Saturday, February 28, 2015

You Are What You Think You Are

The other day I kind of came out of the theocracy closet and admitted that I am an atheist. And while that is technically true, it also implies a certain level of emotional and/or psychological commitment to atheism that I don't really feel. That's why I prefer to think of myself as a "non-theist". While, as I say, it's technically true that I am atheist, the fact that I don't believe in god doesn't really enter in to my own perceptions of the "me" that I am, or my "world view".

This is clear to me but surprisingly hard to convey. The atheists I know who proudly and loudly proclaim that fact seem to be committed to an almost missionary zeal about it, and I just don't feel that way. This lack of belief of mine is beyond agnostic ("wishy-washy-can't-committer") but it isn't "other-directed". It's just as aspect of my character, like having a sense of humor or having thinning dark curly hair or brown eyes or believing that all Republicans are evil or being an outrageous flirt.

A very good friend of mine is a Christian...but she is on the branch of Christianity that you never hear about in the media, the Religious Left. She takes seriously the Jesus of the Bible who was all about loving your neighbor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison. She does all those things. The people on the Religious Right, as far as I know, absolutely do not. do these actions. Instead they hate their neighbors (the ones who don't look like them), cut food stamp and welfare payments and the only prisons they think about are the ones they can still all the "criminal lawbreakers" in. As Gandhi said, "I like your Christ; your Christians...uh, not so much"

You are the sum of your parts, in this case your beliefs, and I am solidly Liberal in my thoughts and deeds. But even I am not perfect. With all of the leftwing beliefs that I have, I am perfectly comfortable owning several guns. I don't think there's anything wrong with responsible gun owners having firearms. The problem, though, is all of the irresponsible people who also have them. You know, like pretty much everyone in the NRA, and those who believe that the solution to school shootings is to arm all the teachers. It's like Archie Bunker once said on All in the Family, when interviewed about a skyjacking: "Arm all the passengers. Some guy jumps up wit' a gun, he got 50 pointing back at him. Problem solved."

If you are like me and own guns in what some try to paint as a hypocritical defiance of your beliefs and your liberal ideals, you don't have to feel bad, feel guilty, or hide your guns away from being seen. Don't want to give up your guns for politics? You don't have to. There's an organization calling itself Democratic Gun Owners Association of America which is aimed at Democrats who own guns responsibly and works against the stupid excesses of the NRA.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pornography + Time = Art

For those of you who were home-schooled and are therefore deficient in art history -- especially this kind -- that is the Venus of Urbino by the great Renaissance painter Titian.

No less an art authority than Mark Twain himself called this painting, "the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses." Tongue fully in cheek, I presume...

I have actually seen this painting, with my own naked eyes, in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Yeah, I know: Place dropper.

BTW, Blogger says that as of March 23, all blogs containing "images and videos that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity" will be banned.

While they do say they will "still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit. For example, in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts", that's some cold comfort -- it's not at all clear whether that ban will or will not include this picture. My first question is this: How will they know?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christianists Fight Back With "Bigotry Map"

The American Family Association has apparently hired a web-programming whiz kid of about 12 to come up with something they are calling their Bigotry Map, where they identify "anti-Christian" groups by geographical location. There's a "slick" zoomable map complete with little symbols to show what threats to Christianity exist in various locations. These threats are conveniently broken out into easily-digestible categories for you: Homosexual Agenda, Anti-Christian, Atheist and Humanist.

It turns out, though, that their whiz kid is also a plagiarist -- their map is a blatant copy of the Hate Map created by the Southern Poverty Law Center which shows the locations of various Hate Groups in the US.

I am proud to say that if you zoom in on the State of Washington, you'll see me represented, with the symbol for Anti-Christian, defined as "Actively engages in the complete eradication of the Christian faith from society, government and private commerce. These groups file lawsuits and use intimidation to silence any reference to Christianity from the public square."

I'm not identified by name, but I am the chapter leader of the local branch of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which the AFA has designated as being on their "enemies list" -- they might as well call us a "terrorist organization". The funny thing, though, is that AU is not anti-religious, but rather pro-First Amendment. In fact, the executive director of AU, Barry Lynn, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, but as we already know, the UCC is "not really Christian"...

You can read more about this "informative" map at Fuzzy Map: Religious Right Group Accuses Americans United And Its Allies Of Being A Bevy Of Bigots on the AU site

I actually feel a little slighted, since I am also a supporter of what they dismissively call "The Homosexual Agenda" as well as being a Humanist and a card-carrying atheist -- or I would be if we actually had cards.... I don't actually belong to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, but I do support their agenda, so that means that of the "enemy organizations" identified on their front page, I've got four out of four.

So when the Religious Right finally wins in their long struggle to establish their theocracy in this country, it's likely I will be on the first train to the concentration "re-education" camp. But I trust that I will see many of my literally dozens of readers there...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More on Bill O'Reilly, the Serial Liar

Over at Wonkette you will see the story that goes with this mostly-unrelated picture:

Jeez, it turns out that our friend BillO was an earwitness to history. He was on his way to interview the strange George De Mohrenschildt, a shadowy figure connected to the assassination of JFK through his odd friendship with putative assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

According to BillO's own words, he was on De Mohrenschildt's front porch when George blew his own brains out with a shotgun rather than provide testimony to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1977.

There's just one little problem with that narrative. BillO was in Dallas at the time, a fact verified by numerous sources more credible than the Official Faux News Bully-in-Chief.

Wonkette calls it Ace Reporter Bill O’Reilly Killed Lee Harvey Oswald, Ran Area 51, Co-Piloted Amelia Earhart’s Plane on the Glassy-Eyed Knoll.

Is Bill Orally the Jack Crabb of the 20th Century?

I hate to jump on the heap with all this piling-on abuse of Poor BillO -- I know I should probably feel bad for fanning the flames, but come on. It's Bill O'Reilly!!!

BTW that picture is one of my favorite mockup Photoshop photos of all time, one that the Dead Kennedys should have grabbed for an album cover.

The Demise of "Niggardly"

According to, the word "niggardly" is defined thusly:

  1. reluctant to give or spend; stingy; miserly.
  2. meanly or ungenerously small or scanty: -- "a niggardly tip to a waiter".
  3. in the manner of a niggard.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, its etymology is thus:
niggard (n.) "mean person, miser," late 14c., nygart, of uncertain origin. The suffix suggests French origin (see -ard), but the root word is possibly from earlier nig "stingy" (c.1300), perhaps from a Scandinavian source related to Old Norse hnøggr "stingy," from Proto-Germanic *khnauwjaz (source of Swedish njugg "close, careful," German genau "precise, exact"), and to Old English hneaw "stingy, niggardly," which did not survive in Middle English.

Because it is so close in pronunciation -- or in hearing at least -- to the notorious "n-word", it has pretty much fallen out of polite conversation. I am language scholar enough to realize that words fall out of our vocabulary all the time. The "ruth" in "ruthless" for example, was in use just a hundred years ago or so. It's still a word that exists, but it might as well not since no one uses it except as the first part of its negative, ruthless. The "gruntled" in disgruntled is another that exists only in its negative. When was the last time you heard of anyone who was "gruntled" except in the form of some semi-clever wordplay?

All languages change and grow over time. New words are added, old words are cast aside and fall out. I really can't get exercised over the loss of "niggardly" -- if it is routinely heard by black people as a racist term, it ought to be retired.

Once I had a black woman on my staff come up to me completely pissed, livid, that our computer geek had used the word in her presence. I think I handled it pretty well, given the circumstances. I led her over to the office dictionary and together we looked it up, she found that there was nothing racist about it, neither in the word itself nor in its etymology. And that pretty much defused the situation, but it was a signal to me to watch my own language for these kinds of accidental racisms, words which are in context not racist at all but that sound racist to a hearer who was already attuned from birth to routinely hear the "N-word" coming out of a white person's mouth.

