Never surrender to nincompoops or madmen

There are some movies I will watch again and again for just one scene. 

In the movie The Darkest Hour, Winston Churchill rides the Underground for the first time as his advisors urge him to surrender to the Nazis. The bulk of the British army is surrounded at Dunkirk and the Americans are refusing to join the fight. Surrender seems to be the only way to avoid catastrophic defeat. Those politicians on the side of surrender have talked themselves into believing they can come to reasonable terms with a depraved madman but Churchill knows otherwise.The scene I love in that movie opens with Churchill gazing out at ordinary Londoners trying to escape the rain from his limousine. It’s a stark reminder that wars are begun by men in chauffeur-driven limos but it’s the man on the street who pays the price. Suddenly he disappears. When next seen he is trying to figure out the system map much to the surprise of the commuters. Aristocrats don’t ride the Underground everyday. Once they warm up to him, he asks how they feel about surrendering to Germany and to a man, woman and even a child they say “Never Surrender.”

 And of course Churchill weeps and I wept along with him.

After the movie I made the mistake of watching the news. Good grief.  Today a senate committee questioned some muleheaded nincompoop determined to stonewall them unless he could expound upon the dignity of human life (code speak for “take away a woman’s right to choose.”)  Any time a committee member came up with a reasonable question about his credentials, some jackass from the other party interrupted their time by yelling “point of order” which actually had nothing to do with order but had more to do with defending a nincompoop put into enormous power by a madman and I wanted to yell “NEVER SURRENDER” loud enough that it could be heard in Washington D.C.  

On a lighter note, here are a few favorite scenes from movies I’ll take the time to watch just for a few unforgettable scenes:

  • Mortimer discovers his dear sweet aunties are serial killers.
  • Ralphie gets a rude awakening from Santa
  • Winger and Ziskey discover they’ve joined the “wrong” army.

There are many more of course.  And we need them these days, we surely do.  Is there a movie you’d watch again just for one scene or am I the only one addicted to sentimentality? 

Republicans Oppose Cupid’s Plan For Universal Love

Once again, the Modern Philosopher! Enjoy!

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

Valentine's Day, Cupid, love, politics, humor, Modern PhilosopherApparently, President Trump and the Republican Party do not believe that everyone deserves to have a happy Valentine’s Day, Modern Philosophers.

The Republicans today vowed to shoot down Cupid’s proposed plan for Universal Love.

According to the plan set forth by the little archer in the diaper, love would be made available to all, free of charge.

The members of the GOP, which I’m assuming stands for Gang Of Partypoopers, said there is no way such a plan would be allowed on their watch.

“America is a country of freedom and independence, not socialism,” President Trump reminded everyone in a Tweet.  “Love is not a right.  It is a privilege, and wealthy white males get first crack at it.  Cupid can’t just demand that everyone gets love.  Free love was outlawed after the sixties, and it’s going to stay that way!”

Trump wasn’t done (Is he ever???).  “If we were…

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The Volcanic Activity of Buses

tin hats

I have a book with scribbles in it

the air is a clock

the temperature is time

the alarm is people dying from the weather

snow falls in Seattle

the man and the woman sit side-by-side on the bus

their faces are slices of the Cascades

strained with hidden volcanic activity

his fingers are ingrained in her throat

like the purple veins on the exposed rock of a river bed

I ask them if the bus is going downtown

I ask them where is the driver

the woman looks at me as if the earth is rising up and the #10 bus is about to be pushed down the street and into the sound with garbage containers and trees and shoppers from Macy’s and young pan handlers and Native American alcoholics whittling in doorways

why did she choose him I think

the man can hear me and says shut up

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Rip off the bandaid or go to Mars

Let me just say this fast so it’ll be like a ripped off bandaid and only sting for a few minutes.

Pretending to be a hero.

John Wayne, you should be ashamed. You were an empty vessel for fear mongering propaganda. You were a barbarian parading as virtuous. You shouldn’t have an airport named for you;  your name should be on toilet paper.

There I said it. Readers, are you still with me? 

I was a mere whippersnapper when John Wayne made his last films and, since Westerns interested me in the least,  I watched most of them as an adult and thought they were rather silly. Real cowboys don’t act or look like the Duke. They’re almost never clean, they spit a lot and some sleep with their horses. But, John Wayne was a frequent visitor to the town where I grew up and even rode in Nevada’s annual parade celebrating statehood.  He cut a mighty fine figure, even in his sixties, and I was proud to share a birthday with him (different year lest you try guessing my age.)  But alas, some things I was too young to know.

In the clip above, the empty vessel mouthpiece, John Wayne, claims that Congress can override the Bill of Rights for the purpose of national security.  Sounds like a lofty principle but what he meant was, Congress can imprison or blacklist anyone suspected of discussing subversive ideas, such as communism.  Suspected, being the key word.  Not tried.  Not found guilty. Suspected. If you didn’t like your neighbor, all you’d needed to do during that deadly time was call up the FBI and say you saw a Communist pamphlet in their house and voila!  You could ruin their life. But, like John Wayne, America’s hero, you would be upholding a lofty principle.

In the 1950s a successful screenwriter named Dalton Trumbo was accused of being a communist by a less successful colleague.  This led to his imprisonment and subsequent shunning by friends, neighbors and potential employers.  A punishment known as “blacklisting.” Desperate for income, he organized a group of fellow blacklisted writers and together they convinced the producers of B movies to hire them incognito and far cheaper than the going rate.  And since no one much cared who wrote such masterpieces as This Female is Deadly, they were able to survive.

Until Roman Holiday.  That movie won an Oscar for best screenplay and convinced Otto Preminger to ignore the fear mongering, anti-communists and openly hire him.

The above scene from Spartacus, written by Trumbo for Kirk Douglas is a rebuke to the name-calling and finger-pointing that went on during the McCarthy era, a time when the Bill of Rights was ripped and trampled and few people stood up and said “I am Spartacus.” 

Black Bread

P

tin hats

There’s a sound in your head and it’s driving you crazy

You complain to the photos, but it doesn’t matter and then you start feeling guilty for things that happened somewhere unexpected in the night

Skin and face close over an African hole like a book in your bag and you’ve carried it your whole life, reading from time to time, trying to see where the plot falls, hoping the end is good enough to warrant the effort

You know the end

A fly lands on your hand

It’s wearing six high heels and four thousand pairs of sunglasses

You flip it away and turn on the light to write an email

The dark edge tells you to stop like a cop on the sidewalk and you do, because strangers and friends have no interest in things without meaning

You remember the woman who carried her dead child around for…

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The Old Warrior’s Birthday

Today would have been my father’s birthday and I would have called him on the phone to wish him well. He wasn’t a talker.  His answers were often grunts or a strange chortle which I could once imitate but not since his death.

Dad with his good buddy, Captain Wug

My early memories of him were brutal. He could not tolerate weakness.  Thus, we were never given the option to quit on any project we started. We didn’t have to be the best but we had to finish. And generally without taking a break.  For this reason, many hobbies other people enjoy, such as skiing, ice skating and camping I hate.  Illness was also something he attributed to weakness. The only time I remember him going into a hospital was when he dropped a hammer on his big toe and it swelled up so badly he couldn’t put on a pair of shoes which meant no skiing or hunting.  As he got older,  whenever he said of a medical procedure “that wasn’t so bad” I vowed to never go through that particular procedure while conscious.

 

Our house in rural Michigan

Because he was a hunter and hung his dead animals in the garage to bleed out, all three of his kids ended up practically vegetarians. When I refused to eat any animal whose sad eyes had stared out at me, I got slapped and sent to bed hungry. My younger brother and sister managed to choke down the venison and rabbit on their plates but only because they didn’t want the same thing to happen to them. 

JFK is the first president I remember and he was young and charismatic but in my house, he was the Anti-Christ. During the Nixon years, one of Dad’s hunting buddies was profiled on the news show Sixty Minutes because as sheriff of a small town in rural Nevada, he locked up black folks and long-haired hippies just for the sin of driving through his town. Dad still went hunting with him.  On the other hand, he always treated African Americans, jews, and asian people with respect and worshipped the Native American culture.  As I mentioned in a previous post, he often said that when he became a burden to the tribe, he would disappear into the desert just like an Indian warrior.  

When I was a young adult my parents split and my father quickly remarried.  By that time, my mother had quit the Republican Women’s Club and was veering back towards her working class upbringing.  A few years after my father’s remarriage, his new wife threw a sixtieth birthday party for him and called it “Equal Rights for Whites.”  Apparently she wanted to air her displeasure that a black man (albeit Martin Luther King Jr) would dare to be born on my father’s birthday.  I did not think it was funny.  I did not attend. 

But, because we were denied a television until I was around fourteen, I have a fair knowledge of classical music and, if given the title of a Broadway song, can tell you what musical it is from and probably sing all the lyrics. That was a great gift from my father. I also obsessively complete tasks ahead of me. I almost never leave something undone.

RIP Carol Channing, my favorite Dolly.

But what I will remember most as I careen towards senility is the time we got lost in a ghetto in downtown Oakland and some homies in a lowrider next to Dad’s car tried to provoke us whiteys with middle fingers and curse words and Dad looked over at the car and said calmly, “those are probably some of my students.” It was a joke. He was the dean of mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, a primarily all white school at the time. Perhaps I owe my oddball sense of humor to him.

I don’t think I’d want to relive my childhood but he raised us the way he was raised.  In fact, I suspect his life was far tougher.  Anyway, I’ll miss calling him today.

I should mention that it’s also the tenth anniversary of Sully’s infamous landing on the Hudson River.

Becoming a fruit fly

I dreamt that I died but instead of being free to shape shift into some other existence, a fruit fly or whatever, my ex-husband sucked me into a hologram and made me sing White Christmas alongside Bing Crosby.

He would try to do that because he’s a Mormon now and they own their wives forever. Or so they think.

According to the news show VICE (HBO)  it’s not enough that images of dead celebrities are being used to sell products, now they’re being “reanimated” to do things they may not have wanted to do.  Like sing White Christmas with Michael Buble.

Oh Gawd. Save me from a show filled with reanimated celebrities.  I’d never be able to get to sleep.

No, no, no. I loved them but let them go!

Believe it or not, until recently the legal ramifications of digital necromancy were somewhat fuzzy and the estates of several dead celebs  had to sue to protect their star’s legacy.  And they didn’t always win. In the 1970s a judge on the California Supreme Court actually ruled that after Bela Lugosi died, he no longer owned his “personality rights.”  I guess that judge thought the dead don’t care.  I’ve got news for him.

Today, companies have to gain the permission of a dead celeb’s estate before they exploit his or her “personality” to sell products. But what if a celeb dies intestate?  Whoever winds up in control could do whatever they want.  I’m reminded of Stieg Larsson, the author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, whose estate ended up in the hands of his estranged father and brother.  According to the reviews, the latest installment of the series sadly does not do justice to Larsson’s legacy.

Hologram of Ronald Reagan.

Poor Ronald Reagan has to give the same speeches over and over again and again at his presidential library.  He was scary enough in the flesh.  Seeing him reanimated would definitely bring on the nightmares.

One good thing about not being a celebrity is no one will try to reanimate me after I’m gone.  I’ll be allowed to die and whatever energy force resides within can either scatter to the winds or find another vessel.  

As a non-celebrity I’ll also never be on the following cruel and sadistic lists:

  • Stars Who Aged Badly
  • Stars Nobody Wants to Work With
  • Stars Whose Spouses Are Unattractive

This picture is from “Stars with Bad Mug Shots.” I have no idea who it is but she kind of looks like me in the morning!

And don’t even get me started on wax museums.