DiplomatiCat the Talking Beast

Inspired By Ire, Impelled By Ideal … "Never a TAME Lion"

Paul Simon & Sting at the Forum 02/15 2014

My thoughts on the concert at the Forum:

As most of you know, I don’t do that whole “kids” business, so let me impress upon you all how significant it is that I say this in all honesty and conviction:

I. Would. Bear. Sting’s. Children.

TODAY.

(We could get started on that right this very minute, in fact. How can he still be so unbelievably rock star sexy after 30 years? I don’t remember thinking he was THIS hot when I was still a TEENAGER, and yet I know I thought he was hot then too. DAAAAYM! YE GODS I can’t believe I didn’t know it when I met him … but who is ever prepared for meeting one’s idol in the middle of their workday, you know? It’s just not something you EXPECT to happen, even in my line of work. Anyone but him, I would have taken in stride. Clooney, Sheen, Cage, Van Damme -NAKED Van Damme- Magic, Shaq, Eminem, OKAY SURE WHATEVER…. But STING??? DOH! *superfacepalm* *x2*)

First of all, I think this is an odd duo for a tour. Not that both of them aren’t ranked in the top 5 on my list of musical genius, but they are different flavors of music. It seems that they share perhaps the same spice rack in that regard, but their recipes are significantly original in the way that they blend those ingredients together. Not that this means it is an impossible thing for creating something totally new and delicious, mind you…It’s actually rather like that extraordinarily expensive restaurant that I was taken to on a date once which combined the oddest cultural familiars with each other that didn’t actually appear appetizing when described on the menu (there were combinations akin to sushi GUMBO, or maybe sweet and sour soul-food…Perhaps chicken teriyaki ahi tuna burritos or fried calamari with oyster sauce and hummus) but when I actually picked something that I figured I might be able to eat PART of, turned out to be truly amazingly exquisite.

Well, that isn’t really fair either, since for me anything with Sting will be exquisite anyway. (I was so excited about seeing him again that I kept forgetting that one of my other favorite gurus was going to be there too. It always seems like a bit of an afterthought and a special treat like a cameo or something despite Simon actually having first billing.) But still it WAS a surprisingly tasty combination in some spots, while others maybe needed a little more adjusting of the mix.

Vocally, I think that Sting’s personal explorations into the unknown genres have done nothing but wonderful things for him. He is a much better singer than he was in the 80′s when I was first introduced to The Police. A LOT better. Paul hasn’t been working on that much, I’d say, but I never saw the side of him that came out when he wasn’t singing before. I think maybe he will improve before the end of the Tour too though, as both of them admit that they are still working on the experiment and getting to know each other better together. There is a lot of respect there between them, and well deserved by both, even if it isn’t quite the buddy-buddy at ease with my pal-y energy that was such a nice balance with Simon and Garfunkel. It may grow closer, but I think Sting is just too much of a goddamn ROCK STAR to be that entwined with anyone, and his voice is not the melodic blend-y sort of sound to do that with anyway. His expression is so personal it almost HAS to come at some cost to a smooth blend. But that is one of the things I particularly love about his live performances, which are all so different even when I hear the same songs.

Paul Simon is quite enjoyable live as well. Very cute. Surprisingly, it was less his vocals than his playing that really shined though. (He does quite a bit of conducting, directing the band specifics, cutoffs, concentrating on that background stuff going on behind him more than his own thing and seeming to forget the words of his own songs from time to time. His presence is more that of a maestro than a minstrel in this setting.) But he really gets into the GROOVE when he starts playing, though, and as he forgets about leading the band through every phrase, the musician in him takes over and turns back the clock. The JOY becomes more evident and it is really fun to see how he can’t help digging the jam once he gets to strumming. Watching him boogie down with the guitar just makes me want to get up dance!

Watching Sting play the guitar, though… well, THAT… Oh LORDY THAT… Oh myyy…that’s entirely different. Sting has a masterful touch with the stringed instruments, there is an almost palpable purity in the tone, so resonant it is almost in harmony with itself. You know immediately who is playing with the first note struck (and its not just a fangirl thing, either – the fella next to me made that same observation at the first chords of Fields of Gold. OH MERCY can he make that thing SING!)

Let me put it this way: I have never wanted to be a guitar so badly in my life. (And really, who would want that? But Hubbabhubbahubba… ) Hounds of Winter. Aaaaahhh-whoooooooo!

Some songs chosen by both artists were a little out of place, either in the order or in the whole of the overall tone, such as Desert Rose, which should have come much earlier if it was to be there, and Roxanne, which should have been omitted, as it kinda needs the whole of that badged band to carry, imo. He has such a tremendous repertoire, I doubt it would have been missed with so many excellent alternatives. For Simon, I would have preferred Born at the Right Time over The Obvious Child which was an uncomfortable rhythmic detour that didn’t mesh well with the surrounding tunes. There was another tune that didn’t quite strike the right note with me too, but I was not familiar with it so I can’t tell you what it was called.

Those little things sort of tripped up the build of the energy overall, which in an already somewhat apathetic Los Angeles to begin with, didn’t help the awkwardness of some moments where I could actually see the artists wanting more from US to fuel their performance a bit (a drum solo or two that was too rushed when it should have been given a little time to draw us in to the foreplay, a call and response that didn’t get answered, a solid beat that few people were clapping to – that kind of thing.) It didn’t help either that the crowd is also on the older side of things (not yet over the hill, but possibly in view of the summit, let’s say) and a bit more wont to stay seated than to stand if there is an option.

I was surprised that there weren’t more people taking advantage of the open spaces available scattered around which were clearly better than their assigned seats like the first row of the section that tempted me to abandon my own horrible vantage point by the second song. I pointed out one such place and told my mother (who was kind enough to buy the tickets for me when I expressed concern some weeks back about getting tickets as the costs were pretty astronomical, but who didn’t tell me until after she bought them and didn’t know the finer points of seat selection at the time) “I am gonna go stand right there until someone makes me move. Wanna come with?”

