Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Smart! Be Brilliant!

Since last weekend I did Aristotle, I thought this weekend I would do his teacher and mentor, Socrates.

Socrates 469 BC–399 BC
A few of Socrates pieces of Wisdom:

Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.
[Although Ben Franklin is noted for saying this in his Almanac, it would seem that Socrates beat him to that obvious statement]

Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults.

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of - for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.

If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it.

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.
[sound familiar? kind of like the "Golden Rule" don't you think?]

And finally (for those of us who have been divorced once or thrice.... )

By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mad Bears and Americans

No, not "Mad Dogs and Englishmen", in case you were wondering why my title (from Joe Cocker's live 1970 album) sounded a bit familiar. I figured someone would wonder that and it's so annoying that it's hard to concentrate on the article you are reading until you remember it, so, now that one person can relax.

I heard something that made me a bit nervous, on NPR. They said that there are between five and twenty Grizzly bears in the Cascades.

Do NOT do this
If you see a Griz, do not high five it. You may be thinking, cool, and cute, but he's thinking, hmmmm tasty, and yum.

I back packed alone in the Cascades for years always thinking, "No Griz, just black and brown bear."

Before those years of backpacking alone, I had search and rescue training. I've never been able to get lost in the mountain, I've always had excellent sense of direction and could never understand how people constantly get lost, but I guess if you're not used to the woods, it's not that hard.

My rifle club instructor in the late 60s said he was out with his family in the cascades and a bear was on a near by ridge. His family as picking berries. He had his 30-06. The bear was acting funny. Then he said it charged them. He told his family to run and at some point, he started firing at the bear.

Now, this guy was a great shot but the bear kept coming. He said he emptied the rifle into it and it finally dropped and slid to a stop, ten feet from him. He said he was pretty unnerved. He turned around and his oldest son, about 17 was standing there with a rock raised waiting to back his dad up if the shooting failed.

He said that they got a ranger and they checked the bear out together. They found that the bear had 19 .22 shots in its chest. So, someone was just plinking at the bear from a distance and it was probably pretty pissed of an in pain by time it say him and his family in its territory.

So, you never know what going on when you see an animal in the woods. Maybe it will leave you alone, or maybe its not in the right mind. Either way, I don't go in the mountains with anything less than a .357. It amazes me the people that give no thought to it.

So, if you do go into the mountains, go for it, but go forewarned, forearmed and fully aware and well, good luck.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Writer's Notes - My Foundations

I, am a writer.

I have been a writer since I was a kid and first typed what the weather was doing in Tacoma, outside my 2nd floor bedroom window. It was one of those windows that are wide, you can open on either side, like looking out a letter boxed movie window. Across the distance were the rooftops of my neighborhood. 60 miles off in the distance, was Mt. Rainier. On some mornings the sunrises were spectacular. I think that must have affected me as a kid.

Mt. Rainier over Tacoma, WA
At some point, when I was in Jr. High, I got a hold of my mothers script typewriter and would type the day's weather I saw outside the window. Then I got to writing my thoughts, too. I would leave it in the typewriter to write up the next day's weather. One day, I got in an argument with my mother and went to my room. I typed up that day's weather and wrote what I thought about her attitude. That, was a mistake.

You see, it seems my mother, who only had a 9th grade education (her Father had a 2nd grade education but became a world traveler and a diesel engineer genius), yes, my mother, could read. She didn't respond well to my comments about her on my (her) typewriter. I never did that again. That however, was my first experiencing with writing, in this case I suppose, you could call it a form of journalism, albeit Gonzo Journalism, mayhaps.

Later during High School, I got my yearly Bronchial infection (or sinus infection, or bad cold, allergies, whatever, but this time was a bad case of Bronchitis). I was out of school for a week. I was on codeine cough medicine, the worst tasting thing I would ever experience until chewing on peyote buttons in the Superstition Wilderness at age nineteen. Like eating Draino with orange pop.

I spent that week drugged, in bed, listening to my new Black Sabbath Masters of Reality album over and over for a week (interspersed I'm sure with some Bach piano fugues by Glenn Gould (I'm like that) and others).

While I read Frank Herbert's novel, Dune. It affected my tiny mentality and I wrote my first short story ever, "Ten Steps to Shadowkandom". That was also the last short story I would write for many years that had an actual ending, until I got into college. It was a coming to consciousness story of a young guy taken up into an Assassin's group that affected how politics went on a grand, Galactic scale. Ten students started the class at a time, one survived to graduate. What the protagonist realized at his graduation was not what he realized at the start of his education, that things were not all what they were indicated to be by his superiors.

Once I got into college I was told by teachers and later Professors that I had a passion, a spark, a talent for writing. I discovered through that process that you take notes in life. You keep those notes. Throw them into a box, write them on anything, put them into files, transfer them into your computer, but never get rid of anything.

So, today I went to get some coffee from the kitchen and sat at the kitchen table to look something up and found a note with things scribbled on it. I do vaguely remember writing those things, but I do not remember what I was writing them, for. These I believe, are actually some notes for my eventual memoirs that I've been working on. I'm putting it here more for relatives of mine, as it's pretty humorous and informative, but also entertaining somewhat to read by anyone. I'll add photos as I have time and find ones that are relevant.

Here they are [with my updates and explanations in brackets]:

