Monday, December 9, 2013

#ROW80 WEDNESDAY CHECK IN – UNLIKELY CHAMPIONS AND GOALS



Muhammad Ali pretty much summed up his allegiance with Everyman in his stunning statement in 1967 when he refused the draft and the U.S. Government’s edict that he go to Viet Nam and fight in a mis-begotten war. “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.” I remember this because my parents, particularly my father was caught up in the nuances of this war, as he had flown B-29s in Korea and been in the infantry in World War II – at the tender age of 16 (I thought 17, but I erred); Grandmum had signed for him – and he was deeply concerned that the country was being led down the wrong path, as regards the government’s involvement in all sorts of nefarious things, such as the Tonkin Gulf Incident and was it real or just a figment of Robert MacNamara’s imagination, or another of his lies.


Of course, I had a zillion questions about all of this; my father was the most patient man I knew. And hella smart.

So, Daddy in what was a normal display of the profane mixed with the literary alliteration I was becoming accustomed to, said, “That’s it, kick ‘em in the nuts, Ali. Let Turner (Stansfield) go to the Ninth Circle of Hell and take his gibbering minion, Robert MacNamara, Prince of Lies with him!” All this of a morning, as he readied for work and I watched him shave. Or, my father would just call MacNamara a "traitorous Son of a Bitch," and then cut himself. Well, Ali from the start was a bit of a maverick and a damned fine boxer. Being a family of pugilists (See: Sir William Wallace, and skip Braveheart) we have in the main, been more than able to stand up for ourselves, save but for my own stupidity, but I’m all better now.

Ali went on to regain his license and win several championships. He paid a dear, dear price for it in the form of Parkinson’s Disease, which he has borne with his typical grace and aplomb. In 2000, Stansfield Turner, the former director of the CIA, came out in print and admitted that he committed an egregious error in suspending Ali’s license and was heartily sorry for it. He also admitted that the Tonkin Gulf Incident never happened. MacNamara went to his grave, without ever admitting he was wrong about anything. I sincerely hope that man is paying for it dearly in the afterlife; he caused so many, many wrongful deaths, as has G. W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Paul Wolfowitz.

Ali, in his customary manner, bore no ill will towards Turner. It was what it was. But it made a difference and it made people really question why we were in what amounted to wars of Imperialism, ala the 19th century. For a while, there was a slim hope that the country might grow a conscience. No worries there.

Eight years of George Bush and the Patriot Act after September 11, 2001 has put to rest any idea of anyone standing up and saying “What we need here is less spying and more trust”! Nope, spies are once more, back under the bed, Joseph P. McCarthy has once more been invoked, lists of the electronic kind are waved around, and the I, III, IV, IX, and XIV Amendments are routinely breached, Constitutional Law be damned. Again, I am willing to wager that Writ of Habeas Corpus has flown the coop as well. This is our most basic right. It is what makes us truly different than Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR. D’you remember them?


About the only difference between this country and Nazi Germany are the snappy outfits.

Habeas Corpus, in case you were out getting Twizzlers during the show,is latin “for that you have the body” not just a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo when you apply “Writ” in front of it. Then it becomes a court order (writ) that requires a (presumably live) body be brought before the court. This is to prevent a legal agency from seizing a person without probable cause and holding it for an indefinite length of time. During the terrors of the Inquisition, the French Revolution, Nazi Germany, Apartheid in South Africa, Pol Pot’s regime and all throughout Russia’s tragic history, and many, many other dictatorships, the employment of “Nacht und Nabel” or “Night and Fog” as the Germans called it, saw the disappearance of people, never to be heard from again.

These things do not happen in a vacuum, ladies and gents. They happen because a citizenry allows them to happen. People like Nelson Mandela understood this, because he lived it. When he was imprisoned, there was every expectation that he would die in that cell, but a funny thing happened. People began to see that Apartheid in South Africa was hurting the country. Much of this had to do with the fact that almost every other country had trade embargoes against South Africa, but the best and brightest were leaving in droves, to practice their art, medicine, science, literary careers in other countries. I can think of no other firmly entrenched biased class system that lasted as long as Apartheid and when it ended, South Africa benefited immediately.


Mr. Mandela also struck me as someone who understood and took a lot of joy from life and in simple pleasures, much like the Dalai Lama. How many of us can say that?

Nelson Mandela’s passing was sad, but he had lived a full life. I have heard people saying he was a terrorist, but really? This is coming from people who are scared of giving up the status quo; afraid of losing the already too much that they possess. He was fighting for an oppressed people. We are not talking about jihadists who are, even by moderate Muslim standards, terrorists. Ghandi himself spent time in incarceration. Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionist, politician and philanthropist, who served as PRESIDENT of South Africa. That says something when a black man rises from a prison cell to be duly elected to the Presidency of the state that once put him behind bars, primarily for being black.

The work he did, as does Ali to help and succor those in need around the globe is inestimable; as humanitarians, and spokespersons, they’ve made a huge difference. Ali is also a spokesman, alongside Michael J. Fox for Parkinson’s Disease and movement disorders, of which I suffer, and he has been a part of my life since he was Cassius Marcellus Clay.


Dr. Vitali Klitschko is currently the reigning Heavyweight Champion of the world. Oh, and he does have a reason to be minus a shirt, here.

Which brings me to another unlikely champion, Vitaly Klitcshko. This man is a twin. He and his brother, Vladimir are boxers and they hail from Ukraine. They have both held Heavy Weight titles and are world-renown. They both have made their homes in Germany and they both hold PhDs in Sports Medicine. Right now, Vitaly is in the fight he never dreamed he would fight, I am sure. The government in Kiev has decided to forego alliance with the EU and wants to throw in Ukraine’s lot with Russia, i.e. Vladimir Putin. An odd factoid, in researching this, Vitali joined the Ukrainian Parliament on December 15, 2012, my birthday and in some circles, considered the same day as Beethoven's birthday, who was another champion for the poor and downtrodden. He famously scratched out his dedication of his 3rd symphony, to Napoleon and called it the "Eroica" for "Heroic" instead. Dit-dit-dit-dah and Vee for victory during World War II. For true mankind united music, listen to the 4th movement of his 9th symphony, and the "Ode to Joy".


Vlad is 60 years old and girls, he's single. Why in the hell is every despot out of their ever-lovin' minds? And what is this thing with the bears? Is he re-enacting Nic Cage's not-to-be-missed "Wicker Man" scene in the Bear Suit? I have no words, except that this is one dangerous Mo-fo. I had a Russian Language professor once who thought Kruschev was too liberal. I just wonder what he would make of this? сукин сын!

For those of you who were out getting a giant 64-oz. Coca Cola, during the Russian History part, Putin was once head of the KGB and his management style, as President, or Monarch, or Grand Poobah, reflects that. Actually, he may be Stalin (translation: Man of Steel, or Steel) with a bit more subtlety and a lot less shirt-wearing. See, the dude-in-power, Viktor Yanukovych, in Kiev is some jackleg that Putin pretty much installed, with one of those fakey-fake elections. 

There were riots the first time general elections were held, back in 2003, over this same dude, now in power. Now, it’s looking much more serious. The leader in Parliament, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has apparently had enough of Viktor's bff and has organized and been coordinating the opposition. With mass demonstrations of 300,000 people and more in the streets, the country’s militia are having a hard time holding things together. This isn't a Flash Mob, but a Mob that has brought its lunch, dinner and breakfast, plus some hardware and tents. They aim to stay awhile and call the neighbors. They've also brought a lot of Likes to Fight Guys, too.

So, Klitcshko is on the side of the opposition. If Ukraine is beholden solely to Russia, this keeps Ukraine within the Motherland’s sphere of influence and this is not good for Ukraine. Russia can then pay whatever she damn well pleases and there is no open market opportunity for the Ukrainians. 


You can see that without Ukraine, Russia has few warm water ports. After Edvard Shverdnadze became President of Georgia, having served as part of the USSR's apparatus, he cooled relations during the Yeltsin years. Putin does not want a repeat of that.

Ukraine, unlike Russia, is a rich country and has always been so. Stalin starved the kulaks in 1934 and their “wheat bowl” a geographically perfect arrangement of mountains between Ukraine and Russia allows for fertile fields and rich yields. Kiev is home to the oldest center of Christianity on that continent over 1000 years old. The language and culture is much different, and it lies on the Black Sea, one of the warm water ports that Russia has access to.

Klitcshko naturally wants his country to thrive and not be subject to the Russian boot. Putin is hell-bent on retaining all of the SSRs that were part of the USSR and I see this as a re-unification attempt on his part. However, the genie is out of this bottle. Vitaly Klitschko, a boxer of world renown is telling everyone in the world about the unfairness and about what it was like when he lived under the Communist boot.


Sir William died with no issue. The family line is carried through one of the two brothers and I forget which one. I just know that I belong to this family, since I heard it at my daddy's knee from about 9 months on and wore a coat that me Grandmum made for me from an old Wallace kilt. The argyle wool was a few hundred years old then, and would be great for fighting and ambush, were you in a forest fire. We also possess the standards and heralds that have been passed down from generation to generation. We weren't always the brightest bulbs on the tree. Daddy pissed off the Brits at Heathrow in 1985 and got himself locked up for 48 hours for hollering "Death to the Queen" or some such nonsense. He treated it as a grand lark. Typical Wallace.

Let me be clear. I love the Russians, their culture, their ways. I love Ukraine for the same reasons. I have reason to believe that the Wallaces did not in fact originate from Scotland. Our name in Old Welsh was "Uallace" and means “Stranger” and that we are; we are the only Clan with no affiliation or septs with other clans. We most likely are of Scythian blood and were part and parcel of the Scythian guards of Hadrian’s wall, but we always lived apart from the Scots, after the betrayal by the Bruce family. So, I suspect I’m a bit more drawn to that part of the world, because the blood calls me. But, I hate all States; the concept of freedom for all, and the human dignity that is accorded to each of us is sacred, it is not just for the entrenched powers that be. The idea of the State must survive, because the only reason the State exists, is to ensure the existence of the State, is beyond corrupt, it is evil, because it forces people to do evil things to each other to get ahead, or remain entrenched. Think about it. In the meantime, Go, Vitaly, Go!

GOALS: I did nothing; I have the flu. *hack hack* Actually, I want to tear apart "Music of the Spheres" and start REALLY plotting it out. To that end, I got myself some story boards that are erasable, flash cards to set out sections and characters and make it a teensy bit more coherent. I also have my auto-bio in the works, which is really more a batch of essays of my early life, school, music, computer work and being homeless. Most of it is hilarious. No, seriously hilarious. As Carlin says, even cancer is funny. Trust me, homeless was a laff-a-minute!
 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

#ROW80 4TH QTR SUNDAY CHECK IN – IS THAT ALL THERE IS?


Appropriately enough, I would take the title from the late, great Peggy Lee. A haunting song to me even as a 13-year old, named “Is That All There Is?” wherein she sings about “breaking out the booze and having a ball,” with a minor undercurrent in the trumpets in a far away background, almost a melancholy waltz and something Klezmer and Eastern European folk music and Russian music in general, does so well. It is an existential song, verging on nihilism, which I understood even at age 13 and took to heart for far too many years, but I'm still here, maybe minus a few parts and a couple of senses, those of the touch, taste, smell, hear, and see variety, and some would say the common sort, but I'm a clever fox, for all that, and still present, when others are not.


I have indeed finished my #NaNoWriMo challenge and guess what? It's a hot mess! Wow, who'd a thunk it? As my late mother would have said. She would be bursting her buttons right now, just for the finish, clocking in at 50,971 words in thirty days. It is a mad scramble of aliens, ghosts, gamers, musicians, scientist, fly-boys and spies. Shit I know about. The rest of it is made up. 

Some names changed along the way. Carl became Bryan at one point and Masha turned into Freebird. People died, but I resisted Dave Berry's admonition to just slap on the helpful advice of “then they all got run over by a truck” as an ending. There were no trucks, but Nic Cage also made an appearance with an important message from the Mother Ship, in his inimitable Nic Cage style; he folded up into one of those theater pop-corn boxes, after delivering his message of warning and made the protagonist prop him up in his seat, so he could watch “Wicker Man”. His great grand-uncle, Maestro Anton, will be proud.

So, as you can see, lots of editing to be done just to make something resembling coherence out of the whole mashup.


There it is, in glorious 8-bit pixels. Why? Because we're serious geeks. We all love NyanCat. 

In the meantime, hauling all of the crap out of the closet for another Christmas extravaganza, Dollar Store style! I'll be sure and take pictures. For now, I can't just sit back and rest on my laurels. Until tomorrow. There is editing to be done, viola playing to catch up on, and my 58th birthday is in two weeks. My health is excellent. I've reached the point where I can walk two miles and not be affected by my COPD until the last 1/4 mile or so and even then it's so slight, I don't notice it. Well, I do, but it's a clinical notice, as in "check that; it's better than last week". I've gained 40 pounds since my low of 79 lbs in 2010; a right Rubenesque 112 pounds, I am. I just need to get my teeth fixed from all of the heart-and-lung medication

So, the risk of sounding persistent, my ex-step-grandaughter's birthday is the same day as mine. She will be eight years old. The baby, I was not invited to be present at the birth for – a friend (woman) had treated me to a Birthday dinner, earlier that evening, knowing that Bill was shunning me – I was in the house when his daughter called, and he just. . . left. Lest he think I were drunk, or impaired, I was not; I remember EVERYTHING, as does he. No one in Bill Nunnally's family, nor in John Holley's, nor in the Blanton family ever questioned my gradual disappearance at least to my knowledge, so God knows what lies he was feeding them. I had been a presence in their lives for 10 years, and had even driven down from Charlotte, NC a day early to watch his youngest daughter in a Swim Meet, when I was still honoring viola playing commitments in Tampa, Fl. I was happy to do so. I loved that girl as if she were my own. I was being systematically shut out by my ex-husband and sequestered, which is what spousal abusers do. Dr. Shay West reminded me of that, yesterday in relating her horror story. She went through her own holocaust and was relating her anger. In answering and thinking back, I got mad all over again. Figures. At least I'm okay with the rest of the world. 

My questions remain. What did he tell them? That I was drunk and running around? That I was sick and had some communicable disease? So many questions, but here is the most important one. As much as I've trashed that man in this blog, and he knows that I have a tendency to “remember” birthdays, as I “remembered” his, and my mother's, and I will "remember" mine and the baby I never got to know, why has not a single member of his family or associates, stepped forward to defend him? Hmmm? Think about it.

Sunday check in for #ROW80 and please God, let me remember the wonderful Alex J. Cavanaugh's #IWSG, this Wednesday, the first Wednesday of every month. 




There is a lot of nap-taking as you can see, by JC's feet. I'm the restless sleeper.

Here is a new picture of Mama, our kitty rescue, that JC adopted. She just comes in and makes herself at home. Last night, while gaming with my Clan, during a God Wars run, she laid on my mouse hand and things got spastic for a while. At least I didn't die and re-spawn having lost all of my expensive armor and weaponry in Fally square. A miracle. She's another hot mess, but a dear one.