Monday, February 28, 2005

Too many Muslims?!

Two men were on a plane on a business trip when a Muslim couple boarded the plane and were seated right in front of them.

The two men, eager to have some fun, started talking loudly."My boss is sending me to Saudi Arabia", the one said, "But I don't want to go...too many Muslims there!"

The Muslim couple noticeably grew uncomfortable but said nothing.

The other guy laughed, "Oh, yeah, my boss wanted to send me to Pakistan but I refused... WAY too many Muslims!"

Smiling, the first man said, "One time I was in Iran but I HATED the fact that there were so many Muslims!"

The couple fidgeted.

The other guy responded, "Oh, can't go ANYWHERE to get away from them...the last time I was in FRANCE I ran into a bunch of them too!"

The Muslim couple glanced over their shoulders, noticeably irritated. The first guy was laughing hysterically as he added, "That is why you'll never see me in Indonesia...WAY too many Muslims!"

At this, the Muslim man turned around. "Why don't you go to Hell? he asked. "I hear there won't be very many Muslims THERE!"

News from Yahoo!

Source: BTK Suspect Confesses to Killings

By ROXANA HEGEMAN, Associated Press Writer

WICHITA, Kan. - The man arrested on suspicion of being the BTK serial killer has confessed to at least six slayings and might be responsible for as many as 13 — including one that could carry the death penalty, a source close to the investigation said Sunday.

Investigators, who suspect Dennis L. Rader in a decades-old string of 10 slayings, are looking into whether he was responsible for another three killings_ including at least one that occurred after the restoration of the Kansas' death penalty in 1994, the source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Rader made the confession Friday, the day of his arrest, according to the source. "The guy is telling us about the murders," the source said.

Police spokeswoman Janet Johnson declined to comment on the accuracy of the source's statements.

Rader was being held on a $10 million bond in the deaths of 10 people between 1974 and 1991. Police had long linked the BTK killer to eight murders, but added two more after Rader's arrest.

Now, the source said, police are investigating whether Rader was responsible for the deaths of two Wichita State University students, as well as a woman who lived down the street from another known victim of BTK, the killer's self-coined nickname that stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill."

Prosecutors had said initially they could not pursue the death penalty against Rader because the 10 murders linked to BTK occurred when Kansas did not have the death penalty.

Rader, 59, could appear in court as early as Monday to stand in front of a judge on video while prosecutors recite yet-to-be-filed criminal charges against him. The judge would also review Rader's bond and set a permanent amount.

The hearing, however, probably will be postponed until Tuesday, the district attorney's office said Sunday. It was unclear whether Rader had a lawyer.

Police said they were confident Rader's arrest last week would bring to an end 30 years of fear about the BTK strangler, whose re-emerged over the last year, taunting police with letters and packages sent to media outlets.

Many residents, as they pored over news of a suspect's capture, were left with an unsettling feeling — that he had been hidden among them all along.

Charlie Otero, whose parents and two siblings were BTK's first victims in 1974, said Sunday that he was "waiting with anticipation" to learn more about the DNA evidence that has been credited with helping crack the case.

Otero believes his family was targeted, although the rest of BTK's victims were likely chosen at random. He isn't sure why the family was targeted but said it's interesting that Rader and his father served in the Air Force at the same time in the 1960s. "I'm sure this will all come out during the trial," he said.

Rader, a married father of two, a Cub Scout leader and an active member of a Lutheran church, was anything but a recluse.

His job as a city code enforcement supervisor required daily contact with the public, and he even appeared on television in 2001 in his tan city uniform for a story on vicious dogs running loose in Park City.

Before becoming a municipal employee, Rader worked for a home-security company, where he held several positions that allowed him access to customers' homes, including a role as installation manager. He worked for ADT Security Systems from 1974 to 1989 — the same time as a majority of the BTK killings.

Mike Tavares, who worked with Rader at ADT, described him as a "by-the-books" employee who would often draw diagrams of houses and personally make sure technicians installed systems correctly.

While Rader was known as a blunt person and rubbed some people the wrong way, it never struck co-workers as anything other than businesslike.

"I've spoken to some co-workers who were around then, and everybody is very numb," said Tavares, who left the company in 2001.

At his church and around town, many expressed shock that Rader was accused of being the BTK killer.

"I never would have guessed in a million years," said a tearful Carole Nelson, a member of Christ Lutheran Church, where Rader was an usher and the president of the church council.

"The guy that walked in here was not the face of evil," said Bob Smyser, an usher at the church.

The church's pastor, Michael Clark, said Rader's wife, Paula, was in a state of shock when he visited the family, who remained in seclusion Sunday.

"Her demeanor and voice indicated she was suffering," Clark said.

Police disclosed little about how they identified Rader as a suspect and have said they will not comment further on the case, but bits and pieces of the investigation have filtered out.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius told The Associated Press that DNA evidence was the key to cracking the case. It was unclear whether BTK's letters helped lead to the arrest. Police have said they obtained semen from the crime scenes even though the killer did not sexually assault his victims.

Wichita television station KAKE, citing sources it did not name, reported that DNA from Rader's daughter, Kerri, was instrumental in his capture, though KAKE anchor Larry Hatteberg said it did not appear the daughter turned in her father.

Parts of the profile released earlier by police seemed to match up. Investigators said they believed the killer was familiar with a professor at Wichita State University. Rader graduated from the university in 1979.

In the 1970s, Rader worked at a nearby Coleman camping gear plant where two of his victims were employed.

Associated Press Writer David Twiddy contributed to this report from Wichita.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

21 Grams

21 Grams Posted by Hello

They say 21 grams is the weight we lose when we die. The weight of five nickels, of a hummingbird, of a chocolate bar - and perhaps also of a human soul.

21 Grams is the new film from the Academy Award-nominated director of Amores perros, Alejandro González IÑárritu. As with his previous feature, time warps the narrative structure. The storytelling moves fluidly through past and present, but always en route to the promise of redemption in the future. Viewers are active participants from the first frame. "The audience figures out as we go along what is happening and how it fits together," says producer Robert Salerno.

Reuniting with Amores perros screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, IÑárritu once again combines unflinching gritty realism with complete faith in life's possibilities. The new film is, he says, "a meditation that explores some of the things in our complex lives: loss, addiction, love, guilt, coincidence, vengeance, obligation, faith, hope, and redemption. I like multi-dimensional and contradictory characters, as I am and as, I guess, are all human beings that I know. No one is simply good or bad. We are just floating in an immense universe of circumstances. I like to show their weaknesses and their strengths without judging them, because only then can they reveal things about our human condition."

His collaborator Arriaga adds, "There is always a moral issue in all of my work; moral in the sense that decisions have consequences. Almost all of my work is about the dead influencing the living."

The 21 Grams script, originally conceived and written in Spanish and initially envisioned but not written for a Mexico City setting, evolved through dozens of drafts into one unfolding in a Middle American landscape that would encompass universal truths. However, IÑárritu notes that "there was never a preconceived concept. I wanted to tell the story in the best way I could. It was a long process of almost three years for Guillermo and I, as was Amores perros." As in Amores perros, three individual people are linked by one accident and the narrative moves through different stages of their internal - and external - evolutions.

Many of those who worked with the director on Amores perros, such as production designer Brigitte Broch and composer Gustavo Santaolalla, were aboard the new film from early on. IÑárritu muses, "I felt like we were a rock-'n'-roll band, touring through the United States and playing a universal song."

Another returning core member of the filmmaking team is cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who has shot 21 Grams in what he calls an "absolutely realistic" style befitting a film whose subjects are "birth, living, and dying."

There was never any question that Prieto would not do the film. "Alejandro is like family," notes Prieto. "We've developed not only a very good working relationship but also a friendship - and, fortunately, there's no sense of competition," he laughs.

"I admire and respect Alejandro. If there's something in particular he wants in a scene, and he feels he has to get it, I know we have to get it; I know he's right and I'll do whatever it takes, because I trust his vision. He's a risk-taker and he encourages his team to take risks. He's not afraid of mistakes because even in making them you are exploring alternatives. He and I like to plan things out - we shot list, not storyboard - but when we're on the set and the actors do a different thing, we adjust."

Nearly every shot in 21 Grams was done with a hand-held camera, resulting in a heightened sense of tension that will be deeply felt by audiences. Prieto, who operated his own camera on the film, prefers the hand-held method because of its "immediacy, the sense of 'anything can happen.' I react to what the actors are doing - I mostly know what's going to happen, but I try to forget about that and just feel 'in the moment.' I try to be empathetic for what the actors are feeling. As a DP, you risk breaking an actor's particular concentration or mood by walking in with an exposure meter and giving instructions. I try to be sensitive to that as much as possible. The camera is also a witness to what's happening to these characters. When the camera is rolling, I'm right in there and I get close and intimate, and the actors have to feel comfortable with that.

"On 21 Grams, with the caliber of actors we had, it was incredible to see them perform and be the closest to them as they were doing it. I got really involved in some of the scenes and emotions, and cried once or twice."

IÑárritu notes, "We're using hand-held again [as on Amores perros] but in a different way. It gives the freedom to be more flexible in the narrative and in the style of the film. Sometimes the camera is just an observer, breathing with the scene and being very passive; other times, it can be descriptive and very active. I tried to use the camera as a painter uses his brush."

Prieto adds that the titular 21 grams "is not represented visually. Yet the characters in the movie are all close to dying, or people close to them have died. It's death that pushes things forward in their lives. Through death, they discover life.

"The story itself is shocking. Yet the images aren't screaming out at you. The overall look of the film is textured - realism, but with an edge. Life has beauty even in its roughness."

Salerno notes, "Collaborating with Alejandro means high energy. He likes to hear from everybody - his DP, his costume designer, his production designer, whoever - and then puts the pieces together. He is passionate about everything that goes into a script and a film. That energy and passion inspire the crew and the actors."

A few weeks of rehearsals preceded the start of production, and exhaustive research was the key element in both character construction and pre-production. Background research was required for every profession that appeared in the script, so hundreds of hours were spent interviewing doctors, professors, and ministers. Extras were, whenever possible, what they appeared to be; cardiologists played cardiologists, nurses were nurses. Even restaurant patrons were corralled from regulars at the eatery location. Workout enthusiasts appeared in the swimming pool and community center scenes.

Cast as Jack, an ex-con now on the straight-and-narrow for his family's sake (if not his own), Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro first met with IÑárritu after having seen and admired Amores perros. He laughingly recalls that they initially "spoke in Spanglish. We talked about movies, directors - a lot of gossip."

From the start, Del Toro felt that the screenplay for 21 Grams "was superb. It has a lot of soul. It digs deep as drama, and it's three very human stories." Once on the set, he found the director to be "encouraging. He was like the father of our family - a good father. He got everybody together. We'd talk things through, and if he didn't understand something he'd ask."

As for his fellow actors, Del Toro notes, "When you're working with actors like Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, it makes it easier for you. Seeing Sean and Naomi do scenes while I was off-camera was never dull - I was front row at a great show."

Del Toro had worked with Penn before - though not on-screen, having been directed by Penn in two movies. He says, "Sean is great to work with as director and actor. He understands not only his character but all the characters. And with Naomi, it was like communicating without words. We all got to explore emotions."

The actor sees his own character as "a good soul who's banking on religion to secure his destiny in some ways. Some people turn to alcohol, some people turn to drugs; Jack Jordan turns to his faith. In everyone's life, there are moments that you wish you could erase, and in 21 Grams, Jack has that moment. Then he starts questioning his faith, and everywhere he turns, he's not getting the right answer. He has to re-evaluate everything he believed in."

IÑárritu notes that, similarly, Del Toro himself "questioned and analyzed every bit of the script and his character. He wanted to know a reason for everything before the shooting starts. He wants to know the character in every aspect you could possibly imagine. I began working with him five months before we started shooting.

"One of the most important things in an actor is their interior life, and Benicio has a deep one. You can see a lot of things going on in him just by putting the camera in front of his face. By doing nothing, he speaks with his eyes and a lot of things are going on. He is a cinematic animal."

Taking on the film's lead female role, Naomi Watts is Cristina, a now-affluent wife and mother who has overcome a drug-dependent past but now faces a devastated present and an uncertain future. As one of the many who had been "blown away" by Amores perros, Watts states, "Alejandro was the main draw. He and Guillermo came to see me while I was shooting The Ring. The 21 Grams script was still being worked on, but I said, 'Sight unseen, I will commit to it now. Count me in.'

"When I later got the script, I read it and thought, 'This is the second brilliant role of my life,' after Mulholland Drive. It's a very difficult journey that the characters go through, there is suffering but also the realization of how valuable our lives are; we only have this one, now. Cristina goes through so many emotions. I loved her right away; she's a beautiful soul."

Watts also immediately took to IÑárritu's mandates of authenticity, research, and preparation. "I trusted Alejandro. He wants to see what's possible. It was challenging every day; the emotional stakes were so high, and I wanted to create a character with real backbone. I developed Cristina during the rehearsal period and with my own research.

"I found my way into group therapy meetings of parents who have lost children, where I deeply connected with one woman. I feel I was able to come a little bit close with my portrayal, but that pain remains unimaginable..."

"It was like working with an open heart," IÑárritu remembers. "Naomi lost her voice a couple of times during the shoot. She gave her all in every take. She has an amazing range, and can improvise with the material expertly."

Of working with her fellow actors for the first time Watts notes, "We had a great rehearsal period. Benicio is fantastic and I respect his work. We both understood each other's process; given the state of our characters, we didn't hang out so much together.

"I've admired Sean's work for 20 years. His role is more reactive than mine, so there was an intense dynamic. Working together, I felt I could rely on him."

Penn stars as Paul Rivers, a mathematician who is grappling with - all at once - his marriage and his mortality until a new lease on life radically redirects his priorities.

IÑárritu enthuses, "Working with Sean Penn is like playing soccer with David Beckham or riding a bicycle with Lance Armstrong - the level of the game is immediately raised or is above your expectations. He doesn't rationalize; he's just intuition and pure emotion. We read, discussed, and rehearsed a couple of times and he got and absorbed everything.

"He gives it life right in front of your eyes, like a magician. He has a unique, quiet, and internal process; he doesn't like to rehearse or think too much in advance. He's one of the most sensitive, intelligent, genuine, and generous guys that I have ever known. That kind of integrity is a very strange thing to find in this business."

When asked what drew him to 21 Grams, Penn responds, "It's as simple as this: a very adventurous narrative, very human characters, and a director whose first film had struck a very serious chord with me. The aggressive nature of Alejandro's filmmaking, in the way that it harmonizes with very real characters and circumstances, really gets me going."

Penn adds, of the actor he'd directed prior, "Benicio is one of my favorite actors working today. He has so much weight and soul on-screen. He's endlessly inventive, a gem."

Of Watts, with whom he has since completed a second movie, Penn states, "I loved working with Naomi. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. She's spontaneous, smart, hugely talented, and totally devoted to her work. A bar raiser (and a bar raiser)."

21 Grams commenced 11 weeks of principal photography in December 2002. Shooting took place primarily in Memphis, Tennessee, although no specific city is cited in the final script or the finished film. Prieto explains, "We didn't want this to be 'Memphis, Tennessee' where the story is happening, but any place in America - or in the world, even. The script is these characters and what they're living."

Although not specified on-screen, all filming was done in actual locations and places. Among the Memphis locations that were used in the film were the Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal School's gymnasium (for the swimming pool sequences), Windyke Country Club, the North End restaurant, and the upscale Chickasaw Gardens neighborhood.

The real-life locales' wintry authenticity impacted the actors from the moment they arrived to begin work. "It started to get cold when I was there, but when Naomi and Sean began shooting their stories, it got really cold," laughs Del Toro.

Watts says, "Memphis was great. It was a beautiful backdrop for our film. Alejandro wanted a sparseness that wouldn't interfere with the story."

Salerno explains, "All these practical locations gave our actors a sense of where they were and allowed them to feel reality and presence. It was very much about creating an environment for them - and for Alejandro, who likes to feel the energy of where he's at. We could have built a set for the funeral home, for instance, but there is a vibe when you walk into the actual funeral home we shot in - which we wanted, and got."

Given the movie's Middle American setting, Memphis provided the necessary diversity of people and locale to color every frame of 21 Grams. IÑárritu found it to be "unique, and quite different from all the cities in the United States that I've known and visited. It reminds me a little bit of a Latin American city. Memphis has a strong personality and the people there still have their feet on the ground. It's the heart of America, with a nostalgic sad feeling. You can hear the blues in the air, plus the strength of the Mississippi River."

Prieto notes that the movie came to inevitably reflect "the atmosphere and the texture of the city. We show its character. I fell in love with the city, its great visuals, and also its people. There are all levels of social classes in Memphis, and in this movie. It has contemporary buildings yet it feels like an old city."

Screenwriter Arriaga cites William Faulkner as a profound influence, one whose works he has taught. While on location in Memphis, Arriaga took the time and opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the famous writer's home/shrine in Oxford, Mississippi.

For production designer Brigitte Broch, another collaborator on Amores perros who rejoined the creative team for 21 Grams, Memphis "is history, authenticity, and soul. Based on a gut feeling from Alejandro, Rodrigo, and myself, we chose Memphis. There were different architectural styles here that offered us a lot of possibilities, different layers of textures. The houses are not generic; at every social level, we wanted the environments of each character to talk for them, and Memphis had what we needed. 21 Grams gets down to the roots of human suffering and resurrection - the scenes are so intense - and that's this city."

The final two weeks of the shoot took place near Albuquerque, New Mexico. An entire week was spent in and around a bare-bones motel in the town of Grants, a narrow, one-street settlement. Another Albuquerque location was on the Zia Pueblo territory, a bramble bush-and-scrub grass wasteland of surprising majesty. Salerno notes that the New Mexico locales offered "a desert starkness, which was the big contrast from Memphis that we wanted and needed at that point in the story."

As for the interiors, the filmmakers' mandates of research and authenticity meant that if a scene unfolded in an office, and there is a desk whose drawers would never be open on-camera, Broch and her team still filled them with objects pertinent to the officeholder's profession and personality. "There is a total base of confidence between Alejandro and myself. If there is no back story provided for the character, I create it myself," she notes. "I know - 'method actors' work the same way."

For Broch, each set's design, furniture, and props "all have to have a reason to be there. That reason translates as the reality of the person who will occupy it. Alejandro, Rodrigo, and I work closely together. I prepare a presentation, and the three of us go through the material. We talk about the colors. We talk about the moods and textures. Ours is the teamwork of three people who will ultimately agree on what the final product should look like by taking an overall view."

Prieto adds, "Brigitte incorporated colors that we talked about into the set designs. The visuals change to correspond to the emotional arc of each story and its characters - and they help you see where you are in the overall story. We divide the three stories color-wise because of the structure of the movie. There are subtle cues for the audience to know; this is Paul's world - a cooler blue; this is Jack's world - a yellow red; and this is Cristina's world - sort of in-between, with red and golden but mixed with some of the blue of Paul's world."

"The different stocks of film give different textures to the characters, depending on their emotional stage at that point in the film," notes IÑárritu.

Prieto elaborates, "When things start to get more difficult for our characters, we'd go to a grainier stock When things feel a little cleaner or better, the stock isn't as grainy. The framing and camera work reflect that, too - when things are in balance for the characters, we use more traditional framing."

But the overall visual palate is also unified by a bleach-bypass process deployed in the development of the film's negative. "It's the way I grew up seeing the colors of my country," explains IÑárritu. "Rodrigo and I discussed this before filming began. There were some still photographs that we saw which inspired us, too."

As this approach was factored in early on, notes Broch, the team made allowances that "our purples went into brown, or our reds went into black. Rodrigo is fantastic to work with, and it's obvious that it's more important that I adapt my work to his - what he needs for his lighting."

Costume designer Marlene Stewart adds that since 21 Grams required "very specific color requirements for the way the film stock was processed, that took precedence in my choices. The processing was very high contrast, so it was better to have colors in a medium range - as if for a black-and-white movie."

Stewart accommodated the shifting styles of the story's characters. Costume choices were made more along the way in the dramatic and filmmaking processes, rather than being set in pre-production. She notes, "If you come to the table with preset ideas, a lot of the time you are going to get frustrated. You need to discuss visions with the director and the actors - and, in terms of color requirements, the production designer and the cinematographer. The creative process gets everybody's ideas together.

"Alejandro stressed creating looks for the characters that didn't overwhelm the viewer, that didn't force the viewer to jump too quickly to conclusions about the characters. This helps make the story applicable to everyone."

Stewart was regularly called upon to present the actors with a variety of clothes choices as they reached each new level of dramatic character development, since their tastes evolved over the course of the portrayal. This was another benefit of the chronological shooting schedule that afforded the cast and filmmakers the creative opportunity to start at the beginning and grow together. "This was a different kind of movie for me," admits Stewart. "A lot came together at the last moment; I'd create right there on the spot. The director and I always tried to make the actors feel comfortable. That worked particularly well on 21 Grams, where everybody made suggestions and worked it out together."

Salerno says, "When shooting, Alejandro will keep working with the actor and do a bunch of takes. Together, they get to the point where he has what he wants - he doesn't settle - and the crew and the actors have gone beyond what they might normally do. All of these actors were dynamic; I considered it a privilege to be able to watch them in their processes."

Operating the camera throughout, Prieto found the actors' respective approaches to their roles never less than fascinating. "Sean is always interested in and aware of what we're doing with the camera. He needs quiet and complete concentration for his character and the moment. He's amazing - and also very generous to everybody."

Watts comments, "Rodrigo's camera is like another character in 21 Grams. He is moving the camera the whole time, and it's incredibly liberating for an actor to not have to concentrate on focus marks."

Prieto confides, "Naomi is very sweet - and she never had any complaints about the camera. I don't know how she does it, but you don't see her working. She becomes the character - she'd step in front of the camera and it wasn't Naomi, it was Cristina." Salerno adds, "It's unbelievable what she pulls out. She's wrenching in this film."

As for Del Toro, Prieto echoes IÑárritu in praising the actor for "finding and exploring things that are not written. He's very subtle. He gives the characters he plays lives of their own. It's great to look into his eyes - lighting his eyes was something I enjoyed doing, and when we were able to put that glint into his eyes, things came out that projected incredibly. Benicio knows how to project - how to balance when the camera is further away, but when you get close enough there's an intensity that far away you wouldn't notice..."

On board early on, as a self-described "observer" during production, the film editor of 21 Grams is Stephen Mirrione - who, as an Oscar winner for his work on Traffic, was already well-versed in shaping a compelling narrative with Benicio Del Toro portraying one of the central characters. But, as Mirrione says, "21 Grams is an emotional narrative driven by what's going on within the characters - passions and emotions - rather than a plot-driven narrative.

"I'm pretty comfortable with that type of storytelling; it gives me the freedom not to be a slave to the plot, so I'm able to focus on capturing one particular emotion in a scene, to zero in on moments. I put myself into the characters' heads. That makes it interesting for me as an editor. I do watch the dailies and make sure I don't forget certain things. Alejandro doesn't want a single moment in the movie wasted; he was constantly letting me know what he was going for and what he was looking for. He puts himself into everything. Scenes were shot in every setup you could imagine, so we had a lot of options. I took my cues from what the actors and the camera were doing - Rodrigo also puts a lot of himself into it."

Mirrione notes, "The challenge to editing a movie like this is that everyone is going to watch this and initially react in a different way. But they won't have to know or be expecting this or that to happen, because this movie will pull you along. It's going to impact everyone a little differently. You are feeling 21 Grams as it's happening. Then, at the end, when it's over, there will be the same overall emotional impact - it hits you."

Prieto says, "21 Grams is the kind of film that you think about for days after you see it. It's about subjects that we all ponder, and this movie shows them in a very immediate way."

"21 Grams is about how we find hope, forgiveness, and redemption," states Del Toro.

"Everyone - in every culture - experiences these basic human emotions and dilemmas," comments Stewart. "That's the door to this movie."

Broch adds, "We all put our hearts into making 21 Grams. We knew we were doing something special."

Watts says, "21 Grams takes you to a place of hope. There is hope even in the most trying circumstances."

Further reading
>> Keeping the Innocence With "21 Grams"

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

News from Yahoo!

BTK Killer's Writing Style Has Changed

Mon Feb 21, 5:12 AM ET U.S. National - AP

By ROXANA HEGEMAN, Associated Press Writer

WICHITA, Kan. - The letters and poems began arriving in 1974. Shot through with spelling and grammatical errors, they alternated between tortured rambling and cold-blooded, gleeful detail. Then, the BTK killer — since linked to eight unsolved killings between 1974 and 1986 — vanished. But he resurfaced last March with new letters to police and media and, although still enigmatic, they have taken a new tone.

The frequency of the new communications and the accompanying attention concern at least one researcher.

"For some of these killers, there is kind of a cycle that once the spiral begins to accelerate the next step is to kill and get a whole new generation of people scared," said Dirk Gibson, author of "Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime Scene Messages."

The killer once raved about his inability to control a "monster" living inside him and gave graphic descriptions of his crimes. The few details released about the new messages indicate a businesslike, almost cordial approach.

Officials said last week the killer had recently sent at least three packages containing jewelry, and investigators were trying to determine whether any of it was taken from BTK's victims.

Along with a padded manila envelope sent to KSAS-TV in Wichita, the communications included a cereal box found in a rural area northwest of Wichita in late January and a package found a few days later that police identified only as Communication No. 7.

Gibson, who has studied more than 500 serial killers, said BTK loves the attention. That was already apparent in the 1970s, when the self-named BTK — the initials stand for "Bind, Torture, Kill — terrorized Wichita.

When one of his messages, a poem sent to the Wichita Eagle-Beacon on Jan. 31, 1978, was mistakenly routed to the classified ads department, BTK sent a letter to KAKE-TV days later complaining: "How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?"

Another letter to the newspaper also underscored BTK's need for recognition.

"P.S. How about some name for me, its time: 7 down and many more to go," it read in part. "I like the following. How about you? 'THE B.T.K STRANGLER, 'WICHITA STRANGLER', 'POETIC STRANGLER', 'THE BONDAGE STRANGER' OR 'PSYCHO', 'THE WICHITA HANGMAN', 'THE WICHITA EXECUTIONER,' 'THE GAROTE PHATHOM', 'THE ASPHYXIATER'."

KAKE-TV has also received communiques from BTK since his re-emergence, some of which contain messages for police.

But the tenor has changed: In a postcard sent earlier this month, BTK thanked the station for its quick response to two other messages and expressed concern for two news anchors after a passing comment one made on the air about having the flu.

Randy Brown, a senior fellow at Wichita State University's Elliott School of Journalism, was a reporter at the now-defunct Wichita Sun when the weekly paper first broke the story about BTK in the 1970s.

"This is a very different BTK than the original," Brown said. "The first letters were full of horrifying details of these crimes, ravings and very graphic information about the victims and the monster in his brain — ugly, nasty, scary, terrible kinds of things that people who saw them still have bad dreams about."

Although no recent deaths have been officially linked to BTK since he resurfaced last year, the case has received worldwide attention.

"It is hard to believe this is really the same twisted killer that was scaring the heck out of everybody — had a town completely on edge — in the late 1970s and 1980s," Brown said.


On the Net:
>> BTK News Bulletin Archive

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

bila yang haram sudah dihalalkan dengan logo

Kebergantungan pada logo Halal juga boleh menimbulkan masalah, bukan? Posted by Hello

suatu hari di sebuah sekolah

mula-mula berseluar Posted by Hello

dalam bilik guru Posted by Hello

luar kelas Posted by Hello

Monday, February 21, 2005

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hack Yahoo! Email Password in 7 Easy Steps (Really?!!)

Note: Before you start cursing me, please read my comment.

My comment:
I did try it, but received no reply from the so-called Yahoo! Staff.

If you're familiar with Social Engineering, this is one of the methods "social engineers" used to fish out your information right under your nose.

Yes, my dear, this method is called "phishing".

I don't think hacking Yahoo! e-mail password would be this easy. The truth is, you're actually tricked to send your e-mail address along with your password (Step 5 and Step 6). could be anybody but Yahoo! Staff.

If you're phished by this hoax, it's advisable to change your password immediately.

Change your password before could hijack your Yahoo! ID.

*** *** *** *** ***

*as forwarded by

It is possible and it is easy. This way of hacking into Yahoo email accounts was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who is a bit of a computer wizard. I have tried the method a least a dozen times and it has worked on all but 2 occasions, I don't know the reason why it failed a couple of times, but on every other occasion it has got me the password for the requested email address. This is how it is done

Log in to your own yahoo account.
Note: Your account must be at least 30 days old for this to work.

Once you have logged into your own account, compose/write an e-mail to This is a mailing address to the Yahoo Staff. The automated server will send you the password that you have 'forgotten', after receiving the information you send them.

In the subject line type exactly password retrieve.

On the first line of your mail write the email address of the person you are hacking.

On the second line type in the e-mail address you are using.

On the third line type in the password to YOUR email address (your OWN password). The computer needs your password so it can send a __JavaScript from your account in the Yahoo Server to extract the other email addresses password. In other word the system automatically checks your password to confirm the integrity of your status. Remember you are sending your password to a machine not a man. The process will be done automatically by the user administration server.

The final step before sending the mail is, type on the fourth line the following code exactly cgi-bin/$et76431&%20auto20%mail/pass%30send%30pwrsa

So, for example, if your yahoo ID is and your password is David and the email address you want to hack is then compose the mail as below:

Subject: password retrieve

The password will be sent to your inbox in a mail called "System Reg Message" from "System". Usually within 1 hour. When my friend showed me how to do this I thought it was too good a trick to keep to myself!

Just try and enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Mystic River

Mystic River Posted by Hello

There are stories a river can tell,
and truths it cannot hide.

There are ways it brings us together
that we may never see,
connecting us with places we never expected.

Places like fear,
like betrayal,
like murder.

MYSTIC RIVER, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney

Pop panic, revisited

by Amir Muhammad

Menjelang Reformasi
By Rustam A Sani (K Publishing, 2004)

(written 9 Feb, submitted, but unable to be published).

Seven years ago, we had a problem with pop. Actually, this form of pop-panic had existed years before that, but let's just start with the mania surrounding KRU.

The group's duet with P Ramlee got into trouble for the simple reason that the latter had been deceased for several decades when the song was recorded. Technology these days could resurrect the dead, true, but some religious authorities were of the opinion that this form of posthumous collaboration crossed the border into the sacrilegious.

Then KRU's nationwide concert saw tour-dates in some States being banned. You see, the title of the concert was KRUmania, and our leaders, ever sensitive to titular nuance, didn't want us turning into hedonistic maniacs. (This same logic later dictated the banning of the film Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – one of the words sounds like `morphine' - and got Hellboy changed to Super Sapiens).

Rustam A Sani, who then had a weekly column in Utusan Malaysia, wrote an article on this mania. It was called "Larangan mengelirukan buat KRU" (4 June 1997). It is only one of several articles in this book, which collects the last 18 months' worth of articles before his contributions were no longer welcome by that august paper. Why were his contributions no longer welcome from 1998 onwards? The title of the book, Menjelang Reformasi, might give you a clue. You can't be THAT forgetful, can you?

When Susan Sontag died a few months ago, much was made of the fact that she `elevated' pop culture into intellectual discourse. Truth was, she only did so in the 1960s, after which she retreated into a search for a self-proclaimed `seriousness.' And besides, intellectual discourse, even more than religious prohibition, is the one thing that would always look pale and pallid next to the sneaky, snappy transience of pop anyway.

Which isn't to say that pop doesn't matter. Of course pop matters. In a society like Malaysia, which exists at a foggy intersection of all kinds of vested interests, a seemingly casual article such as Rustam's, on a seemingly small controversy, takes on the significance of a beacon. He can dissect the arguments and point out the contradictions inherent in such a `controversy' in a way that goes beyond a mere pro-choice, pro-market stance,

First off, KRU itself doesn't come across as heroic. The group's failure to articulate its own defense, by instead deferring the final decision to the religious authority, says something – and something not very nice – about the ability of our young entertainers/ entrepreneurs to stand their ground.

The conservative argument against pop concerts is that it encourages rowdy and uncouth behaviour in the crowd. Rustam says, quite sensibly but also startlingly, that he has witnessed worse conduct among soccer supporters, so why not just ban the Malaysia Cup?

Tied into all this is how we as a nation had been bending over backwards to permit the entry of capitalism and its excesses, but then some segments of society choose to cry foul, too little too late, at only a few of its inevitable symptoms rather than provide a reasoned and sustained critique of its whole basis. So what we get isn't a systematic way of dealing with this brave new world but rather ad-hoc responses by people who are themselves embarrassingly unqualified.

This is always politics by other means. The increasingly bloated Malaysian religious bureaucracy started in the late 1970s and for two decades showed little sign of abating, as the ruling party was, pardon the term, hell-bent on seeming more Islamic than the main opposition party. Rustam's insistence on seeing the root political (and not just social) cause for all fuss to do with `social ills', not to mention our attitudes to education, corruption and so on, even before he was a member of any political party (he since joined his late father Ahmad Boestamam's Parti Rakyat Malaysia, which then merged with Keadilan), probably had something to do with his termination by that paper.

Faso-forward to the present and we have another outrage centred around pop. This latest was perpetrated by the religious authorities of the Federal Territory (JAWI), which raided a licensed nightclub and apparently humiliated the female Muslim patrons before detaining them for a few hours. Mingguan Malaysia carried an interview with one of these unfortunate women, Jeslina Hashim, who happens also to be an entertainer, under the evocative heading "Saya dilayan macam pelacur" (I was treated like a prostitute).

Jeslina's remarks are quite telling. She points out that the women were treated worse than the Muslim men. Linking back to Rustam's comments on the Malaysia Cup (which attracts proportionally more men), an ingrained sexism is quite obvious when it comes to selective religious persecution.

Jeslina quite sensibly says, "Even if I had sinned, it was against God and not against JAWI," a statement of personal autonomy that is all too rare and must be applauded. But I wonder if even she is aware of some troubling statements in the interview.

Firstly, she says that she and her friends went to meet with Puteri UMNO with their lawyers to air their grouses. The fact that a junior wing of a political party has to be invoked and indeed run to in such a situation is a tacit acknowledgement that party politics matter more than any of our civil institutions. Is there nothing left for the rest of us? So the main party gets to have it both ways: To condone these abuses (by being responsible for rhetorically inflating the religious discourse over the decades) and also be seen as `the good guys.'

Secondly, she says that some of her friends who were similarly abused are children of prominent people ("Mereka bukan anak orang biasa. Mereka berpangkat juga"), who will not let the matter go lightly. Suddenly a gulf opens up, and we wonder: Isn't it possible that there have been other, worse raids that never attracted the same publicity simply because the afflicted people were not well-connected?

Rather than a clash between right and wrong, we see here a clash between two of the main tenets of administration: the need for ostensible religiosity, and the need to protect the interests of the moneyed elite. Not such a big coincidence, then, that when KRU decided to market a girl equivalent of themselves, the name they came up with was indeed Elite. Awas (beware)!


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Thus spake the Datuk

by Amir Muhammad
(NST, 28 Jan 2005.)

Sasterawan Pulau Cinta: Kumpulan Cerpen BAHASA MALAYSIA (Uthaya Sankar SB, 2001)

Back in the 90s, Uthaya Sankar SB had a reputation as one of our most precocious literary talents. The person who kept reminding us of this talent was none other than Uthaya Sankar SB. His healthy self-regard was something to behold. The introduction to this story collection has him singing the praises of his skills not only as writer but researcher, editor and critic. But there is a wink somewhere behind it, I think.

My favourite story of his is still "Yang Aneh-Aneh" (Strange Things) (1996), a surrealistic odyssey of detachable body parts and rampant corruption. Its fleet-footed pace, successful shifts in register, and cool ironic distancing make this something of a masterpiece. If we ever had a local Haruki Murakami, he would write something like this.

But for today, let's talk about another fine story, "Datuk Datang ke Kampung Kami." (The Datuk Has Come to Our Village). This delightfully satirical tale takes place during the course of one afternoon in Siru Kambam, a fictional domain in which many of Uthaya's stories take place, inspired by RK Narayan's Malgudi. (Narayan is in fact one of Uthaya's two favourite writers. The other is John Grisham).

The narrator is a young wannabe Malaysian writer of Indian descent. Could it be a projection of Uthaya as a child? Perhaps to dispel such a glibly autobiographical reading, or just to promote himself a bit more, he has the boy say, "Ada juga penulis kaum India yang berjaya sebagai penulis karya BAHASA MALAYSIA. Antaranya Saroja Theavy dan Uthaya Sankar SB." Well, at least he had the decency to put himself second.

You will notice that `Bahasa Malaysia' is capitalised. It's not just here but in the whole book. This has to do with a tiff Uthaya had with his then-publisher Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, who insisted on the term `Bahasa Melayu,' a term he finds parochial and insulting. So he decided to just publish his own books, a principled stand that must have lost him some money over the years.

Back to the story. Although the area of Siru Kambam is fictional, the political and ethnic dynamics at play are totally familiar. A literary talk is about to be given by a prominent Malaysian Indian writer to a Tamil community. The talk is to be officiated by a nameless Datuk from the fictional Pertubuhan Politik India (PPI). In order to cheekily deflect speculation that this party represents the MIC, the narrator states that the PPI is still awaiting permission to join the Barisan Nasional.

This Datuk is supposed to officiate the event and then give way to the writer. But what happens is that not only is the Datuk 45 minutes late, he proceeds to hog almost all the allocated time. This gradual build-up of the Datuk's verbosity and the narrator's increasing exasperation is the comic highlight of this story, like something out of Mark Twain. The Datuk gives his own half-baked theories on life, literature, and everything, punctuated by loud applause from the sycophantic audience. The narrator is embarrassed that his favourite writer has to endure this, while the latter seems resigned: he's probably been around long enough to have expected nothing else.

What's interesting to me is that just calling the person `Datuk' is enough of a shorthand for pomposity and unreliability. This was written in 1997, way before there was an engineered worry about the proliferation of people given this title. Although Datukships given by the federal government are limited to about 200 living locals at any time, states are free to dish them out to anyone. The Sultan of Pahang in 2004 gave out 92 such titles. There are probably thousands of them roaming around by now. In fact, you're probably one too.

Of course, a title like Datuk is a remnant of feudalism. There are other hereditary titles such as Syed, which was once the preserve of people who claim to have directly descended from the Prophet of Islam; this belief has quietly been shelved, I think because a few years back, rather freakily, there was a spate of convicted child molesters who all bore the name. That's when we started acknowledging that parents just sometimes named their kids Syed for the fun of it.

There are calls by Certain Quarters to limit the number of Datukships and the like. I suppose I am in the radical fringe who believe they are not needed at all. If a person has contributed to society in some way, surely society will know about it somehow. Even if society remains clueless about these great deeds, so what? The person can just live in the knowledge that he has done his bit. Plus, it'll stop him from being too conceited.

Did Lat's cartoons become funnier when he became a Datuk, Marina Mahathir more liberal when she became a Datin Paduka, and Shake a better singer when he became Datuk Shake? At the very least, these are people whose contributions in the public domain are plain to see. What about all those other Datuks regularly hauled up on CBT charges and worse? Who are these blokes, and why are we obliged to address them first in whatever speeches we give?

Reading classical texts with the endless titles and salutations is quite a joy, I have to admit. But certain things don't square well with the modern age. There have been several instances recently of Sultans stripping convicted criminals of their Datukships. But unlike in Britain, I have yet to hear of anyone here refusing a title. Perhaps it would take someone as principled as Uthaya.

This refusal may not necessarily denote modesty (as in "I'm not worthy of this honour"), but the opposite: A Marxist (as in Groucho Marx) refusal to be part of a club that accepts so many other, lesser, beings.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

How non-Indian was P. Ramlee?

written by: Amir Muhammad
(NST, 21 January 2005)

* Jurnal Skrin Malaysia: vol 1 (Universiti Teknologi MARA, 2004)

Now here's a thing: a local journal on cinema. I have the first issue right here in my throbbing hands, and it isn't from my excitement but a design choice that the cover is in two shades of orange.

This is a good thing; the orange, too. It's time to introduce other ways of talking about movies. There are all these subtexts waiting to be elevated as text; all these discursive terrains to be traversed by the hardy academic, with dictionary in one hand, the collected Kant in another hand, and a blow-torch in another, and if you were paying attention you'd notice this guy has three hands! Movies need to be (to use an academic-type word) problematised.

There are some worthwhile things in here, but let's just talk about the one that irritated me the most. Ayu Haswida Abu Bakar, who teaches film theory and Malaysian cinema at UiTM, has weighed in with "Penarik Becha: Paradigma dalam Sinema Melayu." (The Trishaw-Puller: A Paradigm in Malay Cinema).

Penarik Becha was P. Ramlee's first film as director, a melodrama of a poor but honest trishaw-puller whose romance with rich girl Azizah did not run smooth. Its depiction of class conflict had pathos and romance; it became a big hit. It was the first film to be directed by a Malay to make a profit, as local movies in the first two decades were mainly directed by expatriate Indians.

Ayu Haswida says Penarik Becha represented a radical new way compared to previous Malay-language movies. I don't think such a total epistemological break did occur. Although most of the previous Malay-language films were adapted from Indian films, many of the latter's conventions still surface in Penarik Becha, not least of which is the incorporation of songs.

The essay sees filmic and storytelling conventions entirely through ethnic terms. It's as if there is this untouched (and untouchable) entity called "pure Malay cinema", and Penarik Becha was the first to show the way. But since Malays started directing films rather late (when cinema itself was more than half the age it is now), influences would be inevitable. Same thing goes for novels. Any quest for a pre-ordained, essentialist `purity' is special pleading at best and jingoism at worst.

After all, P. Ramlee's first big role as actor was in "Bakti" (1950) which was adapted from an episode in Hugo's Les Miserables. One of the songs, "Satay", had an echo of Handel, of all people.

But wait…"Bakti" was directed by an expatriate Indian, L. Krishnan. These people are the bogeys of Ayu Haswida's essay. You half-expect John Williams' "Jaws" theme to pop up whenever Indian directors are mentioned.

Malay cinema is described as "kuat dibelenggu oleh budaya India" (tightly shackled by Indian culture) and our audiences "dibuai momokan imaginasi pengarah India" (lulled by the spectre of Indian directors' imagination) before our hero P. Ramlee came along and "berjaya melenyapkan pengaruh budaya India" (successfully wiped out the influence of Indian culture)
from local cinema. So it's no wonder that such a loathsome specimen would include non-Malay cultural elements! The country had just emerged from British colonialism and a brutal Japanese occupation then, but sharp Ayu knows who the real enemies are. She even says that the Malay directors of the 1950s should be considered "generasi pengarah pertama" (the first generation of directors) in the Malay film industry, a nifty bit of historical revisionism.

But wait… The special genius of P. Ramlee (although I prefer his songs to his frequently preachy and sentimental films) is that he could internalize so many elements and make them inimitably his. Even his very name – using his father Puteh's initial in front of his own, Ramlee – was inspired by South Indian movie stars.

From essay you'd think he had heard nothing except "irama traditional seperti inang, joget, zapin dan sebagainya" all his life, but he used everything. According to Ahmad Sarji's hagiographic but fact-filled "P Ramlee: The Bright Star", influences for his songs include the waltz, samba, beguine, andante, bolero, mambo, rumba (`Bila Larut Malam') and twist (`Bunyi Gitar'). The band he formed, Panca Sitara, was influenced by The Platters. And his best film as director, "Ali Baba Bujang Lapok" is such a riot of cultural influences as to be surreal. He was very Malay, which means he could be very much anything else.

The essay, slight and casual though it is, is a symptom of intellectual malaise. It is as misguided as French film snobs who think their `Nouvelle Vague' (New Wave) films of the 1960s were a bulwark against American cultural imperialism, when they were actually directly influenced by the post-war pop of, yes, American pulp fiction. Or like those people who believe that the coming of Islam in the 15th century represented a total change in the Malay world-view -- something that even now hasn't been fully achieved, thank God.

Although there is a great deal to be said about ethnicity and cultural specificity, seeing everything through racial blinkers does no favours to scholarship or P. Ramlee. Many fine artists (and even some fine fine artists) are from UiTM. The writer should reflect on the 21 qualities required of all its graduates which I saw pasted on the wall when I last visited, which include being progressive, innovative and critical, global, analytical, rational, open and far-sighted.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Restoran Tujuh86


Antara menu Restoran Tujuh86:

1. Burger Hawai
Roti burger (dikukus bukan dibakar)
Daging burger (dipanggang)
Tiada salad, timun atau bawang
Beberapa hirisan nanas menggantikan timun

2. Coney dog
Roti hotdog (dikukus)
Sosej (direbus bukan dipanggang)
Kuah kacang satay dan mayonaise disapu ke atas sosej
Hirisan bawang secukup rasa

3. Nasi ayam percik
Nasi ayam
Ayam percik dan kuahnya

1. Neslo tarik
1 camca kecil Nescafe
1 sudu besar Milo
3 sudu besar susu pekat manis

2. Teh-O/Sirap + laici/nanas
Tak perlu penerangan

3. Micau
Milo + cincau

4. Bancau
Bandung + cincau

5. Socau
Soya + cincau

* Menu lain akan ditambah dari masa ke semasa

seperti yang terdengar baru sekejap tadi


L: Kau kerja ke hari ni?

P: Kerjalah. Kalau tak kerja, siapa nak bagi aku makan?

L: Sugar daddy kau kan ramai?

P: Sugar daddy? Hahaha.. Diorang pun aku yang bagi makan.

L: Wow! Kalau macam tu, aku pun nak jadi sugar daddy kaulah!

P: Hahaha!! Tak naklah, kau dah tua.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

apa mungkin berlaku di bulan Februari 2019

Beginilah agaknya permulaan kiamat (mengikut pandangan NASA) Posted by Hello

2002 NT7 Posted by Hello

Mahu tahu lebih lanjut?
>> Yahoo! Search Results for Nasa Prediction February 2019