Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mamacidal maniac

Matricide is a heinous crime. It’s uncommon, but it happens. A man killing his mother by violence is bad enough, but when he kills 43 other people with her that's about as bad as it can be.

In 1955 John Gilbert “Jack” Graham slipped a couple of dozen wrapped sticks of dynamite, a clock and a battery into his mother's luggage. She took a flight out of Denver, and sometime later the DC-6B in which she and 43 others were traveling exploded in mid-air, spreading debris over farms and fields. It took weeks for inspectors to reconstruct the incident, and when they did someone noticed the smell of dynamite. Jack Graham fell under suspicion when it was discovered he had taken out a large amount of flight insurance on his mom. Graham was questioned, confessed to the crime, went to trial where he recanted his confession, but was ultimately found guilty. He died in the gas chamber in 1957, unrepentant to the end. He felt no remorse for his victims; a true sociopath.

This article, from the November 28, 1955 issue of Life explains the story to the point of Graham's arrest, and includes pictures of the victims. A few years later the crime was dramatized in The FBI Story, starring Jimmy Stewart, with Nick Adams as Graham.

Copyright 1955, 2012 Time-Life

A longer and more detailed article on the explosion of United Airlines Flight 629, the subsequent investigation and mass murderer Jack Graham can be found here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mr. Wong became Mr. Right

Steve Banes, using the name “Karswell,” is a blogger with one of the Internet's finest comics blogs, The Horrors Of It All. Steve was the art director for East West DVD. That company is now out of business and Steve has moved on to another field of endeavor, but East West seems to have created fannish interest. When I went online to search for it I found lists that people have put up of DVDs issued by the company.

I recently found one of their DVDs at a thrift store. It's a double bill, The Mysterious Mr. Wong starring Bela Lugosi, and Mr. Wong, Detective, with Boris Karloff. The first was made in 1934, and the second in 1938. In between something happened to Mr. Wong. In the Lugosi version he's a sinister, evil Fu Manchu-type of Chinese villain, an old and offensive stereotype. In the latter movie, Karloff is “James Lee Wong,” who is much more a hero than a villain.

Maybe someone can explain it to me.

In the meantime, I made some screen captures from the first Mr. Wong to show how “wong” he weally — er, really — was.

Bela as a Chinese is so bad, and his accent is so atrocious it looks like it's hard for the hero, Jay Barton (played by Wallace Ford), and even Lugosi, not to laugh.

Things get a bit kinky when the heroine, Peg, is chained up. Bondage precedes torture...

Movies of this era usually featured a dumb policeman. Here the dullard cop is reading a detective pulp magazine whilst unbeknownst to him, in the chamber on the other side of the wall Mr. Wong is heating up the bamboo to fit under the heroine’s fingernails.

Mr. Wong gets the bamboo hot while Lugosi tries his damnedest to look sinister.

Mr. Wong is just starting his bamboo manicure on pretty Peg when the good guys rush in. Thank goodness for plots like this, where the damsel in distress is rescued in the nick of time.

In the interest of disclosure, I watched about three minutes of the Karloff Mr. Wong, Detective, before my attention was diverted by something else. After seeing Mr. Wong attend to the girl’s nails I noticed my fingernails looked ragged. I turned off the DVD and went about the business of trimming my nails.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A peek at part of Postino’s collection

Today I took a picture of a couple of the bookshelves in my studio. Charles Schulz's birthday yesterday made me want to share my shrine to his greatness, which takes up the top two shelves. The rest of my Schulz collection is on shelves in the basement.

When I said yesterday I wasn't interested in licensed Peanuts products, toys, clothing, etc., I wasn't telling the whole truth. I like some, but it would be impossible to buy everything and I wouldn't have room. The Charlie Brown large Hungerford rubber doll is one of the capstones of the collection, from the 1958 set of the Peanuts dolls. (See yesterday's posting and the TV Guide article photo of Schulz and the dolls.) The other little rubber figures including Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and Sally are squeak toys for dogs, which are more recent, but are actually very nice little figures. It probably goes without saying that I keep them away from dogs.

