Movies, Movies, Movies!

11 May
mv5bnjjky2vmm2utyzhiny00otk4lwi3otctngzin2nhmgzkmzcwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjq4ode4mzq40._v1_sy1000_sx1500_al_

“Us” (2019) image courtesy of IMDb

Give me more movies!

We all love movies! We know that because billions of dollars are spent every year at movie theaters. We can’t get enough of them! We want more, better, faster movies!

What’s on your list? Here are my lists and ratings at IMDb.

I subscribe to Movie Club, where I get discounts on tickets to enjoy movies in an air-conditioned theater with recliners that can be easily reserved online.  I also subscribe to HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and CBS All Access. Why? Because I love movies and television series, and I hate ads. I will pay a reasonable amount to support these arts and to enjoy them commercial-free.

My current watchlist in alphabetical order:

  • Barry (HBO)
  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS*)
  • Big Little Lies (HBO)
  • Billions (Showtime)
  • Chernobyl (HBO)
  • Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix)
  • The Crown (Netflix)
  • The Enemy Within** (NBC)
  • Game of Thrones (HBO)
  • Gentlemen Jack (HBO)
  • Glow (Netflix)
  • Good Girls** (NBC)
  • The Good Place** (NBC)
  • Grey’s Anatomy** (ABC)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
  • Homeland (Showtime)
  • I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime)
  • The Orville** (FOX)
  • Ozark (Netflix)
  • The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC)
  • Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • So You Think You Can Dance** (FOX)
  • Star Trek Discovery (CBS*)
  • This Is Us** (NBC)
  • The Twilight Zone (CBS*)
  • Veep (HBO)
  • Westworld (HBO)
  • Young Sheldon (CBS*)

*commercial-free on CBS All Access channel
**commercial-free Hulu option
Bold titles mean it is so good it hurts waiting for the next episode.

There are a ton of series that have concluded that are “binge worthy“.

Most recently, I absolutely loved Us (Jordan Peele’s horror movie – though I’m not a fan of horror, this, like The Shining, is sheer pleasure to watch and I look forward to seeing it again). Here’s the trailer.

I am looking forward to seeing LittleApart from that, there is nothing in the “Coming Soon” list that interests me much. I might go to a theater to see Booksmart or Ma

What’s on your watchlist?

 

 

Average American & Don McGahn

11 May

 

I am an average American.

Like millions of ordinary, good citizens, I have voted in some, not all, elections.

I have been complacent and indifferent about many things.

I have worked hard for many years and filed my tax returns every year and I have been honest.

I have been laid off.  I have quit jobs.  I have never been fired.

I have never been arrested.

I have never hit anyone.  I have not thrown objects at anyone.  I have not keyed anyone’s car.

I have gone to church, but most years I did not.

I have donated small amounts of money to charities and occasionally to support someone who is campaigning for public office.

Like millions of Americans, I voted for Hillary Clinton because I trusted her more than Donald Trump.  I still trust her more than him.

I trust Robert Mueller more than anyone else on the planet (except my husband, I trust him above all), and I want the Congress and Senate to have the full report.  I want Attorney General Barr to release it to them.  I want Mueller to testify.

I am an average American.  I want my voice to be counted.  I vote.  I pay taxes.  I worry about my kids’ future.

I want Don McGahn to testify.

Above all this Saturday morning, there are two words I want to say to Mr. McGahn:

THANK YOU

If you don’t know why he deserves a big, public “thank you” from average Americans, you have not read the Mueller report.  Unlike most people, I did.  I read the whole redacted public version.  Read my reaction here.

I encourage you to write to public servants who are doing their job.  Tell them thank you.  Praise them for their ethical conduct.  Show them some love, publicly.  Use social media to fortify them.  Be part of the grassroots movement that shows we care about the rule of law, we will not tolerate corruption, and we want the people who take an oath to serve and protect the American people and the U.S. Constitution to act like public servants, not oligarchs, demagogues, and dictators.

This is America.  We reject tyranny.

