Miguel the Cat update 2

As always, Miguel showed up on the porch unexpectedly, mewing through our window because he was hungry. A good thing since White Rock Hospital called me to say he needed a booster shot to help with his health. Somara was kind of enough to do it since I needed to get to work. I only had enough time to lock him back up with food.

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Happy National Pizza Day!

Go out and have at least a slice! It’s really an American invention, just like “Mexican” food.

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Hidden Figures: Worth Seeing

Firstly, I thought it was weird that 20th Century Fox made this movie. Then I remembered how the crew at The Simpsons said Murdoch doesn’t really care what the entertainment division does, as long as its profitable, thus it can contradict his propaganda-hate machine posing as news.

As for the movie, it was great. You watch the lives of three Black women who made major contributions to NASA at a time when Civil Rights were still contentious despite the Topeka v. Brown decision banning the Orwellian separate but equal policies of the South. (Being a Yankee, sadly, my area had equally cunning and cruel tactics, ergo, I know the South isn’t the only part of America that’s guilty.)

I’ve said it many time about films “based upon a true story,” the History Channel needs to prepare an episode of Hollywood Versus History to point out where Hollywood modified the truth to make a more effective narrative. The Texas Standard on KUT did have a short story backing the validity of the three women’s careers.

  • Katherine Goble-Johnson: Originally brought over to the rocketry team as a calculator. Her math and geometry skills became critical to John Glenn’s orbital flight and the moon landings.
  • Dorothy Vaughn: The acting head of the “colored calculators.” Her initiative to learn Fortran earned her the prestigious position of being the first woman supervisor at NASA. Without Mrs. Vaughn, it would’ve taken much longer to figure how to utilize the IBM computers NASA bought to do calculations…at a roaring 24,000/sec.
  • Mary Jackson: She went on to become an engineer but her real victories were against the asinine discrimination policies of Virginia, namely, educational opportunities to get there. Mrs. Jackson is younger than the other two so she could be more assertive in knowing her rights.

In Hidden, you’ll see their struggles at work and elsewhere. As a Lefty it was angering because these women and their fellow calculators were just as important as the engineers, astronauts, etc; in making NASA function. The only way some of the bigots would give them a pass was when they feared the Soviets more. Not all the Whites are “evil.” Much like The Right Stuff, John Glenn is made more heroic; he insisted on meeting the Black calculators and wouldn’t go on his historic mission unless Mrs. Goble-Johnson’s math was involved. The other White knight is Director Al Harrison. However, I disagree on him being their “hero,” I think he was more of a pragmatist. His job was to beat the Soviet Union in manned spaceflight and he did whatever it took; the color barrier is an impediment he quickly realizes when Mrs. Goble-Johnson has a dramatic meltdown.

Is it entertaining? If you enjoy stories about the triumph of the human spirit, sure. If you’re a fan on historical flicks, sure. Beyond those, probably not. I plan to get the book as my little effort to participate in Black History Month but the movie should be added to the catalog of Black History alongside the Tuskegee Airmen.

Alamo Extras: I arrived under the wire to see this. My seat neighbor said I didn’t really miss anything, Alamo went with generic pre-show stuff, nothing pertaining to Math, Space, Science or Black History.

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Miguel the Cat update 1

No good pictures of Miguel since he was annoyed at me and kept facing away, longing to go inside the house. On the upside, I think he’s starting to make the correlation of me coming home every evening so he’ll hang on the porch to get fed. Miguel is also getting acquainted with sitting on my lap to receive gentle petting. This in return makes him either purr out of happiness or fear. I am hoping for the former.

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RIP: Richard Hatch

Caught the bad news this afternoon when I was wrapping up my day. It’s a shame he passed away at an early age but at least Richard got to participate in the newer Battlestar Galactica as a political prisoner/agitator. Throughout my childhood he was always known as Captain Apollo, squad leader of the Viper fighters and son of Commander Adama.

Lately he was cast as a Klingon commander in the Axanar bru-ha-ha which I thought was pretty cool…if it ever sees the light of day.

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Black Sunday

blacksundayI have been saving this movie for when the Super Bowl comes around because the plot is hinged on the big game. Somehow, I’ve missed the deadline three years running thanks to illness or other emergencies. It isn’t on Netflix lately so I will have to go on memory regarding the details.

Black begins with an IDF-Mossad raid on the terrorist hideout of Black September (Palestinians) near Israel’s border or the occupied territories. The majority of the enemy are killed but commanding officer Kabakov spares one of the women they encounter (Dahlia), probably out of the bias of women being incapable of terrorist acts. They destroy the base yet not the entire organization because the raiders stumble upon plans for an attack in the US. So Kabakov travels to America to warn the FBI. Our government is skeptical since the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict has never played out in the Western hemisphere (The Seventies). The Mossad agent decides to carry out his own investigation while trying to play it cool, he’s a visitor in America and has no real authority.

