Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong Il

My Little Pony, North Korean Style

- January 13th, 2012

 

 

Earlier this week another Toronto newspaper (one with national  pretensions) ran a little piece that tried to poke fun at North Korea’s new “Supreme Leader” by running a few photos that cast him as a Vladimir Putin wannabe.

 

The key photo in the bit was a frame grab of Kim Jong-un on horseback taken from a propaganda film about the Great Successor that’s been running on North Korean TV for the past week.

 

Kim-Jong-un-rides-a-horse-003

 

Coupled with that was this photo of the once and future Russian president on horseback in Siberia in 2010.

 

Putin-horse

Then they ran a couple of other combos of Kim Jong-un and Vlad Putin climbing in and out of tanks and looking at automatic weapons to suggest that young Kim (or at least his handlers) was (were) taking PR photo-op tips from the Russian dictator-in-all-but-name.

 

Granted, Putin does have a penchant for appearing in photos with horseflesh, often half-naked (Putin, I mean, since the horses are pretty much totally naked) and in strangely intimate poses. But none of the Action Man photos of Putin we know so well have even been seen by the North Korean general public.

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The only time North Koreans see photos of Putin (or any other non-Korean dignitary for that matter) is shaking hands with one Dear Leader or another, like this.

Vladimir_Putin_with_Kim_Jong-Il-2

 

No, propaganda art about The Leader as Hero was around long before Putin or Kim. They’re just following a dictatorial tradition.

 

As for the Kim on horseback, that image evokes memories of the Littlest Kim’s father and grandfather for the North Korean masses.

 

Here’s Kim Jong-un’s father, the late unlamented Dear Leader, in the classic horseback hero pose.

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Now look at the frame grab of the Littlest Kim on horseback again. That’s the connection the North Korean propagandists are making.

Kim-Jong-un-rides-a-horse-003

And here’s a classic example of Prop(aganda) Art with the Littlest Kim’s dad (as a child) and granddad (Kim Il-sung) and grandmum (Kim Jong-suk) all on horseback.

kim-Jon-il

 

So horses are a big power image for the Kims (and other dictators).

 

And so are guns. Here’s Granddad and Gradmum again, waging winter warfare with weapons and a babe in arms (little Kim Jong-il, of course).

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All dictators like to be seen as handy with firearms.

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Above, young(ish) Kim Jong-il in 1979. Below, old(ish) Stalin in the early 1950s.

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Even non-dictators find gun-slinging a handy wartime image to cultivate.

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Sometimes they’ll even kill living creatures to prove how good they are with guns.

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And even if they don’t want to be seen waving a firearm around, they still like to cultivate that military image.

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But the one thing a dictator (or anyone else) should never do is get into a tank. That’s the kiss of death, image-wise, because nobody except a real tanker looks good trying to enter or exit a tank. Just ask Mike Dukakis, who had a fair shot at winning the 1988 U.S. presidential election until he ended up looking like Alfred E. Neuman riding around in a goofy tank helmet.

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Winston Churchill may have had a tank named after him but he was never dumb enough to actually get inside one. His photo was always taken standing beside or on top of the tank.

Winston-on-tank

Really, nobody looks good in a tank.

sillysub

(This is actually a submarine, but the concept is the same.)

But somebody obviously forgot to pass on this simple “no tanks” propaganda truth to Kim Jong-un. Witness:

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A little help here — the Supreme Leader’s butt appears to be stuck in the hatch.

Kim Jong-un’s recent photo ops seem to be one goof-up after the other.

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I’d bite that hand, except it’s the one that feeds me.

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So you’re saying that if I fired the missile straight up it will just come straight down to the same place? We’d better move. Now.

But then his dad, Kim Jong-il, the Dear Leader himself, had an obvious aptitude for goofy photos.

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I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from tree. And no one can blame Vlad Putin for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 Fearless Predictions For 2012

- December 27th, 2011

 

I’ve never bragged about it, but I have a real gift for seeing into the future.

 

Want proof? I haven’t invested in the U.S. real estate market or Greek government bonds in recent years and I have never flown on an airplane that has crashed (while I was on it).

