Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt's Revolt - pundits agree, Mubarak is out

 The other day, Egypt erupted in revolt against its government. First, consider that Hosni Mubarak has been ruler there for thirty years. Egypt has had emergency law in effect since 1981. Why is this important to the World? Because Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East with 84.5 million citizens.

For his own efforts, perhaps it could be said that Mubarak kept Egypt together with a firm hand through very difficult times. But the same was being said about Saddam Hussein at one time. Many Egyptians believe the U.S. are Mubarak's friend and indeed, our own President has yet to speak out on this, or asked for Mubarak to step down, as indeed he now should.

Mubarak has disbanded his parliament and seems to think that this is good enough, but his people, the US Government, and others, including Germany, believe they need to see the President of Egypt step down and allow true democracy to evolve. The former head of  Egyptian Intelligence has now been appointed as VP. This is not the most optimal direction Egypt could be taking, but it is Mubarak's best attempt at maintaining his power. Why is power to hard for these types to relinquish?

Changes are at hand around the world.
Delta Airlines has now indefinitely suspended flights to Egypt.
Thousands protest in Jordan for political and economic reforms.

Incredible video

From "Egypt Revolts: Al-Jazeera Reports" by Mark Seddon on January 29, 2011:

"The convulsions in Tunisia spread to Yemen — and then to populous Egypt. Other dictatorial regimes in the area — including the schizophrenic leader of Libya, Colonel Qadaffi — are looking on increasingly nervously, as well they might. These regimes may be largely secular in nature, which is why they are favoured by the West and aided accordingly, but many of them are deeply malevolent regimes that routinely crush human rights and torture dissidents.

"In truth, these popular risings that have gripped Tunis and now have fanned across the main population centres in Egypt did not just happen overnight. The Maghreb and the Arab World are fundamentally young societies, governed largely by dictators who have singularly failed to find their increasingly well educated youth jobs and a future worthy of aspiring too. Now they are reaping the whirlwind, and the West stays strangely silent. Hardly surprising really. For with the exception of Ba’athist Syria and the wildcard that is Iran, most of these regimes look to the West for survival.

"Of course it would be wonderful if the forces of light and democracy took hold in Tunis and Cairo. We could cheer to the rafters if Mohammed El Baradei, lately of the IAEA and leader of the Egyptian Opposition finds himself the democratically elected leader of that country in due course."

The U.S is reviewing its aide package, 1.3 Billion annually, to Egypt in view of the current situation. Opposition leader ElBaradei has said this weekend that he would like to see a democratic Egypt that has a friendly relationship with the U.S. When asked if he would like to see President Obama come out and ask President Mubarak to step down, he said he believed that would happen. He added that he believes Mubarak will have to leave the country within the next three days. When asked if he thinks terrorists will take over Egypt during this time of turmoil, he said he was "quite confident" this wouldn't happen.

So, Tuesday or Wednesday, will we see a report stating that Mubarak has left the country? Is this the end of his reign as a thirty year long "democratic leader"? And is this the beginning of the end of the Holy Terror the Middle East has become over the past few decades? One can only hope, for stability, a voice for the people, a way for these people to live openly, freely, with sanctity of life and a way to join the world in a more open and free way.

MTV's Skins show, YABK: Yet Another British Knockoff

MTV has ripped off yet another show, one that here would be even more controversial, from the UK, but apparently wasn't so controversial IN Great Britain. But we've been going through that for years. America is over the top Puritan about issues and you can see the reality of that by just looking around and seeing our culture. If we had more real reality and supplied realistic options to current and possible behaviors, we just might see a more functional country.

I watched one episode, "Tony" where a friends is trying to get his friend "laid" (to no longer be a virgin). It wasn't that bad. Is it content for teens? Before you ask that, ask yourself this: "Do you really know what your teens do, say, think, when they are not around you?" You may think so, but you'd be surprised if you could visit their brains for a minute. Apparently, "skins" are rolling papers.

A Clever TV Report on MTVs Skins show.

One viewer of this video said this:

"Um.. in the UK it's not even a big deal. The US version sucks ass. American's are too 'clean-cut' and all proper... fuck you America. Stealing [our] good shows and fucking them up. You stole[:] The Office, Skins, Shameless and now The Inbetweeners? GET YOUR OWN IDEAS."

Which I think, pretty much sums it up. And exemplifies the same thing I've complained about for years. The US media industry is too fearful to take chances on their own idea; rather, going for tried and true shows from other countries, frequently, Japan and the UK.

The Young Turks report on Skins.

Gives you a little better idea of what's going on.

I can see a value to showing kids what kids really go through, for a change. But I think when you get into underage kids doing questionable activities for kids their ages, you need to put more into it than less. For adults, its one thing to show questionable behavior, but once you touch on minors, you need to not just show reality but also not to push questionably useful religious attitudes, but better, down to earth, reasonable, rational, and actually useful orientations to the kids.

By showing some useful scenarios in the context of the show, turns it from a voyeuristic teen show, to one that can be educational and save a lot of kids the pain and anguish they really don't need to be experiencing at these not so young anymore ages.

Yes, kids are going to do stupid things. Should other kids see what kids actually do out there in the real world away from their parents? I suppose if the producer's have the parent's consent, after all, a lot of money is involved here and greed nearly always wins out, then the issue isn't for the show to exist but for who's kids to watch it. But even if you just filmed whatever happened without a script, you could still use editing to make a point. Still, this is a scripted show. Teens need quality shows, if this will turn out to be that, then cool, but to scream about it at this stage, is premature.

A new millennium "Ferris Bueller" was bound to hit TV sooner or later (yes, I know it WAS a TV show for a while, but it didn't last long for a reason: the producers, the studio, completely missed the point), the fact that it took this long for a more interesting version, is amazing. That point, may have been understood by the producers of Skin.

So, will kids want to imitate what they see on this show? Probably, but not for the most part. We also need to see how MTV will take on this responsibility and adjust to the needs of their teen community. Yes, that is dangerous. But really, MTV has not yet, killed all of our kids or driven them all to drugs or prostitution. By the way, I couldn't really see where they were glorifying the behaviors most would object to. The question perhaps is not so much should they be doing a show like this, or should they be allowed to, but at what age should this not be allowed to happen at?

Would you let your kid be on this show? Would you let your kid watch this show? Before you comment, WATCH the show; don't go on a tirade like so many Christian groups did to "The Last Temptation of Christ", or many other films, shows, records and books. If you haven't actually seen what you want to complain about, shut up, you have no right to speak out, until you actually know what it is you are talking about.

Otherwise, you may just put yourself in the position of acting dumber than the kids in the show you are complaining about.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Choosing a special friend

How do you decide you want to date someone? Well, you meet someone, somewhere, you know. If they seem to have similar feelings, there you are.

But, how would you decide otherwise? Consider the online dating format. Do you meet, or run into someone in public and feel the chemistry, know they are interesting to you, and so you strike up a relationship?

No. You can't. It doesn't work that way. So, you are put into the realm of criteria, conscious thought about it, and rankings. There's no question about it.

Depending on the site or how you go about it, you either first see someone's photo, or you get search result returned depending upon your criteria. So right there, you have rated someone. If by nothing else, than age, race, distance, height, weight, perhaps even, hair or eye color, or other criteria.

Once you get your results, you have to eliminate people, narrow your search, decrease your search result pool to something manageable.

These are things we do out in public, if we meet someone, run into a stranger that intrigues us, or are introduced to someone new. Only it happens seemingly without thought, in a split second decision.

Makes us kind of hypocrites when we put someone down for using a dating service, dating site, or are even simply dismissive of a potential date because of almost any criteria we do not want. Some even say you are being vain, or "ist"-ist: racist, sexist, weightist, heightist, the list goes on.

But should we allow those in whom we are not fully, or as much as possible, attracted to? Maybe. Maybe not. But don't you want, and isn't that the stated purpose of sites like that, in that you can pick and choose before hand, who you will have to choose from?

I do not want to find the best person in the world for me, if they live in Finland. Or Turkey. I want someone local. So, I'm eliminating what? Long distance, potentially expensive relationships. For myself, I don't really care about your eye or hair color. I do have preferences for height, weight, etc.

I do not want to date a person who is 500 pounds. Sorry, I just don't. Why? Because it brings along with it, health and mobility issues. If nothing else, they won't fit in certain places, they can't do certain things. So, I"m eliminating those. If they feel bad about that, either don't, or lose weight. Or find someone who likes what you have to offer, or seek only people similar to you.

I've seen striking women who were 6'5" and I would date them, but they wouldn't date me. They didn't want to have a guy shorter than themselves and I fully understand that. It would eventually, probably, be an issue for me too, after a while.

So, if I don't want someone who is 500 pounds, then what weight is acceptable to me, what weight, should I begin to consider it a possibility? 300? 200? Now I have to consider the height. What is the tallest height of a person I might want to date? Now, as I'm not considering this of a person I'm meeting, I have to think about it and make a decision. How, do I do that?

Perhaps I consider past results of relationships, or women I've been near, or danced with, or held. What height seemed most pleasant? I found, about 5'6", preferably around 5'. For me, that means, about 90-110 pounds also.

Now, does that make me a bad person? If you say, yes. Really? Then, why? There is nothing wrong with preferences in life. There is, in fact, nothing wrong with prejudice in life.

What IS wrong, is being prejudicial out of hand, with ill intent, and stereotypically. But if you simply prefer, this over that, there is nothing wrong with that. In the end, you have to make a decision. A conscious decision is always best.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekend Wise Words - Churchill and Fields speak

Two of my favorite characters out of History, Winston Churchill and W.C. Fields. I sometimes wonder just what those two would have been like stumbling around drunk in the night from pub to pub.
300Px-Winston Churchill Winston Churchill

Quotes I ran across but hadn't heard in years:

Lady Nancy Astor (to Churchill): “Sir, you’re drunk!”
Churchill: “Yes, Madam, I am. But in the morning, I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

A second quote:

Lady Astor: “If you were my husband, I’d put arsenic in your coffee.”
Churchill: “Madam, if I were your husband, I’d drink it!”

W.C. Fields

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."

A second quote:

"I'll be sober tomorrow, but you'll be crazy for the rest of your life."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Its Friday night!

I've always said:

A great euphonious sound in every box.

So, what sounds good to me right now is:

"It's Friday Night!"

Yeah, that's all I got....

US Army or Covert Ops?

I've never really been one to say, "I told you so", unless it would save someone's life, or in the speaking of those words, it would save someone else grief. Yes, I can revel in the words, but I don't much like saying them for ego's sake. But this is one I've been saying for a long, long time, and when you have a public forum where you talk about things like I do here, you really need to say it, whether you enjoy it or not. In this case, I admit, I enjoy saying it.

Michale Hastings, is a Contributing Editor to the Rolling Stone magazine. Okay, its not like he's a senator, congressman, or security council member or top edge of one of our intelligence agencies, but hey, he's a guy that has been around and all over the Middle East and has seen, as he puts it:

"Having been witness to both Iraq and Afghanistan, saw some of the devastation we've wrought in both those countries, to fulfill the sort of need in the American psyche, to meddle in other people's business, it would be better to do just do covet operations".

Considering that Tunisia rose up against their government, and perhaps rightly so, and considering the
"Stuxnet worm" that hit Iran nuclear plant staff computers back in September of 2010, according to BBC Middle East Desk reports, Sian John, Symantec: "It's very sophisticated. A complex computer worm has infected the personal computers of staff at Iran's first nuclear power station, the official IRNA news agency reported.However, the operating system at the Bushehr plant - due to go online in a few weeks - has not been harmed, project manager Mahmoud Jafari said. The Stuxnet worm is capable of seizing control of industrial plants. Some Western experts say its complexity suggests it could only have been created by a "nation state". Israel? The U.S.?

My point in all this, is that had we kept intelligence ops going in Iraq when we were propping Saddam Insane up years ago, we wouldn't have had much of the problems going on now that we have. Had we depended more heavily upon smaller, "surgical" teams, rather than massive military ops, we could very possibly have decreased or eliminated the immense damage to the Iraq infrastructure that we have brought to bear upon its people. When you yell at someone you're going to attack, then do, they tend to step back, hide, take countermeasures; but if you simply do it, quietly, there is no protection.

The US Intelligence oversight committees and Congress have for decades whined and cried about the cost of covet and intelligence gathering. But what was the cost of what we did do instead? Lives, literally Trillions of dollars? Paying so much attention to war we allowed our economy and the world's economy to falter, trip and land perfectly hard on its face?

I've watched too many military ops over the last decade or few decades even, and wondered why in the world they didn't just send in a specialized team, or build one in place to do specific damage that would in the end, topple a top heavy blunt instrument like for instance, Saddam Hussein. But it would have taken intelligent thought, knowledge we have been so badly needing, and calculated risk operations. And what was our alternative actions? Blunt force weapons. Do you like being known as the country that doesn't think but puts their head down and takes out a wall with your helmeted head?

Why won't our leaders listen to those who know these countries and act accordingly? Are they really that stupid (defined as being given the chance at knowledge and turning it down in the face of necessity)? I've heard time and again how our Nation's leaders have gone against the sage advice of those who know, forsaking that for the good feel of sending in a battle group, rather than thinking and using intelligent thought to manipulate, finesse situations to our desired conclusions. Why don't we do that? Because we must be so bad at it. Why are we so bad at it? Because we don't do it, practice makes perfect after all.

Now, finally, that war has become so overly burdensome and expensive, we are starting to, we are being forced to, look at "alternative" forms of fighting back. What is that? Using our brains it would seem. Thank God for the economic crisis. Because, much good is coming from it. Finally.

I have always said, where a small team can be used, skip the battalion group. Why use a battleship, or aircraft carrier when a small team or one man (or woman, but hey, its the middle east right?) can accomplish the same thing, cleaner, cheaper, and with less bad feelings from the local citizenry.

Think and act smart. That's all I'm asking.


More on the Stuxnet Worm:

"It is believed to be the first-known worm designed to target major infrastructure facilities. "An electronic war has been launched against Iran", Mahmoud Liayi, head of the information technology council at the ministry of industries, told the state-run Iran Daily newspaper.A working group of experts met last week to discuss ways of fighting the worm, which Mr Liayi said has now infected about 30,000 IP addresses in Iran." - BBC

"Unlike most malware, Stuxnet does little harm to computers and networks that do not meet specific configuration requirements; "The attackers took great care to make sure that only their designated targets were hit...It was a marksman’s job."[24] The attack requires in-depth knowledge of industrial processes and an interest in attacking industrial infrastructure.[3][7] The worm contains, among other things, code for a man-in-the-middle attack that fakes industrial process control sensor signals so an infected system does not shut down due to abnormal behavior.[24] These capabilities would have required a team of people to program, as well as check that the malware would not crash the PLCs. Eric Byres, who has years of experience maintaining and troubleshooting Siemens systems, told Wired that writing the code would have taken many man-months, if not years.

"There has also been speculation on the involvement of NATO, the United States and other Western nations.[55] It has been reported that the United States, under one of its most secret programs, initiated by the Bush administration and accelerated by the Obama administration, has sought to destroy Iran's nuclear program by novel methods such as undermining Iranian computer systems. A diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks showed how the United States was advised to target Iran's nuclear capabilities through 'covert sabotage'." - Wikipedia

My Strange Addiction - TLC Channel

There is a new show, "My Strange Addiction", on TLC cable Chanel. I watched one show, just to check it out. I'm now on my third episode.

Do you have a strange addiction?

Here are some of the addictions explored on this show: sun tanning (kind of boring, but important to explore); shopping (boring, too common, but worth exploring for those who are addicted); running marathons (again, boring, but deadly if done too much); eating chalk (okay, now we're getting somewhere); eating toilet paper; sleeping with your hair blow dryer; treating a doll as a wife (we have a couple of movies/documentaries out on this one: "Guys and Dolls: A Real Documentary about Life-Size Sex Toys" about owners of the "Real Doll" full sized sex doll; and 2007's "Lars and the Real Girl", actually a sweet little movie), the individual on "Addiction" was also on the "Guys and Dolls" documentary; and, picking scabs (okay, an oldie but a goodie; and eating laundry detergent.

These all sound pretty bizarre but when you actually experience these case studies it's pretty amazing. Should one become addicted to this show? Probably not, but if you have any interest in human nature, you cannot avoid this one. Much like another show, "Hoarders" on A&E cable channel, which I recently watched and was amazed by. These shows are delving into the very personal lives of people who have problems, but it is beneficial to those people if they will allow these shows to get them help, as well as those of us who also have problems and we are not facing.

We may look at these poor people and think, "poor sods, I'm not like that", however, but except for the grace of God, there goes I, one might also think. These people get a chance to tell their story, share, then discuss with family and those who love them, and finally, a professional, in order to give them as much reality as they can handle and hopefully see them healed. For most of these people, all they are doing is trying to self sooth.

Typically these people have other issues in their lives, or another issue with self discipline. In some cases, their issue is with too much discipline, as in the marathon runner. His issues is seeking protection through being too busy, running, much the same as you see in Type A personalities or the classic workaholic.

So, forget about the voyeuristic aspects of this show, there are so many "reality shows" now, that everyone seems to be a voyeur. What is interesting in these shows is to learn about others, to be less judgmental, to get help when you need it and to look more closely at those you know need help, but are avoiding it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Video Games vs Dreams?

Okay, this isn't really about video games versus dreams. But it is about how they are very much the same. I was just talking to my son, who is a "gamer" and something occurred to me about video/computer games. I think, Felicia Day of "The Guild" webisode fame and Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog", and he might get along really well.
About the games, think about it, games relax you, they can help you work out aggressions. I know they have helped me. Years ago, I used to get really frustrated at work sometimes. I'd get home, fire up my favorite video games and blow away some monsters. By time I got done, I started feeling better, I'd "blown off some steam". If you feel like you aren't accomplishing much, you can play a game and accomplish a level or game, puzzle, battle, whatever.

Dreams let you do pretty much the same thing. They are random. They allow you to work out issues from your daily life. If you are anxious, they give you anxiety dreams to either help you work them out, or bring them to your attention. If you are attracted to someone, you can bring that to your attention in your dreams by way of various devices and dynamics. Claims are made that climbing staircases, falling, etc., are symbols for sexual things.

So, I don't know, you can look at this in two directions. Video Games are like dreams, or dreams are like Video Games. Either way, you have the productive aspects of taking a mini vacation. Then again, you have wasting time.

Of course, they have a benefit. Just as vacations, have a benefit. But some people think wasting time enjoying yourself, or doing nothing on vacation is a bad thing. Happily, its all good. Moderation in all things, you know.

Someone once told me that you should do the extremes of what you can do on a daily basis. Stare into the distance as far as possible, examine something extremely close up, exercise your eyes, both directions. Mediate on a daily basis, and be extremely hyper, say aerobics and weight training. Whisper and scream. And so on.

We do not seem to have trouble in being too busy, too rushed, or too stressed out. So, why shouldn't we also be too still, too unrushed, too unstressed out? Games, dreams (and vacations) are all good for this. Just don't over do. Moderate.

"The Fantastic THREE"?

Okay, The Fantastic Four, I read that comic book as a kid. My favorite character? Of course, the one they have just announced they are going to kill off; leaving?
The Fantastic Three.
Oh man....

First, from last June 2010, I guess they only today announced who was getting the hatchet to the storyline.

"The long wait is over as the conclusion of the Fantastic Four saga ‘Three’ draws to a close as we discover which one of the four falls. Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch sacrifices himself so that his niece, nephew, and best friend Ben Grimm aka ‘The Thing’ could escape from the Negative Zone. The Human Torch leaves behind a heroic legacy and an absence which will echo throughout the marvel-verse." From Comic Book Resources

Now, this:

"The following issue #558 will follow the remnants of Marvel Comics's first family though the month following the Human Torch’s death.  Not only will writer Johathan Hickman and artist Steve Epting explore how Reed, Sue, and Ben deals with the loss of Johnny but the issue will also hint at big events just on the horizon." - From Nerd Reactor

Yet another end of yet another Era....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why might Medicare be a good idea?

Rachel Maddow, on MediCare:

"If it was Medicaid, then it wouldn't be people being be forced to buy a product. People aren't being put under medicaid, that'd be sort of awesome. Actually what's happening is people are buying private insurance from the existing private insurance system that has a big problem. Which is why Medicare for all is a better idea."

I'm no fan of Maddow's, I don't really know her, I only know of her. But I thought that was one of the most excellent statements of what the situation is that I've heard.

Please, discuss amongst your selves....

The Cheyenne Social Club

It's Saturday night, I'm watching, "The Cheyenne Social Club".

As I watch it, I can remember, clearly, the first time I saw it, in 1970.

Interestingly enough, the famous, singer, dancer, actor, Gene Kelly, is the director. He took the two most famous people around back then, James Stewart and Henry Fonda, G-rated movie stars if ever there were two, and put them in a very humorous film with compromising situation: Stewart's character is put in the position of owning a House of Ill Repute; a House of the Rising Sun; a... whore house, left to him by his deceased brother. Fonda, is just his cowboy friend, tagging along. They are "range rats" only used to working cattle across the countryside, most likely for decades or the majority of their lives.

Henry Fonda is Stewart's straight man, as well as his ten year companion on the cattle driving trail. They are basically humble, God fearing, cowboys, who one of them, simply ends up owning a house of prostitution.

I thought it was a stroke of genius. A comedy unseen before this. I immediately loved it. Sweet, funny, almost edgy, you can't not like this movie. And it is always a fun diversion.

"The Cheyenne Social Club is a 1970 Western comedy film written by James Lee Barrett and directed and produced by Gene Kelly, and starred James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Shirley Jones. It was one of the few off-color ventures for Stewart, who specifically suggested that his friend Fonda be cast; one of the two times the two worked together in a film (the other being in Firecreek in 1968). It was shot at the Bonanza Creek Ranch and Eaves Movie Ranch outside Santa Fe, New Mexico (exteriors), and the Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood, California (interiors).

"The Cheyenne Social Club was a minor success, but was poorly received by critics. It didn't receive any notoriety until decades later with numerous cable television broadcasts. Barrett's script earned a 1970 Writers Guild of America nomination for "Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen", but lost to Neil Simon for The Out-of-Towners." - Wikipedia

If you ever feel like a strange little classic western, with two huge old stars in it, definitely give this one a shot.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

US Economy and Quality of Service issues - Cartels

David Stockman (Former Budget Director 1981-1985 and who refers to himself as a "lapsed Republican") was talking this week and said something that really caught my attention. I knew that the corporations were running the show, and have been for some time now. I knew that because of the strangleholds corporations have over their clients (and our essentially our government). I've been warning about this issue for decades and now I find past Presidents have spoken on the issue, nearly a hundred years ago, now.

But when Stockman said that the US is a "cartel" run country, "the Farming Industry, the Doctors, the Hospitals, Insurance Companies (I capitalize these words because I don't want to piss these people off), and we have a system that basically puts huge windfalls into their pockets and not good healthcare for the American Public." He went further on to say, "I don't think that Obamacare solved the problem and I don't think the Republicans (they voted for repealing "Obamacare" this past week) solved the problem, but we need to think through how we pay for Healthcare and as long as its third party where no one's accountable, it's not going to work." (wow...bummer)

Something clicked in my mind. Cartels?

So, Cartel? Like in Oil Cartel, Mexican Drug Cartel? As in Cartels that don't seem to be good for me, for the people, the citizens?

"A cartel is a formal (explicit) agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization of producers and manufacturers that agree to fix prices, marketing, and production. Cartels usually occur in an oligopolistic industry [a cartel basically is an oligopoly, "a market form in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers (oligopolists)."], where there is a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products. Cartel members may agree on such matters as price fixing, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these. The aim of such collusion (also called the cartel agreement) is to increase individual members' profits by reducing competition." - Wikipedia

Crap. Well? So....now what?


Who is, Hollywood Girl?

[Wow, I don't know what's up this week (other than I wasn't feeling so hot) but the URLs in the article were, I just noticed, REALLY messed up. They should be working properly now. Sorry all.]

Yes, just who is, "Hollywood Girl?"

Well, it's not Quinn, the main character of the "Hollywood Girl". It's actually Courtney Zito: extremely adorable, quite talented and unarguably driven, girl o'Hollywood: actor, director, writer, and producer of her, "Hollywood Girl", web based comedy series.

You can see the first installment of her webisode here, or all of them, currently three are available, on the "Hollywood Girl web site. And no, this is not a review of her show. It's more like an introduction if you do not already know about her and her works.

Courtney at camera on set
I've promoted other brilliant and beautiful women who are doing webisodes, on here before (can you say, Felicia Day with her webisodes "The Guild"?).
 Felicia Day
I love seeing anyone who can go grassroots to the top. This underdog attitude, taking an impossible chain of events by the throat and driving it to your desired destination, has always been my passion, going back to the days of early John Carpenter using cheaply bought, but going in the end fancy out and beyond creative powers of Hollywood. Those who have gone their own direction without big money. People who have entertained us by pulling together friends, others interested in their vision and simply going for it. One could throw others in there, although they all seem to be men; like "Swingers" writer, actor, Jon Favreau, where they couldn't get permits, so they simply walked into a bar and started shooting, trying to be unobtrusive; or Kevin Smith's early films, or even John Waters (although of a very different aesthetic, I'll admit).
From Episode One
But Courtney is another universe of female, one stop shoppers, type filmmakers. These new producer et al, ladies are oh so much better looking, with cleavage far more befitting and appreciated (John Waters excepted).

Hollywood Girl is a fun, cute, comedy series with three episodes and a few character blogs for Quinn. She is clumsy, adorable (as I've said), and just a common girl trying to make it in the surreal world Hollywood is, has been and probably always will be. Many of the gags and devices are tried and true but Courtney's execution pulls them off. You want her to succeed, both character and actor (and director, and writer, and producer, and, probably many other things that go unsaid; yes, Courtney, we noticed....).

Check, it out. 

From IMDB:

Birth Name: Courtney Lauren Zito
Mini Biography
Courtney is a New York native and now resides in Los Angeles. She has extensive training in Acting, Singing, and Dance and also works as a Print and Spokesmodel as well. Courtney is classically trained and studied Opera at The Crane School of Music at Suny Potsdam College where she also studied Theatre and Dance. While classically trained, her roots lie in the genres of Musical Theatre, Pop and R&B.
Courtney is a host for The Sportsbone Network, a network dedicated to the NFL.

IMDb Mini Biography By: Courtney Zito

Trivia: Started her own T-Shirt Company in 2006 - Hollywood Lines T-Shirts. Trained in the use of hand guns.

Personal Quotes: "I may be small in stature, but I am mighty in spirit." [no doubt, girl!]

From the Hollywood Girl web site:

Created by Courtney Zito, and based on her real life experiences in Los Angeles, Hollywood Girl follows the comically blundering, yet inspirationally uplifting, life of celebrity hopeful, and beautiful disaster, Quinn Monroe. A self-proclaimed cliché (aspiring actress by day and waitress by night), Quinn feels her dreams of silver screen stardom actualizing as a waking nightmare of never-ending obstacles and roadblocks. Broke, tired, confused and, constantly tripping over her mark, she's literally bruised, at times self-deprecating, but delightfully determined and never defeated. With life, heart, spirit and the carefree, fun-loving support of her three best friends, Quinn looks past the setbacks and black-and-blues to see her shining star on the walk of fame, which to her isn't too far ahead. Or maybe it is. She is determined to conquer Hollywood, but the road to stardom is full of missteps. "Two steps forward and ten steps back," like the show's original theme song says, "She's there for life: She's a Hollywood Girl."
Hollywood Girl is proud to feature original music by various artists in each episode. We have teamed up with producer Jon Santos and 1176 Studios to find the hottest new artists out there and bring them to you!
If you are interested in having your music featured in an episode, please email 1176 Studios at 1176studios@gmail.com.
If you are interested in auditioning for a role in Hollywood Girl, please add our fan page and contact us through there or email us at Hollywoodgirltv@gmail.com
We are not seeking writers at this time, but if you would like to be considered for season 2, please add our Facebook page and drop us a line. Or email us at Hollywoodgirltv@gmail.com to send some samples of your writing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Henry Kissinger on China's visit this last week

[*I apologize for the lack of breaks between paragraphs earlier, it was only just now brought to my attention. - Murdock]

When asked about China on Sunday 1/23, Henry Kissenger said that this current group of Chinese do not really remember the weak years of China, as these past thirty years have been relatively good and stable. These new Chinese grew up in the cultural revolution, seeing much turmoil in the beginning and by contrast, the rising up of China now.

Kissinger, you may remember, was the 56th US Secretary of State, from 1969-1975, for President Nixon. He broke the ice with Mao Tse-tung by going to China at a time when people in the States didn't understand why he would do that.

This followed up by President Nixon going to China. At a time when everyone was against Nixon, I was typically the only one to say that I thought he would be remembered differently, defined not so much by mentally unbalanced and paranoid actions but by having opened up the path between China and the US.

The Chinese do not really realize that we are a country of a mixed salad of immigrants, of mixed interest groups pushing agendas, and so they think we have an intelligent whole format of our intents, rather than a more random push of various different interests; so sometimes we look like we are of a conspiratorial mindset to work against them. A little paranoid, but when you consider how they normally think and do things, perhaps, not so paranoid; just logical, from their perspective.

Kissinger said that Chinese leaders are now seeking him out, because many of them never got to meet Mao, but he spent hundreds of hours with him, so these new Chinese leaders are learning much about their past from Kissinger.

When asked if the "Tiger Moms" of China aren't raising smarter children who are now in charge over there, aren't smarter than our US Leaders, Kissinger responded that they are not smarter, they are just different. He said that a good way to look at it, is in our strategic games. The US in this area has always been quite partial to Chess, a game where all the pieces are in front of you at all time, so you can calculate your risk and your goal is to win.

The Chinese national game is "Go" has about 180 pieces, a game where pieces are added throughout the game but are not always on the board, the goal is to surround and the game may never end; a concept that encapsulates the Chinese mentality very well. In Go, your opponent is always capable of introducing new pieces. So this is how China thinks differently that the US, in strategic encirclement, which may be why we have experienced confoundment with China over the years; not to mention, China is used to playing a game that never ends (Go) as opposed to a game (Chess) that has a definite end and outcome (save for the occasional stalemate where the game is deadlocked with no conceivable end available).

In my own studies of China, I had in my University days, appreciated China for their endurance. When asked at the time of British occupation in the 1800s, why China handles this occupation as they did, with patience and restraint (up until a certain point anyway, like in the "Boxer Rebellion"), the response was that many had occupied China, but in the end, China always was left there after they were gone. It just took time and China would again be the only one left standing. And, indeed the were.

"The Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" (義和團 - Yìhétuán), or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" (known as "Boxers" in English), in China between 1898 and 1901, opposing Western imperialism and Christianity." - Wikipedia

I can understand a backlash against Christianity, as it was taking a magical paradigm of a spiritual organization and trying to force it into the round hole of a country, that was far more down to Earth in their thinking going back to Confucius, Taoism and Buddha. Japan did a similar thing when they expelled Catholic Priests and put out a mandate to kill any that remained.

A brief aside regarding Japan:

"On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians – six European Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen Japanese laymen including three young boys – were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki. These individuals were raised on crosses and then pierced through with spears. While there were many more martyrs, the first martyrs came to be especially revered, the most celebrated of which was Paul Miki. The Martyrs of Japan were canonized by the Roman Catholic Church on June 8, 1862 by Blessed Pius IX, and are listed on the calendar as Sts. Paul Miki and his Companions, commemorated on February 6, February 5, the date of their death, being the feast of Saint Agatha."

Persecution continued sporadically, breaking out again in 1613 and 1630. On September 10, 1632, 55 Christians were martyred in Nagasaki in what became known as the Great Genna Martyrdom. At this time Catholicism was officially outlawed. The Church remained without clergy and theological teaching disintegrated until the arrival of Western missionaries in the 19th century." - Wikipedia

Few Christians, or Catholics even, know about the crucifixions in Japan.

Back to Kissinger.

He said he would be disappointed if China doesn't revalue its currency over the next year or so and that Tim Geithner (75th and current United States Secretary of the Treasury) has set things up so China can act accordingly without losing face. What this looks like to our own Citizens, can appear odd, but in the end, hopefully, this will work to everyone's advantage.

It is also important to consider what Brzezinski said this week about China, that China wants to become a major power, to support their own internal sense of themselves; but that "the definition of what they ought to be, is not going to be made by us. Precisely because they do want to be a major player. So, what is important in our dialog, and this is what I think this meeting was useful, is to itemize the issues, under which we have to work together, and begin to spell out a kind of generalized sense of direction but not one in which "direction" means "I direct and you follow." And that's much more difficult."

So in the end, although China can look confusing to us at times, even though they may think the US is suspect in many of our, admittedly confusing tactics due to our heterogeneous make up, we do have hope on the horizon ("And some of this change can take place [rapidly] in a month" Kissinger said) hope for both sides, for a path to a better life for both countries; and in the end, a path that means help more stability for the entire World.

"I am a Trekker...." - Dr. Martin Luther King.

"I am a Trekker, I am your biggest fan." - Dr. Martin Luther King.

This was according to Nichelle Nichols, "Uhuru" on the original 1960s TV show, Star Trek, as she stated on the PBS documentary, "Pioneers of Television - Science Fiction".

"SCIENCE FICTION" (Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 8-9 p.m. ET/PT): Storytellers Gene Roddenberry, Irwin Allen and Rod Serling created the storylines and characters behind the best-loved futuristic television of their time. But as Roddenberry's "Star Trek" competed for ratings with Allen's "Lost in Space," each show's creator aimed for a very different direction. This episode explores how Roddenberry and Serling (of "The Twilight Zone") used the future as a stage for modern morality plays, and William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and other science-fiction stars describe how they prepared to interact on-camera with a malevolent alien force… or, perhaps, a giant radish. - from Healthy Aging web site article.

Nichelle told of how she was ready to quit the show. But someone changed her mind. Below, from New York Daily News article:


After a year with"Star Trek" as communications officer Lieutenant Uhura, she turned in her resignation. But at an NAACP event that weekend, she ran into King.


"One of the promoters came up and said someone wanted to meet me. He said he's my greatest fan," says Nichols, 78. "I thought it was some Trekker, some kid. I turned in my seat and there was Dr. Martin Luther King with a big smile on his face.


He said, 'I am a Trekker, I am your biggest fan.'"


At that point, Nichols thought of herself as just a cast member on the show and hadn't fully grasped the racial implications of her part. She'd dealt with race all her life, of course, even on the set at Paramount, where a security guard hurled insults at her, but she hadn't grasped the importance of an African-American woman having a position of respect on TV.


Nichols thanked King, and told him she was leaving the show.


"He was telling me why I could not [resign]," she recalls. "He said I had the first nonstereotypical role, I had a role with honor, dignity and intelligence. He said, 'You simply cannot abdicate, this is an important role. This is why we are marching. We never thought we'd see this on TV.'"


Nichols was at a loss for words. It was the first time the importance of being an African-American woman on television had sank in. She returned to "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry the next Monday morning and rescinded her resignation.


"He sat there and looked at me and said, 'God bless Dr. Martin Luther King. Somebody does understand me,'" Nichols says.


She and King stayed in touch occasionally afterward and until his death.


"I never looked back from that day," she says. "I never regretted the decision."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

"To shrink from challenges, is to shrink one's soul."

"Faith, carries one on through times of no security in one's understanding, capabilities or resources. One should therefore, strive to run on faith as little as possible."

==Murdock

Friday, January 21, 2011

Avoiding paradoxes, ignoring the Folds of Life

We do things in life, mainly to avoid paradoxes. We avoid paradoxes, and we ignore folds.

Some people, some poor damaged ones, seek out life's paradoxes in the form of what we allude to as, "drama". They seek it, they crave it. They Think they have to have it. They don't. Zen masters have been trying to tell us that for years, as have Buddhas from time immemorial.

Be calm.

Look about you. See what there is to see.

Take origami. It is an art form that exists simply of itself. A painter adds paint to a medium, a canvas; a sculptor chips away and off of his medium. Origami, takes of itself and that is all there is. It is natural. It is a simple thing, to fold paper. But if you seek out the most creative orgami on earth, you will be amazed by the form and structure, the creativity and detail that can be involved in something so simple. In hundreds of folds, or one; one being as complex in many ways, as a hundred.

It is a utter paradox, that to simply fold some paper, you can create a paradox.

We choose to avoid paradoxes because it complicates life and we typically have little enough time to devote to ourselves, without adding to it, by making life more complex with the addition of yet another paradox.

However, much of the beauty and value in life has much to do, with paradoxes. And folds. Things you avoid, things you ignore. We do not see much of life around us, and that is a shame. Why? Because, I do not think we were designed to be that way.

You see, we need to have time in our lives, in our day to day living, where we can look, simply look, and see, and yes, simply see, both the fascination around us, and the beauty that surrounds us; everywhere. At all times.

You can fold not just paper, but many, many other things, like Human proteins, even space; theoretically anyway.

I'm not saying that we should go out and seek paradoxes. There is after all, a reason we avoid them. What I'm saying is that we need to "pay more attention".

Think about that phrase a moment. To pay, attention. It's inherent in the dynamic. We do need to pay for our time in giving attention to things. To pay, is to take from one area of our lives, indeed, even as in money, currency, filthy lucre, to pay for our being able to do something else. You pay for gas, so you can drive your car. You pay in losing time, to be able to notice things you do not usually have the time, or the energy, the luxury, of examining; experiencing for your pleasure.

All I am saying here, is that we really should pay for it, take the time, make the time, adjust your life in order to live more. Just as we should not live beyond our means so that we do not live in debt, also we should live with the allowing for the time to seek out life's paradoxes; to observe the folds around us and how to fold things in interesting ways; to make new things, to learn new things, to feel new emotions, to enjoy life more.

Seek the paradoxes. Find the folds.

Encyclopedia Dramatica

Have you heard about the Encyclopedia Dramatica?

Its acerbic,satirical, base, sometimes nauseating and occasionally quite funny.

But it could be worth a look if you are looking to kill some time.

Hard to say it better than Wikipedia.

"Encyclopædia Dramatica is a satirical open wiki built on MediaWiki software. Launched on December 10, 2004, it satirizes both encyclopedic topics and current events, especially those related to or relevant to internet culture. It is also associated with the internet subculture Anonymous. The site's "elaborate trolling culture", chronicling of internet trolling, use of content with shock value, and criticism of other internet communities have all gained media coverage and commentary. Some of the content on Encyclopædia Dramatica has been called "flamingly racist and misogynist", sexually explicit or otherwise disturbing, including uncensored material taken from shock sites.

"Encyclopædia Dramatica was founded in 2004 by Sherrod DeGrippo, also known as "Girlvinyl". It characterizes itself as "[d]one in the spirit of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary". The New York Times has characterized the wiki as "an online compendium of troll humor and troll lore" that it labeled a "troll archive". C't, a European magazine for IT-professionals, noted the site's role in introducing newcomers to the culture of 4chan's /b/, a notorious Internet imageboard. An author has said that it is a platform from which to initiate "exchange between the sensitive and the cruel" in order to achieve the "joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium" because it "intentionally disrupts online communities" whose members have an "emotional investment" in them. Encyclopædia Dramatica defines trolling in terms of doing things "for the lulz" (for laughs), a phrase that it qualifies as "a catchall explanation for any trolling you do.""


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Catholic school, uniforms, reputations and explosives

I sat in the eighth grade Holy Rosary Catholic school class in Tacoma, WA, wearing my Catholic school uniform, and wondered; how had I gotten here? I had been abused by these "nice" kids, beaten by the ancient Nun who was our teacher and Principle and abused by the alter boys (no, not in that way, either, nor did the Priests, ever).

I looked around the room. Everyone wore the standard dress, dark blue sweater, black slacks (or immensely ugly skirts for girls, except for their length which a few of the more attractive girls were always trying to raise the hem on), black patent leather shoes, white shirt.

It was supposed to be the great equalizer, wearing the same clothing throughout the entire school. No one was better than anyone else. It was a grand design, a wonderful concept. There was no concern about gang violence back then, in our Parish anyway. No concern about someone getting killed over what they were wearing. Just that thought that no one was better than anyone else. Someone should have told those kids though. Because it was quite apparent some kids were better than other, or thought they were, or most certainly, had more money than others.

Of course, the rich kids, all had about five or six complete outfits; when their clothing got worn out, it got replaced. The poor kids all had but one set of the uniform, which they wore every day of the school year, if at all possible, and year after year until it was either too out sized or you were told you could no longer wear it, wherein it was given away, sold, or handed down to the next sibling line in line, again, if at all possible. Those kids were easy to spot. Their shoes were scuffed, their sweaters had holes in them, which the kids tended to keep their hands over in order to hide their poverty, and which usually made the holes grow even bigger with time.

In reality, there really was no equalizing accomplished by way of wearing a uniform. It only ended up making us all look like dweebs. And embarrassed the more poor kids in that they couldn't adjust their wardrobe with whatever they had available, or whatever hand-me-down they could acquire from an older sibling.

I'm not going to argue the use of uniforms relaxes the issues with gang signs, or physical abuse. I had plenty of physical abuse in that uniformed school.

I had been in seventh grade, having gone through public school from the beginning. But my little brother, five years my junior, started in Catholic school (I have no idea why) from the beginning. When I had problems in public school we gave thought to my moving to a Catholic school where I'd be more protected and comfortable.


I had gotten in a little bit of trouble in public school, you see.

A guy in 7th grade gave me a few firecrackers. Seems his dad went over to Idaho to pick up illegal fireworks for the 4th of July. So, bright one I was, a friend and I went out into the football field, to the other side, by the street, away from the school building, at lunch, no one around, and we lit the device, threw it into a pile of sawdust and it went bang. We laughed. Walked back to the school building, an old brick thing from the medieval times.

As we were walking up the stairs, the Vice Principle was coming out the huge, double, thick wooden doors. We said, "Hi." Trying to be nice. He said, "Hi boys." We all took a few steps, continuing on. Suddenly, he stopped, I think he made the connection, explosion, no one in the field, two boys walking in off the field, kind of a no brainer now that I think about it, but back then, we were amazed at his super powers of reasoning.

He drug us both back to the office. He went through our lockers. He talked to the other guy first who walked out looking dejected and I assumed he gave me up. I was escorted in to his office. Now, the Vice Principle, was a hard assed kind of guy, I liked the Principle far more. He pressured me, used all kinds of weird techniques, like asking me where I got the firecracker. He said, "You know firecrackers are against the law, right?"

I said, "No, I didn't. They aren't against the law." I assumed acting stupid would help my case. He said, "You don't believe me? Would you like to hear it from a police officer?" I thought, cool, yeah, I'd prefer to get this kind of information from a direct source. Really, that was what I was thinking, I had the best of intentions. He said, "Okay, I'll call them." He did.

"Hello? This is the Vice Principle of Stewart Jr. High school (I was there 1967-70). I have a young man here who does not believe that firecrackers are against the law. He wanted to talk with a policeman about it. Okay, here you go." He handed me the phone.
Stewart Jr. High School, Tacoma, WA (5/47)
"H-Hello?" I said, hesitantly. The cop went on to tell me the law. I thought, I was being very nice. I thanked him and said goodbye and gave the Vice Principle the phone. He talked to the cop. He said something about the cop thinking I was a smart ass (how insightful). I was shocked. Then I was more shocked at how this went after he hung up.

"The officer said we have a real trouble maker here." My face dropped. "WHAT?" I thought. 'Here is what we will do, you tell me where you got the fireworks from, and that will be the end of it. Of course, I will want you to tell your mother to expect a phone call from." He drilled me until I gave up a name. And that, was the end of my Jr High school career in public school. Until, I had earned my way back from the abyss, that is.

The next day I got to school and was told by several kids my life was forfeit. They said if the kid I got the firecracker from, if his dad got in trouble with the law over this, over my giving him up (of course I tried to put blame on the other kid as the snitch, but it didn't work), they were going to beat me up every day of my life from then on. After a few altercations, and my being increasingly stressed out about going to school day after day, my mother asked me if I wanted to leave school. 'Oh yes,' I thought.

Speaking of my mother. The day that happened with the Vice Principle, I went home and no one was there. My mother called pretty soon to say she was at her girlfriend Virginia's house. So I told her what happened. Honestly. That the VP said he'd be calling her. So she recounted what I had done that was so terrible. She verified that I was careful. She understood my reasoning, then she broke up laughing.

'I thought, how cool. My mom is so cool.' Then she caught herself and said Mom stuff, like oh I suppose I shouldn't laugh, but you were careful, still, you shouldn't have done that  and don't do it again, okay? I said, no problem, no more explosives at school. That was the end of it. Other than my waiting on the VP to call.

Well, finally, he did. A week later and was he pissed. I got home from school and my mom told me what happened. He called and said he had told me for my mom to call him (he didn't say that). She told him I had immediately told him and that she had been waiting on his phone call; that what I did, really wasn't that big a deal and they made far too much over it, and proceeded to read him the infamous riot act.

My mom had always said that if her kid were wrong in something, she'd be the first to admit it; but if her kid wasn't wrong, or was being treated badly, she'd be right in somebody's face over it. I thought the VP had treated me underhandedly. Seems my mom thought so too.. So should she have punished me? Well, I never did it again. Isn't that the purpose of the punishment? I felt more loyal to my mom and was willing to not do whatever she wanted.

I never did anything like that again. Until High School, but I didn't blow off anything at school ever again.
Lincoln High School, Tacoma, WA
As I said, my mom asked if I wanted out of that school. She meant the Catholic school my little brother went to. Which I never wanted to go to, although I was head alter boy at our tiny Slovak church, St. Joe's, a few blocks from the more massive, Holy Rosary Parish Church which had far more money and resources. But I had served at old, kindly Father Joe's funeral and was loyal to the small underdog of a church. And wearing a uniform? Uh, no.
Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Tacoma, WA

But my life was on the line and I was tired of being stressed out every single day so I said, yes, finally. She called. I was there. They asked, is he a good boy, we only take on good children. I was starting to feel good about this. She made sure from my mom I would promise to be good and on my best behavior. And I tried.

But, my experience was, I never had as many fights in school, ever again. Thank God, I had been fighting Karate tournaments for a couple of years. So I got the uniform, started going to the same school as little brother. And duly got teased, abused, battered, set up, and berated for a solid 8th grade year of school. I was resented and rejected by the alter boys because I refused to join them as I was head alter boy at St. Joe's, something they never understood. So when the alter boys, all the 8th grade boys, got a day off from school for a field trip, I had to stay with the girls, who either wanted nothing to do with me, or vice versa.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Tacoma, WA
Once, I was by the corner of the school, two of the boys came up to me, one hung back by the corner, kept looking around the corner, the other boy, harassed me into pushing him, then he fell, on purpose, I didn't push him hard enough, just as the head Nun, our Teacher, the Principle, Sister Rogers, an old and hardened old bat. As she came around the corner, they both immediately started saying I push that kid down for no reason. I tried to tell her what happened, but hey, two against one. Right?

Legend tells it, by the way, that years later was carried kicking and screaming out of the home the Nuns lived at, to go to the old Nuns home. She, my friends, was really odd.

One time, the boys all go in a circle around me, about twenty feet across, and took turns throwing the basketball at my head until I was so sick and in pain I was going to throw up. They wouldn't stop, so finally I said, "That's it, I've had it, I'm outta here." I walked off to walk home. They yelled at me in fear, "HEY, you can't leave, you'll get in trouble!" I said, "Oh yeah, watch me." I walked home.

Another time, my mother came to pick me up, there must have been about six inches of slush on the ground. My mother pulled the car up in the school yard as it was all part of the parking area. My little brother got in. The kids were all about, milling around, heading out, waiting for rides. I was about to get in the car, my mother standing by the driver's side door, when a big old slushball hit the seat and exploded all through the car. I turned around, everyone was laughing. I felt at the time, like I will put up with all the abuse, all the humiliation, but once you bring my family into it, that's it!

Little did I know, one of the two kids involved in the pushing incident, had been riding by on a bike, and he threw it. But with all the kids laughing and jeering, boys and girls, I simply grabbed the closest kid. I started yelling at him, "Who did it!" He responded by taking a swing at me. I grabbed both his shoulders by his shirt. He took another swing, I couldn't believe how bad he was at fighting (remember I'd been going to the dojo for years, nearly every day of the week sometimes). He hit my shoulder, sad really. Then he did something stupid, he tried to trip me. I was very good at not getting tripped in a tournament fight. So I showed him how to do it.

But when he hit the ground, I was so pissed off, and this was the only time this ever happened in my life, I was so mad that I hit him in the head while he was down. It felt so good, the release, that I hit him in the head again, and six more times, before I could realize I was counting my hits and not going to stop. It scared me so bad, all that year of abuse by these kids, that it all flooded out into this one kid that wasn't the sole reason for all of my woes. I stopped. Stood up, looked around, everyone was quiet, not a sound.

I walked away. I got three steps and heard him get up. Now, tournament fighting gives you a 6th sense. And I knew, he was about to jump me, so I threw a back kick, directly into his center, taking out his testicles perfectly and he went down again like a wet rag. After a few moments, he got up, and yelled at my mom: "Your son is a dirty fighter!" And he shambled off behind the church, where I heard later by a kid that went to him, that 1) he was going to jump me, and 2) I got him really good with that last kick. From then on these kids backed off from me a bit and my reputation for years to come was sealed.

By time I graduated, I had their respect and fear. Rather than go to an all boys Catholic Prep school, Bellarmine Prep, I opted for 9th grade back at the same Jr. High school. But things were different. I had a rep now. Once I hit High School the following year, more of the boys from 8th grade were there and told people, "Don't mess with him, I've seen him do damage repeatedly" and so was born, my reputation that followed me through High School and beyond. Thanks guys.

As I said before, I never blew off any more fireworks at school, ever again. I only possessed; a couple of Black kids, our school was half black and the lowest income ranking in Tacoma, picked me up as I was leaving the student lounge (which only they year before you were allowed to smoke in, you could see the burn marks on furniture), carried me to the back wall of the lounge, slammed me against the wall up off my feet and said, "We hear you have fireworks, give us some." So...I did, but told them, brazenly, do NOT use them on campus; I've had bad experiences with that."

When I came to school the next day, I was called into the Principle's office. I had no idea why. I sat there for a while, then Principle Willie came in. I didn't like our VP; I had known him from the Jr High experience, so I was pretty happy it wasn't him, regardless what was going on. Willie (who had a great Flip Wilson act and did it at every reasonable chance, and very well, indeed) sat across his desk, folded his hands, smiled and said, "Okay Murdock, what is it this time." I liked this guy, everyone liked this guy.

"I said, I have no idea."

He said, "Something about fireworks?" I thought, "Oh, crap, not again. And I didn't even do anything this time.' He said, 'Two young men were caught blowing off firecrackers on campus yesterday and they said they got them from you." I sighed. Then I told him exactly what happened. But I said I found them, this time. No one to tell on; no matter what, after my last experience, I wasn't snitching on anyone. I told him they forced them from me, and I was only taking them home, that I told them not not use them on campus.

He was cool, as always and said, "Tell you what, gather up all remaining firecrackers and turn them in to me tomorrow and we'll just forget this ever happened, okay?" See, he was the coolest, and really, that's all it needed. He had far worse things to deal with at that school. We had a guy pulled from gym class, from the locker room, for robbing the bank across the street once. I feared for my life walking down a hallway alone. I'd had some run ins with the Black kids who all seemed to "have attitude".

So, I gathered up what was left from people (none) and gave him half of what I had left, the next day. He looked in the brown paper bag and said, wow, that's a lot; and looked at me like I wasn't a lost cause after all. He was always such a gentleman when we had dealings and we grew to respect one another. As for the VP, he always sucked. Straight laced, hard assed, tall, thin like a Doberman Pincher.

So, do uniforms help? I don't know. Are explosives at school bad? Yes. Can Catholic private schools suck just like public schools? Yes, but Catholic school can really help one's reputation.

Seattle's first openly Gay Bar Shelly's Leg and Tugs (Beltown and Belmont)

Found this today and thought it was interesting.
Today from the seattlepi.com archive we share a bit about Shelly Bauman who helped bring an openly gay bar to Pioneer Square in the early 1970s.

Bauman died November 18 at her Bremerton home. She was 63. Her obituary in Seattle Gay News is available here.

On July 14, 1970, Bauman was rushed to Harborview Medical Center after being struck by an antique cannon, used as part of a parade in Pioneer Square. The owner was cited for not getting a permit and attorneys for Bauman, then 23, filed a $1 million lawsuit against the cannon owner in King County Superior Court.

Also named were the proprietor of the Brasserie Pittsbourg restaurant and the Pioneer Square Association that promoted the event where the cannon was fired.

Bauman accepted a $330,000 settlement in April 1973 and with the money was co-owner of Shelly's Leg � a bar advertised as being "provided for Seattle's gay community and their guests."

Seattle had gay bars before, but Shelly's Leg was noted for being open about the bar's intention. Seattle Gay News also said it was the city's first disco, opening on Nov. 13, 1973.

It took the place of the former Grapvine Tavern and a KOL-AM deejay, Burl Barer, spun records there two night a week. Read a January 1974 Emmett Watson column about Shelly's Leg here.

On Dec. 4, 1975, a tanker truck crashed hit a guardrail on the southbound viaduct and dumped 3,700 gallons of gasoline. Shelly's Leg had about 150 people in it when the crash occurred at 1 a.m. Patrons left the bar, which was near the viaduct, out a side door as windows were shattering. Read more about that incident here.
The bar lasted until 1979, and the sign declaring Shelly's Leg a gay bar is now at the Museum of History and Industry. Read more here.

From Seattle PI Check out this article as it has some cool archived stuff on it.

I had grown up with my mother's best friend and her kids. One of them was Patrick who was a part owner of Seattle's Tugs Belltown bar. I had never been in it but I heard a lot about it. I hadn't really known Pat was gay, until after he died of the usual suspect back in those days. A sad thing, as both Pat and his younger brother Gary were both very cool people (as is their sister who had offered to go to my Senior Prom with me even though she was already old enough to drink by then; but what a picture she would have made on my arm as they were all very attractive people; but I declined because I had hoped for the possibility of a romantic tryst that night and I figured, no chance with such an older and sophisticated woman, but that story, for another time).

I don't know much about the bar as it was before my time to get into bars if I remember, and I might not have gone in there anyway, but had Pat invited me I would have. If I knew more about Tugs, I would give it its own article just out of respect for Pat. Tugs Belltown has a profile on Facebook. I'm getting the feeling Patrick was involved with the Tugs Belltown bar.
Patrick Harrison and David Hecker - Owners

The articles below is more than I ever knew about it.

From Wikipedia:

"In the late 1980s, another gay bar, Tugs Belltown, moved up to the Hill (corner of Pine and Belmont) and became Tugs Belmont where underwear parties were held. In this new venue, it played a key role in Seattle's burgeoning and sexy fringe theater scene. Possibly the first bar[citation needed] in Seattle since before the Prohibition era to host regular theater performances, in the early 1990s it was the primary home of the Greek Active Theater, founded by sex columnist and Capitol Hill resident Dan Savage (working pseudonymously as Keenan Hollohan)."

Here's more:
"I used to be a regular at the original Belltown T.U.G.S. where Nina Hagen came to party. I can also tell you that the newer T.U.G.S., on the block being torn down for condos, was where Sandra Bernhardt came to party after appearing at The Paramount up the street toward downtown."
"DAN SAVAGE: I never made it to Tugs—the original Tugs, Belltown's legendary gay bar. The gay men I knew when I arrived in Seattle (hey, Kurt!) couldn't shut up about Tugs—how great it was, how much fun it was—and they treasured their Tugs T-shirts. ("I am not just a person. I am a piece of meat.")

When I got to Seattle in 1991, Tugs had moved up the hill to Pine Street and Belmont Avenue, and no one that had been to Tugs Belltown thought very much of it. Post-1991 arrivals, though, loved the place. It was home to notoriously sleazy underwear parties that so offended the Washington State Liquor Control Board that it threatened to shut Tugs Belmont down. The threats stopped after Cal Anderson, Washington State's first openly gay state legislator, showed up at one of Tugs Belmont's underwear parties in his legislative underwear and chatted up the inspectors sent by the WSLCB."
both above paragraphs from Silenced Majority


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aim to Misbehave

In the film, Serenity, Mal (character, Capt. Malcolm Reynolds) says that some day the government will try to make people better again (after having failed unbelievably badly) and that has to stop. This was said during his Miranda speech near the film's end.

This has a real world correlation. If you look about you, you can see it happening now. The US Government and not only the US government, but most governments, I think, merely as a process of their development, do this. They are there, set up to run the country, to be a force for good, but in the end, they always seem to try and fix everything, and everybody, just to justify their positions.

Part of the problem there is that every job, every manager, every company, every government position, has to justify their position. If not to themselves as it should be, then to some higher authority. They have to produce, and in that, lies the rub. They cannot just be in their job, waiting for the next thing, they have to always be doing something. So sometimes, the invent things. Sometimes they do indeed think they are helping. But in the end of what they plan, and execute, they find, and sometimes they don't even find this out, that they make things worse.

And so, things are thought up, and carried out, that should never have been started in the first place.

Other times, its just delusion, or focus too much on something that really isn't anyone's business. People have problems with boundaries, especially, when put in position of "caring for" others. As we need commissions and authority to oversee that things are done, so also we need advocates to protect us from our own protectors. Special interest groups, factions, religious groups, and others, many of which are merely a local minority, get things pushed through and instituted to where other people who have no voice, or think they have no voice, are put down, incarcerated, or at very least, abandoned.

Sometimes, as Mal says in Serenity, you have to aim to misbehave. At times you need to just do what is right, and tell no one; cover it up, forget about it. Other times, you need to push through your own agenda, to correct what has been incorrectly put into practice. But this is far harder.

What we do need to do, if nothing else, however, is the see when these things are happening, and Do something about it. You may receive no thanks, or even suffer for it at times. But if everyone started doing that, I think in the end we would have a better living environment; or at very least, things would be invigorated enough that things will fall about in far better order. People would become more fluid in their motivating things to correctly run.

How can we do that? As I said, try to do what is right, even if you have to be quiet about it. When possible, speak up, speak out. Push for change, push for people to be forced into being intelligent, thoughtful, effective.

And one more thing, remember, we do not, what the common man running things. The last thing we need is Joe the Plumber as President. We want the superior man. Or the superior woman. Gender is unimportant. What is important, is that we have those who can most functionally and intelligently think. To be proactive. To be persuasive. To stand up, get things done, even through the sad, sick, thick morass of common foolishness and yes, for a big part, those of the current Tea Party configuration. Some of them are intelligent and mean well, but there seems to be far too many who are not of that persuasion.

So, try to think things through, beyond what is nominal and on to what is superior and try, to make things just a little bit better. Or, a lot bit better, if you feel so disposed. Go for it.

Skip and Go Naked (a drink) - Tower Records 1981-82

This is a lot about the Tower Records Tacoma store in the 1980s; the old one, not the one up by the Tacoma Mall entrance. Skip and Go Naked parties. Kind of like the Shandy on steroids, before I even knew what a Shandy was back then.
Notice it no longer says Posters
To set the atmosphere, I started at Tower working at the Posters store in 1980, next door to the Record store on 38th street in a shopping center parking lot where across from us was a great tavern called, "Mom's"; what a great place.

I had gone for a job at the Record store but got hired by the manger of the next door Posters Store (a head shop really). I was out of the Air Force, no more wife, no job, started college and thought I'd see my childhood dreams through. Like working at a record store. So, I stopped by Tower Records, figuring I didn't have a chance in Hell at a job there. Everyone wanted to work there.

So, I was talking to a woman in front of the Poster store, trying to get courage to go into Records, and I asked her about the Record store. Once she knew I was looking for a job, she started asking ME questions. I didn't realize at the time that I was being interviewed for a job at the Posters Store. So she hired me on the spot. Easiest job I ever got. I mean, I didn't even know I was in the process of getting a job there.

After I was hired, Record store employees would come over to talk, purchase (we'd "write them up", indicate their purchase and employee number and they'd get a discount) and on occasion they'd off-handedly mention that they were having or were about to have a "Skip and go naked" party. I was always envious. 

Eventually, I did end up working at Records. Another long story how that came about, let's just say our new manager fired my room mate who was the current interim manager, then fired me, the Records manager obviously hated that guy and hired me on the spot when he heard I'd been fired; he knew it was probably for no reason. "That guy" (Posters manager) had been demoted from Seattle to Tacoma and no one had much nice to say about him. He pretty much fired every one eventually and hired new people. Mostly really overweight scary women. I kid you not. It was horrible because trying to get by them behind the counter with VERY little room was simply miserable on several levels. And these women all had really bad attitudes, simply not Tower people as I understood it.

And so, we did indeed sometimes, have these parties.
 Tower Tacoma Tacoma Store #188 1980s back room
Someone would get the blender we kept in the back room, mix it up and we'd all grab a big red "kegger" cup and get a drink, then head out on the sales floor ("the stage" I liked to call it as you felt you were on stage all the time) and of course, we'd keep working. I can't remember if we were supposed to not take it out on the floor, but I do remember being out there with it.
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 Sales floor of Tower Records Tacoma Store #188 1980s
I think that we could if we just kept it under the front counter at the cash register and at least TRIED to be discrete about it. We were professionals after all so we didn't act drunk, or we'd hang out in the back room till we got more professional and could go back out on the floor again. But then we had that famous Tower attitude that we ruled this domain and were certainly there to help you, but don't push it too far. I'll have to talk sometime about the shoplifters situation.


Anyway, I do however, remember one annoying customer, Mr Middle-Class (or Mr Buzz Kill) in a cheap suit, I think his name was. Just an ordinary family guy probably going to Church on Sunday, who asked me at the register if I had alcohol in that there red cup?! 

"Uh, Yes sir, its a Skip and Go Naked, the manage..r is mak--ing them in the uh, back, want one, pal? okay, we never actually said that. However, I did have a woman I was supervising, years later, at the Seattle Tower Video store, I caught saying to a customer who was being an ass to her: "Fuck you very much, Sir and have a very nice day!" She said this cheerfully. He cheerfully (and obliviously) thanked her, took his purchases and left with his wife. I was stunned. I said, "did you just say what I think you said?" She said: "Yes, of course. Why?" Of course, I said intensely and quietly: "You CAN'T say that to a customer!" She said: "Why not? I say things like that all the time. Has anyone ever complained?" I said: "Well, no, but...." She said: "Well then, what's the problem?" I said: "What if someone catches what you said?" She said: "Oh, they never will. They never have, had they?" I said: "No. But....if they do, you know what I'll have to do?" And she said: "Not to worry, you'll never have to deal with it." And, ladies and gentlemen, I never did have to deal with it.

Getting back to Mr. Middle-Class thinking I had alcohol at the register of all things....and I had thought I was being so discrete, too! So, I tried to be nice, but he kept ragging me and there was a line of people waiting to purchase and so I finally just said, with just a tiny bit of force behind it: "Do you want that album?"
We stared at one another for a moment or two while he thought about it and he got the hint, paid for it, left, and we never heard another word about it.



Some years later, at the new Video store, in the same location as the old Posters store, the boss allowed us to bring alcohol as we all had to work that night, late and all through the night. We had a blast. But, we had to do recounts of stock too much. For obvious reasons. We paired up, and everyone counted racks of videos. We drank as much as we wanted. Everyone pretty much did what got them comfortable in that respect. All racks were counted at least twice to assure accuracy but there was one rack, the "Haunted Rack" we called it by end of night; we had teams counting that rack thirteen times before we got a duplicate number indicating accuracy. For at least a couple of hours, no matter how we counted that rack of videos we could NOT come up with the same number twice. I really have no reason how that could have happened. Once we hit end of night, early AM really, the manager, Mark, said, "I'm glad we all had fun, but I think we all agree, we're never having alcohol for another inventory ever again." And we didn't. But at least everyone knew (and agreed on) why.

We had some good times working at Tower. Great times. I started there at the beginning of my college career, went back there for a while after graduating until acquiring a position at the University of Washington, Medical Centers Information Services (or Systems, they changed the name at some point) department. MCIS was no way as much fun as Tower, though it was five years of night work by myself with full access to the mainframe of two large hospitals. 


Some of the bands doing in store appearances at Tower stores could be really jerks (Cinderella for one, what pompous asses they were, I thought the employees were going to mutiny and kill the entire band one day), 

Years later at the Seattle, Mercer Street Tower Video, the Playboy Playmates were most excellent. The stories I could tell. I was lucky(?) in that I got a unique perspective, having worked at three of the types of stores at three locations, in two cities, and one store space in two iterations of a version of store. Yes, I think that's correct but sounds funny, though. :)

About the Skip and Go Nakeds:

One friend said: "I like the fact that you use the empty can from the frozen lemonade concentrate as a measure for the gin!"

Now the recipe that was used at Tower Tacoma back in the 80s (if not also before that):

In a blender fill with Ice
8oz (frozen) pink lemonade concentrate
One cheap beer
Using the empty lemonade container, fill with cheap Vodka
Blend all together.

Skip and go naked....

According to GroupRecipes website:

"Skip and Go Naked. A Connecticut drink from the 70's. Sounds awful-tastes absolutely delicious. Won drink of the year. You will skip [they did taste pretty good and maybe you'll go naked, too]."

GroupRecipes says:

Ingredients

  • One can of frozen pink lemonade
  • One can full of gin
  • One can of beer

How to make it

  • Blend in the blender on high.
  • Be in a safe place. Wear a helmet if necessary.
  • ENJOY!

Other people's comments on that site about SAGNs:

"Whoa baby...these are wickedly powerful. To all peeps: First of all, don't start drinking these on an empty tummy. I did and by the second drink, I really started listing to one side. Fortunately I had assistance to right me - and act as a prop. And its probably good to sip them slowly, otherwise the naked part will be incredibly easy - but the skipping part will become a definite challenge. Heh."

"I used to be involved with the named drink in the early 70,s and it was mixed in a garbage can, larger quanities, as you can imagine, and included melted sherbert ice cream, additional liquor, and all mixed together with a canoe paddle... man!!! the good ol days!!"

"Skippies!!! These are great. Don't drink them sitting down, you'll discover gravity the hard way when you stand up. Also - use a pilsner or "Export" style beer - something like a budmiller..."

So, drink up!