This weekend we lost our beloved feral cat who had become like a baby to us. It was a violent but quick end and we are in such shock and mourning, we can all barely think straight. What began with a starved, near death cat nosing around in the dirt for food five years ago, ended up with a 12-pound big baby boy who got into bed every night and slept under the down comforters for 8 or 9 hours - most often with this head on my arm and his paws in my hand.
He survived horrible injuries and many doses of antibiotics, which he loved swirled in heavy whipping cream that we called "smoothies." He also loved warm sponge baths and being brushed and hugged and squeezed with way too many kisses from his mom on top of his head. But then that feral thing kicked in daily and he loved to hunt and maim and kill and then belch up fur and feathers. That's when he wasn't eating organic beef or poultry off his own dishes next to the dinner table with us.
We named him Jeeves Hussein Novak because he wore a white tuxedo shirt. And he was black and skinny with a little more white mixed in. And of course he was a Democrat. But our notched-ear, neutered feral ended up with myriad nicknames and a thick coat just like an otter. He was ridiculous and funny, and still nervous but pliable and still learning how to live in a house. And he was so full of love it hurts. My Jeevsie left way too soon.
The vet will bring back his ashes this week. And then I'll always know where he is and that he's safe. But I already miss him more than I have words to describe. And I can't believe he won't walk in my office door any minute now and crunch on some kibble before tossing me a look and heading back outdoors.
Feel free to keep going on the previous thread, or here. I don't really feel much like writing right now. I'll check in again when I'm ready.
My understanding is that is exactly what the protestors intend to do.
For the best coverage of Occupy Oakland, I recommendOAKLAND LOCAL. Click on the name or the photo to the left to take you to the latest updates on Mayor Quan and the protestors.You can also see the city's very outdated updates HERE on the city's website. Yesterday I spoke with a city employee who said she could not even walk to Walgreens without going through a back door and exiting far down the street, that's how tight things are in the buildings around Frank Ogawa Plaza. She also said that the city simply did not have the funds to pay police this much overtime. Her sympathies lay on both sides, she affirmed. But that when protestors did not allow paramedics through to help a fellow occupier who fell 14 feet from a tree, her patience was tried.For my part, I'd still like to know why the mayor has to travel to Washington to seek federal aid. Doesn't she have a team to do that? Which hotel did she stay in? What was her per diem? And did she fly first class?
Something tells me that when these questions are asked and answered, people will not be any more thrilled with her than they are now. Just sayin'.
Out of date, but not untimely because San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is having to address the OWS camps spreading across SF right now. In fact, I understand that they are planning to set up house in front of City Hall. At the same time, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is coming under heavy artillery fire for her handling of the horrible tear gas incident in front of Oakland City Hall Tuesday night.
I drove past the camp just the other day with my son while en route home from his sax lesson on International Boulevard. The camp was dense. Very dense. The chaos that ensued at 4am must have been horrific. That said, Quan is now fumbling quite a bit in her handling of the situation. Does this surprise me? No, not really.
Back when Quan was doing small, private parties to garner support from and take the pulse of perspective voters, I attended one at the invitation of someone who had a private connection to Quan. It was more or less a SWOT analysis for the candidate and I was fairly sure she could not wage a strong enough campaign against power house and uber politician, Don Perata, whom I interviewed many times back when I was a street reporter.
But what remember most about that evening was how evasive Quan was in her handling of questions. This was a room with no more than 10 people in it. I pressed her pretty hard on a financial matter. But with a strand of hair hanging straight in her eye, Quan kept batting away my question. Forget the hair, she didn't want to answer me. So, I didn't vote for her.
It will be interesting to see how the spin machine plays for the next few days if not weeks.
I have enormous respect for what our police do. And I also know that children were in that camp. Quan must have known that too.
P.S. Two of the kids on the sofa in this video went to my son's school. And recently did a presentation there about their YouTube work. We also spent time talking with Hammer at a party recently. And I sat next to Willie Brown on a flight across country not that long ago. What can I say? I am six degrees of separation from this video.
Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.Verse 9. Tao Te Ching Stephen Mitchell translation. I also like the Daily-Tao website found HERE
A writing exercise for me. Without conflict, some stories would just never have "made it." Such as my version of this classic, three-act tragedy/comedy. Mounting tension in every scene is my new mantra. If it's not growing more tense, leave it out!
Mr. Capulet: Hey Romeo, how you doin’?
Romeo: Fine sir. And you?