I actually ended up in bit of a better spot for that though, since we were absolutely on the tippy top of the last section that was looking at the backside of the stage and the performers for the entire show, and didn’t even have the jumbotron advantage, as they were pointed forward and we got the profile of that as well. It was that screen I wanted to take advantage of, as it didn’t really matter much to me to get a closer view of their backsides on stage. While I did get shooed off the initial spot I had headed for, as it was blocking the stair/exit a bit, I noticed that they did NOT care about a few folks occupying that empty seating directly next to it.

I made my way back up to my Mom during Simon’s appropriately singing Mother and Child Reunion and smuggled her off with me to situate ourselves there instead. Much better, if still a bit less balanced in sound. At least being in the front there meant I could stand without blocking anyone else, which I did, as I just can’t sit still when there is a beat to bounce to. I don’t know how anyone could do that, but a lot of folks did, Mom included, which kinda had a tendency to kill my buzz when I noticed the distinct lack of energy and motion. Closing my eyes was a reasonably effective remedy for that however, and eventually the beer did start kicking in a bit for the crowd a little more. Or maybe it was the “funny smell” Mom noticed that was responsible for that, but whatever. =)

Me, I had my excitement on just from being hopelessly in love with Mr. Sumner. (He’s totally got that whole Jean Luc Picard thing going on with the no-hairdo now, which is a completely other kind of hotness working for him on top of the whole bloody ROCK STAR  even at 62, plus that whole Tantric/Yoga thing, SHEESH, Give a girl a break!) So fuck it – I was dancing. Me and the other girl that was kind enough to scootch over so my mom and I could sit together had our party by ourselves in the corner there. (And I, of course, savored the idea of repeating the best parts of the evening all over again from a different vantage point yet to come… heee wheeeee! One of these days, if I ever get rich enough, I am just gonna follow him around like a stalker from venue to venue all year till I get sick of it. Okay, maybe TWO years…. )

Anyway, the rest is kind of a euphoric blur now, with a notable highlight that was pretty fucking exquisite – like that meal I was talking about before. It was such a delectable surprise I didn’t have a bite left over and was rather amazed at the way the description sounded so awful but tasted so amazing. I had read reviews of it from the earliest shows, but I dunno if the people were not treated to the same experience or if they were simply not having ears attached to their head when they said it didn’t measure up to their liking. The crowd had livened up enough to coax the requisite encores, if not beyond that, but HOLY WOW — when Sting started off “Bridge Over Troubled Water” it just about made me faint tonight -with that uniquely gritty voice of his, with the gospel organ-y sound behind it that almost felt like CHURCH? OMG – I could just die.

*SWOONS*

Reality vs. Religion: MUST it be one or the other?

“Thought you’d like this”  from Lee Zim, via Facebook:

Image

And then this happened, again. What began as comment outgrew that mental space and become commentary, more suited to blog post than message reply:

LoL – I don’t think that is even an excuse for Palin, since she probably hasn’t even read THAT one. ( Certainly not too carefully, if she thinks the POPE is too liberal. Just wait till she meets JESUS! =D )

I opened the door to someone canvassing for prop 8 support some time ago, and as some of my best people would be directly affected by that law, and I would find anyone who would hurt my friends to be offensive, I was so appalled that someone had dared come knocking on my door to ask me to support such nonsense that all I could do was splutter at them for a moment as I had no words and just ended up slamming the door in the their face rather than tell them what I thought with some choice language. Still, I spent the rest of the day muttering to myself in anger and disgust at the audacity and generally in a foul mood.

It occurred to me that there might have been a better way to handle that, instead of me being po’ed for hours afterward and probably leaving that person thinking I was some rude dyke who didn’t deserve to be treated like a real person since I couldn’t even be kind to them and strengthening their resolve. I wondered what would have happened if I had tried talking with them and explaining why I didn’t agree with that particular idea, and at first had a bit of a panicky reaction too when I said to myself that, to be fair, I would also have to listen to their reasoning behind why I should support it, and OMG what if they actually managed to change my mind? But then I realized that in order to actually do that , they would have to present a sound argument that made sense enough for me to do so, and if it did that, then it was probably alright if I should change my mind anyway, since that would be the stronger position. I realized that as unlikely as that was, I still needn’t be afraid of it happening should it be that one in a million chance.

Armed with that reasoning, I concluded that the next time someone should come knocking and propose some outrageousness, I would NOT angrily slam the door in their face without a word, but instead engage the enemy on the field of reason and discussion. I figured that way, one of several things could happen: 1) they could convince me of their position and I would change my mind (unlikely, but possible). 2) I could convince them of MY position and change their mind, (also unlikely but possible) and 3) even if neither of us would budge, at the very least they would have spent the time talking to me instead of getting further down the block and the very delay might stop them from gaining some additional support for their nonsense, so it was still a win for me in that case. And thus, no more muttering to myself about the NERVE of those dipshits to come asking me for THAT…

So when the Jehovah’s Witness came by about a year ago, despite waking me up to answer the door on a Saturday morning, instead of saying no thanks, and not interested, I said, “Okay, sure, why not? ” and sat down to chat a bit. We’ve developed a nice acquaintance, and I do actually enjoy our discussions when she stops by from time to time. I can say that at least this particular group doesn’t discourage the questions and challenges, which is more credit than I would have previously given them. I was impressed too to find things that others don’t point out in the scriptures which, surprisingly, also might encourage some critical thinking and open mindedness right there in the Rule Book too. It’s been an enlightening experience thus far, and LaKeisha is actually someone I don’t mind knowing. I try to make time to talk with her even when I am not in the mood, because it is usually a learning moment about something no matter what.

I had a conversation with my Jehovah’s Witness friend last week, and she brought another member of the Church along with her this time, that was a bit older. We got to discussing the origins of Satan and the idea that Satan created himself with the evil thoughts and the pride and the greed, and essentially taking himself off the path of righteousness. And because Adam and Eve were essentially the mold for humanity, and because they were tempted by him and led astray, that we all were going to be inherently imperfect as any bread from a dented mold will be dented. This concept was applied as to man, how we might become obsessed with evil thoughts and then act upon them given the opportunity if that is what we spend our minds energy concentrating on all the time.

What was most interesting about this to me, as I have found a lot that I can relate to general philosophy as well as some of the more specific Buddhist ideas that I am familiar with through my Dad, was that what it essentially comes down to is, like anything else, cause and effect. The concept of Karma is essentially cause and effect as well, even when discussing a Karma spread out over several lifetimes, or even kalpas of lifetimes, as the Sutras say.

I am always careful not to tread heavily on the beliefs of the very dedicated to their faith, as that never ends well, but I have found that I do like to test the edges of those beliefs a bit, especially when dealing with those who take the Bible at face value as though it were a strict accounting of fact from the hand of God, rather than the product of man and allegorical collection of wisdom combined over the ages. I think there is room for something in between the bearded fairy father in the sky and the idea that it is all some random uncontrolled explosion of matter and energy that has no other purpose except to be fleeting chaos. And I try to challenge some of the literal interpretation with something that is equally meaningful and holds the same lessons of why some behavior is self destructive to try and loosen the rigidity of the zealots who don’t appear to be able to recognize obvious horse puckey for what it is when they say it is all written exactly as it happened LITERALLY. (Mind boggling how otherwise seemingly rational folks can’t allow for the possibility that God is not some dude on a golden throne on the clouds, but more all encompassing than some patriarchal OTHER consciousness entirely that we have to OBEY or else.)

At any rate, this was one of those opportunities to try and temper some of the inherent idiocy in the folks who are so deeply indoctrinated in their religion. They are talking to me, trying to convince me that theirs is the only way to believe, and they don’t know that I am there talking to them to try and show them it is not. I figure its an opportunity to learn and spread intelligence and a seed of open mindedness, should the ground be fertile. If not, at least its a good way to keep my reasoning sharp and also is surprisingly supportive of my own spiritual understanding, and remains a challenge to keep my own faith grounded, and I found some affirmation in the things that seem to resonate in reality and spiritually equally well.

Such was the case with this notion of we shall reap what we sow, and I tried to say so to my guests, by gently explaining how there are many religions that believe in reincarnation and the how the concept of Karma was applicable to this same idea of this evil creating itself rather than being of God’s work to inflict it upon us (which would paint God in a rather cruel and unfavorable light.)  Even though I never even validated the idea that one might experience an actual reincarnation, my point was that the concept of what we put in motion is what follows us with consequences of that action is something more than just a Biblical construct of Satan, but one that is founded in reason and science and other worldly philosophies as well .  I try to do that wherever possible, as an illustration that perhaps the reason to follow some of the precepts of the Bible is not (or not JUST) because God has decreed it so, but because they are in fact reasonable ways to behave so as not to end up destroying ourselves.

And sure, perhaps that may be why God decreed it so, but really as a reason to do something it lacks impetus for any non-believer.   It is my hope that I shall encounter more frequently in life more people like my friend from MIT, who is living proof that religious faith and critical thinking skills need not be mutually exclusive.  Since it is notoriously difficult to sway the critical thinker to a faith, I am hoping to inspire some faithful to embrace their minds as well as God.

But anyway, as this entire point was brought up with the discussion of Adam and Eve chatting with Satan in the form of a snake in the Garden, then, I had to repress a rather exasperated smirk when the older woman’s reaction was to frown and insist, “Well that is different, than what WE’RE talking about. THIS is REAL.”

*sigh*

And THIS would be why intelligent folks are so often atheists.

But I stifled the urge to shake my head and roll my eyes, and kept quiet. The younger one, there is possibly some hope to find a middle ground there, and even more so with her daughter, but the older one is pretty well rooted in the literal word there, and I am not likely to do more than annoy her if I push.

This Pope Francis now, though… he gives me some hope that not all who are deeply religious are also deeply idiotic. I LOVE what he’s done with the place… =D

Enough with the Alarmist Gun Nonsense

This is the entirety of a response to a Huffpost article which I had to parse into smaller bits to satisfy character limits on the comment section.  Unfortunately, the moderating system or persons only saw fit to approve the final segment of the entire reply to this (asinine) comment by bestwishes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bestwishes/hostages-los-angeles-nordstrom-rack-robbery_n_2455015_221065700.html 

I figure I went to the trouble of writing it, someone should at least be able to read it if they want to…



Oh get real! I have had just about enough of that kind of rabble rousing nonsensical drivel. That kind of statement is unrealistic, irresponsible, implausible, and impractical.  The reactions to these stories always seems to be to fly to the most ridiculous and extremist notions that only serve to divide and distract from real solutions.

Arming everyone is NOT the solution.  Why?  Because people are idiots and not everyone is trainable and frankly there are a whole damn lot of folks that have no business at all being entrusted with a weapon that can take a life in a half second at the twitch of a finger.  Frankly, it is astounding that people even suggest such that there ought to be a RIGHT to take a life in this manner.  And if it is the RIGHT to carry a weapon that can do it, then everyone else has the right to hold you responsible if and when you end up for whatever reason using it to kill someone. One should only have the right to a weapon if they are proven to be responsible enough to handle it.

The whole idea of the guns somehow being a separate thing from the injury they inflict without the requirement of discipline to attain that ability is part of the problem. Guns make killing EASY and FAST.  Not just injury or stopping power, but LETHAL in the blink of an eye without thought or strength or anything necessary but the safety being off and enough pressure on the trigger.  The guns available at the time of the writing of the 2nd Amendment required a little preparation to use and did not have the capability to do so much damage in so little time.  A single shot being fired was the end result of “some assembly required” for each and every one.  Not so today, and so the conversation cannot be had on the values without taking that into consideration.  The people who throw the idea of the RIGHT to own a firearm are talking about a different right in today’s times.

That being said, banning guns entirely is likewise NOT a practical solution either.  Not because of the whole fighting oppression by the government crap, as that is just that – crap.  If you are fighting oppression by the use of force, you are doing it wrong.  And the government, having all the resources at their disposal that governments have, will simply have more guns than the yo-yo  with the arsenal in the basement, as well as bigger and better toys, bigger and better police forces and more thugs to wield them against whoever thinks they can fight back at that time.  If it comes to that, we’ve already lost.

You are much better off fighting the evils of oppression and tyranny with your BRAINS – ie using them to research and read the actual details of and about the people and things that you vote on at the local level and pay attention to who we are putting faith in as leaders.  Get off your ass and vote, and protest and speak and make noise while we still can and it will never come to the showdown at your own front door that you will lose anyway.  Don’t go along with the easy way, and allow yourself to be made uncomfortable for a night in jail for breaking unjust laws.  THAT has a much better shot at beating oppression than any last stand or shootout.

