Wednesday, June 30, 2010

BP Oil Disaster Is Worse Than Anything Imagined



I watched COUNTDOWN with Keith Olbermann the last hour, with guest John L. Wathen, the Alabama conservationist and activist, the "Hurricane Creekkeeper" who accompanied a pilot on a flight over the oil spill affected areas of the Gulf of Mexico. What he saw was a marine version of Dante's Inferno, with dead and dying dolphins, perhaps 100 or more, whales covered with tar balls, fires on the water surface, a toxic air for hundreds of square miles.

It has become obvious that the level of this disaster is larger than anything that BP has fessed up to, or what the government has prepared the American people for.



Mr. Wathen asks the question, "Will the Gulf ever be the same again?"

Sadly, the situation seems to have gone from the dire to the impossible.

Here's more from his interview with Keith Olbermann.



John Wathen's blog is http://bpoilslick.blogspot.com/. There is much more information, commentary, and videos available.

Pamela Gorman- "A Conservative Christian, and a Pretty Fair Shot"


Arizona Republican Congressional candidate Pamela Gorman is a Second Amendment lovin' straight shooter who wants to take over for retiring John Shadegg in that state's Third Congressional District. While we have yet to know what fate has in store for her after the smoke clears in November, we do know this....if this politics thing doesn't work out, Pam has a shot for a co-starring role in any future remakes of Bonnie and Clyde.

Check out this campaign ad.....



I wonder what Jesus would say about machine guns and the soccer Moms who love them?

THE TUDORS and TREME Finales; Just Catching Up


While I was away on vacation I didn't get a chance to see the finales of two series I've been following regularly. HBO's TREME concluded its first season with some ends, some beginnings, and left the audience wanting just a bit more, whetting your appetite for Season Two.This story of life in New Orleans in the months after Katrina was as good as it gets,  allowing the audience to figure out plots and relationships without having to be spoon fed every detail. And SHOWTIME'S royal soap opera THE TUDORS drew to a close in its fourth season, with curtain calls from some players from previous years. For anyone who wanted a continuation of the series to chronicle the lives of Henry VIII's children, this would prove to be an impossible task due to a decision regarding characters in Season One....but I'll talk about that later.

TREME's finale answered the big question of why John Goodman was never given star billing in the opening credits. Goodman was the closest thing the show had to a household name after his years on Roseanne, and his Creighton Bernette character was one of the pivotal roles on the show. But as we feared in the penultimate Episode 9, Creighton did indeed commit suicide, jumping into the muddy Mississippi from the ferry. And honestly, I don't think I've been so angry with a fictional character in years....he had a teenage daughter who adored him, and a loving wife Toni (Melissa Leo). His despair at what had happened to New Orleans on so many levels was just under the surface, yet his suicide came as a shock because viewers never really saw the level of his hidden pain. But it seemed like such a wasteful cop out; how could he leave the woman who loved him a widow, and his daughter fatherless? It seemed so selfish on his part. Toni felt a sense of anger at Creighton's exit, and so did the audience.

Janette (Kim Dickens) decided to exit New Orleans and visit her folks before going on to New York, not before a somewhat feeble attempt by on and off boyfriend Davis (Steve Zahn) to get her to stay. Annie (Lucia Micarelli) appears to be finished with Sonny ( Michiel Huisman) after finding her abusive and drug addicted ex in her bed with some inked up babe. By the end of the show Annie was sitting on Davis' steps- he missed Janette for about 30 seconds- with Annie needing a place to stay. Davis and Annie seemed to be a better match than Davis and the driven, hard working Janette. Annie, the beautiful and incredibly talented violinist busking the streets and venues of New Orleans was probably the one Davis need all along, but had yet to know it.

 I really didn't know very much about Lucia Micarelli until fairly recently, and wondered if she was an actress who's playing was dubbed in. I guess I must have been living in a cave or something-  Ms Micarelli  is a onetime prodigy and graduate of the Julliard School . Though classically trained, she branched out into jazz, rock, and experimental genres while she was still very young.

She's been recording for years, and has toured with The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Josh Groban, and Chris Botti, as well as recording  her own releases.

And even some classic rock....she's performed with the legendary Jethro Tull. Below, a video from a performance with Ian Anderson and company.



The last 10 minutes of so of the TREME finale were brilliant. LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) and her family were at the funeral of her brother Daymo. During the service LaDonna flashes back to the day before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. We see Antoine (Wendell Pierce) and his family evacuating New Orleans, LaDonna waiting in a gasline, Albert Lambreaux (Clark Peters boarding up windows), Sonny and Annie walking down a deserted New Orleans street, Davis getting ready to sit it out, and the Bernette family huddled around the TV watching THE WEATHER CHANNEL, with Creighton reassuring Sophia and Toni that Katrina will veer away and they'll be OK- but the expression on his face betrays him. And we see Daymo's arrest on the bench warrant, and his imprisonment, where he'll meet his death.