So it is good bye to "niggardly". It is, in fact, still a perfectly usable word, but it freights too much unintentional baggage to be used in a conversation. Probably not in written communications, either.

And it is of course even worse with the base of the word, "niggard", a noun for someone who is niggardly. That is even more likely to be misheard and misinterpreted.

Must-See Cinema: The Exiles (1961)

In 1956 USC film student Kent MacKenzie shot a short film documenting the impending displacement of pensioners from the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles, which was slated for "urban renewal", i.e., the destruction of ramshackle apartment buildings and down-at-the heels Victorian houses to make way for "progress" -- banks, office buildings and eventually the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

MacKenzie was so taken with the area and its residents that he returned two years later to film The Exiles, a full-length documentary look at the Native American residents of Bunker Hill, who were in a kind of exile from their tribes and reservation homelands. It took three years of filming and editing to produce this film. It took so long to document what is, on screen, just one night in the lives of his subjects that several of the principle characters were no longer around by the end, and the film had to be re-edited accordingly -- a couple of characters we meet early on have just disappeared by the end of the movie. In reality, they had gone to prison, a fate that has befallen so many "Indians" who are in exile from their homes.

The Exiles is one of those glimpses into a life that no longer exists. It's sad to think that, even by the time the film was released, it's likely that most of these buildings had already been flattened and the residents displaced.

You will recognize Bunker Hill when you see it. The Angel's Flight funicular railway and the 2nd Street Tunnel are both iconic landmarks in many Hollywood movies of the 40s and 50s and later. Television, too.

I first saw this in one of those film classes that I took in college ("Documenting Urban America" or something like that). I loved the movie, and I had almost given up hope of ever seeing it again.

But ... Fast forward to the DVD revolution and the advent of Netflix. It's now available on DVD from Netflix. The disk also includes as a bonus MacKenzie's student film, Bunker Hill (referenced above).

More reading:
· The Exiles on the IMDB.
· Angel's Flight Railway in movies and television (IMDB).
· 2nd Street Tunnel in movies and television (IMDB).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reading The Reviews of My Book

I don't do it very often -- and I probably shouldn't do it at all -- but yesterday I dropped by to read the Amazon reviews of my book, A Bad Attitude: A Novel from the Vietnam War, to see what people are saying. The average customer review score, according to Amazon, is four-and-a-half stars out of five. A bunch of people loved it, but if I read those five-star reviews too often it'd just give me a swelled head.

There are three people, though, who wrote "hated-it!" reviews and gave it only one star.

Well, in a quote that is usually attributed to George Bernard Shaw, but was actually from a guy named Max Reger,"I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me."

My favorite of these Hated-Its was one entitled "Disgrace and dis honors [sic] Vietnam combat vets", in which someone calling himself Sgt Maj EMP says:

(Note: All of this is exactly how it appears in the original--I didn't edit it at all; you'll see my comments in red inset between brackets)
First, did not finish. Couldn't take it after 200+ pages.
Fragging? Want to talk about fragging? Lifers got publicity but in the field, folk like Dennis didn't finish their tours [Sounds like a personal threat to me]. Anyone who read this crap and was there can figure out why.
USMC, 67-68-69. Hill and border fights, northern I corps. Ton of issues in rear if you ever got there. Grunts rarely got there. Never had more than 120 - 125 people in what was supposed to be a 200 man company. Had to have damn good excuse or shot to get there [Unclear what this means...]. Then you get to meet real heroes like Dennis, I guess.[Nothing in my book paints me as a "hero"] Telling it like it was...... BULLS***. [How would you know? You were in the field and not in "the rear"]
Race? Huh? Take a good look at 60's America. I think there were a ton of race riots [So? There was one at Long Binh Jail as well; it's in this book -- what do those others have to do with whether or not that happened?] , with a whole lotta other stuff, going on then. What's the matter Dennis ? A few brothers hanging together got you and some other whiteys scared? [Where did I say I was scared of black people?] I'm white, Caucasian , German Polish , Chi-town, west side. What's the fuss? Some stuff going around but hell, there were a ton of NVA that had us outgunned, outmanned and they tried to kill us anyway possible. And you want to talk about race, lifers, drugs, fragging.... all the stuff that people that dissed us way back then to now [Are you saying that none of that happened?]. Vietnam is the most misunderstood and historically inaccurately portrayed war [Because of people like you going all Rambo on it since 1982] -- down to our written history [Written by academic historians in accordance with historical facts.] -- because of all the Dennis s that did and did not serve.[Not clear what this means...]
Speaking of lifers, yeah, a ton of s*** who didn't know which way was up. But I also got to serve with some SNCOs who did WW II and Korea. They taught me a lot -- I was only 19 then. They were my mentors, my heroes. I've used their life lessons every day after. [Again, so what? They weren't around where the events of this book took place   -- our lifers were pretty much all dicks.]
As soon as my time in Nam was up -- yes, I spent 20 months there in a rifle company -- I got out. After a few years and dealing with folk who give 5 stars to this kind of sensationalized crap, I rejoined. Needed to be around some real folk -- you take the good and the bad. [Do you really?]
Okay, let's dial it back a little there, Rambo. I can guess from the fact that you have been out of the service for what, 30 years, and you still insist on being called by your rank -- Sergeant-MAJOR -- that you were likely the kind of dick NCO that draftees hated. By your own admission you spent all your time in the field, so how can you presume to even know what was going on in "the rear"? "Disgrace and dis honors [sic] the...combat vets"? There aren't even any future "combat vets" in my book. ???!!!

But opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one. Sorry if this book didn't adequately provide for your needs and wants and desires, Sarge.

But, to be charitable to you here, you are in your dotage (I'm the same age as you and I know dotage when I see it...) and likely read only the blood-and-guts war stories that shore up your own fantasies (see How Do We Know What We Know? from earlier this month).

At least you claim you got 200+ pages into it before you realized that. Sarge, I don't believe that you didn't you read any of the other reviews before you bought it. It's not like you didn't have a clue going in as to what this book is about. From your comments, though, it looks like you tried to read a completely different book -- I don't think you actually "get it"...

But, as I've often said, everybody is "Rambo" in his own war movie.And that's you, Sarge.

So, Sarge -- 'scuse me, Sergeant-MAJOR -- old buddy, know this: Since -- fact -- it took nine men in "the rear" to support one grunt like you in the field, I'd say that my book is the better description of what Vietnam was "really" like for 90% of the soldiers who served there than all those blood-and-guts books you love.

I was a draftee and I had the same chance as anybody else -- like 80% of my fellow soldiers in my basic training platoon -- to end up in the infantry. I lucked out and got sent on an alternate path. It's not one that I chose -- nor likely would have chosen for myself -- but it was my duty and I did it, and I'm proud of that fact. I am frankly getting a little tired of all you fucking latter-day combat-snob neo-Rambos looking down your noses at REMFs ("Rear Echelon Mother Fuckers") like me.

Okay, diatribe over. Let's get back to the real world. And from now on I hope I will be a little more philosophical when it comes to mentally-challenged and thinking-impaired reviewers.

Exploitation Movies: Slaves in Bondage (1937)

The 1930s produced a cornucopia of grindhouse exploitation films (aka "sexploitation" movies), usually disguised as "educational" movies that were ostensible cautionary tales about one social problem or another.

Here from 1937 is Slaves in Bondage. The title alone ought to explain it all.

Full movie:

Yeah, it ought to, but about the most titillating thing about this movie is its name. The phrase "White Slavery" is a titillatingly catchy early-20th-Century name for sexual slavery and human trafficking. Thanks to the Yellow Journalism of the media of the time, It was actually a socially-shocking Very Big Deal back in the 1920s and 1930s, and this movie exploits that to the hilt: Young girls lured into prostitution by answering an innocuous ad in a small-town newspaper for "manicurists" -- attractive girls only, no experience necessary. Apparently that wasn't enough to bring up any warning signals, since the manicure shop that fronts as a prostitution recruitment center doesn't seem to have any lack of applicants for the jobs. The "job interviews" are unintentionally funny: "I'm sure we can find some ... 'work' ... for you..." after the chief manicurist/procurer named Belle, played as a hard blonde, looks them over from head to toe.
This movie really has a little "something for everyone": A smart-but-naïve girl, a young gung-ho wanna-be reporter, a couple of male acrobats who act out some faintly homoerotic tumbling routines in a boarding house living room, and a sexual smorgasbord at the roadhouse/brothel/nightclub that a customer can choose from, including a couple of -- shock! -- "fetish Lesbian spanking" girls. You pays your money and you takes your choice...

