Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guns and Other Dominations--The Master


Happy December 21, 2012. Are you dead yet? Zombie Mayans eating your guts?

___________________________________________________________

Note on guns: My brother loved to play all sorts of gun games when we were kids. And sword fights. Roman soldiers. Cops and Robbers. All that.

I liked making the swords and daggers. We would whittle small lumber into weapons. Strap on belts. Run around and actually use the weapons…playing, of course. Careful not to stab. It was fun, sort of. I got bored. I did like running around, though.

My brother liked army toys, army men, especially, and eventually joined the Navy, though during his four years he mostly ran the ship store.  He saw no action. However, the destroyer he was on did have nuclear weapons.

The Navy was not as much fun for him as childhood games.

The amount of war-play that goes on with boys is huge. I saw it first hand. It is no wonder that when they grow up, boys (and girls) like to own guns, shoot guns, kill shit.

I believe the only answer is to change our culture. Instead of, “Bang, bang, you’re dead.”
How about, “Whoop, Whoop, I hit you with a corn cob?”

Couldn’t we somehow teach kids to use that eye-hand thing--the thing that makes you feel good when you HIT SOMEONE with a FAKE BULLET---into simple scoring? Like---It feels so good to hit a target? But more like a ball into a hoop? Or is this Bang-Bang-You’re-Dead thing simply hard wired?  I don’t know.

__________________________________________________

I love cults. I loved THE MASTER.  See it. It’s brilliant. It’s maddening. It’s incredibly unsettling. It’s agitating. It’s beautiful. This guy can make a movie. Paul Thomas Anderson. Joaquin Phoenix as the scoundrel-drunk and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the charismatic leader? What more could you want?

I love the ending. It is quiet…and it says it all.

Self-centered, made-up, circular reasoning never looked so beautiful. This movie is something else. I’d give Paul Thomas Anderson the BIG BALLS award. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blood from a Stoner

One more for the Season!

My good friend, Jeanne Dorsey, shot a movie. It's so beautiful. And has famous-type actors in it and she needs finishing money. I know! I know! Everyone wants money! If you are feeling generous, or are at all interested, take a click. It's so beautiful. And, you know, give. :)
May the Season find you...exactly as you intended.

http://www.indiegogo.com/BloodfromaStoner

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beginner's Mind

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the experts there are few." Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. "Always be a beginner."

Thanks MM.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Okay, Keep Your Amendment But Read it Slowly

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I believe if one were to interpret this amendment, one must begin with the first subordinate clause, "A well regulated Militia,"

In order to well regulate the militia, it makes sense to keep all the guns within our militia. If people want to keep and bear arms, the best way to keep this well regulated is to have the militia hold onto a gun with your name on it. If you really want a gun in your house, well, a tiny lady Wesson should probably do the trick. 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Recession?



Eataly
Chelsea
Damn, that Batali is rich.  And fat.

The hot chocolate was so dense and intense...I had some sort of full body reaction to it. Not a good one.

And why the five dollar cookies? (I refused.)

What on EARTH is going on that we have all this dedicated space in Manhattan for shelves of cookies where each one is Five Dollars?

Stop the madness.

The place is beautiful, though. I just wish they would serve hot chocolate that wasn't 88% butterfat. Or whatever the hell was going on with it.

I'll go back. Maybe try the pasta.

Visiting with the One Percenters is hard on the gall bladder.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Before 2PM on Friday

Friends!

Would you be so kind?

I am on the advisory board of VS, the best small theater in Los Angeles.  And I am advising you to send FIVE BUCKS before 2PM this Friday. (OR MORE)  But it doesn't take but a second to hand five bucks over to someone, right? With little or no thought.   Painless. 

VS. is SO CLOSE TO REACHING THEIR GOAL---THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ARE AT STAKE HERE!  Without a little push-over-the-edge, all those pledges could go pffffft.    

So click and give a pleasant electric shock to the new lighting board, the new seats, the refurbing. Please.


Theater!  It's often not-for-profit. And it needs your support. :)

Happy Holidays. All of them.
Don

Monday, December 10, 2012

'Tis the Season


Today’s Blog is brought to you by Art, Theater and Murder.

As the economy gets more and more MadMax and we Rollerball around the planet trying to sell our own wares and trade in wampum and joy, I bring you these first two items:

HOLIDAY CARDS by MEGAN!  Buy some! She’s one of my oldest friends, from the 70’s. And her work is beautiful. Buy some holiday cards. Buy a pack of cards for presents for others. In other words, buy:


Now hear this—I am on the advisory board of this theater company. They are award winning. They are the best small theater in Los Angeles, I.M.H.O.  And, they need your support. Donate early and often. The Kickstarter runs out in a few days. Johnny Clark, the artistic director, is passionate, smart, talented and has a good head of hair. Click and give the love.


Lastly…this is a Facebook post of mine from today. Murder!

Strangely, one of my old friends from college and I were having lunch, eating tartines...mine was egg salad with capers...followed by an apple/almond tart when we witnessed all of this going down. Well, mostly witnessed the people witnessing it, followed by the police tape going up, etc. Merry Christmas, New York!

Not Fitting In


The Perks of Being a Wall Flower is a pretty good title…though my vote would have been to call it Mixed Tapes. Then maybe I would have skipped it?

As someone who has fit in and not fit in, in serious absolute value and in cramping quick sequence, I have to say this movie hit me hard. In fact, to rub my Matrix-like layered nose in it, even the independent company that made this film has included me and not included me at times in real life in their esteem for and understanding of me as a writer and as an actor and I them, as I introduced them at one point, underestimating their value, to a Japanese commercial producer with claims to financing I once worked for who, in turn, had felt accepted and rejected at many times in HIS life, working with Madonna and Brad Pitt, on and off and then off for good. (It was a weird lunch. Promises to connect again. Which never happened.)  In the end, I have fond memories of this film company for all their interesting work and our mutual respect. From the Japanese producer’s office, I cadged seven pairs of Brad Pitt’s pants from a commercial shoot, which all eventually had to be hemmed, but I can honestly say, not let out at the waist.

But I digress.

The movie was well acted. The girl from those Harry Potter movies is going to be a great adult actress star. Some call her Emily Watson. I call her a younger, sane Jennifer Jason Leigh. And this Logan Lerman…call me a racist bitch with no grace and a presumptive negativity, but where are all these gorgeous young Jews coming from?

They were both wonderful.

I wish I could say the mushy script wasn’t laughable. But maybe that was the point? That teenagers are overwrought and overly sentimental? I’m being generous here. I don’t think so.

I love that it took place in Pittsburgh, one of the great geologically interesting cities in the country…with those rivers coming together and the high bluffs. My high school girlfriend, long suffering with me as her ambivalent mate, went to college in Pittsburgh for only a semester. I drove out west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, late on a Friday night, through awful fog in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, with my sister to visit her. My sister went to visit a friend of hers in another nearby town. I stayed in my girlfriend’s dorm room and spent most of the weekend smoking cigarettes and truly, fully falling in love with Joni Mitchell as I turned the vinyl over and over again to listen to both sides of Court and Spark. It was the suspended chords and the sad lyrics. I think I was sad. I think my girlfriend was sad. Joni was certainly sad. All three of us wanted to be pop stars and only one of us succeeded.

Back to the creators of this movie. These are smart people. All of them. And stylish. And able. At the lunch I put together with my Japanese boss at some standard fancy Italian Beverly Hills eatery, I was all but forgotten as they sat there trading stories about this or that A-lister and others they had in common. But lucky for me, the very cool S.C. was right next to me (See, I withheld that information…why? Why do we wait to give certain information when we tell our stories? It’s so manipulative. Baah!) S.C. was the mule of their office and a big fan of mine and we got through it together, that Hollywood lunch that went nowhere. Our support never waned. She’s writing plays now. Go S.C.!

This movie made me remember how sad I was, on and off, from 14 to 20. How, at times, you were so elated and life was so incredible. And how at other times, you really thought you were going completely fucking crazy. And, at least for me, how you did go crazy at one point and then you just had to piece it back together. Just trying to hold on. To insist upon being part of the population even though you had no idea what that part was.

I’d say it is worth watching. As long as you can forgive the clunky storytelling. You do get ahead of it as it rolls by. But hey! You’re watching kids!

Perks.  Wallflowers. Spoiler Alert: What happened was_______________. Okay, I won’t spoil it. You’re smart. You’ll figure it out quickly enough yourself.

Not everything has to be amazing. Sometimes, if it’s messy, you get to focus on other great aspects. And maybe those aspects are more important, which they were, for me, the emotional ones.

Sometimes, something truly lived, is a much bigger experience than that which is turned into a movie. Shit. We all know that.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

O.C.D. and The New Yorker Pile


I admit that there is something wrong with me. When I was a friendless child, in order to give my life structure and also in order to have a relationship to something that was outside myself, I would come home from school and with a hit of joyful brain chemicals, grab the local paper, The Journal News, and read Ann Landers and the Comics, every day. For a period of about six months, because I had very little else to do and wanted to declare my allegiance to the only consistent friend I had, I would cut out the Peanuts cartoon, the short weekly black and white one. Then, I would put a small hole at the most left panel and string it onto a piece of black yarn. I was collecting them. Like ducks on a string. Some people had stuffed animals. Or imaginary friends. I had a compulsion.

But then, after I had a pretty thick pile of these cartoons, my better sense took over, my sentiment waned and I thought, “Why the hell am I saving these? And why didn’t I cut this piece of yarn longer? This is never going to work. And even if this does work, what? Then I’m going to have these piles of cut out cartoon strips on black pieces of yarn? What am I going to do with them all? People will think I’m crazy. And what about the big colorful Sunday one? It won’t fit on this string. What a mess.”  And I threw them out and never collected anything else again.  Except for those buttons/pins like “Help Make Hillcrest Cleaner and Greener” and  “Nixon”   But about fifteen years ago, I gave all those to my nephew. I saved a few cool ones. I am definitely not a collector.

And though there is not really a collecting strain in me, or it was basically willed out of me, there is something even worse. A kind of efficiency mixed with cheapness that is, ultimately, something a little out of my control. If I buy something it must be used or I feel guilty I committed to the purchase. Not because I do not deserve the thing, but more because I have a cellular revulsion against waste. Plus, facing all truths, I am obsessive. So if there is something around that must be done, I feel compelled to do it. Age is lessening this urge since I am tiring out and already have committed to too many things. But I do face what so many others endure for so many different reasons. The scourge of the arriving New Yorkers.

I subscribe to the The New Yorker and the bitches pile up and the rule I made early on was, “When they get to more than five deep, I can throw out the whole lot.”  And I do.
Though when I lived in Los Angeles, they would end up in our personal recycling can and I would feel guilty--so maybe an hour later, okay ten minutes later, or three, I would go back to the blue can, pull them out and leaf through them and think, “Yeah, I really want to read these.”   And sometimes I would keep them, hoping I’d be on a long plane ride soon so I would have time to finish them up. But more often, I would toss them back in the can. A relief.  So I am able to compulsively keep the sharp rule of recycling unread piles of five that cuts through the murkier large compulsion of committing to a magazine subscription. But still, I do let them build up to at least that layer of five taunters. And they plague me. Stare at me. Dare me. The monsters. The life suckers. The all important beasts.

But today I realized something. Why wait until they build up to five? In fact, if the next one comes and I haven’t finished the one from the week before, why not SIMPLY TOSS THAT HORRIBLE TYRRANICAL OVERLY LONG ARTICLED BRAIN CONTROLLER into the DUMPER right at that moment, and treat it like the periodical that it is?

And so I am committing to that. Enough. I’m exhausted. Otherwise, how will I ever have the time to read any important books? Like Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants?  It is going to be such a better life from this day forward.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Central Park---North

The upper part of Central Park, this is where things get somewhat wilder and more natural.

Enjoyment.







Sunday, December 02, 2012

My Sweet Israel, My Lovely Palestine


When I was a wee person, we moved from Northern Westchester County, just outside of Peekskill, to Spring Valley NY.   When I went to school, we had the usual things like---felt, crayons, the alphabet. And eventually show and tell.

I think it was the Third Grade, so I was 8? And this girl, Jackie, with lots of freckles, got up and did a little report or something…on the wars in Israel.

I was blown away. The 1948 stuff. The 1967 big to-do. The Yom Kippur nasties. All of it. At 8, I sat there and I thought a few things:

  1. Jackie, you are so sweet and shy, why are you up there in front of the class talking about war?

  1. Jackie, your parents must have told you all about this.

  1. Jackie, you are only 8. Why are you identifying with this little country so far away where you don’t even live?

  1. Jackie, you seem excited about knowing all about these wars. Proud even. And this scares me. I didn’t know there were all these wars going on. Let’s wrap this up.

And since then, besides having a recurring dream that Jackie is in our beige family station wagon and she takes off her pants and for some reason she has a penis that she’s sort of proud of even though it’s rather vestigial and flops there useless obscuring her girl genitalia, I often think of Jackie whenever I see something in the newspaper about a war or skirmish going on in Israel.

I haven’t been 8 in a long time.

Not to be a glib bitch who’s pretending to be funny, but I’ve had enough hearing about these wars and I want them to end.

I was a kid during Vietnam and I was terrified of growing up and having to go to war. Everyone hates war (except those who don’t). No more war. Please.

I still can’t believe all those facts Jackie had at her fingertips. I was so overburdened by it then that ever since, I never read more than the first line of any news item about war in the Middle East. It’s too repetitive.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Weather


When you see old people talking about the weather you always wonder, “Why do old people talk so much about the weather?”

I think it’s because as you get older you sort of get younger in that you care less and less about the logic of things, the status of things, or how you are going to use your logic to get to a higher status. (That cash load. The esteem from others.)

So life becomes more immediate. And what the hell is more immediate than the weather? It’s this changing show and everyone gets to enjoy it. It’s egalitarian. And though it might seem boring, it’s actually pretty interesting. There’s this ball you live on and because of the way it spins around this burning nuclear reaction the temperature and moisture changes all around you. I mean, the only thing possibly more interesting is how an egg is only one cell. (And that it hardens when you cook it…)

I would gladly be nothing more than an animal looking at a leaf or a pond enjoying the day’s weather. If my mind is empty and this is joyful, it is enough.

There comes a time…

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

VS. Theatre Company

Friends, I am on the advisory board of this theater in Los Angeles. VS. gets awards, accolades, but more importantly, they do it right-on and right.

Give.

VS. Kickstarter

Monday, November 26, 2012

Winter Season


As we sally forth with love…and this really is the greater natural intention whether we want to accept it or not, (and I am a snarky mouther---so it might seem odd that I mention this)---but really, if we don’t practice a loving stance with actions (at least to those closest and nearby), why the hell exist?

Christmas is dark. The decorations are affirming.

All is possible.

Ham.

Baltimore: A Good Latitude for Thanksgiving























Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I am grateful


I am grateful for the moments when I trust and do not try to make anything happen, when I simply breathe and live…this natural state is a happy one.

I love stuffing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's the Information, Stupid


Everything is reported. Everyone knows about it. And people do not like what they are hearing.

I feel bad for the mountain and prairie people who really want to believe the world is munificent and all you have to do is get out of bed and attend to business and you will have no problem affording those tater tots from Walmart.

But it’s over. Because the only way you can work these days and make real cashola is you have to either be highly, specifically skilled, or a real dynamo willing to do anything to succeed—climb over others, start a business and work 18 hours a day.  Most people are not these things. (And most people don’t want to kill themselves just for tater tots.)

Apparently, manufacturing in the U.S. is highly productive and our exports are doing well. But you just don’t need that many people any longer to make things, to farm things, to work.

There’s no work because there’s no work.  And with that…with all these idle people, what can you do but transfer some money their way in the wealthiest nation that has ever existed since the beginning of time?

The fundamental cry is about being taxed and having money handed over to people who could use it. (And accusing those same people of being moochers.)  It’s an absurd cry.

It’s math.

People would gladly work if there was work available. If the job creators are such job creators, why do I only see them fuming about their decaying portfolios while they still plan their trips to villas and horse farms? It’s sad and scary to have your world change. But what was the idea? That the world would not change?

Point, hate, blame, go ahead. But whatever you do, everyone will know about it. And as soon as they know, they are not going to join your side. Not in a million years.

So sell that McMansion to a school at a low price or turn it into a factory. You might as well. Because padding around your 6000 square footer hating taxes is not a great use of your time.

Sorry it got this way, sort of. But it’s math. It’s always math. And part of the equation is that a whole lot of people just want a job, nothing else. They aren’t going to invent the latest internet idea that takes over or come out with a reality show/cookbook tour that sweeps the zeitgeist. It’s not their fault. They just aren’t built that way. But most people are built to work, to do something.

So stop screaming at the 47% and start asking---“What job can I offer you?”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chicken Parm--Old Jersey


Chick Parmigiano like Grandma Nettie used to make for Two for two nights:

First, you have to buy things:

Package of Organic, expensive boneless chicken breasts. About three breasts.

Garlic cloves

Good Olive Oil

One can of Hunts Tomato Sauce--the big one, about the size of a baby's head

One can of Crushed Tomatoes--the big one, same size

Fresh Basil, as little as you can buy

A big ball of the best mozzarella you can afford

Good grated parmesan/romano cheese combo

A Box or two of linguini (or spaghetti)

Eggs, breadcrumbs (plain), flour


Now get your ass moving:


First, make the sauce. You put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a medium sauce pan. Heat it up. Smash two cloves of garlic to get the peel off. Slice garlic into smallish pieces. When oil is hot, throw the garlic in, stir for a while. Keep stirring until the garlic is medium brown. Take the pot off the flame and THROW THE GARLIC OUT.

Put pot back on flame and put in the can of tomato sauce and the can of crushed tomatoes. Rinse the cans each with an 1/8th of a cup of water to rinse out the rest of what sticks to the can. Throw it into the sauce pan. Throw in about ten or fifteen leaves of fresh basil. Cut them up a bit, first. Stir. Add very little ground pepper. And some salt. Just…salt to taste. Be careful. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer. If it starts getting too thick, add some water. Stir every now and then. Don’t add anything else. Nothing. No sugar. No onion. Nothing ridiculous. This recipe begs for simplicity. Like a simple quickie in the back of a Chevy Monte Carlo.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Get three wide bowls out. Scramble up two eggs in one bowl. Put about a half cup of flour in another. Put about ¾ a cup of bread crumbs in the third. Add some salt and pepper to the bread crumbs.

Take the chicken breasts out. Put them, one at a time, into a zip lock and pound them with a rolling pin. Not too hard. You don’t want to liquefy the raw chicken. Just get them thinning out some and a little tender. You’ll be glad you did.  Put them on  a plate. Don’t get chicken on your rolling pin. Try not to get raw chicken all over the place. One hand chicken, other hand clean. Something like that.

After the three are pounded out and on a plate, cut them cross-wise so you end up with six squarish pieces.

Get a big frying pan out. A real big one. Heat the pan first. Put a solid amount of oil in the pan. Not too much…like, you don’t need depth. You’re not deep frying. But do cover the whole bottom and then a tidge more. Get that oil good and hot. But don’t get it smoking.

The chicken: dip in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. LIGHT ON ALL THREE. You’re not making a mummy here.

Fry.

Wash up all the raw chicken mess you made. Throw out that zip lock bag. Wash off that rolling pin within an inch of its life---because you know no matter how hard you tried, you ended up touching the rolling pin with your raw chicken hand. Get the rotten raw chicken plate into the dishwasher and don’t go near it again. I know, I know---it’s expensive organic chicken. But you never know. I once got MRSA just watching a documentary about India.

Get all six pieces fried to a golden brown, flipping over one time. Cut into the middle after about 8 minutes. You can leave just the tiniest sliver of raw chicken in the center. I mean, TINY.

Get your spaghetti water going. Salt it a little.

Cut up about ¾ of your mozzarella ball into little-ish squares the size of a nickel, the thickness of a pink eraser. The other ¼, snack on while you drink and listen to Louis Prima on your iTunes.

Take a long glass or metal cake pan…you know, like a 1970s sheet cake size, and pour a little of the tomato sauce you’ve made in the bottom. Like, just cover the bottom. Don’t be nuts about it. You don’t want it deep. This Jersey Chicken Parm needs to be finessed with light amounts.

Until the cheese.

Sprinkle some parm/romano over the chicken. Medium. Cover the chicken with the cut up mozzarella. Throw it in the oven. It will take about fifteen minutes for the cheese to melt right. When the cheese is melted…you’re pretty much ready.

By now you should be making the linguini. Use Brown Rice Pasta if you are wheat sensitive or have the Celiac.  Drain.

Turn off the sauce.

Take a look at your chicken. It’s probably ready because your cheese is all melty---but because there’s a little sauce on the bottom, everything is moist and nothing is getting ruined. So now, turn the oven up to broil…and let it brown the cheese up, just a bit. Watch it. Not too brown. Don’t get too crusty about it.

Take it out.

Put the linguini and a couple pieces of chicken on a plate. Put on the sauce. Serve. Should be enough there for two hungry adults for two nights.

As a side dish, consider broccoli rabe…Buy the organic good stuff. Cut off the fattest ends. Boil it for just a few minutes. Sautee in oil. Choose garlic or lemon, but not both, to finish it off. Garlic, you’d add into the oil.  Lemon, you’d wait until the veggie gets to room temp and squeeze it on.  If garlicked, serve hot. If lemoned, serve room temperature.

That’s what I got.

The second night: Heat the left over chicken parm in the oven in a smaller glass cake pan with a little sauce on the bottom. Make some more pasta or heat up leftover pasta from the night before. Heat up the extra sauce in a pan.

This is NJ kind of fare. Fattening. Carb and cheese loaded. So fucking delicious, you’ll wonder why you ever fucking left Newark.

Keep eating. You deserve it. You survived Sandy. You survived the recession. You survived two wars in the Middle East. Fuck, you even survived your shitty childhood with the ugly paneling and the cheap polyester print shirts from Caldors. You deserve it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

So There I Was Standing on the Fiscal Cliff

Whenever I am standing on the edge of a cliff, I just love it when everyone around me starts fighting. What a fun circus. I maintain that we have wars and a two party system because people like to fucking fight. And if there is peril, like falling off a cliff, all the better. Those are the kind of movies we enjoy, too! I like to fight. Sort of. But it’s more like this: “Rub my feet.” “No, I’m tired.” “Do it now or I’ll have an affair.” Or “Make me pork chops.” “You make yourself some pork chops.” “Fine. I won’t eat.” Little things like that. Of course, no one ever really wins in any fight. And it’s all posturing. In 19 years of intermittent foot rubbing, I’ve never had an affair. And I never stop eating. It’s brain chemicals. I think people want to ramp things up in order to feel alive. So they fight. Near cliffs. And if they can get their constituents back home cheering, they fight, near a cliff, with huge waves of energetic support. I think all this talk that Romney and Obama were dirty fighters during the campaign is a bunch of bullshit. Democrats learned that being dainty is useless and they are fighting as filthily as the Karl Roveians. Fine. No one really gets hurt. It’s all a game. Boys bearing their teeth and strutting their energy is fully acceptable in a crass society, which ours is, clearly. So as they continue to posture and poke and each other in the eyes and pull the chairs out from under each other while they try to sit, and drop the occasional bucket of pig’s blood on each other’s heads—it’s really just a show. And they love it. What show-offs. But we’re a plumage kind of species. Keep buying tickets.

Okay--A Bit Pathetic

The highlight of my day was after my testing at the immunologist’s office, where I discovered that mold and dust are still my major enemies, I was called to the front desk to fill out another form. It was then that I referred to myself out loud as, “Don Cummings, the famously allergic—“ and the girls laughed. Yeah. That’s what happened.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Have Been Harsh. I Have Been a Sore Winner

I have posted things that were based in anger and revenge. At the time, my pie hole (typing fingers in this case) found it to be necessary. I do experience the Right Wing as bullying. In fact, their lack of compassion for anyone who is not "them" is terrifying to me. So when election cycles come around, I feel personally attacked. When George Bush Junior was president, I found him so terrifying, I used to have this dream: I became the only Democrat on earth that he trusted. And he would have meetings with me and I was able to convince him to soften his approach. He liked me (he really liked me). And I was proud to be liked by him. It was a bit like Stockholm Syndrome, in that I was connecting positively with my oppressor. Maybe a bit more like suburbs of Stockholm Syndrome, in that, really, my oppressor was connecting positively with me. I was proud of my status. And more importantly, I felt safe. When you are bullied as a kid by all sorts of bullies (and I understand that I am one of gajillions of grown people who were bullied when young so I claim no special status here) and you grow up and you feel that bullying energy--it gets scary. When your side, the meek collectivist side, the side that thinks, "Hey, can't we just help people out some?" reigns supreme for a bit, you just kind of want to kick those ol' bullies in the nose. With words. It's immature. But it's a normal response. So in an energy release, one gets excited and screams some shit. Now, ready to move on. And Jeezum Crow, make love, not war, forever and ever.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Pleasure

I would enjoy it so much if you would vote. Please.

Now, I am a Socialist---but I kind of love Libertarians.

--Did you know the French effectively pay about 3 - 4% more taxes than we do, but get about a gazillion more good things from the government than we do?  Of course I must admit that Socialist Democracies can breed a certain, ahem, lack of robustness in the creative spirit. Need (to fend for the self) + Ticking clock (Death) is the oomf of most narratives--

But I digress.

Vote.

Make love, not mud pies.

Tanzania: The Movie


Please enjoy the Tanzania Movie. Sure, it's a YouTube Playlist that runs one hour and thirty-eight minutes. But how is that going to hurt you?

(If it were me, though, I would just click around the different clips. You like a baby giraffe running around, we have a baby giraffe running around. The second lion clip has a Momma Lion roaring a bit at her cubs to get in line. There are many clips of the two cheetahs...spraying, playing, acting just like cats. Elephant and Zebra crossings are particularly beautiful. 8 clips in a row give you a lion stalking and eating a zebra, though I missed the exact moment of the grab. But you can still watch the hunter suffocate the zebra to death and then they all play and eat it. And don't miss the Masai kids singing and smiling. We made friends and they asked us to come back. Maybe you can go and say hello for us.)

The 75 clip play list on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwK0p9KaCnyWRCTr5xhbSGFkVvF1BQio_&feature=view_all

And if you missed it, the blog entry with over 600 still photos.

http://opentrench.blogspot.com/2012/09/what-i-learned-in-africa.html

Now, get thee to Africa. Really.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Halloween Gets


Plan A:  Go to LA to be with friends. Especially with Mary at her house near South Pasadena where it is Halloween Lollapalooza and thousands of people swarm the streets in search of candy and who knows what else!

Plan B: A hurricane that closed the airports and turned my apartment into Hotel Rwanda for those who needed electricity and showers. Which was achieved during the day.

Plan C: A date night, my husband and I went to a great Indian restaurant on Ninth Avenue and then came home and watched the 2009 classic The Human Centipede. Oh yes we did.   It was awful. But I kind of loved it because the line was so crossed and bravery kept it there. Besides, what’s so wrong with eating ass?

Hate it, love it, but remember: if it were not for the Dutch, _______________________. 
(Fill in the blank)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Casino Pier: Betting on Obama

Part of my childhood was going to the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights NJ.


And now...this:


It's not the end of the world. And I'm not that sentimental. I mean, if it were the sixth arrondissement of Paris that dumped its roller coaster into the Seine (if it had one)...well, I'd be sadder.

Friends--I mocked Sandy. I called her "Gloria redux"---I imagined a guy getting his toupee blown off and that was that. But I was wrong. "The storm surge. The storm surge," they cried into the cameras. And it wasn't a cry of wolf. Below ground Manhattan, where all the works are, was ruined. Not entirely. But enough to be pretty awful for so many people. And then---New Jersey under siege.

But they'll pump. And they'll dump. And they'll put stuff back together. It's good for the economy, sort of. Of course, the dollars will come from the government.  How anyone could want to dismantle government as a fundamentalist and self-righteous tactic is beyond me. But hell---I don't exactly understand the behavior of monitor lizards either and they occupy the same planet I do, too.

This mess bodes well for Obama...as he is being congratulated by every single person in need for a great federal response. I love Romney's idea---to put emergency response responsibility back in the hands of the states. Hell, privatize it. And then---anyone who can afford to pay someone to come pump out their subway station...can get that service. Or if the generator at your hospital conks out---you can pull off your stalled oxygen mask, wheeze out a phone call on your cell phone and bargain with local vendors to maybe come get you to whisk you off to another hospital. Because competition and vouchers and anything else that gives you choice is always best for you.

Politicizing Sandy? Sure. Why not? I would have loved to have seen Romney's hair blowing in the wind out in Coney Island. What would he have done? Peevishly accused it of not following the rules he would have preferred? Well, no. He would have used reason and moderation and spent federal government money to fix the situation because that is what sane people do. And to do that...he would have to use tax money. Old fashioned, take-from-the-rich-and-others-and-help-the-less-advantaged tax money.

Suck it up rich people and rich people wanna-be's. The party is over. You had a good time. Wouldn't it be so much more interesting to use your energy to fix this mess of a world instead of consuming gallons of pleasure? In fact, wouldn't solving our greatest challenges IN CONJUNCTION with our government be a privilege?

Roller coasters rusting in the ocean.




Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Highlights


Our building stood there like the monolith that it is.

Eighth Avenue never emptied of pedestrians or cars…though fewer, of course.

We were outside for 30 minutes about 2PM when the huge crane snapped down. We heard it. (We were at 8th and 55th. The crane snapped at 7th and and 57th). Adam asked me, “What was that?”  I said, “A truck.” 

It was like a snow day. Relaxing. Eating. Television. Etc.

From the news, it looks like the battery and other edges of Manhattan sustained some flooding. We were high and dry.

It never really got boring, but it never really got exciting either.

Face of a Chelsea apartment building fell off. I have been suggesting knocking down all these cracked, rat infested tenements for years. If the fronts are so “pretty”, then glue them to new behinds.

Our bath towels got moldy. Fuck these green detergents. I’m going back to phosphates. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

For the Love of Obama...

Fashion


I was looking at some pictures from May, 2012.

I find my fashion sense violently unattractive.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ohio


As long as there is a place called Ohio…we can solve our equations there.

Have you been to Ohio?  I have seen much of southern Ohio. My father used to go to Dayton when I was a kid for meetings. He would bring back boxes from a company named Reynolds and Reynolds. The boxes had green lettering. It must have been a thrilling company. Read all about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynolds_and_Reynolds.  I knew it was just a little business town where my father had to go work on his computer forms and the like---but it had a bit of romance since, you know, my Dad, a Chevrolet man, went there for business.   As a young actor, I found myself in cheap costumes in civic centers and theaters in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati. How sad to see what Dayton really was. And again, back to Dayton one time for a photo shoot during my short lived career as a photographer assistant where we shot a “show house” which was a lovely old mansion in an old neighborhood of decaying old mansions where local interior designers each decorated one room and then the locals would pay admission to see these wonders and the cash would go to charity. I distinctly remember a music conservatory with black and white floor tiles and a grand piano with some splotches of red around. It was the early 90s and big bold things were still in. 

One of my best friends from college was from Cleveland. He was extremely attached to being very American, though his father, a successful doctor, was born in the Philippines. His sisters were in cotillions. His mother was a lovely looking woman. He once turned to me, I think it was freshman year, both of us pre-med, and he asked me, achingly, “Don’t you want to marry a beautiful woman?”  I said no. Not because I was against beautiful women at the time, but because I could not believe that his only desire for a woman was for beauty. But hell, we were 18, and I did need women more for their brains than for their bodies, and he had a bad case of acne and I was kind of in love with him.

And then there was the visit to the Cincinnati zoo when I was playing the tin man in the Wizard of Oz. That was a nice day.

And when I moved to California, I drove from New York to Chicago in one day---and I found crossing Ohio to be quick and easy compared with Pennsylvania.

I kind of like Ohio. It’s Midwestern but pushes to be “sophisticated” in its own industrial way. It wants to be New England preppy. It smells of corn and chemicals. It’s kind of conservative, but kind of liberal, industrial and farmy…

It is a true mutt of a state, both eastern and midwestern, northern and southern, and it makes complete sense that this somewhat densely populated state gets to call a lot of elections.

Florida has its moments, as we have all seen. But Florida leans redder and redder with the passing of each acre of wetland into another little affordable neighborhood.
It is one huge exurb plunging into the ocean.

You kind of count on Ohio to be sane, or at least mixed, and you stare at it, every four years, going—“Come on, honeys, give us what we want.”

Romney could win Ohio. He has the hair for it. But maybe not the eyes. They look very scared. Like a rabbit about to get run over on the I-70.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Two Unrelated Things


ARGO was brilliant and if you have not yet seen it, go see it. Ben Affleck has arrived, completely. The movie is enjoyable, smart, suspenseful, well directed, perfectly art directed, well acted, all of it. A big GO SEE.

A question for Republicans:
Why all this fear of government tyranny but not of corporate tyranny? And isn’t the whole idea to have power shared in many places (some redistribution of everything, some regulation of most things) so it is diluted so tyrannical forces might not coalesce?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Finally: A Solid Comprehensive Tax Plan!

http://www.romneytaxplan.com/


He Called Him Out


Barry O. faced down that lying bully.  He brilliantly baited him. Look, Barry is smarter. And when you’re smarter, you win.

How the Republicans try to paint our president as a failure is completely absurd. The guy who gave us health care, Bin Laden’s corpse and an economy that merely sputtered as opposed to caved?

Romney is one of those googley eyed monsters who simply wants to eat it all. He grabbed at the Right, the center, Obama’s things, and the ghost of Ronald Reagan…his appetite is monstrous.

I did not relish such a boxing match. But hatred is hatred. Why lie about it?

The president was more in command. At one point, Romney the bully looked like he was about to cry. Bullies often do when they don’t get their way. You can’t push everything into existence that you want. Especially from the far end of a pension plan loaded with Chinese artifacts.

Now, I don’t only loathe Romney for his style, his policies, his women-in-a-binder, his fuzzy math and his greed. I loathe him more on a much grosser point. He is disgusting. He is the original flesh crawler.

If he loves the private sector so much, I say---go be the C.E.O. of Pepsi or something.

A country is not a business. A country is people, many of them in business. This distinction is a real one and Obama made it clear that his view is larger, more inclusive and I am certain he swung the swing ladies toward him.

On the last debate, I’d love to hear him sing again.

And when he wins, and Romney goes back to tying dogs to the tops of automobiles, we will all sigh a relief. Well, at least most of my readers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Anger and Intelligence and Getting


I recently had good cause to be angry and because I’m an adult, I don’t get wacky, I just try to solve problems.

I find this anger energy is not a bad energy for solving so many problems and pushing forward.

Solving lots of problems, quickly, or creating problems even (creatively) and then meeting the challenge, is often a pathway to success.

Could one, in a way, use anger as the propeller for success?  Sure, it’s been done.

I sometimes will be at a party and there will be a few alpha males there. The one thing I notice they usually have in common is an entitlement and if their needs are not met, then they get angry, usually covertly, and then their intelligence kicks in and they figure out how to get what they want: more attention, more money, more pussy.

Since I already have the exact amount of pussy that I want, my craving column is more filled with a desire for attention and money.

The anger might be worth it.