At the end of the service the brass band and the line marches away, New Orleans style. They sway, they dance, and eventually LaDonna joins in. Death comes, life goes on....and mourning morphs into celebration.

And New Orleans goes on.....and will again, even after this latest disaster, man made this time.

The Tudors ended with Henry's (Jonathan Rhys Myers) physical decline accelerating, preceded by the death of longtime friend Charles Brandon (Henry Cavill). Bishop Gardner's plot to have Queen Katherine Parr (Jolie Richardson) arrested as a heretic backfires, and Henry banished Gardner from court. Forseeing his own death, Henry sends Katherine and the Princesses Mary (Sarah Bolger) and Elizabeth (Laoise Murray) to Greenwich. And in his aged delusions Henry has visions of the three mothers of his three legitimate children (all of whom became monarchs), Catherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer), and Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis).

Henry has Holbein paint a final portrait of him, but is displeased and has another done in its place. We leave the series at the point in which Henry views the portrait- Henry dies off screen. It was a choice of chief writer Michael Hirst to end the series in this way- Henry, in Hirst's view, was such a tyrant we couldn't even find sympathy for him in his suffering and death. A tyrant indeed, but a fascinating one.

And as for ending the series and not continuing with the stories of Henry's three heirs? Well, Elizabeth's story has been told often, and a decision Hirst made in Season One would have made continuing the story difficult. Without going into a long lesson in British history, here's what happened. Henry VIII had two sisters, Margaret and Mary. In order to avoid confusion with Henry's daughter Mary, Hirst combined the characters into one, called Margaret. In the series Margaret married a fictional Portuguese king, and later married Charles Brandon and died childless.

The real Margaret married the King of Scotland and was the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary Tudor, Henry's sister, did marry Charles Brandon and had a daughter Frances before dying at age 37. Frances was the maternal grandmother of Lady Jane Grey. Both Lady Jane Grey and Mary Queen of Scots had claims to the English throne, being great-granddaughters of Henry VII and grand nieces of Henry VIII. When Hirst combined the characters of Mary and Margaret into one, this effectively killed any chance to continue the series past Henry's reign....there'd be too many holes to try to fill, as in trying to explain the paternity of these claimants when none had been established in previous episodes.

Still, The Tudors finale was a satisfying end to an intriguing bit of historical drama, with drama being the operative word. Sometimes it's best not to let facts get in the way of good storytelling.

I think I'll use that as a motto.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Next Disabled Person You Meet Might Have A Familiar Face



Commentary

It's good to be back from vacation, somewhat refreshed but alarmed by just how hot its been here in New Jersey, and of the lack of rainfall locally....its in the mid 90's as I type this, with a brown lawn and plants and shrubs that were almost the victims of this mini-drought.


I'll get back into more political stuff shortly.....but I find I'll need to ease back into it, dipping my toes into the cold waters gently. For the past two weeks I kept informed by watching the news, but it was a minimum and I deliberately put current events on a back burner. It was time to clean out the cobwebs and look at things from a different angle. And to deal with some personal issues as well.

On the road last week I had a "eureka moment". As many readers of this blog know I'm the primary caregiver to both of my parents, ages 83 and 81. Both have health issues, and most apparent is their lack of mobility. My Mom needs a walker to get around, and I've finally convinced Dad to start using a cane- his balance isn't good, and he has to stop depending on having a wall or furniture to guide and support himself. So far, so good on that.

Like most people I passed handicapped parking places for years, and had seen the special toilets in public rest rooms, and the wheelchair ramps in public accommodations. And like most people I thought nothing of them- they were always for someone else, not for me or mine.

But today those wheelchair ramps and special restroom facilities are for my parents; the situation has come home to roost, and has been part of our lives for years now. But the eureka moment I was referring to has less to do with my folks and more to do with me, and anyone who's reading this, whether you be a Baby Boomer, a Gen X'er, or whatever. And its this simple truth.

You may be in good health now, and in physical shape, and may even be a world class athlete. But if you live long enough the odds are you too will join the ranks of the disabled.

Its such a simple paradox, this trade off. The good will die young, and rest of us will become old geezers with titanium knees and a hefty supply of overpriced statins. If you live a long life you will probably have to sacrifice your mobility, and be dependent on others to help you along until the end of your days. And it is a tough go for those with disabilities, particularly for those of us who thrive on independence and being able to do things when we want to do them.

I look at those who believe that Medicare should be abolished with astonishment, and to those who protest "Obamacare" as if somehow they hold a empirical key to immortality....in their minds, that is. The bottomline is 20, 30, or 40 years from now you, dear readers, could be the ones occupying the handicapped space in front of the A&P. As a person who's become a caregiver in my middle years, trust me....you'll need all the help you can get.

Last Thursday at the PERKINS restaurant in DuBois, PA the hostess performed a random act of kindness that needed mention. I was driving, and got into the handicapped parking space, and proceeded to "unload" Mom and Dad from the car. Dad's driving is about as good as his walking, so he was relegated to the back seat, my Mom in the passenger's seat in the front. I undid her walker from my bike rack- that's right, her walker was bungied to my mountain bike- while my Dad started to unfold his way out of the back seat. Before he could do any damage to himself, I stopped what I was doing and made sure he had a cane in his hand, then went back to setting up the walker for my Mom, while keeping an eye on my Dad.

At that point the hostess from the restaurant came out and held the door open and kept an eye on my father while I got my mother moving towards the restaurant. She saw I need some help, and she just gave it. It was just a small gesture on her part, taking a minute to give a hand to a total stranger....but it meant a lot to me. We need just a bit more of that in our lives. We'd all be the better for it.

I never caught the name of that young lady in Central Pennsylvania.....but I just wanted to say thanks just the same.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm Back! (Not That Anyone Really Cares!!!)

So.....

I leave for a little more than a week's vacation, and here's what happened!

One of these two scenarios is ABSOLUTELY true.

I was sailing off the coast of Madagascar in route to the World Cup in South Africa when I was shipwrecked by a waterspout. I swam to shore on a remote island where I was captured by Somali pirates and held for ransom (at least a couple of hundred bucks- times are tough for these guys). I was rescued by a beautiful CIA operative who gave me a weapon and we shot our way out of the pirate stronghold, while I grabbed a briefcase full of money on the way out (at least a zillion dollars was inside...yeah, that's the ticket). Nadia (that's her name) decided to quit her job; she couldn't live without me.....we're getting married this afternoon at 6:30 PM EDT; it has to be a quickie ceremony- I'm old, set in my ways and I refuse to miss 60 MINUTES.

OR

I visited my brother and my sister in law in a town between Cleveland and Akron, with guest appearances of my nephew (and his vanishing act), and my niece and her husband of almost two years. My parents came along for the trip as well. Oh yeah...I did have recreation time for me in a nearby National Park (free of any oil spills.

I just noticed that we're getting about 300 new readers a day here in my absence without me writing one darn thing. So much for racking my brain for new material.

Heck....I think I'll take the rest of the summer off!


Gotta run.....my tux are ready!

Monday, June 14, 2010

VACATION!


Its been just about a year since I took anytime off in the form of vacation, and have cranked out hundreds of blog entries in the interim....and thank you for stopping by for a look, and if you haven't, then where have ya been, mate?

But I'm due for some levity...its time!

I'm going to leave on Wednesday for eight days, visiting family and enjoying the great outdoors ......and I'm stepping away from all thing electronic, online, hand-held- EVERYTHING!!!! No blogging, no FACEBOOK, no Twitter....man, that feels good.

And I think I'll start vay-kay a few days early- like right now. Lately there have been days when I had creative juices flowing, and no energy. And on days when I have the energy, I don't have my writing chops. I guess that means its time take a break.

Or maybe I'm just gettin' old and lazy and in need of some crazy daze of summer.

Adios amigos y amigas!

See you next week.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bill Maher- NEW RULES For June 11, 2010


REAL TIME with Bill Maher (HBO 10pm Eastern) is going on break until September....but before going Bill left us with some New Rules regarding McDonalds, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, the Former Half Term Governor of Alaska, and the oil industry.

Panelists include Oliver Stone, Bill Frist, Rachel Maddow,and Jon Meacham.

Friday, June 11, 2010

President Obama Sings! "Who's A$$ To Kick"!


In the midst of the worst environmental disaster in history, someone found a way to have a laugh.

From Auto-Tune the News....and it's hysterical!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alvin Greene; The Democratic Mystery Senatorial Candidate From South Carolina


Vic Rawl was supposed to coast to a primary victory for the Democratic nomination in South Carolina for the right to oppose incumbent Republican Jim DeMint in November's general election. It would be an uphill fight for Rawl; DeMint is a darling of the Tea Party movement.

But once the dust settled and the votes were counted after Tuesday's primary, Rawl found himself defeated by a political first-timer; Alvin Greene, a 32 year old unemployed Army veteran won with more than 60% of the vote.

Vic Rawl, 64, served four terms in the South Carolina House and was a former prosecutor and a circuit court judge. Alvin Greene spent 13 years in the Air Force and the Army before leaving the service last August. He has no government or political experience.

And Greene didn't have any fund raisers for his campaign, and ran no ads. But there's more; Greene was arrested in November on felony obscenity charges. Court records, as detailed in The Huffington Post, indicate that Greene was arrested after showing obscene internet photos to a university student and then wanting to see the student in her dorm room.

South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, appearing on Bill Press' radio show found it quite unusual that an unemployed man was able to post the $10,400 filing fee to run for the Senate, had no website, no TWITTER account, had no fund raisers, and no commercial ads was able to win the primary. Clyburn said the following on Press' show.

There were some real shenanigans going on in the South Carolina primary, I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant."

Mr Clyburn is calling for a probe by the US attorney into the primary, and also into to other races in South Carolina.

This evening, Alvin Greene appeared on COUNTDOWN with Keith Olbermann.



Now are you ready for even stranger and even more bizarre? Check out these two interviews Greene gave to South Carolina public television after his primary win.

By the way- did we mention that in South Carolina they have open primaries? That is, you can vote for a candidate in a primary of a party other than the one you are registered in, or an independent voter can vote in any primary without having to declare party affiliation?

Just a thought.

In my opinion....the way primaries appear to be run in South Carolina have all the transparency of the 1919 World Series.

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster; President Obama's Interview With Matt Lauer and Opinion


President Obama is interviewed by Matt Lauer for The Today Show in the video below. He responds to critics, and tells Lauer of his intent to kick "the right person's ass" who is responsible for generating this crisis.


Opinion

"PERCEPTION IS REALITY" ....... Jonathan Alter, Newsweek contributor, frequent commentator on MSNBC, and author of a newly published book about Year One of the Obama Presidency called The Promise, was a guest recently on Real Time with Bill Maher. The conversation turned to how Mr. Obama was handling the situation in the Gulf with the oil spill from the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon platform, and the criticism he was receiving for his response in the days after the crisis began. Though the administration did about as much as humanly possible to respond to a situation without precedent, Mr. Obama's personal reaction and demeanor was the subject of scrutiny and more than a little criticism. His style seemed to many to be detached and aloof when many Americans felt anger and wanted to vent. Alter told the following story from more than 60 years ago.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral procession snaked through the streets of Washington DC. There were two men standing together in the throngs on onlookers; the two were total strangers. As the caisson carrying Roosevelt's body passed by, one man fell to the pavement, overcome with tears. The second man helped the first man up. "Are you alright?" the second man asked the first man. The first man responded that he was OK, but felt heartsick at the death of Roosevelt. "Did you know Mr. Roosevelt?", the second man asked. The first man looked at the second man and said, "No, I never even met the President......but he knew me".

Maybe that was the essence of Franklin Roosevelt's greatness. He connected to the little guy, even though he was a wealthy patrician from New York's Old Dutch aristocracy. FDR was a a handsome youngish dilettante when tragedy struck, and he contracted polio, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life. But his illness made him more human, and his personal struggles gave him a connection to the struggles of Everyman. He WAS the Great Communicator forty years before Ronald Reagan, and a the man who steered America through the two greatest crises of the 20th century.

I voted for Barack Obama, and I've contributed to his presidential campaign, and I've been a supporter of policies. I want him to succeed, and I'll chide anyone who cheerleads for his failure, because it would be a failure for all of us as a nation.

Mr. Obama is cool, calm, and collected; it was part of his appeal as a candidate. He was jovial and rational, while at times his opponent seemed to become unglued.

But I must say.....I am among those who wished to see more anger from Obama the President in reaction to the disaster in the Gulf. I wanted to see Vince Lomabrdi in someone's face; we got understated Tom Landry seemingly, quietly analyzing and sorting it out....and initially trusting the perpetrator of this mess, BP, to find away to stop the leak and clean it up.

Clearly no matter what Mr. Obama does he'll be attacked by the usual gasbags on the right; there's no news there. But when James Carville, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Howard Fineman, Maureen Dowd and others from the left or centrist media chime in about Obama's lack of emotion in the wake of this crisis that must be cause for concern. And the revelation that the President has not contacted BP CEO Tony Hayward is, at the very least, a real headscratcher. It's not often fair to compare the styles of one President versus another, but questions need to be asked how leaders of the past may have responded to this crisis. Imagine the reaction of a Lyndon Baines Johnson to an oil spill of this magnitude threatening our shores and rendering hundreds of square miles of marshlands and open waters lifeless. Johnson once called Robert Kennedy, whom he had no love for, a "piss ant". If he would say that to a man who later served (briefly) as his Attorney General, LBJ would have taken Hayward to task, and in all likelihood very forcefully. I wouldn't rule out LBJ threatening personally to shoot Tony Hayward on sight because of his low balls and "misstatements"....and I'm sure thousands of Louisiana residents would have looked the other way, and would have never seen a thing.

Now I'm not advocating violence to anyone (ie, Tony Hayward) regarding his words and "actions" in this crisis....but I really believe most Americans would have really wanted to see Barack Obama get into a room with the guy and ask him when the BS is going to stop; low balling the amount of the spill, the effectiveness of a top kill, the effectiveness of a bottom kill, how the cap is working, and of course, the strain this has put on Hayward who complained about getting "his life back".

Mr. Obama....a lot of us are cheering you on, and want you to succeed. But some of us want you to get mad as hell....and its OK to show it.....and make sure that those responsible for this disaster are going to pay with some serious jail time. Lives were lost, hundreds of other lives have been thrown in turmoil, and a precious resource has been infected and may be terminally ill. In natural history we have seen extinction due to comets, ice ages, droughts, famine and pestilence.

But the pending extinction in the Gulf is simply the result of human greed.

It's that simple.

Nebraska To The Big Ten? The First Domino To Fall


With the political landscape being so messy, the environmental disaster in the Gulf so depressing, and the pop culture news so tawdry, I wanted to shift gears a little and talk about events that will change the scope of college sports in America....and its starting to happen now. This may be a seismic shift; sometimes that term is thrown around casually, but in this case its appropriate.

According to ESPN and other sources the University of Nebraska will leave the Big 12 to join the Big Ten; and this will be the first of several moves that will send the Big 12 into extinction. Sources report that Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado will then leave the Big 12 for the PAC 10 to become a mega-conference, "The PAC 16". The remaining members of the Big 12- Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, and Missouri will be, at the moment in limbo. These five could try to keep the conference alive by adding new members (unlikely), or try to join other BCS conferences.

While the Big Ten had been exploring the possibility of adding members in the East- Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, or UCONN- in the future, the timetable could be moved up, or possibly scuttled altogether for that scenario. The Big Ten would have 12 members, six in each division, enough to sanction a championship game.

But the wild card in all of this is Notre Dame....the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten may force Notre Dame, an independent in football but an associate member of the Big East in other sports, to become a full member of a conference. In all likelihood, that conference would be the Big Ten.

But that would give the Big Ten 13 members....the uneven number might result in scheduling problems for the football and other sports. And the addition of Nebraska or possibly Notre Dame doesn't address the desire of the Big Ten to expand its Big Ten Network cable TV into the basic tier of the New York area cable spectrum; adding Rutgers and Syracuse, or possibly UCONN would do that.

And add this to the mix; Big Ten officials have stated over and over again that a large part of the criteria for adding new members would include a school's academic profile. In the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) from the NCAA Rutgers football lead all FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) in the nation with a 992 (out of a possible 1,000) for the period 2005-09. This broke Stanford's record of 986 posted in 2008. The four schools that followed Rutgers were Air Force, Rice, Northwestern, and Duke- a service academy and three elite private universities. In the period of time Rutgers was achieving this high level in the classroom they were winning football games as well, going 34-17 during those years, being invited to four bowl games and winning three. In 2009-10 Rutgers was 9-3 and won another bowl game.

If the Big Ten does decide to expand even further and take as many as three- or possibly four- teams from the Big East to become a 16 team mega conference, what would become of the remnants of the Big East in both football and basketball, and how would the SEC and ACC react to the moves? Would West Virginia, Louisville, or South Florida move to one of those conferences? And where would that leave defending Big East football champion Cincinnati? Would Miami and Florida State move to the SEC from the ACC to compete with instate rival Florida?

The scenario is just beginning to unfold....and where its stops, so they say, no one knows.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Primary Day In NJ; Even If It's To Rubber Stamp, Take Time To Vote

It's the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June, and therefore it's Primary Day in New Jersey and many other states. Today in the Northeast the weather is wonderful, about a 15 on a 1-10 scale, forecast to be 70 degrees with a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky- as close to perfect as you'll get. There are no excuses here for not voting; even in an uncontested primary you'll have the chance to show support for your party's candidate. And in contested elections, you'll be given the opportunity to select the best candidate of your party of choice for the November general election.

This primary will give you (if you are a registered voter) a chance to declare a party affiliation should you wish to do so and have not- you'll be a part of the process that may make a difference in the general election.

And even if your party's candidate is running unopposed and for some reason you wish to voice opposition, you may do so by picking a write in candidate as your choice; it may not mean a lot in the selection process, but it will do wonders for your conscience by saying in honesty that you opposed your party's nominee, and can do so with a straight face.

So....I'm going to take a walk over to the little Orthodox church around the corner, and do my civic duty.

And then I can come back to this keyboard and hammer any and all persons and things political feeling a bit better and empowered to do so.

I don't say it enough, but "thank you, Founding Fathers".

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quiet Hero; Rita Cosby Discovers Her Father's Life With The Polish Resistance In World War II


Former Fox News and MSNBC journalist and current Inside Edition special correspondent Rita Cosby first noticed the scars on her father's body when she was a little girl, but their origin were never referred to for most of her life; in fact, they were never mentioned again.

It remained a mystery until a few years ago, when Ms. Cosby's mother passed away and she found out what her father, who is a native of Poland, endured during the Second World War.

Ms. Cosby visited Good Morning America and spoke to host George Stephanopoulos about her father and the memoir she wrote, Quiet Hero.

Here's the interview, from ABC News.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quick Hits- "In Memoriam" Edition; Five Celebrity Passings



I've been a bit busy the past few weeks, and so has The Grim Reaper....so many celebrity notables have left us in the past week or so. Here's some thoughts on their passing.

Dennis Hopper-  When Dennis Hopper passed on May 29th at age 74, I was of the opinion that he didn't have one life, but several....in the show business sense that is. In the 1950's he had an impressive debut, followed by a period when he was shunned by the Hollywood establishment because of his personality, and then was hailed as a genius for his direction and acting in Easy Rider in 1969. But almost as quickly as he was embraced (again) by Hollywood he was booted (again) with the failure of his next project, the appropriately named Last Movie. Hopper worked as an actor in Apocalypse Now,his hard living and eccentric behavior became the stuff of legend on the set. But he made a comeback in the 1980's with films like Blue Velvet, The River's Edge, and his triumphant role in the alcoholic assistant coach in Hoosiers. He continued to direct and act for nearly two decades until his death, and additionally Hopper became a well known artist and photographer. The man once the embodiment of the Sixties counterculture evolved into a registered (and much married) well to do Republican. And I wonder what else he could have done if he were granted another ten years of life?

Gary Coleman- He was probably THE child star of the late 1970's and into the 1980's. And the ultimate tragedy was Gary Coleman's descent into the pantheon of punchlines in his later years. But let's not dwell on his stormy personal life of his later years, or of the tragedy that befell his Diff'rent Strokes costars. As a young comic actor starting at age 10, Coleman had no peers- he was the best. He was the kind of scene stealer WC Fields warned about when he told other actors to stay away from children and small dogs. With his lifetime of health problems his death at the age of 42 wasn't a shock....but it saddened me just the same. Show business can be a cruel place for children. For the Ron Howards, Kurt Russells, and Jode Fosters who survive and grow there are dozens who are used up before they leave adolescence, and forgotten. And maybe the fact that he was always so diminutive gave him the look of a very old version of lovable little Arnold, and it was a role he couldn't escape, and which we the public would never really let him move on from.

Rue McClanahan- Before she a Golden Girl she was a veteran of stage and TV, and a costar on Maude and Mama's Family. But Rue McClanahan became a star at age 51 as Blanche Deveraux, the man hungry woman who might have invented the term "cougar" on The Golden Girls. Along with older actresses Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, and Betty White, McClanahan showed that there was life after 50...and 60 and 70 for that matter...to an American public that was and is always obsessed with youth. Rue McClanahan made her film debut in 1961 and remained active until last year, when she appeared on an episode of Law and Order, and guested on Meet The Browns. She was 76 years old. And her pal Betty White goes on at 89.





Art Linkletter- If you're under age 50 you probably have no idea who Art Linkletter was or why he was famous. But he was as important a figure in the early days of television as Jackie Gleason, Ernie Kovacs, Red Shelton, Jack Benny, or Milton Berle. In a way Linkletter invented a precursor to reality TV with his daily afternoon show House Party which transitioned from radio to television and ran for a combined 25 years on CBS, and another show People Are Funny that ran concurrently on NBC TV and radio for 19 years in the 1950's and 60's. That's right- he worked for two different networks at the same time. He bacame most famous for interviewing children, and it became the basis for his best seller Kids Say The Darnedest Things. Linkletter had another segment that became popular on House Party- he would go into the audience and ask to see what were in selected womens' purses....kids say the darnedest things and women have the weirdest stuff in their bags Linkletter was a pitchman for Milton Bradley games, and was a major investor in one of the toys that became a craze in the 1950's, the Hula Hoop. On May 26 he passed on at age 97.


John Wooden- He was called "The Wizard of Westwood", and was Coach of  the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team from 1948 to 1975,  winning 620 games and losing only 147 at the school; including his stay at Indiana State the total wins stand at 664. John Wooden spent 15 good but ordinary years at UCLA until the 1963-64 season, when he was already 53 years old. And then Coach Wooden began probably the most remarkable run any team has had in the history of American sports, either collegiate of professional; his teams at UCLA went on to win 10 national championships in the span of 12 years. With a constantly revolving cast of characters that included Gail Goodrich, Lew Alcindor, and Bill Walton, Coach Wooden patrolled the sidelines with his rolled up program and soft spoken demeanor. But it was more than just wins and losses with this special man; it was about principles, and his "Pyramid of Success" His motto was "Make each day your masterpiece".  John Wooden died on Friday of natural causes at age 99. Perhaps no one can say what this man meant better than his former player and friend Bill Walton.
Click here for Walton's tribute.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Disaster; "Nyuk! Nyuk... Nuke! Nuke!"



"Imagine the Three Stooges with nukes"......Professor Michie Kaku on using a nuclear weapon to seal off the oil leak in the Gulf.

BP claims to be "encouraged" by it's latest effort to cap the massive oil leak caused by the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, as President Obama makes another visit to check on the progress- or lack there of- by the oil giant in the worst environmental disaster in US history.

Previously BP was encouraged by their effort to "top kill" the leak, before admitting failure last week. The latest plan, "cut and cap", will not stop the leak, only contain it until relief wells can be drilled. The United States government has handed BP a bill of $69 million for cost incurred so far....but obviously a price tag cannot be put on catastrophe of this magnitude.

Last night on COUNTDOWN Keith Olbermann hosted Prof. Michie Kaku of City College of New York, and discussed the idea of "nuking" the well to seal it.



Great idea....radioactive oil and tar balls washing up on America's beaches from Texas to Cape Cod. Did the guys who thought of this idea ever hear of Chernobyl?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sarah Palin Blames Environmentalists For Gulf Oil Disaster


My only comment to this story is a quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars; A New Hope.

"Who is a greater fool....The Fool or those who follow him?"


Change that "him" to a "her"

Read More....from THE HUFFINGTON POST

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

HELMET FOR MY PILLOW; Robert Leckie's World War II Masterpiece


To all fans of HBO's The Pacific, do yourself a favor; get ye to a bookstore (or an online bookseller) and buy a copy of Robert Leckie's magnificent memoir Helmet For My Pillow. You will not regret it.

Leckie, who after World War II became a writer for the Associated Press, the Buffalo Courier- Express, the New York-Journal-American, the New York Daily News, and the Star-Ledger was a master of the English language, and a storyteller in an almost mythic sense. Tom Hanks referred to "Helmet" as a piece of prose that reads like an epic poem; and I cannot disagree. Imagine a memoir of the war in the Pacific as told by Joseph Campbell, and you'd get the the gist how this book reads. If you're looking for a scholarly history of the war, with names and dates, this is not your book. But if you want a verbal slideshow of war from the typewriter of a true wordsmith who painted abstract pictures of the surreal world he was thrust into at Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu, and on Parris Island, and in Melbourne, Pavavu, and of subsisting on bread and water in the brig, then make this memoir a gift to yourself.

Leckie doesn't use real names in his narrative, all names are nicknames or in some cases are descriptive of a characteristic of the individual. We have Lt. Commando, Loudmouth, Chicken,  The Artist, Liberal, and Souvenirs (he had a dentist's light and tooth extractors for yanking the gold out of dead Japanese soldiers mouths). And his buddies Runner, Chuckler, and Hoosier (respectively Wilbur "Bud" Conley, Lew Juergens,  and Bill Smith)  are a large part of the story, Staying with Leckie from the battle of the Tenaru River on Guadalcanal until all four were wounded and shipped out from Peleliu, we get a sense of the friendship that kept them going in the worst of times, and of the "not giving giving a damn" days and nights when they could break away from the war and let loose in Melbourne.

Some scenes from The Pacific involving Leckie were obviously the work of the series' writers; for example, the conversation Leckie had with Eugene Sledge on Pavuvu might not have happened - there is no indication that such a a talk took place in "Helmet". But then again, it could have; they were on Pavuvu at the same time awaiting the assault on Peleliu.. But most of the events that occurred in battle involving Leckie occurred as portrayed in the series, and are dealt with in greater depth in Leckie's book.

A drunk Leckie did relieve Chuckler while Chuckler had guard duty so he could go to the head, and Leckie did point his gun at "Lt Ivy League" (really Lt. Hugh Corrigan). It earned Leckie five days in the brig on bread and water. The treatment of military prisoners then and now are a stark contrast; smoking was forbidden in the bread and water cell, and in one instance the floor of the cell was hosed down so the prisoners would have to sleep on a wet floor.

And during an AWOL night on the town Leckie and his guys were pursued by MP's brandishing their M1 rifles; one man was shot in the leg trying to escape. Imagine a military policeman discharging his weapon in a residential area of a foreign ally in the present day! There would be a congressional investigation tomorrow.

Of course, Leckie depicted the horror of war, with all of its bloody revulsion, but he wrote of even the most horrific scenes in such an elegant manner  it was like poetry. Below, a passage from page 286 describing the Battle of Peleliu.  Leckie was in a crater, getting reading to get out and advance.

"I turned to go, and as I did, nearly stepped on someone's hand. 'Excuse me', I began to say, but then I saw it was an unattached hand, or rather a detached one. It lay there alone- open, palm upwards, clean, capable, solitary. I could not tear my eyes from it.The hand is the artisan of the soul. It is the second member of the human trinity of head and hand and heart. A man has no faculty more human than his hand, none more beautiful nor expressive or productive. To see this hand lying alone, as though contemptuously cast aside, no longer part of a man, no longer his help, was to see war in all of its wantonness; it was to see the especially brutal savagery of our own technique of rending, and it was to see men at their eternal worst, turning upon one another, tearing one another, clawing at their own innards with the maniacal  fury of the pride-possessed."   

Bob Leckie mentioned warriors of the Greek classics in "Helmet". He talks of Achilles, Hector, and Agamemnon, all figures in The Iliad and The Odyssey, and of the Roman god of war, Mars. He titles the fourth chapter of "Helmet" as Lotus-Eater- it details his adventures in Melbourne. In Greek mythology Lotus-Eaters lived on an island near North Africa where they ate the narcotic plant; it was a land where Odysseus visited with his crew, who did not want to return to their ships to leave for Ithaca.

And in The Pacific, it is where Bob Leckie met the beautiful Greek Australian Stella. But the real Bob Leckie had no Stella; Stella was an homage to the classical Greek references found in "Helmet". In the series, Stella's mother left her Greek city in Anatolia (Asiatic Turkey) with little more than the clothes on her back, much like the refugees from Troy after it was destroyed by the Greeks. In The Aeniad, the refugees from Troy went on to found Rome (according to Virgil). Stella and her family followed a similar path, with Bob Leckie on his own own version of The Odyssey.

Bob did have a few brief romances in "Helmet"; he refers to one woman as "Molly", another as "Sheilah". Also, he met a woman early on he called "Gwen", and another only called "the drink waitress" with whom may have had a fling.

But Stella...she was fiction, but a nod to the classical references in Leckie's memoir.

The book for first published in 1957, and was said to been prompted when Leckie and his wife saw South Pacific. Bob Leckie wanted to tell the world that what went on in that theater of the war was not a Broadway musical.

And he succeeded in doing so, very well indeed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Woman sues Google over Utah walking directions | General Headlines | Comcast.net



I'll be back on regular schedule tomorrow with political and social commentary....but until then, I thought I'd share a story about a woman who is suing GOOGLE over allegedly faulty directions she downloaded to get her from one end of Park City, Utah, to another.

Errrr....I haven't been to Park City since the 1970's, but when I was there I could swear there were more deer than permanent human residents (latest available population figures have it at7,371 , and average age 32.7). Bottomline...it's a pretty small town.

And if I remember my courses in personal law...isn't the concept of "reasonable care" a two way street.

You have to read this one, ladies and gents.

Woman sues Google over Utah walking directions | General Headlines | Comcast.net

Actor Jon Seda, A Jersey Guy, Tells Us Why He Had To Play World War II Hero John Basilone In ‘The Pacific’ « Homeshoppingista's Blog By Linda Moss



For fans of The Pacific and Jon Seda, who played John Basilone in the series, my blogger pal Linda Moss (aka "The Homeshoppingista") has written a piece on Seda, a Jersey Guy originally from Clifton.

Well written (as always- she's a pro; guys like me just THINK we're pros)....and she's a Jersey Girl. And if you don't visit her blog my cousin Paulie will come to visit you!

And that's a promise.

Actor Jon Seda, A Jersey Guy, Tells Us Why He Had To Play World War II Hero John Basilone In ‘The Pacific’ « Homeshoppingista's Blog By Linda Moss
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