  • I buried 17 cents in a little red plastic Santa Claus boot - 2nd grade, I put the change into the boot and buried it on the unfinished yard side of our house. A few months later, I tried to dig it up and never could find it, I dug many holes looking for it and considered someone saw me bury it and dug it up. This is the situation that lead to my writing the very good short story (if I say so myself and Cal, who published it, said it was the best short story [of the type, I assume he meant] that he had ever read), "The Conqueror Worm" published in "Rhonny Reaper's Creature Features", available on Amazon and elsewhere and for download.
  • Jumping off the roof repeatedly - 3rd grade, we moved from where I had buried my 17 cents, about four blocks away. My parents wanted to buy the place they were leasing and were promised they could. But at end of lease, the owner pulled it and sold it to someone else who had the money right then. Angry, my parents had to move at the last minute into a log cabin rambler kind of place I liked but my bedroom was part of a hallway, so people would walk by and we'd wake intermittently. Really didn't like that. But one day my mother heard a noise on the roof and came out side to find me climbing on the roof, then leaping from it like I was sky diving. I was having a blast, but she yelled at me to come down and never do it again as I could break my leg and she had no money for the hospital. Eventually, when I was 17 and against her wishes, I did go sky diving for the first time, and with a slight hang over from at the time, my best friend's birthday party the night before.
  • Dancing - Tap class 4th grade, I wanted to take acrobatic lessons where my sister was taking ballet lessons. Mom wanted me to be Gene Kelly and learn to tap. So she said I could take acrobatic lessons if I took ballet with my sister. I thought about it for like 10 seconds and said, no! The owner/instructor took her aside and she came back to me and said, "Okay, how about tap?" I caved.
  • Fourth grade Marble Champion 4th grade champion, that was me. I was okay at my 2nd/3rd grade James Sales school, but I was master among my 4th grade Fern Hill school classmates]
  • Bruno dumps in oil can - [4th grade, our Collie dog Burno was paper trained and when he tried to defecate on the newspaper, the only newspaper down was sitting under our oil can for our oil burning heater in the living room of our very old apartment.
  • Vomiting in living room - 4th grade, my sister and I had separate bedrooms across the hall which cut off the living, dinning rooms and kitchen. The dinning room was a hide a bed couch where our mom slept. I got off that couch/bed one day while we were all watching TV and turned quickly to run to the bathroom but upchucked in a sweeping motion all over the place and even into the back of the TV we were watching.
  • Blood Soap Joke on older sister - 4th grade, I got something in the mail from the Johnson Smith novelty company out of the back of a comic book, it was a white powder you put on soap. When someone got the soap wet it turned bright blood red. I set it up, forgot about it. Next morning my sister washed her face in the kitchen where the soap was and it looked like she had sliced her face up; she was screaming until she saw me, then knew exactly what happened. Yes, I got in trouble.
  • The meeting of the kids about our mother's ex husband - 4th grade, Mom had left her husband and moved into this rickety old second floor apartment over a lawnmower sales/repair company. They divorced. She worked nights cleaning offices at the Weyerhaeuser Company. She couldn't take it anymore, or the fact that ex husband was dating hot younger girls. So she said we may get back together. Well, he wasn't my dad, or my older sister's dad, he was our younger brother's dad (our older brother didn't live with us and yes, he had a different dad too). So we called a kid's meeting in the hall closer which doubled as a playroom. We talked about it and decided we didn't want "dad" to come back. Then younger brother said he agreed. We said, "but he's your dad." He said, "yeah but I don't like him either." We were surprised but then we realized, he really needed not to come back. So we confronted Mom. She was shocked and hesitated but said, "Sorry, but we can't make it without his money." We begged her. They remarried. We were only without him for a year through my fourth grade. Mom's dad bought her a house and we moved there starting in yet another school and the ex came back. That started years of contention and misery for the most part. Life would indeed, have been better without him.
  • Sleeping in the bathroom on the floor by the electric heater - 4th grade, in the old apartment I would wake in a freezing room in the winter as we couldn't afford to heat my sister's and my rooms, only the main part of the apt (living and dinning rooms and kitchen) so I would go into the bathroom, lie on the soft throw rug in front of the portable heater, turn it on and fall asleep until someone tried to get into the bathroom. I'd get in trouble because we couldn't afford the electricity.
  • My first missing of an episode of Star Trek - 5th grade - Oh. My. God. I almost had a nervous breakdown. I sat in the car with my Grandmother at Gov-Mart in Lakewood, WA while my mom went in to talk about her vacuum cleaner and it took like 45mins. Felt like 45 hours. I kept watching the clock and asking my Grandmother when we'd be leaving, when Mom was coming out, and how should she know? By the time I realized we had five minutes to get home I realized I was at least going to miss some of Star Trek and I started crying. By time my mother got back to the car I was in full sob mode. I think we may have gotten home to see some of the show, but I may have gone to my room instead, crushed and not wanting to see anything except my death by the cruelest means possible by that time.
  • Confrontation with Marty - 5th Grade, there was a kid named Marty who was tough and a bully. My good friend, Bill, always protected me. One day he said, you are going to have to start protecting yourself, as one day, he'll pick on you and I won't be there to protect you. Now, I had been a tough little bugger since infancy. There were times I scared kids that were 9 when I was like 4. But after years of being that tough, and receiving the bad end of a stupid stick, I'd learned to be a bit paranoid about action/reaction. So, one day, recess is over and everyone runs off the field, but I'm left with, wait for it... Marty! So he picks on me, and I'd finally had it. I kicked his ass and went to class late. I walked in and the teacher, Mr. Llewellyn asked, "Where's Marty?" I said, "On the football field, he'll be in soon." That was the end of it. Later, Bill told me that the teacher asked where we were and Bill said, proudly, "Marty is picking on him again, and I think he's fighting back this time." Bill said the teacher tried not to crack a grin, and dropped it. Marty never picked on me again after that. Then I got to talking to him and found out what a much more horrible home life he had than I did and we got along fine.
  • Karla turning me in for cheating on a spelling test - 6th grade, I sat in the back of the class next to Karla, just the two of us, two chair/table contraptions, off of the center of the prefect square of the class seating arrangement. I thought I was being clever and wrote the teacher's name on my palm. It was on the back door of the class. We were in a portable with two doors on one side that had his name on them. He said, "spelling test and my name's part of it." Then he fixed the doors so we couldn't see his name anymore. After I wrote his name on my test, I felt bad and showed it to Karla so she could copy it too, thinking she probably doesn't know how to spell it either, not realizing at the time she was a girl and girl's were better spellers. She, to my shock, immediately put her hand up and reported me. Later, she said she simply didn't need the help, she knew how to spell it already and I was cheating. I said, "Yeah, but I was trying to help you." She said, "Well, sorry, but I just didn't need the help, you all think I'm stupid because I'm so big, and I'm not."
  • Karla peeing in her seat - 5th grade, Karla again, in the back of the class. She put her hand up before a test and said, "I have to go to the bathroom." But the teacher said, "No. Not till after the test." She said, "But I can't wait." He said, "You'll have to." He was a nice guy, great guy really. So about half way through the test I heard running water. I look over and she's obviously humiliated. I couldn't figure out why, but she just kept peeing. I looked down and saw a puddle. As she had turned me in for cheating, I felt bad and wanted it to stop, so, I turned her in. But not to embarrass her, I wanted the teacher embarrass for putting her through that and inadvertently embarrassed her. We talked about it later and worked it out. She just said, "Hey, I had to go, and I went." I respected that.
  • Punching sister in the chest - 5th grade, my sister was three years older than me. Since my 4th grade year, she had to be auxiliary mom, because mom worked nights cleaning offices. Eventually it went to her head and when I was in sixth grade and had started Okinawan Isshinryu Karate, she was bossing me around one day. I was being a jerk I'm sure, but she was being unreasonable. She grabbed my hair like mom did sometimes and jerked my hair around hard which hurt like hell and she wouldn't stop. So, screaming for her to stop and thinking I'd had it with her acting like mom and this was the last straw as I took all that hatred for that action and put it into my fist, I punched her as hard as I could, right in the middle of her chest (you don't hit girls,that means punching her in the face like a guy, right?). She flew backward and hit the cupboards in the kitchen and dropped to the floor on her butt, sitting there stunned, then rubbing her chest in pain. She yelled at me, once she got her senses back that I was in a lot of trouble, she was in charge and she was a girl and you don't hit girls. When mom got back, yes, I got a beating. I never hit another girl like that. You don't HIT GIRLS.
  • Chestnut pipes - 6th grade, the path home on the sidewalk from school to home was about six blocks with chestnut trees. We loved to throw them. Then someone came up with the bright idea to whittle on them, shove a milk carton straw into it and voila, a pipe. We never smoked anything in them, but we thought we were pretty cool. I remember showing how to do that to a kid a year later and he said, "God, really? That is so 6th grade." Or something along that vein.
  • Church - Father Joe's funeral [7th grade, my first funeral as an Alter Boy, my first corpse.
  • First fight in 7th grade Jr. High School. 7th grade, my best friend, Bill, runs up to me one of our first days in Jr. High to tell me he's set me up with three fights with various kids after school that day. I was stunned. My BEST FRIEND is setting up fights for me? I asked him what motivated him to do that. He said, well, you fight Karate tournaments, right? I thought this would make you happy. I explained to him that I fought 4-5 fights a NIGHT at the dojo. I didn't need any outside of there and we could get expelled if we were caught fighting outside of the dojo. He felt bad and cancelled them all. But, one day, I came out of the school onto the concrete steps and Bill and this kid were arguing. The kid was pushing Bill into a fight and was about to get his ass handed to him on a platter. He was two steps up from Bill and I was two steps up from him. So as he was going to attack, I threw my arms around him to stop him from getting his ass beat. He struggled, then felt the balance and simply leaned over. I of course, immediately flew over top of him and landed next to Bill. Then he went and told some other kids, one in particular, named Pike, big guy. It went around school that he had beat me up, when he knew damn well, I had saved him a beating; of course, he didn't know that like I did as Bill had been my hero and protector in grade school. Pike and his two friends, continued to goad this kid to provoke me into a fight. This lasted a month. I took the humiliation. But after about four weeks of this, I finally got tired of it, as I was getting verbally beaten up by this idiot on a daily basis when I knew I had saved his ass and he was abusing ME? So, finally one day I said, "Okay." He gulped. I saw it, literally, he gulped. Then I knew something was up. Pike smiled. His two friends smiled. The kid said, "Okay, let's do it." I said, "No, not here." He said, "What? Where?" I said, "Over there." And I pointed at a house down the street. Now this kid was already pretty terrified. He had heard I wasn't allowed to fight outside the dojo and a month of taunting me had proved to him he could play the big shot card with impunity. He looked at the house up the five foot hill, with a garage entrance cut into the hill and going beneath the house. There was a steel garage door. Either side was concrete to support the hillside from collapsing onto the concrete garage parking pad. He said, "Okay, but why?" I said, now really pissed off I was allowing myself to be manipulated but I wanted this to end, it was making my school life hell and I had done nothing wrong, "Because, It gives me two concrete sides, a steel door and a concrete floor to beat your head into." Now he was really scared. Pick couldn't contain himself. So we saunter over there and start fighting. I kicked his ass. I ended it as quickly as I could and it took a great deal of restraint. I said, "Okay, I'm done." But Pike said, "No, that's not good enough. You cheated. You used your feet." I said, "I study Karate, it's normal for me." He said, "I don't care, you're going to have to fight one of us now. Take your pick, which of the tree of us do you want to fight?" I couldn't believe it. So, I finally picked the least scary guy. Actually, he was a bit more scary once he got started. So he looked nervous now. I realized I could probably take him. But my ethics finally caught up with me. I said, "Okay, look, I agreed to fight him. I never wanted to. I know it was wrong. If my Sensei finds out I could get banned from my dojo (I don't think they had a clue what I was talking about). I'm done fighting." He said, "No, you're not." Not wanting to give them control, I said, "Yes, I am. I'm not fighting. I'm done. That's it." So, the kid attacked me, he knocked me to the ground. Then he started kicking me. Finally he got tired. I got up, rather bloody and really pissed off. I screamed at them, "I hope your happy, now leave me alone!" I went home, it was a short walk to the other end of the alley where my house was. I walked in and my mother said, "Good God what happened to you." I told her. She was proud of me. But I learned a valuable lesson I could never put into words. When I got back to school, the kid that started it all apologized and we got along fine from then on. I left school for a one year stint at 8th Grade Catholic school. When I came back in 9th grade, I was on my bike one day. Kids were going home. A High School kid walked by as Pike, remember Pike? had stopped to pick on me, yet again. I hated that guy. I was short back then, Pike continued to grow now looking like a High School kid. The High School kid stooped and pushed Pike around. He told Pike if he ever bothered me again, he'd kick his ass and told me to come tell him if that happens. Pike walked off terrified. The HS kid couldn't have been cooler and I never saw him again. Pike never bothered me again. The next time we had words was in High School. I had grown a few inches, had a reputation that scared him, and had he picked on me again, if he could even have gotten up the nerve, I am pretty sure I would have beaten him to a pulp.
  • Holy Rosary Private Catholic School and Principle Sister Rogers, the Nun from Hell - 8th and final grade in that school. I effectively walked into a clique, the last graduating class for that school and I wouldn't become an Alter Boy as I was already head Alter Boy at my smaller what I thought was a cooler church, just up the hill over the I-5 Freeway from there. Not a good way to ingratiate yourself to new classmates at a new school. They read that I thought I was superior as Head Alter Boy elsewhere. I had more fights that year at that school than anywhere else ever the rest of my entire life and it lead to a reputation of don't tread on him once I got back to public school that followed me all through High School. Luckily.
  • The egg in the microwave during a first run episode of Star Trek - 9th grade,
  • Little brother's making toast in the oven fire - 9th grade, I was probably watching Star Trek again. My little brother wanted me to make him toast, what's it take, throw it in the toaster, right? So I said, you do it. So of course, he turns on the broiler and butters bread and puts garlic on it and sticks it under the broiler. He comes out eventually to say, help. I said, deal with it. Then he comes out panicked and says HELP. I go look and I see flames. I open the door and now flames are leaping into the kitchen nearly to the ceiling! I close the door. I open it, same thing. Now he's freaking out. I go get the fire extinguisher and open the door and shoot it. Flames go out, then whoosh, back big as ever, I end up emptying the container and the flames keep coming back. I'm standing there and suddenly realize, turn off the heat. I do and the flames die immediately. But I made him clean it out. I leaned something though. So did he.
  • Jennifer - 7th grade, then 9th grade (I left for 8th grade at the Catholic school my little brother attended then came back to public school). Jennifer, oh Jennifer, she was the cutest girl in the school. She was dating a thug. He was one of the toughest kids at the school. Once summer some kids broke into the annex which was mostly art classes. They poured paints out all over things, they glued chairs to table tops, they did a lot of damage. It turned out it was that guy and his friend. Later in High School, she was dating another thug. Too bad, because I had a huge crush on her.
  • The switchblade knife and Earth Science class - 9th grade, I got a switchblade from a kid at school, or it was my older brother's, I don't remember, I had two. One day, I knew what was coming when I left class. There was this fairly attractive blond with sizable breasts.I know she was dating the guy that later Jennifer would be dating. But I also knew she had a little crush on me. So offhandedly, I said, as we had the next English class together and sat next to each other, "Would you take something to our next class for me. Please?" She said okay. She left. As I left the class, thinking I was going to get beat up, there were those two guys, her boyfriend and his friend, and our Earth Science teacher. They had seen the switchblade earlier, maybe accidentally. For some reason they didn't like me. I couldn't believe what he said when I tried to walk by. He snitched on me. He told the teacher I had a switchblade. I denied it. They actually frisked me. Then, they were in trouble with the teacher. Hah! They didn't know what to say or where it went, but they never bothered me again. They weren't the best or brightest. I went to English class and got my switchblade back from HIS GIRLFRIEND! That was so delicious.
  • 9th grade - I had the most "hacks" in the school one year from various teachers: 14.
  • Earth Science Teacher - 9th Grade. This was the same teacher that the last day of 9th grade Earth Science, we held a Kangaroo Court on her. We took her hostage and locked her in the supplied closet. Then we gave testimony. Judgement of the court at the end was she was a great teacher, we loved her, and thanks and everything. I came to visit her a year later. She saw me at her door window during class, and pointed away and was adamant that I should leave and never return. A few teachers had that opinion of me in my early years. Happily, that reversed in my university years.
Here are a few things that I won't get to here.
  • The Fear that was Lincoln High School - 10th grade on....
  • Getting in the swing of things - 11th grade -
  • My first car, 1967 Chevy Impala 
  • Girlfriends - 12th grade and after
  • Moving out, my first apartment and the Jewish Landlady from Hell - 17 and on my own
  • My first love Julie, my first lover, Debbie
  • My second lover, Margaret and her ex
  • My second car, red 1967 RS/SS Camaro convertible
  • Death of my younger brother, Kim
  • USAF tech school and Donovan
  • USAF and Spokane, WA
  • My fifth car, black and yellow 1975 RS Camaro. We wet sanded it and shot it ourselves to a very cool three speckle sized brown color, Ray a friend who normally shot airplanes did a great job, we rented a booth and everything.
  • Mushrooms, hunting, growing, eating
  • Western Washington University
Memoir notes:

--preschool in Philly.
  • Little bastard Ky (a year younger than me) smashing a rock into my face
  • Slicing open my forearm keeping Ky from going inside
  • peeing outside behind building and getting caught by old woman
  • woman baby sitter menage in Philly - Don't ask
  • cat scaling my face
  • biting dog that bit me
  • girl my Gramma babysat and our adventures together
  • The Harrison's -
  • Gary and Pat, AIDS
  • Alfie our alligator in our friend's garbage
--Jr High School
  • Karate Tournaments
  • Rifle Team
  • CAP-Search and Rescue
--High School
  • Jr prom with Debbie, and Judy and her boyfriend Curt.
  • Sr prom with Diane who offered but I went with Judy and as they had switched, Debbie went with Curt.
--Post High School
  • Just wanted to put distance between my mind and my childhood
  • Week long armed guard for stripper and witness in murder investigation who was leaving for Utah. I stayed with her for a week at a little commune of her friends where everyone did just about everything.
  • Playing armed guard for mom and Kim in NY. I carried a .357 magnum in a shoulder holster around Manhattan.
--Air Force
  • Playing armed guard for horse racing family members
  • Jethro Tull concert in Pullman, WA at Wazzu. I had the nosebleed seats my friend Dan gave me. They looked like tiny ants on stage.
  • Black Sabbath/Van Halen concert debacle and the police, and the paramedics throwing me out of their ambulance because of my nuclear security clearance
  • Arlo Guthrie concerts in Spokane, first one was awesome, the next year he came, all the high school kids heard about it and showed up, talking, and practically ignoring him on stage to the point it annoyed even Arlo. Horrible concert because of those kids
  • Nude beach on the river, People's Park/High Bridge park in Spokane
  • Nude beach at Teddy Bear Cove in Bellingham off Chuckanut Drive
  • the cold in the floorboards on highland dr (or n garden st?)
  • the five girls living upstairs
  • Kim (upstairs friend) / Mary (my girlfriend's "girlfriend")

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Transferring your home movies to digital formats

    Have you thought about converting your family celluloid films (I know, old school, right?) and videos tape to digital yet?

    My thought some years ago was I needed to digitize them, in whatever format. Then to transfer them later, once I have a good transfer, will be far less problematic. Especially, since film and video tape formats were getting old and I was afraid they might go bad. I always had a little fear and trepidation about video formats but I have to say, so far they've kept up well.

    Of course, I always bought the best format and brands I could, Maxell and TDK, mostly, never Memorex or BASF, even though they invented video tape. But when I considered how many video movies I had that had gone back, it scared me pretty good.

    Well, maybe you did think about it. So you can buy, typically, for most people who have stored their home movies for years, a VHS/DVD transfer machine with both formats built into it. You just put in your VHS, a blank DVD, hit a button, come back later and it's on DVD now. It's digitized now. From now it, transfer to any new format will be a breeze.

    But there is more.

    IF you were rich, you could send it out to be done. Companies that do this have more sophisticated equipment. And if you're not scared of someone like the Red Dragon getting your family videos, and coming into your house and killing everyone around, then a company can be an interesting idea.

    Consider. IF you were rich, they could go through your videos frame by frame and clean them up, just like they do with restoring classic old films.


    Consider this....

    They will also be able to alter and add things. You could be getting married, not to your ex who treated you like a sidewalk, but with your favorite rock star, or film actor. Or whomever.

    The sky is the limit. You new car on your home movie could be Luke Skywalker's racer, or Bullet's car, or one from the Fast and the Furious. Or, whatever.

    The possibilities are limitless now. Have fun!

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    NOTE: Hey, sorry about this but I just found it yesterday and they got it fixed today, and I don't know how long it was broken, but the shortcut, URL was broken. It's fixed now. Thanks, have a nice day!

    Hood Canal Brewery

    I have a local brewery near me, only a couple of miles away down a long winding forest covered country road called Hood Canal Brewery. 26499 Bond Road NE, Kingston, WA.

    Talk about a fun place and they're open seven days a week. This is a photo (above) of when it's inordinately busy, which is unusual.

    View when entering, bar at far end before rest room.
    Typically I go there to find only a few. It's quiet, unless they are bunging the kegs (knocking the plugs in to the keg). Typically there is some rock music in the back ground but not too noticeable. The beer is fresh, excellent and the people are always nice. It's kind of hidden, right near the road that goes to Port Gamble, on the way to Hood Canal Bridge, and thus, their name.

    located to the left of the photo above this one

    Their beers are named for areas in the northwest. How can you not like names like:

    Dosewalips Special Ale, 

    Bywater Bay ESB, 

    Dabob Bay, I.P.A., 

    Agate Pass Amber, 

    Big Beef Oatmeal Stout, 

    Southpoint Porter (Seasonal), 

    Breidablik Barley Wine (drink this one slowly, it's potent)? 

    Well admittedly, they taste better than they sound. And that is pretty damn good. Drop on by some time. These beers are also available in local stores and locations.

    I like to ride my bike (motorcycle bike that is) in there after a ride, or just to give my bike a small run to jump up the road a ways for a break. Check them out and tell them I said hi.

    MapQuest Directions

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Jasper Maskelyne, War Magician?

    Happy Monday! I've written about old Jasper before, because he fascinates me.

    Who, you ask, is Jasper Maskelyne?

    Jasper Maskelyne
     He was one of an established family of stage magicians, the son of Nevil Maskelyne and a grandson of John Nevil Maskelyne. He could also trace his ancestry to the royal astronomer Nevil Maskelyne. He is most remembered, however, for the accounts of his work for British military intelligence during the Second World War, creating large-scale ruses, deception, and camouflage. Very little verifiable evidence of Maskelyne's work during this period is documented, leading some researchers to believe that Maskelyne's claims are exaggerated or fabricated.

    An inflatable dummy tank, modeled after the M4 Sherman

     I read "The War Magician" book by David Fisher some years ago when there was a rumor that Tom Cruz would play the part as the lead in the movie, which never came to be. That's too bad because truth of fiction, this is a great story that would make for a great movie.

    "colorized" photo of T.L. Lawrence

    I haven't been as fascinated by a character since TL Lawrence, of "Lawrence of Arabia" fame (read sometime his, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" book).

    The Maskelyne's  were a family of magicians. Jasper, his Father and Grandfather before him, were Britain's greatest stage magicians and all worked against the Crown's enemies in three separate wars.

    Jasper did such things as build fake soldiers and war machines for the German's to gather intelligence upon, attack or bomb, leading them to waste time and resources in useless efforts.

    According to, in his memoirs, Indigo Days, Julian Trevelyan paints a more mundane picture of Maskelyne’s abilities: “The course included others who had espoused camouflage for one reason or another. Jasper Maskelyne’s connection with it was obvious, since disappearing was his profession and he was called in when anyone wished anything to become invisible. He entertained us with his tricks in the evenings, and tried, rather unsuccessfully, to apply his techniques to the disguise of the concrete pill-boxes that were then appearing everywhere overnight. He was at once innocent and urbane, and he ended up as an Entertainments officer in the Middle East.”

    Maskelyne saw things differently. What the truth is we may never know unless someone can examine the British Army's records and find exactly what he did do.

    Still, it makes for a Hell of a story.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Weekend Wise Words

    Be Smart! Be Brilliant!

     This weekend's guest Brilliant One, is Aristotle, student of Socrates (I'll do him next weekend):

    Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

    I have a photo of he and I hanging at a pub drinking Guinness somewhere but I seem to have misplaced it. Stick around and one of these days I may find it.

    All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire.

    Education is the best provision for the journey to old age.

    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

    Law is mind without reason.

    Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

    It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.

    Evil brings men together.

    Hope is a waking dream.

    Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.

    We make war that we may live in peace.
    [we seem to have forgotten that in modern times and go to war for greed or resources now.]

    A state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange...Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship.

    Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered.

    Nature does nothing uselessly.

    The basis of a democratic state is liberty.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Sweet drinks = a troublesome date?

    Happy Friday!

    There is a theory I've heard mentioned, to never date women who like sweet drinks (that is, to only date women who like more savory or sour drinks).

    As the theory goes, those who are more pampered in their desires and demeanor are harder to please. Or that if they like sweet drinks, they never grew up to more adult likes, tastes and desires. Therefore, it must follow that they want to be pampered and treated with more respect than perhaps they are due; or more respect than their date is due in comparison to them. 

    Or maybe they want to be treated better than they want to treat someone else. Perhaps, they simply will not put up with a lot of nonsense and so the guy will have to work much harder for whatever he may think his just rewards should be at the end of the date. Basically, it's all about effort and reward.

    Just how much should you have to put out to get someone to put out?

    Hasn't that always been the question, ever since High School? And don't most of us have a sense of desire and reward that outweighs what we deserve or should expect?

    So perhaps that is what leads to theories such as don't date a girl if she orders a sweet drink. But why would you date a girl if she orders a not sweet or more savory, or sour drink? Well, let's think about that for a minute. If a girl can stand a sour drink, she doesn't mind more sophisticated flavors. She may have more sophisticated feelings, more complicated desires and more complex thoughts.

    But is there any basis in reality for that?


    But then, it's one of those things apparently, that when guys get together, it's just fun to talk about. Because, wouldn't it be nice if there were some magic formula that told you what to do, when, or what not to do and when?

    But life and especially dating, simply isn't that easy. And that is part of the fun. Isn't it?

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Just what is the American Dream?

    People mis-perceive what the American Dream is.
    • it is not, to achieve riches
    • it is not, to become powerful
    • it is not, to become the President of the United States

    These things have come to be discussed as the possibilities available in living in the greatest country in the history of this planet.

    The American Dream really is (now get this straight people):
    • to be free, not to be indentured to a royal, a tyrant or a wealthy landowner
    • to have a decent opportunity at working for a living that will support you
    • to have the capability to work to have the possibility of owning your own home
    • to be free of being considered guilty first, when charged with a crime
    • to be free of cruel and unusual punishment
    • to be free of religion, or to choose your religion
    • to be free to enter into government, to have the possibility of becoming President, unless you are not a naturally born citizen, a reasonable thing I think
    • to be free to have the possibility to receive an education
    Therefore, the American Dream is not to have all the wealth possible to anyone, but rather to be free of those things that kept all people down over millennia. That being low born, rather than equal born, would not be something that would hold you down. To have the possibility of achieving things, but not the absolute achievement requirement. And that, is where we seem to have gone off track.

    The first thing we need to do is to stop expecting so much from being American. We need to bring that expectation back into reality, to enjoy, to appreciate what we do have. To make use of what is available and not expect it to come to us without our effort. We do not have the right to drain our fellow citizens of their taxes for our benefit to be able to not work, unless it is not possible to work. State Welfare is for those who truly cannot work, or cannot find work because there isn't any work. But people who simply decide not to work and live off the taxes of their fellow citizens, was never the idea.

    We depend upon our government for protection from there being oppression, no jobs, no equality, no availability to those things mentioned above. But only the base line notions of those things. The possibility of owning your own house does not say a house with a pool, a house in the best neighborhoods, but a house. We should be able to have a modicum of expectation for living in a safe neighborhood, with decent access to protection from fire, crime and death or harassment, be it from fellow citizens or government authorities (Police, agents, etc.).

    We should not have an expectation of being bailed out when we move into a flood plain and then lose everything because, hey, surprise, it flooded. If this is someplace like New Orleans, then perhaps that would be different and a unique situation.

    But to live by a river for instance, that floods year after year and to expect the government to constantly bail you out, is unreasonable and a nearly criminal waste of tax payer's money.

    This does not include criminals who, if they abuse their rights, may lose them, but even then they should retain some, like freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, which isn't to say, they should have access to porno and such luxury items, as one inmate recently sued the government over. But even they deserve to have the right before judgement in court, to a fair and impartial treatment. Just in case they are innocent and only look or act guilty. Some people are just too stupid to know not to act guilty, or are mentally incapable of it.

    My point here is that we expect too much from the "American Dream". We should have more respect for it, for our country, for our fellow citizens who in some cases are supplementing our pursuit of that dream. We should put the labor in to achieve our dreams, we should fund those dreams, and if anything, we should expect a stable platform from our government to have the opportunity to achieve those dreams through our efforts. We should not, for instance, expect to have fifteen kids, unless we can afford them, afford to clothe them, feed them, put them through school. We need to pay our own way, not expecting others to foot the bill.

    They say that "Heaven" helps those who help themselves. They do not say that Heaven will come to your home, carry you to the perfect job and give you riches. That comes with hard work. It comes with intelligent thought.

