Russian roulette and rhetoric (Re-posted)

Every week we watch the TV show Blacklist, which is noted for its elaborate plots of spies, agents, good guys and extremely unlikely  situations.     Now there is a spin-off show, starring one of the lead characters in the original show.

Last night’s episode dealt with The Russians— new spies and situations, and one of the most frightening and far-fetched (maybe…) “plots” that were featured in the old days when the Cold War was at its height.    We all knew from a very early age that The Russians were absolutely out to get us…to somehow come to the United States and take over everything.     One of the most nefarious scenarios was—Sleeper Cells.

These were groups of individual Russian spies that were trained to impersonate Americans, and underwent elaborate training programs to guarantee absolute authenticity.  They drove American cars, sang American songs, ate American food…even birthday cakes!     They lived in mock villages built to duplicate American homes and movie theaters, schools and way of life.     Then, when the training was completed, these Russians-turned-Americans would actually move to the United States to set up “sleeper cells.”

These “sleeper agents” would then establish their new identities within American towns and cities, and live among the natural citizens indefinitely…until they were “activated” to do whatever it was that they were supposed to do.    Namely take over peacefully instead of resorting to violence and war.

Readers who have never before heard about the supposed sleeper-cell projects will no doubt scoff…snicker even…at the fanciful imagination of the Cold War Kids.    On the other hand, those in the “know” will experience the old familiar shiver up the spine at the mention of being taken over by enemy agents.   Like the old monster movies where the bugs grew to monstrous sizes and proceeded to devour us—unlikely but still scary.

This whole idea used to be reoccurring in movies, novels…even newspaper articles.    It became almost like Science Fiction…associated with the similar flicks featuring alien hordes that arrived from outer space in space ships instead of in metal ships or railroad cars.

Apparently we are about to enter another era where we live in nervous laughter at ourselves as we encounter terrible scenarios, worrying about new neighbors moving in next door… gosh, they LOOK normal!  Let’s take them a tuna fish casserole and see if they are surprised…

Well, I’m not about to judge anyone.   I lived through this stuff before, and will probably survive it again.     I have always wondered about Russians.   If they were to simulate the American-way-of-life, what in the world was their own life like?       It used to be our own government that went out of its way to scare the citizenry with tales about being infiltrated by “them”…the Russians.   What if they actually wanted us all to become Russians…would we get to participate in world domination?



Are critics just mean?

Is it necessary, when a skinny but gorgeous fashion model is sauntering down the runway in her painful stillettos, for a critic to find something negative to say?    The girl’s hair is perfect to the last tousled curl, her figure exquisite in its proportions and invisible twekes of past imperfection.     Her patent leather bag may be a tad too plain for the somewhat “frilly” ruffles at the neckline…which. by the way, could be slightly higher so as to allude to more fullness in the bodice area?     Her make-up could not be more appropriate to enhance her naturally somewhat sallow complexion…do you think a touch toward-primrose blush?   Those earrings are beautiful!…could be slightly less elongated…her ears seem large for her face, don’t you think?    What a pity that now she is pregnant— why in the world would she want a child now at the peak of her career?

Do We Even Want to be Entertained? ReBlogged, Legends of Windemere

Excellent article on what we expect from entertainment. This is my first visit to Charles Yallowitz’s blog LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE, and like it a lot. I agree that when I like a film or book…I LIKE it…and I don’t care what the critics say. Some of my favorites are works that others say are terrible. Thanks for enabling the RE=BLOG button! 🙂

Legends of Windemere

So, I’ve been wondering this for a while now.  I wasn’t sure how to write this up either and have gone through it in my head many times.  Then I stumbled onto this part from a Suicide Squad review:

“In my sensible critical opinion, Suicide Squad wasn’t a complete disaster, but inexcusably mediocre. To be fair, the audience I saw the film with appeared to love every frame: big laughter, cheers for the action and clapping as the credits rolled. Is there a disconnect between critics and audiences?”

Now, I’m not going to touch on the question because I have another one.  Are people disconnecting themselves from movies, shows, and books before they even start?  I’ve seen so many people swear that something will be bad for months and then they begrudgingly indulge.  SURPRISE!  They didn’t like it for exactly the reasons either they said or the critics declared.  Sometimes word for…

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Clint Eastwood is HOW old?

So today CNN had a bit about Clint Eastwood talking-tough and badass.    Of course he would like The Donald.      Isn’t he the gun-guy of the “cold-dead-hands” comment?

They had a Clint Eastwood Marathon on   last month.   Not bad…some of them filmed in Arizona, and I do love movies with the desert and mountains in them, plenty of cactus.    And back in the day…wayyy back….Clint Eastwood was one good-looker, especially in cowboy grear—horses and all that.   Beautiful saloon gals, mean cow-pokes, sweet settler women…bad guys, rattlesnakes and the like.

But what were they talking about?   Clint Eastwood the Octogenarian!    The tone of the announcer, Brooke Baldwin, my favorite…and whomever else was commenting in gushing-gutsy admiration about OLD Clint being 86 years old.      They kept marveling at how gutsy and “feisty”—I hate that word!—the old codger was!

Clint Eastwood as Curmudgeon?    I don’t think so.    I would never consider old Clint “cute”—and its a stretch to even think of old Clint as…well…old!

I wish these young’uns would get over the thing about us … ahem… long livers … being  cute old relics.   Let’s hope THEY all live to look back on the days of their youth from elder years with fond memories.

Washington Post columnist: aging a liability for women–especially-for-women/2016/05/13/a5d5389c-1922-11e6-aa55-670cabef46e0_story.html

Ruth Marcus, Columnist for The Washington Post, had published this article about…well, ahem….women getting older.  Male readers may snicker if they read the article, but to women it is the same old tune.

For women getting older is NOT getting better.

Of course its fine to put on a bit of age if one is a school teacher…maturity matters.  Nurses can age, its their skill and experience that matters.  Actresses are likely to be the “Mom” or “aging-beauty” in roles dealing with those types of women–specifically “older” more settled and less-sexy women, or the hooker-with-heart-of-gold type.   OH, right…there is the “cougar” role…featuring “that sort” of women who get their hooks into delicious young men.

When if comes to women on the TV…ah! therein lies the tale Ruth Marcus and other of us wrinkle-prone chicks speak of in this sort of article.

I don’t mean to pick on CNN…heavens no!  It’s just that CNN is my internet news channel of choice, even though it often embarrasses even ME with its base and flagrant salaciousness when it comes to reporting News Trivia and even important stuff like Vladimir Putin without his shirt (!) or the North Korean leader wearing a business suit!  (Who knew?)

Another thing…HOW about those glass tables where the news anchors sit… <wink, wink…> one would think they wanted to 1) show off legs; 2) sell high heels; and 3) assure voyeurs in the audience something to look at when the news gets boring.   Ever notice how it is usually the pretty young blondes on the long-camera-shots, not the seasoned and professional “older” gals who earned their news stripes in the trenches of foreign wars (or Washington D.C.)



































Dress Code?

OK…I can no longer refrain from mentioning the emperor’s state of dress.  Go ahead, call me rude…snarky or catty, or a gossip.  Usually not adjectives that most people would apply to me.

There is a paradox which has haunted me for months.

Who are some of the most independent, and intelligent women in the  world?     Right–the female news media reporters!   Strong, opinionated, educated, well-informed, knowledgeable –these are women who know what is going on in the world and can be counted on to make sure the rest of us know it to.   They are reporters, and to get where they are in their careers one can bet they know their way around the trenches, barroom brawls, and general mayhem.

So…why do the women on CNN* (blonde women, to be specific) all have the same hairdo?  A side flip,  bottom edges that curve inward to form a frame for their faces.  Let’s call it the Picture Frame Do.    To further deepen the paradox, the camera frequently zooms out to catch views of pretty legs crossed primly,   in very high heels–even though they are sitting there for hours on end.

Not only that, why are the women all wearing red?   Or was that just a holiday thing?  And cleavage…really?…which seems superfluous  when reporting on death and destruction somewhere.

They all look to me like they are having a fancy cocktail party after work, and won’t have time to change.

The dark haired anchors seem to have more lee-way in their hair-dos, except that long, dark hair is IN.  Pony tails are out…unless the anchors are standing in the rain in the midst of a riot situation, things blowing up and emergency vehicle lights flashing.   Hurricane winds apparently make hair control exempt for women standing out in them.

To be fair, the foreign correspondents and reporters all have an air about them as having just come in from a battlefield, flack-jackets testifying to their authenticity.  Those that report on Congress  and Washington are dressed for no-nonsense, although they do have a hint of battle-scenes about them.

To belabor the paradoxical issue here, it can be said that these women who report the news are tough-cookies.  They are not party-girl fashionistas, and although they are attractive and well-dressed, there is a surreal effect having them report the news while wearing party clothes and stiletto heels.

Oh, I know it is petty and trivial to worry about what women wear and how they have their hair done.   I have great respect for the women who work in the media, and although they need to look presentable and professional it is a stretch of the imagination to believe that they get together once a week and decide what color to wear, how blonde they should be, and choose a common hair style that becomes almost like a uniform.

Not to ignore the male news anchors…but they have it easier.  They just have to pick out a suit to wear, from among fifty shades of grey, and study their tie collection.   Hmmm… red stripes, polka dots, solid red? Blue?  Serious tie?  Frivolous tie?  Right…there is the choice of shirts to make, color…even style: dress shirt? polo shirt? flannel? Western?

At least the men don’t have to suffer in high heels…

  • Not to pick on CNN, it’s just that it is the channel I watch the most.   Local news station anchors have started wearing the Picture Frame Do…but I haven’t done any systematic research into the matter.



John Lennon’s 75th birthday concert

Nostalgia as misty eyes fantasize o’er
years swimming past in ages–
eyes fill as an ocean
chest fills with emotion,
the heart feels a notion of turning pages

same old-same old…again
our world at the brink of war

Dejavú is but a point of view
hearing and feeling the beat
of the music…again.  Don’t know
whether to cry or to sing,
or what to want more than anything

same old-same old…again
our world at the brink of war  

To breathe with the rhythm
of music of the heart
marking the beat in time passing;
recalling  dreams and
memories — the soul in part.

same old-same old…again
our world at the brink of war

Sometimes the longing is near too much
to bear the emptiness within–
the yawning chasm, the
lonely heart caught in a spasm,
aching to escape into the rotating prism.

same old-same old…again
our world
at the brink of war

What a Single Word Can Do

The Washington Post, this morning had a headline that caught my eye–one that demanded that I drop everything else on my docket and publish a post that I had scribbled in my night-time notebook.    I had been waiting to fall asleep, and  thinking about Writing,  and the World, and Worry…and the News Media.

The Post article stated that the recent world summit on climate control, held in Paris last week, nearly got sabotaged by a single word: In the final draft, someone had substituted the word “shall,” for the word “should.”

This gigantic error, if that’s what it was, could have proven monumental.  The Word shall denotes mandatory compliance; should provides a host of wiggle-room and interpretation.   Well happily, they fixed the deal-breaker word and passage of the legislation followed.

There should be a link here…if not please stay tuned.  🙂–and-nearly-lost/2015/12/13/2a9b3416-a1df-11e5-b53d-972e2751f433_story.html?wpisrc=nl_rainbow

My poem follows:


Semantic Dilemma

Sometimes when writing
a message of great importance,
designed to affect the very life
of the Universe…

… the missive halts in mid-sentence
to provide time and opportunity
to ponder the intricacies
of grammar and punctuation.

As the fate of the species hangs in the balance,
we pause–or stop short– to contemplate
implications of the use of a colon (or semi-)
or to insert an apostrophe… or elipses.

“Is it shall, or will…?” a dilemma which
has brought many a public meeting to a
screeching halt while consulting
a man of the Law.

To complicate the process of proper transcription
is the issue of gender.  Is it “he, she, or they?”
The cause of Political Correctness
directly affects what separates or connects us.


Dreams of a Drama Queen The letter D in the A-Z Challenge

(Formerly published in this blog with the title: Dreams, the GRE, and Shirley Temple.)

In my dream I was taking the GRE, the examination for applying to graduate school.  There was an endless list of multiple choice questions, in a booklet that had many pages.   I kept looking to the back pages, trying to determine how many questions there were, and how long before I could expect to be finished.  There was a time limit, but it apparently was far more time than needed.

The GRE dream was part of a more comprehensive  dream in which I was, on another level, preparing a WordPress post with the creative opening phrase: “The thing I like about blogging…”   played over and over in my dream, but never got to the point–or if it did I don’t remember it.

I dream every night, and those that I recall in detail after I wake up, tend to remain with me indefinitely.     In fact I still remember dreams I had as a child.   One such dream was actually a nightmare, when I was coming down sick with flu symptoms.   The dream consisted solely of a giant, twirling bullseye…and the theme was Dick Tracy.   Remember him?  He was a comic strip character back in the 1940s, a police detective with a dark fedora hat and a face with sharp-chiseled features.

Another disturbing dream was when I was quite young, and I was in grandfather’s garage and God was chasing me around a wicker doll buggy.  I was terrified, and when I close my eyes I can picture the scene.   I had the impression that it was God, but he looked more like an old Father Time persona, complete with white robe and long, flowing white beard.

In that same era my little Self also experienced a beautiful dream, which presented like a suddenly-technicolor scene in a Disney movie–with a colorful panorama of flowers and little animals cavorting in a pastoral setting.     This impression of the movie screen changing from sepia to brilliant Technicolor, was used effectively in the movies produced at the transition period when the use of color was new.

These dreams of seventy-some years ago, and the fact that I remember them so vividly, may have had something to do with my general fear of the movies.   I was petrified, scared to death.   Maybe because the theater was dark, and the screen was enormous–the size of a wall, creating images of real actors who were literally gigantic.

My well-meaning grandparents were hell-bent on introducing me to the delightful and adorable child actress, Shirley Temple, who was the cutest child in the world at the time, (according to her legion of fans,) and would have been nowhere near as terrifying had she not been presented in giant proportions on screen.

Just the thought of that dark cavern with the giant people and booming sound makes my heart freeze.

It was years later, when I was about twelve, that I could finally attend movies in a theater.   And yes, that was back in the day when television was finally getting to the masses, but my parents didn’t get TV until about 1950, and by then those movies were not near as intimidating on a 12-inch screen.    Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke) was my parents favorite, and they really wanted me to share the excitement and charm of Gunsmoke and other “shoot-’em-ups.”

Just think about how scary some of these modern horror movies would have been on the giant screen….I’d still be hiding!









Killing the Messenger…or, What Would Jack Bauer Do? (reposted commentary)

[Fast-forward three years— its 2018, and we in the blogger world and general news-junky fellowship are on the brink of yet another Trump-Era scandal of true Alice-in-Wonderland proportions.       The new CIA Director, who was appointed just a few hours ago— Gina Haspel, was promoted in the wake of new firings by the President.    She faces grueling confirmation examination before assuming the Director’s chair.      Ms. Haspel, a thirty year veteran of the CIA, has some baggage left over from the Bush-era torture scandals hearings, conducted during the Obama-administration.

Here is a post I wrote at the time, and in view of the tempest that is about to surface over Ms. Haspel’s significant role in the supervision of the torture hearings by congress, featuring the water-boarding and other techniques used against U.S. prisoners.

Jack Bauer, for those of us who were on Mars during the years that the excellent and suspenseful TV series called “24” was aired.   The Jack Bauer character was played by Keifer Sutherland, who now plays the role of the U.S. President on the TV series “Designated Survivor.”]


(Re-posted from Sometimes, 2015.)

Sometimes, 2015.

Often the” tattle-tale” gets in more trouble than the actual culprit.  The kid that breaks the vase while showing off baseball prowess  in the living room gets less flack than the sibling who tells on him.    The gang-banger who reports a robbery to police will be permanently ostracized by peers, while the robber gets off with a slap on the wrist.  This is one of the truisms of childhood, and  honor-among-thieves is often admired, at least secretly.

So in the current news circus–particularly the round-the-clock “spinning of yarns” news channel CNN–the cry of “kill the messenger” screeched onto the television screens immediately upon the bomb-shell reading of the Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA following the attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11.

We may have been softened up or prepared for the report by the fictitious Jack Bauer. of 24 fame…who was on the television series the primary “interrogator” of enemies, and when he was forced to resort to torture techniques he “reluctantly” rose to the occasion and performed his talents for the good of the agency.   Unfortunately, sometimes the people Jack Bauer was forced to torture were not always guilty of anything.  Darn!  Jack always felt appropriately bad when that happened.

So now there are the inevitable cries of “political propaganda,”  and a scramble to soft-peddle or excuse terrible occurrences that we, as a nation under God, are not supposed to do.  Shock and awe!

Hopefully the fall-out of this revelation of disaster will reach back into the time of the Central American wars…Nicaragua and El Salvador, and throughout South America.   Iran-Contra is a good place to start.  As a historian of Latin American History, the familiarities of our government involvement “down there” are understood.  Of course then it was the Soviet Union that was the big enemy and any illicit activity was excused by Washington as “anti-Communism.”

The same loud voices against the “tattle-tales” who are revealing the information about torture in the new Senate report are from those who would be in the front lines denouncing such atrocities committed by leaders in other countries.

Killing the messenger is not productive.  Sometimes telling the public what is really going on in our name is not anti-American or political propaganda–it’s just the right thing to do.