Friday, March 30, 2007


[Los Angeles Times newspaper ownership up date to previous post "News in Jeopardy." The Chicago company managing this L.A. newspaper for stockholders is still entertaining purchase bids. A Chicago billionaire has been thought to be the front runner if a sale is made. The latest news report in an article by Associated Press Business Writer, Gary Gentile, at this KNX Radio web site HERE is that Los Angeles billionaires have upped their bid for the Los Angeles Times.

A related article by Howard Kurtz, Staff Writer at the Washington Post reports a former Los Angeles Times recently fired editor, Dean Baquet, who refused to decimate the papers staff has been rehired by the New York Times with details HERE. The saga continues to be all about money.]


Mother said I must have been only about two or three years old when, as an adult, I described to her an experience I thought I remembered. I wanted her confirmation as to whether or not that event really had occurred. She was amazed, as she was with other memories I had, and later recounted to her for her verification, that my recollection, in fact, had really happened. I wanted to know the experience was not either a pleasant or unpleasant figment of my imagination, a dream or a nightmare.

I remembered entering into a house, that seemed darkened on the inside, heavy with a musky slightly unpleasant odor I vividly recalled for many years when I was younger, but has now left my conscious sensory memory. Then, I remembered only that someone had died. Mother slowly sorted through her memories, finally recalling taking me with her to the residence of a then recently deceased relative, who was lying in state in a casket in her home, as was the custom of the time. Subsequently, Mother determined the age at which I would have been then.

In those days, the deceased typically was not embalmed, was "viewed" in the individuals home, hence the strong over-powering odor that had so permeated my senses as a child. As an adult I had learned that the earliest sensory memories that children often have occur with the sense of smell, which is why I had felt so confident that my memory was real.

Over the years I verified other memories with my mother, some pleasant, others not. She was sometimes startled with some of what I recalled, even saying, "I didn't think you'd remember that."

I remember well the two-story house in which I was born and subsequently lived for the first five years of my life. I recall the interior with a slightly sunken living room that led with one step up into a dining room containing a table and chairs. Stairs the length of the right side of the room led to the second floor, the area that was the beginning focus of a recurring dream I had periodically throughout my childhood into young adulthood.

In the dream I am at the top of stairs, that I then fly down, but I never am aware in the dream of reaching the bottom step. As an adult relating this curious repetitive dream to my mother, she told me of an occasion when I was first learning to walk when I suddenly took it upon myself to step forward from the top of the stairs, instead of turning around and backing down as I had been so carefully taught.

My short legs did not allow for such big steps down those stairs, so I proceeded to roll down them with my mother a half-step behind reaching out but unable to grasp me until I stopped, upon reaching the bottom step. I was, apparently, no worse for the experience, but I am confident this event was the source of my "flying" dream those many years.

My favorite memory at that house was a combination smell, visual imprint of our kitchen. I can still see sparkling sunlight streaming through the kitchen window illuminating a soft yellowish reflection from the room's painted walls. A yeasty aroma filled the room permeating my nostrils. Mom had made Parker House Rolls now at the rising stage just before baking. I have been told, if given the opportunity, I was known to stealthily enter the kitchen, even to the extent of climbing up on a kitchen counter to reach an upper shelf, then removing one of the doughy uncooked yeasty rolls and eating it, though I do not recall this.

Gazing out another kitchen window allowed me an additional fond memory of a tiny birdhouse I have recently learned my older brother made, which each spring would be inhabited by tiny delicate little house wrens. They layed a few eggs, from which their baby birds hatched, eventually flying away, as did their parents to seek warmer climes when fall and winter approached.

This past summer for the first time in half a century I visited some residences, including this one, where I once had lived. I viewed the house only from the exterior. It seemed quite nondescript, insignificant and not at all the special structure I recalled, though it was freshly painted and the exterior appeared well-maintained.

Even the "mansion" as our neighborhood referred to it, across the street on a huge corner lot, sitting way back among the trees, seemed less magnificent though still impressive. My mother said she sometimes allowed me to play with the owner's son, who was my age, but that ceased to be acceptable to her when upon coming to retrieve me one day at a designated hour, she discovered their maid was allowing the son and I to jump up and down on the beds.

The son, however, was then allowed to come to our house on occasion, but I suspect even that ceased to be an attraction for him based on another story my mother told me. We had green shrubs in front of our house where one day he reportedly chose once again to relieve himself in my presence. I am told that I found this quite unacceptable since having learned this could kill the shrubs, and I proceeded to bloody his nose.

His attitude toward girls may have been forever affected by my actions that day. Perhaps, my attitude toward boys was, too. I wish I knew if we ever reconciled. I saw the last name of this boy on a downtown office nameplate on my visit last summer. I wish I had been able to take the time to visit this office to determine if this was, indeed, the same boy, perhaps facilitate the reconciliation if it had not previously occurred. If this office did house him, I find it interesting to learn he had become a lawyer. I wonder if my childhood actions had any influence on his choice of profession?

As adults, parents, grandparents, other relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, we would all be well-advised to remember that children absorb all their sensory experiences much like the proverbial sponge. They remember much more than the adults often think they do. If the child does not consciously remember, or have the skills to report events, experiences to which they are exposed, the imprint through some or all senses is there, contributing to the child's development of either a positive or a negative view of various aspects of life, shaping behaviors for the better or worse, influencing attitudes in the future toward the manner in which they conduct their life.

Monday, March 26, 2007


The World and the L. A. Times

This is a potent post which I believe is of vital interest to anyone in the world who is interested in news. This is also a blatant promotion on my part for an upcoming public television program "Frontline," and the fourth in their series about the news upon which we are all so dependent in order to accurately know what is happening in our country and the world. This episode is titled "Stories From A Small Planet." Please check your local PBS TV listings for when the program will air in your area. The program will air on KCET-TV in Los Angeles, California on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 at 9-10 p.m. PDT. (Click for links on PBS TV and KCET-TV above.)

I have long believed soon after the tragic horrendous events of 9/11 that the true war on terrorism was for the hearts and minds of peoples all over this world which is the subject of this PBS program. I found the reaction of the leaders of governments abhorrent when they chose to resort to the means by which they did to win this war against terror by attacking Iraq. Such an act has done little more than to exacerbate the situation. That is not to say there might not be instances in which our country and others might have to resort to physical means in order to secure their citizens and country's safety, but the ill-conceived means by which our leaders chose to react have clearly done more damage to our country than 9/11 ever did.

A failure or stubborn unwillingness to recognize, much less even consider how the real war needed to be fought, should give us all pause, since the actions by our leaders and some others around this world were taken in my name and yours. The blood of innocent civilians and those of countless deceased and maimed military persons is on our hands. We have betrayed true meaningful justice for our own -- our victims of 9/11.

I have found this whole "Frontline" series to be of special interest. The previous episode which aired 2/13/07 focused on the critical aspect of "News Wars" going on within our own country. The sources of information from which we can derive accurate news are diminishing. Those of us enamoured with the Internet, the blogosphere and blogs would do well to examine from whence our actual news comes.

I don't have a news team on the ground in Iraq, or in any other country, including my own, that feeds me news reports. I am dependent upon many sources I read, hear or see that are provided by a decreasing number of newspeople. I respectfully will credit those sources from whom I obtain my information, thus, in turn, those from whom my sources derive their news -- crediting those who often place their lives at risk, so that I can know what is happening elsewhere, as well as what is being done in my name.

The "News War" episode is of interest to everyone since it encompasses the state of news and can be seen by clicking on this link HERE, then clicking on "Frontline," and finally selecting "News War."

There is a segment of special interest to all, as well as readers of the Los Angeles Times, which includes an interview with the publisher, who regrettably is not local. He smilingly expresses his intent to eviscerate the paper's Pulitzer Prize winning news department to focus more on entertainment world information, along with claims of an increased focus on "local" news, but that is hardly likely to have much benefit for me or most other readers. There certainly is a need for more entertainment news, to which all can attest, since there is so little of it anywhere. (I'm saying this bitterly and sarcastically.) Any thought of public service responsibility is relegated to the film cutting room floor by this Chicago publisher, since they own our paper, who is more concerned with 20% profit than a meager 10% other successful public-minded publishers are willing to accept elsewhere as reported in the "News War" program.

Subsequent to my viewing of this program, other major news media reports have recently revealed a refusal by this same publisher to accept buy back offers for local Los Angeles ownership. Powerful groups of varied individuals composed those blocks bidding for the paper. I don't suggest that either one of them would have been desirable except for the fact that I believe the illustrious Los Angeles Times deserves local ownership and owners dedicated to shepherding the newspaper through these difficult times of converging print, with other media and the Internet while maintaining a quality publication. I understand this is no small task for the feint at heart with the final outcome yet to be seen. In other words, there's also a lot of money at stake. I would like to believe there are still individuals and groups less greedy than our current publisher -- those who care more about our southern California, with a greater sense of commitment to our residents, and moral sense of responsibility to the public.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if the stockholders to whom this Chicago publisher is beholden would stand up and let him know that they are not only willing to be satisfied with a smaller profit margin, but demand that he take the morally responsible high road with this award winning newspaper, since he lacks the courage to do so on his own?

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I remember the first time I saw him. He was in the company of his mother, two sisters and a brother. They were all of the same age, though none were identical. They had all been born at home in varying time intervals over a period of quite a few minutes. There was so much happening at the time, with so little help, that no one had been able to keep track of the order in which they were born. In the scheme of life, that bit of information didn't really seem to matter given what ultimately happened to the family. They never knew their father, nor he them. Their mother seemed nonplussed by that fact. They reflected her uncaring attitude and may never even have realized a father could be part of a family unit.

As time passed the family drifted apart, first one sister, the brother, and then his other sister left home. He was finally the only one remaining at home, alone with his mother. The brother and sisters never again had contact with him, or his mother, to the best of my knowledge. Any sense of loss the son and his mother might have felt was not revealed. They proceeded with their usual activities. Then, one day, inexplicably, his mother left -- just disappeared. He showed no signs of even noting her departure. He went about his business, was quite independent, though he clearly welcomed being given the opportunity to stay with us and have us provide his meals.

Considerably later, when any sorrow he might have felt had by then lessened, the unthinkable happened -- his mother suddenly reappeared but she had a new family of little ones in tow. They were without the company of a father, nor did he ever come around to visit them either. As before, the family members showed no discernible awareness or distressed feelings with this apparent abandonment by their father, or, I thought, perhaps the mother had just run off. I finally concluded that they might never ever have had any contact with their Dad and thought about what they all were missing.

Distressingly to me, the mother displayed less than warm loving feelings toward her older son. She even kept him some distance from the new young family, but I thought in time they might begin to reconcile and integrate as the new little ones grew older. But that was not to be.

In the early morning hours one day, sudden traumatic annihilating disaster descended on the new family and the mother's life ceased forever when she was attacked outdoors in a most brutal manner. The older son was inside the house at the time, and neither he nor we knew what had occurred until some hours later. Not only did his mother not survive, neither did any of his younger brothers and sisters for very long after her death. Again, his feelings about this tragic outrage were hidden from me and everyone, but then there had been a lengthy estrangement between the two of them. He had long since been completely enclosed in the arms of our family, so our caring atmosphere may have protected him from any pain he might otherwise have felt with this final, clearly permanent loss, of his mother, along with any semblance of family he ever knew.

Our family openly, reassuringly and lovingly offered him our continued caring. We provided him a home, food, medical care, embracing him as one of our own. He returned our affection in a multitude of small actions and gestures. Of course, there was that time when he soiled the guest room bed pillow, but we later learned he had a medical problem that caused him to be unable to avoid this accident. We felt badly that we had been angry with him and had behaved so poorly toward him at the time. In retrospect, I realize he probably had difficulty understanding our change in attitude toward him then. But once we knew the nature of his problem, were able to get him treatment, we did our best to redeem ourselves in his eyes.

His life was of lengthy duration, rich in experience as he travelled across the country with us, living for a time in a desert climate, then later to the west coast. Our lives were enriched for his having been a part of our family. Our actions toward him through his life's years at least partially accounted for the fact that he thrived as he did, gave so much pleasure to our family, I believe. His mere presence, demonstrated that empowering love which flowed as revitalizing unseen energy between us, each time we stroked his furry body and he gently rubbed responsively against us in tandem with a purr which seemed to motorize his movements. When his health deteriorated beyond his ability to recover we all cried, but each of us was bound together by that invisible ray of energized memory that is the power of love.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NAME DISCRIMINATION -- Grumbling and Grouching

I'm at war with computers on behalf of people with first names consisting of two words. There is a clear case of computer discrimination against such people. I know, because I'm one of those people discriminated against by some businesses computer operations. Actually my war is not with computers; my complaint is with the individuals who program computers, the people who set up the forms we have to complete at one time or another which don't allow spacing in such a way as to show two separate words are present in a person's first name, and the people who transfer incorrectly written two word names from print or sound to the computer as just one long word. I'll grant you transcribing from sound presents a greater challenge, except in such circumstances I always say, "My first name is two words..." and then "The first word is ..."(which I spell) and "The second word is..."(which I spell)...and then I provide additional clarification about the rest of my name.

I am very annoyed and irritated, however, that with the advent of the computer, my name is often deliberately shortened to the intimate version to which I respond with just my close friends and a few others. I hasten to correct any businesses who are so presumptuous as to use just the first half of my first name, and I ignore all other mail addressed thusly as junk ads. I'm inundated with return address labels from organizations soliciting contributions which show only the first half of my first name, or those who print the first half of my first name, then use an initial for the second half as though it was a middle name. Some businesses correct their computers appropriately; others respond their computers will not allow them to list mine and others full first names as two words, to which I say, "Correct your computer program -- find a way -- I'm not the only person with two words in their first name -- our names deserve respect."

I think a penalty of some sort should apply in every instance in which some employee is found to have converted a two word first name to one word. I also think if their employer does not allow them time to actually look closely enough at what and how accurately they're typing each person's name, the employer should be penalized. I find that if my being pleasant when asking for a correction in my name listing does not result in the desired response, I then handle the problem pretty succinctly if they get cute with me about "The computer won't let me... blah, blah, blah." I just tell them, "Fine, I'll take my business somewhere that can control their computer." I tell them that if they can't even program my name correctly, I don't have a great deal of confidence in how accurately and well they can manage the rest of my business.

That brings me to the three major credit reporting agencies. I was shocked the first time I received a copy of my credit report from each of them. That's right, they didn't seem to know which spelling of my name was the correct one. Again this year, I'm going to have to check with my annual review of the report from each of them to which I am legally entitled. In this day and age of identity theft, it seems to me that those agencies would want to be sure they've spelled every person's name correctly.

I make a point of letting any business who will need to check my credit standing with those agencies to be sure and spell my first name correctly with two words. As far as I'm concerned anybody else inquiring for information from any one of those agencies should be denied, if they can't submit my first name accurately, as two words, without extra letters and other little differences which some other people use with a name pronounced the same way as mine. Those making such inaccurate requests are not people with whom I am doing business, and information about me is none of their business.

Remember Barbra Streisand many years ago making a big point on a TV special, "My Name Is Barbra" HERE about how her first name was spelled, since it wasn't the usual spelling? Then there was another TV special starring Liza Minnelli (entertainer Judy Garland's daughter) who was making a point about getting people to pronounce her name correctly -- Liza with a 'Z' sound, with link HERE.

Recently on our local PBS-TV (KCET Channel 28 in Los Angeles and KOCE Channel 50 in Orange County) they featured a program hosted by Suze Orman, "Women and Money," giving strong emphasis to women being proud of their names, admonishing them to say their own first and last names strongly and directly. I'll just bet she thinks women should insist their names be spelled correctly, too. I can't help wondering if people sometimes write her name incorrectly i.e. Susie. She certainly has less likelihood her name will be pronounced incorrectly, since she spells "Suze" phonetically, exactly as it would be said. (Don't you wish all our words were that way? I'm sure all beginning students, and foreign speakers do, and I do, too!)

But then men should be insisting their names are accurate, also, especially if they have a first name with two words, an unusual spelling, or pronunciation. I just can't cite any TV specials featuring men having to teach people how to spell or say their names though.

We really are touchy about our names, aren't we. I know of someone named Barbara, who insists she be called by that full name -- no nicknames for her, and the worst possible name you could call her is "Barb." She grits her teeth, closes her eyes, scrunches up her shoulders, raises her hands in front of her face as if to ward off a physical attack, then explains her repugnance for this assault on her person.

Now, I just happened to know another Barbara, with whom some of her close friends, and I have been one all my life and hers, come to affectionately use the name "Barb," which she regards as reflecting the loving intimacy of our relationship, since only those closest to her are invited to do so. Then, there's the Barbara with whom I work, who said she never knew or used her name until starting school, because everybody called her "Sandy", due to the red highlights in her hair.

Only those who know me most intimately and select others I invite to do so, call me by a shortened version of my first name. I would assume that should anyone not choose to do so if invited, that would be a clear message that sort of intimacy was not desired, but then people send mixed messages sometimes in other ways.

So, how we use our name, and allow others to use it, the full version, whether or not it's one or two words, or a shortened version, or even a nickname that may not even be our actual name, we are often very particular about how our name is spelled, said and used as well as by whom, how, why and for what purpose. There can, indeed, be good reason on both a personal and a business level for doing so. There can be a good reason for protesting against this sort of name discrimination.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Media Consumption Diet Meme

I didn't expect to write another blog meme, but was intrigued with one which Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By posted to which she credits two other bloggers, one of whom, Virginia Debolt, brought the meme to her attention and the other devised the meme, at Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owang. This is a very interesting project revealing some bloggers information-seeking activities to inform their lives and blog posts, from which I hope to learn.

I can recall being interested in what was occurring in U.S. political elections beginning at an early elementary school age, probably because this was a topic of conversation in my home. World awareness and interest was certainly stimulated by WWII with family members then currently being in military service abroad, coupled with knowledge there had also been a WWI in which family members and others had served in Europe. The only news information sources were radio, newspapers, plus black and white newsreels seen at a movie theater. These times were, of course, before all the other news sources were available that we enjoy today. I didn't see television until the early 1950s. During the ensuing years I followed events, issues of the day through the various outlets which were available then. My attention to news, reading of any kind, has temporarily not been as consistent the past ten months as heretofore, but new patterns are developing.

I have been using a computer for about two years and probably didn't begin to explore Internet offerings extending into the blogosphere until less than a year and a-half ago. I receive no regular news feeds as I haven't yet taken the time to figure out how to set that up. I have accumulated in my bookmarks a number of reliable news links to various newspapers, magazines as I have encountered them over these months from knowledgeable family member computer users, following links on blogs and websites, as well as specifically searching for some others -- all of which I presently visit on an irregular basis. My bookmarks have increased exponentially while simultaneously becoming grossly disorganized with the blogs and websites I've added. They are in need of reorganization using technical skills I have yet to develop.

I assess to the best of my ability the reliability and credibility of any blogs or websites I use, as I have always established with any other source of information including print, audio, video.

I have not begun to list on my blog roll all the various blogs which I visit, but am gradually adding them. I do visit them all, a very few consistently, but currently most inconsistently, and may not always leave a comment, though I usually try to do so.

About a year ago I first experimented with transferring my music to the computer, but that process is far from complete. I am selective about what type of music i.e. instrumental or vocal, a specific genre, that I play at different times when I'm using the computer, but sometimes I just want absolute quiet because in editing I read what I write aloud. I do not like headphones, instead enjoy the fullness of sound in a room or even filling the room with music, if possible, though I realize I might have to adjust should my living arrangements place me in closer proximity to neighbors.

I listen to some music on select radio stations, PBS television special music programs, including Great Performances, that are usually played in our area during pledge weeks when they ask for viewer donations to support the station.

I usually turn on a radio in various rooms of the house including my bathroom and listen to a couple of primarily news radio stations for local, national, international news headlines. They also feature periodic traffic reports, weather. I listen to them on my car radio, too, occasionally switching to a jazz music station. Weekends I sometimes listen to part of a computer expert's, Jeff Levy, call-in radio show where he troubleshoots and teaches computer use. He usually has one specific lesson at some point on his several hour program that is also available along with all the others on his website. Preceding his show is a call-in cooking show to which I sometimes enjoy listening. The hostess, Melinda Lee, also has a website with an archive full of recipes and cooking tips. I'm not sure why I even listen to the cooking show, since I don't cook that much any more, especially with my oven still out of commission.

In the years since traditional commercial network news and news specials have been watered down to cheapened entertainment shows, I have ceased viewing them regularly. I have free TV with an antenna on the roof, have access to 12 stations and several more foreign language stations, receive excellent reception. Two of the stations are PBS, a third Los Angeles County Schools (televises L.A. County Board of Supervisors Meetings,) ABC, CBS, NBC, and others, including some independents, one with the same ownership as the L. A. Times newspaper, one with the same ownership as the CBS station. Occasionally, I may watch a station or flip through local news and weather, also surf the network news shows. I go to PBS for BBC News which gives a different perspective on some events. Frequently I view The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Washington Week In Review, California Connected, and occasionally, California's Gold, The Charlie Rose Show, Tavis Smiley.

Strictly entertainment shows I view at PBS often include Masterpiece Theater, but currently the others I would view in drama, comedy, mystery series (all from Great Britain) are repeats I've seen. Sometimes commercial TV viewing includes 60 Minutes, depending on show content, also, Cold Case, Boston Legal, selected specials. I view little television, especially beginning in the past year due to my inconsistent viewing habits, despite how this list may read.

I have no desire to subscribe to cable or satellite, but am familiar with their offerings from viewing them over the years while visiting family members who do subscribe. I subscribed for a time when cable first came into being and we lived in an area where that was the only way television signal reception could be achieved. There have been a few programs I would have enjoyed seeing but watch them, or excerpts on the Internet, i.e. Jon Stewart; including some on HBO, but I sometimes rent them on DVD later. Periodically I see cable TV shows or their excerpts on the Internet.

I utilize Mozilla Firefox, have email; in the past have used Skype successfully, but no longer do so. My home telephone is a land line which was necessary for my husband's Pacemaker checkups, that I continue to use for local and long distance calling. I may consider a DSL package to include my phone (changing from my current DSL provider) but also am considering VoIP alternatives. I might become more interested in other options if and when I convert to wireless, but I would like a hands free ear piece with microphone allowing me mobility through the house if such equipment is available for other than a cell phone. A month ago I purchased a Tracpone Prepaid Wireless to carry in the car strictly for emergency purposes, but activation is incomplete.

I haven't been to a movie theater since my husband and I went to see "The Remains of the Day" some years ago, learning through that experience, when he missed the feature's conclusion, that he was no longer able to comfortably and enjoyably sit through an entire showing without several intermissions. Even then, I found the experience unpleasant for different reasons, because the surround sound system was programmed too loud for my auditory sense as I'd noticed with theater movies for several years. Many others I know have expressed the same problem with the sound systems, complained to theatre personnel, but nothing changes, I'm told. I stuffed tissues in my ears a couple of times which helped some, but was generally unsatisfactory due to altering the actors vocal quality, or sudden changes in volume resulting in their speaking in low soft tones. This and music too loud on headsets already has had and will have serious implications for an increased incidence of hearing loss for all generations, especially younger ones, now and in the future.

Our town is expected to have a theater in a newly constructed extension of our downtown area, so anticipate enjoying the movie theater experience again with the first feature possibly opening as early as this coming fall. They will feature independent, foreign and other special films. I hope it proves to be successful, draws some of the young locals and college crowd along with other local and surrounding area residents.

I rent DVDs locally at a store catering to tastes like those planned for the new theater, or I sometimes go to a regular video rental store. However, I watch movies rather erratically and may go for lengthy periods without seeing any, so a regular DVD subscription service is not cost effective for me -- had one a few years ago for about $9 monthly at a local video store before Netflix and others. Found there were too many months when there was nothing I wanted to see, or that I would rent movies to be sure and get my moneys worth and I was watching more movies than I really wanted or would have ordinarily watched. When they claimed a computer error had accidentally cancelled me on this trial and they wouldn't be able to reinstate me, that I would have to purchase another plan they had which was more expensive, I said "No, thanks."

I subscribe to John Hopkins "Health After 50" which I've done for several years, after rotating annually a number of the health newsletters distributed by prominent name universities and hospitals. I receive a number of weekly, monthly professional newsletters, journals, reports which I review. I recently pared down other subscriptions I liked, that I could never find time to adequately read, like National Geographic, Smithsonian, Sunset Magazine, Arizona Highways, Forbes, Money, The Economist, Wired, PC World, others. I now receive Scientific American, Consumer's Report, Westways, AARP. I purchase individual issues at the store of Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report if I see an article of interest, or often I can find a link to access the desired article on the Internet.

I subscribe to three newspapers: Los Angeles Times, but if they follow the direction the current publisher wants to take the paper, by turning it into another Hollywood entertainment rag, with just local news (which likely won't include our area,) eviscerating the paper's international news standing, I will probably cancel my subscription. Without the L. A. Times national and international newspeople and focus, that will leave only two U.S. papers of value for me, the New York Times and Washington Post, but I currently subscribe to neither. I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal which also allows me to access it on the Internet, but I may cancel. I have a subscription to a daily local/surrounding area newspaper, and a bi-weekly city paper. I do have access to some of these and other newspapers on the Internet, and take advantage of any links or opportunities to visit any other newspaper websites on occasion, but none regularly.

I have a backlog of unread books, but find myself purchasing more whenever exposed to them in a bricks and mortar bookstore which I prefer to visit over shopping online, but I do purchase both places i.e ordered three books online just last night around the midnight hour. I'm partway through a couple of books, including, What Are Old People For by William H. Thomas, M.D. I am susceptible to book threads with one leading to another, and so on. The thread can be following an author or a subject evolving to related subjects or new authors. There are times when I read extensively in the various sciences, behavioral studies, communication, aging, death, dying, but have tired for now of heavy duty philosophy, psychology, or other such theory-laden analytical tomes in deference to biographical and autobiographical accounts of figures, books with perspective of newspeople covering events in my lifetime, their views of current events and the future.

Lighter reading can include writers such as Tony Hillerman, Annie Prouix whose fiction describes with respect a culture, a vivid sense of place, others. I occasionally visit a used bookstore where they will also buy back used books. Since I began blogging I had a period of reading a number of books including writers journals.

I've probably told you more than you wanted to know. My activities in all areas are evolving, in part as my technical skills increase, but then technology is evolving also, so a year from now what I might write could be somewhat different.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

CORTEX KINKS -- For What It's Worth

Our human brains all look pretty much alike as you can see here.

While this picture is a view of the brain interior allowing us to see many of the critical inside parts. What we do not see are all the many neural connections (neurons, synapses, dendrites) that enable function. My purpose for showing the picture of the brain here is simply to make note of the fact that the ordinary cortex or brain has wrinkles. You can see some of the same wrinkles in this picture of the whole cortex here.

My point is that this post may actually be an example of what I produce when I get "kinks in my cortex." In fact, anything that seems unusual to me in terms of my so-called "normal" way of functioning, whether in actions, or in my spoken or written words, I characterize as being due to the fact I have developed a sudden "cortex kink," since wrinkles are already generously present. But then, so are these "cortex kinks," since we all have times, sooner or later, when we wonder why we feel the way we do, or why we said or did something so completely out of our character.

I consider I have a "cortex kink" when my state of mind finds me feeling discouraged, depressed, or all those other euphanisms and cliches we use when we say, "I'm having a bad day," "It's a blue Monday," "I'm in a funk," "I'm feeling down," "I'm dragging," along with a multitude of other sayings, I'm sure. When I have those kinds of feelings, I come up with cute quick little comments to others for brushing off my "droopy" disposition, usually with a smart sharp upbeat tone of voice, even with a smile on my face which most see, that quite belies my actual emotional state. I always liked that Broadway musical show business song Ethel Merman belted out many years ago with lyrics including these:

"There{'re}'s no people like show people ... they smile when they are blue..."

You see, I tend to believe that if I act how I want to feel, that I'll begin to feel as I'm actually behaving. And, you know what? Quite often that actually happens.

On the other hand, I've also found that sometimes I need to go to the depths of how badly I'm feeling, just kinda wallow around in the muck for awhile; let all those insecurities, anxious feelings have their way with me, then somehow I find myself letting go of all that.

Subjecting others in depth to all that mess, here, as I'm doing a bit superficially without revealing specifics, can only occur for me with a very select few others, but ideally not too frequently. A friend and I generally have very positive interesting interactions and conversations. There was a period when we thought our lives had gotten into such unabated turmoil we found our conversations becoming increasingly negative. We determined we had to establish timelines and guidelines before "unloading" -- one absolute was that one of us had be in a relatively "up mood" or the other couldn't "dump." I recall our needing to change the topic only once, when I said, "I can't handle any more right now." I don't think she ever had to do that with me, which, of course, could bring up another whole set of questions, about whether or not I was lacking as a support person, or if, in fact, I had more with which to cope than she did, but I'm not going to go there.

Well, anyway, anyone else reading this will get the idea that from time to time if they visit this blog they may encounter posts I've written while having experienced or experiencing a "cortex kink." Not all such "kinks" are negative. In fact, remember, anything judged to be outside the ordinary behavior of an individual, might well be considered as such a "kink."

For example, I'm inclined to think the occasion many years ago when I spontaneously answered a business phone with a flippant "What's up, Doc?" was caused by a "cortex kink." Fortunately the business executive caller who I did not know, thought it was ha-ha funny and I did not even have to apologize for my lack of good behavior, though I did. Who knows, maybe he needed a tension release, as I clearly did.

Then, there was that reckless time ... but I'm sure others must have "cortex kinks," too, that perhaps can be appreciated in a different light. Thoughts of them may elicit laughter, fond happy memories, nostalgic rememberances, a deliberate avoidance of remembering, or relief the time is past.

Friday, March 02, 2007

THE RIVER - Author as Elder . . . Movie Marathon

Martin Scorsese said in a DVD interview, "Practically every image in this picture just sings with color and light. There’s no doubt in my mind, The River is one of the most beautiful color films ever made.”

Months can go by and I never watch a DVD movie, then I sometimes will quite accidentally have a movie marathon as I did most recently. The very best film for me I saw at that time proved to be The River -- a reference to one of the many rivers flowing through India along which a young English girl lived with her family. This girl, Rumer Godden, began writing as a child, ultimately producing many books and poems throughout her adult life.

The movie titled the same as her book, which is semi-autobiographical, was filmed as a consequence of being championed by the son of the famous impressionist French painter, Renoir. The son, Jean Renoir, a renowned film maker directed the film with an unlikely American producer, Kenneth McEldowney, who was also a florist, characterized in several Renoir linked references here as an "eccentric" who had, also, became enamoured with the book, and movie-making. The director, Renoir, had been able to purchase film rights from the book's author, then collaborated with her to write the screenplay. There were many complications involving financing, Indian government requirements which seemed often as though they would prevent this film from being made. I think that many times some of the better quality films experience extreme challenges and setbacks, requiring great perseverance to complete them. Sounds a lot like life.

I found the film on DVD, part of The Criterion Collection, to be quite remarkable to view and was left with the impression technologically I was seeing a period piece of much more recent vintage than from when it was actually filmed. The influence of Renoir the painter's,
sensibility and style evidences throughout the son's movie. My eye was sometimes caught by film frames that captured multi-branched massive trees reaching upward against the varied colors of the sky.

I was quite unfamiliar with this movie, the book, or it's author though that may not be the case for many, certainly not those familiar with Godden's writings, or Renoir's film career.

While I was at that video store, during the entire time I was perusing the displayed DVDs, there was audio music and dialogue playing in the background throughout the store. Though I only glanced briefly at the video, my attention was periodically drawn to what I was hearing. Finally, when I was checking out I inquired as to the movie title. I was told that movie was "The River," that it was about India. I decided I'd add this DVD to what had clearly shaped up to becoming a personal movie marathon.

I determined I had rented a gem, after listening first to a special DVD feature interview with Martin Scorsese discussing what an impact this movie had on him as a small boy when it was released as a technicolor film. He shared this movie viewing experience with his father and saw for the first time a culture different from that which he had known as an American of Italian descent.

"The River" was filmed in India with footage of actual community life in action interspersed with the actors performances. Not all characters are portrayed by professional actors which is sometimes a criticism of Renoir's movies. The much younger author, now an elder, Godden, gave a very candid interview of her life in a special feature on the DVD, along with scenes captured on film when she returned to India with her adult daughter from Scotland where they had moved many years earlier. Her years in India had been filled with many happy moments and memories, coming of age experiences, the development of her writing skills, traumatic events.

I came upon this movie quite by chance in our communities video rental store which features independent and foreign films as well as features often lacking major distribution, many of which are not often found in the more commercial video stores. Since I only watch DVD movies spasmodically, with long periods passing when I see none, there is little sense in my committing to a monthly fee program by mail, so for anyone who is a subscriber to such a service, these DVDs may be available there.

There must be numerous other DVD viewers like me, as my video store seems to survive through the patronage of other local residents and college students. I'm so glad, since so much commerce, including video rentals now, is increasingly designed to require yearly subscriptions and regular monthly payments.

Even the pharmaceutical companies are not immune from wanting "regular subscribers" for more of their offerings. That was the case a few years ago when a prescription I needed to use only for a short time, two or three times a year, for nasal congestion was removed from availability, then replaced by a "better" product that had to be used year 'round and would not have immediate effect if I tried to use it as needed. I digress as I sometimes do.

Back to my video store -- I went there seeking one of the Academy Award nominated films, then just started scanning the shelves to see what new DVDs had appeared since I was last there some months ago. Any other films I might have selected weren't available, but I was surprised to find an obscure title which came to my attention when some time ago I had watched Peter Falk in "Checking Out," so added that to my collection.

As for "Checking Out," Falk portrays an older professional actor who has called his family together one last time. He has joyously proclaimed to them his decision to take control of the time when he departs this earth, has distressed them that the time he has chosen is soon. I found the movie to be a light-hearted, sometimes funny attempt with the intent to address a serious topic of death and dying. Previews at that time had reminded me of another Falk movie, "The Thing About My Folks," which I vaguely remembered seeing some months ago. All of these movies were released by the same company though I later found my obscure titled one in my movie marathon disappointingly did not have Falk in it which is what had prompted me to rent it in the first place.

When I viewed this DVD group I rented, (there was another I don't even remember now,) I soon found I was not experiencing the comic relief watching that obscure comedy I had hoped to have -- releasing all those healing endorphins into my body as a result of my expecting to be laughing aloud, but that did not happen. I guess my weak reaction is not the fault of the movie, but must just be the emotional state which sometimes descends upon me in this house. Failure to appreciate the humor must just be me, so I hardly feel presently qualified to provide a meaningful critique of those comedies. For whatever the reasons the movies of a more serious nature seemed to have the potential for stimulating my feelings.

In reference to those movies I mentioned being a disappointment, I recall some time ago watching some comedies and strangely, to me, they just didn't seem to elicit my humor either, though I thought that was a capability they possessed. In fact most movies I have seen from months ago, and now more recently, seem to just pass directly through my eyes and ears without completely registering. I find myself wondering why these comedies don't connect, assuming it must have been funny to somebody. I surely do want to try some more comedies again in the future. Maybe my failure to react to comedies and some serious movies is simply due to my mood and sense of needing to stimulate my senses and fill my mind with input that requires no personal investment or effort on my part at those times. Is this just part of the recovery process from loss of a loved one, which seems often to be the question I ask myself, when my feelings, and even reactions are different than what I expect?

But these more dramatic movies like "The River" and certainly "Babel" (which I just watched) -- as did "Crash" in an earlier year, do connect and resonate with me, though the latter two are quite different from "The River." I'll plan to select some more movies in the months ahead when the mood strikes me. I'm sure I'll be looking for movies in The Criterion Collection.