This movie doesn't even pretend to be "educational" ; there's no crawling text -- the so-called "square-up" disclaimer -- at the beginning, and the closest it comes to any kind of lesson is when a grumpy detective lectures the weary seen-it-all editor about it being "the same old story" with the ads in small-town newspapers luring innocent country girls to the bright lights of the big city.

After some boring and kind of confusing subplots featuring pasteboard characters in this cheap mess, a fleeting glimpse of the head Bad Guy (all the bad guys have mustaches!) with his hand on -- again, shock! -- Good Girl Dona's breast, and a fight scene in the nightclub that looks like it was lifted from a Mack Sennett comedy, it all ends well with Dona and the wannabe reporter getting married, him getting a job at the paper, the bad guys going to jail, and everyone living happily ever after.

Except for the "manicurists". After they've served their purpose by parading around in their skivvies -- I guess you could call some of it lingerie -- in several scenes, and acting as sadly comical spanking Lesbians, we don't hear any more about them. Like most of the women in these movies, they are ultimately disposable.

Sidebar: It is not my intention to make light of the very real problem of Sex Slavery and Human Trafficking as it exists now (or then) -- but this movie isn't really about that, any more than it is "about" the so-called White Slavery rackets of the first half of the last century. It's all about exploiting the tittering "naughtiness" factor in the audience.

Oh, and there are no drugs. What kind of self-respecting 1930s exploitation movie doesn't have at least one joint, a line of coke or a syringe in it? Come on!

The money shot: Gotta be the "fetish Lesbian spanking" in the checking-out-the-goods-on-display scene.

Lessons learned: Ads promising no-experience-needed jobs to attractive girls are suspect, manicurists are hookers, and guys with mustaches are always the bad guys.

Directed by Slaves in Bondage on the IMDB
Help Stop Human Trafficking
Stop Trafficking on the Live Your Dream site

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Men My Father Hated

My father didn't really hate a lot of people, although he joked a lot about his "cancer list" -- this was a list of a dozen or so people he was going to rub out if he ever got inoperable cancer and had only six months to live. The people populating this list varied from year to year, depending on who had pissed him off the most in the last year. But it was always just a (sort of) good-natured gibe -- "He's on the list!" or "You're off the list!"

In any case, he didn't get cancer, he got some god-awful wasting kidney disease and was not in good enough shape to even lift a gun, let alone shoot someone with it. Ultimately that list never came to its terrible potentiality.

But there were three men who were on his Permanent Hate List and in the family we learned never to even mention their names in front of him unless we were willing to listen to a ranting-and-raving hour-long (but entertaining, I'll grant) diatribe about how fucked up it was that they were still taking up space on this planet and still breathing his air.

One of course was Herbert Hoover. My father came of age in the Great Depression and, along with everyone else cast into unemployment and poverty, my whole family put the blame squarely on Herbert Hoover, who was president when the Stock Market crashed and the US economy, followed by the world economy, went into the shitter. His mother, my grandmother, widowed at an early age with a litter of children, was forced to "crawl" (her word) before a church-affiliated relief agency just to get marginally-sufficient food for her family.

People have debated ever since the Great Depression whether all the blame could or should be assigned to Hoover, but that didn't matter to the families who were suffering in poverty and hunger. Hoover was president and he refused to do anything to help The People. End of story.

The second man was a guy named Ezra Taft Benson. That name might sound a bit familiar to you since he was, at the end of his life and his career, enthroned as the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Mormon Church, i.e., President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka "The One True Church"). But that is not what earned him my father's enmity.

No, in 1955 Benson was still Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower Administration, and pulled a "free-market" removal of all the federal price supports for milk. The small dairy farmers who depended on agricultural subsidies to eke out an existence had to sell their cows for pennies on the dollar to big factory farms and were forced off their land and into a nomadic latter-day neo-Grapes-of-Wrath-like flight to the west. Many of them made the time-honored trek to California. We ended up in the Pacific Northwest, where my mother's people all lived. My parents lived in Oregon and Washington for the rest of their lives, but he always missed Oklahoma.

But the greatest amount of my father's wrath was reserved for General Douglas MacArthur. He could hardly stand to see the old general appear on television to reap the praise of, in my father's view, "the stupid people who idolized the bastard" even after his reckless arrogance had gotten him fired from his command in the Korean War.

So it was MacArthur's arrogant attitude and his imperious behavior, sure, but it was way more personal than that. My father's cousin had joined the Army in 1938 and was stationed in The Philippines when the Japanese invaded. Douglas MacArthur and his wife were evacuated by submarine to Australia, leaving behind all of the soldiers under his command to go on the Bataan Death March and then suffer years of cruel captivity at the hands of the Japanese. But what really cinched it for my father was the story that Mrs. MacArthur insisted that her furniture also be rescued with them, and that furniture took up valuable space on the submarine, space that should have gone to other soldiers who could have been evacuated as well. My father's cousin survived the Bataan Death March, but died in a prison camp later in 1942.

I don't even know that the furniture story is true, but in many ways that doesn't matter. The old man hated MacArthur with a burning passion, and if he had ever gotten the opportunity to ... well, we'll never know. It's just a good thing MacArthur never showed up at any events in Portland or Seattle during his retirement years.

Monday Music Break: Jerusalem

Here's incomparable soprano Lesley Garrett singing what is pretty much the only religious hymn that I can really stand*:

As you might imagine, the song itself has interesting history, and it has been proposed for England's National Anthem on several occasions. It's based on a longer poem by mystic English poet William Blake, and a phrase from the song lyrics and the poem, "Bring me my chariot of fire", appeared as the title of the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. The hymn itself, performed by the legendary Vangelis, is played over the final credits of the film. But, given my predilection for sopranos, Lesley's version is still my favorite.

The movie won many accolades and  numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture for 1981.

* Although, probably because both of my grandmothers had Scottish roots and I am an enrolled member of the Scottish Clan Kincaid, I am also kind of partial to Amazing Grace on the bagpipe. I intend for both of these to be played at my funeral/memorial, which ought to shock the shit out of all the people who know that I am anti-religious...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why I Love Crows

Watch this Caledonian crow:

That is a crow making a tool to get a small basket of seeds out of a deep glass container. Man the Toolmaker, move over. That's probably as smart as a human six-year-old.

Oh, and speaking of crows:

That's a crow showing off for the camera during a time lapse of Levi's Stadium showing it being readied for a hockey game.

Looking Under the Theocratic Robes

Well, the cat is finally out of the bag. We over here in the freethinking part of conventional reality have been complaining all along that the Religious Right wants to establish a theocracy in this country. Finally one of their spokesmen, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, made it plain.

The United Church of Christ won a stunning victory for both gay rights and religious freedom with their lawsuit to overturn North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage.

While the thinking population of the reality-based community applauded the decision, our ole good buddy Tony Baloney felt a little differently:

The UCC "is not really Christian, and those who support gay rights don’t have the same rights as conservative Christians—because ‘true religious freedom’ only applies to ‘orthodox religious viewpoints’.” [emphasis added]
There you go. It's like pulling off a band-aid and seeing a writhing mess of Ebola maggots in the wound. You can have your "true religious freedom" all right, but only when your beliefs conform to "orthodox" theology.

All of you pagans, heathens, homosessuals, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintos, Sikhs, Zoroasters and especially all you stinky Islams -- get to the back of the bus. On your way to our concentration/extermination "re-education/reparative therapy" camps.

If that is not a true indication of the kind of brutish theocracy those people are intending to shove down our throats -- but only down our throats, none of that "gay stuff" here, thank you -- then I don't know what is.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

So Bill O'Reilly Was in a "Combat Situation, Okay"?

Normally I am pretty willing to give a little slack to people "misremembering" shit that happens to them. See for example How Do We Know What We Know, about the whole Brian Williams fiasco. So I was willing to cut Bill Orally a bit of slack over the years on his claims that he was "in a combat situation, okay?"

But if you as a "newsman" are going to pitch shit on a fellow reporter, you ought to make sure your own skirts are clean. Which is why I experienced a certain amount of schadenfreude glee when I read the Mother Jones story, Bill O'Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem.

BillO of course was not so happy. He immediately doubled down by saying that he never said he was IN the Falklands for the Falklands War, just that he covered the war. From Buenos Aires and Montevideo. You know, where all the combat was -- NOT!

Media Matters has combed through various transcripts and compiled a bunch of quotes from BillO on this topic. Read them and then you tell me if he did not claim that he was in combat in the Falklands War. Maybe he didn't say those exact words, but context is everything, and the kind of people who are his normal audience are a little short on the nuance thing: "Because I was in a situation, one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete." Look at that and you will see that even the average listener, let alone the Bill Orally fan, would think that he heard that BillO said he was "in the Falklands". Also, an aside from the 12-year-old that lives inside my head..."this one time? at band camp?"

Like I say, I'm willing to give a guy a little slack if, for example, he says he was in combat and we learn that he wasn't actually IN combat but was actually a block away and saw it go down. Everybody does a little "résumé enhancement" from time to time, but I'm not going to claim that I was in the 1968 Tet Offensive when I was actually half a world and three months away from Vietnam at the time. I can, however, say that I was in the so-called "Little Tet" of 1968, literally almost from the time my boots hit the ground at the Bien Hoa airfield on the 10th of May.

Speaking of that, BillO, you were born in 1949, which means that you were 18 years old in 1967. Why didn't you go to Vietnam? Why didn't you avail yourself of the opportunity for that real "war experience" you apparently craved so much that you thrust yourself onto the Mean Streets of the "war zone" of Buenos Aires at the very end of the Falklands War.

On the March 19, 2008 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly used his "war experience" to criticize Bill Moyers: "I missed Moyers in the war zones of Falkland conflict in Argentina, the Middle East and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn't see him."

Yeah, BillO,  I looked for you in Vietnam but I didn't see you, either.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What's the Matter With Oklahoma?

Regular readers know that I've always considered Oklahoma to be pretty much my home state. Even though we moved out of state when I was ten years old, my most formative years were spent there and it's to those years that I inevitably go back when I find myself awash in rosy nostalgia for a bygone time -- those years on the farm were actually a lot of fun for me.

And that's why any oddball news from the state invariably catches my eye. Like this story: State Rep. Dan Fisher (R-Buttfuck) has introduced legislation into the state house of representatives that would prohibit state expenditure of funds on an Advanced Placement US History course that, in his words, "fails to teach 'American Exceptionalism'. He belongs to something called the Black Robe Regiment, a Glenn-Beck-affiliated outfit, that argues that "the church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists." Even worse, it attacks the “false wall of separation of church and state" and warns of a “growing tide of special interest groups indoctrinating our youth at the exclusion of the Christian perspective.”

Exclusion of the Christian perspective. You know, that's an argument the constitution guarantees governments can't get in the middle of: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...etc." -- First Amendment to the United States Constitution

Jesus, Oklahoma. You've already banned any consideration of Shariah Law. But you're not satisfied with that; you have to attack the contents of a scholarly and scholastically agreed-upon history course because it dares to claim (I presume) that George Washington didn't really chop down that cherry tree, that the Europeans were not the friendly white brothers from across the sea who were only concerned for the welfare of the savages, and slavery was not actually good for blacks?

Of course you do live mostly downhill from What's the Matter With Kansas, so a lot of the shit they pull out of their asses gets washed downstream to you. But that doesn't mean you have to pick up that pile of shit muffins, dust them off and get them gold plated.

They are still shitmuffins.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Barack Obama the Finger Jihadist

Here's an image that's making the rounds of the wingnuttery, especially on a site called American Thinker, the very title of which, given its overall content, is an obvious oxymoron:

Yep, that's our Jihadist-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama giving the "Islamic Gang Sign" of the one-finger salute. (No, not THAT finger, dirty-mind!). It's the "distinctive and well-known" Islamist index finger salute to Allah (blessed be his name), so Obama can let the leaders of the African nations know that secretly he is with them.

But if that is the case, then what are we to think about this?

OH MY GOD!!! It's worse than we ever thought!!! Yeah, we "get" the Billary Clintons -- that goes without saying. But sweet Jesus, Richard Nixon, Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush and for fuck's sake, is that Ronald Reagan???!!!

I hate to be all smug about this, but it all goes back to those goddam hippies. Check this out:

Yes, that is none other than Mister Natural, who happens to be my personal guru, and just look at that fucker. He's doing it too!!!

OMFG, we are SO fucked!!!

Tennessee Wants the Bible for "Official State Book"

 A Tennessee state rep, one Jerry Sexton (R-Fartknocker) wants the state to designate an official State Book. Not just any book, mind you, but the Big One itself, the so-called Holy Bible.

Aside from the obvious constitutional church-state issues (First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...") it is not clear to me what that particular book has to do with Tennessee. It seems to me as though an official "state book" ought to somehow reflect the history, the culture, or the literature of the state it is the offical book of.

There are dozens of famous writers connected to Tennessee, from James Agee to Alex Haley to Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren, all of them having written significant books suitable for consideration. I personally would like to see either Haley's Roots: The Saga of An American Family or Warren's All the King's Men be chosen for Tennessee's official state book.

While we are at it, I note that Tennessee doesn't seem to have an official "state film" -- I'd like to remedy that by nominating Stanley Kramer's great 1960 classic, Inherit the Wind, the story of the infamous Scopes "Monkey Trial" starring Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond (the Clarence Darrow character),  Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady (William Jennings Bryan), Gene Kelley in a non-singing and dancing role as E.K. Hornbeck (H.L. Mencken ) and a young pre-Bewitched Dick York as Bertram Cates (John Scopes).

This is another of my "must-see cinema" entries. You can watch the trailer here:

But to see it in good quality, you need to get the DVD from Netflix.

See also the Inherit the Wind page on the IMDB.

Are you listening, Rep. Jerry Sexton?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Must-See Cinema: Night of the Living Dead

Okay, while the original Night of the Living Dead should be at the top of everyone's "must-see cinema" list, I am sure that everyone has already seen it like a million times. It's the most influential made-on-a-shoestring movie ever made, and it is the stuff of cinematic legend.

If by some off chance you have not seen it check it out here on YouTube (in Hi-Def!).

But it's not that Night of the Living Dead that I'm talking about here. No, I am talking about the parody-spoof version done by an improvisational  comedy group called The LA Connection, who had a syndicated television show way back in 1985 called Mad Movies with the LA Connection.

This group would parody classic films by using the What's Up Tiger Lily? approach of making up a comic alternate dialog, overdubbed onto the screen images. In their short run on television, they did comic versions of some 24 movies, all of which are available for viewing on YouTube.

But my very favorite of all of these spoofs was their take on Night of the Living Dead:

Watch it. If you liked the original movie, you'll love this spoof! Hell, even if you didn't -- it's still fucking hilarious! Even with the poignant touch added by Lesley Gore's death a couple of days ago.

Watch it, you'll get it...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Exploitation Movies: Narcotic (1933)

The 1930s produced a cornucopia of grindhouse exploitation films (aka "sexploitation" movies), usually disguised as "educational" movies that were ostensible cautionary tales about one social problem or another.

Here's Narcotic from 1933, another one from cheesy schlock director and "King of the Celluloid Gypsies" Dwain Esper.

Full movie:

This is an early film from the notorious Esper. A respected doctor who intends to go down in history instead goes down in flames, the result of ... narcotics. A night smoking opium in Chinatown results in the main character, Dr. William Davis (based on a true story!), heading down that by-now-familiar road to degradation. An inscrutable "Chinaman" named Gee Wu plays an important role in this, while at the same time mouthing mystical "Oriental" fortune-cookie platitudes: "The fool may mouth with ease the words that the thinker has uttered with great effort". BTW, this role is, in the great Hollywood tradition, played by a Caucasian (see, for example, the career of Anna May Wong, who was denied the leading role in The Good Earth apparently because she was "too Chinese" -- the Hayes Office wouldn't allow the producers to show "miscegnation", i.e., a Chinese woman married to a Caucasian!.)

At one point in this disjointed hot mess, our good doctor is shown barking in a carnival, selling his patent "feel-good" medicine out of a tent. Look for the snakes -- in an example of faulty foreshadowing and heavy-handed symbolism, we see a cat being extremely interested in a snake in a glass display case. We see it several times, in fact, and when the snake inevitably escapes we see it devouring whole ... no, not the cat, but another snake!

The money shot: The "dope" party wherein the participants consume, in rapid order, cocaine, morphine, heroin and marijuana. And there's also some brief nudity when the doctor attacks one of the women after the party and rips her bodice! Off!

The doc finally gets his comeuppance (did you think he wouldn't?) by his own hand, but not before he ends up a wasted shell of his former self.

Lessons learned: Don't smoke that first bowl of opium, don't trust "Chinamen" and don't buy patent medicine.

Also released as: Narcotic Racket, Narcotic!, Narcotic: As Interpreted by Dwain Esper.

Further exploration:
Narcotic on the IMDB
Dwain Esper: King of the Celluloid Gypsies -- short documentary about Esper on YouTube.
Exploitation Film on Wikipedia.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How the GOP Invented Elizabeth Warren

Hey there, righties, don't like Elizabeth Warren? You shouldn't, because she's coming for YOU!!!

But your side helped her to become the darling of the left, just because you were a bunch of pricky assholes who were all no-no-no whine-whine-whine when she was nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

"Nooooo!" you whined. "She's tooooo libberralllllll!!!"

Well eat some shit, righties. If your kind hadn't put up that roadblock, she never would have run for the Senate, and those of us over here in the "vast leftwing conspiracy" wouldn't be suggesting her -- "suggesting" in the sense of "begging her to run" -- as a potential Democratic candidate for president.

Sally Kohn over at The Daily Beast has the whole analysis of this story.

Oh, and you rightwingers: Fuck you. Your days are numbered. Get over it.

Monday Music Break: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

In 1961 a white five-guy doo-wop group calling themselves The Tokens had a mega-hit with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight":

Take a look at those guys and tell me which one sang soprano on this track.

Right. None of them. The actual soprano was the most famous singer you've never heard of, Anita Durian, who died just this month, at the age of 87. She had an incredible four-octave range and was in high demand for most of her career.

Her accomplishments include performing in everything from opera and classical recitals to television jingles and cartoon voice-overs. She appeared in several television productions of musicals and operas from the 1950s to the 1970s. It's too bad that she never got the stardom that she deserved, but she does deserve to be remembered, if only for that incredible voice.

The song itself also has an interesting history, being that it was originally composed in Zulu and first recorded in South Africa way back in 1939. That backstory comes complete with accusations of plagiarism along with various copyright issues stemming from its use by Disney in the soundtrack of The Lion King.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Niece Hits the Big Time

Pardon a little avuncular pride here, but my only niece has a snippet-- a bit -- in this video for the Portland OR soccer team, The Timbers. That's her starting at about the 00:02:01 point in the video, talking about her chainsaw(!).

She grew up in Hawaii, and for some ungodly reason right after high school she moved to Grand Forks ND for a few years until finally she seems to have settled down in Portland.

Who knows? This could be the start of something big. You go, girl!

Time For a Third Party?

I've railed before about the fact that a Third Party movement in this country is historically the road to doomsville.

But if Hillary Clinton is, as the MSM/SCLM* in all their pontifical glory pontificates, the Democratic Party's "presumptive front runner" in an election that is still some 22 months away, then maybe it's time for some "agonizing reappraisal". As I've indicated before, I get kind of queasy when I even think about a Hillary Clinton presidency.

So maybe, in the face of all the history that indicates that it will not work, maybe it is finally time for a Progressive Party resurgence in this country. Even a reboot of  the 1912 Bull Moose Party of Teddy Roosevelt would be far preferable to what we will face if we have an election choice between Hillary Clinton and Little Jebbie Bush.

Our Progressive Party candidate? Come on, like you even have to ask: Elizabeth Warren. Even if we lose, which we are likely to do, it will send a message to the HMFICs (i.e., "Head MotherFuckers In Charge" -- it's a military term...) in both parties that we have fucking HAD IT!

In the eternal words of Howard Beale in Network, we are mad as hell and we are not gonna take it any more!!!!

* Main Stream Media/So-Called Liberal Media

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Eating Lamb -- And Its Terrible Aftermath

I really like lamb. According to my mother, it was one of my favorite varieties of baby food until my father stopped her from feeding it to me. He was a poultry, pork and beef man, and anything else was off the table. We didn't even eat very much fish -- just some frozen fish sticks now and then and a perch or two that I dragged out of our pond on occasion and cajoled my mother into frying up for me. That's probably why I didn't grow up to be a big hobby fisherman like so many of my friends. My father didn't fish, so he didn't take me out on any of those father-son-bonding fishing trips.

Anyway I did not eat lamb for another 40 years. I never even knew that I had liked it so much as a baby since I stopped getting it before I was a year old. Occasionally the mess hall would serve up some tough and nearly tasteless mutton strips when I was in the army. It was, like all army food, mostly tasteless and only marginally edible -- nothing to write home about. And, looking back on it, it certainly didn't taste like lamb.

I rediscovered lamb several years after I got out of the service when I was living in Portland, Oregon, and stumbled onto a sure-'nough genuine and authentic gyro shop. This was the kind actually owned by a Greek couple who could hardly speak English but he was an expert at carving off just the right amount of meat from that vertical rotisserie, in perfect slices to wrap up with that pita bread and fill with Feta cheese and tzatziki sauce. I ate there pretty much every time I got the opportunity, even after I'd moved away -- I was not above making a special two-hour trip down there just for the gyros.

Once I got together with She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, though, my intake of lamb went down precipitously. She refuses to eat it and for many years she wouldn't even allow it in the house. Whenever I felt like having a lamb gyro, I had to sneak around and get one from a local ersatz Greek lunch-counter whose minimum-wage workers didn't really know what they were doing. But finally a Middle-Eastern cafe opened up a couple of blocks from my office, and while it wasn't technically Greek, it was owned by some refugee Palestinians, a people who had raised and eaten lamb for centuries and knew how it was supposed to be done.

But there is one thing about lamb that most people don't know -- at least the ones who don't eat it. It gives you the most terrible, noxious farts you've ever come across. These are farts that can burn a hole in your tighty-whities, singe your nose hairs, take the rust off a bumper, and strip the wallpaper off the kitchen wall. I don't even have to tell She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed when I've eaten lamb. It becomes patently, odoriferously obvious in about an hour.

She was also raised in a Midwestern meat-and-potatoes family, and she won't eat lamb because they are "little-baby-lambs" and they are "cute". Maybe I wouldn't either if I had to slaughter and butcher one myself -- but I wouldn't eat beef or pork under those circumstances either any more. When I was growing up on the farm, it was a routine thing, come slaughtering time, and it didn't seem to bother me any -- but it probably did, since now I am the first to admit that I am a rank hypocrite when it comes to this kind of thing, one who won't kill his own food, preferring to remain out of sight and let a "hired gun" do it for him.

We were at our local Trader Joe's store the other day and they had, as their "free samples", some lamb kebob meatballs. I ate one, and then ate another one. The demonstration lady asked me if I wanted my wife to try them, but I said no, she won't eat lamb.

"Oh, is she a vegetarian?"

"No, she watches too many cartoons."

But I still scooped up a couple of frozen boxes of those lamb-kebab meatballs, which I stuffed into the bottom of the shopping cart and then hid in the back of the freezer when we got home. When she goes out of town on one of her periodic "antique road trips", I'll be rolling in clover.

And it will feel like I am in church, since I'll be sitting in my own pew...

Five Reasons Why Progressives Should Not Support a Clinton Candidacy

Over at Truthout, Joseph Mulkerin has an incisive analysis, Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton that is well worth the read.

As I've said before, if it comes down to Hillary Clinton against any other Republican, I will hold my nose and vote for her, if only because I don't want a Republican to even be elected dog-catcher. But in all likelihood and barring some anti-miracle, I won't give her the active campaign work that I have freely provided in the past to Democratic presidential candidates. Or the money, either. Nor will a lot of people I know.

In fact, just the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency kind of creeps me out...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hot Asian Chicks!

Traditional American folk ballad Sweet Betsy from Pike:

    Did you ever hear tell of Sweet Betsy from Pike,
    Who crossed the wide mountains with her lover Ike,
    Two yoke of cattle, a large yeller dog,
    A tall Shanghai rooster, and a one-spotted hog.

In case you were wondering, this is a Shanghai rooster:

And these are some of his offspring:

And they are in an incubator. So ... hot Asian chicks!

Yes, as you may have guessed, this is yet another desperate and cynical attempt to lure more readers to this blog...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Boycott Limbaugh Sponsors

By now you all know exactly how I feel about that pimple-ass draft-dodging professional blow-hole/windbag Rush Limbaugh. Well, I feel the same way about anyone who is willing to sponsor his pollution of the airways. Thanks to the Daily Kos, here's a list of Rushbo's sponsors, companies that we should all feel free to boycott. Now.

This list contains his top ten advertisers: Lifelock, iHeart Radio, 1800flowers,, Visiting Angels, ProFlowers, Hillsdale College, Lear Capital, PajamaGram, and IDrive.

Read the full story, which also contains links to the company websites, and keep those companies in mind whenever you are thinking about purchasing some goods or services. Find out who their competition is and patronize them instead. Vote with your wallet. You'll feel better about yourself.

And speaking of feeling better about yourself, why not sign this petition? It will be sent to those very same sponsors every time they get an additional 500 names. Make your voice heard!

You will, of course, be asked to make a monetary contribution. It's not required and even though I am anti-capitalist, I realize that this is an imperfect world and money is required to keep it spinning... Contribute if you like, or not. Because freedom...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How Do We Know What We Know?

The short answer is that we don't really know what we think we know. I've written about false memories before a couple of times, most recently in my February Book of the Month post, and now we have an almost textbook example of it in NBC's Brian Williams.

His story illustrates almost perfectly how a false memory can be planted, watered, nurtured, and allowed to come to full bloom. It's pretty easy to dismiss Williams as a lying liar warrior-wannabe and an example of "big media" and its lying liars who lie, but I don't think it's as simple as that.

There's an excellent article at rival network CBS called Brian Williams and the false memory phenomenon" that is worth taking a look at:

"I was kind of amazed by how insistent and quick people would say he was liar when there was another plausible interpretation -- that he had a false memory," Elizabeth Loftus, a distinguished professor the at the University of California, Irvine, and an expert in human memory, told CBS News. "Mostly these false memories develop and people are not even aware of why they happen."
Loftus calls Williams' circumstances a "teaching moment." She says it's a perfect example of how a false memory can subconsciously slide into a person's psyche until it becomes their version of the truth. Williams defines his mess-up as a the "fog of memory."
Loftus explains that a false memory occurs when a person comes to believe something happened that didn't; they may have adopted an account they heard or made up, perhaps based on details that are distorted and loosely based on the truth. "Brian Williams is sort of a combination of this," says Loftus.
How many times has something like this happened to you: Two people who were both at the same incident will talk about it later and realize that they disagree on the details so radically that an independent observer will come away thinking that they were witness to two different incidents?

This kind of thing happens between me and She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed all the time. It makes for some interesting ... "discussions".

It's a phenomenon that should be more well known, which is why so-called "eyewitness testimony", while it has a lot of seeming credibility in a courtroom, is the most unreliable testimony. And yet people are routinely sentenced to death because of it.

And of course, Jon Stewart has his own unique take on the whole Brian Williams saga.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

10 Myths About the Separation of Church and State

There are ten standard myths concerning the concept and practice of Separation of Church and State in the United States. They are demonstrably false, and everyone ought to know this already, but it's always a good thing to take a "refresher course" and be reminded of them.

Here, briefly, are the ten major myths about the Separation of Church and State, promoted by the Religious Right. For an extended analysis and solid rebuttal of each of these points, please go to the Americans United for Separation of Church and State website and read Myths Debunked.

  1. Separation of church and state isn’t found in the U.S. Constitution. Rather, it is a modern invention of the Supreme Court, a communist idea, something Nazis concocted, etc.
  2. The United States was founded to be a Christian nation.
  3. Separation of church and state was originally intended to merely bar the creation of a national church.
  4. Most of the Founders were evangelical Christians and supported government promulgation of that mode of faith.
  5. Mottos like “In God We Trust” on currency and “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are evidence that separation of church and state was never intended.
  6. Thanks to separation of church and state, kids can’t pray in public schools.
  7. Separation of church and state fosters secularism, which drains religion of its vitality.
  8. Separation of church and state means that government must be hostile to religion.
  9. Most religious leaders don’t support separation of church and state.
  10. Separation of church and state stifles the public voice and presence of religion.
These are myths -- no they are lies -- that are deliberately spread by the Religious Right, and they are harmful to the people who believe them, harmful to the communities where those people live, and harmful to the nation as a whole.

Here is the truth. Fight back!

Exploitation Movies: Marihuana (1936)

The late 1930s produced a cornucopia of grindhouse exploitation films (aka "sexploitation" movies), usually disguised as "educational" movies that were ostensible cautionary tales about one social problem or another.

Marihuana [sic], directed by cheesy schlock director and "King of the Celluloid Gypsies" Dwain Esper, is nowhere near as unintentionally hilarious as Reefer Madness, but it does have its fun-to-watch moments.

Full movie:

There is of course the obligatory warning scroll -- the so-called "square-up" disclaimer -- about the Narcotic Menace where we learn the FACT that marijuana, "the Hashish of the Orent, is commonly distributed as a doped cigarette" and that "its most terrifying effect is that it fires the user to extremely cruelty and license".  Really.

The plot centers on a "teenage" girl named Burma (played by 23-year-old Harley Wood), supposedly from one of those "good homes" that are always in the background of these characters -- it can happen anywhere! Burma is the younger sister of Elaine, and the intensity of the sibling rivalry is off the rails. It is nothing but obvious that Mother loves Elaine more, so Burma has to do what she can to make up for that lack of parental affection.

She's out jitterbugging with her boyfriend, Dick, and some other "kids" in a bar when an older man, Tony, sidles up to their table and smoothly introduces himself with the oily air of a skeezy used car salesman. It's already established before he even approaches them that he is a dope pusher, dealing drugs right there in the nightclub. In real life, of course, these kids would run away from a guy like this as quick as they could. Not this gang, though. They want to have a "weenie roast" on the beach the coming weekend, and Tony, his pencil-thin mustache quivering in anticipation, offers the free use of his beach house.

Cut to the beach party at the house, everyone starts smoking Tony's weed and literally from the very first (non-inhaled!) puff they all get the giggles. While this party could have taken place anywhere, it's set on the beach so one of the girls can suggest that they go skinny-dipping The next thing you know a squealing bevy of naked twenty-five-year-old teenagers is dashing into the water.

During the course of this party, Burma's boyfriend has his way with her, right there in the sand. One of the girls -- the immediately-disposable one (who would be wearing the red shirt in a Star Trek episode) -- doesn't come back from the water but no one notices that she's gone (damn dope!) for quite a while. Then they suddenly remember her but it's too late and they find her body washed up on the beach. Dead.

Tony convinces the kids to say nothing about being in his house, the cops buy the story, the local newspaper tut-tuts over the drowning and just when you think everything is going to be okay, Burma turns up with a didn't-see-that-coming pregnancy from her tryst with Dick in the sand.

The boyfriend says he will marry her, but because he doesn't have a job or any money (despite the fact that he is tooling around town in a late-model roadster) he goes to Tony for help. Tony of course is glad to "help" and sends the boyfriend out to help unload bales of dope from a boat at the docks. The police are watching the boat, an action-packed running gun battle ensues, and the boyfriend is, surprise, killed by the police.

In her last act as the "good girl", Burma confronts Tony and threatens to go to the police. Tony is way too smooth for that to happen, so he convinces Burma not only to not go to the cops, but that he will send her away some place to have her baby so she doesn't bring the shame of an illegitimate child onto her family, especially her older sister who is marrying into a society family.

Fast-forward to Burma in a hospital bed, apparently having just given birth, and Tony shows up to tell her that he's arranged for a wealthy couple to adopt the baby and give it a good home. Burma has reservations, but finally agrees to this arrangement, and the next time we see her several years later she's had a personality transplant. She is now a brassy, aggressive, hardened -- and addicted herself -- dope dealer who goes by the gangster nickname "Blondie", delivering the stuff for Tony and his sidekick.

When she accidentally sees her sister and her hoity-toity rich husband with their daughter, she lands on the final solution to even the score with Elaine. She will kidnap the little girl and extort $50,000 in ransom from her sister, who will pay because she won't want it known that Blondie, a dope-pushing kidnapper, is her sister.

We don't see the actual kidnapping, but we see Burma trying unsuccessfully to bond with the little girl -- who looks like an alternate-reality Shirley Temple -- while they are waiting for the ransom to be paid.

Now that we are the end of the movie the pace picks up: In rapid-fire order we learn that -- again, surprise -- the little girl is actually Burma's child given up for adoption. Adopted by her own sister! Burma rushes home for that mother-and-child-reunion that we already know is not going to go well On the way she still finds time to stop and shoot up, and then she collapses into overdose heaven the moment she sees the child.

Lessons learned: Marijuana is the gateway drug into heroin and cocaine, oily men with pencil-thin mustaches are not to be trusted, and just one puff(!) will get you addicted. Then it's one ugly crime-infested downward spiral into death.

Also released as Marihuana: The Devil's Weed!; Marihuana, the Weed with Roots in Hell!

Further exploration:
Marihuana on the IMDB.
Dwain Esper: King of the Celluloid Gypsies -- short documentary about Esper on YouTube.
Exploitation Film on Wikipedia.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Everything I Learned in Film School in Under Three Minutes

No, I didn't go to film school. However, I did take a number of classes in film back in the day and think that I know something about cinema, which is why you will see movies popping up pretty regularly in my posts.

Here's a movie I could have made, had I actually gone to film school... Instead real film school graduate Mikey Gleason made it for us:

By the way, in case you've never seen the film co-directed by Salvador Dali referenced in Gleason's Top Five, it's called Un Chien Andalou and, as you might expect for anything Dali had a finger in, it is fucking weird. That's a freeze-frame from the movie's most infamous scene that you see in the embed above.

You can watch it here on YouTube, since for some reason they won't allow it to be embedded.

Monday Music Break: Show Biz Kids -- NSFW(!)

Here's a side of Steely Dan you've never seen . DEFINITELY this is NSFW:

But if you'll recall  the inspiration for the band's name, you'll likely not be surprised...

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Ready For Warren

I don't want the candidacy for presidential office handed over without a fight to someone just because she is the wife of a former president, a former senator from New York and a former Secretary of State who will do next to nothing  for the Working Class or the Middle Class of this Country, someone who is in bed a little too comfortably with Wall Street. I want someone with a progressive history of fighting for us, the working people, and the middle class against Wall Street and and the Big Banks.

Elizabeth Warren "gets" it. She can be that candidate. I am Ready for Warren. We have to convince her that we want her to run. Go to Ready for Warren and tell them you are Ready for Warren, too, for her run for the office of US President. Please, do it today!

Forgotten Women of Black History: Claudette Colvin

Right now I think I hear a collective "Claudette who?"

Claudette Colvin was a US Civil Rights activist who preceded the much more famous Rosa Parks by almost a year. For the very same "anti-social" behavior.

On March 2, 1955, Claudette Colvin became the first person arrested for resisting segregation in the public transit system of Birmingham, Alabama. It was too bad for her that she was an unmarried pregnant teenager at the time -- because of that, the local NAACP was reluctant to make her the test case. They preferred to wait a while, until the more socially-acceptable Rosa Parks made her own scene on the bus.

Colvin, however, kind of had the last laugh: She was one of the original plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, which resulted in the finding that segregation on city buses was unconstitutional in the United States, a decision that was ultimately affirmed by the US Supreme Court.

It's too bad that she never really got the respect and the accolades that she deserved. I hope that by publicizing her courageous stand, even at this late date, we can take a small step in correcting that.

Friday, February 06, 2015

This Guy Is Still Alive?

Pat Boone. The very name conjures up some vague and misty saccharin-sounding memories of the 1950s, what with writing love letters in the sand and all that. Never mind that devil-made-me-do-it "heavy metal" album he made in what, the 1980s?

I'm surprised to learn that he is still alive and writing for that wingnut wacko website, WorldNetDaily. Remember them? --- they are the ones famous for "swiftboating" John Kerry way back in 2004.

Now, thanks to Wonkette, we learn that not only has Pat Boone's career path taken an ugly turn or two, but that now he is officially not only batshit crazy but also senile:

This is the 50th anniversary of the film “Doctor Strangelove.” Ironic, if not prescient. […] There’s a different scenario unfolding in this country we love, right before our eyes, and we’re reading about it in the daily papers and seeing it on the nightly news broadcasts. What if our elected leadership had decided America no longer deserved to be leader of the free world, should have its military and its programs reduced to ineffectual status, our vibrant economy bankrupted, and that our republic should be “fundamentally transformed” into a virtual socialist, if not outright communist, society?
Cue Scooby Doo: "Unh-Hyunhhhnh???"
What if the elected president and his attorney general, both sworn to defend the Constitution and the security of the United States, decided – even made public statements – that they would not defend the laws concerning our borders and a mass invasion by illegal aliens, including near certain terrorists with plans for future 9/11 style attacks in our own cities? Even crazier than “Doctor Strangelove,” right? Couldn’t happen? But wait. Are you old enough to remember the name Willie Horton?
Willie Fucking Horton? Really, Pat? Really?

Well, Pat, I guess it's time for you to put on some of those White Buck Shoes and kick some Negro ass. But you know, not all the Negroes -- just them white-woman-rapin' Negroes. Like Willie Horton. Not the "good Negroes" -- I'm sure you know one or two.

Goddammit, I wish I had some old Pat Boone records, just so I could toss them into a record-burnin' bonfire. The same bonfire that the wingnut Religious Right wackos used to burn "the devil's music" back in the day. The same bonfire that the Rethugs and those in their righteous thrall used to burn The Dixie Chicks records because one of them, the dastardly unpatriotic BITCH, had the nerve to criticize Baby Doc Bush. In public.

But sad to say, I never really had any Pat Boone records. I had a lot of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard (back before he went religio-insane) and the like. But none of that spongey-fuck crap that sounded like the singer (i.e., Pat Boone) had a mouthful of Santorum...

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Strange Anti-Vaccination Bedfellows

I'm not a scientist, but...

I find it interesting that there are two kinds of anti-vaccination people: Tea Baggers on the right and Marin County "limousine liberals" on the left. Marin County as in the attitude, not the actual county -- that's a handy kind of shorthand to use when you're talking about over-privileged leftwing snobs who hug trees, drive hybrids, shop at Whole Foods and look down their noses at the riffraff. "Liberal Marin County" -- like they officially changed their name to that?

The wingnutttery and their pals in the MSM/SCLM* lost no opportunity to point out, in every fucking news story, the fact that John Walker Lindh (aka "Johnny Taliban") was a product of Liberal Marin County. Every fucking one!. While in the meantime, Mary Kay Letourneau, a convicted child rapist was constantly in the news about the same time as Johnny Taliban, with almost no mention of the fact that she was a product of Conservative Orange County -- or the fact that she was the daughter of a John Birch Society mucky-muck and former rightwing presidential candidate John Schmitz.

Anyway, I find it interesting that these two seemingly opposing-view-point groups agree on, of all things, vaccination. To the point where they are willing to put the lives of their children at risk. The Washington Post blog has a pretty good story on this phenomenon.

I had measles when I was six years old, and it was, to say the least, not fun. I was kept in the dark and in bed and had no appetite at all. I lost several pounds -- I don't remember how many, but it was a substantial amount of weight for a six-year-old. I missed a month of school and spent the rest of the year catching up, and it's not something I'd wish even on a Teabagger's kid

So, IMHO, people who refuse to get their children vaccinated are just plain irresponsible assholes as parents, who have no business putting their "sincerely-held beliefs" (jerkoff arm motion) before the well-being of their children. As much distaste and disdain as I have for the entire Bush Royal Family, it's to Jebbie's credit that he agrees with that.

* Main Stream Media/So-Called Liberal Media

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Late Score: Mormons 1, Teh Gays 0

Splashing all over the news last week was the story that the Mormon Church was making a 180-degree turn in its policies on Teh Gay.

The One True ChurchTM appeared to come out in support of gay rights. But did it really? Well, as they say, "the devil is in the details".

The Prophet, Seer and Revelator of The Church, along with his sidekicks in the so-called "First Presidency" and their Corporate Board of Directors Quorum of the Twelve Apostles decided that it probably wasn't cool any more to discriminate against gay people.

That is, of course, unless the person doing that discriminating could play the Religion Card by having some deeply-felt "religious objection" to providing goods or services to one of them damn "homosessual" people, i.e., everyone in the LGBT community.

So this is another question-that-asks-itself: Who besides "religious" people are the ones doing all that homo-hating?

Answer: No one.

This means that the One True Church© scores one point in the stupid-media-will-fall-for-anything game, but no one really has to make that Lesbian Wedding Cake or take those Two-Dicks-No-Chicks Adam & Steve wedding photographs.

"Sorry, faggots, you're encroaching on my religious liberty. Fuck off."

You know, the same way that "religious objection" kept the races separate by passing anti-miscegnation laws. How that same objection kept innkeepers from renting rooms to "Negroes". How that same objection allowed Southern lunchcounter owners to refuse to serve "anyone" they didn't want to (aka Black people). How that same objection kept Jews out of those "exclusive" clubs.

The list is pretty much endless, all of them examples of how "religious people" could play that Race-Card-in-Reverse to keep those offensive-looking Others from enjoying the vast opportunities that this nation could provide -- provide to the "right kind of folks", to be sure, but still. Isn't it better that the Select enjoy that bounty than no one enjoy it?

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Exploitation Movies: Child Bride (1938)

The late 1930s produced a cornucopia of grindhouse exploitation films (aka "sexploitation" films), often disguised as "educational" movies that were cautionary tales about one social problem or another. Perhaps the most famous of these was Reefer Madness from 1938, mostly famous because it suddenly found a whole new audience in the early 1970s: Hippies who went to see it and get stoned. I watched it at an off-campus "art" theater in Isla Vista CA in an auditorium so filled with pot smoke that you could hardly see the screen. It was also hard to hear the dialogue over the laughter, the cat-calls and the hoots and jeers at the stern lectures and sordid examples of the horrible things marijuana could -- no, would -- do to you.

Among these exploitation films, perhaps the most infamous, the most notorious, was Child Bride, also from 1938, which was ostensibly about the contemporary social horror of grown men marrying girl-children in -- where else? -- the Ozarks:

Great cinema it ain't, and it got its notoriety solely because of a fairly lengthy scene of a precociously-developed 12-year-old girl skinny-dipping at the old swimmin' hole somewhere in the Ozarks while a good-ole-boy older-man voyeur/would-be swain looks on. If she looks vaguely familiar, it's likely because the actress, Shirley Mills, also played Ruthie, the youngest daughter of the Joad family, in The Grapes of Wrath, released the following year.

The film's exploitational taglines for its "educational" posters included the following: "A throbbing drama of shackled youth!" and "Where Lust was called Just!" It also managed to land on  Filmsite's list of the 100 Most Controversial Films of All Time.

That nude swimming scene, BTW, predated by thirty-some years a very similar scene by a teenage Jenny Agutter in the 1971 Australian film Walkabout, which was also controversial because of the tender age of the actress at the time of filming.

Child Bride was able to avoid the restrictive censors of the Hayes Office by being produced and distributed outside the studio system. Because of that nude scene, it was banned in many locales, and that banning, along with the gratuitous prurience of the scene itself, gave it an infamy that has long outlived any merits of the film itself. (Spoiler Alert: There aren't any.)

From the Wikipedia article:
The movie is perhaps best known for the lengthy nude child swimming scene, which Allmovie described as "completely gratuitous" and "obviously Child Bride's main selling point and the reason for its longevity on the exploitation circuit."
The film had been submitted to the Production Code Administration for a certificate of approval, but was denied because of its subject matter, which was said to be "a sexually abhorrent abnormality which violates all moral principles," and because of the onscreen child nudity. The censors also objected to [spoiler alert] the murderer never being punished for his deeds.
In fact, I am honestly kind of surprised, in our modern age of overreaction to anything smacking of so-called "kiddie porn" (an attitude which led to the bare breasts of a young Hawaiian girl being "pan-and-scanned" out of frame in the home video release of the 1966 movie Hawaii) that Child Bride is so readily available for viewing on YouTube and other places on the Internet.

There's another notable "sexploitation" scene in this movie: A young and beautiful "schoolmarm" is yanked from her bed in the middle of the night by a bunch of hood-wearing ruffians and dragged through the woods while wearing a sleek satin nightgown that looks more a product from Sak's Fifth Avenue than Paw Clampett's General Store down in the holler. Unsurprisingly -- shockingly -- it gets torn to shreds during the abduction.

Back in the golden age of exploitation films, people who went to grindhouse theaters, while not true connoisseurs of cinematic art, still were more or less conscious enough to recognize the title if they'd seen a movie before, so it was common for movies to be rapidly re-released under different titles. Reefer Madness originally appeared as Tell Your Children and sometimes was known as The Burning Question, Dope Addict, Doped Youth and Love Madness. Child Bride was also distributed, at various times, with the titles Child Brides, Child Bride of the Ozarks and the neutral-sounding Dust to Dust.

If you watch it, you'll likely see another familiar face in this movie, and that's Angelo Rossitto (here billed inexplicably as "Don Barrett"). If that name doesn't pop out at you, his filmography will. He was a dwarf whose film career spanned 60 years, including an appearance in Tod Browning's controversial classic Freaks and in the role of Master in the Mel Gibson Road Warrior sequel, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.  What an Italian dwarf was doing in the Ozarks in the first place was never explained...but I guess it didn't need to be.

We live in the Information Age. For good or ill, we have almost instant access to more information than any other people at any time in history. That includes the ability to watch, in the comfort of our own homes, the tawdry spectacle of movies that were originally intended to be quick cash grabbers and then vanish. I can just imagine the final embarrassment that Shirley Mills, who died in 2010 at the age of 83, must have felt when toward the end of her life her movie debut became so widely available.