but I can picture it being exactly like that.  While her relatives wallow in and abuse the wealth Blanca’s mother left behind, Blanca left empty handed but with her dignity intact and having told the truth.  Near the end of the episode, her sister shows up at Blanca’s door, names her properly, and gives her the only thing that Blanca wanted from her mother: her cookbook.

Episode eight was “Mother Of The Year”, where Blanca’s family grows, including taking Elektra in after her house falls apart and Elektra is left homeless.  Despite everything that Elektra had done, Blanca gave unconditional help to someone who had helped her as a newly Transitioned woman.  Blanca’s efforts and actions are their own reward in the end, for sticking to her principles and building a loving family and community.  The awards ceremony was over the top for my tastes.  Those who have done right don’t need a reward.

Kat and I sat watching, hugging and crying, talking about each episode. Then she tells me, “You’re our Blanca”, meaning to the Transgender and Non-Binary community here. I’m not so full of myself to think I’m that important or have that much influence or effect. But to hear Kat say it to me, to hear that I’ve had a mothering influence on her, at least one person, meant the world to me.

For the first time in decades, I’m looking forward to this Sunday.