Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Stop the Lies: Viral Email for Dummies

Most of us have been guilty at one time or another.  No, I’m not referring to the whopper fed to the boss when the day is just too beautiful to be cooped up at work, or even about the few years’ difference between our stated age and what our birth certificate reveals.  I’m talking about the endless inaccurate stories, rumors, myths and outright lies—the BULL—spread via email.

Have you ever received an email detailing and extolling the amazing sniper skills of Mister Rogers…before it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood…during his military service in Vietnam?  I’m sure you’ve seen the one claiming President Barack Obama is a “radical Muslim” who “will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.” Then, there’s one of my more recent favorites proving that Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook in 1845, complete with copies of original news clippings for evidence.  Or, how about an oldie but goody of great notoriety concerning the misadventures of a gerbil and Richard Gere?  All of those, of course, are undeniably false!
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The sheer number of urban legends, myths and blatant lies told about people, places and things spread via the internet, especially in email, is mind-boggling.  Then they are perpetuated and spread by countless thousands.  They go viral.  We do love to gossip, don’t we?

All too frequently, these lies leave the cyber realm and make their way into our real-world conversations.  Often, they’re distorted even further and peppered with insistent claims that, “I know the sister of the guy who was there when it happened,” or other such corroborating, though fabricated, details.

Granted, many such tales are fun and mostly taken with a grain of salt, fairly well recognized as mere amusements.  Some, too, simply smack of such pure ignorance, they’re completely ignored by all but the most gullible, unthinking sorts.  Unfortunately, many are of less obvious fiction and of much less good-natured intent.  Rather, they’re created to discredit people or smear their good names, being quite malicious in nature.

As we get so frequently bombarded with this crap, it’s tempting not to spend the time to check the facts; we tend to take them at face value.  We forward them without thinking.  Quickly, ridiculous stories become fact in the minds of many, and it’s often next to impossible to remove that impression once made, the damage done.

Haven’t we some obligation to the truth?  If we can’t resist the urge to forward the stories, shouldn’t we at least take the time to distinguish fact from fiction?  Really, how long does it take to do a bit of an internet search for the facts?

A general search using key phrases within a story can reveal more in-depth news stories and articles about a particular topic and its basis in truth.  If that’s too time consuming, there are many dependable, reputable sites who have done the homework for us.  They specialize in fact checking and researching a great number of questionable stories, myths and urban legends making the rounds.  Here are a few:

  • (see the Urban Legends section written by David Emery)
  • Mythbusters: Discovery Channel (
  • Hoax Busters (

Friday, May 18, 2012

Racism, Hypocrisy and Facebook

In spite of all the progress we’ve supposedly made in this country toward ending racial inequity and inequality, I wonder if we are kidding ourselves.  There still exists a great deal of racial discord and ignorant behavior.  I also wonder if the so-called social media sites, rampantly popular, are actually making us less social and better able to rationalize ignorant, anti-social behavior.
Consider the incident prompting me to dwell on this:

I was scanning the comments on a friend’s Facebook wall.  It’s not something I do often, nor do I have a lot of friends on my FB page.  That’s by choice simply because I can’t see the sense in collecting “friends” like postage stamps.  However, I must participate to some extent simply because it has become unavoidable for full engagement in writing and publishing endeavors.

Nonetheless, one of my friends had posted a story on her wall about an unpleasant experience she had in a restaurant with some other patrons she perceived as bigoted. She was in the company of some young black men, evidently her children (she has grown children of mixed, black and white, heritage).  That’s really beside the point, though.  As far as I know, no comments were made, but she did feel quite uncomfortable from the disapproving stares she and the kids got from some of the other patrons.  That’s not really the point, either, but it goes to the incident I’ll now relate.

A young African American man named Lee Pigrum, in reference to my friend’s initial story, made the following comment on her wall, Freakin’ whities!!  Lmao

That annoyed me more than a little, so I replied, Lee Pigrum, your "whities" comment is just as racist and ignorant as the people you are commenting about. Think about it.

That led to the following:

Lee Pigrum: Um I'm not racist I'm mixed so it would be redundent for me to be, and it was not offensive in anyway

(Try to disregard Lee's (a college student) misspelling of 'redundant', or the fact that his usage indicates he doesn’t understand its meaning, either.)

I replied: (Russ Mars is a pen name, I'm Kevin Jones)

Kevin Jones: Not offensive? That depends on one's perspective. And being mixed does not give license to use inflaming words. How would you feel if I came in here and said, "freakin' blackies?" C'mon it goes both ways, but you have a nice day, sunshine.

Lee Pigrum: Well that does not make sense sayin "blackies" Jus say blacks! But sir this does not change my statement because Ms. Dawn (my friend) understands  my humor and where I am comin from so this is Jus really irrelevant to anything.. So have a wonderful day gorgeous

Granted, we were engaged in somewhat of a pissin’ contest at this point.

It continued:

Kevin Jones: It makes just as much sense as saying "whities" instead of "whites." It's a slur.

Lee Pigrum: Well I have never once heard or even said that slur

Kevin Jones: Now you have heard it, and as you grow older and experience more, you may learn more. Anyone who doesn't know you would take it as an attack on all whites, and this IS a public forum. Not all whites are racists.

Lee Pigrum: okayy..... i 'll keep that in mind

Kevin Jones: Really?

Lee Pigrum: No i really do not care anymore!

Kevin Jones: That's quite evident. And so the ignorance is perpetuated.

And that was the end of that.

Now my thoughts and questions about all this abound.

My first thought is that I should have kept my dog out of it because I was probably just wasting my breath on this young man, and it appears he totally missed my point—or does he, as he said, really not care?

I’m wondering if he would have cared if he were also in the restaurant with my friend at the time.  What if the other patrons, rather than just staring, had said, “Freakin’ blackies!” and then laughed?  Even if he’s never heard it put that way before, as he claimed, I imagine he’d have got it.  Would he have found the “joke” just as funny as he seemed to think his Facebook comment was?

If he truly meant no offense to whites, why use the term “whities” at all?  Why didn’t he use something more specific to the actual offense, like “bigots,” because that is, after all, evidently what those other patrons were, racial bigots, regardless of their race.

What if, while he was in the restaurant, he had turned to those bigots and called them “freakin’ whities.” Oh, but I forgot, Lee said his comment wasn’t offensive.  Oh, thank you, Mr. Pigrum, for deciding for the rest of us what is and isn’t offensive.  And tell those bigots, who already don’t want you there (this took place in Oklahoma), that it’s not offensive.  Good luck with that.

Okay, so maybe he wouldn’t say it in a restaurant full of bigots.  But, he will, and did, say it to, potentially, thousands on Facebook.  How does that work?  Is that how people view it?  Anything goes because they are protected by their little cyber wall?

If I said, “Freakin’ blackies” referring to some bigoted black people, would that be okay?  And, by putting it the way he did, didn’t he imply that all white people act that way?  Isn’t it the very definition of racial prejudice to make judgments about an entire race based only on the actions of some?  That is, of course, exactly what it means:  An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand without good justification--to pre judge, hence prejudice.

But, evidently, he thinks it’s okay for him since he mentioned he can’t be racist because he’s mixed.  Really?  How does having more than one race’s blood coursing through your veins make it okay to make prejudiced comments and display racist behavior, and be immune from being a racist?  As Forrest Gump would have said, racist is as racist does.  

I have the blood of five nationalities and two races running down my face every time I cut myself shaving.  I suppose, by his reasoning, I can make any derogatory comment I want toward anyone I please and not be held accountable.  And, hey, as long as some of my friends know I’m only joking, I can say those things in a public forum and everyone who doesn't know me will just have to accept it—it’s okay.

Then, there’s another word that comes into play here.  He thinks it’s okay, joking or not, to act the same as the people he’s damning—the bigots.  That’s called a hypocrite.

Many whites are quite guilty of prejudice of every imaginable type—racial, religious, cultural.  You name it.  Guess what.  It’s not unique to whites.

Racial prejudice, regardless of one’s race, religion, creed, what have you, and regardless from which side of the fence it's fired or at whom—is not okay—nor is not caring.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

28 Words That Don’t Exist in the English Language

I've run across this list in various forms on several sites, unattributed, but as far as I can tell, without dedicating more time to further research than I care to, its author is David Voth of Sex, Cigars & Booze Lifestyle Magazine. (When I first made this post, I linked to the magazine's site and experienced no problems there, myself.  Since then, the site of the original list has evidently been infected with malware.  I've deactivated the link and suggest visiting that site only at your own risk.) The list was created because, as he wrote, " I love to take the time to choose the ideal words when I’m writing something, but sometimes the perfect word to describe something doesn’t exist in the English language." 

I certainly laud him for that.

He goes on to say, "The following 28 words do not have direct equivalents in English. Some of them would definitely be useful if they existed in English."

I can't say I completely agree with him there, even though, overall, it's an interesting amusement, but it sure shouldn't be taken as linguistic fact.  I'll add that there are, of course, many languages and cultures that don't have words that represent, exactly, quite common concepts and situations expressed in English, especially American English.  However, I think he overreached in his attempt to make his point with these 28 words.  I can accept that as a case of stretching things a bit for some fun, and in that spirit I've noted (in bold text) comparable English words I think Mr. Voth overlooked.  I also took the liberty of adding a few grains of salt.

1. Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut:

I can't relate; no haircut seems to help.

2. Arigata-meiwaku (Japanese): An act someone does for you that you didn’t want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favor, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude:
This one involves principles, social conventions and manners more peculiar to and emphasized in Japanese culture, so of course native English-speaking cultures are much less inclined to need a word for it.  In America, though, the situation described often culminates in the use of three wordsSue the bastard!

3. Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist:
Well, especially in America, we do have a multipurpose word that covers it quite well—*asshole.

4. Bakku-shan (Japanese): A beautiful girl… as long as she’s being viewed from behind:
I've often heard this type of woman referred to as a butter face. (But her face... !)

5. Desenrascanco (Portuguese): “to disentangle” yourself out of a bad situation (To MacGyver it):
There may not be an English word, exactly, for the act itself, but a couple of words come to mind that represent how the situation is handled—practically a matter of policy for governments and corporations—lie, deny... 

6. Duende (Spanish): a climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art, which might be fulfilled in flamenco dancing, or bull-fighting, etc.:
I'll keep my flamenco-dancing bull out of this fight.

7. Forelsket (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love:

8. Gigil (pronounced Gheegle; Filipino):  The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute:
I like this one and I'm going to start using it in reference to the behavior of an elderly aunt of mine.

9. Guanxi (Mandarin): in traditional Chinese society, you would build up good guanxi by giving gifts to people, taking them to dinner, or doing them a favor, but you can also use up your gianxi by asking for a favor to be repaid:

10. Ilunga (Tshiluba, Congo): A person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time:
I'd have to say the English word for that kind of person is mature.

11. L’esprit de l’escalier (French): usually translated as “staircase wit,” is the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it:
L’esprit de l’escalier isn't a word, it's a phrase.  I like it anyway and I can't tell you the number of times I've experienced it, but I usually just mutter to myself, I shoulda said... 

12. Litost (Czech): a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery:
Regret works.

13. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan):  A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire:  Sounds like lust to me.

14. Manja (Malay): “to pamper”, it describes gooey, childlike and coquettish behavior by women designed to elicit sympathy or pampering by men. “His girlfriend is a damn manja. Hearing her speak can cause diabetes.”:
I thought female covered this one... ?

15. Meraki (pronounced may-rah-kee; Greek): Doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing:
Oh?  How about passion?

16. Nunchi (Korean): the subtle art of listening and gauging another’s mood. In Western culture, nunchi could be described as the concept of emotional intelligence. Knowing what to say or do, or what not to say or do, in a given situation. A socially clumsy person can be described as ‘nunchi eoptta’, meaning “absent of nunchi”:
Perhaps graceful suffices.

17. Pena ajena (Mexican Spanish): The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation:
Excellent!  Especially useful, too, with the popularity of TV shows like American Idol.

18. Pochemuchka (Russian): a person who asks a lot of questions: 
Depending on the circumstances, let's try intelligent or annoying.  Cop, Homeland Security Agent and IRS Agent also come to mind (see also, *asshole).

19. Schadenfreude (German): the pleasure derived from someone else’s pain:
Too easy—Sadism.

20. Sgiomlaireachd (Scottish Gaelic): When people interrupt you at mealtime:
(see also...*)

21. Sgriob (Gaelic): The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky:
Again, I can't relate.  The only thing that overcomes my lips when sipping whisky is a smile.

22. Shlimazl (Yiddish): Somebody who has nothing but bad luck:
Okay, good one, but shlimazl is practically a household English word, especially if you were a fan of the 70s-80s show, Laverne & Shirley.   

23. Stam (Hebrew): An agreement out of amusement and frustration that something doesn’t have a satisfactory answer among those talking:
I'm still mulling this one over.  Anyone, any thoughts?

24. Taarradhin (Arabic): implies a happy solution for everyone, or “I win. You win.” It’s a way of reconciling without anyone losing face. Arabic has no word for “compromise,” in the sense of reaching an arrangement via struggle and disagreement:
Oh, come, now!  Short phrases evidently being acceptable, we hear, win-win, all the time.

25. Tatemae and Honne (Japanese): What you pretend to believe and what you actually believe, respectively:

26. Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island): to borrow objects one by one from a neighbor’s house until there is nothing left:
Herschel, my next-door neighbor.

27. Waldeinsamkeit (German): The feeling of being alone in the woods:
Peaceful works for me.

28. Yoko meshi (Japanese): literally ‘a meal eaten sideways,’ referring to the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language:
I'll defer to my fiancée for this one.  She's an English speaker working in Thailand.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Desperation and 6 Guns

Having mentioned Crock-Pots in my last post, and being desperate for anything to post lest I blank for the month of April, I remembered a movie I watched not long ago called 6 Guns (2010).  I think at the time I decided to watch it I was in one of those moods for a good ol’ fashioned Western movie, while also forgetting just how precious time is and that mine is worth something.  Hence, I settled on this turkey.

I should have given up on this low-budget Western set in the 1800s when, just over two minutes into it, the main female character, Selina Stevens, portrayed by Sage Mears, read the line (yes, read, as she did most of her lines), "I can't lift the Crock-Pot all by myself."  It’s hard to imagine that Geoff Meed, the writer, using the word loosely, is so ignorant as to have no clue that the trade name "Crock-Pot" and the electrical appliance it refers to didn't exist until the early 1970s.  Then again, his forte is martial arts and stunts, so maybe he has taken one too many blows to the head.  If he didn’t know, then surely someone else in the cast or crew, maybe the honeywagon driver, should have.  That’s where the script belonged—in the honeywagon.

Then, about four-and-a-half minutes in, actor Brian Wimmer as the character Will Stevens, said, “I gotta replace all the shuttlers and windows due to the winds that are coming in.”  No, that’s not a typo, that’s exactly what he said—shuttlers.  Hey, maybe he just flubbed the line and the low budget couldn’t stand the strain of reshooting the scene.  On the other hand, maybe Geoff Meed really should give up the stunts and fighting.  Permanent brain damage is no laughing matter.

Perhaps The Asylum, known for producing “mockbusters,” used these lines as a joke, but they weren’t nearly as funny as this joke of a movie.  It’s ample evidence that movies really can get worse than the glut of crap coming out of Hollywood these days.

It is difficult to fathom, but yes, I kept watching to the end, mostly out of fascination at how terrible it was—just as one might not be able to resist looking at a horrendous car accident or train wreck.  But life is too short to have spent time watching or to further comment on all else wrong with this train wreck.

If you find yourself staring into the abyss of having absolutely nothing better to do for about 90 minutes, and if you love to moan and groan, and if you have an extremely masochistic bent to your personality, I highly recommend you see it.

There, that’s out of the way.  I’ll see you in May.

Friday, March 16, 2012

World Famous Secret Recipe

Yes, I know St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until tomorrow, but I’m going to be too busy quality-testing traditional St. Pat’s Day libations to be cooking.  So, I made my world famous corned beef & cabbage today.  That’s right, world famous!  Hey, the world of my mind counts.  What does this have to do with writing?  Everything.  Writers need to eat.  Enough said.

I think it’s important you know the official name of this dish so when you are asked what brought on your foodgasm, you’ll have the appropriate answer:  Russ’s World Famous St. Patrick’s Day Irish/Polish Corned Beef & Cabbage.  No, I’m not Polish, I’m pure Irish.  Never mind that my pure Irish blood got mixed up with Scottish, Welsh, English, French and Cherokee blood.  And, as is said, everyone’s Irish on St. Pat’s Day.  But, you’ll see in a moment why the Irish/Polish.

Oh, now you’re getting excited.  That’s right, I’m actually going to give you the secret recipe.  So much for the secret.

I make it in a pressure cooker, which is an Aries Crock-Pot because we’re too impatient for that device.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking in Crock-Pots, but sometimes I just can’t wait.  Pressure cookers rock!  And I don’t just mean the heavy little pressure cap on top when it’s under pressure. 

You just can’t beat pressure cookers, not only for fast cooking, but also for how tender it makes meat and how well it combines and holds in flavor.  If you’re too chicken to use a pressure cooker, thinking it’s going to blow up, fine.  You can make it in a Crock-Pot or a traditional stew pot.  But we really need to talk about your fears because there are many things much more dangerous than a pressure cooker, things you use every day without a second thought, like your car, or your butane lighter (one actually blew up in my face once), or your cell phone (especially when used in combination with your car), or homemade bombs.  Yeah, think about it.  Nonetheless, I’m going to tell you how to make it in a pressure cooker, and if you want to use something else, figure it out.

All measurements are approximate, and if you’re one of those nuts that thinks cooking is an exact science, you’re in the wrong place.  It’s art, like writing, and the rules were made to be broken, or at least bent…like the cook.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need (for an 8-quart cooker):

3 to 3 ½ lbs. corned beef brisket, point cut, whole. (Sounds like an oxymoron, huh?)  Be sure to get one packaged with the little packet of spices.
2 lb. head of cabbage, quartered.

½ gal. apple cider, 100% pure. (No, NOT apple juice. I said, “cider,” and, no, not hard cider, but now that you mention it, hmm…maybe next year.  Oh, I must thank my friend Rhonda for cluing me in on the apple cider.  Genius!)

1 lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced about a quarter of an inch thick. (See?  That’s the Polish part. Of course you leave the skin on!  I swear, some people’s kids.)

1 large yellow onion, cut into bite-sized pieces. (Okay, use white or purple, I don’t care.)

1 to 1½ cups sliced carrots…okay, 2 cups then, about 5 to 7 carrots. (No, damn it, don’t peel them! That’s just wrong.  Wash them well and cut them into bite-sized pieces, about a half an inch to an inch thick.)

About 1 ½ to 2 lbs. red potatoes. (I like red potatoes and think they’re perfect for this.  Use your standard, run-of-the-mill potato if you’d prefer.  Again, peeling is forbidden!  Washing, though, is highly recommended.  You may want to cut these into slightly larger than bite size, maybe 2-inch cubes, because they have a tendency to diminish in size and even vanish if they’re cut too small.)

*Oh, all right, if you absolutely must, go ahead and peel the carrots and potatoes.  I realize some people just have a thing about that.  But I’m of the opinion you’re sacrificing some wonderful flavor, and it’s just fact that you’re losing much of the foods' natural nutrition when you toss the skin.  But, I swear, if you skin the kielbasa we’re done right now.  Please click off my site.

If you’d like to add some sliced celery, it’s okay with me.

BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE:  Open the beef package, set the spice packet aside and thoroughly rinse the brisket under cold water.  It’s called corned beef for a reason having nothing to do with corn.  That puppy is SALTY!  You’ve been warned.  And there’s no need to pat it dry unless that gives you a little thrill.  It’s going to get wet again, anyway.
Put the brisket, the contents of the spice packet and, if you'd like, a few dashes of black pepper into the pressure cooker, preferably atop the thin rack that came with your cooker.  But, if you don’t have a rack, don’t use it.  Make sense?

Pour in enough of the apple cider to just cover the top of the brisket.  Don’t drink the remainder, you may need it.  Also, please note, if you haven’t already, that I’ve said nothing about water except for washing meat and vegetables.  That’s right, you don’t need any.

I’ll assume you’ve already read the general and safety instructions for your pressure cooker and that you’ve got a modicum of common sense.  For the sake of your own welfare, please don’t prove me wrong.

Keep in mind, all measurements being approximate, you may want or need to vary some ingredient amounts depending on your tastes and to ensure that the cooker’s contents don’t exceed the level recommended by the manufacturer during cooking.

Seal up your cooker, place it on the stove and turn to ‘high’.  Once the heavy little pressure cap atop your cooker begins to rock like Mick Jagger, slowly but steadily reduce the heat to ‘medium-low’.  The cap should not stop rocking, but it should rock gently, more like Donny Osmond.  If it’s still acting more like Mick than Donny, reduce the heat a little more.  From the time the cap begins to rock like Mick, let it cook about 50 minutes for a 3 ½ lb. brisket (45 mins. for 3 lbs.).
Remove from heat.  Use the quick-cool method by placing your cooker under cold running water.  Once the pressure releases, open your cooker and put in the kielbasa and all veggies EXCEPT the cabbage.

Return the cooker to the stove and bring it back up to rockin’ like Mick, then down to Donny.  Just as before, time it from rockin’ like Mick for about 7 minutes, then remove from heat and reduce pressure as before.

Use a meat fork to remove the brisket to a platter.  Put the cabbage quarters into the cooker and add more apple cider so all veggies are covered.  If you like a lot of broth like I do, you can add enough cider to nearly fill the cooker since you won’t be cooking under pressure from here on out.  Without sealing the cooker (lid off), bring it to a medium simmer and stir occasionally.  Cook until the cabbage is as tender as you’d like.  I like it after it’s cooked about 15 or 20 minutes, not too mushy.

Tonight, I sliced the brisket and put it back into the pot to simmer with everything else a bit longer.  I like to eat it all from a bowl like very chunky soup.  But, again, this isn’t rocket science, it’s eating.  I’d like to recommend you have some fresh, thick-crusted bread with it. Do what you want and enjoy.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Summer of Love

I’ve seen something quite strange in the last few days.  I’m afraid to look directly at it and, if memory serves, I’m well advised not to.  It’s fulgent and striking—piercing—and gives off a most delicious warmth.  Could it be—yes, I think it is—it’s the sun!

I know many of you live places in which mention of the imminent spring makes you scoff, but I tell you it’s not mere legend.  It’s running at us, and on its heels is summer.  Oh, I long for summer.  Perhaps I can evoke the delights of it for all of us in still chilly climes with a remembrance of a summer long ago—45 years ago, to be exact. 

Hush, kids!  I know that seems like ancient history or perhaps nothing but myth, but I tell you it really happened.  Listen and learn of… 

The Summer of Love, 1967, in San Francisco, California.  Nearly 100,000 people massed in and around a neighborhood known as Haight-Ashbury, an impetus for a startling shift in social and political culture.  Call it a social experiment marking the culmination of a counterculture movement that gained momentum all through the 60s.

Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner once remarked, "If you can remember anything about the 60s, then you weren't really there."  For those of you who were there, I’ll try to fill in those huge lapses in memory. 

It was a decade explosive with social unrest, upheaval, dissent and rebellion as we fought to free ourselves—to challenge and transform the status quo.  Not to lay a bummer on you, man, but for all the talk of peace, love and understanding, it was one of the most violent, chaotic periods in America’s history.  Nevertheless, as tumultuous as the times were, so were they joyous and free.  Amidst all the turmoil, free love flowed and the non-violent message of “flower power” flourished.

Things were, as we used to say, “Heavy, man!”  Mass street protests and “sit-ins” against countless political and social conventions were commonplace.  Generations of young and old stood divided.  Bloody riots flared in major American cities, and halfway around the world in Vietnam our government waged a war that snuffed the bright flame of nearly sixty thousand of America’s youth, left hundreds of thousands forever scarred, and ravished the psyche of the entire nation.
Chemically-induced “mind expansion” ran rampant.  Low-tech became high, and so did we.   As we began to travel into outer space, so we traversed the inner space of our minds.
Rock ‘n’ Roll ruled and served as soundtrack to our lives and the counterculture’s movement.  The music echoed the radical changes afoot and became our anthem.  Two years after the Summer of Love, another summer saw a musical celebration previously unprecedented in history.  More than the convergence of half-a-million people on Max Yasgur’s New York farm, Woodstock was the weaving of a generation’s youthful energy, angst, fears, hopes, ideals and music into the tapestry of a vision of justice, peace and love for our world—an endless summer of love.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Critique My Blog Blogfest

I am participating in the "Critique My Blog Blogfest" sponsored by A Writer's Journey.

Everyone's a critic and that's a good thing, especially today.  You, my readers, are important to me and I want to make my blog site one you'll look forward to spending more time in, so please critique away; I value your thoughts and comments.  Please make your critique based on any or all of the following: 

a.      Appearance: Does it appeal to you? Is it too busy, or too plain?
b.      Layout: Is it difficult to navigate? Is it cluttered, or sparse?
c.      Frequency: Does the blogger post too often? Not often enough?
d.      Content: Are the posts interesting? Unique? Are they focused, or all over the place?
e.      Quality: Are the individual posts too long, too short, too sloppy, or too generic?
f.       Other:  Feel free to freestyle; comment on anything else that occurs to you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

We've won for now!

The following is an excerpt from an email I received from fellow activists Tiffiny Cheng and the rest of the fine folks at Fight for the Future regarding the fight to stop SOPA and PIPA:

Hi everyone!

A big hurrah to you!!!!! We’ve won for now -- SOPA and PIPA were dropped by Congress today -- the votes we’ve been scrambling to mobilize against have been cancelled.

The largest online protest in history has fundamentally changed the game.  You were heard.

On January 18th, 13 million of us took the time to tell Congress to protect free speech rights on the internet. Hundreds of millions, maybe a billion, people all around the world saw what we did on Wednesday.  See the amazing numbers here and tell everyone what you did.

This was unprecedented. Your activism may have changed the way people fight for the public interest and basic rights forever.

The MPAA (the lobby for big movie studios which created these terrible bills) was shocked and seemingly humbled.  “‘This was a whole new different game all of a sudden,’ MPAA Chairman and former Senator Chris Dodd told the New York Times. ‘[PIPA and SOPA were] considered by many to be a slam dunk.’”

“'This is altogether a new effect,' Mr. Dodd said, comparing the online movement to the Arab Spring. He could not remember seeing 'an effort that was moving with this degree of support change this dramatically' in the last four decades, he added."

Tiffiniy, Holmes, Joshua, Phil, CJ, Donny, Douglas, Nicholas, Dean, David S. and Moore, Fight for the Future!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Just a Note to My Faithful Followers

As I pointed out in April, I'm remodeling my blog site.  I never claimed to be a fast worker.  For the most part since then, it's been little things, but, as you may have noticed, as of 2012, I repainted and moved some furniture arounda much different look and feel.  I hope no one ran off in terror thinking they'd stumbled into unfriendly territory.  Rest assured, it's still my place and I welcome you all and appreciate your visits.  I hope you like the changes.  They will continue as I bide my time and carefully consider just what it is I'm doing here.  If you have any comments, suggestions or ideas, I'd love to hear them, so feel free.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year, New Look & Resolutions

I have never understood New Year’s resolutions. Just what compels us to think everything will change in the time it takes a ticking second hand to sweep from 11:59:59 to 12:00:00, turning December 31 to January 1? I guess it’s hope that as we throw out the past year’s calendar, too we can be rid of defects and failures and do a better job of it all. What an odd notion in the dead of winter when it’s spring that brings birth in nature. Still, how many of us commit to new ways and plans for the coming year, only to watch them die like seeds sown in January snow-covered sod before the month’s end? It’s almost as if we guarantee our hope’s failures by labeling them New Year’s resolutions, especially when they are so often born of bacchanalian celebrations on New Year’s Eve. Our champagne conspiracies lose their effervescence overnight.

It’s not even a week into 2012 and I am already hearing people’s tales of failed resolutionsrelapses into smoking, binges off diets, exercise regimens forsaken, and the list goes on. Then there are those still trying to decide just what their resolutions should be, as if there is a government mandate requiring a resolution-registration-fee submission before the month is out.

Since it’s usually so clear in our minds just what needs to be fixed on the first, I’d say the need for change was realized and considered at length long before. It’s not as if clarity suddenly strikes us in the midst of a bash at the stroke of midnight. Must we reserve action toward salvation until the last day of the year? And, truly, can’t we choose to begin again anytime? There’s no time like now, upon realizing the need, to improve ourselves and change our ways, regardless of the date.

However, with tongue in cheek, I say it must be coincidental that I, too, am choosing this week to try to better honor adherence to something I’ve wrestled with since my teens, though then it was merely a vague sense of something undefined and unfulfilled. And, yes, this all still relates to Cookie, my muse.

I must first acknowledge and laud her for rousting me from bed in the middle of the night before deep sleep set in, to tap out thoughts she filled me with before they were irretrievably entwined with a dream lost upon awakening. This has been happening with increasing frequency since she made her presence known. Not to make light of her inspirations (or question her sense of timing), but that is, after all, her job, and mine is to respond; that is the pact of our partnership. To do less would lay waste to the gifts she bestows. It seems the more responsive I am, the more she’s willing to share.

Not that Cookie, this time, disclosed the hitherto unknown to me. Rather, she reminded me of something from long ago, yet it’s literally right in front of my face every day; she’s now made profoundly clear its importance. A framed text hangs on the wall I face while at my writing desk. I was first shown this years ago and I liked what it conveyed so much, I finally printed it, framed it and hung it last year. Its author is Rebecca St. George, whose tutelage helped me immensely (and still does) when I studied under her in a writing class years ago, the very same Rebecca I mentioned in my post, “A Thousand Words:  The Birth of 'Charlotte'.”

Rebecca is no stranger to the muses’ ways; hers appeared in her life decades ago, and all I have seen of her writing tells me she’s quite worthy of him and heeds his guidance well. I have no doubt he inspired her to write the words that were perhaps discussed at a muse meeting and agreed on as a code of conduct, if you will, for writers. And from there, out they went to deliver it to all their charges, their distribution methods myriad, mystical and magical. But that’s all silly speculation on my part, but not so the knowledge, deep within me, that resolving to follow its guiding brilliance is fulfilling Cookie’s intent that I have a creative, productive 2012. By moving me to share it, she obviously wishes that, as I do, for all of you.

Copyright, Rebecca St. George