The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos ~ Review of one hell of a fully justified rant rampage from Macy Cashmere, The Girl reporting directly from the Cultural Crime Scenes.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day so what could be more appropriate than advocating reading than a book which lays out the ongoing conditions under which many girls and women do not thrive in our world while fighting to survive despite the odds against them? Via chapters presented as entries of significant words and phrases in The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary writer NoNieqa Ramos takes you directly into the inner world of Macy Cashmere–named for the store and the fine wool used in luxury clothing items–who puts the survival skills of the likes of Laura Croft Tomb Raider to shame.  Suffice it to say that Macy has truly mad survival skills and an equally mad will to thrive no matter what the world throws, literally, at her.  Now there’s one thing that’s crucial for you, the reader, to keep in mind: Macy’s world IS our world, your’s and mine, no matter what your level of reality denial may be based on the specific context in which you live, this is the truth. Savage Inequalities is not only the title of Jonathan Kozol’s indictment of educational inequity in America–which still exists. Savage inequalities is one way of describing the nature of the vastly differing statuses between females and males—unequal on multiple levels and viciously savage from the home-front to the war-fronts.  Macy’s dictionary presents an indictment not of the educational system which far too often serves as an overburdened safety net for children, but of American culture which treats girls and women as sexual objects for exploitation and male gratification. If you don’t agree then quite possibly you’re living in a vacuum without a cleaner.  I’m not going to argue the point as the media lays it all out there every day with ongoing reality checks from real life—no need for reality television shows which are pure fantasy yet often reflect this sad state of affairs. Now that that fundamental piece of ugly truth has been laid out (no sexual allusion intended) let’s let Macy take the lead. This is a first person narrative which speaks to readers without pulling any punches. Actually it throws very hard punches. Consider your children very lucky, and very privileged, if they have a home, stable family life, enough food to eat –at home–, access to a quality education, and your undivided attention whenever they need it. Macy Cashmere has none of these essentials.  Macy is a designated “problem child” at school where she speaks her mind very freely–and is willing to pay the consequences for doing so. She knows the in-school behavior drills so well that at times she pushes the office buzzer herself after crossing lines.  If she didn’t have such a strong voice and immense willpower who would pay any attention? School is not perfect, but it does throw life lines to Macy via the likes of Miss Black who sees and hears far more of Macy than she lets on and does what she can to feed and support Macy mentally, emotionally and physically. Oh the power of music, never underestimate it. Jazz pulls Macy’s trigger in all the right ways upon her first hearing of  John Coltrane, A Love Supreme in Miss Black’s class.

Macy’s home world might be described as a mix of David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets of Baltimore and Dick Wolf’s Law & Order’s SVU–yes, it’s full of sex crimes and violence.  If you think I’m pushing this too far, well, Simon’s book and Wolf’s series kept coming to mind while I followed Macy through her world. So that’s that–the power of references for creating connections. The difference is that it’s all seen and told from the viewpoint of a young teenage girl–not from the perspective of adults.  Adult perspectives trickle in via Macy’s observations but they do NOT drive this narrative in her very personalized dictionary format. The chapter titled “I Have A Dream” has nothing to do with Martin Luther King’s speech except perhaps as its utter antithesis.  Yet, Macy’s world is one created by adults–and not just her parents–and a system devised by adults and perpetuated by adults–and fought by other adults.  Macy is a girl who knows how to effectively put to use whatever comes to hand to deal with important problems like a visit from CPS and the entrapment of her best friend by an oh so caring “uncle”: an all-purpose cleanser, a slave’s machete, a bag of cocaine. Make no mistake, nothing holds Macy back when she sets out to protect those she loves: her brother Zane, her friend George, her best friend Alma–for whom being Gifted & Talented is not enough to ensure escape from poverty, not by a long shot.

As if violence, drugs and wrecked home life aren’t enough challenges for the girls Macy represents there’s the entire SEX package to contend with. What matters to the males of our species? Breasts, bodies, and booty calls—those are what females are for–bottom line, that’s it.  Brains never come into the picture. Heart never comes into the picture. It’s all a sex end game never-ending.  At least that’s what Macy observes from her mother’s efforts to survive and the prostitutes like Velvet working the streets. Yes, Macy has issues with her mother. Issues so big they’re ethically trying.  Ironically, Velvet does more looking out for Macy than her mother seems capable of on a good day with or without her “guests” who provide the necessities of life when Macy’s father goes to prison.  Perhaps it’s because one good turn deserves another thinking–or maybe it’s just plain decency and fair play in Velvet’s books. Just because you’re stuck in the sex for hire business in order to eat doesn’t make you a bad person—far from it. But who would Velvet be with other options? What would Macy’s mother do with positive options? Think about that. Who would you be with no positive options in your life? Why do we do the things we do–and don’t? Macy’s dictionary entry:

Why

Noun: Reasons 1 and 2

Why do I hate? Because it’s so much easier than love. Because hate is reality. Love is a fantasy.

Why do I write? Le me break it down. Teacher Man taught us about something called haves and have-nots.

 

Via the words that really matter and their meanings for this very “disturbed girl”, Nonieqa Ramos deftly gives Macy Cashmere not just a voice but a ROAR impossible to ignore.  Ramos does this so effectively that her writing makes it look easy–the sign of real greatness in every art and skill. It’s not difficult to read the writing and words on the pages–but it gets downright nerve-racking to take in the content the words portray. Macy Cashmere’s dictionary is disturbing—it’s supposed to be. It’s a book meant to shake you up and rattle your brain pan. Macy Cashmere is here to wake people up not lull them into sleep at bedtime. How would you go about saving your best friend from the worst daily grind you can imagine? What are machetes for? I don’t think that qualifies as a spoiler. Hmm, naw, just a hook for Macy’s line of action in this microcosm of the world in which we live.  Have you asked your teenage girl what’s going in her life lately? If not, you need to get on that right now, because the issues faced by Macy Cashmere are everywhere.  If you don’t know what those issues are then you need to read The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary asap because it’s only a matter of degrees.

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Hello Online World

An interesting thing happens when you unplug from the world-wide web–time expands. Yes it does indeed. Time expands in the sense of all the things you can explore OFFline. Consider what happens when you forget your cellphone and you don’t feel the need to answer every ringtone like Pavlov’s puppies. Oh the freedom from the ring, from the keyboard connected to social media, and everything in the info universe. It can be very liberating–and you realize just how much energy, effort and time you’ve been putting into communication technology. Having been almost constantly online since BEFORE Facebook and twitter were even imagined I discovered a real big break from it all was in order. It’s been the kind of break where I’m on the verge of needing to upgrade my cellphone so that it will ‘work’. Aside from personal connections I have not missed the world-wide web much. I don’t enjoy reading books online–but I adore reading. Writing online has its pros and cons. I’ve discovered that the best way to deal with writer’s block is to actually write with a pen/pencil on paper. Yeah, it works. According the research I suspect it’s because more of your brain is stimulated by using your fine motor skills when using a pen than with using a keyboard. Oh and there’s never a problem with power outages or viruses or hitting the wrong key and sending everything into nowhere-land. Yes, being offline has been very good for my writing. It’s also been good for reading, exploring music, and cooking. Virtual cooking leads to virtual food and that’s inedible no matter what it does to your salivary glands.

When you’re exploring books offline in a library setting interesting things tend to happen–to me anyway. For example, an oversize book cover featuring Virginia Woolf’s profile draws your attention to Stefan Bollman’s Women Who Write, a book of profiles of women writers. Reading Francine Prose’s introduction raises the question of what other women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature since the book’s publication. The answer to this query leads to 2015 Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster. I currently do not know where else you can read anything like this in English. Which leads in turn to the translator, Keith Gessen who is the co-editor of City By City, Dispatches from the American Metropolis. The essays therein present diverse perspectives on the American urban landscape–and they’re anything but boring.

I heartily recommend all these books for your reading table or tablet. Warning: Voices from Chernobyl may break your heart with its love stories. What happens to people who know nothing about the downside of nuclear energy when things go terribly wrong? This is an intensely personal record of what happens. Considering the world in which we live we owe to these people to at least make ourselves aware and informed. Because Blue Skies do not mean all is hunky dory in the radioactive universe. Note: this is also a National Book Critics Circle Award winner for General Nonfiction.

Dots:
~Virginia Woolf’s profile
~Women Who Write by Stefan Bollman, Francine Prose
~Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich
~Translator Keith Gessen
~City By City, Dispatches from the American Metropolis edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb

Please do feel free to share wherever these dots lead you.

Thanks for engaging here. Your time, energy and virtual presence is very much appreciated–more than ever before.

About Svetlana Alexievich:

http://alexievich.info/indexEN.html

Women Who Read Are Dangerous~~(select translation):

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/buecher/rezensionen/sachbuch/ein-buch-ersetzt-den-mann-im-haus-kuenstlerblicke-auf-lesende-frauen-1214751.html

Aldrey’s Mirate ~ Look At Yourself

Return to blogging round two:

Hola!

I’m back–again.

If you enjoyed Aldrey’s high energy up-lifting La Lista — which now has over a million views on the tubes of you–yeah, he got his audience of 80,000 and then some since my first posting of that positive spirit booster–I think you’ll appreciate this song-video about a serious image issue for women–Mirate. Posted on August 13, 2015 this video is racking up some serious views–91,620 as of this posting. If it strikes a chord with you then please take a moment to share it with ladies of all ages in your life.

How can you resist? Hmm? 🙂

AldreyMusica

Breasts: boys’ toys or best baby food ever?

Have you had your silicon implant fix today? Hmm?

This is a miss-take on the old sensual Saturday music themes of old. If this breast talk offends anyone I’m not apologizing because, after all, breasts have been around as long as humans in any variety. Without them Homo sapiens wouldn’t be here. Newsflash– baby formula is a profit motivated industry and boy oh boy, have modern folks bought into it big time.  In the OLD days, if a mother couldn’t feed her baby for some reason, then a wet-nurse was found to provide sustenance. Yes, other women fed the babies of other mothers. Imagine that.

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Is that sexy or what? Hmm? I’m still waiting for the male underwear model version of this to hit prime time television.  Anyone got any information on THAT? What?!

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Hmmm, just another profit driven industry?

Or?

Is all this breast business really all only sexual attraction?

Medical reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients aside, of course.

Ironically, sex, not the stork,  is the means for procreation. Shhhh, don’t tell the people who don’t like sex education in schools about this or they may do something drastic to shut down the sharing of the facts.  Mother Nature doesn’t comprehend the people who are offended when women breastfeed their babies in public. Heavens forbid anyone should see the real thing doing what it was created to do. Does it sound like I’ve got an agenda here? Yeah, I suppose it does. Hmm….who’d have thunk it?

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What do babies need? Food. Where does it come from? No, not from the Gerber factory.  It comes from some glands. Who knew?

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Wow, women have breasts for something other than filling out bikinis and bras for interested parties to ogle and grope. So much for second basing.

As for the next video, the Islamic element was unexpected but not distracting , and of all the videos I viewed on the tubes of you this one made the points that interested me in the manner I found most appealing today: bonding, nutrition, IQ, stress reduction.  The text flows a little fast for my reading speed so you might want to hit pause when a new frame appears.  I suspect there’s some irony loitering in between these lines at the moment.

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Why this post at this point?

It’s about time I got this off my chest.  🙂

I feel so much lighter already.

Comments? Questions? Funny stories?

Anyone care to share the money numbers on the breast implant or the baby formula industries?  If not, I’ll try to update with some $$$$ information when time allows.  Thanks for visiting. Refreshments are in your fridge. I’m having pistachios and pomegranate juice. 🙂 Cheers.

Guilty, Guilty Pleasures —>>> Major Crimes with Mary McDonnell and company

The last time I posted about a television show was in regard to the American remake of the Swedish crime drama The Bridge.  Today it’s to do a little promotional hype for Major Crimes starring the incredible Mary McDonnell. Season 3 of Major Crimes starts Monday, June 9 on TNT and I am so looking forward to it. This spin-off from The Closer featuring Kyra Sedgwick would be well worth watching simply because of Mary McDonnell’s great portrayal of Captain Sharon Raydor as a very strong, independent, and very, very smart woman who has the rules down pat–and a lot more. McDonnell’s interview with Travis Smiley explains a great deal for anyone who has not yet discovered Major Crimes. Even if you don’t enjoy crime drama I think it’s worth listening to McDonnell discuss the Raydor character, power, acting and the needs of human beings–and selling brushes.

Another plus for Major Crimes in its first two seasons was the story line involving Captain Sharon Raydor and material witness Rusty Beck. Watching their relationship with each other and the rest of the characters grow and evolve brought unexpected considerable depth and substance to this drama. The concept of family is redefined by example in a much-needed manner for the discussions it has the potential to provoke. Unlike The Closer which had a certain formulaic feeling to the episodes featuring Brenda Johnson’s considerable talent for lying and manipulating people into confessions even when raising all sorts of issues including ethical issues about the ends justifying the means, Major Crimes is making its own way into the future. If you want predictable resolutions of plot-lines there’s always Law and Order to fall back into the comfort zone of neat little black and white packages. This isn’t to say that the criminal cases aren’t closed and resolved in Major Crimes–they are–but there’s a lot more going on than stereotypical criminal behavior.

There’s a great deal more attention paid to serious issues like sexually abused children. “These boys aren’t runaways. They’re throw-aways.” So says a man running a shelter for teenage boys living on the streets of LA.  Now for a society in which the mainstream jabbers constantly about family values and loving children so much this is a brutally honest statement of factual reality.  Its consequences for boys like the Rusty Beck–and other characters–holds up a mirror that reflects our society as all truly great dramas of the stage and screen do.  Clearly there are not enough Sharon Raydors willing to step up and care in our real world.  In most drama storylines children are summarily deposited with the Department of Family Services  and conveniently disappear from the script. In the first two seasons of Major Crimes, Rusty Beck didn’t disappear–and the writers used his character to full advantage.  I can’t tell from the promos or website if the very talented Graham Patrick Martin will continue in this role–but for the sake of abandoned children trying to survive in a hostile world I hope so. Being saved  is not the end of anyone’s story.

Oh and by the way, Rusty Beck loves playing chess.

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Personally I think the fans on YouTube have made better promos for Major Crimes than TNT has dreamed up so far. Here’s a fun meet and greet video to get acquainted.

scorey5001

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A short and to the point promo. ) I get it, this is probably for short promo time slots.

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Mary McDonnell interview on The Travis Smiley Show. Yeah you want to watch. I think Smiley was very smitten. Oh yeah, he likes her shoes. Ah ha.

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This particular choice of song and images conveys a great deal about the relationship between Rusty and Sharon.  Clearly this matters to viewers as there are many music videos on the tubes regarding this relationship.

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Major Crimes Cookbook for the Sunshine Kids

Major CrimesTV

For more information or to order the Major Crimes Cookbook, click here: http://majorcrimestv.net/support-the-…

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For cast profiles and more information visit  Major Crimes online: http://majorcrimestv.net/

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I think I’m going to post more fan videos for Major Crimes on the sidebar. Yeah, I think I will. It’ll be fun–for me anyway.  I’ll make sure to find one with the scene where Sharon Raydor shoots a guy between the eyes with a red bean bag. Hey, he asks for it–literally.

UPDATE–the Beanbag scene is the headliner on the sidebar. Several of my favorite scenes follow along with some fan made videos featuring music. Charlie’s Angels is a hoot.

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As for The Bridge–it’s all dark and dreadful in America and Mexico.  In Sweden there’s darkness and light–plus resolution. I recommend watching both versions.

War ~ a few musical pieces

War raises a lot of very troubling questions about the human species.

Are we all natural-born killers?

Are we hardwired to engage in war?

Who sets up these lethal games and why?

Why does the cannon fodder allow themselves to be so easily manipulated into serving the interests of others?

Any mothers out there having children so they can grow up and go off to boot camp where they’ll be trained to kill other people?

And now there are drones.  Well, the drones don’t rape and torture anyone. Yet. I’m sure the war-mongers will figure out that computer program in time.  And some amoral folks will make it work just because they can.

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Masters of War   ~ original by Bob Dylan covered by Ed Sheeran.   The lyrics get the point across quite effectively. Though maybe the masters’ lethal games need to be monkey-wrenched before they get to destroy the lives of others. Just a random thought.

ONE

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Women and children during war are as expendable as the soldiers. No life is sacred.

Thousands of women and children were raped and killed in Nanking in 1937-38. The Flowers of War is based upon these events. This is just one example of the insanity, brutality and dehumanization of humans by other humans.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that 20,000 women were raped, including infants and the elderly.[42] A large portion of these rapes were systematized in a process where soldiers would search door-to-door for young girls, with many women taken captive and gang raped.[43]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre

 The Flowers of War 

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mpalewi

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The line between sanity and insanity to which all are pushed during war. Once your mind is gone what more can be lost?

Journey to the Line ~ Music from the film The Thin Red Line by Hans Zimmer

mikt87

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Multiple movie views of warfare involving horses.  Animals conscripted for war. If we humans were more like animals, would we still make war?

The Horse Charge ~Music: Two Steps from Hell – Heart of Courage

Tinman4368

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Some of these scenes are ‘famous’ from a time when photojournalists were not embedded with soldiers and put their lives on the line to photograph the reality of war.

Run Through the Jungle ~ Creedence Clearwater Revival

Lana Rains

“Various images and photos depicting the Vietnam war. CAUTION….. Very graphic videos, please be aware that these videos show graphic scenes of napalm attacks.”

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This selection of music and a few notions does even begin to touch the tip of the human history of making war.  When are we going to evolve beyond such behavior? Can we? If it’s all a matter of choice–then what is wrong with us for continuing to decide to make war on each other?

I know I’ve probably not accomplished a thing with this post–but–at least I’ve vented a tad.

namaste

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Bear’s War     http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/war/

Breakfast Special, #40, “All That Funky”

 

 

All That Funky

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Ahmed Essa

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Little George nudged Anton with his elbow to alert him to Sarge’s appearance in the hallway leading to the building’s utility room. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t Mr. Tardy Hardy himself.” Little George teased Sarge as he came to a halt in the doorway and stood looking around the room.

“How are you, Little George? Anton, sorry to hold up the wiring show today.” Sarge entered the room and went to where he’d found the jerry-rigged wiring mess on a previous visit.

Anton smirked as he replaced the water hose for the washing machine. “No problem, Sarge. No lack here for crew work. You get that chill out of your bones from playing in the Ling’s basement lake yesterday?”

Sarge pulled out the section of plywood serving as a temporary covering for the wiring, set it aside and turned to Anton and Little George. “My feet are a damn sight happier than they were yesterday. Lily gave me something she calls ‘bear grease’ to put on them. She said it’ll help keep the damp cold from setting in. I don’t know what it really is, but it’s definitely agreeing with my feet. Oh hey, I brought some cookies.” Sarge took a brown paper lunch bag out of his coat pocket and handed it to Little George.

“Lily has bear grease?” Little George opened the bag and took out a coconut cookie and offered the bag to Anton who did not hesitate to help himself.

Sarge shrugged. “That’s what she called this stuff. You want some for your feet, Little George?”

Little George took a bite of his cookie and shook his head. “Not right now. Thanks Sarge. Good cookies. If I didn’t know better I’d say they came direct from Mrs. Ling.”

“In a way they did, seeing as Lily and I made them from Mrs. Ling’s recipe. Go ahead, eat those. We can make all we want now.” Sarge grinned and went to another part of the electricity repair project down the hall leaving Anton and Little George standing with the bag of cookies between them.

Little George moved to look down the hallway as Sarge went up the stairs to the room on the floor above them. He looked at Anton. “How did he get that recipe from Mrs. Ling?”

“How you think? He fixed that water mess in her basement. How else?” said Anton.

Little George shook his head. “We all fixed some mess in that basement at some point in the last year. Mrs. Ling didn’t turn over no coconut cookies to any of us. You don’t think he . . ..” Little George shrugged suggestively instead of speaking.

Anton stared at Little George unnerved by the fact that he was even going so far as to suggest what he was. “No. You lost your mind or what, Little George? How you even get that idea in your head-gear?”

Little George held up a cookie. “This recipe intel is not something a woman gives up for nothing, Anton.”

“Sarge working a blown fuse-box plus a flood by himself is not nothing. And you know it. Loretta been giving you some strange ideas again, Little George?”

Little George carefully set the bag of cookies out of harm’s way on top of the washing machine and resumed his caulking task. “Anton, you have no idea what it’s like living with Loretta.  It’s a package deal with her sisters. They are always together at one of their places or another. You know, you’ve seen them all at my place.”

“Uh ha. What’s that got to do with your weird Mrs. Ling and Sarge cookie action idea?”

Little George laughed. “Anton, you do understand that if Sarge took it into his head to start giving the time of day to women besides Lily, there’d be a whole lot more crazy shit going on with the women and men folk in the neighborhood, don’t you? You got to know that, DeWitt, considering all the work you been doing during this snow-in trying to keep people leveled out.”

“Sarge got no such agenda, Little George.” Anton considered the truth of Little  George’s notion and silently thanked Sarge for not being inclined to play the lady field as he easily could.

“Not saying he does, Anton. Big Man ain’t the problem. It’s the women who are the problem. You got it nice and quiet all settled with Esther who is about as sane a woman as they come. She don’t go in for the sort of talk I hear coming from Loretta and her sisters. Last night something set them off but good. It got so I couldn’t stand to hear no more.  I went over to Stinky Pete’s for a couple hours to get relief.”

“I read that. You got a point, Little George. You went to Pete’s for relief? Anton don’t think he wants to hear what sent you there.”

“You don’t. I don’t want to repeat any of it. I don’t want Lily getting wind of any of it either. She gets enough grief for her learning curves already. She doesn’t need any more from my women folk. I don’t know exactly what it is about Sarge that gets them all worked up, but they do get worked up. We all know he don’t do nothing to get them going. They get going all on their own. Maybe it’s one of those fairmoan things. I don’t know for sure. But I do know being around that sort of woman talk about men gets under your skin. You know what I mean. That’s where that Ling and cookie and action idea come from. I know that’s a dumbass thing to think. Sarge ain’t ever been anything but genuine nice and polite to women folk, and us too for that matter.  It’s just . . well, I got two ears full of Loretta and sisters company man-talk that put a bunch of us working our jaws about a Playboy centerfold to shame.  If you don’t believe it, come on over for a chat sometime when Loretta holding court at our place.” Little George looked over the handsome man working with him. “Now that I mention it, that sounds like a damn good idea. Yes it does. You being right there in the flesh get their minds off Sarge and on you instead.”

“What? Like you goin’ to enjoy that somehow?” Anton stopped working and stared at the big man beside him. “That about as bad as what started this conversation track.”

“Look at you.” Little George grinned. “All puffed up and in-dig-nant about being a diversionary tactic. DeWitt, I’ve been giving you some shit for fun. Chill out.”

“You been messing with me this whole time?”

“Only since the part about you coming over while Loretta having the after supper chat-fest. We both know no way Esther allow that game plan see any action.” He laughed loudly at the bewildered disbelief on Anton’s face. “What’s wrong? You don’t care for that little payback prank?” Whistling happily, Little George ignored the other man and focused on his task. Without looking at Anton he said, “This suggestion box is willing to entertain other candidates worthy of ar-dent feminine attention.”

“Are you crazy? Everyone knows how funky things are with you and Loretta. No man want that action with her sisters. No way.”

Little George kept his eyes on his work. “Funky it may be. But all that funky has an upside. You don’t think I put up with all that nonsense for nothing, do you, Anton? Hmm?” He took a cookie from the bag, put the whole thing in his mouth and made a face.

 

The Queen of Katwe ~ The Most Powerful Piece On The Board

Update: This is now a film. Yes!!!!!

 

 

The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers was a reading find on a recent expedition to my public library.  It’s one of those books that I’ve opened for some down time reading pleasure then spent the rest of the day reading until reaching the back cover. Tim Crothers traces the roots of several dots that come together to create Phiona Mutesi’s Ugandan world in Katwe. One very important “dot” is the life story of Robert Katende who brought chess to Katwe as part of a sports outreach program. Katende noticed that not every child wants to play soccer and decided to offer an alternative game, chess, for them. It is through Katende’s outreach efforts that Phiona discovers the inner mental and outter physical world of chess.  Tim Crothers presents Katende’s personal history of survival, endurance and talent in a manner that show the incredible impact of one person on the lives of others. One young man’s life decisions reverberate throughout his world in remarkable and unexpected ways. Without Robert Katende there would be no chess for Phiona Mutesi and the other children of Katwe.  In turn Phiona herself is having a positive impact on her personal world and the world of women in Uganda. Her story breaks out of the cycle of poverty and desperate struggle to survive for women and their children in places where living is far from easy. What’s at stake is creating a life based on choices rather than the need to eat and literally keep from drowning when it rains.  When a slum is built on/in a swamp things get dicey for everyone when water falls from the sky.

Crothers’ writing style is quick and engaging as he works with words to bring to life the physical landscape of the Katwe slum and Uganda. He creates a context that the people who can afford to buy his book–and read it with ease–may have some trouble relating to. This is a world of harsh poverty where women do what they must to stay alive and education is a luxury requiring payment.  Via Robert Katende’s story it’s clear that it’s not an easy world for boys and men either.  At first one wonders where Crothers is going –how far back in time–and how will we ever get to the story of the girl who dreams of being a Chess Grandmaster. Well, I assure you that by the time you are learning more about Phiona it will be very clear why Crothers pulls the narrative strings he does. In order to fully appreciate Phiona’s ongoing life story the daily context of her world is required.

Another dot Crothers connects is that of the importance of education–like the Sport’s Outreach program–Tim Crothers’ takes a holistic approach to presenting Phiona’s and Robert Katende’s stories. Education plays a vital role in dealing with people in poverty. Hence, Crothers pulls in the story line dot of Andrew Popp all the way from Santa Barbara, California. How does the suicide of a talented young man have anything to with the life of girl living in the slums of Uganda? The scholarship memorial fund created by Andrew’s parents is what enables Phiona to attend school.  Personally I think that’s a wonderful thing and an incredible part of Phiona’s story because education is essential to breaking the poverty cycle and the people in the slums know this fact.

Andrew Popp Scholarship Fund    http://sportsoutreach.net/projects/teaching/andrew-popp-scholarship-fund/

So if you’re looking for a great human interest story, one which is far from finished, then get a hold of The Queen of Katwe. Consider the power of one piece on a chess board and the powerful impact one person can have on the life of another. Get some inspirartion. some ideas about teaching from Robert Katende,  and perhaps some motivation. Perhaps most importantly get some HOPE.