Mr. Capulet: I’m doin’ okay. You in a hurry? The Jets are in the third quarter.
Romeo: Well, sir. Actually, I wondered if I could have a minute of your time.
Mr. Capulet: Romeo, I always got time for you. You’re like a son to me. I known you since First Holy Communion when you were this tall (hand hovers above chips and dip bowl.)
Romeo: Well, Sir. The thing is, I want to marry your daughter. If you’ll let me.
Mr. Capulet: Let you! What, are you fucking kidding me? I’d love for you to marry my daughter!
Romeo: Great, cause we’re really in love. And we’re neither of us seeing anybody else right now.
Mr. Capulet: Hey listen, this is gonna make Juliet’s mother so friggin’ happy. And I’m gonna throw you kids the biggest wedding this side of the Hudson. I got a friend who runs a hall in North Jersey.
Romeo: Great, cause we got lots of friends and cousins to invite.
Mr. Capulet: And Juliet’s nanny. She’s been with us since the beginning.
Romeo: Sure thing. Though I know my folks are gonna want to use our priest, Father Laurence.
Mr. Capulet: Not a problem! (rises from the sofa) Come ‘ere kiddo. (bear hug) I love you. And if you kids ever need anything, and I mean anything, you come to me. You got that?
Romeo: Yes sir.
Mr. Capulet: Now sit down here with me and have a beer. No caffeine for me. And I gave up cigarettes. But this one drink is my poison and I gotta have one every afternoon.
Romeo: I’d love to. But I gotta get to the drug store before it closes. So, I’m gonna go to the bottom of the stairs and see if Juliet’s ready yet. But sir, thank you again. I won’t let you down.
Mr. Capulet: Hey, never was there a story I would like more, than this of my Juliet and her Romeo. You make a beautiful couple. Take care kid. And make sure you have her home by dark.
Not mine personally. I mean the movie whose screenplay I am studying.
I have so
many favorite lines from this movie: "Were you wearing this when you were banging Lois Fazenda?"
Most of them belong to Robert Duvall whose tight smile and twitching fingers says more about his character, Tom Spellacy, than all the dialogue in the world.
A few things jump out at me as never before from all the times I've watched True Confessions.
The writers, Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, used very simple scenes to show the characters "back story wounds." The tension between the brothers is spelled out carefully (and literally) in the scene with their ill mother. ("May all your sons be Jesuits, sister", Duvall's character says to a nun as he brushes past her protests to visit his mother's bedside.) The murder victim's innocence is painted by a painstaking and awkward conversation with her parents about her dental retainer, no less. Forget "she was a good girl." The dialogue is so much richer with details about how and when she'd wear her orthodontia.
The fuel of fiction is complication and tension. It might have been simple enough to get closer to Jack Amsterdam's complicity in the dead girl's life and times in L.A. But then the Father Spellacy would have been too good a man with only minor problems with his brother the cop. No, Des Spellacy had to have met, and picked up in his car, the murder victim. And the madame, dead in the morgue, had to have made a last attempt to reach the man her former lover is trying to nail for Lois' murder.
As I begin building my character bible of my next mystery, I have to remember that redemption (and a cemetery plot in the desert) is only good if it's a rough and rocky road getting there. And that complication piled up on complication is what makes for great fiction. Now, back to work.
When our son was little, he formed the word “perfect” as “perftect.” So that’s how we still say the word in our house.
So, it was perftect timing for me when Mrs. Palin recently bowed out of our national consciousness (only for a while, I predict). For me it’s been six solid months of following her, without a break, and I need to move on.
In that time, we have collectively carved out new material and pushed this story forward in a unique way. Breathing life into a topic already well covered by a cadre of fabulous bloggers (any of ‘em, all of ‘em) you have all worked hard with me to analyze and re-examine the fascinating evidence before us.
Alone, I also too spent countless hours culling information, following up on leads, examining research, and phoning sources. For every five inches of copy you’d see on my blog, I spent upward of five hours working the story: that is, eliminating the detritus and going with what I could.
But alas, I have neglected huge parts of my life and my work. And now that I have started a class and have looming deadlines of my own, I must reclaim my mental space and physical time.
That’s not to say that I won’t post on Palin if it becomes important. That’s not to say that she’s down or out. I think she’s too mentally ill to allow herself to do that (watch closely McCain’s seat when it comes up for re-election.)
But for now, I cannot forward this birth story. Yes, I’m sitting on some things, but it’s not in anyone’s best interest to publish them. And yes, I eschew covering certain topics for reasons I’d rather not say publicly.
But you know what the saddest thing is about finding closure on this part of Palin’s life? That you all don’t know who you all are. And by that I don’t mean you are not evolved. I mean that I’ve met the most wonderful people through my blog. You are poets and writers and musicians and academicians and technicians and business and medical professionals. You are old and young and parents and childless. I know your real names, and where you live, and the fact that there’s someone who lives near you but I can’t share that with either of you! I know what one of you said to the ocean as you drove away this summer. How another met her husband and how still another visits her elderly father on a regular basis.
Your lives are fabulous and I have loved that you have shared them with me. Perhaps we can continue to meet and converse about books, music, art, politics, health, and business. And skunks. Or this:
I have no immediate plans or schedule I can adhere to. I might write about this, or that, or post some of my writing as I try to “progress” my next mystery.
If you’d like to post something, you have my address. If you want to go OT and talk about Palin, give it a try and perhaps someone will be reading and they can chime in.
Of course there are always new blogs starting up and old blogs continuing the story.
And if something really wild happens from the queen of the wild ride, I’ll be on it.
For now, my profound thanks to you all that have made this such a special and fulfilling time. I think we’ve done good, as Mrs. Palin might say. Rock steady. Laura.
The logline, in Hollywood parlance, is the sentence that tells you exactly what a movie is about. It answers the question “What is it?
” The logline should contain irony and create a compelling mental picture of the film. And you should be able to say it while riding an elevator two floors with Steven Spielberg giving you half of his attention.
Two great examples taken from a book on Screenwriting called “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder, are these:
“A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorists -- Die Hard
“A business man falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend -- Pretty Woman
The logline for my novel Finding Clarity
is: “The fur flies when a misfit mom takes on the ruling class at her son’s elite academy in quirky Berkeley, California.”
So, you’ve got one line, yes, that’s right, one line to paint the the right picture in order to convince Oliver Stone to produce a documentary on Sarah Palin’s fake pregnancy conspiracy. One line with which you can convince the new managing editor of The New York Times to authorize a full investigation for a 7,000-word, front page story using all of the blogs as resources.
Irony. Emotion. One line.
Okay. What is it?
When I think of Sarah Palin, a single image comes to mind. She’s on stage at the2008 Republican Convention, parading her shell-shocked pregnant teenage daughter and boyfriend before the world – forcing them to head down a path they aren’t ready for so she can advance her standing with the extreme religious right.
In promoting a right-winged religious agenda and sacrificing her own daughter in the process, Sarah Palin has spent the past three years shoving girls and women backward in an effort to advance her own career. And in doing so, I think she has also contributed to abuse and oppression for women and children.
My own experience with the religious right and the serious damage it can do came from my extreme Mormon upbringing by a devout Mormon mother who zealously obeyed every church suggestion and mandate. When I was four years old, she took me door-to-door to petition against the Equal Rights Amendment because church officials had come out against the ERA. When my four-year-old brain couldn’t grasp the problem with having equal rights for women and I questioned my mom about it, her response was angry and automatic.
“Do you want to be forced to go to war and get killed?” She snapped, repeating the words she had been programmed to say. “Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen to you if this amendment passes.”
As a young child, I was taught that men had all the power and that it was our job as females to honor and support them. I was also taught that sex was evil unless I was doing it in order to have a child. In junior high, I was banned from attending sex education class because my mother worried it would make me promiscuous. And because women in the Mormon religion were told it was their responsibility to bring as many spirit children into the world as possible, my mother had children she couldn’t support with an absent father, and then rushed into an abusive marriage a month after meeting my soon-to-be stepdad in hopes of bringing at least one more child into the Mormon fold.
In my newly released memoir, Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story
, I illustrate how extreme religious doctrine can set up a perfect storm: in my case, a religion and political/social climate (I grew up in Northern Utah) that gives men ultimate power and control over women and children, a stepdad who exploited the religious and cultural power bestowed on him to oppress and abuse my family, and a mother who so blindly followed the church doctrine that she felt powerless to protect herself or her children.
It takes only one look at the world around us to understand the horrific damage caused by extreme religious beliefs. How many more people need to die in the name of religion? How many more women and children need to suffer as a result of extreme religious viewpoints? One thing is certain: we don’t need women actively working to strip other women of their basic human rights and freedoms.
Bristol Palin might be able to ride her mother’s conservative religious coattails to bring in gobs of money for herself and her young son. But even so, I wonder what races through her mind at night as she lies in bed, thinking of the freedom and youth she sacrificed to take on the role of single mom. I also wonder about all those other young teenage girls out there— the ones who can’t secure five-figure speaking engagements—who might have been forced to keep a pregnancy and a child they weren’t ready to have because Sarah Palin used her pregnant teenage daughter to advance her platform.
Mostly, I wonder how Sarah Palin can sleep at night. About the author
Ingrid Ricks is the author of Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story
, a compelling true story about a feisty teenage girl who escapes her abusive Mormon stepfather and the suffocating religion at home by joining her dad on the road as a tool-selling vagabond —until his arrest forces her to take charge of her own life. Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story
is available as an ebook on Amazon HERE.
For more information, visit www.hippieboybook.com
I don't know if you've heard about, it but a company called StarvingEyes Advergaming Productions put out a very controversial on-line game called: "Teapartyzombiesmustdie". I will be honest and admit that I played the game out of curiosity. It is a first person shooter game where you go around killing zombies many of which bear the likeness of Tea Party celebrities including (among others) Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, and Glen Beck. To accomplish this you employ an array of weapons including crowbars, machetes, axes, pistols, AK47s and shotguns. The game description reads: “The Tea Party zombies are walking the streets of America. Grab your weapons and bash their rotten brains to bits.”
The game has several levels and three main areas that you enter to perform your deeds. These are the Fox News building, the Americans for Prosperity organization building, and the trailer park (where you find Sarah and Michele). Every time you go from one level to another you are presented with a little pearl of liberal wisdom regarding Tea Party shenanigans. If the zombies prevail it is stated that you died because "you didn't have health insurance" and that that is too bad because "there is no such thing as God and death is for eternity". If you win you are treated to a final graphic where a donkey projectile-defecates on the Tea Party crowd.
Needless to say the conservative media went wild claiming this game proves that liberals are not the kind tolerant people that they pretend to be. While I think this is an unfair generalization, I can see their point. This game is way more extreme than Sarah Palin placing the famous crosshair over Representative Gabrielle Gilford's district which caused all that furor. In any case, a campaign to call Advergaming's clients resulted in the game being taken off-line. However, if you want to catch a glimpse of what it looked like, you can check out this video.
Now let me get to my point. It is easy to dismiss this game as the work of a nutter. Even within the rank and file of liberals you will find extremists, and a few of them are bound to have programming skills. But there is something that worries me.
Over the years I have played several violent video games (Duke Nukem, Starcraft, Halo, etc.) and they all involved killing aliens or some total stranger not identifiable with any group in our current society. But in this game many of the zombies bear the likenesses of real people and the language is also unabashedly vitriolic (e.g. stupid white trash birther rednecks, lobbyist pigs, Fox New Anchor Barbies). Teapartyzombiesmustdie makes me think of one of the most infamous games ever made, Juden Raus!
Juden Raus was a board game that was made in Nazi Germany. The object of the game was to deprive Jews of their property and make them leave the city. The game was not created by the Nazis and, ironically, it was not viewed favorably by them as they thought that it trivialized their policies toward Jews. However, the game did resonate with the anti-Semitic beliefs of a significant portion of the German population.
By evoking Juden Raus I do not intend to draw parallels between the political situation of Nazi Germany and that of the United States, or the situation of the German Jews and the Tea Party people (they are obviously very different). My point is rather that the zeitgeist that had been created in Nazi Germany made someone feel that it was perfectly fine to make this board game and put it out into society envisioning that it would be played by both children and adults. This is my fear regarding Teapartyzombiesmustdie. What made the head of StarvingEyes Advergaming Productions, Jason Oda, think that it was OK to create this game (which he described as a "personal project") and place it online?
Could it be that the level of polarization, meanness, and hatred in U.S. society has reached such a high mark that some people feel it is acceptable to cross lines they would have never dared to cross before? I take solace in the fact that the reaction to the game was swift and that it was taken off-line. This proves that there are mechanisms in this country that allow groups that feel discriminated to fight back. My concern is what happens when individuals on one side of the political divide get more and more frustrated with the other side, which they regard as a threat, but also consider to be brain dead and not worthy of even trying to reason with? What other lines will be crossed in the future? Is this the spirit of our times?
What do you think?
I want to thank Laura for giving me the opportunity to guest blog at her website. I am Phantomimic, the peculiar eclectic writer. Please visit me at http://phantomimic.weebly.com
or follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/Phantomimic
). Thank you!