I have noticed that being sweet (good guys finish last) is a recipe for pudding.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Martha Raddatz is the Star


Besides the obvious glory of Martha Raddatz who led a very smart, human, well choreographed vice-presidential debate…something else blazed into focus:

The Romney administration is in the pockets of the 1% and will do only their bidding.
They want another war, a real big one.
They want to take away a woman’s right to choose.

Has Obama been perfect?  Heck No!

But he isn’t a classist, war-mongering loon from the middle ages.

Vote. If you live in Ohio or Florida, vote a lot.

(I feel sad for Ryan. It appears his thoughts are small but he had to think they were big when he was growing up in order to survive. I also believe if he and I shared, mixed and redistributed our hairlines, we’d both be better off.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Easy Way to Kill the Right and the Left


I think Adam and I may have discovered the answer to the moderate-ification of America!
(Adam is my New York State husband. This husbandry is recognized in some states and not others, and not by the feds. This is for internet record…not because you didn’t know.)

Okay---so this is how we are going to kill the outliers. MAKE ALL CFO’s NO HIGHER THAN MANAGER LEVEL.  AND GIVE THEM THE POWER TO SET SALARY AND BONUSES.

There! I said it!  If the money is figured out by the guy in the Middle…he is more connected to everyone. He’ll be fair. Or at least more fair. And won’t shove all the cash northward. Spreading it around a little more evenly, you will have happier bunches of people. And then this fighting from either end---High Up Greedy “Management” and Curb Sitting Union Obstructionists can whither.

Just a suggestion.

It all seems to be about the proper allocation of resources—

I am so bored with the fighting. It’s like living with loud mouthed teenagers.

Grow up, bitches!  And Share!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

HELP

The United States is not a place that will be better off without PBS.

Healthcare is a failing (dying) business. There is nothing you can do to stop people from ultimately getting sick and dying. This can never be dealt with in a rational way by a Bain Capital Hatchet Man who only understands profit above all else. And profit for only a few.

A tired president is a tired president. Maybe B.O. no longer wants the job.  But the secret life of Romney Mitty is not something we need.

I like rich people. In a way. I mean---they went for it and got it. This is wonderful. What I never understand is why they think that people who are not rich are that way because of some flaw. Almost with a sadism that reads, "And you should suffer since you are not as rich as me."   So much goes into where a person ends up. Babies that are born in dumpsters and left to die did not choose such a fate.  I do not understand a lack of generosity that includes killing Big Bird.  There was a glee in Mitty's beady eyes when he took aim. If he wants to kill this harmless giraffe-like bird, what else will he want to kill? The man likes to shrink things. Like government, businesses, joy, everything.   For who's good?




Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Mitt Gipper Romney


Mitt: It was like watching and listening to Reagan all over again.

Obama tried to compare himself to Bill Clinton, but he seemed more like Jimmy Carter.

Seems like the government/no government fight never ends.

What a fucking bore.

I always wonder why Republicans run for office. They want to dismantle government…so why do they want to be a part of something they want to dismantle?

Mitt was a wild man tonight. And he has good hair. But he has the crazy look in his eyes of someone obsessed and blinded.  Fantastic that he could say all that he said while in that state.  He seems a cold one.

Obama was clearly exhausted and was annoyed by Mitt, surely.

Everyone says Romney won the debate. But he still did not say what he would do as president. Not really.

Just a month away.

Trust the Big Based Mug


Just talking to my friend M., I went on about my tacky tourist mug I bought in Mendocino years ago. The Agate Cove Inn is in beige on the front. The rest of the mug is maroon and there is an uneven white glaze that looks a little bit like frosting. You know the kind. But the handle is the right size and the base is wider than the mouth so it tends to stand up. I love this mug. And it is next to me night and day.

However, I have this other mug---the stand in mug---I got at a trade show at Warner Brothers this past summer and I love it for its midnight blue color and how the outside feels almost silky. But it has a small base.

I was using the stand in mug tonight because the good one was in the dishwasher because you do have to do that sometimes.  And there I was, working, and I don’t even know how I did it, but I knocked it off its coaster and it was a full cup of tea and it went all over the place. The keyboard, the mouse, the phone, the blotter, the books, the wallet, the keys, the Kindle, the desk, the lower part of the desk where the black plastic box from The Container Store holds all the loose plugs, the floor and the foot rest.  Full disaster.

Yet---nothing got zapped. Nothing at all.

I am happy to report: If you ever spill an entire cup of tea next to all of your electronics, it is best to spread the hell around.

And---if you are going to use a stand in mug, maybe you should think twice. Or the next time you are in Mendocino buy two of the same.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Autumn of This Year


This Fall:

No need to bash Romney. He’s taken care of.

If the real unemployment rate is 11% because people have dropped out of the work force, I say, “So what?”  Not long ago, articles were being written about the possibility of a very successful society with fewer people working. What has changed?

Fear is a joke.

This Half-the-Sky PBS special---must watch it. Come on, people. Stop enslaving women.

Allergies---autumn and spring. Destructive. Must continue anyway.

My tombstone will read, “My sinuses never felt better.”

Quote from my friend R. Smith: “Everyone likes bacon and ice cream.”

Anyone have a goldendoodle?

I never had children.

Second term of Obama: Feds will recognize the marriages that states recognize.

Racism is still rife. People hate giving up an entitled superior position. It’s more about competition than truly hating another race.

Speaking of entitlements. Watch the words people use. They are usually talking about themselves.

I give people a lot of my power. I wonder why. Is it a sign of laziness? Perhaps.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A J. Kaufman Quote


This must be how republicans felt when Dukakis was running in 1988.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Piggish Acts Lead to Pain


I don’t know how many of you have ever had Spoon Bread, but I had an incident.

I was, like many people during the past two weeks, sick as a dog. Allergies, a cold? Both, really.

So, slogging forward, as was necessary, because September is a busy month, I kept it all going by doing the Judy Garland thing:  Uppers (Sudafed) to get through the day and Downers (Night Time Sinus Drowsy Stuff) to sleep.  The effect was tri-fold.
One, my head was basically clear. Two, I was artificially up and down. And three, I hardly ate.  So I was ravenous.

Lucky for us, we have many friends who have all these enjoyable weekend houses and we get invited and we show up with a few bags of things and we have a good time. On our most recent trip to the beach on Fire Island with K&J and their kids, we were treated to amazing cooking. And sandwiches. And sweets. Everything you love. And like a truck driver who hasn’t eaten in a week, taking the long haul from Phonenix to Bangor, I piled it in ferociously.

This would have been okay (my friends are not judgmental) except for the last night when the Spoon Bread came out. Now, I have never had spoon bread that I can remember. But it’s basically a casserole made from flour and such. And it’s delicious. I don’t know if it has cheese in it…but it does have something that sticks when it’s hot.  Anyway, in my filthy attempt at feeding my starving Sudafedded self, I went at that Spoon Bread with both spoons, both hands, and a double delight in what looked like the fluffiest, tastiest fun floury goop and deposited it right into the back of my maw.

That was when I burned my entire soft palate and almost lost my uvula. It has taken days to recover.

My brother lost his uvula once. It never came back.

We continue on earth because we must.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Congratulations to Showtime


Congratulations to my husband’s employer, SHOWTIME, for winning 6 Emmys.
Writing, Two lead actors, Best Drama, Editing and Casting. All for HOMELAND.

That’s a big load of goodness for SHOWTIME.  Who doesn’t like awards?

Besides Marlon Brando? And he’s dead—

Congratulations. Celebrate. Keep making great shows. Here’s a business model that works: make something good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Last Days of Summer

Happy Birthday to Sophia Loren.

Fire Island, one last weekend.

Autumnal equinox changes everything.

Allergy season. Its own special one.

Pumpkins already.

Jean Jacket. Almost fifteen years old. Collar reversed last year.

Talk of a warm winter trip.

Goodbye humidity.

Work season.

Packed streets.

Dinners.


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Poor


Look, no one loves to know that there are poor people. It’s a fearful thing to consider. Because imagining yourself rich and successful is just as easy as imagining yourself poor and greasy.

It would be ideal if people were not poor…but what are you going to do? Pretend these people do not exist? Let them die of tuberculosis?

Leave it all up to Catholic Charities and the like?

Look, no one enjoys seeing a strong man or woman in their twenties sitting around waiting for their government check and their food stamps to arrive. It’s sort of repulsive.

But just because it’s sort of repulsive doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

There is a pecking order. And the poor slobs at the bottom are truly at the bottom. For their own reasons, societal reasons, bad luck, and I guess, by choice at times. But letting these people fester and die is simply a bad idea.

Can the Right Wing agree to this idea that just letting these people die is a bad idea? 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Things that Still Unnerve Me


Street fairs with their obvious meats and textiles

Rap music with lyrics about kicking down Ho’s into the gutter

People complaining about their spouse, publicly, on Facebook

A group of tourists standing at a street corner, frozen, blocking, not caring

Clitorectomies of all kinds

Web sites that do not work on Google Chrome

Religion. Especially fundamentalists

Mold

Large young ladies in gay bars who assume they are loved

Pictures of greasy meals on Facebook

Facebook

Airplane turbulence…no matter how safe they say flying is

Chewing gum

Aggression as dopamine enhancer

Honor Killings

Perfume

Rejection letters

Jack hammering at any time of day

Mobile phone bills

Shamers

Self righteousness

Monologuers

Old dried up peanut butter

Garlic

Junk mail

Aggressive yellow jackets

Meeting someone that I want something from

French waiters in France

Sinus pain

Sheena Easton

Huge self congratulatory wedding announcements

Sea grass probably loaded with ticks

Assumptions about what I like

Victims who want special treatment and status beyond reinstated safety

Non-poverty-stricken Westerners who complain about what they don’t have

My nagging ego

Deadlines

Exposure to Western Light

Air pollution

The idea/lie that everyone is only an individual agent, that we are not all connected somehow

Probability of property claims on the Moon and on Mars

Outdated internet entries with erroneous information

Large cupcakes without flavor

Middle aged drunks

Horse farms

Lower back pain

Balding

Angry old ladies in Chanel-ish suits

Action movies with the same plot: Save the world and get the girl

Oily dinners out

The smell of puke

Persian girls in full face

Downloading one thing and something else, horrible, is piggybacked along with it

Gold neck chains

Time

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Innocence of Muslims You Tuber:

It's so bad, stupid and poorly made, the only reason anyone would kill over this thing is because they must be complete idiots. I mean, if it had been a mouth oriented Scheize video where Mohammed eats the shit out of Jesus' ass and then pukes it up into Buddha's mouth, maybe, just maybe, one might think one stepped over the line a tad... but even then, any intelligent Muslim, or even a foolish fundamentalist, would realize that someone was being childish, that Western Culture is not discerning when it comes to its low end entertainment. A leaked rumor to the religionists of this world: I hear Universal Studios, sanctioned by the U.S. government, is releasing a movie in early 2013 where the Virgin Mother Mary rides Mohammed using pig blood for lubricant that she got from the drippings of his Cuban sandwich, while six self righteous West Bank Settlers are forced to wrap her thighs in bacon. Enough with your piety, oh backward fable worshippers. Your beliefs are not religion. They are just the mind set that gives you the right to enjoy the brain chemical rush of your murderous rages and domination over others. We have had enough of you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I learned in Africa:



                                          Or go straight to the pics, and read later:  

https://plus.google.com/photos/107228857131309870636/albums/5787240568091139057?hl=en

                                                 What I learned in Africa:

People on safari want to see lions, especially the guides. You do see them. We saw one stalk and kill a zebra, rip it open and then she had her cubs eat it. It was exceptionally cute. She, a male relative and the two cubs, happily played with each other right after the kill. Like house cats that just proudly killed a mouse. A lion kills her prey by clamping her mouth over the nose and mouth of her future food until it smothers to death. The lady lion does the hunting. The male lion protects the perimeter. So really, he’s not doing nothing at all. Pics at link at the bottom. (Or above)

Cheetahs travel in pairs. Often two boys. They are the fastest land animals. They have a long black tear that runs under each eye. They are sleek, gorgeous hunters. We saw three of them. Pics below and above link.

Elephants have terrible digestion. They only digest about 40% of what they eat. So they have to eat about 18 hours each day. One night, we had elephants right outside our camp knocking down trees and eating their leaves. You know when elephants are visiting. They are noisy and destructive. And you’ll never forget it. We saw hundreds of them. Pics, yes.

There are so many kinds of antelopes. The largest is the eland. (Almost like a yak.) The smallest that we saw was the Dik-Dik. Dik-Diks mate for life. Very sweet creatures with a circle around each eye. The Steenbock is a small antelope, too, larger than the Dik- Dik. The Thomson gazelle has a black stripe along the side. The Impala, which is so lovely, has amazing horns (the male) and vertical black stripes on their white rumps. They are all over the place. Lovely. The Hartebeest is another great antelope, with its horns forming a heart shape. Similar to the Topi (which has dark upper leg splotches) and just a bit smaller than the Waterbuck, an antelope that lives, you guessed it, always near water. There is also the smaller Reedbuck, another hydrophilic antelope, smaller than the waterbuck. And the Klipspringer, which is a smallish antelope that has round ears and behaves a lot like a goat, living and jumping around rocky areas. We saw them in the morning before breakfast at our last place.

The larger mongooses are mostly out at night. Smaller ones are out during the day. A bunch of them can eat a python. We saw all these.

We also saw Hippos having sex. The man mounts his lady, in water, keeping her head pushed down, occasionally letting her up for air. The sex can go on for two days as it is hard for the male hippo to keep his erection planted inside the female. And once in, it can easily slip out. Hippos live in their own filth. I used to think they were amazing…now, they just seem like enormous pigs to me. They feed all night long, because the sun during the day would fry off their skin. They crap in their water and live in it. You can watch the big blobs of hippos shit float up to the surface while they wallow. When they “yawn” it is really a dominance game in order to show off the size of their large molars.

Zebras, no matter how many you see, and you see a lot of them in Tanzania, are so pretty. Wildebeest, they say, are made from leftover parts of other animals. These two travel together because the Zebras have great eyesight, just enough memory to know where to go for grass each year and they eat quantity of all kinds of grasses. It is not picky. And so it ends up being a big mammal, great for a meal for a lion. The wildebeest is rather dumb, a type of cow, really, and it needs the Zebra for memory and for its eyesight. In return, the wildebeest has a fabulous sense of smell. Wildebeest eat low amounts of high quality grass. These two animals are the staple of the great migration.

We saw storks, flamingos and pelicans. A funny large bird called the Kori Bustard, (largest bird of flight). Eagles, love birds, hawks, vultures. Birds are magic.

Warthogs, no matter how many you see, are always funny. I love them.

Giraffes, no matter how many, are so lovely to watch. We watched a baby giraffe run around near its mother, practicing its hoof work. Female giraffes have much lighter spots than males. Spots on the male giraffe are practically black. The females, more orange. I have movies which will be posted at some point.

The African buffalo is enormous and they live in herds. They are intimidating and ornery and the older males are kicked out of the herd to live on their own. This makes them even more ornery.

Hyenas, after a big meal, get extremely hot from the digesting of bones in their stomach so after a big meal they will sit in a puddle to cool off. Female hyenas have fake penises they use to establish dominance. Not unlike a glorious lesbian with a dildo. Though lesbians can digest bones in their stomach without a rise in body temperature. I don’t know what I love more, lesbians or hyenas, but does it really have to be a competition?

Baboons travel in huge packs. They mostly eat plants, but are not above eating your face.

Black faced Vervet monkeys are super frigging cute.

Not many rhinoceros left. We saw one in the Ngorogoro crater, where this is possible. It just lay there.

If you get a flat tire, consider yourself lucky as it is changed and you are standing on the side of the road watching giraffes go at it with the acacia trees.

The spring hare (no pic of that worth showing) is also called the African Kangaroo for how it jumps along. It really does ambulate like that marsupial. But it is a rabbit.

The crocodile and the hippo live in harmony. They don’t bother each other too much. They are an even match.

The civet cat, which we did see one night, is almost never spotted.

The hyrax, which looks like a ground hog, can be domesticated.

The termite mound becomes home to all sorts of animals, especially snakes, warthogs and mongooses. Once an animal invades, all the termites leave.

The Maasai, who we spent a lot of quality time with at our camps and lodges and also at one of their real bomas, are gorgeous. The men wear bright robes. (The lions are terrified of the Maasai and stay away.) Every fifteen years, any boy who has not been circumcised goes through a ritual (including from weeks to months, depending on how rich their father is, of wearing dark clothing and white face paint to scare away demons), that ends in the circumcision ceremony. After that, he must wait to become an elder before he can marry. He becomes an elder when the next load of boys goes through their circumcision. So it takes some time. A man’s wealth is measured by his number of cows and children. Since he may have many wives, from two to two-hundred, he can easily amass a huge family. All he needs to increase his wife-load is some cows for trading. Traditionally, a woman gets her clitoris removed before marriage. (Though currently the government is cracking down on this practice, a traditional marriage still requires this mutilation. But as one guide told us, “A Maasai woman does not enjoy sex anyway.”  He meant with or without a clitoris.) A man cannot marry until after he has been circumcised and becomes an elder. A woman can marry anytime after she has been circumcised. This leaves many young men single for a long time. I witnessed men holding hands. I also witnessed an incredible languid nature that was very much connected to the earth. They are smiley and present. I have the video. Stay tuned for an eventual movie of this. Though, overall, Tanzanians are a bit formal and any display of any kind of sexual feelings, we did not see.

Do not try to video a lion killing a zebra. You will miss the exact moment of “The Grab” when the lion bites that hind flank of the last zebra up the hill, flips up on that horsey back and then swings down around to the face to clamp and smother. Even if you see all the stalking and then all the clamping, you will regret, for the rest of your life, that you were fumbling with your stupid little Canon Powershot video option during the most exciting moment of your life. You will have to rely upon your husband to tell you again and again exactly how it happened. You will then have to watch on YouTube lion on zebra kills, just like everyone else who has never been on safari.

You will survive in a tent even if it has mice. If you have power bars of any kind in your knapsack, they will chew through many layers of anything at all to eat those bars. Then you will have to throw out the swiss cheese looking zip lock and all the half eaten bars. When this happens to your husband, all you can tell him is, “Make sure you throw out that mess far away from this tent.”

It is always fun to take a private safari. Add to that a few other people in their own private trips run by the same company who you run into more than once here and there at camps and lodges for dinner, and you make instant friends because the whole experience is so incredibly enlivening.

Do not drive from Ngorogoro Crater to the Serengeti. It is punishing, bumpy, long and dusty. Take a bush plane. It is worth it.

What to do that we did, when you go:

Bring ivory soap and a portable clothesline for laundry.
Bring a head lamp.
Bring great binoculars.
Bring Purell Wipes.
Pack as lightly as possible, buying up all those super light pants and shorts at R.E.I.
A Tilley hat, though unoriginal, is your best friend.
Make sure everything has a case.
Bring guide books.

And:
Take pictures, but don’t try to video the lion-on-zebra-kill, as I mentioned, for you will miss “The Grab.”

We were “in the bush” for ten days. Seven days is probably enough. Go away somewhere lush and pampering when you are finished. Safaris are rough. Bring Pink Bismuth tablets for your stomach, Benedryl for sleeping. And anything else you may require for your body parts that tend toward any vulnerability.

Though the climate is much like Southern California, don’t count on a film career in Tanzania.

You can’t save all the poor people in Tanzania, most of who seem to spend their days in transit in search of water. A society cannot modernize while its citizens spend most of their daylight hours fetching water.  Polygamy seems anti-productive, too. A man would be much richer with fewer wives and fewer children and the same number of cattle. But if you start pulling on strings of the Maasai culture, the whole thing could unravel for good. They are holding onto their past, firmly, with both dusty fists. I do not understand any kind of tribalism. It puts culture ahead of the individual. Blech. Let it go, old timey types. The Enlightenment has happened.

Ostriches are solitary birds and can easily outrun a lion. Plus, they don’t make for a good meal.

If you look due north from Boundary Hill Lodge, our last lovely place, you can see Kilimanjaro.

Tsetse flies can bite through a light pair of jeans and underwear to get at your scrotum. Particularly enjoyable on the last day of your trip. They are zig zaggy zippy things. And it seems like they bite with a very long proboscis. I hope I do not get sleeping sickness or elephantiasis. Wearing no shoes at night can get you stung by a bee, in your tent. Another fun experience. But at least the bee was half killed before it stung so it was only half a sting.

Jackals are cool.

Aardvarks, though rarely spotted, are all over Africa. We did not see one.

Leopards, of which we saw three, like to hang out in trees and are hard to spot. They look like cheetahs, but they are larger, with bigger heads, more defined spots and they do not have the long black tear coming down their face.

Everyone in Africa loves you, as long as you are tipping.

Just because it took twenty-four hours to get to Arusha, don’t think it isn’t going to take thirty-six hours to return via Dar Es Salaam.

There is no greater delight than watching a little Maasai girl giggling as she rubs the hair on your arm, something which is so unusual to her. There is nothing sadder than a Maasai woman, who still has her eyesight (unlike some of her older sister wives), yet haggard beyond her years from living in dirt and dung, in a midnight blue wrap with almond shaped eyes, who looks at you deeply with a desire to connect and a desire to flee. And you can’t help her. So you just go back to your fancy lodge and cry.

No matter any inconvenience, physical pain, or cultural freakishness, it is worth the effort to see this amazing diversity of so many animals in such great numbers. Africa: I give it two paws up. Roar.

The Pics: