Friday, December 30, 2016

"I'm mentally ill, guys!" Why Carrie Fisher kicked ass

Neither of the videos I did on this subject were wholly satisfying to me, as I kept leaving out important stuff. I have no capacity to edit, and it's unscripted, so it goes down the way it goes down.

A lot of the stuff Carrie Fisher talked about was my stuff, too. I found aspects of her life history alarming, but she got through it all and would have kept on going, if she could. And she would have done a lot more good with her honesty and no-holds-barred approach. The thing is - and I have even said this to a psychiatrist - as far as mental health issues are concerned, we have not even had our Stonewall yet. We're in about 1970 now and have a lot of catching up to do. There are signs of it just starting, but I still get irritated at the way it is unfolding. No one has any imagination about this at all. Everyone still thinks in straight lines and stereotypes.

I try to hope. I saw a PBS documentary on Stonewall. An archival interview with the head of the Mattachine Society was most revealing. He defended gay rights, but insisted he wasn't gay himself: "no, I tried it once, but it's not my cup of tea." He also said, "society shouldn't feel threatened. Homosexuals will never want to marry or attempt to adopt children." He said it as if the very idea was preposterous. Which, I guess, it was.

I've written of all this before, and now I am tired of it because of the energy it takes to write, and the way it has to be "good", damn it, I mean not a mess. So now I make videos, and those aren't perfect either, but I know they come closer to expressing how I really feel. It's important that I do that, because Carrie Fisher proved to us all that life is a lot shorter than we think.

Hey, Santa! What's your New Years resolution?


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Why I felt like I knew Carrie Fisher

I started off to make a video of personal reflections triggered by Carrie Fisher's death. Ended up making two. Neither one of them really said it, so I am probably going to post both of them eventually. I don't script these things at all, so sometimes I leave out the most important thing. But I don't treat Carrie Fisher's idea as a joke. 

People tend to cringe when they think of "crazy" people, casually writing them off as whack jobs, nutbars, etc. (Sorry, but this is what I hear every day of my life.) This conveniently makes them less than human, which reminds me of another human practice that used to be OK and even "good business": back when one human being could own another, and force their will upon their property.

A great many people were incredulous that anything could be wrong with that. It was simply an aspect of mainstream society. If you were kind to your slaves, after all. . . But even after their chattel were set free, they were vilified by nasty, denigrating names and physical segregation.

That doesn't happen any more. Does it? Can you think of another (large) group of people being referred to as things, such as "jobs", with no one objecting because the injustice is so invisible?

What? You mean there's a problem? Aren't those people sort of oblivious to what goes on anyway, so does it really matter what we say?

We all need a good cleansing, perhaps an enema, and then we need to begin again. The thought of "pride" in a crazy person seems pretty much unthinkable, but pride in a gay person used to be an aberration, and perhaps a sign of mental illness. We have come a long way, and yet, not far enough.

P. S. I use some language here, one word in particular, that might shock people. It's not used lightly. In fact, it is meant to demonstrate just how devastating it is for a human being to be casually vilified, verbally punished and denigrated. It's not meant to hurt anyone, that's not why I'm doing it. It's a parallel, an example. This is what it feels like. I want to shake people up with it. Wake them up. Because as it stands, it's not OK to call gay people by nasty names - it never should have been - but "whack job" slips casually out of people's mouths, and no one turns a hair.

Bentley meets Darth Vader!

What is this fat, macho tabby doing in the back yard?

Why does he look so much like Bentley?

Has our Jedi Master met his (fat, macho) father at last?

Does this mean that Princess Meow-a, the nice fluffy tortie who comes in through the hole in the fence, is really his sister? Probably not, but it's a nice story. 

I had to voice the part of Darth Vader in this scenario, as the cat was too far away to be heard. Bentley does NOT like me using weird-sounding voices, nor does he like me whistling. He comes up to me, looking anxious. The whites of his eyes show, always a bad sign. 

Humans are supposed to behave in a certain way, and I repeatedly break those rules. And yet, he still loves me. At least, I think he loves me: here he looks merely alarmed.

Separated at birth: Rudolph Valentino and William Shatner

AFTERNOTES. I was going to run this with no text at all, but now I feel moved to Say Something. Anyone who follows this blog (me, maybe?) knows that I am nuts about The Shatman. To be 85 years old and have that kind of energy and passion is phenomenal. (And the horses, don't get me started!) But I am also finding out more about Shatner's roots. I found a very poignant story about his professional beginnings in Stratford, Ontario (a place I've been to many times) as a Shakespearean actor. I have seen clips on YouTube from Hamlet and Julius Caesar, and this so-called-over-the-top actor gives, if anything, restrained performances. The article - God, where did it go? I should've bookmarked it - talks about how insecure he was as a young man, and how much of a loner he was. Loner? Insecure? None of these match with the energetic dynamo-of-85, the Shatner of a thousand interests and enterprises (ch-ch-ch-ch - dry ironic chuckle). And yet, and yet.

I'm also finding all these things he did when he was much younger. The segment on the boxer was breathtaking, for he has the body of an Adonis. He is ripped. This powerful, grounded physicality is the foundation for his phenomenal longevity and vitality in his 80s: if you wreck your body when you're young, you're toast by age 60 (sorry, Carrie, I'm afraid it's true). 

As for Rudolph Valentino, he was perhaps my first movie star crush. As a kid, I saw pictures of him in a book we had lying around, a big coffee table book called The Movies. (I thought I imagined it, until I was able to buy a used copy from Amazon.) When I was ten years old I wrote short stories about him, set in the 1920s. Maybe these foreshadowed my completely obscure, mostly-unread novel about Harold Lloyd. Who knows. But I was fascinated with him. 

I am not saying these two are "alike", but is there not something - an elusive something, perhaps, in the exoticism of their eyes, the sensuous bow-shaped lips, the incredible facial structure with cheekbones to die for - is there not something almost Mongolian about Shatner's slightly slanted eyes, something Moroccan about Valentino's inscrutable gaze? 
He was, of course, a Latino from Spain, but Shatner is not the waspy, white-bread leading man people assume he is. He is a Jewish boy from Montreal, and no doubt carried that label and responsibility with a degree of pain.

The pain you can see in those incredible, unfathomable brown eyes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Are you in Crimbo Limbo?

Well, ARE you? Myself, I am glued to my chair, when not eating macadamia nuts and Purdy's chocolates and feeling sick.

It is raining too hard to go outside. It is raining too hard to do anything.

I had never even heard of Crimbo (some sort of weird contraction of Christmas, probably British or maybe even Australian) until a few years ago when I stumbled across it on some site or other. Crimbo is also related to Crimbo pressie, Crimbot, Crimbus, Crimcheck, and no doubt thousands of others, many of them defined below. Some of them are nasty. Looking them up will give you something to do.


Crimbo Limbo

The period after Christmas Day and before New Year's Eve, mainly spent sitting down and eating leftovers. Many find it extremely dull.

I'm so bored. It feels like crimbo limbo's been going on forever...


Crimbo Limbo 

Crimbo Limbo is the time in-between Christmas Day and New Years Day, where you feel fulfilled, eat lots, and give yourself alcohol poisoning.

Ryan: Dude, I haven't done anything productive in three whole days, yet I still feel great!
Lewis: Well, that's Crimbo Limbo for ya!

RELATED TERMS (in alphabetical order)

It's also a game.

When Ballet Goes Terribly Wrong

Who knew? William Shatner, shirtless

how many o lord are my enemies what hordes attack me yet you o lord are my shield my glory you lift up my head with a loud voice I call out to the lord and he answers me from his holy mountain i lie down and i sleep now i wake again for the lord upholds me i fear not men in their thousands all around me or against me arise o lord save me o my god for you break the jaws of all my foes how many o lord are my enemies what hordes attack me

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Unknown William Shatner

as the deer longs 
for the running waters my soul 
longs o God for you 
I recall pouring out my 
soul within me 
how I used 
to walk in the great procession 
leading to the house of God 
among the 
shouts of joy and 
praise in crowds keeping 
the feast day 
why are you sad my soul sighing 
within me deep call out to deep 
in the roar of your cataracts 
all your surges have passed over me 
all your waves 
my very bones feel 
the blow as my enemies mock me 
as daily I am taunted where is 
your God why are you  
sad my soul sighing within me 
hope in God for I shall yet praise him 
again he who saves me from shame 
my own God

Christmas at my house

Sunday, December 25, 2016

It's a wonderful life? If you say so

This thing comes on every year and I get caught up in it, even worse than Taxi Driver.  And I forget every year that it's the longest, most suffocating piece of melodrama ever created. A festive favorite about a man who wants to commit suicide because his life has been an exercise in futility and failed dreams, capped off by a totally unfair charge of bank fraud.

Ah! It's a Wonderful Life. Ringling, tingling Christmas trees, Zoo-zoo's petals, bleeding lips, newel-post knobs nearly hurled across the room. Chickens on a spit, bar brawls on Christmas Eve, irrelevant songs about Buffalo Gals, and wild-eyed overacting all around.

This guy George, see, he's kind of, waal, waal, disillusioned. His Uncle Billy, who's half nuts but was the father in Gone with the Wind so sort-of famous, has lost the eight thousand dollars that the Bailey Savings and Loan has earned in the past fifty years or so. He sort of dropped it somewhere and the Big Fat Man, the Bad Man, Lionel Barrymore in his most Grinchimous role, went and spent it on a hooker or something.

So this George, he, waal, decides he's worth more dead than alive (do I hear silver bells?), and stands there not jumping off a bridge. Then this old guy in a nightgown jumps off the bridge, and. . . the rest is history.

Oh, I shouldn't be so cynical, but this thing - this long thing, this three-hour marathon of hopelessness and small-town suffocation - it's about the farthest thing from festive you could imagine. Even Scrooge has glimmers of hope in it, but this - . George acts like some sortofa downtrodden saint for two hours and forty-nine minutes, then he kind of explodes and screams at his wife and family and tells them he basically hates them for holding him back and completely destroying his life.

His . . . wonderful life.

OK, I have a few problems with the logistics of this thing. When they get married and have to give all their money away to save the bank, Donna Reed gets chickens going on a spit in this old ruin of a house, the one they used to throw stones at for luck. And they move in to it? make it habitable? On his salary of $2.70 a week or whatever-the-frick-it-is? Raise a family? George wears the same suit for 17 years, for God's sake.

Jimmy Stewart overacts. I'm sorry, but he does, he overshoots. He smears his facial features around with his hand, his hair is wild, he looks like a candidate for the psych ward, and finally he mumbles to his hokey old guardian angel (the guy in the funny shirt that ties up in front because buttons hadn't been invented in the year 1300) that he wishes he'd never been born at all.

Kind of the ultimate in nihilism, wouldn't you say? Jimmy Stewart, the guy with the 6-foot imaginary pet rabbit, the guy in whatever-else-he-was-in, all those Westerns and Mr. Smiths and whatever, attempting to annihilate all traces of his existence on earth. A holiday special? OK, another big problem. He has this obnoxious friend named Sam Wainwright who keeps saying, inexplicably, "hee-haw". A dumb-ass par excellence, he lucks into a strange new business just before the war breaks out:  plastics. This assures he'll be obscenely wealthy doing no work at all.

He's George's best friend, for blippin' sake, and George is all stressed out and wanting to kill himself over 8 thousand dollars when 8 thousand dollars isn't even POCKET CHANGE for Sam Wainwright. In the dramatic ending when everyone turns their linty little pockets inside-out for George, he gets some kind-of-a cable from Wainwright saying, in so many words, "your measly little problem that you were willing to die over is peanuts to me. I'll give you three times that amount and change. There, feel better now?"

I doubt if he would. But think about it. Would Wainwright ever let George be dragged off to jail for such a shabby little amount? Money is power, right? Wainwright could make Old Man Potter dance like a jerky little marionette on a cold winter's night, and George is all stressed out about jail? (I liked his idea that Uncle Billy should go, instead. Made sense to me.)

But hey. He might get conjugal visits from that, who's that little floozie anyway? Jeez, what's she doing in this thing which is supposed to be a family show?

Oh, oh, and I just thought of this: it gets me every year. Why is it that after George yells at Uncle Billy that he's a mental defective, a moron and a lunatic, a squirrel jumps up on his arm? What the - ?? a squirrel? Up to now we've only seen ravens, tortoises, cows, etc. Could this be a foreshadowing of the squirrel from hell in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? 
(Actually, it screams of "cut the animal scenes, this thing is running too long." But for some reason they left in the squirrel.)

This time around (when as usual I kept saying, "OK, I'll turn it off in another 5 minutes" for 6 consecutive hours), I noticed a few other discrepancies, such as George's mother (Beulah Bondi) bawling and dabbing at her eyes during the final cash-spilling orgy in George's living room. Well, about ten minutes ago when George was on the phone with his brother Harry in Washington, where he just got the Congressional Medal of Honor for filing his nails or something, George repeats to the listening crowd, "Mother just had lunch with the President's wife."

Not only do the writers of this thing obviously not know who the President was then, but Mother must be able to teleport herself from Washington to Bedford Falls in a matter of seconds! Hey, lady, tell me how you can be in two places at the same time and I'll buy the patent.

Another thing, and I noticed it again when I watched it tonight. This is the place where I'm tempted to think they're kidding us, just seeing how far they can go with George's personal hell, to the point of near-satire. It's the scene where George asks Clarence where Mary is, and he can't even tell him because it is just too horrible. Finally he pries it out of him. She's . . . she's. . . a librarian! Might as well say she's Bathsheba or something, or her body is hermetically sealed because she "never got married".  So out comes Mary from the library like some shaggy-eyebrowed vision of frumpster hell. It is the ultimate macabre detail in a movie which is somehow or other very dark indeed.

But I gots-ta confess to one thing. No matter how I prepare myself for it, no matter how cynical I try to feel, no matter how cornball I know it will be (and it is), that final scene has me bawling every time. Just bawling. I don't know what it is. The generosity of the people. The look of astonishment on George's face. Zoo-zoo's petals. Beulah Bondi, beamed down from the planet Zargon.

I remember a superb SCTV satire of this scene, in which a succession of ever-more-notable people kept sweeping through the door, from George's brother to the President of the United States to, finally, His Holiness the Pope. It's a potent fantasy, all right - one we wish would come true for ourselves. That one day, in spite of futile sacrifice and grinding toil and zero recognition, something wonderful will happen to make us see that it has all been worthwhile.

This has something to do with the American work ethic, always handing the glory to someone else like that ratfink brother-who-got-the-Congressional-Medal-of-Honor-while-we-got-stuck-with-goddamn-rubber-drives-during-the-freaking-war. Let's face it, there are more Georges than Harries in the world. We all have our lunatic uncles, our goddamn rubber drives. Our eight thousand dollars.

And if George hadn't-a saved Harry when he slid down on that slippery old thingammy on the ice, waal then -

Please note. This is a repeat. It's something I've run a couple of times now, but I just watched the movie again - or the last 45 minutes of it - by accident - and decided this piece is still relevant. Sort of.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cats for Christmas

Christmas cat gifs? Oh my, yes. Always, but especially when the season and the ridiculousness of the human condition makes me owly and disillusioned.  Our first cat Murphy pulled the tree over - that was before we had video, sorry - but it must have looked something like this.

Short takes. I would imagine if you had a multiple-cat household, nothing would stay decorated for long. The cat is a creature of chaos. It's what we love about them. They rip apart the tinsel and gaudiness and expose it for what it is (tinsel and gaudiness). Now give me my fish.

Here is where it really heats up. 


Videos of  kids getting kittens are totally different from videos of  kids getting puppies. In the puppy ones, the kid ALWAYS cries, usually hysterically. I've never seen a cat one where anyone cries. Just an observation. But no one ever talks about a "faithful cat", do they? Cats are anarchists, they're subversives and never "obey". They allow you to dwell in their presence. You can't cry over that.

You can go "eeek! Eeek! Eeeeeeeeek!", however.

How to wrap a cat. I'm going to try this with Bentley. I am. He loves his carrying case, so who knows. This may be a ragdoll cat however, and you can do anything you want to a ragdoll cat. The gif logo says "", which may be significant.

NOT how to wrap a cat.

Taken from an ad, so cheating a little, but still pretty cool. Since no one has ever trained a cat, the camera must have waited for them.

The Jingle Cats are very stupid, and I have the original CD and play it every Christmas. To date, no one has liked it.

Ginger terror!

Meowy Christmas.

Harold Lloyd's Christmas: take 76!


Merry Christmas, Harold.