Monday, June 22, 2015

Ten Years Down -- I Quit!

It was exactly ten years ago today that I published my very first post on this blog, a blog that I wondered at the time if I could even carry on for six months without running out of stuff to write about... Ha.
For the record, here is my very first post, Twins in Uniform. (Jeez, it looks like even way back then I was not above writing some "clickbait" headlines...)

This continued as a weekly feature, counting up the number of days that the slacker Bush twins, Jenna and Not-Jenna, had wasted since they graduated college, all the way up to my Dead Horse Edition, when, after 163 weeks of these gentle reminders, their continued reluctance to serve their country forced me to cancel what I fondly called my weekly Bush Twins in Uniform Watch.

It was a good run while it lasted. By the time of that final post they had spent a total of 1507 days NOT in uniform since they graduated college.

Oh, in case you were wondering, Jenna and Not-Jenna never did take my advice and enlist in the military service. Yeah, big surprise that.

So anyway, after over 2700 posts I think it's time I stepped aside. I just don't have that "fire in the belly" that I used to have. Lately you've probably noticed that I've basically been phoning it in, when I bother to post at all.

A huge thank you to all my regular readers. But I really think it's time I stepped aside and let the younger generation take over. After all I am 70 years old...

As I say when I get the rare sales call, "I'm an elderly shut-in on a fixed income".

Goodbye and thanks for reading. Keep up the fight!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Music Break: Free Bird

If by some odd chance you have not already seen Rob Zombie's "two-film trilogy" of cult=classic exploitation horror movies, starting with 2003's House of 1,000 Corpses and ending with its 2005 sequel, The Devil's Rejects, I'd advise you to stop reading right now and go see them. House of 1,000 Corpses is available here on YouTube, and The Devil's Rejects is available on DVD from Netflix.

Note: Spoilers follow.

As you all know, I am a big fan of "cult classic" exploitation movies. Everyone thinks the whole phenomenon ended in 1959 or so, but that isn't so. It just took a few turns and went underground (even more). The midnight-movie success of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which as far as I know hasn't stopped showing somewhere since its debut in 1975, is living proof of this.

So here are the masters of  southern hard rock Lynryd Skynyrd with the song that routinely appears on everybody's list of top ten rock and roll masterpieces, Free Bird:

This is the final scene, with the original soundtrack, from The Devil's Rejects, and it shows the best slow-motion death scene since Sam Peckinpah's seminal The Wild Bunch from 1969. Hell, maybe it's even better than that. I'll let you be the judge.

Warning: Once you have watched this, you will never be able to "unsee" it. And you'll likely never hear Free Bird the same again.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

JFK Assassination: The Hidell Draft Card

One thing that has nagged at me for the last 50+ years is the "Hidell Draft Card" that was allegedly found in the possession of Lee Harvey Oswald, which neatly tied him into the receipt of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle sent to the Hidell PO box. It did tie up neatly several threads of the "investigation", but I don't think I've ever seen a real serious analysis of that card itself.

Take a look at that card. It kind of looks like a "regular issue" draft card, except for one glaring exception: The photograph.

Selective Service registration cards did not have photographs.

Putting aside the questions as to whether that photo really is LHO, but assuming the Warren Report is correct and Oswald created that phony draft card so he'd have some kind of photo ID, the question is this: Why would he go out of his way to create a phony ID that pretty much every male in the United States would look at askance, since draft cards NEVER contained a photograph? Every male over the age of 18, at least since the end of WWII, was issued a draft card. Who would not question the validity of one that had a photograph?

So what do those numbers on draft cards indicate? Like Social Security numbers, they were an easy way to identify an individual.

Mine was 45 23 45 152

First box -- state (e.g., Washington is 45), arranged alphabetically (Alaska and Hawaii were not states when this was first set up, which is why the count is off now; Washington should be 47).
Second box -- Draft board number within the state (23), usually consisting of a county or similar administrative subdivision.
Third box -- Year of birth (1945).
Fourth box -- Numerical count of people registering for that birth year -- (I was the 152nd person to register).

"Hidell" Selective Service Number: 42 224 39 5321

Unless I miss my guess, 42 was Utah (Texas was 41), and it's doubtful there were 224 local draft boards in Utah. Oswald was born in 1939, but again it's doubtful that there were over 5,000 men at that draft board born in 1939.

So it's kind of odd that Oswald would put a photo on his already-obviously fake Hidell draft card, when literally every male in the country knew what one was supposed to look like. This really doesn't pass the "smell test".

I don't know, of course, and as usual, what it really means. It's just another anomaly in an event that is so chock full of anomalies that they are spilling out over the top.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

More on the Kennedy Assassination

Regular readers know that I am fascinated -- maybe obsessed is a better word -- by the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

I just stumbled on a fairly reasoned analysis on a site called Stratfor Global Intelligence that asks some questions that have been more or less ignored, and focuses on a neglected actor in the whole assassination cast of questionable characters: Marina Oswald.

The official story, found in the Warren Report, asks us to believe some pretty incredible things about the wife of Lee Harvey Oswald:

1. Marina, part of the Soviet upper-middle class, reasonably educated and an attractive young woman, meets Lee Harvey Oswald and is so smitten by him that she agrees to marry him in a little over a month — two weeks of which he spent courting her from a hospital bed.
2. The Soviet government grants Marina permission to marry him in the span of 10 days, despite the fact that this is an MVD colonel's niece marrying a U.S. defector.
3. Oswald immediately decides to head back to the United States, and in spite of her uncle's supposed objections — and Prusakov [her MVD, aka KGB, uncle] could have stopped this dead in its tracks if he wanted — she is granted permission to leave the Soviet Union in the company of an American defector. The time between her formal request and receiving permission is a matter of weeks.
Endless questions flow from this, ranging from what the mission was to why the U.S. embassy permitted Marina into the country. This now enters into the realm of speculation. However, one thing is clear to us: Any theory as to what happened on Nov. 22, 1963, that does not take into careful account the role of Marina Oswald is inherently flawed. This includes the Warren Commission's own findings. If Lee Harvey Oswald killed John F. Kennedy, there has been no adequate explanation of Marina Oswald's role in this.
It's pretty interesting stuff. The author takes the position that the Warren Report is probably basically correct, but the glaring questions about Marina have gone unanswered.

As I've said before, the truth will likely not come out in my lifetime. Maybe not in anyone's lifetime -- after all, most of the participants and "interested parties" are now dead. It kind of bugs me that after 50+ years I will go to my grave without knowing the truth...

Saturday Poetry Slam -- Ozymandias

by Percy B. Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".
More Reading:
   · Ozymandias on Wikipedia

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

What a Week!

My brother-in-law was here from Hawaii all week and he goes like a bat outta hell. He doesn't have anything but high gear. So I am exhausted from running around after him. It's not fair -- he's a week younger than me and has all that energy.

I am exhausted so it's going to be some light posting for a few more days.

Thanks for reading.

--The F Man

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Must-See Cinema: Rockers 1978

This week I am proud to present 1978's Rockers, a semi-documentary look at the old-school Jamaican roots reggae culture.


This film, loosely based on that masterpiece of Italian neo-realism, Bicycle Thieves, shows a slice of daily life of the Rastafarian roots reggae culture, featuring many actual reggae musicians and a score that includes many of the greats: Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear. The soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission.

I first saw this at a local college film festival circa 1980 and was blown away by it. Then it disappeared, but thanks to the DVD revolution it's available on DVD from Netlix.

If you watch it, it's best to brush up on your Rasta/Patois-English first. Even though it is subtitled in more-or-less standard English, some things will still remain a mystery.

I wanted to include a video of Peter Tosh singing my favorite cut from the soundtrack, Steppin' Razor, but for some vague copyright reason, YouTube won't allow it to be embedded on any other websites, so you can see it here.

Highly recommended.


Monday, June 01, 2015

Monday Music Break: Born in the USA

Here's Bruce Springsteen with Born in the USA from 1984:

But really, the big question is this: Are politicians, especially Republicans who seem to have carved out their own patriotic niche just for this song (I'm looking at you, Ronald Reagan), too stupid to know what it's really about? According to Parker Malloy at The Daily Beast, the answer to that question is yes, they are.

In case there's still a question, here are the lyrics:
Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up
Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Got in a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man
Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said "son don't you understand now"
Had a brother at Khe Sahn fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there he's all gone
He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now
Down in the shadow of penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go
Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a long gone daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking daddy in the U.S.A.
Hmmm. Not quite the patriotic anthem they want you to think it is, is it?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Taking a Break

I'll be taking a break for a week. My brother-in-law (i.e., the famous IBIL) is in town and will want for a lot of attention and hand holding. I'll still post the ones that are in the system, so to speak, i.e., have been written and set to post a future time, but won't have time for any new ones until sometime early next week.

When I get out of jail following just a touch of assault and battery and attack with a moderately-deadly weapon...

No, I am sure that the best possible behavior will be exhibited on all sides, and we'll come through the week with nothing worse than just a few skinned knuckles.

See you all next week and thanks for reading.

--"The F Man"

Saturday Poetry Slam -- The Second Coming

The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) (also his second appearance here)

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The Second Coming is an antiwar poem written by Yeats after the end of the First World War. It is considered a major work or Modernist Poetry, and you'll not that the  last line springboards into a book title, Slouching Towards Bethlemem , a 1958 collection of essays  by the excellent stylist (and one of my favorite authors), Joan Didion, which I highly recommend that you read as well.

Even though it was written nearly 100 year ago, the poem still retains a profound resonance to the events of this century: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity..."

This is one my favorite poems.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Keep Your Goddam Gummit Hands Off My Medicare!


This used to be a joke, but now the Rethugs have come up with a plan to pay for the Trade Adjustment Act benefits available to people whose jobs have been lost and offshored due to "trade practices" -- and caused by the TPP (which according to the Chamber of Commerce will increase American jobs) by tapping into Medicare.


Tell Congress to keep their goddam gummit hands off our Medicare! Sign the petition that is being jointly promoted by The Daily Kos and CREDO.

Tell Congress that we won't put up with it. I was talking with my own congressman just last night, and he said that they do listen to their constituents' concerns. He also brought up this very topic and said that while he was already leaning towards a "No" vote on the so-called Fast Track, this particularly piece, if true, would put him solidly in the "No" camp.

Let Congress know how you feel! Sign the petition today!

Must-See Cinema: Touch of Evil 1958

I am happy to present  the Orson Welles 1958 masterpiece, Touch of Evil. This movie is widely considered to one of the last -- and best -- examples of Hollywood's classic film noir era.


It was also widely considered to be a dud, another misstep in a career filled with them, but over the years it has gained in stature. This despite the worse-than-horrible miscasting of Charlton Heston as a Mexican(!) detective in a border town. Supposedly the studio forced Heston on Welles and basically said, "deal with it". So he did.

The opening scene is famous for its opening take "long take" using a movable crane to follow a car from the time a bomb is placed in its trunk until after cruising through the streets of the border town, it crosses the US border and explodes. Reputedly Welles used up fully half of his filming budget on just this one shot:

That is, of all places, Venice California masquerading as the border town of Los Robles in this movie. Orson Welles is outstanding, even in the fake nose, as corrupt sheriff Hank Quinlan, and watch for some surprising minor-character near-cameos of Marlene Dietrich, Mercedes McCambridge and Dennis Weaver. If you watch that "long take" carefully, you'll also see an Alfred Hitchcock-like appearance of Welles himself crossing in front of the car as it is stopped at a light on the street.

In many ways it is Orson Welles' most personal film. He's played a lot characters who were destroyed by their own hubris (Charles Foster Kane, MacBeth, Othello, for example), and Hank Quinlan is no exception, but you can't help but see echoes of Welles and the studio system he fought for so many years in the machinations of Quinlan's desire to get the conviction, no matter what, thanks to that little "touch of evil" that everyone carries with them...

I can't praise this movie enough. I loved it so much that I even bought my own copy of the DVD, and I hardly ever do that. Highly recommended.

More reading:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Exploitation Movies: Devil's Harvest (1942)

Now that we've exhausted (in more ways than one -- see Maniac from two weeks ago) the 1930s, it's time to move on to the 1940s.

This week's feature is Devil's Harvest from 1942:

Full movie:

This is probably the very worst anti-marijuana movie in the genre. It's not even close to Ed-Wood-so-bad-it's-good bad, it's just bad bad. Even so, there's some unintentionally funny stuff, such as Oliver the elderly hot-dog vender with a cart right across from the high school, who serves "stacks" of weed with his hot dogs, and pudgy Sam, the head gangster's right-hand man.

There's also a party with your typical long-in-the-tooth "teenagers" where marijuana is smoked and, as you know always happens at marijuana parties, a riot breaks out. "Good girl" Kay O'Farrell ends up going undercover for the cops to bust the local drug lord, Larry McGuire -- who of course has a pencil-thin mustache!

It's an undercover operation that lasts for months -- you can literally see the days falling off the calendar -- and ends abruptly with the cops arriving late to the party, after Larry has been shot by another gangster who has just gotten out of prison and wants to take over the business.

There's surprisingly little pot smoking in this movie -- just at the wild party near the start of the film.

The money shot: A bit of skivvy dancing at the early "loco weed" party, and good girl dancer Kay shows a bit of thigh a couple of times. There may be a bit of nudity in a distant shot of another female dancer at the club but it's hard to tell.

Lessons learned: "Whoever named that stuff 'loco weed' sure knew what they were talking about." (actual quote from the "kindly" police lieutenant)

Directed by: Ray Test (his only film).

Taglines:  A Vicious Racket With It's [sic] Arms Around Your Children! A fifth column sowing destruction in the youth of America, A good girl until she lights a "reefer", The truth about MARIJUANA the smoke of Hell!

More reading: