Posted in Current Events, Issues, WTF?

Come Tweet About Me

Saturday morning. My weekend commences. Had to make myself a list this morning of the many destabilizing actions of President Trump on all fronts – domestically, internationally, psychologically, environmentally. Slice it anyway you like. Make your own Venn diagrams.

The purpose of my list was to get it out of my head and down on paper so I can focus on something besides the national nightmare that is the Trump presidency. I mean, we all need a break from time to time, and I have a big writing project in the hopper. It was also to take a comprehensive look at how Trump’s actions undermine U.S. democracy and serve Vladimir Putin.

Writing in the NY Times (October 11, 2019), Jennifer Senior quotes Brian Baird on the Republicans, “They live in fear that the narcissist will turn on them.” Senior continues: “So they try to manage the unmanageable. They keep two sets of books, function with two different brains, and buy in – at least partly – to Trump’s grandiose message: You’d be worthless without me.”

The Republicans won’t/don’t stand up to Trump. Meanwhile, everything Trump does serves Putin. Russia is winning bigly.

Bret Stephens (NY Times, October 11, 2019) lays out possible scenarios resulting from Trump’s order to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria:

It will put thousands of Kurdish lives in jeopardy. It will deepen Tehran’s influence in Syria. It will increase the likelihood of an all-out war between Israel and Iran. It will underscore the inefficacy of U.S. sanctions to curb Tehran’s ambitions. It will ratify the wisdom of Vladimir Putin’s decision to intervene on Assad’s behalf. It will strengthen Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hand, not only in northern Syria but also in Turkish politics, just as he was finally beginning to experience serious reversals.

And it will fundamentally jeopardize the gains made against the Islamic State, around 10,000 of whose fighters are in the custody of the Kurdish forces who are now being attacked…

It also increases the likelihood that Turkey will tell the U.S. to take our fighter jets, nukes, and other goodies and get out. Germany already got out of Turkey and moved to Jordan. Let’s not forget Trump’s many anti-Nato statements.

When I think about the geopolitical and environmental destruction being foisted on the U.S. and the world by the Trump administration, I doubt (but keep hoping) that Republicans will make their way to the Land of Oz and find their brains, their hearts, and their courage. This is about not overturning the results of the 2016 election. It is a rational response to the psychic trauma and international tragedy of the Trump presidency.


What Trump Sees on the Men’s Room Door:

What Trump Sees When He Looks at the Bathroom Door

Posted in Film

Thank you, Marc Shaiman

I love movie soundtracks. I love to be gobsmacked by music. Today, I was gobsmacked by the film score for Mary Poppins Returns by Marc Shaiman. So I wrote him a letter:

Dear Mr. Shaiman,

Thank God I ended up working late tonight, because driving home I heard you on the radio—on Jim Svejda’s show on KUSC. I thoroughly enjoyed your conversation with Jim. I’m about the same age as you are and have a similar veneration of the original Mary Poppins film and score. It was a delight to hear about your love of the older film, and an even bigger delight to hear about your time with Richard Sherman. What comes first? The idea comes first! Brilliant.

I made the mistake of watching Trump’s press conference today before I got out of bed. I was so disgusted that I literally could not get out of bed until 1:00 pm. I could barely drive to work, but music helped me recover on the way there (specifically “Outstanding” by the Gap Band). So it was a perfect bookend to drive home and hear some of your wonderful score for Mary Poppins Returns (I haven’t seen the film yet). I now feel like I have a recover-from-Trump soundtrack. I plan to listen to the whole album many times this weekend so that I have it in my head to carry with me forever. To remind me that one asshole in the White House will not ultimately prevail despite his power and hatred and racism—and what appears to be his success at wreaking havoc on our nation. No. Love will prevail—eventually and ultimately.

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” is especially meaningful to me because I am a military brat. As a kid, I moved a lot and also lived overseas. Like all military kids, I had and then lost a lot of friends along the way. Facebook has helped quite a few of us reconnect, but we still have some ‘lost’ people. Your song at once recognizes that loss and gives me hope for dear friends that I still miss. Thank you for that.

My deepest gratitude to you, Mr. Shaiman. You deserve the Oscar and if you don’t win, know that you have my undying pity. But know that if you do win, I’ll be jumping up and down and screaming and ugly-crying tears of joy. You’ve made me one happy shiksa tonight. Blessings to you and Lou.

Much love and Peace,

Kelly

 

Posted in England, Green & Pleasant Land, TV

The Detectorists

This is a writing challenge because I cannot say enough good things about “The Detectorists” (from the BBC). It’s simply the best television show I’ve seen in years. I won’t compare it to other TV shows I really love (or loved, because all of the ones I really loved were years ago). I won’t compare it because I don’t want those other shows to feel bad about themselves.

The Detectorists (character names: Lance and Andy) are written as ordinary people with foibles and a lampoon-able hobby. You will cringe on behalf of the main characters as they make inexplicable and poor choices, and all the while you will be rooting for them. You will chuckle. You will become privy to the language of metal detecting and the descriptions of the finds. If you’re an American, there will be things you don’t understand. Finding a ring pull from an aluminum can, Lance says, “Tizer” (it’s a soft drink). “Kestral Super” — It’s a beer, mate.

You will appreciate the camera’s long close-ups on the flowers and creepy-crawlies in the fields. The wide shots of the east Anglian countryside are calming, a welcome balm especially if you are a city dweller in need of space relief. You too will want to have a cuppa sitting under the big tree. Even if you aren’t a detectorist, there are few ways to spend a day more pleasant than being in a field under a vast expanse of blue sky.

MacKenzie Crook, the writer-director-actor who birthed the series has given us something singular and unique. Thank you, MC, for a series with heart and soul. Thank you, BBC, for letting MC have free rein. And free reign.

Pub? Go on then.

_ _ _   _ _ _   _ _ _

The Ringer

Detectorists: When people find it and realise what it is, they hold it close to them

 

Posted in Grindstone, work

Conference Room Kerfluffle

LIFE AT WORK: Bumped from Conference Room Edition

Dear CoWorker:

Our program meeting is a standing meeting that was scheduled for the 2nd floor conference room before the scheduling conflict in the 3rd floor conference room arose.

I understand that (YOUR IMPORTANT) program standing meeting dropped off the 3rd floor conference room calendar. If there is a scheduling conflict with (YOUR VERY IMPORTANT) program meeting, I would suggest that you inform the planner of that conflicting meeting that (YOUR SUPER VERY IMPORTANT) program meeting takes precedence as per (DR. GRAND POOH BAH) and (OTHER POOH BAH). If the planner of the conflicting meeting can move into an available slot in the 2nd floor conference room that’s great, but it is not appropriate to bump a standing meeting from the 2nd floor just because there was a conflict on the 3rd floor with your (SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT IT CANNOT EVER BE MOVED) meeting.

(Floor numbers have been changed to protect the innocent.)

LV 2009 Planet Hollywood ext 2

Posted in Altadena, Books, Friends

Bookishly Yours

My friend Karin passed away two months ago. She wasn’t one to share her troubles so her friends didn’t know she was ill. At her passing, we were gobsmacked. If you knew her or read her writing, you know how clever and funny she was.

She really was. She hated links in blog posts but she’ll have to endure this one: Altadena Hiker

Generally speaking, books–the physical things that have spines and pages and take up space–well, those wonderful objects now rest in the delicate balance between “These are the best objects ever” and “What ever will we do with all these?”

Karin departed with no plan for her earthly possessions. On the last day her house was being emptied, I rescued her books from the dumpster. I don’t have room for any more books so I’ve been driving them around in my car all week. Along with her dusty leather jacket and a London Fog raincoat she wore in the 80’s. And a wall hanging that covered a big hole in her bedroom wall. It looked as if she’d given that wall a good kick.

Her books: gardening, gardening in southern California, hiking, hiking in southern California, the history of southern California, cook books, classic novels, a coffee table book about Norway (her parents were emigrees), a sprinkling of favorite childhood books (Caddie Woodlawn, Betsy in Spite of Herself). Jhumpa Lahiri might be pleased to know that she was quite literally snatched off the dump-bound truck, along with “Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development and White Privilege” by Laura Barraclough.

One of the guys cleaning out the house asked if I were going to give the books to a library. My mind flashed on the huge library sale scheduled for the weekend. Even libraries are shedding their books these days.

I don’t know what to make of a world without physical books. I don’t know what to make of a world without Karin.

Posted in Altadena, Friends, Uncategorized

Community

You wrote that you were ill, but knowing how private you are I didn’t ask you to elaborate. Even asking a simple question would have felt like prying. So I didn’t ask. Nor did I offer help. But this post is not about beating myself up after the fact.

IMG_5279

Cultured, well-read, well-travelled, funny and clever. You had your theories about life and people, and they always rang true. You had a command of words. Your writing was funny, wistful, charming…

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I found this book on your desk, and it is a shame you are not in it. But you wrote about your own mother in this post. Brilliant.

— * * * —

Tim wrote a poem for you:

When walking on a hardwood floor,
she preferred to be bare-footed.
When sharing foodie wonders more
Green lipped mussels would be assure-ed.
Her sport ‘twixt equus and tennis soared
with blinding thought awareness.
Karin, your somber, elegant vibe
hiked out in blogger even-fairness.
To all such fancy we celebrate
the watchful eye you fathomed,
Whilst conjuring life’s circuitous course,
A leaping o’er the chasm.
Posted in Cool Stuff

Twelfth Night with a Pasadena Twist

Christmas music is a wonderful thing, made terrible by repeated play over a short period of time, compounded by the more popular tunes being played ad nauseam while perfectly wonderful music is left by the wayside. I suppose I’ll be waiting for pop radio to play “The Rebel Jesus” by Jackson Browne for years to come.

A Christmas tune popped into my head—“Some Children See Him.” I’ve heard the James Taylor version. It was written by Alfred S. Burt, who wrote a Christmas carol each year—a tradition started by his father, Bates G. Burt. The elder Burt was an Episcopal priest who wrote a carol every year to include with his Christmas cards. Son Alfred studied jazz at the University of Michigan, and he continued the tradition, collaborating with Wilha Hutson after the elder Burt passed away.

Albert Burt’s carols gained popularity and an album called “The Christmas Mood” was released in 1954, shortly after his untimely passing at age 33 (lung cancer). I’m not familiar with all the Burt carols, but I love choral music and who can argue with four-part harmonies?

Why I love the Internet – Part #93

A little clicking around and I discovered that Alfred Burt’s older brother was John H. Burt, an Episcopal priest like their father, Bates G. Burt. John Burt was rector of All Saints Pasadena (1957-1967), and cemented All Saints tradition of being at the forefront of civil rights issues. From his obituary in the Los Angeles Times:

“A friend of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Bishop Burt helped organize massive civil rights rallies in Los Angeles, including a 1963 event in South Los Angeles that attracted 30,000 people. He also was a vocal supporter of César Chávez and the farm workers’ movement.”

The carol tradition continues with Diane Bates Burt (daughter of Alfred Burt), and Abbie Burt Betinis, granddaughter of John Burt. Wow –listen to this. What a remarkable family!