Reading Mueller

20 Apr

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 8.58.29 PM

I am one of the millions of U.S. citizens and voters reading word for word the Mueller report. Even with redactions, it is interesting, easy to follow, and the redactions are, for the most part, a shrug–eventually I will know what is behind the black bars, for now, the report provides an adequate chronology of what the investigation uncovered.

There is no doubt in my mind that Putin directed cyber attacks and propaganda designed to influence American voters to either abstain from voting or to vote for Trump or someone other than Clinton, and that Russians succeeded in influencing the 2016 election. Someone wrote to a Russian on that fateful night that Clinton conceded the victory to Trump, “Putin has won.” That was the chilling moment for me in reading the Mueller report. Those words, written to a Russian operative, “Putin has won.

* * *

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 9.05.55 PM

There are many points of interest in the Mueller report. On page 162 of the searchable PDF file that CNN made available to the public via its website, we learn that when a member of the Trump team met with a Russian in the Seychelles on January 11, 2017, nearly two weeks after new sanctions were imposed by Obama and nine days before the Trump inauguration, the “topic of Russian interference in the 2016 election did not come up.” I find that odd. And implausible. The truth is, we have no way of knowing what Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev discussed. We have only the word of someone who was willing to secretly take an inappropriate meeting with a foreign policy influencer.

Why must the meeting be done in secrecy?

Why was the meeting worth the risk?

Why was it inappropriate?

My understanding of the latter, what about the meeting was inappropriate, is that you have an unsanctioned meeting by a member of a transition team before inauguration, before Senate confirmation, and without any vetting by the intelligence community.

My perspective of the Trump team overall, throughout my reading of Volume I of the Special Counsel’s Report, is that they were incompetent, arrogant, and just plain stupid.

What is blatantly obvious is this: After decades of opposition research, there is no evidence incriminating Hillary Clinton. Most assuredly, if Russian intelligence activities had a single document that made her look bad, it would have been given to Donald Trump, Jr., at the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting. Instead, Russia had nothing whatsoever to offer. China had nothing to offer. Iran had nothing to offer. The UAE had nothing to offer. There was no dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The only thing Russia could do was to hack our election process and try to influence voters. It is interesting that the propaganda machine worked to favor both Trump and Sanders–the latter, presumably, because it divided Democratic voters.

* * *

Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 10.39.23 AM

In his Introduction to Volume II, Special Counsel describes “the considerations that guided our obstruction-of-justice investigation” as well as the reasons for declining to prosecute the President. Basically, as has been widely reported, Mr. Mueller accepted the OLC’s opinion that a sitting President cannot be prosecuted while in office [by a DOJ attorney due to separation of powers]. In other words, the duty of holding a President accountable for crimes sits with other constitutional authorities because the DOJ is controlled by the Executive Branch. Simply put, Mueller did not indict Trump because that would be over-reaching his authority and infringing on the authority and responsibility of Congress to check a president’s abuse of power.

Trump can be and will be held accountable for his many attempts to obstruct the investigation into himself and his family members. This is good news, not because it is Trump, but because it is precedent. We The People do not want any president to get away with witness intimidation, dangling of pardons, or firing of DOJ officials as part of a cover-up.

Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 11.27.57 AM.png

This is another key point that stopped me in my tracks as I read the Mueller Report: “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

I read that sentence several times. They did not so state. What this means to me is that people who care very deeply about law and order, about our constitution and democracy, were unable to exonerate the President.

President Trump claimed to have been exonerated. Even on the suspicion of collusion with Russians to influence the election in Trump’s favor, he was not exonerated. Instead, a careful reading of the facts indicates that Campaign officials successfully concealed communications via encrypted apps and deleted messages. There was evidence that communication had occurred, but the content of that communication cannot be known because it was either deleted or encrypted. There were also many instances of pleading the Fifth Amendment (refusal to answer a question on the basis of self-incrimination) and “do not recall” responses to questions. Therefore, it cannot be said that no collusion occurred. Indeed, because of these facts, it is likely that crimes did occur–otherwise, what was the purpose of concealing the conversation or refusing to answer on the basis of self-incrimination?

What is also evident is that Donald Trump and all of his Campaign officials were well aware of the disdainful nature of cozying up to Putin, which is why they repeatedly concealed their coziness. Why didn’t they come right out and admit their position with regards to Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, and NATO? Why did they fire Campaign officials whenever news broke of their active connections to Russian interests? Why did Trump himself deny that he had any business or interest in Russia, while he was actively pursuing a Trump Moscow project that would add millions of dollars to his portfolio? Wasn’t that colluding with Russians? I mean, he himself was actively directing his people to develop a deal while he publicly stated he had nothing to do with Russia–Russians knew he was lying to the American voters and there was a tacit agreement to keep the Trump Moscow pursuit a secret, even after the Republican convention when he was the official nominee! Is that not a conspiracy to defraud the people of the United States?

If it was a perfectly reasonable, ethical, moral, and legal thing to do, why not be transparent about it? Imagine that Donald Trump was forthright in his business interests and stated publicly that he was interested in developing a real estate deal in Moscow that he would follow through on if he did not win the election, and that he would abandon if he won the election. Imagine that. Imagine that he was forthright with the American voters about his views that his campaign was one long “infomercial” for the Trump brand. Imagine a business candidate that transparent. “Yes, I am interested in doing business globally and I am pursuing possibilities while I campaign…if I win, I will abandon all such activities and these are my beliefs and the positions I will take in my foreign policies…” Why does it seem necessary to conceal? We all knew he was getting free publicity by running for office. We all knew he was networking and taking advantage of the system, and that he didn’t expect to win. Why did he think it was necessary to hide the fact that he was pursuing a business deal with Russia?

Perhaps it is because there is an obvious conflict of interest.

So in essence, he himself was colluding with Russians. He himself was actively pursuing the Trump Moscow real estate deal and hiding that conflict of interest, and the Russians knew he was hiding that fact. He was compromised. This made him all the more their favorite candidate. This explains his need to meet in secret with Putin. He is compromised. He is unfit. He is incapable of putting the American people first.

 

Soul2Soul

30 Mar

I am weary of objectifying men. And
want(ing) .
want not-
(thing) .
more than your utmost
yang .

0324190646©carma

 

Tao warrior

Tao warrior by Alex Nodopaka

View more by this artist:
Alternate Cubism featured at Hinchas de Poesia
Flickr Album
Dream Noir Art
Angry Old Man Magazine
Absolute Arts Portfolio

 

Freebies

2 Mar

jaggen3As we approach Spring, there is new energy (at least in me), or maybe it is because I am facing the surgeon’s knife and general anesthesia, and that is always a risk. It compels me to dust off the shelf and leave my published work in the best possible light.

Professor Walter told us we would get better, the more we write, and I am finally satisfied with the synopses I wrote this past week for my Saardu babies.

There will be promotional days – freebies!  Oh, I know this only matters to people who actually like to read.  Hopefully you’re one of them, and maybe you’ll enjoy one or two of these.

Here are the freebies:

The Ills of Saardu (25th Anniversary Special Ebook Edition)
Coupon code NF44X expires April 1
URL: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/14614

Other titles free during a sitewide reading promotion week March 3 – 9:

Note: The above links are all Smashwords, which publishes and distributes to Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo and a host of other digital book platforms, you can pick your file formats there.

Amazon KDP Select titles that have upcoming free days:

The Saardu Series

  1. Saardu: The Adventure Begins – March 10-14
  2. New Game New Rules – March 17-21
  3. Deja Vu – March 24-28
  4. The Mars Agenda* – April 1-5
    *Trigger warning: if you hate pedophiles as much as I hate pedophiles, this might bring up some $#*!
  5. Zenyan Honeymoon – May 1-5

Was that too generous of me to give away millions of pennies in royalties to the millions of readers who follow my blog?

photo

Watch and listen and understand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaOSbBcPlfY

 

 

America is getting educated like never before

18 Nov
america ancient architecture art

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Nobody has ever seen anything like this.  If it weren’t for this bad actor, this very rude and terrible reality show host, America would have continued to snooze comfortably in its democratic cradle.  America is getting educated like never before.

