Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Heard on plane just now

Hi, it says your child is allergic to peanuts. Now, do you want me to stop serving peanuts on the entire plane or just to your row.

"I don't care. He'll be fine. "

Well, airline police says I have to ask. So are you aright if I serve the rest of the plane peanuts or not?

"Then no. "
I so want to smack her. I don't even like peanuts. #littlebitcrankythismorning

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The KGB Spy Museum

Me as a poorly dressed KGB Officer....
Ed and I went to the pop up KGB Spy Museum yesterday. They had a potpourri of actual soviet and Russian spy equipment. It was fascinating.  Here are some pics.

Satlin's desk lamp and calendar.
Radio Equipment

Coding Machine

This was how it was laid out.

Cool Old Radio

Stalin's original record player and radio.

I Could Use This Right About Now...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Future of Poor People....

What happens to poor people in future years, and why?

We are living through a complex changing time. One of the biggest, but unheralded, changes is that a large base of citizens is no longer a pre-requisite for power or influence. And, because of that, the need for the powerful to support poor people (in many advanced countries) is falling quickly.

Much of what we consider societal goods, things like education, transportation infrastructure and medical support, arose through the need of the government to have a healthy, educated population base for war-making. You couldn’t fight a war with sickly men. And a basic education was necessary for your population to support a modern war effort.

The first time that education was mandatory in England was 1880s, when the Empire was expanding. For the United States, national education was not compulsory until 1918 – after the “Great War”. Public Health was first widely available under Kaiser Wilhelm in Germany introduced public health care to keep a war ready population. And the US Interstate system was undertaken by Eisenhower not as a public infrastructure good, but a response to a poor infrastructure for military transportation in World War II.

But now warfare doesn’t require a large population of healthy, intelligent people. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect and admiration for our country’s military. However, we are moving forward with drones, satellites and bombs that are so powerful they make armies irrelevant.

And so, the demand from the government to feed and educate masses of people is reduced. And you see this in the voters of most stripes. We are moving away from public schools and tinker with private schools. The idea of publicly funded college is a joke. When I went to UCLA it was $700 a quarter. But, as people doubt the purpose of public education past high school, the price has increased to $7,000 per quarter, for in state. You see the slow decline of public schools at all levels, because government don’t want to pay for it.

In primary schools we see more and more private education for those that can afford it.

In the United States the fight is over Affordable Health Care. If the country doesn’t need healthy men to fight, then why try to keep everyone healthy? We spend a lot to keep our soldiers and veterans healthy and try to spend very little (of public funds) to keep the general population healthy.

Is the economic good of the country tied to population?

So, if the government doesn’t have to support poor people for military reasons, how about for economic reasons? Is there a tie between population and wealth?

I think there used to be. A large population was needed for farming and manufacturing and a large population made that much more possible. Granted, it helped to be the right type of population; once again, education played a large role here. But now, globalization makes a large population less important. Germany’s “power” didn’t grow when West Germany absorbed East Germany in the 1990s. Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world with a tiny population, almost no natural resources (albeit a great location). Nigeria has a massive population and is poor. Brazil has a massive population is reasonably well-off. Population doesn’t relate directly to power.  And we see the ruling class in the United States actively trying to reduce our population (we have grown for the last few decades mainly by immigration).

Saturday, February 16, 2019

An Interview with Pete ...

interview here....

Mascot Update: The Crime Doctor

As the third of my 4 spotlights on B movie sleuths, we have The Crime Doctor. Warner Baxter played the title character, who was based on books and radio fame.

 The Crime Doctor was Baxter's come back set of vehicles, although in the old studio system there really wasn't such a thing. Baxter had won acclaim, and the Oscar, for a series of Latin Lovers / Bad Guys.

By the 1940s Warner Baxter's young latin-ish looks had faded. But he was cast as The Crime Doctor, and played him for 10 more movies.

The plot (from IMDB with some tweeks by me). "Amnesia victim, Robert Ordway, becomes the country's leading criminal psychologist. So, this man wakes up with amnesia and no one can help, so he self-ecucates to become a criminal psychologist. When he is hit on the head (by someone from his past) he suddenly remembers his previous life as a criminal. He uses his psychological expertise and his criminal expertise to solve crimes for the police."

Thee movies are pretty rudimentary B movies, reused sets, training grounds for Directors and Cinematographers, but clearly had a following. You don't make 10 of them for no reason.

They are great, but they are great fun if you just want to hang back for an hour or so and be entertained. Some jokes, some crime, some solutions. Like the TV show "Elementary" for the 1940s (sans Lucy Lui).

The American Word is Now Worthless

When I was young, America's word was golden. Whether given as a promise or a treaty - we followed through. Sure it wasn't always true, but people believed it.

I remember my father (a lying sociopath, but a believer in America). Once, during an argument about a nuclear treaty, he complained to me that I was gullible.

He compared the Soviet Union (bad)  to American (good) by saying "You know how many treaties America has broken? Zero.* You know how many treaties The Soviets have broken? All of them! Wait, all but one, because the Hitler broke it first!"

We aren't that America anymore.

We pulled out of the Paris climate accords because we don't believe in science (conservatives don't believe in climate science, stupid liberals don't believe in vaccine science).

We pulled out of a treaty with Iran because the President doesn't like Iran.

We just called the lowest level of immigration in decades a National Emergency in order to bypass our Constitution to allocate money for building a wall.

We are the preeminent liars on the world stage now. At least we're the best at something.

*Of course that isn't true. The broken treaties with the Native Americans could fill a book. But that is what he thought.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Yes, I Like Pete Buttigieg

He has more governmental experience than our current President.
He has more executive experience than Mike Pence
He would have the most military experience of any President since George H W Bush.

Yes, not a chance in hell, but listen to him....

Amazon Leaves NYC : Idiots Declare Victory

Well, that was stupid.

NYC did promise them $3Billion, which annoyed many people. But the people who worked at Amazon (not to mention the ancillary jobs) would have contributed over $27 Billion in taxes over a decade, so it wasn't a bad deal.

But anti-Amazon rants sound good and so a boatload of liberals that I normal admire (Cory Johnson, Alexandria Ocaizo Cortez, and some state Senators I think of as hacks anyway) came out against the deal. And then some, AOC at least, were taking a victory lap like losing 25,000 + jobs is something to be thrilled about.

AND Elizabeth Warren chimes in on this as a victory. STFU. We don't go to Massachusetts and trash your deals, keep your idiot opinions out of our city.

And Bill DeBlassio, our idiot mayor, took credit when NYC got Amazon and yesterday took credit when NYC lost Amazon. He reminds me of those air-blown sales tools, in a suit.
Exactly as helpful as our Mayor

Thursday, February 14, 2019

CNN Has a Gorgeous Look at Trump's Statements Now vs. Then.

You must look at this, it is fabulous!! Trump's "Truths" NOW and THEN

It is laid out in the manner below and covers so many lies so easily.  It is funny. Sure, sad and pathetic and he may be re-elected, but I can't worry about that anymore.

The Latest Crop: Klobuchar, Booker and Warren

So, in a semi-random series, we are looking again at 3 candidates for the Democratic Presidential Primary (which starts a mere 11 months from now in snowy Iowa...).

We will start with Amy Klobuchar. She is running towards the center of the Democratic party. Hoping to get people who are afraid that a too liberal candidate will help Donald Trump's reelection.  I get it.

But I don't need a namby-pamby center of the road candidate. The government will force a center of the road discipline, so I like an honest person. The good news there is Ms. Klobuchar seems very real and honest in her centrist views.

She is also, apparently, a tryanical boss. That doesn't particular bother me, except that it means the bitter ex-employees might fly out of the wood-work. The fact that all her news after the announcement was about her temper and work habits is not comforting.

Cory Booker is a New Jersey Senator. His roll out has been great. He is well spoken and intelligent. I thought he was a bit of a grand-stander during the Supreme Court hearings for the Frat Boy, but it was well played.

He is probably tough enough to stand-up to Trump, but that same toughness might frighten some people. The Candidate Obama was the perfect mesh of intelligent and non-threatening. I think Cory won't look quite so good in comparison. That isn't a reason to rule him out, I'm just saying he suffers in the comparison.

He was the Mayor of Newark and, despite his positive record in the city, Newark has a reputation as a bit of a shit-hole, so that won't help him. I am not thrilled with him, nor and I against him. I'll wait and see.


Her roll out sucked. She is stiff and too wonky. I would (and will) say the same thing about Bernie Sanders; I'm not trying to be sexist or ageist, but just no.

She rose to the bait of Donald Trump and that pretty much strikes her out for me.

Latest Review

 (from Reviews Off Broadway)

The Waiting Game Brings a Bit of the Fringe to New York

The Waiting Game now at 59 E 59 Theater is direct from an award-winning run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as Best Overseas Play. It is very much a Fringe play in that it is quickly paced, intelligent and demands a bit from an audience. When given its due, The Waiting Game is a rewarding and excellent piece of theater.

The Waiting Game explores how we hold on to people and experiences, and how we must proactively act to let them go. The story revolves around Paulo (a terrific Marc Sinoway). Paulo’s husband, Sam, lies in a coma in the hospital, brain dead, but his heart still beating a year after an overdose. Paulo is in a relationship of sorts with Tyler (Julian Joseph in a heartbreaking role). Tyler provides Paulo with companionship and sex while demanding very little in return. Paulo has trouble supplying even the little emotional support Tyler needs.

L-R: Marc Sinoway, Joshua Bouchard in THE WAITING GAME. Photo by Carol Rosegg
Paulo also must deal with Geoff (Joshua Bouchard), who was in a healthy relationship with Sam for at least a year before the overdose. Geoff believes that Sam was ready to leave Paulo and live with him, had the accidental overdose not occurred. Paulo resents the idea of Geoff much more than the reality of Geoff.  Geoff entered Paulo and Sam’s marriage as a sex partner, which was acceptable, but Sam and Geoff’s relationship grew, which was outside of the bounds of the agreement. Had Paulo and Sam’s relationship been healthy, the Geoff / Sam relationship would never have grown. As it is, Paulo resents Geoff, but doesn’t deny his importance in Sam’s world.
After waiting for Sam to leave Paulo, now Geoff is waiting for Paulo to let Sam go. Joshua Bouchard does a great job with the role of Geoff, who is sometimes very sympathetic and sometimes not sympathetic at all. On the other hand, Paulo is actively not sympathetic. Self-centered and callous, Paulo has channeled his hurt and confusion into anger and manipulativeness. He forces Tyler and Sam to jump through hoops, while offering very little in return.
The Waiting Game is not an easy play to love, as the pieces don’t fall neatly into place. It suggests emotions and forces the viewer to supply motivation. Why has Paulo retreated into himself? Is the casual drug use a symptom of Paulo’s pain, or was it the cause of Sam’s pain? Why is he such a dick to everyone? Having said that, I did love the show. I found the contradictions honest and raw.
Playwright Charles Gershman has crafted a unique vision at the crossroads of drug use, sex, marriage and HIV status. Nathan Wright has staged it interestingly and pulled out wonderful performances from the actors. It could have used a bit more dialog and a little less distracting stage business, that is where I think the straight transition from the Fringe environment hurts the result. But those are minor nits which are lost in the unique voice The Waiting Game brings.
The Waiting Game | Playwright: Charles Gershman | Director: Nathan Wright | Cast: Joshua Bouchard, Julian Joseph, Ibsen Santos, Marc Sinoway | website

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Go Winky

Monday, February 11, 2019

Why Driving in Montenegro Makes Me Happy (it reminds me of my youth)

When I was younger, very much younger, my grandfather, HAM (Henry Albert Mitchell) would take a drive most Sundays. We drove in the hills of Malibu or the Santa Monica Mountains on these tiny roads and had a picnic. Usually with Grandma and Martha, often just he and I.

He came out to California in the depression with the Civilian Conservation Corps and helped build a lot of them. Some are still around, some are now private, and some are now closed except to bikes and hikers. One example is the road in Griffith Park used in La La Land. When I was young it was driveable. Until Prop 13 and funds dried up to keeps parks open.  But here is a picture.

Whatever you think of the movie, I drove that road with my grandparents, parents and it was one of the first roads I took with my own car. It is closed now. Too steep to bike and a long hike.
 And then, last May when I drove through Montenegro, the scenes were so similar. The mountain roads down to the ocean.  The twisty little roads through the hills, with the surprise lakes. And most of the areas, like much of the hills when I grew up, are empty and gorgeous.  I drove it in the spring when they are at their greenest.  I share a plethora of pictures from that drive.

That was my rental Kia

I took this picture back on the road I had driven (on the far side of the reservoir).

The view of Kotor Bay coming from the North.

The view of Kotor Bay coming from the south

If I told you this was Antelope Valley, you wouldn't know better.

Although, this would give it away :-)

Okay, here the snow isn't very LA - :-)

Road Cut into hill lower, upper roadway started, then abandoned. The bridge leads to a dead end and park.

Sunday, February 10, 2019


I just watched A Night At the Garden. You can see it here. It is nominated for an Academy Award as best Documentary Short Subject. I don't have words, so I will simply copy theirs and ask you see it.

Watch it.


In 1939, 20,000 Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism – an event largely forgotten from American history. A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN, made entirely from archival footage filmed that night, transports audiences to this chilling gathering and shines a light on the power of demagoguery and anti-Semitism in the United States.

A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN was directed and edited by Marshall Curry and was supported and released by Field of Vision. The film was nominated for a 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short; it was also an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and was part of a special screening and panel discussion at the New York Film Festival. It was released on 22 Alamo Theater screens across the country and at The IFC Center in NYC.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Saw Bryce today off Broadway

Ed and I saw a show today and, for me, it was a great surprise the Bryce Pinkham. He is a fantastic singer and a great little actor. The entire show (SuperHero) was better when he was singing.

This is Bryce in The Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder.

And his singing On The Street Where you Live.

Don't Do It.....

He is salting the earth for not leaving office after he loses....

"... an election in 202 that they know they cannot legitimately win!"

Friday, February 08, 2019

The " Green New Deal" Proposal

Senator Ed Markey (D- MA) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- NY) introduced the "Green New Deal" yesterday. I have only praise for it. (Summary of it | Detail of it)

I have praise and admiration not for just the idea of it - although it is sorely needed, but for the scope and the rigor behind it. The Green New Deal doesn't tip toe around the problems and describes what has to get done. At the same time, it doesn't insist on solutions that might immediately rule out it's adoption. 

It doesn't rule out nuclear. It doesn't rule out a role for fossil fuels in some cases. It makes the case that the country's infrastructure, which is in bad shape, needs to be updated with the goal of sustainability AND the need to be resilient int he face of climate change.

It has its focus squarely on the communities where it is needed. Not just infrastructure for communities, but good jobs repairing and retrofitting that infrastructure. It pulls in the need of the country to create strong, well paying jobs in applying these changes. It doesn't advocate for a carbon tax, and doesn't bask in a random hope that some tech fix can save us.

It is an intelligent set of fixes and starting points for a better future for the country. It already hasn't been misportrayed, but it is a great start.

FYI - Senator Markey first proposed a cap and trade solution in 2009. It not only failed to generate interest, but was one of the focuses of Republican anger (as a "stealth tax increase") that lead to the 2010 Republican take over of the House of Representatives. He has learned a lot and adapted his lessons with this proposal.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Introducing Torchy Blane (one of the Mascots of the Month)

I was going to write about Torchy Blane, as I did about Boston Blackie originally in The Heroes of the B Movies. But I found a much better write up on the character here (in Thrilling Detective).

Torchy Blane
Created by Frederick Nebel
"You always told me to play up the feminine angle in my stories. A woman doing anything is good copy. Here I'd be [a woman] against two men and I'll beat them too."
Torchy tells her editor what's what in Fly Away, Baby.
Somewhere along the line, in the transition from the pulps to celluloid, Frederick Nebel's skinny, drunk-as-a-skunk Kennedy of The Free Press became a sassy, brassy, sexy wisecracking newswoman named TORCHY BLANE and Lieutenant Steve MacBride the object of her affections. Nine B-films were made in the thirties featuring The Herald's hotshot newshawk and the series turned out to be a quite profitable one for Warner Brothers. Nothing great, maybe, but they had "a certain speed and zip," according to Everson's The Detective in Film.

Zip? Hell, they were greased lightning at times. The plots move so fast -- and Torchy's lightspeed wisecracks flash by so quickly -- all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
In the thirties, a world far, far away from Grafton, Paretsky et al, a female reporter was about the most independent and intelligent role model for young women the movies had to offer. And Torchy was by far the most famous female journalist of them all. As played by Glenda Farrell, Torchy more or less embodied everyone's notion of what a female reporter looked and sounded like for that era -- fast-talking and feisty, self-confident and even cocky -- and forced to contend constantly with the biases of her era. 

Particularly the cops, who were invariably meatheads. Farrell co-starred with Barton MacLane as MacBride in all but two of the films. Lola Lane and Paul Kelly took over in Torchy Blane in Panama (1938) and Jane Wyman and Allen Jenkins paired in the final film of the series, Torchy Plays with Dynamite (1939). But it was Farrell that was the real deal -- she brought a energy and zest to the role that brought the scripts to life, adding serious snap, crackle and pop to every scene she was in. Even the scripts couldn't keep up.

Perpetually on the hunt for a scoop, she'd do whatever it took to get it -- eavesdropping, breaking and entering, going undercover, even allowing herself to be kidnapped. She was utterly fearless and focussed -- her only other interests being steak dinners and her "Stevie-Weevie."

In fact, it was too bad that the screenwriters, mostly male, always seemed to make sure that no matter how cocky and independent Torchy was or even potentially subversive, that by the final scene she would once again find herself in the arms of the good-natured lump MacBride. It was as if to underline the fact that no matter how self-sufficient they seemed, what every woman really wanted was a man -- even if he was a meathead -- and a family. 

As an article on journalist role models in popular culture on the Annenberg School for Communication web site put it, "The question wasn't how could Torchy Blane care about a numskull policeman like Steve McBride. The issue was that in the 1930s, she really had no choice."
Which, come to think of it, may be why Torchy was so driven and so gleefully determined to play second fiddle professionally to no man.

Somebody buy this lady a steak.

Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico - Two Views

This is a great story on CBS on tennis and the border.  Followed by a new story from Nogales....

And then this story.....

Arizona Border City Says It Will Sue if Trump Administration Doesn’t Take Down New Razor Wire

From Reuters....

Officials in an Arizona border city passed a resolution late Wednesday condemning new razor wire it said was installed recently by U.S. Army troops—and if the federal government won’t remove it, the city has vowed to sue, the Associated Press reports. Authorities in Nogales say troops installed more horizontal layers of the wire along the border wall throughout downtown last weekend. If wire within the city limits is not taken down, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said, the city will take legal action. The council’s resolution says the razor wire could injure or kill and “is only found in a war, prison, or battle setting.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that the wire was added after a request “for additional support in high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal-smuggling organizations.” It did not disclose who made the request.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Climate Change is now Causing 3 Times the Average Billion Dollar Weather Disasters

It is hard to attribute individual events to "climate change". On the other hand, it is easy to understand that climate change is making disasters much more frequent. (NOAA)

Our Current Anthem

An Anthem for our days....

Goofy Friends in Scotland

Trump's State of the Union speech was last night. Let us give it all the attention it deserves and the respect he did (he proceeded his calls for "unity" by calling Nancy Pelosi dumb and an enemy of Americans).

We quite often travel with friends. This isn't because Ed hates me, but after 24 years together he does enjoy some other people to joke around with. And this group did well. These are pics from our trip to Scotland, but focused on the fun we had with Jane, Gareth, Barbara and Lynn.
Pitlochry after dinner (and drinks)

And none of us fell in the pond (at St. Andrews Royal Gardens)

Ed loved the Highland Cooes (cows and bulls)

Clearly our photog on this did not understand camera size

Here Adam Smith grinds Gareth, Me and Barbra under the boot of capitalism

After Capitalism, we recovered with a Scotch flight

Scotland, friends and a heaping helping of sunshine made it great.