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Author Tim Crothers’ site >>  http://www.timcrothers.net/

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espnW

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Phiona Mutesi–so far– >>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phiona_Mutesi

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theKeithFurr

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Uploaded on Nov 9, 2011

This is a brief documentary on Fiona, a 15 year old Chess Prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda who discovered Chess as a homeless child in search of food. I traveled to Uganda to cover this story through a non-profit organization called Silent Images. We were serving another non-profit called Sports Outreach, in which the chess coach discovered a special gift in Phiona for the game of Chess. I was accompanied by Tim Crothers of ESPN and David Johnson of Silent Images on the trip. Tim has now written a book on Phiona called “The Queen of Katwe” and Phiona has had recent top news stories on ESPN as well as CNN. Disney is currently planning to produce a movie on Phiona as well and I can’t wait to see Phiona’s dreams come true. She is a true underdog in every sense of the word and no person is more worthy of success in life than this special young woman.

Silent Images – http://www.silentimages.org
Sports Outreach Institute – http://www.sportsoutreach.net
Buy the Book – http://www.sportsoutreach.net/secure/…

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Indie film site >> http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/disney-developing-feature-based-on-ugandan-chess-prodigy-phiona-mutesi-w-mira-nair-directing

A Quick and Dirty Review of Deborah Meyler’s ~The Bookstore~

*Public Domain Photo by Alexandre Duret-Lutz

Seldom have I ever been so on the fence regarding a book I’ve selected for a spot of easy reading than I was, and still am, as I’ve been with The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler.  After reading several pages at a random opening, I checked this novel out of my wonderful public library~ (side note: Everything under human control in the library is wonderful, though the departments ruled by computer intelligence are quite questionable of late. Artificial Intelligence is driving the staff a tad mad due to its distinct lack of common sense regarding book culling. For example, who would remove the second book in a young adult fantasy thriller series thus leaving a gap between volume one and three? What sense does that make? All it does is discourage the would be reader because the story is now incomplete. Okay enough of this developing issue.) Yeah, I promised a quick review for everyone on the cyber-space run.  Let’s get to the good stuff first: This is an easy-going read writing wise–you will not have to work through any deviously poetic complex sentence structures. The supporting cast of characters connected to the bookstore are very engaging creations–and mainly male. You get a decent sense of New York City’s never sleeping city atmosphere. There are interesting references and allusions to great art and great books. There’s a slightly developed commentary on the demise of independent bookstores being put out of business by corporate run big box book retailers. This is a nice big plus because it supports the assertion that Esme, our thoroughly modern young woman on the academic art history move, has a decently educated mind in good working order–except when it comes to the entire concept of pregnancy. She’s clueless like so many young people these days when it comes to her biological nature beyond sex for fun.  But I won’t hold that against her.  She does have many good qualities along the tune of -> Yes, ladies it can be very cool to be well read, intelligent and interested in much more than the moron box taking center stage in many living rooms. For the most part I like Esme very much. Hang on to “for the most part” –the not most part when I don’t care for–or comprehend–Esme is part of what still has me on the fence regarding this book.

What’s got me on the fence? Esme’s love interest, Mitchell. For the life of me I can’t figure out what this young woman finds to love in this cold-hearted bastard.  Being handsome is not enough–statues, male models, actors and non-famous dudes on the street can be very good-looking–but women don’t fall for them just because of the outer packaging–or do they?  I guess some do. Maybe Esme is supposed to be one of those ladies? Perhaps it’s because she’s twenty-three and has a libido in good working order? I’m serious here, folks. if  Meyler had given Mitchell a character profile beyond handsome economics professor from a wealthy family –I’m sure some of you are arguing that’s plenty, but it’s not in this context. Esme has too much going for her to be picked up by a handsome sexual predator running amok in NYC. Or does she?  Maybe there’s something amiss with the young Miss? I’m still not sure after finishing the book–which I nearly gave up on several times because I had such serious trouble buying this particular woman and man connection.  All the good things, bookstore, homeless people, Stella, George, Luke etc. kept me reading though–and the hope that Esme might get a clue or two regarding the man using her for nothing more than satisfying his own very manipulative dysfunctional ego. It’s not like she doesn’t have plenty of other men to compare this asshole to in order to see the light.

Mitchell’s character is a cliché in the extreme. Hence, I dislike him immensely. Disliking him is probably what Meyler had in mind. Problem is, he’s so dislikeable that it’s hard comprehending why Esme loves him. There’s nothing even remotely loveable about this guy as he is portrayed. If there’s some unwritten or edited out part of this novel that is loitering with intent to explain Esme’s feelings for this man, then it needs to get edited into the novel. Yes, women–and men–fall for the wrong sort of people all the time. True enough. But stating this guy has charm and giving him none at any point in time makes Esme come off as a complete dunce.  It would help matters considerably if the reader got some glimpse of what lures Esme into loving this man. Yeah, the slam dunk sex foreplay in the women’s restroom fails to do that for me.  It works for sexual attraction, but not for emotional attachment and involvement. Hmm. Maybe that’s Meyler’s point–that people confuse physical sexual attraction with emotional love attraction? Maybe.  I’m not sure.

Oh–yes, Esme does have alternative love interest choices which appear to operate on a more positive level–or could. There are hints which I won’t spoil here for any interested might be readers.  In many ways this is story about dealing with such relationship scenario. Perhaps it’s a modernized version of a very old cautionary tale for young women.  It certainly works in that regard. Hmm, maybe this review is getting me off the fence as I air my concerns here. Maybe.

If anyone has run through The Bookstore’s very accessible pages and cares to comment on my fencing–please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about any chapter or verse in the novel. So, was this quick and dirty enough? Oh a little short on the dirty–hmm–consider a toothbrush standing in for a vibrator. How’s that for a little dirty?

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Meyler’s author page at http://authors.simonandschuster.com/deborah-meyler/408315626

a poem day ? maybe, maybe not, then again

Today is one of those days. You know the sort. One of those days where you start off loaded with positive intentions that quickly are buried under the murky weight of dark news information freely flowing from one edge of the cyber swamp to another. Haiku was on my mind at dawn.  Something about the crisp cold snow seemed sensible for a few brief lines.  Then I got online and hit Democracy Now! for some news. I know better than to start every day off with Amy Goodman’s “War and Peace Report”.  For mental health reasons, I try to switch it up for different times of the day after the livestream broadcast. Some days it’s better to read the transcripts rather than listen. Real news can be very disheartening. I don’t know how the news staff of this independent news venue manages day in and day out to thrive on a steady diet of The Dark Side of Humanity–without perky blonde cleavage or airy breathless reading of text monitors. Seriously. Actual journalism work is not for the faint of heart.

A report on the death of another gang rape victim in India lingered long after I moved on to other online tasks. I thought it was disheartening enough to learn that a woman is raped in India every 11 minutes–until I learned that there’s a rape every 6 minutes in the United States.  These numbers maybe be skewed because so many rapes go unreported.  Violence against women has been on my mind lately. It’s hard to avoid–fans of Downton Abbey will even get a taste of it. Yes, I watched ahead via online venues. In real life, things for the women of Afghanistan are at about the worst ever. So much for all the USA lip service paid to making life better for women and girls. Not so far in the back of my mind loiters the question: What is wrong with all the people who rape women, children and men? Are they born-hard wired to engage in such violence or are they made by their environments? Maybe they’re nature’s form of human predators for our species?  I’m not sure. Before I forget, The Invisible War aired on PBS–again.  It’s an expose about the rape epidemic in the military.  Ladies, I know it’s tempting for some to enlist for economic reasons like supporting your family or college funds–but do so knowing the risks you’re taking by hitching a money ride with the armed forces on any front. Take note, men aren’t escaping the sexual violence either, they’re also targets.  I’ve had conversations with people who say that rape has always been a part of war.  Hmm, hard to dent that fact. But, how does that explain military people raping the men and women in their own ranks? Is that a by-product of military training people to kill, torture and rape other people who they’re taught to view as non-humans? Possibly. What’s going to happen when the rapists return home? Are they going to cease engaging in violent sexual crimes?

Well, this is now very far afield from haiku about biting frost. Or is it?

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Amy Goodman — We Will Not Be Silent

Link TV

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Deomcracy Now!

www.democracynow.org

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Democracy Now! YouTube channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/democracynow/featured

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January 2014

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Tomdispatch from January 2013

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175641/

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The Invisible War trailer

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Maze of Injustice–The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA–pdf file. This is the size of a small book complete with very informative end notes.

http://www.amnestyusa.org/pdfs/MazeOfInjustice.pdf

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Revolutionary Association for the Women of Afghanistan ~ RAWA is the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women’s rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan since 1977.

http://www.rawa.org/index.php

https://www.youtube.com/user/rawa77/about

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so goes the snow haiku

down the rabbit holes deep

sleep? dream of chances snow blowing

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news blues blow off vent

cyber waves serenity

mind fields boom! boom! boom!

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