 

I’ve decided to share my vision of the coming year with you; and I guarantee that just as many of my predictions will come true as those of many more famous psychics, seers and prophets.

 

Here’s a link to a psychic clearinghouse of 2012 predictions if you want to keep score.

 

I also guarantee that some of my predictions will be as outlandish and unbelievable  as any predictions you might read in the supermarket magazines over the next week or two.

 

You may laugh (I actually hope you do, at least a few times) but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here goes nothing.

 

 

I PREDICT:

Exploding-world

1. The world will NOT end on Dec. 21, 2012, the date some kooks, charlatans and deluded dupes say the Mayan Long Count Calendar foretells as the end of time. (How can I miss on this one? If I’m wrong, no one will be around to point fingers.)

 

Harold-Camping

2. I predict, however, that the world WILL end in 2012 for doomsday forecaster Harold Camping. Not for the rest of the world, mind you — just for 90-year-old Harold. I know that sounds harsh and vindictive toward an old geezer but don’t forget crazy Harold claimed twice — twice! — in 2011 that the Apocalypse was knocking on heaven’s door and most of the rest of us were going to hell. (Harold blew both his  shots at predicting the world’s end, so I get two shots at predicting Harold Camping’s end if I happen to have misinterpreted the timing of his demise on this first occasion.)

 

jon-bon-jovi

3. Jon Bon Jovi will NOT die in 2012 (or in 2011, for that matter).

 

4. A celebrity you thought was already dead WILL die.

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5. Kim Jong-il will be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize — just for dying.

 

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6. Kim Kardashian will be offered the dictatorship of North Korea but will turn the job down because it doesn’t pay as well as unreality TV. (Or maybe she’ll try it out for 72 days, then cancel. She’s certainly got the sunglasses thing — and the attitude — going on.)

 

bradley_cooper

7. People magazine will see the error of its ways and declare someone (anyone!) other than Bradley Cooper “Sexiest Man Alive.”

 

George-Clooney

8. That person will NOT be George Clooney (in 2012, anyway).

 

britney

9. Britney Spears will get married again in 2012, just to see if anyone cares. No one will except Jason Alexander. Whether or not this one lasts longer than 55 hours (the duration of her 2004 marriage to Jason Alexander) … well, does it really matter?

 

10. Ben & Jerry will unveil a new ice cream flavour. ( Hard to beat “Schweddy Balls’’ — their September 2011 tribute to Alec Baldwin.)

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11. Charlie Sheen will officially become Last Year’s Flavour.

 

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12. Ashton Kutcher will be, by general consensus, Last Year’s Non-Flavour.

 

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13. Justin Bieber will secretly hope in 2012 that someone (anyone!) else claims he is capable of fathering a child.

 

14. More baby boys born in 2012 will be named Justin than Charlie and Ashton combined.

 

madonna-biceps

15. Madonna‘s biceps will calcify.

 

16. Someone on the payroll of the 2012 winning Super Bowl team will be named Bubba.

 

17. Commissioner Bud Selig will say or do something to embarrass Major League Baseball — but he probably won’t realize what he’s done.

 

keon67

18. The Toronto Maple Leafs will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

19. The Montreal Canadiens will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

20. The Ottawa Senators will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

21. The Winnipeg Jets will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

22. The Calgary Flames will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

23. The Edmonton Oilers will not win the Stanley Cup.

 

24. The Vancouver Canucks will … dang, crystal ball just went fuzzy … NOT win the Stanley Cup.

 

obama-sad

25. Barack Obama will be re-elected president of the United States.

 

26. The U.S. will not be a better place because Obama is re-elected.

 

27. The world will not be a better place because Obama is re-elected.

 

28. Neither the U.S. nor the world would be a better place if Obama’s Republican opponent were to be elected president.

 

vlad-putin

29. Vladimir Putin will become president of Russia again in 2012 (note that I didn’t say “be elected”).

 

30. The world will be a worse place because Putin is re-presidented.

 

31. The names Gates, Buffett and Walton will appear on the 2012 list of richest people in the world.

 

32. Steve Jones will not be the host of X-Factor USA for the 2012 season.

 

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33. Simon Cowell will cry like a baby on live TV.

 

(I’m probably batting .500 on #32 and #33. I’ll wait until next year’s predictions to tell you there will be no third season of X-Factor USA.)

 

Higgs-boson

34. The Vatican will begin the canonization process for the Higgs boson.

 

35. London, England, will be the #1 tourist destination in the world during the month of August.

 

36. Either China or the United States will win the most medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

 

37. At some point during 2012, more than 200 people in Toronto will realize that their city is hosting the 42nd Chess Olympiad in 2016.

 

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38. Bob Dylan will tour in 2012. So will Lady Gaga.

 

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39. Elvis will not (although his 1973 white jumpsuit WILL go on tour. Really).

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40. Stephen Harper will improve his Dr. Evil impression in 2012.

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41. Mike Myers will improve his Stephen Harper impression.

 

42. Dalton McGuinty will waste billions of taxpayer dollars in 2012 but you will still like him.

 

43. Stephen Harper will save billions of taxpayer dollars in 2012 but you will still dislike him.

 

44. Stephen King will publish a best-selling novel.

 

45. You and I will not (but we could if we really wanted to, right?)

 

Steven-Spielberg

46. Steven Spielberg will direct at least one movie that garners at least two Academy Award nominations.

 

47. You and I? Not a chance (no, not even a teensy one).

 

48. Rob Ford will forget his own name at least once during 2012. (Prove me wrong.)

 

Beach-Boys

49. The Beach Boys will reunite in 2012 for a new album and a 50-date world tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first album. (Harold Camping will not be invited to attend, but Brian Wilson will still hear Harold’s voice in his head while singing “Run Devil Run.”)

 

2012

50. To make up for all the bad things that are going to happen to us during 2012, we’re going to get a free extra day — just out of the blue. I predict this is going to happen in late February, possibly early March. (Even Harold Camping is going to get the bonus day as long as he promises not to predict Armageddon again before then.)

 

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

Now here are five serious 2012 predictions you can take to the bank (unless you live in Greece or Italy — in which case you can stuff these predictions in your mattress or take them to a bank in Switzerland):

 

1. The Euro crisis will continue.

 

2. The price of oil will decline.

 

3. The price of wheat will increase.

 

4. China’s economy will slow down.

 

5. You and I will get older (if we’re lucky — or maybe unlucky, depending on how much of  the world’s bad 2012 kharma rubs off on us).

 

 

Hard To Believe Who Is Turning 70

- April 1st, 2011

I guess 70 really is the new 60.

Maybe even the new 50 (nah, that´s too much of a stretch — at least for now). 

What brings on this bout of age-ist navel-gazing is the sudden realization just how many amazing music people are all turning 70 this year. 

It seems like about half of the people who made the 1960s (and later)  such an incredible musical period were all born within a few months of each other in 1941.

(By the way, there won´t be any photos with this post — it would take away the surprise factor.)

In any given year, roughly the same number of people pop into the world who end up being famous or infamous for one reason or another. Some years produce a few more, some a few less, but it´s usually within a fairly predictable range.

 But 1941 was a freakish, out-of-this-world year — at least as far musical talent was concerned.

 In terms of non-musical celebrities, 1941 was well above average but still within the outer bounds of a normal birth year. 

Born in 1941 and turning 70 this year are people like:

 Bush VP Dick Cheney (cripes, I thought he was at least 80, maybe 85) and U.S. political activist Jesse Jackson; North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak; actresses  Julie Christie and Faye Dunaway (I really don´t believe it); ´60s hotties Ann-Margaret and Senta Berger (who, after her Hollywood success, returned to Germany where she is enjoying a long and rewarding career in theatre, film and TV which is probably the envy of actresses who stayed in Hollywood only be ignored and even belittled in their mature years); 

Actors Nick Nolte, David Warner, Stacy Keach, Robert Forster, Bruno Ganz, Jurgen Prochnow, Eric Braeden and Beau Bridges (Jeff´s older brother); writers Paul Theroux, Anne Rice and Norah Ephron; former Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox and NFL coach Bill Parcells; film directors Denys Arcand, Bernardo Bertolucci, Stephen Frears, Wolfgang Petersen and (again) Norah Ephron;

 Canadian comic actor and SCTVer Joe Flaherty; evolutionary biologist and champion atheist Richard Dawkins; Rich & Famous Lifestylist Robin Leach; Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL New England Patriots; NHL Rangers great Rod Gilbert; former Disney child star Tommy Kirk; even Toronto´s own (temporary) public housing czar Case Ootes.

I can  accept a few singers like Placido Domingo, Paul Anka and Cesaria Evora  all turning 70 at the same time. (They seem like they should be 70 by now anyway.)

But the scale — in terms of both numbers and talent — of singers, musicians and songwriters turning 70 this year is (to my mind, anyway) staggering.

 I really wonder if there´s been another year like it. (And the U.S. and British birth rates were normal that year — even less than in the later war years and post-war Baby Boom – so it´s not just a proportionate bulge.)

For starters, consider just these three 70-this-year icons, all still rolling:

Bod Dylan (May 24, 1941)

Paul Simon (Oct. 13, 1941)

Art Garfunkel (Nov. 5, 1941)

(If you want to throw in Dylan´s equivalent of Simon´s Garfunkel, Joan Baez already turned 70 on Jan. 9.)

And they´re just the tip of the iceberg.

Because there are so many, I am not going to list everyone´s birthdays. We´ll just go through the 1941 births month by month.

And don´t forget, these are just some — not all — of the musical greats (and goods and pretty goods) born in 1941 and turning 70 this year:

JANUARY

Joan Baez, We Shall Overcome, Diamonds and Rust

Richie Havens, opened Woodstock

Aaron Neville, Tell It Like It Is, The Neville Brothers

Neil Diamond, Solitary Man, Sweet Caroline, Cherry Cherry, Cracklin´Rosie, Song Sung Blue, a million more — count ´em, a million I tells ya. For a while he held the record for highest celebrity divorce settlement. Madonna knocked him out of that No. 1 spot a few years later.

Placido Domingo, tenor

FEBRUARY

Sergio Mendes, Brazil ´66, The Look Of Love

Tom Rush, No Regrets

Brian Holland, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown Sound

Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans

Joanie Sommers, Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb

Buffy Sainte-Marie,  Order of Canada, Universal Soldier, Until It´s Time For You To Go, Up Where We Belong (co-writer)

MARCH

Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane

Mike Love, Beach Boys

Alf Clausen, conductor/composer for The Simpsons (the show that taught my kids about the ´60s)

Charo, Cuchi Cuchi flamenco provocateure. Charo claims she was actually born in 1951 but falsified Spanish birth records when she married 66-year-old bandleader Xavier Cugat back when she was (she says) 15.

APRIL

David LaFlamme, It´s A Beautiful Day violinist

Roberto Carlos, Brazil´s King of Latin Music

Zamfir, confirmed  pan flautist

MAY

Eric Burdon, The Animals, House Of The Rising Sun, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Don´t Bring Me Down, Don´t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Bring It On Home To Me, Cee Cee Rider, Sky Pilot, Monterey

Joe Brown, Top UK Vocal Personality of 1962 (The Beatles were, of course, Top Vocal Group that year and the next and the next …Brown won the Personality contest again for ´63 but John Lennon knocked him off ´for ´64.)

Ronald Isley, The Isley Brothers

Bob Dylan, Voice of a Generation, Poet Laureate of Rock ´n´Roll, Pulitzer Prize recipient, enigma, genius, antagonist, world´s hippest senior citizen. His Never Ending Tour (a tag Dylan dislikes) heads to Australia and New Zealand this month

JUNE

Charlie Watts, oldest of the Rolling Stones (Mick and Keith turn 70 in 2013)

Chick Corea, jazz piano great, Scientologist

Reg Presley, The Troggs, Wild Thing, Love Is All Around, crop-circle afficianado

Lamont Dozier, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown Sound

JULY

Martha Reeves, The Vandellas, Jimmy Mack, Dancing In The Street, Detroit city councilwoman

Lonnie Mack, blues-rock guitarist (not related to Jimmy Mack)

Vicki Carr, He´s A Rebel (The Crystals´Phil Spector-produced version was a cover of Vicki´s original)

George Clinton, Parliament, Funkadelic, P-Funk, official Urban Icon

Paul Anka, Order of Canada, Diana, Lonely Boy, My Way, co-king of Vegas (with Wayne Newton), co-writer of This Is It (with Michael Jackson), second wife (30 years his junior, divorced 2010) starred on TV show Swedish Hollywood Wives (in Sweden it´s called Svenska Hollywoodfruar).

AUGUST

Beverley Lee, one quarter of The Shirelles, Another quarter, Doris Coley, was born a day earlier but died in 2000. Lee currently holds trademark rights for The Shirelles.

David Crosby, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, CSNY, Joni Mitchell´s main man (for quite a while) and biological father of Melissa Etheridge´s two children with former partner Julie Cypher.

Cesaria Evora, the Barefoot Diva from Cape Verde

SEPTEMBER

David Clayton-Thomas, The Shays, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Spinning Wheel, illegal alien in U.S. at height of BS&T´s fame, apparently now living in Toronto again.

OCTOBER

Chubby Checker, on never-ending Twist cycle. The stage name was supposed to be a play on Fats Domino.

Paul Simon, Listen to the Sounds of … Silence, Bridge Over Troubled Waters,  Mrs. Robinson, Graceland and dozens more classic Simon songs. His new album So Beautiful Or So What is released this month, supported by the tour that brings him to Toronto May 6.  Keep on rolling, Paul. Just like Dylan.

Jim Seals, Seals & Croft

Steve Cropper, Booker T and the M.G.s, original Blues Brothers

Helen Reddy, I Am Woman, Delta Dawn

Curtis Lee,  Pretty Little Angel Eyes

Otis Williams, baritone for The Temptations, only original member of the group still performing in The Temptations

NOVEMBER

Art Garfunkel, the Tom in Tom & Jerry, the Garfunkel in Simon & Garfunkel, the high in high & not-so-high, the singer not the songwriter, nice guy, lucky to have a boyhood friend named Paul Simon.

Duck Dunn, like lifelong pal Steve Cropper, a mainstay of Booker T & the M.G.s and the original Blues Brothers.

Pete Best, The Beatles´original drummer (Aug. 12, 1960-Aug. 16, 1962), replaced by Ringo Starr after George Martin had already signed the Beatles to their EMI contract and only months before the first album launched Beatlemania.

DECEMBER

Maurice White, Earth Wind & Fire founder

Mike Pinder, Moody Blues, psychedelic mellotron

Ray Thomas, also Moody Blues, confirmed flautist

I haven´t even mentioned the lesser lights turning 70 this year from groups like Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Temptations, The 5th Dimension, The Pips, The Searchers, The Shadows, The Tremeloes.

And then there are the ones who would have turned 70 this year if they had lived:

Richie Valens, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Gene Pitney, Denny Doherty and Cass Elliott, Tim Hardin, Harry Nilsson, Desmond Dekker, Long John Baldry, David Ruffin, Tom Fogerty, Doug Sahm, Danny Rapp, Captain Beefheart (who just died in December) and I guess you might consider Monty Python´s Graham Chapman an honourary rocker.

So, a lot. The next decade or two will probably have some more “look who´s turning 70″ bulges, but this one´s the biggie for me. (Gawd, I just don´t want to see Elton John and Madonna at 70.)

I guess I just can´t believe Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel are turning 70 this year. Thank God they´re still making music. Keep those rocking chairs rocking.

Yikes! I just looked ahead to 1942 births. Here are the first five names I came across of famous folk turning 70 next year: Barbra Stresiand, Brian Wilson, Brian Jones (well, woulda/coulda/shoulda), Bob Hoskins, Billy Connolly. And there´s more: Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, Muhammed Ali, Stephen Hawking, Harrison Ford and on and on. I guess this trend is just going to keep rolling for a while.