Also then, as is inevitably argued, “only the criminals will have guns.”  I say that in “” because that too is a bit of a hyperbolic statement meant to trigger alarm that is maybe not as true as it might seem on its face.  It is meant to conjure the image of helpless families all being terrorized at gunpoint while the looters rape and pillage at will because they fear no resistance. Yet I don’t believe that most criminals even acquire weapons to facilitate their criminal activities in a more terrifying way.  I think even the criminals acquire their weapons out of fear of other criminals – just like regular folks they get them for this absurd idea that it will provide them some safety from other gun toting idiots. The numbers say that criminals mostly tend to kill other criminals and that the number of criminals actually shot by good law abiding folk is negligible as guns just aren’t often used in defense.

The simple math which says the probability of being shot when out of range of any firearm = 0% should be enough to demonstrate that arming oneself is not the way to “safety”.  True safety means getting the guns as far away as possible, but the day we can get people to realize that they can never be truly SAFE without being entirely DEAD already is a whole different discussion in and of itself.  But here are some real research on firearms if you want the truth:  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use-2/

We restrict drinking and smoking and driving, why not firearms? Not saying they should be banned, but certainly the reality is that not everyone really should have a gun. Among those are people with impulse control problems or anger management issues or just plain old bad judgement or even bad eyesight. If it were not so easy to kill with a firearm, say if it took the preparation of packing a musket with the pellet and gunpowder first, then yeah, why not arm everyone? But with the automatic firing and large magazines and general portability and brainlessness of operation afforded by today’s tech, its time to have a new look at the idea that everyone has a right to bear arms. If they do, then it is a limited right based on how well they can be trusted to not abuse it.

The actual crux of the issue is embroiled in fear and power and all sorts of other societal influences that contribute in various ways, but we will never get to those if we are stuck on extremes. So stop it with the terrorist remarks about Hitler, Tyranny, and “They want to take our guns”. They are hysterical lunacy and not helping anyone.

Science Diet and the General Commercial Pet Food Backlash

(Originally posted here:  in response to the prevailing negative consumer attitudes  – specifically towards Hill’s Science Diet which is getting  a bit more flak than it probably deserves despite the valid concerns regarding misleading pet food labels)

Right now the whole industry is in an uproar about additives and what constitutes “health” in both animals AND people.  There is a tremendous amount of finger-pointing and assumptions and general spread of mis-information on all sides, as well as a lot of faulty logic and jumping to conclusions which only serve to fuel ire. I find it rather distressing to see so many accusations and anger directed at Hill’s lately because there are quite a number of unexamined issues at stake, and were it really the worst kind of food that wasn’t supplying enough for our pets to thrive on, then I guess I was somehow blessed with an animal that thrived on garbage. I am by no means about to defend any brand just because I use it, but please be cautious before assuming that all fault lies in the manufacturers lap for every story about “food related” malaise in people’s pets.

There is always a mob mentality after anything gets “exposed” (like this recent brouhaha concerning commercial pet foods) and then every possible tangentially related or associated issue is turned into a scandal and a witch hunt.  People talk about how their pet suddenly got diarrhea when they started feeding Science Diet, but they don’t mention that almost any pet will show gastrointestinal issues upon switching foods, especially if you just one day run out of the usual stuff and buy whatever is readily available! It should always be done very gradually by mixing with the food they are accustomed to until it is replaced, but if you suddenly just change up the diet, of course they may vomit or have diarrhea!  Even a sudden switch to those highest priced “premium foods” is likely to be just as problematic as any if it isn’t done gradually.

And not every animal will do well on those premium foods either.  Just as nutritional needs differ for different people. The bottom line is something my grandmother used to say: “One man’s food is another man’s poison” and that holds true for pets as well.  If your pet is healthy (good energy, strong teeth, good coat, good spirits)  and shows every indication of well being while being fed whatever you are using, then stick with it.  IF something changes, then look to what in the environment has changed as it is probably unlikely to be the food they have done well on until that point.  There are exceptions to this, of course, like when something becomes unusually tainted, but if your pet won’t eat it, that is often a sign that maybe they ought not to if everything else is normal. Many times bacteria can develop on even dry kibble AFTER packaging while sitting on store shelves or even when sitting unopened at home if conditions are right.  This bacteria can be the source of potential illness, and anyone who might have this as the true reason behind their pets illness who also happens to feed the particular media scapegoat brand is sure to blame the food despite however long their pet might have been thriving previously.

And to the people screeching about “corn and fillers”: the order of ingredients listed doesn’t actually tell the whole story about the amounts of stuff in the formula.  There are few articles that give a clue as to how these labels should actually be interpreted (one source is the warning under the topic “ingredient list” here: http://www.candckennel.com/Pet%20care%20Articles.html#petfoodlabels )
The problem is that since the industry is so poorly regulated that it can take an equation that starts to look like differential calculus to come up with any real sense of what stuff and in what percentage the foods actually contain!  The articles that get a lot of attention are often a good deal of alarming stuff based on incomplete information and pseudo science (but this holds true from both sides of every argument, and as to the whole issue of corn in general being a nutritional source: I don’t have any degrees in nutritional science or the optimal nutritional needs of dogs, but I do know I can’t keep my mutt from eating the sweet corn in my garden despite going to extremes of fencing it off!  There might be some reason he is so intent on getting at it, but its probably not because its useless to his system.)

I am loathe to believe the hype (good OR bad) about ANY particular brand without doing the research myself.   I cannot say that Science Diet is great for every animal, but I can say that my large dog lived to 14 years in excellent health with minimal vet visits until he died peacefully of old age and he ate science diet for almost the entire time with the exception of the first year during which he ate Puppy Chow (which I have also been told is no good by various “experts”). I also had a cat that lived 22 years and visited the vet only twice (once as a kitten when she was mauled by the nieghbors dog and once to be fixed after her first and only litter) despite having been fed nothing but the very same low cost large kibble we fed the German Shepherd dogs we had.  So I cannot stress enough that we need to pay attention to the environment that the pet is in and not be so quick to judge the food as the cause of illness just because someone else has decided its bad.

Nature probably knows best, but the fact is that Nature has kind of been shoved out of the picture by man on nearly every forefront.  Even the food we feed our food is altered by chemical and salt fertilizers and pesticides, so its pretty hard to argue that a raw diet is any better considering what that raw food has been exposed to.  Even organic gardening in the backyard is subjected to the water (which has been shown to contain all sorts of prescription med residues) and air pollution that is inescapable in any but the most remotely isolated location.  My grapes experience herbicide damage every year, despite the fact that I use none, and I have no idea what source is causing the leaves to pucker for about a month each spring before it seems to return to normal.  There are simply too many factors involved to be sure of where some of these health problems originate, but if anything I would start focusing on the big Pharm companies that have their hands in everything from agriculture to flu-shots before deciding that this brand of pet food is so much better than that.  The whole recall in 2007 should have taught us that much when it became apparent that there were only a handful of suppliers for hundreds of brands which contained the same bad stuff.  If you really want to find out what in the bag of dog food, you need to look at what ingredients are in the ingredients and what those sources are as well!

Make up your own mind only after hearing arguments from proponents on both sides of any issue rather than be swayed by extremist and/or unfounded statements that may be made in passion but without due consideration, and always when it pertains to information consider the source and what they may have to gain by influencing your choices.  Too often we go by whats on the surface and later pay the price for our own hasty judgment.  Its truly depressing that people don’t know how to actually think and process stuff on their own anymore and are so quick to jump in with any mob mentality no matter how stupid it is.  (Heh-heh, its probably because of what WE’RE eating!!)

Color me confused concerning “50 Shades of Grey” .

Everywhere I turn I see mention of “50 Shades of Grey.”

After seeing a reference to this book, or simply “Mr. Grey,” in a “wink wink nudge nudge” manner of joke that I was not in on one too many times, I finally  ̶l̶̶o̶̶o̶̶k̶̶e̶̶d̶ ̶i̶̶t̶ ̶u̶̶p̶  googled it. Frankly I am amazed at the fact that there is any to-do at all.  From all counts, it’s not particularly well written in terms of the actual prose, so the substance of the thing must be what’s so intriguing to people that its surpassed the Harry Potter level of popularity.  Come to find out there’s all this ruckus and book banning going on over some BSDM (that’s Bondage/Submission/Domination/Masochism, for the acronym challenged out there), what it all boils down to is that its a smut novel which originated as  some “Twilight” based fan-fiction.

And really?  REALLY?  Come on, people… this isn’t new stuff here. (I’ve seen fanfic of  Buffy boffing Spike and Angel together, and that’s if she’s even in the room with them.  I prefer they leave Angel out of it, because usually my Blondie-Bear is played down by the Angel-shippers and emasculated while Broody gets all the glory.  Puh-leeeze… As IF!   Whatever,  Spike’s  been tapping that Slayer-ass even though she couldn’t stand him all that time, and I don’t recall her calling out Angel’s name… )   Smut has been around forever in all the bodice ripper romance novels buried shallowly under a cover story of pirates or swashbucklers.  Heck some of the teen stuff is riddled with it -  even Judy Blume gave it a try.  But you want a nice exploration of the BSDM psychology try the old Anne Rice erotica, also a trilogy  and written under the name A.N. Roquelaure, starting with “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” which has all the same ideas from what I can tell of the synopsis of Grey.   I read it in what, high school?  And that wasn’t even my first exposure to the idea.

THAT came in a paperback novel  when I was 13 while in China with my mother, who had already read it and had GIVEN IT TO ME TO READ.   That actually surprised me quite a bit, but you can never tell what my mom will do, and it wasn’t the whole meat of the story, just sort of a side dish involving spanking and a riding crop or two in the hands of a woman who was tempted to cheat on her husband.  Maybe it was the only thing in English around that she could provide to assuage my boredom of being surrounded by an entire country of people who didn’t speak my language.  Anyway, try starting with Prince Charming awakening the Princess by de-floration while she’s still unconscious rather than a kiss before taking the now nude Beauty back to his own castle as his slave.  I’d wager its better on the prose anyway and frankly I liked it better than her mainstream work, which tends to be a little overwhelming in its painting the background and scenery and slight on actual action.  Rice’s BSDM smut is better at cutting to the chase.

That the work is derivative is not the reason for my scorn but the fact that there is any buzz over it at all is. The flop movie with Dan Akroyd and Rosie O’Donnell was only loosely “based” on Anne Rice’s more modern take on the subject in “Exit to Eden” and was only capitalizing on the idea and popularity and tease of the sex stuff from the book.  But it was carried off as a comedy rather than the tale of romance it was and missed the point entirely.  Even the book was sort of “Sleeping Beauty Lite” in terms of the exploration of the BSDM dynamic in the first place, so I am seeing once again the results of the weird sexual taboo here in the U.S. that turns adults back into awkward adolescents every time you mention birth control.

It’s stupid that I even know this “50 Shades of Grey” exists because the only reason I do is that someone got all bent out shape trying to ban it for being porn.  Here’s what I don’t get: if porn is not banned, why even try with the book burning shit?  Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.  People are acting like they’ve never read a book befo-!   Oh, wait….

Nevermind.

 

Lessons of the Past? Those who fail History are doomed to repeat it in summer school.

You know how sometimes, once you’ve gotten older and more mature, you listen to a song from years before that you used to like and then discover its not quite as great as you remembered it?  Yeah well,  this one  isn’t like that at all.

“History Will Teach Us Nothing” — Sting (lyrics) : http://youtu.be/FrJ1YYbSIY4

They say those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

When I was in high school history was historically my weakest subject in school, one in which I had to focus all of my intellectual efforts in to achieve a B+  even in the isolation of summer school for U.S. History, and having barely passed European by the skin of my teeth with something even less impressive.  I used to love that Sting, one of my favorite artists, also appeared to feel that way too, as on the “Nothing Like the Sun”  album jacket (yes, an actual 33 RPM LP ALBUM) he talked about having thought of history as a being filled with a lot of “robber baron scumbags.”  So it was with a sort of rebellious spirit that I used to play this tune back then, in a sort of protest that the subject which harried me so that it might be abolished.

Now, in revisiting the lyrics today, in the wake of a discussion of the Bible and what it does and doesn’t condemn as well as another “wake up and smell the coffee (machine which has caught fire and is burning your house down), America” infomage post stating “Why didn’t the German people realize what was happening and put a stop to it?” I am struck once again by Sting’s genius.  Not only was he a true poet and intellectual but a forward thinking enlightened man – a rare individual indeed.  I shouldn’t be so surprised at the scarcity of such people; of course foresight is lacking in a group of folks who are looking to the past to justify today.  It’s a wonder that we evolve at all with that kind of thinking.

I was awful at history.  I can remember a handful of dates, maybe, and a few key happenings, but the rest is a blur of maps and changing borders and wars and rebellions that I couldn’t tell from the other if I were on Jeopardy and had 10 million bucks riding on the final question.  If I can see that the shit is coming around and think we’d better turn off the fan before it hits, what the heck is wrong with some of the voting public in America?

“History Will Teach Us Nothing”

If we seek solace in the prisons of the distant past
Security in human systems we’re told will always always last
Emotions are the sail and blind faith is the mast
Without a breath of real freedom we’re getting nowhere fast

If God is dead and an actor plays his part
His words of fear will find their way to a place in your heart
Without the voice of reason every faith is its own curse
Without freedom from the past things can only get worse

Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away

History will teach us nothing

Our written history is a catalog of crime
The sordid and the powerful, the architects of time
The mother of invention, the oppression of the mild
The constant fear of scarcity, aggression as its child

Sooner or later

Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing

Sooner or later the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away

History will teach us nothing

Know your human rights
Be what you come here for

I do hope I get to meet Mr. Sumner  again some day, and maybe be a little less obtuse about it than I was previously.  Although if I do, preferably THIS time in my real identity as opposed to my alter ego “Angela”  like before, if only because I’d like him to know my real name.   That way, if I am just as obtuse, at least  if he ever talks about meeting the fan who talked about how much she liked Sting TO Sting without actually realizing it was him, I will know he remembered ME.  But still…  it would be better if I just wasn’t so obtuse.   =)

OKAY, So how weird is MY life?

I am really going to have to start paying more attention to pop culture happenings so I can make a list of celebrity encounters.  Even for someone born and bred around Holyweird, I’ve had more than a couple of fair shares worth- at the rate I’m going I think I might have a shot at something on the record books.  Be easier to tell, though, and I’d have kept better records too,  if I’d actually known who the people I met actually were when I met them.  I wonder how many more famous people I can be totally oblivious about when I am sitting on their lap?

So I just did some fact checking and cross referencing with my memory and Google when something occurred to me whilst reminiscing about what we affectionately had called our “Betty Ford Weekend in Vegas,” which was a working trip with a few of the gals from the club, getting well paid along with our expenses, to do a private bachelor party show and have a good time hanging out with the girls.  That was how it was pitched to me, anyway, so I did what I always do and put on my comfy clothes for the trip and brought the glamor along in a bag for when we were on the clock.

So imagine my surprise when the limo comes to take me away looking all frumpy and Diana Prince and inside are my gals and three very good looking – VERY good looking, mind you – well heeled men whose job it was to be taking care of the entertainment for the party (i.e. – us).  I suddenly realized I was out of my league, and whatever my gals might have said, or even thought, it would appear that we were at least on display now if not already on the clock, and that I had to find a way to spin into Wonder Woman at my earliest convenience or be feeling very out of place.

I spent some of the day baking in the desert sun after cautiously sampling some E for the first time and found that either it or the heat did not agree with me as much as a nice bit of the good green herb and a quiet bath would do me, so after faking it tll I could make it with the smiles and the booze and all the talk and flirt and meeting the bachelor, Marshall, who it seemed like I was expected to be impressed with -this oddly white nerdy looking guy calling himself “Slim Shady” and I didn’t get it at all.  So around 2pm I bailed out of the weird world of these people who were used to having money which were all talking about stuff that was like some giant inside joke I wasn’t privy too.   Not that they were trying to make me feel like that, it was their scene and I just wasn’t into that much coke and booze.

I  felt so out of place and felt kinda faint, so I decided to get some food in me, quit the pool and the heat and sought refuge in the AC at the mall with my friend Rob who also happened to be in Vegas that weekend. I had him help me shop at Wet Seal so I could try to put Wonder Woman in some suitable for walking around stuff since I had only packed for Diana Prince.  I guess “Girls Weekend” means a different thing to me.  Fair enough, but I had been caught unprepared by a mile and needed to do some damage control to get back in the boots.  Thank Jesus, who Rob strongly resembles, that Rob was there or I don’t know how I’d have managed to slip down the side alley and do  my spinny-flashy-transformy thing.

But I did it, thanks to him.  I felt much better by that evenings festivities of dinner and dancing, and I looked good doing it.  Stuck with tequila and a bit of herb and was on my A game – it was a nice hybrid weekend of Angela/Ai-ling once I readjusted to the correct understanding of the situation.  And even when I got an uncomfortable contact coke buzz from swapping some spit with the well-heeled gent that I had at first been horror-struck about being in my glasses and pj pants when he was introduced, I was confident that it was the drug and not me being swept up that was making my heart pound uncomfortably and was confident enough in my awesomeness to retreat back to the hotel  for a quiet bath.   I will say that I also had a lovely foot massage along with it from the hot guy who felt responsible for my discomfort, (though I am surely responsible for some of his as I went to bed alone) and in the end happy to have not been a total embarrassment to their version of Girls Weekend and had some proper fun.  And no worse for wear in the morning either, (which is more than I can say for the rest of that sorry lot dragging in at dawn…)

Shorty after this is when I ended up hanging out with my guy now (I had designs on the other until I learned he had a girlfriend, cuz , hot and heeled or not, Homey don’t play dat…And I feel very sorry for the girl who may not know the truth of what she’s got there; he was slick, that one, but he has good taste so she probably deserves better.) At any rate, it was he who first introduced me to Tupac Shakur and reeducated me in my prejudicial categorization of rap as Crap. So of course, then at the time, it still had not dawned on me, and it was at least a year or two later when the possibility finally did occur to me but I never took the time to confirm or deny.

And then last night I was playing Eminem’s “Criminal” on youtube because of a conversational reference Chad had made a couple days back .  I’d wanted to make sure it was the right song since we listened to that entire album quite a bit back in the day when I was learning how to hear stuff I hadn’t heard in it before, and I was enjoying and appreciating the wit of it all over again.  It had been a while, but it still makes me grin as I think about what he says.   Because whatever the absurdity that he was spewing, that goofy white guy had a gift for gabbing some outrageous shit, and before Chad, I just didn’t get it at first.   And then–  Hey!  Wait a minute…   o.O

This time I checked it out.  I had to know if it was.  Googled the time frame of his marriage and divorce (x2) from Kim.   Checked out the calender of that Betty Ford Vegas trip  where that guy’s father-in-law to be was such a pig at the bachelor party for Marshall…. could it have been? … Marshall…  goofy nerdy little white guy that I didn’t really get what was up with the rapper attitude and calling himself “Slim Shady” that one of the gals had thought was so cute that she hooked up with the bachelor (he wasn’t married YET, right?)  and…

Holy crap.

(Marshall Mathers = MM = Eminem = SLIM SHADY=ZOMFG!)

Yup.

Weird.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCERANT: TAG YOUR DOG…PLEASE!

(This is my first official blog posting, but not quite the way I’d envisioned it all this time I’ve been waiting for the perfect inspiration to begin with since registering so many months ago.  It started as a Facebook status update, but it sort of grew to unweildy proportions along with my ire.  I apologize that it isn’t more professionally proofed, and for the language which may not be of journalistic calibur, but dammit, somebody has to say something, and the apparently word needs to be put out there, even if its out there in the four letter variety.  In this case its appropriate; welcome to my world.  Ready? Here it goes: I am…)

Fucking FURIOUS at people who don’t bother to put a GODDAMN TAG on their dog! This is the second puppy in as many weeks that my boyfriend has brought home to rescue from imminent peril.  Just like the last one, it looks like a four month old pit mix, with a very sweet disposition and good manners.  Unlike the last, this one is bathed, spayed (still has stitches), and wearing a nice COLLAR, and  maybe even microchipped.  Unfortunately, since the collar has no bloody TAGS on it, and as its after hours at the shelter, we’ve no way to find her idiot owner.

SOOO pissed off right now because I have just had a huge row about it with the boyfriend over the danger of bringing her into the house where we just had a puppy with parvo all over the place!!  I can’t understand how someone can go to the trouble of purchasing a collar or even really THINKING about having a dog and then letting it go even ONE DAY without some means of getting it back should it get out or away from you.  WTF PEOPLE!!??  How hard can it be?

My own dog had new tags as soon as I got a new phone number when we moved to Redondo and THANK GOD because the very next day I came home to an open front door.  Wide open.  I  had very little time to panic though, because it did occur to me that I had been out a few hours already and it was entirely possible that someone had already grabbed him and possibly had called the number on his tags.  I RAN upstairs, saw the blinking answering machine, and the first words I heard upon punching “play” were: “Hi, I’ve got your dog….”

I nearly cried with relief. The booger had actually made his way from Redondo all the way up to Hermosa and at some point across PCH without getting run over!  An 85 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback is an imposing figure that most would be wary of, but a very kind man who spied him down on the street alone was brave enough to approach, and upon finding him amicable, take him into his home.  For that I am forever grateful because he was the best dog I’d ever had.  I offered the man $100 for his troubles which he refused, but I was insistent on somehow showing my gratitude, so he told me to give it to the SPCA if I felt I must give him a reward.  I wrote them a check the next day.  It seemed fitting; he’d been a pound puppy, too.

Having my dog back was beyond invaluable – literally priceless.  It would have cost at least $60.00 to claim him if the shelter had been the ones to return him to me anyway.  I spent the money without a single regret even after the fact and unnecessarily; I would have spent more to get him back.  But really it only needed to cost me $6.00 to make that happen: the initial expense of the tag I had engraved on the machine at Petco.  Six whole dollars… for a million-dollar dog.

Six bucks and 10 minutes of time was the total real cost of what saved me at least a day of calling every single shelter in a 30 mile radius*(see note), worrying ten years off my lifespan, and possibly my dog from being hit by a car or simply being kept by the people who found him.  He was such a great dog that the guy told me if they weren’t able to find his owner they would have kept him even though they already had two dogs of their own.  I was also pretty damn glad I didn’t waste time before putting the new tag on him as soon as we had the new phone number considering he’d only been wearing it a day before it proved its usefullness.  He wasn’t microchipped, but who knows if they would even have thought to have that checked if he had been?

A few years ago, the boyfriend found a gorgeous Lab pup that we wouldn’t have hesitated to keep if we couldn’t find his owners.  Were it not for an extremely dog aware friend of ours who suggested the possibility that he might have a chip, the thought would never crossed our minds, nor would we have known where to take him to check for one even if it had.   When we took him to the shelter for a scan, it turned out that he’d only been recently adopted from that exact place a day or two ago!  The fact that he was a stray in the first place should have been a clue that maybe the beast had a tendency to wander, you think? (*eyeroll*) We still have yet another stray Shepherd mix that has that same tendency, but that’s only because the folks who recover him can find us whenever he pulls a Houdini.  He’s pretty good at that trick; he’s done it at least three times and we don’t know his secret yet.

I myself snagged a rather huge but docile German Shepherd from a local gas station while out and about, but was able to get him home in 20 minutes because of this amazing shiny technogadget called “ID TAG.”  And it was a hell of a lot less trouble and inconvenience than returning the Lab puppy even though there was no one home at the address printed on it.  I’d written a note to leave with my contact info, but their neighbors were kind enough to take the dog until the owners returned, saving me the hassle of figuring out what to do with him while waiting to hear from them.  I had to keep the Lab overnight at my own house before I could drive him to the shelter during their business hours the next day.  I am about the ideal person you want to find your lost pet, because I will spend, have spent, hours making flyers, posting ads, crawling the internet looking four “lost” postings to reunite lost animals with their people.  But I’d rather not have to do all that, if you don’t mind, and most people just can’t even if they want to.

Shortly I will upload to FB a video and some new pics of the newest member of our family, the aforementioned pit mix pup who was eating bugs in the Carl’s Jr. parking lot and who was about to become dinner for a full grown pit himself before Chad came along.  We were unwilling to leave him at the kill shelter (no microchip) even though we could come back and adopt him after four days for $120.00 complete with a set of shots, license, neuter and a free vet consult because there was no guarantee he’d actually make it all four days without being euthanised for some other reason (like illness or fighting with other dogs in the crowded kennels.) We’ve now spent  more than four hundred dollars on puppy food, vet fees, antibiotics and flea meds as well as a goodly amount of sleep and emotional distress to nurse him through canine Parvovirus, infected bite wounds and a heavy infestation of worms (round AND tape) and posting pics on every lost pet site I could find online.

His name is now “Mickey.”  He knows it.  I had it engraved on his shiny new bone tag along with his new address and phone number.  Made it to Petco 10 minutes before closing time the day I gave in and decided we were keeping him for good.   I figured it would be a tragic shame (well, pretty much the most horrible thing in the world) if he were to find himself alone on the streets and unable to be located again, or God forbid, put to death by the animal shelter considering he could have tested positive for Parvo having just gotten over it!  After everything put into this dog, you better believe I want him back if he gets lost – and that right soon.

I do think there’s a high probability that this second beast Chad scooped out of traffic yesterday has a microchip considering her condition and disposition, but since no one has a wand to locate and read it, she’s got to be in our environment until we can take her to someone who does.  So she’s now been potentially exposed to a highly contagious, and potentially and often deadly virus which is also particularly able to stay alive on any contact surface for at LEAST 3 months or even years on a lawn, and almost certainly the last week or so in the same seat of Chad’s car which I doubt he’s made any attempt to sterilize since Mickey sat in it under similar circumstances.  Even dogs that have had ALL their shots can still contract it, and epecially the young ones who may not have had a full set yet like this one who looks about the same age as Mickey.  If she’d had a goddamn NOTE tied to the collar with an address that couldn’t have been far from where she was found dodging traffic, the risk to her health would have been minimized by a factor of who knows what.

The idea that this sweet and pretty dog might have to go through what Mickey did (dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea – possibly bloody) and her owners might have to go through what I did (home treatment is cheaper than the hospitalization which is often recommended, but exhausting and constant and messy) all because they were too busy or empty headed to put some kind of ID on their new pet is infuriating. Its frustrating because even the worry that it MIGHT happen could have been avoided for so little time and money its absurd.  Even if the pet hasn’t chosen a name yet, there are little message-in-a-bottle type capsule/canisters you can buy to hold a little piece of paper with contact info till the permanent tags are ready, and even “shrinky dink” style ones you can write on that bake into hard plastic in the toaster in 5 minutes. If you don’t want to expose your information, then use a proxy  – like the folks who put the number of a service which holds the owners information private, but will take the finders contact info so that the owner can reclaim their pet.  (These were some strange and rather cold people that I met when I returned their dog via this method, but they were strange and cold people who had their dog back in short order thanks to an ID with a phone number on the collar.)  Christ, write on the collar with a Sharpie if you have to — JUST DO SOMETHING so  your pet can be safely, and quickly returned!  The faster, the safer, the better, and preferably not dependent upon equipment that a normal person is unlikely to possess to decipher where they belong!

The fact that only about 13% of lost pets get returned home is appalling.  A loss that’s so EASY and inexpensive to avoid, but still that’s ONLY 13 OUT OF EVERY 100  PEOPLE SEEKING THEIR LOST PET that have avoided heartache. And that’s just on paper, but really its out of many more when you count the kids in those families crying their eyes out over Fluffy in the other 83%  of households suffering a loss.   Even the closure that can come from knowing a pet died when they were hit by a car is better than the endless searching and hoping.  Plus many older pets do actually choose to go away to die; our GSD got as far as the neighbors front lawn, but if he’d gotten any further I’m sure we’d still have wanted to know what happened to him – and who’s going to think of checking a dead animal for a microchip rather than just assuming it was a stray?  It could even make the difference in being the emergency contact if they are injured and need vet care that can save them, even if it’s just because the person who hit them is more likely to take on that responsibility for someone’s identifiable pet when they can’t be reached right away.

I have totally HAD it with stupidity. It makes me want to slap people when I see a dog like that who’s barely been tended to, but really even more so when its been otherwise well cared for.  I find it completely irresponsible and frankly inexcusable for an animal that has been collared and bathed not  be immediately identifiable and returnable as well. Otherwise, why bother?  HOW can this possibly NOT be the top priority for something you care enough about to FEED every-fucking-single day?

Seriously.

Would you not teach your child his own name?

[/rant]

*Note: You would be amazed at the way LA county sprawls across zip codes and how that affects jurisdiction.  My mother’s dogs got out of her fenced yard in Ladera Heights and had gotten less than a mile before someone picked them up.  Despite there being a number of shelters that were nearer to her house (and which we had called to no avail), the one that actually had her dogs was over 18 miles and a 35 minute drive away in Downey (which we had not even considered as a possibility.)   After they’d been gone four days, I’d had a dream while  taking an afternoon nap  in which I saw them both behind a chain link fence in a kennel which seemed to be that shelter,  so we called and asked them if they happened to have a black and white Cocker that was probably palling around with a scruffy looking Briard mix.  They did, and we were able to come and get them then, on the day before they were to be available for adopting or put to death within the hour if they were not.  Cost a pretty penny too.  All because Mom didn’t bother to put their collars (with tags) back on after giving them a bath.

Ignore this

No, really… ignore this; there isn’t anything interesting here at all, but I haven’t figured out if there’s a way to delete the post that said to delete the “Hello World” shit and replace it with my own first post (which I didn’t do because I was afraid I might need that post for some reason in the future. Now it”s the future and, of course, I don’t, but since  I didn’t follow the instructions that I was afraid I might need to make my first post, I made the second my first and left the real first there unchanged.   And can see that I ought to have followed those instructions to delete them.   But I would not know this now if I had  done so, so I guess saving it was purposeful after all.  Except that I now have to tell you to ignore this because otherwise my second post will be first and my first next.  Which would be stupid, right?)

Move along.  Nothing to see here.

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