Monday, October 15, 2007

Awaiting the Redemption of Integrity

This blog was intended to be fun, inane, a place to keep up with Bone Rice Films' videos and hopefully be mildly entertained at the same time. In this post I am switching gears.

Last night I stumbled upon a website with two of the most sickening, disturbing, outrageous videos -- maybe the most upsetting I have ever seen (if such a qualification can be made). I almost shut the first video as soon as I realized what it was I was hearing but I was so repulsed that I kept watching like the rest of the students in the library. Were I a religious person I would be muttering, "my GOD..." "Jesus Christ..." "God Almighty..." like my fellow-students did as we watched the twin towers fall when we were 17 and sitting in our video productions classroom, but I'm not. Instead I am shocked into enraged silence, fighting the urge to don warpaint and dump a shiteload of tea on the lawn of the White House, at the very least. I am now in concurrence with the bumper sticker that reads, "If you're not outraged, you're not informed."

This is the website (and if you haven't noticed yet, this is actual footage. It's disturbing. That said, this is not a warning to not watch if you are faint of heart. By the stars, this is a warning that after you see these first two videos you will be so sickened that you will feel you have to do something about the injustice and abuse of power)

Shame on you, Senator Kerry, for passively watching this happen. Shame on the UCLA police and administration for condoning the actions of the police against their own student. Welcome to the ranks of Stalin.

Fear. That's what I sensed at these events and what I felt watching the footage of them. To be honest, fear is what I feel right now for exercising my First Amendment right by sharing this information and that is the most sickening sentiment of them all. I am a US citizen sharing information and outrage over how these two situations were handled, and I am mildly afraid of the consequences of my actions in doing so. A part of me worries I'll be blacklisted while another part of me wants to raise my head and say, "bring it on." Translated from Irish, Welsh and French, my full name means "Audacious brave woman warrior pearl." And I have rarely been so eager to cause change.

The only incident in my life that I can compare it to is (and those of you who have followed my every video on YouTube will have seen these) the injustice I felt at the treatment of one of my loved ones by the US Government. It prompted me to make a video project (that failed miserably in the face of the complacent, complaining public) called "YouTube: Enlighten America." After some criticism of my vagueness in discussing the source of my dissatisfaction with the state of the nation, I was requested to record my story, so I did that as well... and creatively called it "My Story."

I've witnessed violence before. I grew up with it. But abuse of authority disgusts me to no end. Even the other day on the bus the driver decided to talk to a passenger as if he were mentally incapable (he later claimed the man was drunk but he just seemed a little slow to me) and deny him a ride. This was the last bus leaving downtown past 10 at night. When the man tried to pay and meekly asked, "why you gotta be so uptight?" the bus driver called the police. We all got to wait around until a cop who looked like he was all of my age arrived. It was midnight by the time I got home. Okay, I get it - the driver thought the guy was drunk and didn't want him on his bus. So instead he left him stranded in downtown at the middle of the night. It makes a lot of sense to discourage drunk driving then refuse the intoxicated public transport, doesn't it? It's as asinine as the police breaking up a rowdy party and standing around, watching all the party-goers get into their cars and drive away. Real f*@!ing smart.

I am a paradox - I'm a patriot and love my country. I listen to Country music, I proudly wave the American flag on festive occasions, and one of my closest friends is an Iraq War vet who is a strong Republican Christian. And yet I live in the city who was the first US government to denounce the Iraq War, I often wear a bracelet with Bob Marley on it, and I am afraid of the police. I'm afraid of all in power in this country and that sickens me. It raises my hackles. But it is because of my love of my nation that I want it to change. I still believe in the words of our Founding Fathers and while we haven't yet become the nation they envisioned (hell, even their grand Enlightenment ideas included an economy built upon slavery and expansion based upon the extermination of the original inhabitants) but I think we still have a chance of making it there.

I will not conclude with a shattered utterance of "God help us..." If I were religious I know I'd be thinking, "Shoot, the Dude let us get into this mess because he wants us to get ourselves out." instead I will remind anyone who is reading this that regardless of religion or nationality, this middle-earth is our domain. We are Humanity's keepers -- we are responsible for each other and our own actions or inaction. Pray if you must. But my mantra is, "may we save ourselves."

We are waiting on baited breath for the redemption of integrity.

The pictures are of my town's Memorial Day Parade 2006 and the inside of our local covered bridge near the festivities of the day.

Melissa - I'm glad you're making progress with your video! :oD

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Help Stargate Atlantis!

It's time to help our favorite (okay, my favorite but maybe not yours) show and show our support for Stargate Atlantis by encouraging those in charge to renew the show for a fifth season. A friend asked me to share this and I'm more than happy to:

It's that time of year again. SCI FI just renewed Eureka & Destination Truth - guess who's still on the hook?... None other than our beloved Atlantis. Now's our chance to weigh in on a decision that's coming up ASAP (like starting now thru early next week). You guys know what to do - Choose one or more of the following cards -- email and regular mail them and let your voice be heard! We want another season of Stargate Atlantis! Spread the word to all...

Dave Howe
Executive Vice President and General Manager SCI FI Channel
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York NY, 10112

Thomas P. Vitale
Senior Vice President, Programming and Original Movies, SCI FI Channel
30 Rockefeller Plaza, Fl. 21
New York NY, 10112

Mark Stern - (New York Office)
Executive VP Original Programming
NBC Universal | Sci Fi Channel, NY Office
30 Rockefeller Plaza,
New York NY, 10112

Bonnie Hammer
President, USA Network and SCI FI Channel
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York NY, 10112

Download postcards here:

You click "request download link" then click on the top right thing and you download a zip file. You can print out the postcards then send them off to the addresses above, but I'd e-mail them and send them snail mail to let them know how scary we obsessive fans are.

The Highland Games 2007

Last Saturday was the annual Highland Games. There's nothing like the comfort and balm to the soul than a healthy dose of ones ethnic background. First, foremost and always I am an American, but most Americans are made up of the blending of many different tribes of people. As far as I know, I'm a Celtic mutt (Irish, Welsh, English [to no small amount of shame], a wee bit of German and Scottish). I've only ever been to Ireland and was born and raised in California, but I can't help but feel a sense of belonging among my fellow Celts. The Highland Games are a perfect excuse for celebrating heritage, eating haggis and buying merchandise that reflects an idealized inheritance (if there's one thing I learned from my travels in Ireland it's that Irish Americans are often more "Irish" then the inhabitants of Éire).

But there is something about the yearning, echoing call of the bagpipe that feels as if the instrument is filled with the bellows of the heart rather than the lungs. Every year my small mountain town has a parade for Memorial Day to honor our fallen soldiers and veterans. The local Celtic society has always marched, playing their pipes, and I can remember being a little girl and stilling as they strode by. My mother looked down at me and asked, "Do you feel shivers when you hear bagpipes?" I nodded yes. "So do I," she continued, looking back out. "I know it can't be, but I swear it's because it's in our blood."

For most of my childhood, being Scottish meant little to me other than odd family stories. Like the one I just told. I kept my tartan coin purse, scuffed from my brother throwing it, because my grandmother had brought it back for me all the way from a place called Scotland where my aunt nearly got run over and there was a castle that belonged to our family; the Eilean Donan - the most photographed castle in all of Scotland. Once my grandmother sat my brother and I down with a picture of the castle and explained to us how our clan were the guardians of the land, known as "the fighting MacRae's," and how the women of the clan were famous for fighting alongside the men. She showed us the mountainside covered with heather and traced her withered finger along the line of the ridge. When a MacRae died, he or she was carried by his/her fellows up the mountain and buried in a cemetery where all of the headstones bore the same surname. There's something of comfort to that - as Americans we don't have a sense of clan history. Even though I've never been there, it's nice to know that there is a land where my ancestors lived, breathed and died - there's a sense of familiarity with the faceless names that mark where you come from, even if you cannot return.

My grandmother died when I was sixteen and we did the best we could to emulate the funeral processions of our ancestors. Mimicing a distant people of a nation not our own can sound cheap, but there's a heartbeat where ritual transcends a facade and lives and breathes. It becomes a part of your own impassioned life's blood and is no more "cheap" than the celebration of one of our numerous holidays. My dress and hair whipped around me as I stood outside of the building the memorial was to be held in, ignoring the nose-chilling cold. Everyone else filed past and I couldn't understand why they'd ignore something so beautiful as what was before me -- a lone piper silhouetted by the overcast sky, playing a lament for a woman who was a grace to the world.

May I carry her strength, and the strength of my Scottish ancestors (whose motto was Fortitudine - Latin for "fortitude") with me always.

The pictures are from the Highland Games. My favorite band to see live - the Wicked Tinkers. A young golden eagle with an ethereal eye. A wannabe Hedwig. The Caber Toss. Some random old guy, my sister, me, and my older brother watching the Tinkers play. The beautiful Wicked Tinkers. If you ever are blessed enough to see them play, be warned (or maybe this is a selling point) - they wear their kilts regimental style. That means they don't wear anything underneath. And they like to twirl about.

Here's a clip I accidentally filmed of them when I was trying to take a picture. One day I will figure out how to work my new camera.

Melissa - Sounds like you've met some interesting bus people of your own! I don't think I'd know how to take it if someone assumed I was on welfare, either!

Until next time (which will be a few minutes) Slainte! (Irish for good health)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Dangerous Man

I ride the bus to and from school and as such have met many "bus people." In fact, I have so many stories about these people that I have already written a screenplay based upon them. But in the time in-between when I finished my screenplay and now (a year or two) I have enough stories for yet another. I should make a coffee table book with artistic photographs from the bus on one side of the page and a bus story on the other. I know you're thinking that that's a good idea and that you're gonna steal it but too bad -- there's a flaw in your little scheme. You don't know the bus stories but I do (unless, of course, you're one of the few people who have read my screenplay in which case I still win because it's legally protected). But for all of you nice people out there who weren't thinking of stealing my idea (let's not get into the lunacy of that statement) here's a free bus story:

I pretended to be engrossed in reading the comments I'd received on a story I had workshopped earlier that day but he kept staring at me. I reminded myself to keep my eyes moving on the page to make it look realistic but I could see this stained fellow craning his neck over his shoulder to watch me. I figured that if I acknowledged him he'd get what he wanted and look away... or keep staring because often people on the bus just like to stare. Once one man perched behind his seat and peered out at me from the crack between his seat and the next with Gollum eyes the entire ride. In fact, for a moment I wondered if this new starer was the Gollum from that one time. I glanced at him and smiled hi before looking back to my work and he smiled back then started laughing. I tried to ignore him but he laughed even louder so I looked back to him.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry, but when I see something beautiful, I have to look."

Before you think it - no, I'm not sharing this bus story just to point out how a grungy man with a Greek accent tried to give me a compliment. There's actually even more humor involved than him complimenting me, so bear with me.

"Whether it's a china or a poem, I have to look. Beauty is beauty." Yah seriously, I swear he said china. I have no idea why but he did.

"Thank you, that's very flattering," I replied then looked back to my papers as my woman instincts hollered to end all contact before the imminent sleazy move was made. But what he said next made me look at him again.

"I hope you are as kind as you are pretty."

I've had people ask me if I'm nice before. What the hell? I took a sailing course and was the only female in the class. Before we went out on the lake we had to pass a swimming test and right a flipped sailboat. When you're the only girl among 20 or so guys they either forget you have ovaries and treat you like one of them, or they treat you like a lady. I'm actually not sure which category my class fell into, but at the time I was in the middle of the pool climbing into a sailboat in the most conservative two piece I owned, surrounded by staring, half-naked men. I started to haul my sorry ass onto the boat when I tugged at my top, muttering that I didn't want it to come off. My teacher somehow heard from across the pool and shouted, "that would be a bonus!" I should mention that my teacher was a large Englishwoman. I'm still not sure about that comment but I'm digressing. After I righted the sailboat I swam to the edge of the pool, beside her, and as I climbed out she asked, "I take it you're friendly?" What the hell? "Uh, I'd like to think so," was my response and she just sort of stood there as I wrapped a towel around myself. Since she didn't offer any clarification I took a stab at her meaning. "If you're worried about the guy thing, it's fine - I was raised with a brother on either side of me." She insisted that she hadn't thought that it would be a problem then went back to watching the next poor sod flopping about on the centerboard of the tipped boat. It was only later that someone tried to convince me that "friendly" was English lesbian code for "gay" and that I'd answered incorrectly. But now I've completely veered off course. Where was I? Oh yes. The Greek asked me if I were kind.