Of course, then there are the Peanuts books, a series of the mass market paperbacks, the early Rinehart books, etc.

Click on the picture for its full bigness.

On the top shelf you can see some of my Beatles memorabilia; even Sally's Twiggy doll is wearing a 1964 Beatles medallion. Then, of course, the Yellow Submarine lunchbox, which my brother gave me thirty years ago. Down below, and peeking out from behind a portrait of me taken when I was two, is a 1967 Superman lunchbox, which came from my nephew. I believe he thinks that someday I'm going to (snicker, guffaw) give it back to him.

Don't look at the bottom shelf of the large bookcase, which is a shelf for things I haven't yet figured out where to place.

I keep some of my other books upstairs on the shelves so I can reference them without having to visit my (shudder) dark basement. My tastes are wide-ranging and I have varying interests, which you can probably tell if you can read the titles.

I have no idea whether anyone will be interested in this photo, and within a few weeks or a month I might change they shelves around, but just in case someone is curious this is a small part what I live with. And I haven't even shown you the other side of the room!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy birthday, Sparky Schulz

Today would have been Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schulz's 90th birthday. He was born November 26, 1922.

Who needs to be reminded that Schulz created the characters of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and the rest of the cast of characters for the Peanuts comic strip? The strip led to licensing and TV specials, a Broadway play, animated movies...Schulz's characters are familiar to everyone in the world. Even 13 years after his death we are still reading his newspaper strips, and we are still seeing his characters everywhere we go.

I collect a lot of Peanuts comics; I’m not into the merchandising of the characters, but I love the comic strip, which I consider the greatest of the second half of the Twentieth Century.

Here is an early publicity picture, which I got from the 1989 book, Good Grief, The Story of Charles M. Schulz by Rheta Grimsley Johnson.

The first of the Peanuts books, which reprinted his work and kept it in circulation while his fan base grew to circle the globe. Thanks to Dave Miller, who, some years ago made a gift of this book to me. It is one of my most valued books.

TV Guide had a short article on Schulz in their March 11, 2000 issue after his death. The Charlie Brown television specials not only made viewing records, but also promoted his comic strip to its pre-eminent position for the rest of the Twentieth Century.

When Schulz died his daughter, (Amy I believe), had the syndicate place obituaries in newspapers. I have never seen that done for a public figure, before or since. It was her way of personalizing his death by creating a personalized obituary, not the public tributes or obits that had been pouring in since he died. I clipped it from my newspaper and have reproduced it here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A criminal with various talents

I spent some time last night on the local online mugshots website. It’s one of the ways I entertain myself. It was Thanksgiving a couple of days ago, and I'm always thankful I’m on the outside looking in, rather on the inside looking out.

Something I notice is that certain faces pop up again and again on the site. A person will usually be arrested for the same charge: drugs or public intoxication, for instance. There are a few people whose police ID photos I see more than I see my relatives or friends. It's rare to find someone who gets arrested multiple times under a different charge, but this man, 32-year-old Jason W., has been arrested five times in the past 13 months, on a different charge each time.

October 21, 2011, arson:

April 4, 2012, criminal trespass (It must’ve been windy that day):

July 7, 2012, disturbing the peace:

August 7, 2012, drug paraphernalia:

November 21, 2012, gross lewdness:

Jason W. is a busy guy and keeps the cops busy, too. I wonder if he wakes up in the morning and thinks, “What crime can I commit today that's different than anything I've done before?” I give credit to Jason for breaking the monotony, providing his rap sheet with a variety of criminal charges.

With what will Jason be charged next? I’ll be checking back from time to time to see.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The day after the big day

You know you did what you said you weren't going to do. You ate too much. And you didn't even leave enough for turkey sandwiches this weekend!

Monday, November 19, 2012

When television was still being developed

Television as an invention was in development for quite a long time. Broadcasting was done on a limited basis. From my understanding, manufacturers were asked to defer the introduction of television to the general public during World War II so that the technical resources could be diverted for war production.

This 1938 article in Life is illustrated with still photos taken of a Broadway play from a TV screen. This particular play, Susan and God, from its description, was done as something of a test, from the RCA Studios to televisions within the building, but the photos were taken in the offices of Electronics magazine, where an amateur receiver was used to catch the broadcast signals.

The YouTube video is from a 1941 theatrical short, explaining how TV works. (In the modern day world of YouTube, copyrights and other considerations, if you see a black screen it’s because YouTube pulled the video for their own reasons. Sorry. Who knows...maybe someday you can see in on television!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mitt: the visitor who won’t go home

The elections are over. Why won’t Mitt Romney go home, or at least just go away from my home? It seems that every night on the news something else comes out about him. The latest “news” is about his phone calls to donors, and attempts to explain his way out of the embarrassment of losing millions of dollars of their donated money. He's telling them something about President Obama promising “gifts” to minorities and young voters. It shows that Romney really does not understand why he is not now President-elect Romney — or if he does, won’t admit it. Because it’s his own fault. When the final analysis of the 2012 elections is written, and boy howdy, the pundits were given reams of material to write about, all of Romney’s missteps, one after another, will be documented. In the immortal words of Richard Nixon, explaining his downfall to David Frost: “I gave them a sword. . .” 

Romney came close, and had he not sabotaged his own campaign by opening his mouth, he could very well be on his way to 1600 Pennsylvania. So Mitt Romney — who admitted in one of his phone calls he is “in denial” —  really needs to re-enter reality. He needs to shut up and go somewhere; take a rest, a vacation. Maybe he should go visit his bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. Leave us poor election-weary citizens alone.

Please, Mitt, go. I’ll even call you a taxi.


It's not about sex, except when it is

Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell gave a long explanation of why former General David Petraeus’ downfall wasn't about sex, but about poor judgment. In a way I agree with O’Donnell, especially when he said leaving a record of e-mails exhibited very bad judgment. How many affairs don’t leave some sort of written record? In the old days it was love letters in someone’s personal handwriting, discovered by a spouse, that sank an affair.

But of course it was about sex. I submit that most men with normal sex drives can be seduced in the right circumstances (or, if you will, the wrong circumstances). And if they can be seduced once, they can be seduced more than once. I would not be surprised if news comes out that Petraeus has had more than one affair in his time rising to his star position in the Army and later the CIA.

Not about sex? Are you kidding?

I’m in a quoting mood in this post. A situation like this always reminds me of the movie, Used Cars, when Kurt Russell is told, “Don't let the little head do the thinking for the big head.” Those are words for any man to live by, and if a man will follow that simple admonition he will avoid many problems.

(I’m also old enough to remember Profumo affair in 1963, and how titillated we all were by sex and scandal in Great Britain, not knowing at the time how many of our own government sex scandals we’d be dealing with in our future.)


This looks like it would hurt

This incredible gizmo was advertised in a 1950 detective magazine. I assume it is to insert in a man’s rectum, and massage the prostate gland with heat.


I cannot imagine using this machine, and not just because I have no prostate, having had it removed nearly four years ago when cancer was discovered. No, I am trying to visualize what humiliating position a man would have to be in when self-inserting such a device. Or, in another scenario, asking someone else to do the inserting. I have never before seen, or even heard of massaging one’s own prostate. So I did what I usually do: I looked it up on the Internet.

My query led me to this (author unknown):
You can feel your prostate once you get past your sphincter muscle and it usually feels like a walnut when you curl your finger towards your stomach. Now, a prostate massage is another matter: using the prostate as an erogenous zone to increase sexual pleasure. The theory behind it being good for you is because it can promote emptying of the seminal/cowper's fluid and this can potentially decrease your chances of prostate tumors in later life (similar to the notion that masturbation is good for men). Medically, you have to be careful when performing or receiving prostate messages as too much pressure can bruise the prostate and this is very painful. You can reduce some of the risk by using a commercially available prostate massagers with plenty of lube. Talk to your doctor or urologist for more insight.
Like I said, ouch.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Life of Lincoln

I’m looking forward to seeing Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

Life magazine had some interesting articles on Lincoln in 1955. I’m not only fascinated by the collection of his portraits in their chronological order, but also in the story of a collector who hunted through local records to find legal documents pertaining to Lincoln before he was president. (He was a very successful lawyer and a good earner, according to the record.)

Copyright © 1955, 2011 Time-Life

This, from an undated Ripley’s Believe It Or Not panel, makes a financial claim for the cost of Lincoln’s nomination for president.

Based on an Internet source, an 1860 dollar is worth $27.78 in 2012 dollars. That would make the nomination costs about $19,446 today (give or take). That's about what today’s billionaires put in the loose change jar when they take off their pants at night. After the obscene amounts of money spent in this past election cycle it makes one wonder what is the absolute top that could be spent on a future nomination for president?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Murder by dry ice

John Dickson Carr* (1906-1977) was an old-school mystery novelist who wrote clever whodunnits and was known for his locked room mysteries, wherein an “impossible” crime is presented and then solved.

I recently read Carr’s The Case of the Constant Suicides, published in 1940, which is yet another locked room mystery. It takes place in a castle in Scotland, and stars Carr’s most famous creation, Dr. Fell, as the sleuth who solves the mystery.

Don't get too excited about the cover blurb that says “Doctor Fell lays a Scottish ghost . . .” In this case “lays” does not have its modern meaning.

What looks to be suicide is really not, and Dr. Fell, with clues also given to the reader (Carr was an author who believed in playing fair) comes up with the solution. What interested me was an exchange by Dr. Fell with some of the other characters. I wondered as I read this, could this actually work? Could this method by which the victim died, dry ice returning to its gaseous state in a closed room, actually kill someone outside of a novel?

From the book:
    Let us begin,” pursued Dr. Fell, “with the fact that Angus’s diary records his activities for the past year, as diaries sometimes do. Well, what in Satan’s name have been Angus’s principal activities for the past year?”
    “Mixing himself up in various wildcat schemes to try to make money.”
    “True. But only one scheme in which Alec Forbes was concerned, I think?”
    “Good. What was that scheme?”
    “An idea to manufacture some kind of ice cream with tartan patterns on it. At least, so Colin said.”
    “And in making their ice cream,” said Dr. Fell, “what kind of freezing agent did they employ in large quantities? Colin told us that too.”
    “He said they used artificial ice, which he described as ‘that chemical stuff that is so expen —’”
    Alan paused abruptly.
    Half-forgotten memories flowed back into his mind. With a shock he recalled a laboratory of his school days, and words being spoken from a platform. The faint echo of them came back now.
    “And do you know,” inquired Dr. Fell, “what this artificial ice, or ‘dry’ ice, really is?”
    “It’s whitish stuff to look at; something like real ice, only opaque. It —”
    “To be exact,” said Dr. Fell, “It is nothing more or less than liquefied gas. And do you know the name of the gas which is turned into a solid ‘snow’ block, and can be cut and handled and moved about? What is the name of that gas?”
    “Carbon dioxide,” said Alan.
    Though the spell remained on his wits, it was suddenly as though a blind had flown up with a snap, and he saw.
    “Now suppose,” argued Dr. Fell, “you removed a block of that stuff from its own airtight cylinders. A big block, say one big enough to fit into a large suitcase — or better still, some box with an open end, so that the air can reach it better. What would happen?”
    “It would slowly melt.”
    “And in melting, of course, it would release into the room…what would it release?”
    Alan found himself almost shouting.
    “Carbonic acid gas. One of the deadliest and quickest-acting gases there is.”
    “Suppose you placed your artificial ice, in its container, under the bed in a room where the window is always kept closed at night. What would happen?
    “With your permission, I will now drop the Socratic method and tell you. You have planted one of the surest murder traps ever devised. One of two things will happen. Either the victim, asleep or drowsy, will breathe in that concentrated gas as it is released into the room; and he will die in his bed.
    “Or else the victim will notice the faint, acrid odor as it gets into his lungs. He will not breathe it long, mind you. Once the stuff takes hold, it will make the strongest man totter and fall like a fly.He will want air — air at any cost . . .
Carbon dioxide creates a condition called hypercapnia. According to Wikipedia:
Symptoms and signs of early hypercapnia include flushed skin, full pulse, tachypnea, dyspnea, extrasystoles, muscle twitches, hand flaps, reduced neural activity, and possibly a raised blood pressure. According to other sources, symptoms of mild hypercapnia might include headache, confusion and lethargy. Hypercapnia can induce increased cardiac output, an elevation in arterial blood pressure, and a propensity toward arrhythmias.”
In severe hypercapnia (generally PaCO2 greater than 10 kPa or 75 mmHg), symptomatology progresses to disorientation, panic, hyperventilation, convulsions, unconsciousness, and eventually death. (Emphasis mine.)
Now, to my readers: do not try this at home. I’m pretty sure you will get caught if you try it. At least, I hope so. I wonder if anyone who read this novel 72 years ago — or at any time since, tried killing someone with dry ice?

Why, the very thought chills me to the bone!

*Dickson also used the pen-name Carter Dickson.

Monday, November 12, 2012

“Today is the anniversary of the first day of the rest of your life...”

That old cliché, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” was especially true for me forty-four years ago today, November 12, 1968. The day before, by a happy coincidence Veterans Day, was the day I was through with my two-year active duty Army obligation.

On Saturday afternoon, November 9, my friends and fellow Utahns, who had all been together during our Army experience, basic training through our time in Germany, went to the on-duty NCO, Sergeant Peavler and asked if we could sign out and go. We weren’t supposed to leave officially until the next day, but Sarge was full of pity for guys who wanted to get out of there. No use delaying us, he said. “Goodbye, and don’t let the door hit you guys in the asses.” It was in the days before guys gave hugs, thank god.

Goodbye, 4th Armored Division!

We took a train to Frankfurt. It took a while, but we finally got a military flight out Sunday, November 10, and were in Fort Dix, New Jersey for processing about 1:00 A.M. the morning of November 11. We were rushed through because of the holiday. When we were finally released an angry sergeant sent us off with, “If the goddamn barber shop wasn’t closed for the holiday, every one of you shaggy motherf*ckers would be in getting a goddamn haircut!” I looked around, and yep, we all had hair sticking out from under our hats. Sorry to piss you off, Sarge, but …braaaaaccccckkkkk! (sound of loud raspberry.)

My friend, Wally, and I were having a drink at a bar in O’Hare Airport in Chicago in between flights, when Diana Ross and an entourage of a couple of dozen black people in fur coats, all carrying suitcases, were heading down the concourse at a furious clip. Diana Ross was in the front of the bunch leading the charge. They were practically running, and I assumed someone was holding a plane for the group.

By 9:30 P.M. Mountain Time I was home in Salt Lake City. I talked to my mother and brother before crashing. I’d been up a lot of hours since Saturday morning but I didn’t oversleep. On Monday morning I called Sally and drove over to see her.

At the time I didn’t think of it as being the beginning of anything, but rather the end of two years of involuntary servitude. I was a conscript, a draftee, and a reluctant one at that. I went along with it because I thought it was wiser to accept two years in the Army than a couple of years in prison for refusing the draft. I had principles, but my main principle was staying out of jail. As it turned out even during a period of massive deployments to the war in Vietnam my friends and I ended up in Nuremberg, Germany, where we spent the rest of our time.  It was still the Army, unfortunately, but at least I didn’t have any enemy soldiers shooting at me.

When I was discharged I didn’t feel any kind of self-pity that no one thanked me. I was sort of ashamed of being drafted. After all, it was cool to dodge the draft. My friends who had deferments or even a medical reason for staying out were the guys who were going to be staying home stealing my girlfriend, or going to school, or getting a leg up on a career.

Nowadays I’m glad I went. The nightmares of being drafted again stopped a few years after my discharge, and of course I had my marriage, raising a kid, going to work to think about. When I think back on the whole Army experience I believe that my discharge closed out the first part of my life. Everything after that up until retirement from my job was that “rest of my life” from the cliché. I think about those Army days occasionally, and have even written of them. I don’t have any war stories like the guys who were in battle, but then being a veteran doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have those experiences. I can be a veteran even though I sat in an office in Germany for two years typing out reports.

I kept a few things. I kept a couple of the Spec4 patches I wore on my sleeves. A Specialist 4th Class is one step above private, and is about the minimum a guy would earn for two years. The aforementioned Sgt. Peavler put me in for my promotion. So I didn’t come home with any war experiences, no rank, no privileges…but I did come home and start my life.

You can go here to read about the day I was drafted, as well as snicker at a picture of me as a callow youth. Also, here’s a story from our first night in basic training, which is an anecdote I’ve told many times, but to this day is still fresh in my mind.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Republicans: game change or temper tantrums?

News coming out after the presidential election is almost as interesting as the election itself.

On election night there was shock and awe in Romney’s camp at the news they were losing. According to the stories that came out later, they had decided not to listen to polls that showed President Obama ahead, and concentrate instead on their own internal polls. Those polls told them they were going to win. That sort of thinking reminds me of people who cover their ears and chant “la-la-la-la” rather than listen to what they don’t want to hear. The plan was to have a large fireworks show in Boston to celebrate a Romney victory. Obviously there was no show. Another plan was to launch a website for “President-elect Romney” which actually happened, but was then taken down after a few hours.

There was denial in the Romney camp that they were losing Ohio, despite the various news organizations, even Romney’s biggest ally, Fox News, projecting an Obama win in that state. To see Karl Rove, who had spent hundreds of millions of billionaires’ donated dollars to his Super PACs to defeat Democrats, squirming on Fox News, scolding them for their predictions on Ohio, was almost beyond belief. One wonders about the mentality behind such denial. Polls are well established by now. Pollsters have had decades to hone their skills. To hear normally pragmatic people who would pay attention to and trust polls go into such a meltdown was a big surprise to me and to anyone else who follows politics.

My guess is they listened to and believed radio blowhards like Rush Limbaugh who dissed the polls as being “skewed toward Obama.”

When the after-action report of the 2012 Presidential Election is written it will provide a guide for Republicans on what not to do next time. By 2014 they will make corrections, much like a coach makes corrections during halftime. When Team GOP takes the field again in a couple of years you can bet the game plan will be considerably tweaked.

On Wednesday morning I felt that a huge boil on the body politic had popped, but just a couple of days later I felt like it was reforming itself and sending out anew its tendrils of infection. I don't believe the Republicans in Congress will be any more cooperative with the president, despite an initial offer of bipartisanship. Why? After the shock of the election wore off, they again dug in their heels. It was too embarrassing a loss for them, and they will punish the American public for their humiliation.

I'm not going back on my prediction of a major change in their strategy for the next election, but I believe in the short-term we’ll be smelling smoke from scorched earth. Not only from Congress, but from pissed off Republican “job creators.” Pizza millionaire Papa John Schnatter announced he’d be cutting employee hours because of Obamacare. Employees who work over 30 hours a week have to be covered under the law, so he’s cutting their hours. Bob Murray of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corporation just laid off 102 coal miners in Utah because Obama was re-elected and Obama is “anti-coal.” These types of things could snowball, with more businesses following suit in the wake of Obama’s victory.  But it is not wise for a business like Papa John’s, which depends on customer good will, to be announcing they are throwing their employees under a bus because of Obama. Even the pouty pizza man knows that there are a lot of pizza restaurants out there, and many of them within the throwing distance of a 12” pepperoni pie from Papa John’s.

I believe that once the furor of Republican disappointment over misreading the electorate has died down, hopefully cooler heads will prevail. In Congress only fear of losing their plush jobs will force them into doing the right thing, and they’ve got until 2014 to quit misbehaving and get with the program. There’s not much anyone can do about that. But I’m watching to see if other businesses make the mistake of public temper tantrums. Pizza, anyone?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Prayers and players

Here in Utah, Mormon capitol of the world, there’s been a lot of buzz since Mitt Romney lost the election for president.

The Latter-day Saints have lately been referring to this time as “the Mormon moment.” They knew the attention of the world would be on them, and upon examination would find them a great bunch, wonderful people, not the oddball cult of popular perception. Did that happen? Did the public come away from the election process with a more positive view of LDS people? I don’t know. I know that statistically Romney did well with white evangelical Christian voters, and they were the same bunch who a year or so ago claimed they would never vote for a Mormon. Mormons are not Christians, they said. So I guess in that case maybe there was a Mormon moment…or it could also have been a “hold your nose and vote for a Mormon” moment because to the right-wing crowd it was better than a “black, Muslim, non-citizen, socialist Obama” moment.

You think?

In late September some folks circulated an e-mail asking their LDS friends to fast and pray that Romney would do well in the October 3rd debate. And he did. Maybe they thought God took notice and they could extend the miracle through more fasting and more praying to put Mitt in the White House.

Ah, but then maybe God turned his attention to other matters. When I was a young, practicing Mormon I was taught that to pray for selfish gain would cause your prayers to bounce off the ceiling and go nowhere, leastwise to God’s ears. Maybe that happened in this case.

Or, if we come back to where the rest of us live, Planet Earth, we can see that the election ultimately had very little to do with Romney’s Mormon faith — despite the projecting done by his fellow church members — and more to do with his politics which were godawful.

After turning off my television when Obama’s re-election was announced, I listened and didn’t hear the screams of any dying Mormon neighbors throwing themselves out of windows. There were no nearby gunshots, and I haven’t heard any news reports of Mormon congregations committing mass suicide, so they were disappointed, but not despondent.

For those neighbors of mine, perhaps there will come a time when a Mormon, a faithful Latter-day Saint, will again aspire to the presidency. Maybe he’ll get elected. But I’ll bet he will learn from Mitt Romney’s campaign and use it as a template of what not to do if he wants to be president.

According to some Republicans pundits I heard analyzing the election,* all religion considerations aside, Romney’s remarks about his wealth, the “47 percent” comment, the sudden flip-flop from tea party-style right-winger to moderate Republican just turned off some voters.

I have supported Barack Obama since 2008, and continued my support this year. But I could have had more sympathy for a Republican candidate if he hadn’t been such a fool during the campaign, making terrible errors in judgment, verbal gaffes, and worst of all, direct references to his wealth. I’m not naïve. I don’t think anyone running for president in this country is poor. Unlike Romney they might not have a quarter of a billion dollars spread around in foreign banks or homes in several states, but they’re in no danger of being homeless and on the street. I didn’t like being constantly reminded that Romney is privileged, and upon being elected fully expected to keep his privileges. If Romney had said he would propose a higher tax rate on his fellow wealthy Americans I could have opened my mind to him a bit more, but he couldn’t do that.

Lest I be accused of flip-flopping, I wouldn’t have voted for him, but I might not have held the disgust and disdain for him and his campaign that I did. And that’s got nothing to do with Romney’s religion, but Romney himself.

*I also heard some right-wingers on Fox Network squealing as if they had been speared. They had convinced themselves that political polls showing an Obama margin for victory were part of a liberal conspiracy, and that Romney was sure to win despite those crooked polls. They gave all kinds of excuses for the Romney loss, none of which had much to do with reality, but everything to do with their self-deluded mindset. It’s as if the election was a football or basketball game, lost by bad officiating rather than by the bad play of the players.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Jane Russell's underwater treasure chest

The January 24, 1955 issue of Life magazine featured this fantastic movie poster for Underwater, starring Jane Russell and Richard Egan as a SCUBA-diving, treasure-hunting couple.

A couple of weeks later, in the February 7 issue the poster artwork was changed.

A month after that, in the March 7 issue this story appeared. A model sued, claiming her image had been ripped off, putting the painting of Russell's head on a painting of the model's body. You can read the details here:

Frankly, I don't know what happened. We're talking a couple of artists, a couple of models (and Jane Russell's face) a couple of pieces of artwork (a cover for Collier's magazine, and the movie poster.) If a judge dismissed the case at least model Lyn Jones got a little bit of notoriety. Two pages in Life was worth a lot in those days. Interestingly enough, there is yet another version of the poster artwork on page two of the story.

I have never seen the movie, Underwater. I googled it and came up with a clip on the TCM website. For curiosity's sake, if it becomes available to me I'll catch it.