Sunday, February 28, 2010

Me and Donovan, gettin' high and gettin' by

I've put on my love beads, my sandals, my tie-dye shirt and my peace sign medallion. I've jumped into the Wayback Machine and I'm in 1968. I stand at the corner of Haight and Ashbury amongst the flower children, fire up a joint, and mellow right into the sounds coming from all around me.

Who's that singing on the box? Donovan? Right on, bro...Donovan, he's hip, he's cool...he sings of love and harmony. Yeah, man, just let me stand here for a while and soak it all in, all of the sounds,and all of the Colours around me...

Oops. I've stood here too long (man, that's powerful shit I'm smokin' and it makes the clocks run funny, you dig, man?) Anyway, there's a breeze coming up from the bay. It's, not that kind of cool, I mean really cool, as in chilly. You can't do anything about it, because you can't stop it, and you can't Catch the Wind...

One thing about being around groovy people...oops, hey is that Jerry Garcia walking by with his guitar? Hey, Jer, are you ridin' that train, high on cocaine? Over there, it's R. Crumb selling Zap Comix number 1! Robert, you my main man! You a cartoonin' Superman! A sunshine Superman...

Ah, lookie that beautiful girl over there. Long, dark hair falling down her back, her hip huggers just barely covering her charms. Man, I'd like her to be my ol' lady. What's her name, some funny hippie name? Jennifer...what? Did you say Jennifer Juniper? Very, very cool...

Oooooo, everything I've smoked and ingested today has made me into a real mellow fellow. I've got to cover up my red eyes, so I'll pop on these new shades. You like the color of the lenses? Rose carmethine. I think I'll gather up Jennifer Juniper and head to the crash pad. I'm going to have her on me like a new shirt. It'll be heaven, Jennifer, and I'll Wear Your Love Like Heaven.

Woops. That's enough of that stuff for awhile. I keep smoking that wacky tabaccy and I'll have the munchies. So I'll just catch a ride on the Wayback Machine, back to 2010, where I can put my Donovan albums away, ready to listen to them again when I need some really mellow vibes. Or when I need to close my eyes and instead of San Francisco I can go way, way back in the Wayback and visit Atlantis.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Paranoia is catching

This sequence from Dilbert reminds me of the time I was so exasperated with my boss I told him, "If I come to your funeral I promise I will stick a pin in your leg just to make sure you're really dead."

Saying those sorts of things doesn't endear an employee to a supervisor. But there comes a time when an employee has just had enough of a bad boss.

My last supervisor, Ross the boss, was extremely paranoid. Ross's own immediate supervisor once called Ross "Captain Queeg", in reference to the famous character played by Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny, a total paranoid who was relieved of his command by his executive officer. Ross the boss's favorite word was "insubordination." If you didn't agree with him you were insurbordinate. I told him once to look the word up in the dictionary and find the actual definition, because it was different than his definition. Failure to follow a lawful order is insubordination, asking a question about what I'm being told to do is not being insubordinate, it's attempting to find out what to do about the task at hand.

Insomnia Notebook was originally called Paranoia Strikes Deep because of the effect that paranoid people have on others. Especially paranoid people in charge. They make the employees paranoid. The employees have to constantly second guess everything they do, and how it will go through the boss's mind.

I revisited my old job the other day to talk to a former coworker, Duane (not his real name). I worked with him for 30 years, and I know the effect Ross the boss has on him. The other day Ross went into total paranoid meltdown over some questions Duane had over policy. As if asking for a clarification on some company policy is the same as undercutting your boss, Ross went through the ceiling. Of course the fingerpointing and accusations of insubordination came flying out of Ross's ugly piehole, just like they usually do. Duane was upset when I saw him, going into his own paranoid rant about Ross. I told Duane that his blood pressure was too high for him to be that upset and angry. I think in that case a Valium would come in handy.

I left there with that old feeling I had when I worked for Ross, that sick sort of queasy feeling of knowing a mental pipsqueak is in charge, even the smallest thing was apt to set him off, and there isn't anything you can do about it. Despite everything he's done he's apparently immune from being fired. I believe he has his own superiors afraid of him.

But, now I'm retired, so as sorry as I am to say it to Duane, or my other coworkers who are still living with "Captain Queeg," it's no longer my problem. However, that doesn't account for why I spent 15 minutes of my allotted 50 minutes yesterday with my therapist going over my story of me and Ross the boss.

*Now deceased, but I did not need to stick a pin in his leg to make sure.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nostalgia night

I'm on a nostalgia kick today. Last night I was wandering around the YouTube wonderland, thinking up names of bands and songs from my teen years of the '60s, and these were some videos I picked as being the most representative of what I liked about mid-'60s rock.

All of the bands are from the UK. I saw England as a place where bands appreciated what was great about American rock and beamed it back at us. In the U.S. we haven't always appreciated great R&B artists or early rock. In that era the Brits were sending over their versions of American rock, and the Americans, using the Brits as their model, were rediscovering our own roots. It made for an interesting cycle.

The Who's "Substitute" is my favorite of their early hit songs. The bass, the drums and Pete's driving guitar, not to mention some very interesting lyrics. Like nothing any of us on this side of the pond had heard before.

When I went to get my hair cut this morning I saw a young man come in the barbershop with hair a lot like lead singer Keith Relf of the Yardbirds, circa 1966. Man, I wanted hair like that in the '60s. Jeff Beck plays the distinctive guitar riff in this song. I saw him on an HBO special a few weeks ago and he looks just like he did 45 years ago.

The Kinks blew me out of the front seat when this song first came over my tinny AM car radio. It's not true to the music the Kinks made later in their career, with the funny lyrics and social commentary of lead singer-writer Ray Davies, but it was a sheer joy to listen to, a two-minute rocker to bring the house down. Ray has so much excitement in his voice it makes you want to jump right up and wiggle your ass, as my dear old rock'n' roll-hating dad used to say.

The next two songs weren't songs that made it to the American hit parade, but they're great songs by fine bands, nevertheless. Marmalade, a band from Glasgow, Scotland, had several UK hits and one monster international hit with "Reflections Of My Life" in 1969. They had the vocal harmonies, they had the looks...I don't know why this 1967 song, "I See the Rain" wasn't popular in the U.S. Maybe the references to England killed it here, but I don't know why, because the Beatles made those references all the time. Just chalk it up as our loss at the time. The video is from a TV show in Holland, and it's a horrible lip-synch job. As far as costuming the guys look like they are making the transition between 1960's London-chic and hippie-chic.

I knew the Pretty Things from their hit, "Rosalyn," and I owned their first album at one time over 40 years ago. Even though the title "Raining In My Heart" fools us into thinking it's a cover of the Buddy Holly song, it's not. Songs like this led me to listen to the old blues singers, and a form of music that was kept away from white audiences until the British started doing their own versions and sending it back to the U.S. It was groups like this that made some of us whiteys curious to hear the original versions of such dynamic music. It also revived the careers of many old bluesmen, giving them a whole new and appreciative audience.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Missing wives, murdering husbands

Mark and Lori Hacking had gone to high school together. They had married, and when Lori was 27 she was pregnant. Mark and Lori were moving to North Carolina so Mark could continue his post-graduate studies. They were a loving, ideal couple. That is, right up to the moment in July, 2004 that Mark put a .22 rifle to Lori's sleeping head and killed her.

Mark made it look like Lori had gone for a run in a nearby park. He had put her car there. A search was called. Mark was doing something he did very well. He lied.

Mark was not accepted to the medical college in North Carolina. Lori had found that out on Friday afternoon when she called them to inquire about student housing and was told Mark was not enrolled, had never applied for enrollment. Why were they moving? Why had he told her such a story?

As the public found out over a period of time, Mark had told a lot of stories. He told his family he had graduated from the University of Utah but he was a college dropout. He even faked term papers. He didn't do a lot of things he said he did, and oddly enough, either no one ever found out the truth about Mark or he had never gotten himself in a position where someone had called him on his lies, like Lori did that July night in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A few days later Mark's brothers got him to confess that he had murdered his wife, put her body in a dumpster, and then told everyone she was missing. Five months later parts of her remains were found in the local landfill.

It was a tragedy, and totally senseless. According to Mark's defense attorney, Mark had confessed all his lies to Lori and she was in extreme emotional distress. After she went to sleep he saw his gun and shot her to "put her out of her pain." Then he had to cover up what he had done by making up the story of Lori going missing.

A couple of years before the Lori Hacking murder the Scott and Laci Peterson case had been constantly on the national news. Laci, a young pregnant wife, disappeared two days before Christmas.

Both she and her fetus floated to shore after being in San Francisco Bay. Peterson, who was having affairs, was later convicted of his wife's murder.

In somewhat similar circumstances, a young Utah mom, Susan Powell, went missing on December 7, 2009. Her husband, Josh, has refused to speak to police, or anyone else for that matter.

There are some parallels to Scott Peterson because Joshua got his house emptied and ready for sale, then moved with his two small sons to his parents' home in Washington state. As one observer put it, "They acted as if they are just moving on with their lives." The common thing to hear from someone talking of the case, "He knows she isn't coming home."

The Powell family, as well as Joshua Powell's sister and brother-in-law, but not Josh, were on the Dr. Phil show last week. The family has been outstanding at keeping Susan's case and face before the public, even competing with the news cover of the earthquake in Haiti and the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Every day there are people in this country who go missing, and very few of them make the national news. There is something about the Powell case that has given it national interest.

It may be because Susan is an attractive person, and her smiling portrait is very affecting. It probably has something to do with her being the mother of two sons under five years.

It also has to do with her husband's incredible alibi (and I mean the word "incredible" in its original meaning, lacking credibility). Joshua Powell claims he took his young sons camping at midnight, on a night where the temperature was below freezing, miles away at a campsite in the snow, then returned the next evening to find his wife gone. Susan had not called into her work, nor had Josh. The boys had not shown up at pre-school. People who knew the family were concerned. When police arrived at the Powell house in West Valley City, Utah, there were two fans drying a wet spot on the carpet. Joshua spoke to them once, as he did once to TV cameras. His stammering and vague answers to questions sounded strange, and immediately raised suspicions.

The public consensus is that Josh killed his wife in a fit of anger, wrapped her up, put her in his van, gathered up his boys and took them to the desert where he disposed of his wife, then returned home late the next day. The questions were asked on Dr. Phil: did the boys see anything that could help police? No one knows, because like their father, the boys don't speak to anyone in authority.

When Josh came back to Utah to load his van with his possessions the police were waiting. They impounded the van and searched it, then gave it back. It's the second time they have done that. If police have found any evidence they are keeping it close to the vest. Police may be waiting for winter to be over and snow to melt, then do a more intensive search of the area Joshua says he and his sons camped on that frigid December night. If they have evidence they may be gathering more so their case will be stronger. If a "person of interest" won't speak to the police, and Powell has every right under the Constitution not to speak to police, then there is nothing the police can do but go about gathering information and evidence the old-fashioned way, with shoe leather and determination.

Years ago I worked with a man the public was convinced had killed his wife; the so-called circumstantial evidence against him was a lot weaker than the case against Josh Powell, but the police were convinced he was the killer. Some years after his wife's disappearance, and discovery of her decomposed body buried in the desert, another man confessed to killing her. He kidnapped her from her job in a junior high school. He had already killed two junior high girls, but the police didn't put the two incidents together until he said he did it. The husband, according to another coworker, claimed that being under that sort of suspicion had ruined his life. The man who killed his wife died in prison.

Men do murder their wives. They do try to cover up. It wasn't unnatural for the police to look to my coworker, but his behavior after his wife went missing was of a man actively helping search for his wife, not that of Peterson and Powell, who went on with their lives as if their wives didn't exist.

Hacking and Peterson are serving prison sentences, my former coworker was exonerated, and Powell walks free. He walks free for now, anyway.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Private eyes, they're watching you, they see your every move...

What to make of this? An affluent suburban Philadelphia school district has been accused of spying on high school students via the laptop webcams in the computers the schools gave them. What would sound like a paranoid delusion has been corroborated in part by a lawsuit from Michael and Holly Robbins, when they claimed that "Lindy Matsko, an assistant principal at Harriton High School, told their son Blake that school officials thought he had engaged in improper behavior [not specified] at home." Also, "Matsko later confirmed to Michael Robbins that the school had the ability to activate the webcams remotely, according to the suit, which was filed Tuesday [February 16, 2010]. . ." (Quotes from a copyrighted Associated Press article written by MaryClaire Dale.)

Kids leave their laptops on in their bedrooms and school officials can, unbeknownst to the students, peer in at them by remotely activating the webcam. That's the stuff of paranoid nightmares!

As a society we have set pretty strict boundaries on who is allowed in our homes and for what purpose. If you take pictures or video of me when I'm in a grocery store, I can't say anything. It's for the protection of the property owner. If I'm in my house and you take pictures of me then that's a violation of my privacy and it's pretty damn illegal, too.

If a school district can activate a webcam, how about paparazzi hacking into celebrity laptops and watching them via their webcams? Or even the government hacking into our laptops to watch us?

Some years ago the story went around that cable television systems were watching their customers. It sounded preposterous to me at the time. Why anybody would go to that much trouble--there are a lot of cable TV customers--was beyond me, but now I wonder. That was before laptops (or before they were common, anyway), and in a paranoid mind there could be a connection between the two. In a particularly suspicious mind perhaps the Watchers are using our most common technology against us: our televisions and webcams to watch and listen to us...our cell phones to pinpoint where we are.

AAARRRRGGGH! No wonder paranoiacs are paranoid! If they weren't paranoid before they'd be paranoid thinking about all of this!

In the early 1930s psychiatrists identified what was then called the influencing machine on the minds of paranoid schizophrenics. This was the belief that there was a technology, beyond that of the individual, with which other people were influencing them. It's probably when paranoids started wearing tinfoil-lined hats. Eighty years later the ubiquity of advanced electronics technology can't help but set off alarm bells in people who believe they are being controlled or spied on by their "enemies," by police or the government. A story last night on a Salt Lake City TV news broadcast amplified that alarm. Wireless "nannycams," used in the home to watch children in another room via the laptop, send a signal that can be grabbed by others using simple devices bought in electronics stores. A reporter was shown standing outside a home watching on a device what the nannycam was showing inside the house. Some businesses use the nannycams for their own purposes, watching their employees, for instance. If a nannycam uses a hardwire it's no problem...but if it's a wireless camera then it broadcasts on a common frequency and can be accessed by third parties.

Put that in your paranoia pipe and puff it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bad good

Jeff Bridges reminds me of a Brando in reverse. When he thanked the audience at the Golden Globes for their standing ovation, he said, "You're ruining my image as underappreciated." My wife and I have said the same thing every time we've seen him. When will the Academy recognize Jeff Bridges for not only an individual performance, but to help make up for all the years he hasn't gotten what he deserves? In that way he's unlike Brando, whose accolades and adoration came mostly at the beginning of his career.

The first time I saw Bridges was in the wonderful comedy, Hearts Of the West, playing a 1930s movie stuntman. I've followed his career since and he has played every type of character, bad guys and good guys, comedies and serious dramas. Heretofore maybe his most cultish appeal has come with the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski, which showed Bridges' ability to get inside a character so thoroughly you forget you're watching an actor play a part.

That's the way I felt when we saw Crazy Heart, the movie that is finally generating the kind of Oscar talk that shows maybe this time, come the 2010 Academy Awards ceremony, Bridges will leave with a statuette.

Bridges plays Bad Blake (whose real name, we find out late in the movie, is really Otis), a four-times-married, alcoholic over-the-hill country singer. In his past Bad has been a star who has written some great songs. When we encounter him he's toward the nadir of his career, traveling from bad venue to bad venue, playing his guitar with pick-up bands.

Bad meets good, in the form of Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jean Craddock, a reporter who attempts to interview him. She ends up falling for him instead, and he for her.

Despite his drinking and excessive smoking she lets Bad into her life as a single mother with her little boy, Buddy. Buddy takes immediately to Bad. The feeling is mutual. But Bad, in an alcoholic fog, takes Buddy to a mall. He gets a drink and Buddy disappears. While frantically searching he encounters a mall security man. Bad appears to be so completely beaten down by fear and distress that he can hardly keep his head up. After broadcasting a description of Buddy the mall cop asks, "How much have you had to drink today, sir?" Bad stands with mouth flapping for an instant, as if it hadn't sunk in his drinking is pertinent at a time when a boy is missing.

Buddy is found and he's fine, and in its way the averted tragedy helps to bring about the redemption of Bad Blake.

There is a surprise in this movie. Bad was a mentor to Tommy Sweet, a popular country singer played by Colin Farrell. Bad is jealous of Tommy, but Tommy is, like his name, Sweet. He never gives up on Bad and it's with his help, as well as that of Bad's friend, Wayne, played by Robert Duvall, that puts him on the road to sobriety and back earning a good living. The surprise is that not only can Colin Farrell sing, he's good. But then, so is Bridges, whose talent makes Bad more realistic than if someone else was supplying the voice. The songs, chosen by T Bone Burnett, are great. I wasn't expecting the music to be as big a part of the movie as it was, but the songs sound like they could actually be hits. They aren't just some pseudo country filler made up for the movie.

Learning that Irishman Colin Farrell can talk Southern U.S. and sing country songs was really the only surprise for me, though, because at its core the movie is formulaic: Man down on his luck is saved by the love of a woman. It goes through the typical stages, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc. Even considering that formula the story doesn't end quite the way we might anticipate, but it does have an upbeat ending. When the credits roll we're assured that the characters will go on with their lives, profoundly and in a positive way changed by what has occurred to them as we watched the movie.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Big themes in Big Love

Sally and I follow Big Love on HBO.

It's about halfway through its fourth season and into a plotline I find perplexing, even if I find the show generally very enjoyable.

Bill Hendricksen (Bill Paxton) is running for state senate, and has decided when he wins he'll announce he's a polygamist. He'll out his family, his three wives, Barb, Margene and Nikki, and their children. The women wonder how this will affect them, and if it were real life, they'd be right to worry.

Sally and I are native Utahns, who live in the city that serves as the setting for Big Love, Sandy, Utah. We live amongst the faithful and understand our LDS neighbors. What makes Big Love seem over-the-top in its portrayal of Bill and his family to us is that if they were my neighbors we would have known the first time we looked at them that they are polygamists. Any Utahn could. But the show makes the point that they are living in secret, and up to now they lived with the understanding that if their lifestyle was known they'd be ostracized.

The grapevine in Utah runs right through Mormon churches. Most Latter-day Saints know when a prominent Mormon is in trouble before the general population does. One example is of a well-known local car dealer who left his wife for another woman and was excommunicated. That went through the community like wildfire and his business fell off. There was finally some news coverage of it because of the buzz in the community. He closed his business and moved out of state. If the fictional Bill was a real guy, a successful businessman coming from polygamous roots as he does, and living in close proximity to other women, sharing a common back yard and swimming pool, then it would be well-known the family was living in polygamy and because of Bill's business prominence the word would be all through the churches in Utah. Trust me on this.

Bill is also partner in a casino and that would be a real big problem for a real-life Bill. Mormons were once forbidden to work at casinos, even though they have a large population of LDS in Las Vegas. Now the church has relaxed the rule to say they can work in casinos, but they can't gamble. Gambling is popular amongst Utahns, but they go out of state to do it. It's the reason we'll never have a lottery in this state.

The creators of Big Love are two former Mormons who are partners in real life. One of the subplots from this year's series has been the homosexuality of the prophet, Alby Grant, of the Juniper Creek group of polygamists. There is a real-life struggle between gays and the Mormons, especially over Mormon support for Proposition 8 in California, which overturned the gay marriage law. The church was shocked at the backlash, and probably isn't pleased by the theme running through Big Love. The man Alby is involved with is a Latter-day Saint who has struggled with his homosexuality. At the end of the most current episode Alby walks into their love nest to find his lover hanging, a suicide. It's a delicate subject within the church.

During the run of Big Love the Mormon church has wisely decided to keep a hands-off approach, even when an episode last season showed some sacred temple rites. If they had come out with loud condemnation they would have automatically gotten thousands of non-Mormon Utahns signed up to HBO to see what's the big hooraw about Big Love.

The title sequence of this year's season has changed from the first three, where it showed Bill and his three wives skating on ice, a crack appearing, showing the schism in their family.

In this season's title Bill and his wives are floating through a black void, outer darkness, and Bill is reaching for all of them to keep them together.

We love the new theme song, "Home" by the Engineers. It's hard to beat out Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows," the theme for the first three seasons, but the producers have managed to create a real mood with the newer theme song.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dead President's Day

It's President's Day in the U.S. It's a day to remember past presidents by having big furniture and car sales. Banks are closed, as are schools, local and federal government offices; we won't get our mail, but everyone else is open and pitching a product. The holiday was originally February 12, called Lincoln's Birthday, but it was decided to combine it with the February birth date of our first president, George Washington, given the name President's Day, and placed always on a Monday so those lucky enough to work in government or schools can have a 3-day weekend.

We seem to remember those presidents the best who died under tragic circumstances. Who remembers George Washington died sick in bed, attended by physicians?

We tend to remember, as in the cases of John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, those who came to their ends via assassination. It's human nature: murder is interesting. So happy President's Day, everybody.

Rick Geary's Treasury of Victorian Murder graphic novel series from NBM is top notch. Not only is Geary an artist who captures an era with his cartooning, but his books are well researched and full of details. These pages are from The Murder of Abraham Lincoln, published in 2005. Geary has presented the facts in conjunction with his dramatic artwork.

I met Geary in the early '80s. He handed me several small publications he'd done, including one on the kidnapping of Charles Chaplin's body. I found his cartooning style, done with pen and ink to evoke something of the look of 19th Century steel engravings, completely unique. I have followed his career since.

If you like this excerpt, you can buy his books at

Copyright © 2005 Rick Geary

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Are you good enough?

Sally and I were grocery shopping today. One whole aisle of the store is set aside for Valentine's candy, cards, gifts. Sally observed, "Look at all the people buying Valentine goodies, and today is Valentine's day."

I observed, "All of them are men."

Most men, for all the things we do well, do not do romance well. It really doesn't come naturally to many of us. Sally is so used to it that she doesn't expect me to buy her anything for Valentine's Day, and I don't disappoint her. However, this year I gave her a card, and she gave me nothing. A marriage in trouble? Naw, just a couple of people who after four decades understand each other.

Leading up to Valentine's Day Sally and I commented on TV commercials touting expensive jewelry and presents for the day. I shake my head at this many times a year are we expected to give our sweeties something special? Christmas, Valentine's Day, birthday, Mother's Day. The candy companies, florists and jewelry stores make a killing. I'm just contrary, I guess. I will not be told by a candy company, florist or jeweler when it's time to buy my wife a present just so they can improve their bottom line for a phony buying holiday at my expense.

I'm all for giving my wife something nice when there is a real reason, a birthday or Christmas. Everything else is programmed into us so businesses can make money off a sweetheart's expectation of getting a present.

I saw a lady on the Today Show peddling her book on "Mister Good Enough." She says when you can't find Mister Right, settle for Mister Good Enough. She told of a survey conducted with men and women on dating. Like, what would be a deal breaker on a second date; what would cause a woman or man not to want a second date with someone? Men listed three reasons (not given during the interview), and women had THREE HUNDRED REASONS NOT TO GO ON A SECOND DATE! In other words, women are just too damn picky.

I'll bet one of those reasons is, "He didn't give me flowers/candy/jewelry on Valentine's Day." I'd be out in the cold with a woman like that. I wouldn't be Mister Good Enough, I'd be more like Mister No Good, Not Enough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

...the code "crazy" on his tuberculosis.

My son, David, who is married to a Vietnamese woman, sometimes goes to Vietnamese news sources. He had this story translated by Google. You can see that Google is a bit deficient in the translation business, but if you read this story you get the gist of it.

A black Lexus was eluding the police and ran some motorcycles off the road. When stopped three men with three girls were found with alcohol. It's the way it's phrased in translation that makes it interesting. As David put it, some of it sounds like Confucious, as in the sentence ". . . a black car Peeling spleen fame in the car container line, beyond the red light continuously, despite life's road."

My sentiments exactly! The story:
The Lexus car chase choking on the street

Phan Dang Luu (Binh Thanh district, HCM City) and commodity 9/2 noisy disturbances by free ru roar from the fiercely pursued by police cars with 7 seats larger network promoted through 4 km.

About 1 hour this morning, police and traffic police detection of car-brand Lexus LX470 with foreign number plates on soaring labor vun Phan Dang Luu, Binh Thanh District, directions from the Hang Xanh, Phu Nhuan district so that effective stop.

However, drivers do not obey the reporter away. Evasion of the road pursued by the police, a black car Peeling spleen fame in the car container line, beyond the red light continuously, despite life's road. Many motorcyclists roar ru free panic because the engine of the car "crazy" to quickly put on the curb to avoid victims.

In particular, a man going cargo Tet, the code "crazy" on his tuberculosis, was hastily motorcycle crashed straight into a door on the way home.

Forces pursued to use of specialized motorcycle 250 cubic centimeters, but also for the cars seven hundred meters away. Many taxi drivers see the discontent and "execute" to support traffic police. However, all the real, a Lexus is launched to the wind.

Found that the work dangerous, serious threat to the road, traffic police through the assistance of the police criminal task is to patrol duties.

After the journey started nearly 4 km access choking, when to the Phu Nhuan intersection, through the collaboration of many, police cars blocked in by this.

Behind the Lexus 7 seats, three men are still sitting "romantic" with three girls in front of the driver. Police check documentation requirements, step-down group of alcohol vapor concentration anonymously with any necessary attitudes, loudly insults people on duty.

All this group of people with driver (live on Le Quang Dinh Street, Binh Thanh District) are the Vietnamese.

Discontent often see attitude before the law of this group of people, dozens of people road lending to assault them. The scene by police forces promptly resolved, summoned all the car-based Lexus on to work.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

How real is reality?

Sally and I like to watch The Little Couple, a reality show about a married pair of "little people." Jen and Bill are likable and smart. Bill Klein is part-owner of a company and Jennifer Arnold is an M.D. You can see the inherent problems both had getting to their current positions, the kind of fortitude it took in the face of public skepticism.

But my underlying thought while watching the show, which is my thought on any show which features real people in real situations, is, how real can it be with a camera crew filming night and day? How much would a camera's presence change the dynamic of any situation?

To Jen and Bill's credit, I believe that the public persona they project is also their private persona. They could not have surmounted all the obstacles they've encountered, both physical and mental, without being very strong-willed, intelligent individuals.

On the other hand, shows like Jon and Kate Plus Eight, which Sally loved but I hated, showed a very shallow couple who had eight children: one set of twins, one set of sextuplets. Their talent was in reproducing themselves in multiples, and I saw nothing about them that would make me want to know them. As most of us Americans are aware--we couldn't escape the screaming tabloid headlines in grocery store checkout lines--the Jon and Kate phenomenon ballooned into something big and ugly as their lives dissolved into divorce and soap opera. Would they have divorced without the notoriety they had gained on their so-called reality show?

A reality show star (name withheld) appearing on CBS Sunday Morning said, "the idea of reality shows is conflict. You are either in the middle of the conflict or starting it." The lady, who is African-American, represents something else I have hated about talk shows, judge shows and reality shows ever since: the voyeuristic and racist desire to see black people make fools of themselves on national TV by fighting and arguing. I don't know how many times I saw a clip from The Jerry Springer Show (maybe the nadir of this sort of entertainment) with black women calling each other "bitch," fighting over a man, knocking over chairs, pulling hair and screaming, all for the entertainment of the audience. It reminds me of the story by Richard Wright, white men getting black boys to fight so they could watch.

Some people, the Heenes, for instance, who set off a saucer-shaped balloon and claimed their young son was aboard, think it's the pinnacle of success to be on a reality show. They were willing to risk jail, to gamble their deception would work. (They lost.) Just the act of being known on television is a mark of success to people of such dubious intelligence.

Personally, I see no "real" in "reality" when it comes to television. I'll bet if we saw outtakes of almost any reality show you can name you'd see that events are staged or re-done because the light wasn't right, or the sound was muffled, or the microphone was in the shot. Think of it. Think of having a crew with lights, cables, microphones and cameras in your house, following you everywhere you go. To me it doesn't sound like success, but more like the 7th circle of hell.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

You wouldn't hurt these kitties, would you? This a-hole would...

A story by reporter Nate Carlisle in the February 2, 2010 Salt Lake Tribune introduces us to the boss from hell.

Cory Bowman was the director of Murray City, Utah, Animal Control. Cory had a unique way of dealing with unwanted animals. In front of an employee he took a kitten, twisted its neck, decapitating it. Employee Dianna Johnson is suing the city, not only for keeping Bowman (who was demoted from his supervisory postion), but for moving her to the 4:00 p.m. to midnight shift for complaining.

If it had been only the one animal you might say the guy had a bad day and made a really serious mistake, but it was a pattern. Not only did Bowman break the necks of kittens, he took a cat being claimed by its owner into another room, "hurt" the cat (no details given), and hissed at it before putting it into a box. When the cat owner innocently asked what she should use to wash the cat, Bowman allegedly told her, "a pitchfork and a firehose."

Bowman didn't expend all his energy hurting cats, he also pepper-sprayed dogs in his care.

In a hearing, Bowman admitted he had problems as a supervisor, but like all the bad bosses he blamed his employees. In this case three female employees who he said, "created a hostile little hen peck environment."

Murray City attorney Mike O'Brien, who is also the attorney for the Salt Lake Tribune, recused himself from commenting for the story, but earlier had stated the complainant, Johnson, allegedly told him Bowman "had a good heart" and didn't want the city to "be mean to him."

Not as mean as he was to the animals, no doubt.

Murray City police chief Peter Fondaca lambasted Bowman in a hearing: "My god, I would hate to work for you." In the understatement of the decade, Bowman answered, "Sometimes I hate to work for me, with me."

Despite his record Bowman still has a job as a dispatcher for Animal Control, and still works around the animals.

The past couple of decades we've learned how to spot a potential serial killer: they start by torturing small animals. It isn't hard to imagine a person like Cory Bowman, after hurting animals, twisting the neck of a child or a woman. Bowman was lucky for the Good Ol' Boy politics of local Utah governments; instead of having a job he should be spending time in a prison cell for abusing animals, he should be receiving therapy, and he should be relieved of any jobs with the city, much less one that involves animals.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The pageboy girls

I never get tired of looking at pictures of Bettie Page, the pin-up model of the late 1940s and early-to-mid 1950s. Bettie was on the covers of hundreds of girly magazines of the era. Bettie quit being a photographer's model in 1957,* but I saw her pictures for the first time in the early 1960s and was taken by her and her distinctive hairstyle. I don't think she ever changed it. It was always pageboy-styled, which, considering her last name, seems appropriate.

Looking through some old Life magazines of the late 1940s I found this cover girl, identified as Katrina Van Oss, then appearing on Broadway in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Allegro. I was taken by her face and hairstyle. A search on Google turned up that Katrina had appeared in two musicals on Broadway and then there isn't any more information. In 1947 she was 22, so if Katrina is still around she'd be about 84.

The hairstyle doesn't seem to ever go out of style. Some modern pin-up models, like this one, aspire to look like 60-year-old pictures of Bettie Page.

Going back 60 years we have another Bettie lookalike, identified as Kevin (yes, a girl named Kevin) Daley, "Miss Army Day 1949."

Miss "Army Day" Daley may also be the girl on the cover of Authentic Detective, also from 1949.

There is something irresistible about this hairstyle and the way it frames the face.

*Bettie died a couple of years ago, in her eighties.