    You must have heard the joke about the guy stranded on the roof of his flooded house, water nearly up to the roof? I'm not religious but if religion is good for anything, it's giving moral lessons. The story goes that there was a huge flood in a village. One man said to everyone as they evacuated, "I'll stay! God will save me!" The flood got higher and a boat came, and the man in it said "Come on, get in with us, we're here to save you!" "No" replied the man. "God will save me!" So they left him. Then the flood got much higher and the man was getting nervous, knowing he would drown soon if something didn't happen. A helicopter came by and offered him help. "No," he said, "My God will save me!" Eventually the man did drown. When he got to the gates of Heaven, he asked God, "Lord, why didn't you save me?" And God replied, "For goodness sake, you fool! I sent you a boat, I sent you a helicopter. What more did you want!"

    We should have an expectation of some sort, but let's face it, at some point, we are simply being stupid about it. We should expect only the basics. Being able to give our hard work to the work place, to make decisions that lead to our lives getting better. Still, that does not say that we WILL make good decisions, that our choices WILL lead to what we desire. And when we fail, we should pick ourselves up and try again, not expect to be bailed out because we blew it. And so we will always have people who fail, who do not achieve the American Dream, but that does not mean that we are responsible for those people to be all they can be. They are. We are responsibly only that we will reasonably try to keep them safe, alive and "reasonably" healthy if they want to partake in that.

    It seems the American Dream has turned into something it's not and never should have been and we need to get back to our roots. Too high of an expectation about anything will ruin that. Possibly we can see that in many areas of modern American life, health, wealth, relationships.

    That being said, we should be protected from Corporations, from the Corporate way of thinking. As times get better FOR THE CITIZENS, we should be working less for more. But that has gone the other direction and we have to ask, why?
    Henry Ford
    Why is because we decided many decades ago that corporations were individuals themselves and have rights. And that, is obviously wrong. That is something that came to be during a time when corporations seemed like a wonderful thing. Where certain individuals such as Ford, Rockefeller and others looked to us like Gods. These men seemed to embody the American Dream. From the top down, the outside in, they did seem to have achieved that Dream. But from the bottom up, from the inside out, this was not, this was never, what the American Dream was to be all about.

    John Rockefeller

    That was the beginning of the end and how we all ended up where we are.

    With Corporations and their way of thinking now running nearly everything, invading nearly all forms of employment and activity, they have taken the role of us and we have become their drones. We thought that those famous men were something to be held up to be respected and envied (and there was the problem in a nutshell). And those men wanted, like their corporations, to make more money, to have more power. Regardless of any of their benign and philanthropic pursuits, what they did was like a cancer to our society and has lead to our current out of control situation. At the time, it didn't seem that bad, but as things grew out of all proportion and understanding, it turned into a monster.

    When you consider that as well as things were going for decade after decade, people, not shareholders, should have been the final recipients of the benefits that the corporations had received. This is not socialism, it's just good management. Yes, the shareholders should have reaped benefits but they didn't need to get as much as they got and the orientation should have been equal on the employees and the owners; not just for the owners. The amount of money made at the top now is unethical, immoral, and yes, fattening.

    Which brings us to the fattening of America, because if we, at the bottom can only afford to eat junk food and carbs, which are far cheaper than protein, isn't it our way of achieving a false sense of prosperity? And so you see the poor growing fatter and the rich growing richer. The employees work longer hours and the rich still grow richer.

    We need to reverse this and perhaps the threat of nationalizing corporations may not be a bad way to scare the hell out of these creatures, to motivate them into doing what is right. Decades ago I felt that things were going so well that we should soon be seeing four day work weeks, six hour days, one to three month vacations a year as you see in some European countries, younger retirements and healthcare for all. Healthcare that will not bankrupt people when things go wrong for them.

    So after all this being said, what IS the American Dream?

    It's complicated. But it's not what we seem to think it is.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    "Forks over Knives" a new documentary

    Did you know that no medical school in the US teaches nutrition? When you go to the doctor with a problem, do they ever ask you what your diet is? Is meat and dairy good for you in reality? Let me say, I love a good steak. I eat meat and dairy. Love ice cream. Love many of the products we get from animals. But I have to say, in recent years, I'm starting to wonder about this.

    Remember the food pyramid?

    This has always bothered me: if you put bad fuel in a car, it runs like it's on bad fuel. If you eat bad foods, or the wrong foods in either the wrong combination or wrong amounts, why wouldn't it affect your body, which would affect your mind and your (if there is any to consider) spirit (depending upon how you define that term)?

    At least they tried to update it

    Remember the food pyramids? It just makes sense. Doesn't it?

    So, why do people get so up in arms about this concept?

    Many nutritional experts, like Harvard nutritionist Dr. Walter Willett, believe the 1992 pyramid does not reflect the latest research on dietetics. Certain dietary choices that have been linked to heart disease, such as three cups of whole milk and an 8 oz (230 g). serving of hamburger daily, were technically permitted under the pyramid. The pyramid also lacked differentiation within the protein-rich group ("Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts").

    Dr. T. Colin Campbell

    There is a new documentary called "Forks Over Knives", meaning, eat right and you avoid going under the knife in surgery. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutrition, Cornell University, made this documentary to try and get this concept across to us.

    Apparently, in 1995 there was one US State that was considered generally having overweight citizens. Now, there is one US State that is NOT designated as overweight.

    What the Hell people?

    Dr. Campbell has a theory of eating "whole foods" as nature gave them to us. Acording to their web site:

    "Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. "

    It's obvious we eat too much, the wrong things, basically we have too many options and have shown, many of us, that we cannot be trusted to use this abundance to our benefit. If we did, we would all look healthy and in good physical condition. This bleeds over into other areas of our lives. When faced with prosperity and variety, one needs to pick an choose and not just go for the most fun, the most tasty, the most pleasing, but to make a conscious choice to do what is best for us, and then, on occasion, indulge to enjoy these benefits and this bounty.

    Much like with making money. It is good to save, to pay your bills, but at some point, you should go out and enjoy spending the money your hard efforts bring you, otherwise, why are you doing it? Yes, saving for retirement is good and wise, but we need to enjoy the path to the end and not only concern ourselves with that end. But as with foods, to go out and do things that get you killed, makes no sense. Calculated risk is what it's all about, and being reasonable in your decisions.

    Like Ben Franklin said two hundred years ago: "Eat to Live, not Live to Eat."

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    The Taxpayer Protection Pledge

    “I [insert name] pledge to the taxpayers of the state of Nevada and all the people of this state that I will oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

    This has been around for quite a while now, but I'd never heard about it until this weekend. So, who is Grover Glenn Norquist and why do we care?

    A walking Republican Cancer?
    We don't actually.

    Just like we don't really care about someone like Sara Palin, who is either an example of America's Cancer made visible, or else, a reflection of ourselves and we should give us a good look before continuing on. The vastness of Sarah's room to improve is second only to the vacuousness of her ability to not finish what she starts. This woman could have become our next President, as running as Vice President, had they won, had something happened and she became President, or once McCain was out of his term, had she run and won, where would America be? Think about it, after four or eight years of McCain, then Palin....

    So as much as we want to ignore the insanity, we really cannot.

    These are people dangerous to our Country and people should be made aware of them and their weird sense of what is functional for America. Because anyone who has these kinds, whose effect on our Government is so skewed in reality, especially those who can get people in authority to pledge to an absolute, especially one as ridiculous as this one, well, simply put, they are dangerous.


    Political Activist (that's basically a guy that gets himself involved) Grover Glenn Norquist was born October 19, 1956) and is president of taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform. He has been described as "the driving force in pushing the Republican Party toward an ever-more rigid position of opposing any tax increase, of any kind, at any time." Norquist is best known as the founder of Americans for Tax Reform in 1985, which he did at the request of President Ronald Reagan.

    Wikipedia mentions: "Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform were mentioned in Senate testimony relating to the lobbying scandal for which Abramoff pled guilty in 2006. Norquist has denied that he did anything wrong. Records released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee allege that ATR served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns"

    First of all, allow me to point out that this pledge, is an "absolute". Absolutes, tend to be bad, stupid in many cases and typically foolish to make, simply asking for problems. And guess what. We have problems. I wondered why the Republicans were so dead set against raising taxes and now I understand.

    When they are going for office or get in, they are asked if they want to sign this pledge. If they say no it can be political suicide. If they say yes and sign, they have trapped themselves. This is exactly the kind of thing that the Founding Fathers feared. This and ignorant groups getting in power. That is why our democracy was set up in America for indirect power by guidance of those better in the know. This is partly why originally only landowners were voters. They tended to have more at stake and had a better possibility of being educated, at least, somewhat.

    We really do need the educated to be making the decisions. It's like surgery, which is complicated. Would you want an equal vote with your surgeon while he's performing surgery on you to save your life? Or do you just want this highly educated guy making the decisions and just save your life? Yes, street knowledge or grass roots wisdom is good, but some of the issues today require more and more complex considerations in order to make informed and accurate decisions. This isn't to say, only educated people should vote, but we need to realize why we need some safe guards.

    It seems pretty obvious to me that now a days we are seeing more and more less informed and less critical thought involved in decision making. Otherwise, we wouldn't be in this situation that we are in today.

    Ya think?

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    The Purpleism Art Manifesto

    The Purpleism Art Manifesto
    a production of the Church of the Pure Purple
    (also known as "The Religion Purple")

    Some light fare for a Monday to start the week off right....

    A few years ago, my son and I got fed up with two things, Religion in general, and how Art has been abused. From that grew attention to other areas, such as relationships and about then we realized that this was a movement all about the simply stupid things in life and how we should be doing things. We also realized it needed to be defined and published as a word, and so, Purpleism is now defined on the Urban Dictionary. W thought it needed more, and so we drafted up a Manifesto. And here it is, in part, for your edification and perusal, and enjoyment.

    The Purpleism Moving Pictures Manifesto

    Altering movies from their original state should only be done under certain circumstances if at all:

    --"Pan and scan" (what is sometimes misleadingly called, "full screen") is an outright sin. --Language / content should never be altered. Only the director has that right, and even that should be greatly limited.

    --Updating some films, like Casablanca (colorizing them, remaking them, anything other than "remastering" the quality) should be punishable by loss of your director's guild card. --If a general TV audience station wants to broadcast a movie it should never alter it, nor place ads over top of it, nor stream information or data over it (if something is that important, break into the film and announce it, then go back to the film or cancel it. --Commercial breaks are only acceptable on "free" tv and should never occur under 15 min increments.

    --If a movie has questionable visuals or languange, then it should be showed as the original artist (director) intended it, without censorship of any kind. Usually this also applies to the artist (director) too. Director's cuts just like sequels, have had variable quality. Amadeus is a good example of what not to do in a Director's cut.

    --Words should not be altered to make a film "G" rated.

    --Words that are no longer politically correct should not be "updated". --Nudity is not ugly or offense, people that think it is, are. --Sound should be standardized so you are never blasted by changing channels, or when you go from a show to a commercial. Commercials that break this rule should lose their access to the television (or radio, etc.) medium.

    --No commercial should appear on any one channel or station more than once per hour, or more than once per show. If the same company wants to have additional advertising slots, they have to supple another commercial, not the same one over and over again. Saturation advertising using redundant and replicated commercials is therefore considered a sin. --Colorization is good for certain types of films as the director would have used it if he had had the money or the technology. If however a film was filmed specifically in black and white, for example, Citizen Kane, it shall not be colorized.

    The Purpleism Art Manifesto - Tele content (Sound / Visual)

    Television/Radio - Altering movies from their original state should only be done under certain circumstances if at all:

    --Adverts: Excessive Overlays should be considered an outright sin and never be used if noticeable or detracting from full attention to the showing. An innocuous advert at the bottom right of the screen isn't distracting if handled correctly and does the same thing, or should be considered to perform the same action as a large and annoying display. Best is to give a brand for a show or item that is transparent and just better than difficult to see; this gives the brand recognition and the viewer a warm feeling toward the sponsor.

    --Adverts: Commercial breaks are only acceptable on "free" tv and should never occur under 15 minute increments.

    --Adverts: Saturation advertising should be considered a sin. No commercial should appear on any one channel or station more than once per hour, nor more than once per show. If the same company wants to have additional advertising slots, they should supply a completely different commercial, not the same one over and over again. Saturation advertising using redundant and replicated commercials is therefore considered a sin.

    --Format: "Pan and scan" (what is sometimes misleadingly called, "full screen") is an outright sin.

    --Format: Language / content should never be altered. Only the director has that right, and even that should be greatly limited. Altering from the artist's (Director's) original intent should be considered a sin against Art, Artists, the Artistic community, and all others.

    --Format: Updating of some films like Casablanca (colorizing them, remaking them, anything other than "remastering" the quality) should be punishable by loss of your director's guild card, broad- or cable-casting license, or possibly, jail time.

    --Format: If a general TV audience station wants to broadcast a movie it should never alter it, nor place ads over top of it, nor stream information or data over it (if something is that important, break into the film and announce it, then go back to the film or cancel it). This includes Political voting results and especially, poll results of any kind.

    --Format: If a movie has questionable visuals or language, then it should be showed as the original artist (Director) intended it at its release time, unless otherwise stated that it is a director's cut, etc., and without any censorship of any kind. Usually this also applies to the artist (Director) too. "Director's cuts", just like sequels, have had variable qualitative results. Amadeus is a good example of what not to do in a Director's cut.

    --Format: Spoken or written Words should not be altered to make a film's rating, "G" (or less than its original).

    --Format: Words that are no longer politically correct should not be "updated". Information about this may be supplied before or after the viewing begins.

    --Format: Nudity is not ugly or offense, people who think it is, are.

    --Format: Colorization is good for certain types of films if the Director would have used it if he had available, the money or technology. If however a film was filmed specifically in black and white, for example, Citizen Kane, it shall not be colorized; doing so should be considered a sin.

    --Technical: Sound should be standardized so that you are never blasted by changing channels, or when you go from a movie/show to a commercial. Commercials that break this rule should lose their access to televised (or radio, etc.) mediums. Being too technical, raising only certain ranges of sound in order to appear louder, also constitutes a sin against the quality of a viewer's or listener's life and should not be tolerated. Common sense should prevail.

    There are other areas available to see on the Purpleism site graciously hosted by a good friend.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Weekend Wise Words

    Be Smart! Be Brilliant!

     Benjamin Franklin, had many good things to say. Franklin in fact, was the one who crosses out Jefferson's words, "These truths we find sacred" replacing the word "sacred" with "self-evident"; and that pretty much says it all about the orientation of the Founding Father's and separation of Church and State.

    Here's some proof of many of the other good things Ben Franklin had to say:

    “Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.” 

    “I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, make the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.”

    “Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.”

    “The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.”

    “The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.”

    “For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horse-shoe nail.”

    “I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.”

    “I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”
     And finally....

    “I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.”

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Target Practice - a film

    I just watched "Target Practice" on streaming Netflix.

    Oh, and about what Netflix is doing to us, if you don't already know, I got an email from them yesterday saying:

    We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

    Your current $11.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs (including Blu-ray access) will be split into 2 distinct plans:

       Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month
       Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs (including Blu-ray), 1 out at-a-time (no streaming)
                  for $9.99 a month

    Right, whatever. What a bunch of jerks. Anyway, moving right along back to what I was saying...

    Rich wrote and directed Target Practice. I kind of liked it. I'm not doing a review on the film here. I just sharing a moment. I love finding little gems of "B" movies. Movies I never heard of and found by whatever means and this was one of those.

    I had wondered about the editing as I thought it was more competent than is usual for a "B" movie, but then I saw that he is an editor on such shows as Life on Mars, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Friday Night Lights and on and on.

    In Rich's own words, the film: "Target Practice" is an intelligent but raw, visceral, extremely tense outdoor thriller with an emphasis on character as much as action. The story centers on 5 blue-collar friends on a weekend fishing trip - and the hell that's unleashed upon them when they almost run into a car that's been abandoned in the middle of an isolated mountain road. Stopping to see if anyone needs their help, they inadvertently stumble into the middle of an undercover operation involving a CIA agent and a hidden training camp for homegrown terrorists (molded after real-life, recent discoveries in both the U.S. and Canada). Suddenly, these 5 regular, everyday guys find themselves way out of their league, fighting a bloody battle against a cunning, well-trained, brutal enemy that knows the rugged terrain like the back of its hand. A battle that quickly spirals into a full-scale mini-war for which they are completely unprepared..

    Now, I thought it was odd that a CIA operation was going on within the confines of the US, as they don't have a charter for that, meaning, it's illegal (without something like an executive order or something) but what the hey, they had a good explanation; kind of. You'd have to see it to know what I mean by that. And within that, is part of the fun of the film.

    I've been lately studying making lower budget films. I'm used to writing scripts for bigger budget movies but if you can make a small movie, you can make a big movie, but not always the other way around. It's like someone once told me many, many years ago. If you want to be a novelist, learn how to write really good short stories; and if you want to be a good short story writer, learn how to write a one page story. Try it sometime, it's not easy.

    The same goes for small films, that is, low budget films. Many people think that "low budget" equals, "low quality". And it does in some respect. You cannot typically afford, in a low budget film, high paid talent, high quality cameras, film stock, lenses, lighting, equipment, special effects, and so on. But, for one you can make that work for you. If you have competent people, reasonable equipment and a good script, you can probably make a pretty good film.

    Look for instance, at Robert Rodriguez and what he did with El mariachi and look at the career he gleamed out of that one.

    Desperado was a great little film and pretty much a direct result of El Mariachi, a film that, according to IMDB, initially cost $7000 to make. Director Robert Rodriguez raised $3,000 of the $7,000 by volunteering to be a human "laboratory rat". He was used to test a cholesterol reducing drug. Paid $100 a day for 30 days, he wrote most of the script while locked in the lab. Peter Marquardt was a fellow "rat", but could not speak Spanish. He delivered his lines from card held in his hand or out of shot. Most of the $7,000 was spent on film for the camera. The version seen in most cinemas has had approximately $1 million of post-production work and promotion behind it.

    Anyway, I love finding small films like this. And this just goes to show you, when you do make a decent film with little money, it doesn't always have to be a romantic, or philosophical, surreal or dramatic flick.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Algonquin Round Table

    The Algonquin Round Table. Dorothy Parker: (1893–1967): Vanity Fair drama critic, New Yorker critic. Celebrated poet, short-story writer, playwright. Wrote Hollywood screenplays. Champion for social justice.

    If you look at Dorothy, the author of "Concrete Blonde" and many other writings, in this photo of her with members of the Algonquin Round Table, you have to admit, she was kind of hot for a chick from 1919 until roughly 1929. The Algonquin Round Table were a group of her contemporaries who met at the the Algonquin Hotel which is still up and running (the hotel not the table). They simply got to hanging out there and at some point, had to get a larger table, which was done.
    "The Algonquin Round Table was a group of journalists, editors, actors and press agents that met on a regular basis at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. [Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle," as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day beginning] in June 1919 and continued on a regular basis for about eight years. There has never been another group quite like them in American popular culture or entertainment.The group contributed to hit plays, bestselling books and popular newspaper columns. Their impact is still felt today."

    This was a rather prestigious group, the core of which was, Dorothy Parker; Alexander Woollcott; Robert Benchley, and Edna Ferber. Then there were the others: Harpo Marx; Murdock Pemberton; Herman J. Mankiewicz,  Press agent, early New Yorker drama critic; cowrote plays with Kaufman, produced Marx Brothers movies, won an Oscar for co-writing Citizen Kane; Harold Ross (founded The New Yorker magazine with his wife Jane Grant); and yet others. Many of these members were to become Pulitzer Prize winners.

    There is a film, "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle", which was a critical but not financial success. I enjoyed it greatly, even with its flaws

    Even in being a part of a group like this, we can see Dorothy was pretty normal in some very normal ways, albeit in many ways she was far from normal in many other ways. Her self doubt can be exemplified in this telegram she sent:

    Writer's write, they say, but even writers have moments that keep them from writing, or allow them to write but what they write is simply not up to par for them. We all go through it. It's okay.

    To this day, there are groups interested in the Round Table and Dorothy, as in the Dorothy Parker Society which was founded in 1999. The Mission of the Society:

    1. To promote the work of Dorothy Parker;
    2. To introduce new readers to the work of Dorothy Parker;
    3. To expand the fan base of Dorothy Parker;
    4. To have as much fun as possible;
    5. To take part in service projects in the spirit of Dorothy Parker.

    I have enjoyed many of her writings for a long time and some of her words are humorously legendary. And so I will leave you with some:
    • A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.
    • Brevity is the soul of lingerie.
    • I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true.
    • I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound - if I can remember any of the damn things.
    • I've never been a millionaire but I just know I'd be darling at it.If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.
    If wild my breast and sore my pride,
    I bask in dreams of suicide,
    If cool my heart and high my head
    I think "How lucky are the dead. 
    • If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.
    • Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.
    • The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant--and let the air out of the tires.
    • This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
    • That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.