 

person using black blood pressure monitor

 

During the Obama era, comedians had to work harder to find material to make people laugh.

 

20030501-15_lincoln11-515h

 

Gone were the years of ridiculous speeches like Mission Accomplished.

kenneth_w-_starr

 

 

Gone was the era of  outrage over an illicit blow job.

iran-contra

 

Gone was the era of  Iran-Contra hypocrites occupying the office of Commander in Chief.

Gone were the failures of deregulation

 

 

1200px-us_president_barack_obama_taking_his_oath_of_office_-_2009jan20

The Obama years were relatively ethical, diplomatic, and reassuring for logical, rational beings who are not offended when two consenting adults want to make a commitment to take care of each other.

During the Obama administration, women impregnated by rapists or perverse uncles enjoyed the minimal relief of being free to limit the violence done to them without risk of jail, bleeding out, or permanent damage caused by infection.  During the Obama era, innocent survivors of gross violence would not be punished with nine months of torture.

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime

Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Never mind all that boring stuff.  The important thing today is that the Trump brand is educating America.  Never before have television news reporters had so many opportunities to enlighten voters on the real-time applications of the U.S. Constitution.  We are learning more about what our founders built because the limits of presidential power are being tested daily by a greedy power broker.  That will be the legacy of the Trump administration and the failure of the Republican majority of 2017-2018.  constitution-1486010_1280We The People have learned more about the meaning of Checks and Balances than we ever would have if we had not experienced seeing what happens when you allow an authoritarian-loving, sociopathic, narcissistic, fake billionaire to become the head of the Executive Branch.

The Purple Wave of November 2018 demonstrates the newly educated voter.  Keep up the good work, Free Press.

Winner:  Democracy

Loser: Tyranny

Again.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

California Wildfire Survivors One Year Later

15 Nov

News of the Camp Fire that spread in one hour from 1,000 to 5,000 acres and by the end of the day had wiped out an entire town became too much for me.  I noticed I felt compelled to avoid images, and especially video, of flames and people fleeing in terror.  The mere mention brings me to tears and makes me feel unsafe and depressed.  I want to run and hide.  I want to live somewhere wet.  I feel trapped by circumstances outside my control.  And pouring salt on these wounds is an American President incapable of empathy.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The day after the Camp Fire raged, I received an email from the Northern California Fire Lawyers acknowledging the pain this news must be causing to survivors of the most destructive fires in the state’s history last year–which has now been topped.  Their email suggested that we find ways to help today’s survivors by sharing our stories, our recommendations, our experience about how to cope, how to face the reality that your community has been destroyed, your home is gone, and your nerves are frayed and you feel fragile, yet decisions are bearing down on you every hour of the day.  At the time that email arrived, it was too much to ask of me.  I could not even bear to think about it.  I moved the email immediately out of sight, set it aside in my “Relocation” folder.

Now, a few days later, unable to escape the images and news of Paradise, Thousand Oaks, and Malibu, I feel capable of sharing some insights that may be helpful to today’s survivors.

How did I do it?  How did I move through the decisions that had to be made?  How did I find the mental and emotional strength to sort it all out?  The answer to that is that when you have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and there is only one direction to go, you do that.  How was it so clear to me that we had to leave Santa Rosa?  I want you, dear reader, to know how much I loved Santa Rosa.  I still cry.  I cry not only because I loved living there, I cry because such a beautiful little city was decimated.  I cry because the senior community of Journey’s End was destroyed and we can’t recreate it.  I cry because I know how much it hurts my former neighbors to lose what we had.

We fled in the middle of the night.  Flames were everywhere, not licking at our car windows like the videos I’ve glimpsed of people trying to get away from a Paradise in flames, but it was terrifying nonetheless.  We saw glowing red, orange and yellow everywhere, the wind whipping it into a frenzy.  We saw neighbors’ homes engulfed, we couldn’t tell whether it was two or three homes, it was a big fireball fueled by wicked winds.   We saw a charred car on the side of the 101 highway and still burning–nobody was in it, and a police officer was present, directing evacuees around that lane.  We evacuated early, so we were not trapped in traffic.  I can’t imagine–I don’t want to imagine–I know how terrifying it was and my heart breaks for them.

So how did we go from that terror, sadness and chaos on October 9th to closing escrow on November 22nd?  In large part, it was me.  While members of my family seemed to be a little lost in hope that there was some reason to stick around, wait it out, see what happens, every molecule in my being shouted to my brain: Get out of here!

#1 – The smoke polluting the entire region was toxic.  I have a health condition that puts me at higher risk, but even without that, it was really bad to be breathing that smoke day in and day out.  The smoke wasn’t going anywhere.  Sonoma, Napa and Lake Counties were on fire and it took weeks to get it under control.  We had to get away from this and the only thing that made sense for us was to head south, to be near family in southern California.

#2 – Immediately file a claim with your insurance company and with FEMA.  Immediately figure out how to do that and get it done.  Fortunately for my family, I am a very organized person and I was able to pull it all together.  Keep every receipt, take a photo of every receipt as you go along, and upload the photos to a secure folder in the cloud.

#3 – Get back to work as soon as possible.  For people whose employment is local, that is a much bigger challenge.  My husband’s job was impacted.  My situation was more flexible, since I work online, I can work anywhere as long as I have a laptop and internet access.  My boss told me to take it easy, time time off, do what we needed to do–but for those first few days, there was really nothing we could do other than wait…wait for access to our personal belongings…wait to meet an insurance adjuster…wait for FEMA to come through.  So working was a relief.

#4 – Avoid the news.  Avoid hearing and seeing the devastation over and over, all day, every day.  Give yourself a break!  Shut down.  Unplug.  For Californians, thankfully, we have access to dispensaries that provide non-narcotic relief from anxiety, insomnia, and depression.  I bought some tinctures in the days after the fire.

#5 – Realistic expectations are vitally important.  Set them early and reset them as you go along.  It was unrealistic to hope or wish that utilities would be restored to our homes–our homes were damaged but still standing–but the infrastructure, the underground utilities–all of that was completely melted.  Our mobile home park was served by an onsite well.  The pipes and pumps were destroyed, and the well was contaminated.  I did not need to know that before I made a decision to leave Santa Rosa.  The smoke was so bad, and the recovery would require years–it was painfully obvious–we could not stay there.  There was nowhere to live!  We couldn’t stay indefinitely in a motel.  We couldn’t leave our cats in a kennel indefinitely.  We simply had to start over!

#6 – Someone has to be decisive.  In this crisis, it turned out to be me.  The pivotal reality was that I had to get away from the smoke and I had to get back to work–my family’s welfare was on the line.  It was not necessary to get hysterical or manic, it was a painful realization that was stated quietly and firmly, with sympathy.  My mental health had to be preserved so that I could function.  So my priorities were what they were:  self preservation, people are depending on me.  I had an obligation, a duty, to my children, to my mother, to myself.  Sanity is paramount.  Be realistic.  Take care of yourself.

#7 – If you can withdraw money from your 401(k) to invest in a new home, do it.  I did not feel so bad raiding my retirement account, knowing that real estate is usually one of the best investments you can make.  I searched for a condo that would be easy to sell in a few years.  This was a strategic purchase–not intended to be a permanent solution, but rather an immediate solution with a likelihood of paying off later when we figured out where we really want to retire–if we cannot go back to Santa Rosa, then where?

So this is my little contribution to today’s survivors who may be looking for clear advice. Every situation is unique, but these things apply to all.  Get it together, solve the immediate problems of where to stay while you figure it out, then figure it out and try to make the best of things.

Above all, what gets you through it is the gratitude of the fact that you did survive.  That gratitude got me through a lot.  We escaped.  We escaped a firestorm.  A year later, that gratitude still lifts me up above the sadness.

Wishing you a year filled with kindness, grace and gratitude.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ABC News: One year after Tubbs fire

 

%d bloggers like this: