Episode 28 - “Tickets and Popcorn”

With his bags packed, Ausama escapes the “prison” of Baghdad for a brief respite.


Edmund Sanders at The Los Angeles Times wrote a great article about Hometown Baghdad today. Check it out here. If you can get your hands on a hard copy of it, you will see that we are featured on the cover! Truly an honor.

Saif from Hometown Baghdad told me yesterday about his friend who just started a website that has cell phone ringtones. They have a bunch of Arabic songs on there for those of you that liked that Iraqi folk song I posted a few weeks back. Check out the site here. I haven’t used it myself but Saif gives it his thumbs up.
Update: To carry on the short-lived tradition, I’m posting a pic of another Chat the Planet staffer holding up the LA Times. None of my unkempt hair this time. The article about us is in the bottom right corner and an enlarged version is to the right in this picture.

Cover of the LA Times

40 Responses to “Episode 28 - “Tickets and Popcorn””

  1. Jessica Says:

    Wow, is it that easy to get to Syria? Why don’t they just stay there once they get through the border?

  2. Iza Says:

    Ausama,

    What movie did you catch? I hope you enjoyed it :-)

  3. Ali Says:

    Thank you Mike for writing down my site and thank you saif for referring.. God bless you everybody.. and I hope we all get back to our country soon.

  4. Saif Says:

    Hey dude,
    They think that going to Syria is easy.
    It is not because Al-qauda is taking the road. and filter it from Shiite.And it is about 11 hours driving.

  5. Noor Says:

    Hope you had a fun break!
    Enjoy

  6. Tracy Says:

    Ausama, I’m glad that you and your family got a break. I never knew Iraq did not have movie theatres. Was this a law from Saddam or were they bombed?

    Peace.

  7. Amelia A Says:

    Ausama you are my favorite!

  8. Omar Says:

    Tracy, Iraq has of course movie theatres but they where all either burned or bombed. There is I believe one left, but neither the people nor the managers dare to go so….

  9. Omar Says:

    Thank you Ausama, shukran akhooya. inshallah il naas yibdoon yiftihmoon ma2saatna..

  10. Tracy Says:

    Omar - Thanks for answering my question!

  11. damn fuzzyone Says:

    Mike–take a cell phone pic of the LA Times cover and include photo with full fuzzy frontal like London Times!

  12. A.A. Says:

    How did the Syrian government let you in? Don’t they have strict rules or no? I am wondering because it is usually very hard to get into the middle east countries, like UAE and Saudia. But I believe now there is no way of getting into Syria, isn’t the army taking control of that road?

  13. Gordon Soderberg Says:

    I just wanted you to know that there are veterans back here in America that are working to get the US Military to get out of Iraq. We know that our wars for Oil are wrong. Our president and most of our elected officials are either complete fools or tools of corporate greed. We hope that you and the rest of the Iraqi people can live long and happy lives. Goodluck!

  14. Nadia Says:

    Hey guys, good one Ausama, nothing like hanging around with friends specially when you don’t have to worry about dying, unless some maniac decides to set the cinema on fire of course :P

    A.A., Jordan and Syria are the only two countries that allow Iraqis in without a visa, of course there is always the risk of them sending you back for no apparent reason and the incrediblly bad treatement specially from Jordanians but you don’t need a visa!

    Love,
    Nadia.

  15. James Says:

    I think it would be great once you guys finish all 45 episodes. You make them into a documentary movie and the proceeds could be donated to the Iraq people. I would be sure and buy a copy to show support. I am sure there would 100,s of thousand people behind me also. Be safe guys your in our prayers!

    I also made a video of one Americans opinion, I think many feel the way I do. If someone from Iraq could comment it would mean a lot.

    Iraqi Video Tribute (When in Gone) EMINEM”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObelnFLCp1c

  16. Karenne Says:

    Hey damn fuzzyone,

    Perhaps you are jealous of the fuzzy head? I agree though Mike should take a picture of the LA Times cover story.

  17. Karenne Says:

    whoops - missed the pic of super chan (aka) the other Mike. very nice little hair thing on your chin

  18. Fady Says:

    Hi Michael… The other Mike! :) Nice to see you!

  19. lelly Says:

    LOL!It seems your lives in Iraq are not so different from American lives, or alot of English lives either. Sit in front of the TV all day. Just chuck in a Crispy Creme donut or some Sainsbury’s ready-meals and its authentic. As unhealthy as possible. :D

    What film did you guys see?
    What a shame there are no cinemas in iraq.
    Do you know, are men and women allowed to go in the same cinema?

  20. Kenny Says:

    @lelly

    The difference is that here in the US you could go out without fear of getting blown up. Nevertheless you seem to have a good TV setup there, better than mine. Anyway, hope the war ends fast, for my brother that’s serving over there and more so, for the Iraqis who deserve peace.

  21. mike Says:

    Hey Fady! Hope your doing well!

  22. Gunner Sgt Says:

    lelly,

    I responded to you under Ausama’s “Iraqi Self Expression” section below.

    I would like your response.

  23. Fady Says:

    To answer Tracy and Lelly’s questions:

    We have several movie theaters in Baghdad since decades, actually Baghdad was one of the first cities in the region to have a movie theater. Iraqi cinema started in the late 40s or early 50s with a big influence of Italian realism cinema; an important example I can give here is one of the earliest Iraqi films, “Saeed Afandi”. Although the cinema industry wasn’t so big, we had several quite good movies. During the first Gulf War (Iraqi-Iranian war), Iraqi cinema was a tool for the government’s propaganda. Then after the sanctions in 1990, Iraqi cinema was put on hold with the last Iraqi film produced in 1991 which was “King Ghazi”. During the 90’s, Iraqi theaters started to screen exploitation films, B movies, and grindhouse films; very worn-out film materials that are sometimes re-edited in the theater itself. Those films pushed a lot of viewers away. After the war, there were a couple of tries to restore the Iraqi cinema; “Underexposure” and “Ahlam”; the two films were made by young Iraqi people who mostly didn’t have any experience in cinema industry, however both film won several international awards. Underexposure was screened in Baghdad last year, and Ahlam was screened about a month ago. As for the film theaters, as Omar said, some of them got burnt, or turned into something else, but there are still few theaters that still run exploitation films as I think.

    Fady

  24. Gunner Sgt Says:

    Fady,

    Thanks for that information. That’s fascinating info.

    I am learning many new things from this blog. :)

  25. Fady Says:

    Gunner Sgt -

    Thanks for your contribution and info that you’re leaving here, and thanks for everybody who’s taking part in the conversation. I’m really overwhelmed by the response that our project received from lots of people around the world.

    Fady

  26. Nadia Says:

    To Gunner sgt and bg, first of all, as Fady said, thank you for contributing and sharing your information with all of us….

    Now, I respect your point of view, you are copying articles declaring how bad Saddam was…… HELL YEAH, he was an asshole”excuse my words”, do you think we don’t know that?!
    We lived that, we felt all what you are writing, we know even more that you can imagine….. I mean, what is your point from all this?! Do you want us to admit that it was hell?! that we were ruled by a bunch of dectatores?! That we hated it back then but we didn’t have the choice?! That people were afraid to talk politics in front of there 4 year old kids in case their tongue slips in class and then you can farewell the whole family?! That people were afraid to wrap anything in a piece of paper that had the picture or name of Saddam because you would be punished for it?! should i keep going?!

    All Iraqis here know what I am talking about, we know and have been through more than what you read in the news paper, watch on CNN or find on the internet!

    but I want you to tell me one thing, DOES THAT JUSTIFY WHAT IS GOING ON NOW??! DOES THAT JUSTIFY THE WAR AND THE MURDER OF THOUSANDS IF NOT MILLIONS OF IRAQIS??!

    I can simply do what you are doing and copy and paste articles, send links of what horrible things are happening now, I can tell you about the violations made by american troops, I can tell you about the violations the american troops ALLOW to happen, the murder of thousands of Iraqis by the hands of those who could never had a chance to do so if there was no chaos “and I mean the militias formed inside Iraq and those coming from outside”, if the american government didn’t disqualify the original Iraqi army and leave the country with no protection…..

    But you know what…. I won’t….. I won’t enlist what we all know, because I don’t believe that this is why we are here, we are not here to throw accusations and try to justify what is basically wrong…. Because I believe we are here to try to solve the problem, to make things better!

    Again, thank you for sharing your opinion and point of view, it is much appretiated :) and if we disagree on something it doesn’t necessarily mean any of us is wrong or that there are any hard feelings!!

    Love,
    Nadia.

  27. Ausama Says:

    Iza,Lelly - I went to some movies there .. Boseidon ,superman returns .. umm don’t remember the rest.

    Jessica-A.A. - It’s not really easy to go to syria or Jordan ( which like Nadia mentioned are the only 2 countries we can go without visa ) .. it’s not easy because the road is dangreous , alot of theives … in our journey last summer it went well although we had to stop twice and each time for 1 hour because some american covoys were blocking the way.

    the road is not really secured by the military , I guess because they’re trying to protect them selves in the first place , however I must say they tried and still trying to secure that road.

    Amelia A - wow , thank you :) .

    Omar - tislam a7*ooya al 3azeez , 3ashat eedak inta hammeen , ani kullish afra7 min at3arraf 3la a7* 3era8y mutha88af mithlak , jazeel al shukur .

    Thank you Fady for answering the rest of the questions …Full Mark !

    Thank you all
    (I’ll try to comment on this vedio once I get to watch it , I’m having a very bad connection and I’m not able to watch anything ) .

  28. lelly Says:

    Fady- thanks for the info, I am now informed on Iraqi cinema! ;)

    Ausama- Well, I hope you enjoyed the films you saw. I think the first superman films were better, the new ones are…well,Im not a fan.
    I prefer spiderman films, especially the first with Toby Maguire. Have you seen it?

  29. Ausama Says:

    Love Spiderman Movies , and yes I agree about superman returns .. infact if you have seen the trailer,then you’ve watched the movie !

    I still havn’t seen the 3rd one yet , but the Dvd is in the market now and I can watch that now.

    by the way I remembered ( that movie that we catched in this episode was Mission Impossible 3 ! ) .

  30. Gunner Sgt Says:

    Nadia,

    I believe removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.

    It really should have been done in 1991. Bush Senior decided to leave Saddam in power then and that was the wrong decision.

    Many many mistakes have been made though and I am very sorry about that.

    Bush and Donald Rumsfeld should have had a plan for security Post-Saddam and after removing all the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army.

    Donald Rumsfeld should have also approved a U.S. Army 1 million. That way once Saddam Hussein and his Baathist thugs fell the U.S. Military could have provdied the security.

    What Bush and Rumsfeld tried to do was remove all Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police and tell them to go home. This created angry fighting men thus they are part of the insurgency.

    They also believed they could get Iraq’s new Army and Police trained quicker than it has taken. Antother mistake.

    Then when the U.S. Military would go into Iraqi cities and defeat the terrorists/insurgents they would LEAVE. The terrorists would return to take over the town again. Another big mistake.

    Now the new security plan is for Iraqi Army and American Soldiers to have little security bases in Baghdad neighborhoods and live amongst the Iraqi people. This is going to get more Americans and Iraqi Soldiers killed, but it has to be done to provide security for the Iraqi people and defeat the terrorists.

    I wish we knew then what we know now, but we don’t.

    I agree lets look at the present and future.

    I believe Iraqis futures look much brighter with Saddam Hussein gone.

    At least now all Iraqis have hope of a better future. With Saddam all did NOT.

    Here is some more information about the new security strategy and it looks like it is beginning to work!

    \\

    Did you watch this video about Anbar Province Sunni Sheiks turning on and beginning to defeat al-Qaeda?

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b15_1179232516

    This guy has been living amongst the Iraqi Police and this is his first hand report on what’s going on the ground in Baghdad. It looks very positive:

    http://www.outsidethewire.com/blog/outside-the-wire/looking-for-that-civil-war-we-are-bogged-down-in.html

    This is why I decided to start posting. There are positive happening in Iraq as we speak!

    Keep the faith Iraqis it is getting better. We will prevail and Iraq will be a shining secular Democracy for all the Middle East to marvel.

    I am trying to focus on the now and future by providing facts on what is actually happening with security measures, the Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army, and American Army.

    Keep in mind their are Iraqis risking their lives every day to fight the insurgents and al-Qaeda to provide a better future for their children and all of Iraq.

    I believe in the Iraqi people. :)

    Salaam….

  31. Martin Says:

    I wish these videos would be shown on US television. It would make Americans get more involved and passionate about this mess our government has got us into. Someone somewhere must start to make some sense of it and come up with at least one or two real solutions to the killing and disruption of life.

    At this point most Americans want us out of this conflict, but how do we do it is the question? It’s got to stop. America does not stand for murder and distruction, only the present government does it seems. I hope for peace and security for all the good people of Iraq, the bad ones should be locked up and the keys distroyed. Enough killing of your countymen, and our boys and girls.

  32. Nadia Says:

    Gunner sgt. ,

    I have to keep this quick because I have exams :)

    First,I really appretiate what you are doing, trying to show us that there is some how kind of improvement to the current situation… I don’t mind watching these videos or reading these articles, after all we do need hope and they actually happen!!

    I watched several videos and news reports from Al-Anbar, I heard sheiks talking and I am truley proud of what they are doing, this is the way it is supposed to be all over the country…. They do manage to capture members of Al Qaeda and prevent more terrorist attakes, I acknowledge all this!

    My objection was to the other stuff you kept sending about Saddam….. I am talking about any normal reader who comes by this site and reades your comments, I believe the first impression would be it is all Saddam’s fault, American government had the full right to do what it did, they removed a dectator!! But still I don’t feel this true!
    If you truely wanted to take a dectator out and give a country its freedom, then do it properly, with the right intentions and that is what did not happen!
    A wrong doesn’t justify another!

    So, all I was asking for was some balance, showing that it was bad back then if you want but at the same time you need to equally show that it is not heaven now either… And this is what you said in your last post and I really admire your opinion and interest :)

    Another thing, I recall you asked once if we think the American troops should immedietly withdraw from Iraq….. No, this is not what we want… You can find a long discussion about this point with answers from a lot of Iraqis including members of the crew, you can find it in the comments of either the episode “Liberation” or “Security”, can’t recall which exactly, sorry :)

    Again, thank you for your interest and taking the time to reply to my post :)

    Love,
    Nadia.

    P.S I don’t agree with the one “swearing” at you previously, this is not the way things are supposed to go… We disagree but you don’t get dirty-mouthed, at least this is what I think…

  33. lelly Says:

    Martin, you said ” America does not stand for murder and distruction, only the present government does it seems. ”
    It seems alot of America does stand for it. They have Guantanamo Bay in their own backyard.
    Not only that, but if America, the majority, really wanted to stop this, Im guessing they could.
    Thats not to say a large portion aren’t trying.
    However, I will say that government there is becoming more dictator-like with each passing day, so resisting them is equally getting harder.

    Ausama- I totally agree about the superman movies! I mean, the plot was nonexsistent. :P
    Unfortunately, thats what critics are saying about the third spiderman film, although I also havent seen it.
    Mission impossible 3, with tom cruise? What did you think?

  34. Gunner Sgt Says:

    lelly,

    When you make these kind of generalized blanket statements I am going to respond.

    Men being held at Guantanamo Bay were captured on the battle field in Afghanistan!

    Many that have been released have gone right back to the battle and tried to kill Americans. Many have been recaptured or killed trying to kill Americans again!

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52670-2004Oct21.html

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04298/400174.stm

    Even though these terrorists were captured on the battlefield trying to and killing Americans they are treated very well.

    Interrogators at Guantanamo Bay Prison have NOT been torturing the terrorists, but have been fattening them up with fast food, movies, and cordial respectful treatment:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/12/06/news/CB_GEN_Guantanamo_Interrogations.php

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-10-03-guantanamo-weight_x.htm

    Yep the terrorists have been treated very well and have gotten FAT at Guantanamo Bay Prison.

    The U.S. Military does not condone torture and will punish any American Soldiers for doing so.

  35. lelly Says:

    Whoa

  36. Ausama Says:

    what about AbuGhraib ?
    what about the other camps in Iraq ?

    many many people are being mis- treated there , fortunatley there are some honest and good hearted people there after all for letting the world know about what’s going .

    what do you say about those ?

    and Lelly , MI-3 was good but you know , everything was predictible there….. the effect were great though!

  37. Ausama Says:

    effectS*

  38. lelly Says:

    Gunner that was your craziest comment yet. I dont know what to say.
    There are “interrogation” camps run by the americans and others all over europe. Torture is widely used.
    By Americans, Iraqis, Chinese, and even the British.

  39. lelly Says:

    and Ausama I agree about MI3. Quite a film buff arent you? ;)

  40. Nanda Says:

    Hi Ausama,
    I just wanted to say that I was deeply moved by your grandmother’s situation! She must be a very strong and faithful woman. Your episodes definitely show the perspective of family life in Iraq and has giving me insightful ideas of Iraqi culture. At the same time, because of the family aspect, any viewer can start to relate or comprehend better what you all are going through. We all have families and memories that are sacred to us. War just violates such beautiful things.

    Keep the hope and the good work with the videos. They really show a dimension of your reality that unfortunately the traditional war zone news reports will never be able to portray.

    Thanks!

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