Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leslie




Forbidden Planet, Leslie, Anne Francis, &
Robby the Robot

In some western with Martin Landau


The Poseidon Adventure


Airplane, Julie Hagerty, Leslie, Peter Graves
& a subdued Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad

A Chilean Newspaper front page
yesterday

"Another great loss in Entertainment today...Leslie Nielsen died today, Airplane and the Naked Gun movies were the funniest....RIP Leslie and Thank you for some great laughs....."

And for everything else.
The above quotation was written yesterday morning by my lovely sister, Cheryl, on Facebook, and she doesn't usually offer condolences lightly. Only for those who have touched her life in some impressive and unique way, and Leslie Nielsen certainly did that for her, for me, and for millions of other fans around the world.
Mr. Nielsen was a Canadian, which I only discovered Sunday night after leaning of his death from complications arising from pneumonia. He later became a naturalized American citizen.
He was 84 years old when he died. A good, long life. But not long enough.
He died in his sleep, which is a good way to go if you ask me. Going to sleep each night is a little like dying each and every day. We give ourselves over to it completely, crave it even, many of us too much. It is one of the few ways I can make sense of the inevitability of dying (as far as current knowledge goes. I read just yesterday of scientists at Harvard being able to reverse the aging process in mice, so who knows? http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/367227/scientists_successfully_reverse_aging_process_in_mice/#paragraph3 ), by comparing it to that little death we experince daily. Death is just a longer, final form of sleep. As Carl Sagan put it, "an endless, dreamless sleep."
The Jehovah Witnesses also believe death is a form of sleep.
And I assume Leslie was aware he was near death as it was said he was surrounded by his family and friends. He had the excellent chance to finalize his life, a process of closure if you will. For so many of us death comes to us in an instant, as in an automobile accident, one moment your there and the next you are no more. Or our lives end in a brief, agonizing pain filled realization that something is terribly wrong, as in a heart attack. I am grateful Leslie was sparred those alternatives.
Leslie William Nielsen was born on February 11th, 1926, in Regina, Saskatchewan, which of course is just east of Moose Jaw, and 138 miles north of Medicine Lake, Montana, and 1328 miles northeast of where I'm writing this. His mother, Maybelle, was a Welsh immigrant from London, his dad, Ingvard was Danish born, who moved to Canada and joined the Mounties. It is reported that Ingvard was also abusive to his wife, Leslie, and his two brothers (one of which, Erik, later became a Deputy Prime Minister of Canada). This prompted young Leslie to wish to get away as soon as was possible.
His father was posted in what used to be known as Fort Norman, in the Northwest Territories, just south of the freaking Artic Circle. He brought his family with him and Leslie spent several years of his youth in the this bleak, frozen region, populated at that time with about 50 people (population last year a whopping 566). Later in his teens he attended and graduated from Victoria Composite High School (now known as the Victoria School of the Arts) in Edmonton, Alberta. At 17 1/2 years old he enlisted for a year in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, and was trained as an aerial gunner, but was not sent overseas. Afterwards he moved to Calgary and got a job as a disk jockey, and enrolled in the Lorne Greene Academy of Radio Arts, in Toronto. From there he received a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, and so Leslie had arrived in the United States.
While studying at the Neighborhood he performed in summer stock theater, and in 1948 got his first television role in a Studio One episode along side Charlton Heston (also an aerial gunner in WW II).
From there, and armed with his handsome good looks and baritone voice Leslie's career took off. In 1950 he appeared in 50 live television programs alone. He narrated several documentaries and commercials. He was cast in mostly dramatic roles, for which he would later claim he was miscast, as he actually was a comedic actor, or wanted to be. He didn't gain a whole heck of a lot of attention though as he was just one of hundreds of handsome dramatic leads.
Then in 1956, when I was just a wee tot, in his second motion picture for MGM, he was cast as Capt. J.J. Adams in Forbidden Planet. It also starred Walter Pidgeon, Earl Holliman, and the lovely Anne Francis in several mini skirts. Robby the Robot also made his film debut in Forbidden Planet, which has often been referred to as a science fiction version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, and one of the three classic Sci Fi films of the 1950's (the others being War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still).
Robby's nephew of course is Robot from Lost in Space.
And he's no relation to Gort.
The film was a huge success, and Leslie continued making films as a dramatic and romantic lead in movies such as The Opposite Sex, Tammy and the Bachelor, and Hot Summer Night. He also worked in television in like everything. He appeared for 30 years in TV roles on series such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Wagon Train, The Fugitive, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Peyton Place, Ben Casey, The Wild Wild West, Bonanza, It Takes a Thief, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Braken's World, Night Gallery, Medical Center, The Mod Squad, M.A.S.H., Kung Fu, The Streets of San Francisco, Hawaii Five-O (he starred in the pilot, but was cut from the cast when the show entered production), Ironside, Kojak,The Rookies, Cannon, Run for your Life, Columbo, S.W.A.T., and The Love Boat. And many, many others. You couldn't turn on the freaking TV without seeing Nielson's face plastered all over it, playing dramatic roles and usually as the episodes antagonist (bad guy). He said he liked to play those types of roles, and said this about them:
"The best part is always the heavy. And the meaner and crueler and the worse you are, the more vicious you are as the heavy, the better the hero looks when he whips you. So, the heavy is liable to be a very dramatic, fine acting part. I told my agent at that time, "I want to play heavies who are really vicious and cruel and terrible. I want them to know that they're terrible and I want them to enjoy it."
And that's where I first became aware of Mr. Nielson. In all of those guest appearances in TV westerns and dramas. He was one of many other actors who wandered from one show to the next and quite frankly I didn't think all that much about him other than he was a familiar, reliable, and dependable actor who I could count on to deliver a certain type of performance.
He continued in movies as well, and has been lauded for his portrayal of The Captain in The Poseidon Adventure, although his part was rather abbreviated, him getting killed rather early on when the ship was hit by a rouge wave and flipped over.
Okay, Leslie could very well have continued his career in this way and most likely would have faded slowly away into obscurity as did many of his colleagues.
But in 1980 Airplane happened, and Leslie Nielsen's career and life changed for the next 30 years... for the rest of his life.
We've all seen Airplane, a spoof of airplane disaster movies popular from the 50s through the, well, you still see them being produced now. Air Force One, for instance. Among the other lead dramatic actors parodying themselves, or the roles they often were cast in, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Lloyd Bridges, Leslie stole the show, famous for his dead pan delivery of hilarious, slap stick lines, the most recognized being: When asked, "Surely you can't be serious?", he responds with a curt, "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley." This line is listed as #73 on the American Film Institute's list of Top 100 Movie Quotes.
The public had never seen this side of these actors, and for Leslie, it allowed his real talent for comedy to open up at last and finally be utilized.
The film cost 3.5 million to make and made almost 83.5 million in the U.S. alone. It is listed in AFI's Top Ten Comedy Films of All Time.
And my Aussie fiance, Janine Cory, thought it was the funniest film she had ever seen (we saw in a dive in in the valley somewhere).
The movie's three directors Jim Abrahams, and David and Jerry Zucker, attempted to bring Airplane's style of comedy to television, using Leslie as the show's lead, Detective Frank Drebin in Police Squad.
That show failed, being canceled after only 6 episodes. But six years later they took that idea to the big screen with The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! and a franchise was born with two other films produced, and Leslie's reputation and talent for slapstick comedy was enhanced and solidified (I have a favorite quote from this movie as well, which makes it's way to the Stephanie Miller Radio Show and News Cast quite frequently for some reason. Drebin is talking to Jane Spencer, the character Priscilla Presley is playing. She enters her office and steps up a utility ladder with Frank looking up at her from behind as he says, "Oh, nice beaver!" "Thanks. I just had it stuffed," she replies, as she steps back off the ladder into the camera frame holding a beaver that had been to the taxidermist recently).
He would become, as Roger Ebert put it, the Laurence Olivier of spoof, making parodies of The Exorcist, 2001, A Space Odyssey, spy movies, vampire movies, fugitive movies, and most of them not doing very well.
What did do well and has been well received was his contribution to the Scary Movie franchise, in the third and fourth films (a short... revealing clip from Scary Movie 4 is below).
I just saw The Super Hero Movie which they've been showing lately on cable, one of the last films he made when he was 81 or 82 years old. And he was great, although the movie wasn't. He continued working almost until the very end.
The AMC channel has recently been celebrating the 30th anniversary of Airplane! which I've seen a couple of times. I showed it to Paul and Erin at Movie Day a while back as they had never seen it (for some reason unknown to me they were both particularly fond of the Disco flashback scene, which I find a little disturbing). If they're showing Airplane! on AMC you know they're going to show Airplane II: The Sequel, which I've also seen a few times (I say I've watched these films. Actually they rather serve as a background distraction while I'm working, which accounts for the quality of this web-site). And I've seen a few Police Squad movies recently as well (my favorite being the first with the excellent straight man and villain, Ricardo Montalb√°n), because they appear all of the time on cable. And they're always good. I always laugh at the same stupid lines over and over again. I laughed last night as I wrote this while watching Keith Olbermann pay a tribute to Leslie on Countdown showing clips.
That's a tribute to Leslie Nielsen's talent, humor, and humanity. A little light has gone off in this world with his passing, and I am sad for that, and like my dear sister wish that he rest in peace.
And again, thanks for all the laughs...