"...I..." was my ingenious answer.

"Good, because aside from beauty, kindness is the most important part of a woman..." and he was off praising feminine kindness. I smiled benignly and nodded, wondering why kindness wasn't also an important quality in a man, from his point of view.

"I hear people saying 'beetch.'" He was pronouncing "bitch" with an accent. "They say, 'son of a beetch,' and this all the time and I did not know that was what I was hearing. It is not nice to call a woman this name. But kindness, kindness is very important."

I'll bet, buddy.

"You know," he continued. "I know this woman - for a thousand days and a thousand nights I have known this woman, and she say to me, she says, 'You are a dangerous man!'"

Aha. I often forsake the propriety most young women demonstrate by moving seats to get away from people like this because I can sense a future story and a character out of these yearning individuals. They're great material... and they're our fellow human beings. In my experience, when a bus person has randomly started a conversation with me, they have something they feel they need to confide in someone, anyone -- they just need to get it off their chests. So here it was - the reason for this man's rant on female kindness.

"I had been angered," he said, "and I kicked... I kicked over a pile of rocks that I had stacked there. And she say to me, 'You are a dangerous man.'"

He was obviously still hurting from this accusation, possibly attempting to grapple with the fact that he might be dangerous. For all I know he may have just murdered someone. But for some reason my mind was caught up on that pile of rocks. Was that his "kick when angry" pile? I mean, what were they doing there? I think I'd like to stack up a pile of rocks to kick whenever I get angry and feel "dangerous," too.

He continued on about how the man in my life better be treating me right and how he hoped that I had more focus in my life than a man. I'd started to zone out so I held up my papers and said, "I'm a writer. School is my focus." I thought I'd impress him with that but I don't think he cared if he understood, but he did thankfully switch his rant from what would constitute as blasphemy to a hard-core feminist to the dangers of trying to read in the weak light provided by the lamps on the bus. He made his sleazy move then, inviting me to sit closer to the light which was conveniently beside him, but the gods were with me and it was my stop.

"May I know the name of this lovely creature I have been talking to?"

On the page that sounds rather suave, doesn't it? I had to give him credit and told him my name (though in retrospect I don't know how much of a compliment "creature" is).

"Kellie," he said as he tugged on his baseball cap just before I rose to get off the bus. "Do I look like a dangerous man to you?"

He posed with his profile to me and I studied his Hawaiian shirt. "You look like a traveler. You even have the tourist shirt."

He smiled and winked. "Thank you, Kellie. I will not tell you my name - that is for next time."

"It's a promise, then." I wondered why I said it even as I was stepping out of the bus. I guess because it sounded like a scripted response.

No offense to the guy, but I hope there is no next time. But Greek sleaziness aside, the point of the conversation was that he must have been thinking that women see him as dangerous (he's on the right track but sleazy doesn't always equate danger) and was hoping for some sort of feminine redemption. Like the portion of the Hero's Quest when the hero must face some representation/expression of the feminine. Whatever the hell "the feminine" is.

Okay, I admit that I thought the rock-kicking bit was comedic and worth the telling this story but now it's been weighted down by musings on the human condition. But then again, maybe that's something worth musing.

Melissa - Nikki barks at Orange Wraith? How funny, but... how are they "orange" if they're invisible?

tesajb - Dude... I didn't know about the wild Wraith parties in the woods. Instead of alcohol they must make a human drink all kinds of chemicals then feed off of him/her to get some kind of high.