Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

A Short Film about Child Soldiers

So I’m a bit obsessed with Marina Abramovic these days.

Not so much the stalker-type obsessed, but definitely willing to read about her work, the details of her retrospective at MOMA, or pointers to her long career. Two bits from today’s reading about Abramovic: a long, thoughtful account of waiting in line to sit with the artist on Jezebel, and a short film she did for the UN’s “Stories on Human Rights” in 2008.

The film is visually beautiful, of course: children playing with toy guns, a juxtaposition of clean lines in a white shelter, and sudden, jarring images of young pre-pubescent girl soldiers lying in bed under a pink comforter, cradling their guns.

What’s most striking to me about the video, however, is the unsuppressable joy of the child actors. This does not seem accidental: the artist’s inclusion of their play-fighting could easily have been left on the editing room floor. Yet the children’s ecstatic faces when playing with guns is evident, and jars us from losing ourselves completely in the pure aesthetics of the film.

According to Amnesty International, 250,000 children function as soldiers in wars around the globe (including in Uganda, where I recently visited). This is the point of the film. After witnessing the beauty in Abramovic’s work, you’ll understand why this statistic (250,000!) resonates so soundly.

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Filed under: art, war, , , , , , , , ,

Choose Your Own Apocalypse

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A fun and interactive tool for predicting the end of America: Slate‘s “Choose Your Own Apocalypse”. Writer Josh Levin researched the work of scholars detailing potential final moments for the grand ol’ U.S. of A. He came up with 144 possible scenarios for the impending end of the only remaining superpower.

The very cool tool also allows you to contrast possible end games, with live updates on its impending “doominess”.

My favorite part: you can filter the results by category, including “Politics”, “Culture”, “Sex”, and “Elderly”. Imagine if, by some kind of strange impulse–some collective lethargy–we just became too lazy to reproduce. The demise of the U.S.A. not by natural calamity or biological warfare, but because we all became disinterested in having sex.

I chose to end the world with swine flu, opt-in government, Bush’s “Axis of Evil”, bureaucracy, and “The End of History.” The game results analyzed me in this way:

You are a humanitarian internationalist. You’re convinced mankind will terminate America—but at least we won’t off ourselves in the process. You’ll know you’re right when: Everyone on Earth pledges allegiance to a world government; the feds default on the national debt.

Seems about right, considering how I waffle between misanthropy and camaraderie. I shudder to imagine the results if I’d chosen “Voluntary Human Extinction“.

Filed under: united states of america, war, , , , , ,

Colbert Debates “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (with Himself)

6a00d8341c730253ef011570ed5163970b-800wiStephen Colbert, perhaps television’s wittiest comedian/commentator, is in Iraq. In this sketch, he explains the ins and outs of the wisdom in the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The full sketch is here.

The conversation between the two Colberts reminded me of Borges’ classic, “Borges and I” with a comic twist.

Filed under: gay rights, united states of america, war, , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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