Scary Movie 4 clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQUQjiDMazw&feature=related

And last but not least, a picture of my lovely case manager Erin, who sadly will be transferring to another hotel within the SRHT community soon, being abducted by Robby the Robot.
I don't know why.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Irresponsible Climate Zombies




I've been watching the new AMC original series, "The Walking Dead," on Sunday nights. The show, produced by Frank Darabont, who has made his reputation directing Stephen King stories that begin with the word "The" (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist), tells the story of a small band of survivors following a "Zombie Apocalypse."
Now zombies are interesting creatures. I've always found them fascinating and wondered exactly how they worked. I mean, they're dead people walking around right? (or dead animals. The "Resident Evil movies famously depict zombie doberman pinschers, and "Resident Evil: Extinction" featured zombie crows) So walking around requires energy of some kind and dead people are famously known for creating practically no energy at all. That's why they get very cold after they die, very fast. Okay, they do seem to seek food in the form of live people, shunning their fellow zombies. Presumably they're very hungry. They're always chasing after live people. That's all they do!
But why?! They're dead! They don't have any functioning circulatory or digestive system that is able to process the living people they eat into energy. And quite frankly I've never seen a zombie take a dump, despite the quite poignant image that may inspire. Where does all of that live people food go? If I didn't know better I'd be very sceptical about zombies and think they may just be the creations of science fiction and horror writers and film makers!
But they're on TV all of the time so they must be real. That's the basis of Fox News, right? If it's on Fox it must be true... or so they keep telling their viewers... and Fox, by the way, is the main source of news for zombies according to a recent Zogby poll.
And rarely do we get to find out how these zombie apocalypses come about, or what starts them. I've only seen two films that have told how the first zombie was made who then infected all of the other zombies making a zombie apocalypse. In the Resident Evil series it was of course the Blue Virus made by the Umbrella Corporation. And in House of the Dead 2, starring the lovely Emmanuelle Vaugier, some crazy college professor begins the apocalypse after murdering a student and attempting to resuscitate her with a zombie drug. I don't know why.
And what about all of these climate zombies in Congress I keep hearing about? What's a climate zombie? It appears to be any member of Congress that denies the consensus of the mainstream scientific community and the preponderance of evidence that supports the conclusion that the Earth's atmosphere is getting hotter, often referred to as global warming. I'm not even going to include the stipulation that the cause of global warming is the result of human activity, such as the dumping of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by industry and consumers which is a common argument of climate change deniers, that climate change is a natural phenomenom so we don't have to worry about it. I'm not going to include that because it doesn't matter what causes global warming. If your house is on fire it doesn't matter if it was caused by a lightening strike (natural) or if your Christmas tree catches fire (man made), you still need to get out of the house and try and put out the fire.
Climate zombies seem to concentrate within the warm confines of the Republican Party. As a matter of fact seventy-six percent of the Republicans in the U.S. Senate next year and 52 percent of Republicans in the House of Representatives publicly question the science of global warming. All four candidates set to take over the House Committee on Energy and Commerce -- Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) -- have disparaged climate scientists and climate policy. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), who is taking over the House Committee on Science and Technology, believes that the "scientific data, from which global warming theories emerged, has been manipulated, enhanced or deleted" and that "reasonable people have serious questions about our knowledge of the state of the science."
Now unlike most zombie apocalypses I have a pretty good idea what started these climate zombies, what got them going... stupidity, bribes, and an astonishing amount of irresponsibility.
Along with "The Walking Dead," I also watch "The Rachel Maddow Show," almost every week night. Rachel has the knack of explaining complex issues so even I can understand them. I watched the night before last as a matter of fact, but Rachel wasn't on that night. I don't know why. Her substitute anchor person, Chris Hayes of The Nation magazine, who always does such a wonderful job, said she had the night off. What? Saturday and Sunday weren't enough for her?
Anyway, Chris talked about how all of these Republicans are so worried about the national debt, and how our "children and grandchildren," will be paying for this into the unforeseeable future. He played a montage of Senator and Congress-persons, one after the other using that talking point, our "children and grandchildren," and how worried they were about their financial futures. They are soooo worried! (of course they are at the same time implying that President Obama's policies are the cause of all of the debt that they are so worried about, (for our children and grandchildren of course), when actually the accumulation of this debt has taken decades, since Ronald Reagan was president, and is largely the product of Republican misconduct, such as deregulation of the finance industry and Wall Street, the Bush Tax cuts, and two unfunded "wars." They think that everybody has forgotten that they caused this mess to begin with, and Obama is just taking the steps necessary to repair the nation they broke. We haven't). It is amazing how worried they are. There is no other problem that is more important to them than the financial health of our children and grandchildren. Hayes mentioned that our unborn grandchildren may be the best represented constituency in the nation.
But when it comes to the air our children and grandchildren will breath, and the environment they will inherit, the air and environment that we leave to them, the Republicans are not so worried. As a matter of fact they don't care at all it seems. The entire Republican House leadership has signed a No Climate Tax pledge, stating they will “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue,” which is a reference to Cap and Trade policies which would help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and help reduce global warming, claiming they are opposed to new taxes and big government. They seem to be more concerned about new taxes for their air polluting big industry masters (the No Climate Tax pledge is sponsored by the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by... wait for it... billionaire David Koch, whose companies are some of the biggest polluters on the planet) than they are about our children and grandchildren. 153 House members in the upcoming 112th Congress have also signed this "pledge."
Their rationale for denying science and global warming is to insist that it doesn't exist. They say the planet is not warming (NASA states the decade ending in 2009 was the warmest on record), that cold weather refutes concerns about global warming (local weather trends are no indicator of long term global trends), that man's influence is unclear (we're discussed this above), that climate scientists are engaged in a hoax, scam, or corrupt conspiracy (why would they be? Who's paying them when in fact climate change deniers are backed by big industrial companies and trade groups... I mean really!), and that limiting greenhouse pollution would have no impact on global temperatures (some go so far as to say the decreasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would increase global warming, therefore we should pollute more for our own good That's kind of like when Reagan claimed trees caused pollution). Their denying is in fact a psychological coping mechanism itself called denial, in which a person denies the fact that a problem exists because they can't force themselves to accept the consequences of their admitting the problem does exist. Alcoholics do it all of the time. They say they don't have a drinking problem while continuing to get drunk continuously. Denying they have a problem allows them to go out and drink. Climate change deniers deny climate change exists which allows them to continue to hamper strategies to counter global warming with a clear conscious.
Unfortunately, denying global warming, or that climate change exists does nothing to solve the problem of global warming and climate change, and if nothing is done, and done soon (some say it may already be too late) then we are ensuring an extremely challenging, probably an exceedingly hazardous future for the children and grandchildren that our Republican friends seem to be so worried about, which would be the height of irresponsibility. Ignoring a problem, wishing it away, is what children do.
Now what do we do about these climate zombies? Well:
"According to a 2009 Carlton University and University of Ottawa epidemiological analysis, an outbreak of even "Living Dead's" [such as from "The Night of the Living Dead"] slow zombies "'is likely to lead to the collapse of civilization, unless it is dealt with quickly... the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often.'"
Based on their mathematical modelling, the authors concluded that offensive strategies were much more reliable than quarantine strategies, due to various risks that can compromise a quarantine. They also found that discovering a cure, since this would do little to slow the infection rate, would merely leave a few humans alive. Indeed, on a longer time scale, the researchers found that all humans end up turned or dead. This is because the main epidemiological risk of zombies, besides the difficulties of neutralizing them, is that their population just keeps increasing; generations of humans merely 'surviving' still have a tendency to feed zombie populations resulting in gross outnumbering. The researchers explain that their methods of modelling may be applicable to the spread of political views or diseases with dormant infection."

So it would seem our mission is clear. In order to save civilization, the world, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, we need to... no I'm not going to say chop off their heads. That's too old fashioned. But we do need to confront them at every opportunity, to hit them hard and to hit them often with the truth, with the facts, override and defeat them at every encounter. They are ruled by money. Sane people must be concerned with life for all, but especially the lives of our children, and their children, and their children.

Our friends at ClimateRapidResponse.org led by climatologist John Abraham of St. Thomas University, have set up a site that will have scientists like him answer whatever questions you may have about climate change and global warming and zombies. A link to the site can be found to the right, where it asks if you have questions about climate change.
Also the link below will allow you to take a five question survey to test your existing knowledge of climate change and get a free "Got Science?" bumper sticker, from our friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists and CREDO Action. I'm getting one and I don't even own a car:
http://www.gotsci.org/?s_src=gotscimj

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

George, Take a Trip... Please





Boris Johnson

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is the 46 year old conservative Mayor of London, England.
He's in the news quite frequently concerning all manners of subjects, but recently he caught the ear of certain members of the American press for introducing the idea of having former President George W. Bush arrested while on British soil during his recent book tour for having committed crimes of war, specifically waterboarding. Keith Olbermann picked up on the story and discussed the possibility of a former American president being arrested while visiting a foreign country with Jonathan Turley, constitutional scholar and professor of law at The George Washington University Law School, where he holds the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law. The interview can be found at the link below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlK4iPSFSmY

Below is the full text of what the Lord Mayor wrote:

The Tory Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson:

It is not yet clear whether George W Bush is planning to cross the Atlantic to flog us his memoirs, but if I were his PR people I would urge caution. As book tours go, this one would be an absolute corker. It is not just that every European capital would be brought to a standstill, as book-signings turned into anti-war riots. The real trouble — from the Bush point of view — is that he might never see Texas again.
One moment he might be holding forth to a great perspiring tent at Hay-on-Wye. The next moment, click, some embarrassed member of the Welsh constabulary could walk on stage, place some handcuffs on the former leader of the Free World, and take him away to be charged. Of course, we are told this scenario is unlikely. Dubya is the former leader of a friendly power, with whom this country is determined to have good relations. But that is what torture-authorising Augusto Pinochet thought. And unlike Pinochet, Mr Bush is making no bones about what he has done.
Unless the 43rd president of the United States has been grievously misrepresented, he has admitted to authorising and sponsoring the use of torture. Asked whether he approved of “waterboarding” in three specific cases, he told his interviewer that “damn right” he did, and that this practice had saved lives in America and Britain. It is hard to overstate the enormity of this admission.
“Waterboarding” is a disgusting practice by which the victim is deliberately made to think that he is drowning. It is not some cunning new psych-ops technique conceived by the CIA. It has been used in the dungeons of dictators for centuries. It is not compatible either with the US constitution or the UN convention against torture. It is deemed to be torture in this country, and above all there is no evidence whatever that it has ever succeeded in doing what Mr Bush claimed. It does not work.
It does not produce much valuable information — and therefore it does not save lives. Of course we are all tempted, from time to time, by the utilitarian argument. We might become reluctant supporters of “extreme interrogation techniques” if we could really persuade ourselves that half an hour of waterboarding could really save a hundred lives — or indeed a single life. In reality, no such calculus is possible. When people are tortured, they will generally say anything to bring the agony to an end — which is why any such evidence is inadmissible in court.
In the case of the three men waterboarded on Bush’s orders, British ministers are not aware of any valuable information they gave about plots against Heathrow, Canary Wharf or anywhere else. All the policy has achieved is to degrade America in the eyes of the world, and to allow America’s enemies to utter great whoops of vindication. It is not good enough for Dubya now to claim that what he did was OK, because “the lawyers said it was legal”. The lawyers in question were Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and his deputy, John Yoo, and after a good deal of political cattle-prodding from Rumsfeld et al, they produced a totally barmy attempt to redefine torture so as to allow waterboarding.
Pain was only torture, they determined, when it was “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death”. If that is right, it would seem that most of the techniques of the Spanish Inquisition would be acceptable to the American government. You could beat the soles of someone’s feet; you could pour molten candle wax on their extremities; you could even pull their finger nails out without infringing those conditions.
How is some tired and frightened American officer supposed to make head or tail of this sophistry, late at night in some bleak Iraqi jail? How is he supposed to calibrate the pain that comes from an organ failure or death? It is no wonder, with orders like that coming from the top, that the troopers misbehaved so tragically in Abu Ghraib. They failed to see any moral difference between waterboarding their suspects and putting hoods over their heads. They failed to see any moral difference between waterboarding them and terrifying them with alsatian dogs or attaching electrodes to their genitals. They failed to see any moral difference, that is, because there isn’t any moral difference.
That is the real disaster of the waterboarding policy — that we are left with the impression that the entire US military are skidding their heels on the slippery slope towards barbarism. And that is emphatically not the case. Yesterday at the Cenotaph we remembered the sacrifice of men and women not just in two world wars, but also in Iraq and Afghanistan. The purpose of these conflicts is not so much to defeat “the enemy”, but to defend things we believe to be inalienable goods — freedom, democracy and, above all, the rule of law.
I believe that, of all nations, America still best upholds and guarantees those things. It would be ludicrous to suggest that the waterboarding disaster, or the evils of Abu Ghraib, have set up some kind of moral equivalence between America and – say – the murderous Taliban regime, let alone Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. If you want to appreciate the difference, remember that the perpetrators of Abu Ghraib were court-martialled, and we know about US interrogation techniques because of rules on freedom of information. But if your end is the spread of freedom and the rule of law, you cannot hope to achieve that end by means that are patently vile and illegal.
How could America complain to the Burmese generals about the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, when a president authorised torture? How can we talk about human rights in Beijing, when our number one ally and friend seems to be defending this kind of behaviour? I can’t think of any other American president, in my lifetime, who would have spoken in this way. Mr Bush should have remembered the words of the great Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who said in 1863 that “military necessity does not admit of cruelty”.


The Lord Mayor is completely right of course. The world does look to the United States to be the great shinning example of " freedom, democracy and, above all, the rule of law." I don't know why. The rule of money seems to have been the guiding principle within this country since shortly after it's inception by the founders. Perhaps the world has watched too many American television shows and movies that keep depicting the country stands for freedom, democracy and, above all, the rule of law.
As Keith pointed out the human rights organization, Amnesty International has called on foreign countries to investigate the admitted war crimes committed by Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney (and others). Admitted.
There are many, many crimes Bush and Cheney could and should be held accountable for, lying the nation into two unnecessary wars not being the least of them. But let's stick to just the allegations of the authorized use of waterboarding by Bush today.
First of all they are not allegations... Bush has openly admitted to them. In fact he boasts about that.
Second, waterboarding is torture, as the Lord Mayor pointed out. It is considered torture under the Geneva Convention, it is considered torture by our own military and judicial system, hell, in 1947 we, the United States of America, charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for waterboarding a U.S. civilian. Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
So waterboarding is a crime. It is a war crime, in this country and abroad. George W. Bush admitted to authorizing it's use therefore he is a war criminal. There is no disputing this. He admitted it, and continues to admit to it!
During the last presidential election candidate Obama, when asked about prosecuting possible crimes committed during the previous administration proclaimed that no one was above the law. This has not been the case since he came into office, as Mr. Turley pointed out, and Obama has stubbornly refused to even hold investigations into the Bush administration's previous activities, proclaiming the need to keep looking forward, as being more important than the application of justice, even when those involved have freely admitted to their crimes. This makes President Obama nothing less than a lier, and hypocrite, politics as usual politician, who has undermined and diminished the nation's reputation abroad by refusing to apply the rule of the nation's own law against a former leader. This is why I have stated that regardless of whatever advances the Obama administration manages to secure for the nation in general, ultimately his term, or terms in office will have been failures. Apparently some people, despicable people, are above the law.
Except in other countries. It is our national shame and disgrace that we now need to look to countries like Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and Canada to possibly act on the war crimes of our former leaders, and that our current leaders refuse to enforce our own laws on certain individuals merely for political expedience. Shame on you President Obama.
So George, take a trip... please.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Scarlett (Johansson)!


Scarlett


Melanie Sloane & another Melanie Sloane and Scarlett


Young Jessica and Scarlett


Lips


"Ghost World" with Thora


Scarlett with old man Bill


Silken Floss is the most beautiful woman
in the world

The Prestige



Happy birthday wishes go out this morning to one of my favorite actresses, Ms Scarlett Johansson, who today turns a whopping 26 years old!
She's had a fairly busy life considering at this age she's a self made millionaire, has been nominated four times for Golden Globe Awards for best actress, plus a literal slew of other awards (some winning, some not), has recorded two music albums, and this year won the Tony Award (that'd be for a play) for Best Performance by a Featured Actress.
Scarlett was born in New York City (you have to be born somewhere I guess), three minutes before her twin brother, Hunter. Her dad, Karsten Johansson, is a Danish-born architect (and his dad, Ejner Johansson, was of course the screenwriter and director. He's Danish too!), and her mom, Melanie Sloan, is a producer, acts as Scarlett's manager, and in her spare time founded CREW, the political watchdog group, the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington... and one of my heros.
Uuumm, upon further reflection the assertion above may not be entirely true. Although there is a certain resemblance between the two Melanies (see picture above), CREW's executive director does not appear to be Scarlett's mother... or so they say.
Anyway, her mom is a big time movie buff, just like me, and began taking little Scarlett out on auditions at a very early age. She says she began working from the time she was eight (there is an interesting picture of young Scarlett posing with a young Jessica Biel above as two young models. Apparently they're still friends today, and apparently they both dated Justin Timberlake... I don't know why). When nine years old she made her film debut as John Ritter's daughter in "North," played Sean Connery's daughter in "If Lucy Fell," the next year, and in 1996 got her first co-lead role in "Manny & Lo," in which her older sister Vanessa also appeared. The performance garnered her a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female. She was just twelve years old! I was sitting around my house with my thumb up my butt when I was twelve years old.
And that hurt!
Her break out performance of course was in "Eight Legged Freaks," with David Arquette in 2002, just after she graduating from Professional Children's School in Manhattan.
Ha ha, I'm just kidding, although the classic "Eight Legged Freaks," is one of my favorite movies, her real breakout performance was all the way back in 1998, in Robert Redford's "The Horse Whisperer," a film I've never been able to make it through due to narcoleptic fits (and which was the inspiration for the successful television shows "Ghost Whisperer," and "Dog Whisperer." I'm seriously contemplating my own breakthrough show, "The Pica Whisperer.") I think I first became aware of her career in 2001's "Ghost World," which had an interesting title not related at all to anything within the film, but for which I rented to see Scarlett's co-star, Ms Thora Birch (picture above), who had appeared in another of my favorite films, "American Beauty," two years before.
Okay, Scarlett transitioned big time into adult roles in 2003, in Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation," with Bill Murray (picture above). One of my favorite roles of Scarlett's was in "The Girl with a Pearl Earring," of the same year in which she played the artistic inspiration for the painter Johannes Vermeer. Some of my other favorite roles were in Woody Allen's "Match Point," "The Prestige," "Vicky Christina Barcelona" (another Allen film. They may be secretly dating), as Silken Floss in Frank Miller's "The Spirit," and last years "He's Just Not That Into You."
She released an album in 2008 consisting of mostly Tom Waits cover songs entitled, "Any where I lay My Head," and followed that up in 2009 with "Break Up" (but was recorded in 2006).
Scarlett has the good sense not to discuss her personal life to the press all that much so I certainly won't reveal her deepest darkest secrets here today. I respect her that much. She's made millions endorsing different cosmetics companies, blah blah, everybody thinks she's sooo hot, blah blah (she is very pretty... for a girl), and her rough, "smokey" voice is mentioned quite a bit, although I've never noticed it.
She does seem to have the right idea concerning politics and social causes. She supported both John Kerry and Barack Obama in their presidential bids, and seems to like cheese too much, though the two issues don't seem to have a lot in common with each other at first glance.
She is a Global Ambassador for the aid and development agency, Oxfam, which I also support. And in 2008 she married the popular actor Ryan Reynolds, and apparently lives here in Los Angeles, which makes us neighbors sort of.
And all of us here at Joyce's Take wish her and her family continued good health and success, and a very happy birthday.
Happy Birthday Scarlett!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Salvation Diary 44


"Salvation" by Amanda Milke
http://amandamilke.wordpress.com/

July 26 Friday Day 318


Payday.
I got up early to go and cash my big paycheck. I haven't had so much money in my pocket since a year ago last May. On the way back I walked through the mall and browsed inside one of the book stores that they have there. I found copies of the very same books Kathy said she would loan to me. I looked for others with a similar subject matter, thinking a book like that might be a nice gift for her.
Women like gifts.
So does everyone else.
I remembered that she had told me she had an extensive library though, so I thought better of buying her something in fear that she might already have it.
Oh well, my feeble attempt to purchase her affections can wait awhile.
I had a nice lunch (cheeseburgers), then went to the park for about an hour.
When I returned Jeff Pursell gave me a haircut. Not that I wanted one, but Robert had begun to call me "hippie boy," being his little way of telling me it was time to get my hair shortened.
After all, I must set an example to others.
Or so I've been told.
After that I went to work. I didn't feel like working. I felt much more like sitting up in my room and daydream of Kathy. But being the responsible alcoholic that I am I went to the desk and fulfilled my duties.
Not feeling like working ensured that my shift would be unusually hectic. Which it was. Everybody wanted something from me all at the same time. But I handled it. With apparent ease I might add.
Robert was busy washing his new car in the As-Is Yard. Hugh Hogle came back from Venice Beach with Reuben Smith and Harold Eversley, and was badly sun burned. He looks like a great big tomato, and said he didn't feel very well. And Kevin Rockoff says he doesn't like his new job, and may be coming back to us.
Good. He's my best desk man.
How selfish of me.
When things calmed down a bit I had time to take notes from the "Underground Empire," book, which will not be transposed here.
Read the book if you want to find out about it.
I highly recommend it.


July 27 Saturday Day 319


Last night was pretty bad for me. I felt kind of jumpy, and not too good. Like something was out of place. I sure didn't feel like working, but I've already said that.
My friend Darrell Sipp didn't have a very good night either. Certainly worse than mine. He was walking back from a friend's house, somewhere north of Colorado Blvd., when he was set upon (mugged) and badly pummeled by a group of young men looking for money. After taking a kick to the crotch and a few punches to the head, he escaped all of his attackers and made it back to the residence just before the midnight curfew. He gasped for breath and his face was very swollen. He felt he should go to the hospital, so I dropped him off at Huntington Memorial.
I saw him at lunch today and he seemed okay. He has a couple of lose teeth though.
A reminder of how hostile it can be out there.
Art's crazy people.


July 28 Sunday Day 320


For a while last night I thought that Rockoff might have run off with his American Indian girlfriend and gone A.W.O.L. His was the only key left in our key box when curfew time came. As you may remember, that is the primary way we determine if someone is in the building, by the presence or absence of their locker key. If we at the desk have the key, the person it belongs to is not usually in the building. Or vice versa.
So I went to have a look in Kevin's dorm, 41, bed A. There he was, all cuddled up with his favorite teddy. Apparently he had forgotten to sign in and pick up his key when he returned from his amorous outing. For doing so he shall be severely beaten today in order to assist him in remembering proper residence procedures.
Some gentlemen have tried to take advantage of the fact that we do not take roll call, or make a head count just after curfew. We find that it is really unnecessary to perform that laborious task. One man attempted to pull this trick just last night. He took off without leaving his key and stayed out for the night, no doubt believing we would assume he was here simply because we did not have his key. And he was right, we did assume that. It was his own roommates who unintentionally busted him this morning by asking us why he had not returned to his dorm the night before, thus alerting us at the desk of his absence. They'll say, "What happened to so and so last night?" or, "Was so and so AWOL last night? He didn't come back." "Can I change over to so and so's bed? It's empty."
Then we'll say something like, "Soooo, he wasn't in his dorm last night, was he? Thanks for letting us know." Then they'll turn away looking like they ratted out their mom.
Works every time.
Sometimes a person pulling this maneuver actually remembers to come back in the morning acting as if he had been here all night. They are the picture of innocence. We get their keys from them, their I.D. badges, and send them out into the world.
And we wish them well.
Clarence Orion went on vacation this week, so he dumped all of his usual Sunday chapel duties onto Robert, who attempted to dump them onto me. But I would have none of it. I feel kind of silly, or phony actually, going up to the pulpit and doing stuff for their services when I'm not even a Christian and all. But I do help out sometimes. I have nothing against the Christian Church (except those Spanish Inquisition guys. No one expects them), I'm just not a member.
I don't know that much about it really, the Christian Church that is. I should look into it further.
I have nothing if not an open mind.
Most of the time.
Anyway, Robert got stuck leading a singing session, plus the testimonials, plus the announcements and offering. As usual, I ushered.
"You did a wonderful job sir," I told Robert after the service. "And your voice is lovely."
He glared.
"Flattery will get you nowhere, Joyce."
Ron Collins and I attended our Sunday morning A.A. meeting. Ron pointed out that there were an amazing amount of pretty ladies around, some sitting right behind us. I ignored his excited chatter. Since I've now found Kathy, other pretty girls mean nothing to me.
This Sunday's speaker, and elderly gentleman with 45 years of sobriety (you have to be elderly to have 45 years of sobriety), talked non-stop at an even and constant pace for fifty minutes straight. But damned if I can remember anything he said. The monotonous twill of his voice disallowed any possible attempt to comprehend his speech.
I enjoyed the meeting in any case. I just like being there.
It's a good place for me to be.
On our way back we stopped at Los Tacos again and partook of some super burritos.
Yummy!
Ron paid.
Great!
He has received his first paycheck you see.
It is beginning to act like summer here in Pasadena, with the temperatures reaching well into the 90s. I sat (baked) in the bright sun for an hour, listening to rock and roll. Reuben Smith was doing the very same thing only a few yards away from me. He had gotten there before I had. He was lying face up with his sunglasses on, so now he looks like a racoon again.
I call him "Racoon Head."
When evening came I watched the Sunday night V.C.R. movie. "The Untouchables," having nothing better to do, being bored with reading and writing. Later, I read a little anyway, about the life of Jesus Christ.
At 9:30 I walked down to Vons to buy some shampoo and toothpaste. I also picked up some snack food, and salsa and chips. I would have an unauthorized pig out in my room.
Then I watched, "Monsters," and went to bed.
I had a good full day, and I had enjoyed it, but I was just marking time. waiting.
Waiting for Wednesday to come around again.


July 29 Monday Day 321


I went to the dentist today. Of my own free will. I even had to actually pay for it.
Since I have so much extra cash now, being a big time employee of the Salvation Army, I decided to have my upper front tooth fixed. A tiny corner of it had broken off, a remnant of my second to last relapse, when a sidewalk somehow reared up and hit me in the face. Since a year ago last May I've lived with a hole in my mouth, which I've self consciously tried to hide with the tip of my tongue whenever I smile, After today I hope to have my smile back, which should help to improve my overall self esteem.
And make me a much better kisser.
So I went to Dr. Campbell, the friendly credit dentist, and after the financial agreements were agreed upon, and the X-rays taken, Dr. Zu, (a distant relative of Dr. Campbell no doubt) went to work.
Oh, what a lovely experience. This time the doctor (masked as usual) took a hammer and chisel to my poor little defenseless mouth. No soft and gentle taps were applied either, these were great, long, sweeping, slams that jolted my entire body to and fro. I felt certain that at any moment his aim would vary and my life would be no more.
Then came the drill.
Next they shoved some purple plastic stuff in my mouth that I was required to bite down on while waiting for it to harden.
After a while he pried open my mouth, took it out and looked at it.
"Let's do another one," he said with evil glee.
After a couple of hours they "affixed" (I love that word) a temporary cap over the stump of my broken tooth. This shall serve me until the permanent cap is ready. They warned me that the temporary cap may fall out... and that I should not swallow it.
I'll try my best.
Now I can smile again. My smile looks very nice, I must say.
I just can't chew anymore. My bottom front tooth jams into the cap, not allowing my teeth to close.
And so it goes (Vonnegut).
I was in great pain for the rest of the day. I really don't want to talk about it.


July 30 Tuesday Day 322


My tooth felt a little better this morning. My gums are not as sore, so I guess I can continue this narrative.
Rico Montgomery came by, just after lunch, to pick up his stuff. He was released from County Jail this morning at 5:30. He looks alright. Imprisonment seems to agree with him. Apparently he'll be living with his girlfriend for awhile, at least until she gets tired of his jive bullshit.
Rico told me he saw Ben Driscoll while there in jail. Ben doesn't talk all that much, so Rico never found out why Ben had been incarcerated. Rico did say that Ben seemed to be coping pretty well, doing a lot of sweeping in the jail. Ben likes to sweep.
But then again, who doesn't?
Reuben Smith has been acting peculiar the last couple of days. More peculiar than normal. He's acting all sullen and uncommunicative, which is odd for Reuben. When Richard Bennett called him down for counseling, Reuben, who had been sleeping, came to the desk, looked at Richard and said, "That's all you wanted me for?" as he abruptly turned around and walked back upstairs. Reuben can be rude at times (most of the time), but this was exceptional. He's told others that he's sick. He won't tell me what's going on. I hope he's alright.
I spent the last part of my shift getting ready for the big Pacific Oaks College graduation ceremony being held this evening in our chapel. I made sure Schimmele and his crew got the chapel in order, and I made some signs which pointed out the way to the chapel and atrium, where a reception would be held for the graduates. I placed these signs in strategic locations, ensuring them being seen by the hundred and sixty expected guests.
I just happened to be in the lobby when Jill came in. She made a rare, early appearance, and was actually here at 5:45 for her 5:45 group counseling tonight, which accentuated her shinning sumptuous features, her pert but elegant nose, the lustrous fall of her eyelash, her crimson lips, her delicate earlobes and her come hither eyes framed in a cascade of exuberant red tresses. I did not see, or was affected by the vital, flowing way in which she crossed the room, her statuesque full figure, her shapely long legs. He fresh, clean smell mixed perfectly with a slight whisper of the erotic scent of her perfume. I saw none of that, nor did I notice the firmness of her ample breasts, her slim waist, the swell of her hips, the little mole on the right side of her neck, the adorable birthmark on the inside of her left knee. Her magnificent smile. Her lilting voice as she sighed, "Hello Richard."
She calls me Richard. Some do.
Her presence meant nothing to me, so I left the lobby and went upstairs to take a cold shower, after which I retreated to my lonely room, to read, and watch mindless made for T.V. movies for the rest of the evening.
I did manage to finish the Nan Robertson book, "Getting Better." A remarkable achievement, the book I mean. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who thinks they may have a drinking problem and are considering treatment, or joining Alcoholics Anonymous. Rarely have I seen the process of recovery depicted in such realistic and compassionate detail. Everything one needs to start the recovery ball rolling is in this book.
Except the desire to stop drinking.
Some current events are just screaming for attention today. It appears that the intense air bombardment of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War still left Saddam Hussein with viable nuclear weapon producing capabilites. We're told he'd been trying to hide them from the United Nation's inspectors in violation of the peace agreement. He's being obstinate. Very obstreperous in an obsequious manner. And now President Bush is talking tough, and we may find ourselves beginning the war all over again.
Terrific.
Some very well may ask, "Why did we stop the war before making sure Hussein was removed from power and could never be a threat in the region again?" Good question! One the President may find difficult to answer during next year's election (don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Bush I haven't particularly cared for any president since Garfield)
Yesterday it was reported that Hussein may still have chemical weapons as well.
He isn't letting us see those either.
Last week, what astronomers belive may be a planet with about 10 times the mass of Earth, a little less than the planet Uranus in our own solar system, may be revolving around a pulsar at 20,000 to 30,000 light years from Earth. It's located somewhere in the direction of the Milky Way's galactic center, in the constellation Sagittarius. This would seem an unlikely place for a planet to form considering a pulsar, or neutron star, itself is believed to be the remanent of a supernova, one of the most energetic and destructive events known in the universe. Certainly life would not be possible on a planet so close to a high synchrotron radiation source such as a pulsar. But if it is a planet, and it was able to form in such a hostile environment, then the likelihood of planet formation in other solar systems in general, throughout the cosmos, increases dramatically.
This would correspondingly increase the possibility that life would develop elsewhere in the universe.
And that would be a wonderful thing.


July 31 Wednesday Day 323


Kathy was here tonight. About the only thing I managed to do was to discover that she spells her name like this: C A T H Y. Short for... Cathy.
Jesus, I don't know how two sober people get together. It all seemed so easy when I was half sloshed. .
For one thing, I wasn't really in the greatest of moods. Tonight being the last Wednesday of the month, it was Birthday Night, which meant a bit more work for me, and having to spend time in direct contact with the Major. He being the boss, it's alway wise to spend as much time away from him as possible.
For another thing, that red headed guy I'd been seeing talking to Cathy in the parking lot a few weeks back, he told me he had been to the same Jackie Robinson Center that I had gone to, and this afternoon discovered that he was H.I.V. positive. I identified with the feeling he must have been experiencing and let me tell you, it was not pleasant.
And I can never talk to Cathy alone. There's always about ten guys hanging around who have nothing better to do than stand around and watch Cathy as I try to have a conversation. Most of them are not above busting into it whenever possible.
Jesus, I think I'm going nuts. Really!
We did talk a little though. She brought me a couple of books by John Bradshaw. She thought I might like to read them. I will. We also talked about family relationships for awhile. Real exciting.
Her clients are giving her a hard time, she tells me. My ex-friend, Ron Collins, walked out on her during counseling. Another of her clients just doesn't want to stop drinking, and another just avoided her all together. The poor girl can't understand why some (most) of the men here are so unmotivated. These guys are expert, big time game players, and Cathy can't quite comprehend that. I'm sure she's hurt when she doesn't seem to get through to them.
Oh well, some progress was made I guess. For my cause at least. She now knows that I was adopted at the crisp age of four days old, that I witnessed my father's fatal heart attack, that my mom is coming to visit Sunday, (I talked to her yesterday), and that I have Sundays and Mondays off.
I still haven't the faintest idea of what she feels about me. If she truly likes me, or is just making polite conversation to this idiot who won't stop talking to her. She's not giving me a clue.
Women! I swear! I'm seriously considering becoming a monk. And I believe I'm getting a headache to boot.
Then she was gone with the wind. Poof! Just like that. For a whole week. Another week of stewing in the juices of my own making, for roughly 160 hours, or so. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Next week! Next week I swear, so help me God, I will ask her out! Sink or swim, I need to know if my preoccupation will amount to anything. Will we become lovers, friends, acquaintances, or will she crush me altogether with a single negative response, my love remaining unrequited, dooming me to eternal loneliness and desperation.
By golly, I sure hope it's not the crushing part. I really do.
I will however find out one way or another.
Or will I chicken out at the last minute? Freezing up like the wimpy, whoosie kind of guy I secretly know myself to be.
Who knows?
Oh Jesus! Where's a good monastery?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Anne (Hathaway)!


Anne


Princess


The White Queen


With Mom & Dad


Relaxing



Happy birthday wishes go out today for one of my favorite actresses, and the very first actress mentioned on this site back in February of 2009, Ms Anne Hathaway!
No, I'm not talking about Bill Shakespeare's wife! I'm talking about the beautiful young actress who starred in those Princess Diaries movies (she and I are connected in some metaphysical way that I can't quite figure out yet due to these two films, as I happen to be the author of two books whose title also end with a variant of the word "Diaries." I'd ask her to marry me if she were a couple of years younger).
Anne Jacqueline Hathaway was born at 6:00AM my time here on the Pacific Coast (not 5:59AM or 6:01AM, but 6:00AM damn it!), in Brooklyn, which I'm told is somewhere in New York. Her dad, Gerard, a lawyer, and her mom, Kate, an actress and singer, moved her to New Jersey when she was six (Anne's grandfather, Joe McCauley, was one of Philadelphia's most popular radio personalities, and had the second all night radio program in the United States "The Dawn Patrol" (1942), which people like Frank Sinatra called into when he was in town. Frank Sinatra was a singer who was very popular back then).
Perhaps she knew my lovely case manager, Erin, who lived in New Jersey as well and are of similar age. Maybe!
Anne says "I'm very aware of my own background. I'm Irish, French and then a little bit of everything else thrown in, ranging from German to native American. We're talking about tiny drops of blood.''
Obviously a show off, she entered the first grade at Wyoming Elementary School in Millburn New Jersey while she was technically still a kindergartner. Rather than wanting to become a ballerina like so many little girls, Anne, being raised as a Catholic, quite refreshingly wished to become a nun. At the age of fifteen however, she changed her mind when she learned her brother Michael was gay, and could not reconcile the Church's stance toward homosexuals and wanting her brother to be happy in life.
So considering her grand-dad's and mom's background show business was definitely in little Anne's blood. But rather than go to a hospital to get rid of it she pursued acting.
On stage at first, which she says she prefers to the film roles that would later make her famous.
She won a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award nomination for Best Performance by a High School Actress for her performance as Winnifred in "Once Upon a Mattress," which sounds like a pretty racy play for high school if you ask me.
Later she would become an English major at Vassar, in the city of Poughkeepsie, New York, which of course Gene Hackman made famous in the film, "The French Connection." She went on to the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, and was the first teenager admitted into the Barrow Group Theater Company's acting program.
In 1998 and 1999 she appeared at Carnegie Hall with the All-Eastern U.S. High School Honors Chorus. She's a soprano (which means she can hit those really high notes. She's really a wonderful singer. Here is her rendition of Queen's "Somebody to Love" http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=I0c1wmgu9zA ). Three days after her 1999 performance, when she was just 16, she was cast in the short-lived Fox television series "Get Real" ( a Fox show, it ran from September 1999 to April 2000, with 20 episodes aired).
A few years later Anne won her first part in a movie, 2001's, "The Other Side of Heaven," which was filmed in New Zealand. Before heading out to Peter Jackson country however, during a flight layover she auditioned for a role that would become her breakthrough performance, a Gary Marshall film called, "The Princess Diaries."
She won that part after just that one audition, the director saying he loved her because she fell off a chair while auditioning, which Marshall thought reflected the character, Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, perfectly.
Listen: Anne went to New Zealand, filmed "The Other Side of Heaven," then went back to Disneyland to film "The Princess Diaries." "The Princess Diaries," was released before "The Other Side of Heaven," because everybody thought she had done such a great job in Diaries, and the producers of Heaven wanted to capitalize on Diaries, and Anne's success.
They were right! Anne and "The Princess Diaries," were a success (costing $26 million to produce, and making $165,335,153 worldwide), but "The Other Side of Heaven," still didn't do very well, making just $4,720,371, with mostly negative reviews.
But Anne's career was running hot, she continued to appear in family oriented films over the next three years ("Nicholas Nickleby," Ella Enchanted," and "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," in which Anne's mother appeared).
I've seen almost exactly none of those movies. As a matter of fact I saw "The Princess Diaries," for the first time just a couple of weeks ago, mainly because I tend to shy away from family oriented films. I've seen a whole bunch of her films before "The Princess Diaries," though.
Like "Brokeback Mountain," a decidedly non-family oriented film, the second film in which Anne appeared topless (Celebrity Sleuth states Anne's bust size as 36B. I have no way to independently verify this... damn it!), and for which she was nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
I think I fell in love with her though after seeing "The Devil Wears Prada," which is odd really, because that is not typically the type of movie I tend to watch either.
But she was so good! And so freaking beautiful... uniquely beautiful... for a girl. Let me reiterate from a previous post: "Men are bizarre creatures and react viscerally to the physicality and appearance of the opposite sex. Women know this and take advantage of our helplessness." So it's not really my fault, falling in love with her I mean. It couldn't be helped.
Hey! Guess who's picture adorns the second post of this blog, way back in February of last year. I'll give you a hint, her initials are A.H., and she went to school in Poughkeepsie. Don't believe me? You can see for yourself right here:
http://joycestake.blogspot.com/2009/02/2008-academy-awards.html
That post concerned the Academy Awards of 2009, celebrating the films of 2008, of which Anne was nominated for Best Actress for her marvelous performance in "Rachel Getting Married." I wrote this about Anne: "I have to admit I was rooting for Anne Hathaway, just because she is so pretty. And talented. I'm going to watch "Rachel Getting Married," tonight just to make sure she should have won. And for a girl who was 11 years old when he died, she does a mean Nixon impression. Annie, you can victory sign me any day."
Hey again. I was young and impressionable at the time and can hardly be held responsible for my youthful exuberance and admiration.
Still, she can victory sign me any day! (what does that mean you may ask. To tell you the truth I've forgotten myself... but it sounds good)
Anyway, I've since seen Anne in "Get Smart," the film version of one of my very favorite television shows, "Bride Wars," and as the ethereal White Queen, in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland."
I could go on and on about the lovely, and exceptionally talented Anne Hathaway. But the most important thing we must keep freshly in mind, dear readers, is that today is her 28th birthday (Twenty freaking eight! I can't even remember what I was doing when I was twenty eight, but I'm sure it involved intoxicating substances... almost sure).
Anyway, all of us here at Joyce's Take wish Anne continued success in her life and career, and anything else she happens to be involved with, good health for herself, family, and friends, and a very happy birthday!
Happy Birthday Anne!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Careena (Collins!)



This morning we are happy to give happy birthday wishes to one of my favorite actresses, Ms Careena Collins!
She started her acting career in 1985, and has appeared in such films as "The Fashionistas," "A World of Hurt," "Dark Interludes," "Power Play," "Secret Dreams," "Twins" (with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito), and "Born to Run: The Careena Collins Story."
Careena is a graduate of law school and still active in the industry today, and all of us here at Joyce's Take wish her continued good fortune, peace and fulfillment in life, and a very happy birthday!
Happy Birthday Careena!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Discovery






Robonaut2

After a couple of delays due to pesky helium and nitrogen leaks found onboard, the Space Shuttle Discovery will begin it's final flight today at 12:52PM, PST.
Discovery is now the oldest shuttle still in service having already flown 38 flights since 1984. It has completed 5,247 orbits, and spent 322 days in space. The craft has a long history with the Hubble Telescope, having taken it into orbit in 1990, and flying two missions to service the bus sized instrument since. It also launched the Ulysses probe to study the Sun, also in 1990, the mission lasting until June of last year.
As far as I know, and my knowledge is vast, Discovery flew the first sitting member of Congress into orbit in 1985, Senator Jake Garn (R-UT), as a mission specialist. Considering he helped facilitate the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s, which cost the American tax payers nearly $125 billion dollars through his deregulative Garn–St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 (these guys never freaking learn), I wish the other astronauts on board would have left him up there (oh, am I being too cruel? Yes! And delightedly so!). It also took John Glenn back up into space when he was 77 years old, making him the oldest guy in space so far, and as he was a Senator at the time, he was the third sitting member of Congress to go to space (the second being Rep. Bill Nelson (D-FL), which makes the score Dems 2 to Repubs 1. We are winning the space race!).
Discovery was the first shuttle to return to flight after both the Challenger disaster in 1988, and the Columbia disaster in 2005. Since that flight Discovery's missions have primarily been involved with supplying and servicing the International Space Station, as it's last flight will be.
STS-133 will carry six astronauts to the ISS, who will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo, which is a multipurpose module which is permanent, and will primarily be used for storage of spares, supplies and waste. It will also carry the third of four ExPRESS Logistics Carriers, which is an unpressurized payload project that provides mechanical mounting surfaces, electrical power, and command and data handling services for science experiments. Very exciting.
Hey, they're also taking a robot! Robonaut2 is a humanoid robotic development project, the idea being to have a humanoid robotic apparatus which can work alongside astronauts while outside the space station, presumably attached to one of the station's robotic arms. I don't know why they need this. Robonaut2 will be tested for feasibility once it gets to the ISS. It is a forerunner to the HAL 9000 Series, and will one day take over the planet.
The astronauts on Discovery will also take with them more than half a million signatures of students, which is very cool, and part of the Student Signatures in Space program which has taken nearly 7 million students’ signatures from 6,552 schools on 10 shuttle missions.
The mission will feature two space walks, will be the 164th American manned space flight, the 133rd shuttle mission since the first in 1981, and the 35th shuttle mission to the ISS.
It will also be the second to last shuttle mission ever, Discovery being decommissioned after the flight. The last mission, STS 134, with my and my lovely case manager Erin's picture on board the shuttle Endeavor, is scheduled to be launched February 27th of next year.
NASA has offered to give Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, for public display and preservation as part of the national collection, which is entirely appropriate, as I certainly wouldn't know where to put it.
The freaking thing's huge!
Goodbye Discovery. You've served us well.
Note of 12-03-10: The launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery has been repeatedly delayed due to cracks discovered on two 21-foot-long, U-shaped aluminum brackets, called stringers, on the shuttle's external tank. It is now scheduled to launch no later than Feb 3rd.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Night 2010


Chris and Keith


Lovely Rachel


Eugene


Lawrence


Big Eddie

Okey dokey, this is going to be a very different kind of post than is usually featured in that it will not be prefabricated, so to speak. Rather I will write of the election results as they come in using MSNBC as my source of election information, mainly due to the fact that I can't stand the other so-called news outlets. This will be more of a stream of consciousness type of affair, and I for one am extremely happy to share this event with you, dear readers. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Right now it is 3:42PM PST in real time and I'm watching Republican asshat Mike Pence tell everyone that tonight will be a victory for the country, not a particular political party, promising that no new taxes will be levied upon anyone, meaning of course his first priority will be to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and of course he does not offer any explanation on how the Republicans will pay for it. Look for this kind of crap from the Republicans for the rest of the evening, and if they win the House of Representatives, for the next two years.
Alright, I'm ready to settle in for the next eight hours or so (to hell with what happens in Alaska and Hawaii. True the Senate race in Alaska is interesting, and I have no idea how it's going to turn out, but unless the fate of the Senate rests on that particular state, I'm going to bed so I can get up bright and early to write about it tomorrow. We shall see.
I've got some popcorn, nuts and berrys, some cabbage of course, soyjoy bars, cheese (I've got mozzarella, I've got cheddar, I've got Monterey jack, and I've got some reduced sodium mild cheddar that's already been shredded for me. I've got all kinds of cheese), frankfurters, beans with turkey meat in them, lentils and rice. I've got some bagels. I've got my slinky and super durable Van Helsing plastic cup. I've got plenty of coffee, but I'll be switching to tea in a little while (as is my custom). I've got some sour cream and Bologna. Herkimer's here. I think I'm set.
I have some oatmeal too. Quick cooking.
The voting polls in Indiana, Kentucky, and a few other states are closing right about now 4:00PM, and Keith Olbermann is telling me that Tea Party candidate Rand Paul will win in Kentucky. Pat Leahy is expected to win in Vermont, with two other Republicans projected to win their Senate seats with a pick up of one seat for the Republicans (Paul). How they have the nerve to project these results when the polls just freaking closed I have no idea.
Once in the Senate, Rand Paul will be able to single handedly filibuster the upcoming vote to lift the over all debt limit of the country (which his stated Tea Party-Libertarian principles dictate he must do), thereby bringing the U.S. government to a standstill, and therefore creating panic and disruptions throughout the entire world.
By the way I hope you all appreciate the time, effort, and sacrifice I'm putting into this tonight. I'll be missing the 32nd airing of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," on the FX channel at eight o'clock.
North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia are going to close in about ten minutes. How exciting.
It looks like Indiana, which voted for Barack Obama in 2008, is going back to the dark side this evening. How sad.
I've just finished cooking some nice rice to have maybe with my beans and turkey meat... with some cabbage... and peanut butter later. Can't wait.
Around the country there are some important ballot measures being voted on tonight. Most of the following information comes from Julianne Escobedo Shepherd from AlterNet, who got her information from Clayton Ashley of Talking Points Memo.
Marijuana is being voted on in California, making it completely legal with Proposition 19. Oregon's Medical Supply System Act would also let the state expand it's medical marijuana laws establishing a registered supply system and clarifying the amount of the drug one can possess. Arizona and Nebraska are voting on legalizing medical marijuana, which if passed in Arizona will make my dear sister happy. Very happy (don't tell my niece!).
Colorado's anti-choice Amendment 62 would ban abortion in the state across the board, in all circumstances, the health of the mother not withstanding, and in cases of rape and incest. Fortunately this is likely to fail. Let's hope so.
AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006 in California's landmark clean air legislation has hardly begun taking effect when Proposition 23 came onto the ballot. This Proposition is backed mostly by two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, and would suspend any state laws requiring reductions, like AB 32, until the unemployment rate in the state drops to 5.5 percent in four consecutive quarters, which has happened like about three times in California's history. In other words outside business interests are trying to stymie important environmental efforts in order to continue business as usual and keep on polluting, all to keep acquiring the all mighty buck. This should fail as well.
I've just opened up some nuts and fruit mix. It's now 4:55PM which means some 15 state polls are going to close soon. Some of the races that are now being reported on are simply too close to call at present. As they should be. Just ate a cashew and raisin.
Marco Rubio (R) is now expected to win the Senate seat in Florida. Christopher Coons (D) expected to win in Delaware (thank God!), knocking out the hopes for ex-witch, Tea Party candidate (and real cute) Christine O'Donnell. Most of the other races are too close to call at this time, which is 5:04.
These nuts and fruit are good.
My neighbor Lester the Molester wants to borrow some tuna from me. He says he'll buy me some eggs later. I gave him 5 ounces of the endangered species.
This just in... "Saw 3D" made $22.5 million over the weekend. Just thought you'd like to know.
I'm getting an Email report right now about record youth turnout in California which may have something to do with Proposition 19. The University of San Diego has run out of voting materials there's so many dopers... er, voters at the polls.
They are calling some races now in the Senate and House, but these are mostly incumbent races who were expected to win and do not change the percentages of party members as of yet. I will limit my reports to candidates that have been in the national spotlight for one reason or another, or who will tip the balance of power in Congress simply because I can't type fast enough to accurately report on all of the races.
Poor Linda McMahon of wrestling fame seems to have lost her bid for the Senate to the Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Here's a little tip for future candidates. It's probably not a good idea to run for national office with videos of your husband forcing a woman to get on their hands and knees and bark like a dog, and videos of you kicking men in the nuts floating around. Just saying.
Blue dog Democrat Blanche Lincoln seems to have lost her reelection bid in Arkansas to John Boozman, thereby elevating the total gain in Senate seats for the Republicans to 2. They need 10 to gain the majority. Blanche was expected to lose this race. Maybe calling one's self a Democrat and acting like a Republican isn't such a good idea.
The Senate seat in West Virginia will remain in Democratic hands with an expected win for Gov. Joe Manchin. The folks on MSNBC, Keith, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Eugene Robinson (the only one there without his own show, and the only Pulitzer prize winner of the bunch), Lawrence O'Donnell, and Ed Schultz reporting from Las Vegas for some reason, all tell me that with Manchin's win the Senate will be very, very difficult for the Republicans to take it over.
Very good. I'm going to eat some more nuts now. And fruit. Time 5:41.
I guess they don't pay any federal income tax in Washington State. Their Initiative 1098 however would create taxes on those making $200,000 or more ($400,000 for joint filers) which would be applied to education and health issues, and would lower property, business and occupation taxes. Former friends and business rivals Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both favor this initiative even though it would affect them directly through higher taxes. I think they both can afford it.
Alan Grayson, Rep from Florida, one of the most outspoken members of the House ("The Republican health plan is to hurry up and die!") seems to have lost his reelection bid. That is a shame. Screw you Florida, you Philistines.
13 states have now closed their polls, and MSNBC is now projecting the Republicans will take the majority in the House of Representatives by 39 seats. 198 for the Democrats to 237 for the Republicans. North Dakota has picked up a Republican Senate seat making their net gains a total of 3. Time 6:04.
Remember that time America. That's when you voted for regression and ignorance.
Illinois's Governor Recall Amendment is just that. It will allow the voters to recall the governor. Rod Blagojevich may or may not have inspired this.
Rhode Island's Name Change Amendment, Question 1, will allow the residents of that state to change the state's name from "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations," which apparently is the technical name of the state currently, to "State of Rhode Island." Hell, I'll go for that.
The Internet machine is now telling me that Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat and Mario's son, will gain the Governorship in New York, defeating Jimmy McMillan who believed, and I agree with him, the rent's just TOO DAMN HIGH! TOO DAMN HIGH!
I've just finished my nuts and fruit. The time is 6:36.
I'm watching Christine O'Donnell's concession speech. I guess God didn't want her to win after all.
Maybe he's on vacation.
Don't worry folks, she'll soon have her own show on Fox "News," and be Palin's running mate in 2012.
Okay the time is now 6:43, and I'm going to close the door to my box now before Lester comes back.
I closed my door just in time. I can hear him roaming around out there.
Alright, this is an initiative I can certainly get behind as an animal rights activist. Missouri's Proposition B: Dog Breeding Regulation Initiative will require the state's dog breeders to feed said dogs on a daily basis. And regularly. I really don't know what to say about this. They weren't feeding their dogs daily? Freaking asshats! Yes, I guess you have to pass this law to make some people human.
6 more states just closed their polls and asshat Senator John McCain is expected to win in Arizona. The Nevada Senate race between Majority Leader Harry Reid and moron Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle is too close to call at this time.
Hey Nevada! How can you seriously contemplate electing someone who won't answer questions on how they will work in the Senate to the voters of your state? She won't talk to the media, and she's a national embarrassment. I mean really. If you do this, I for one will never go to Vegas again.
And I'm talking about Angle, not Reid.
With 16% of the vote in, the people in Minnesota are letting the insane Michele Bachman (see Michelle, Ma Belle, from April and May of 2009) back into the House of Representatives 50 to 43 percent. Really Minnesota? What the hell? You have the good sense to elect Al Franken to the Senate... and Bachman again? You've been awake for the last two years haven't you? What? Is half the state on crack or something? Get some treatment Minnesota! Now, before it's too late! We all love you, and are here for you.
All the Republicans are talking about tonight, those who have been interviewed this evening so far, and as we expected, is extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy without saying how they'll pay for it, and how we need to learn to live within our means (except for the wealthy I guess). This amounts to what are called austerity measures. We'll discuss austerity measures very soon, dear readers.
I'm going to cook some cabbage now. I don't know why. Time 7:27.
One of the best Senators for the progressive side, Russ Feingold, is now expected to lose his seat in Wisconsin, giving the Republicans 4 pick up seats so far. Sadly, this was expected.
Well Wisconsin, I hope you get what you voted for. I sincerely do.
Boil the cabbage for about eight minutes in the microwave, salt and butter... not bad.
I hated cabbage when I was a kid. I eat anything now. Except for bugs.
Alright, in one minute the polls right here in California will close, at 8:00. I hope my lovely case manager, Erin was able to vote.
All the races on the west coast are too early to call right now.
My friend Laura Prepon just offered to send me an autographed picture of herself. I said yes. This has nothing to do with the election however.
The Citizens United case is making itself apparent in this election, as many of the races where Democrats have lost are due to massive influxes of cash into their opponents campaigns by outside and unknown sources. Thank you Supreme Court.
The Oklahoma International Law Amendment, State Question 755, if passed, will prevent the imposition of Sharia Law in Oklahoma's courts. According to Rep. Rex Duncan, this it "will constitute a pre-emptive strike against Sharia law coming to Oklahoma." I feel so much safer now.
Good news! With 52% of the votes counted in Nevada, Harry Reid is leading Sharron Angle 52 to 43%. Very good.
And our friends in Denver will decide on setting up a commission to track space aliens. Initiative 300 requires the city to accept reports of UFO sightings on its Web page. This is in response to the initiative's sponsor, Jeff Peckman belief that the federal government is monitoring the aliens, but refusing to publish information about them. The Denver ballot measure calls on the new Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission to review the risks and benefits of communicating with the extraterrestrials. Well considering how many times the bug eyed bastards have abducted Erin I should say we should be monitoring them! To hell with the economy, home foreclosures, unemployment, and two "wars." Keep our women safe I say!
Let the aliens get their own girls, damn it!
John Boehner is making a victory speech claiming the real winners tonight are the American people. He's actually apologizing for the policies that the Republicans put into place that have dragged this country down a sink hole, blaming the Democrats, and for which he hopes the American people won't remember. He's telling the President they are willing to work with him as long as he does everything they want. OMG he's crying again. He's making me physically ill, and he's so full of crap it's coming out of his ears.
My cabbage just came up.
Here is something that makes me feel much better. My Senator, Barbara Boxer is expected to win her reelection bid with 20% of the vote in, with her leading Carly Fiorina 51 to 44 percent! Hey Carly, why don't you go over to China and try and get a job there. You sent most of our other jobs overseas, please go along with them.
This result, along with the just announced reelection of Senator Daniel Inouye in Hawaii, almost ensures the Democrats will retain control of the Senate. Time 9:05.
The Tea Party? Not such a great night. Of all the races, Senate and House so far, 35 wins, 54 loses. 64 races still to be decided. None of the 4 Senate pick ups have been affiliated with the Tea Party. Take that Sarah "Grisly" Palin and Michele Bachman!
The Internet machine is telling my that Jerry Brown, Governor of California from 1975 to 1983, has won his bid for a third term, against Republican billionaire Meg Whitman. Money can't buy everything this tells us. Counting the votes, Meg paid about $100 for every vote she got... with her own money!
Congratulations Jerry.
NBC news is now projecting Harry Reid will win his reelection bid to remain the Majority Leader in the Senate, against Tea Party Candidate Sharron Angle. He beat her in her own county and home town (Reno). Maybe running away from the press isn't such a good campaign strategy.
Thank you Nevada.
I'm still not going to Vegas soon though.
I can't stand Las Vegas.
It seems that Proposition 23 in California has been defeated. In the early returns, 57.4 percent cast their votes against the measure, with 42.6 percent voting in favor of it. A great night for the environment!
Colorado's anti-choice Amendment 62 has failed. Very good.
Washington state has rejected a new income tax for the rich, with Initiative 1098 being defeated.
Time now 10:12.
This just in. Alaska, with about a 33% of the votes counted, the write in candidates are ahead 40%, to Republican Joe Miller's 34%, and to Democrat Scott McAdams' 25. The Alaska rules dictate the envelopes that the write in candidates names are in will not be opened for two weeks I'm told, I don't know why. But Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost the Republican primary to Miller, and who is running as a write in candidate seems to be ahead. If she wins she will be the first write in candidate to do so since Strom Thurmond in 1954.
Keith Olbermann said finding out the winner in this race, thanks to Alaskan election rules, will be like opening a box of Cracker Jack, who knows who the write in candidate will be.
I guess what has been on everyone's mind this evening is the results of the Oklahoma International Law Amendment, State Question 755. Well it seems to have passed! So at least one state now is safe from having is the sacred law of Islam thrust upon it.
Come on California! We can't let Oklahoma show us up. I mean really.
Relieved at the news I will now eat a frankfurter, even though it is so late. I will put mustard on it.
I ate a corn dog instead, which I got from the Hippie Kitchen today. With mustard.
The New York Times is stating the Democrats will retain control of the Senate. Time 10:34.
And it seems that the Californians have rejected legalizing marijuana for now. I don't know why. They like being $19 billion in state debt I suppose. Taxing the sale of weed would have helped that you see. I voted yes, but I guess all the old people besides myself need to die off so the state can get it's head out of it's ass (we voted for Prop 8 remember) and make legal this drug that is so much less harmful than alcohol and nicotine. It will happen. Maybe next year.
Dear Rachel Maddow has commented tonight that Harry Reid's win is a huge upset for the Republicans. I believe that's true, and it makes me very happy because I don't like the Republicans. Some of you may have noticed. So it's with a happy heart that I'm watching Reid make his victory speech right now (time 10:54). It's been a hell of a night. I'm sorry for the country we lost the house.
It is not my intention to analyze the results of the election tonight. We will do that by and by. Nothing much has really changed, except the President's chances for reelection in 2012 may be a little better now. There will still be gridlock in Congress. The President's agenda to move this country in a forward direction will still be hampered and obstructed by the Republicans who place party before country. It is just too sad really that the voters in America could not see that giving an amount of power back to the very people who caused the problems the voters are now experiencing, is not going to help them at all! On the contrary, it is going to hurt them.
So I hope they feel a little better emotionally right now. I hope they feel a little better and they've got their anger out of their system, because tomorrow they're going to have to start living with the consequences of their actions. Perhaps they should consider anger management classes.
I'll tell you one thing. My job is going to be a bit more interesting now. It can get really boring when your own party is in charge of everything.
But I'd rather have it boring, than have the country that I love head back in the wrong direction.
Such is life.
And... we shall see.
Now I will watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert make fun of everything.
Good night dear friends.