Meanwhile, Dahlia uses her opportunity to carry out the attack. The key to her operation is a crazed Vietnam veteran she’s sexually manipulating. He’s a Goodyear Blimp pilot which is how they plan to detonate a bomb into the Orange Bowl during Super Bowl X. When Black was made, Vietnam vets working with our enemies wouldn’t be cliche for a few more years. Cowboys fans probably would’ve preferred Black September’s success due to the Steelers rallying in the fourth quarter would be a bigger disaster in their minds.

In short, Black is rather mediocre. One of those by-the-numbers thrillers in the Seventies.  Maybe it was scarier then. I’m just grateful no one has gotten around to remaking it.

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The Comedians by Kliph Nesteroff

An awesome “Comedy History 101” book that covers all the bases on how stand-up became not just an art form but a dominant form of entertainment in the Twentieth Century.

Nesteroff takes a chronological approach, explaining the evolutionary changes:

  • Vaudeville (and Burlesque): these venues die out in the Great Depression, not due to radio but people lacking disposable income to go.
  • Radio: Vaudeville acts have to start making new material and cut back on their joke stealing.
  • Nightclubs: Here the Outfit in control.
  • Television: Comedy began as something regional (geared mostly at New Yorkers) but as more households acquired televisions, acts like Milton Berle’s failed due to the audience’s makeup changing, it becomes more WASPish.
  • Late Night: Mostly a history of The Tonight Show before Johnny Carson hosted for 30 years.
  • Emergence of Las Vegas: More of the Outfit until Howard Hughes pushed them out with corporations, aka the Republican-backed Mafia.
  • Stand-up’s Great Change: This is around the Fifties with coffee houses. One shining star was the late Jonathan Winters.
  • The Mid-Sixties: The rise of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Richard Pryor to name a few. Plus Black comics make inroads via Redd Foxx.
  • Hippie Madness: The Sixties close out with Hippie influences like Laugh In, Cheech & Chong and comedy troupes.
  • The Seventies: Here is the rise of famous comedy clubs like Dangerfields, The Improv and The Comedy Store. Of course there’s elephant in the room, SNL.
  • The Eighties: This is often known as the Comedy Boom since clubs began to proliferate all over the US and Canada; all due to HBO, Showtime and syndicated programming creating a larger demand.
  • The Nineties: Here I would say is the rise of Comedy Central and another wave of late-night shows.
  • The New Millennium: Where we are now wth comedy flourishing through YouTube, Netflix and other ways comedians can get in touch with their audiences more directly as the major broadcast networks decline.

I learned so much about what the earlier careers of beloved entertainers were like. For example, there were originally five Marx Brothers; Blackface was still in vogue as late as the early Thirties and was utilized by Bob Hope and Mae West; Comedians of many stripes have always despised Jerry Lewis and Bill Cosby; and I never knew Dick Cavett was a writer for The Tonight Show; Where the terms “working blue” and “stand-up” originated from; Lastly, joke stealing had been rampant long before the feuds between Carlos Mencia and Joe Rogan or Bill Hicks and Denis Leary (sadly not covered ).

My only criticism is how the book rushes through the last three chapters. There was a lot happening then and in response to my tweet to Kliph, he said the book couldn’t be amended for another generation. I’m figuring, within a couple decades, we can find out more about what really happened during the Boom which propelled Sam Kinnison, Andrew Dice Clay, Roseanne Barr and Eddie Murphy.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you’re a casual fan of stand-up. It was a hard book to put down. My friend Helen accepted a copy as a Christmas gift, so Kliph has done a fantastic job, she’s very particular. Comedians won’t make you expert but it’ll give you a great start before you dive into the more detailed bios of Sid Caesar, Mae West, Milton Berle or Lenny Bruce.

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Miguel has returned!

“Steve tricked me with food…again!”

Just when I had given up hope on ever seeing this little rascal and cancelled his free follow up at the vet, I found him resting in the cat bed I bought him this morning. Miguel mewed a couple times to say hello. So I locked him up again, changed his litter box, gave him some food and water, got dressed and had him boarded over the weekend. The pet hospital had a couple emergencies this morning but I was counting on keeping him around for the weekend anyway. I even paid the extra two bucks/day to give him the window view into the lobby from upstairs.

Miguel seemed to be improving. He wasn’t as thin as I remembered which means he might be coming around when I’m not watching to eat. All this time I was suspecting the Siamese cat I’m also trying to catch. Not sure if he was purring out of happiness or fear. Regardless, I’m doing what I can to make his final years pleasant because outdoor cats have short lifespans and strays are even lower, about four years.

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Twenty-three years in Austin

Well, it’s not a great number other than being a prime number but I’m glad I moved here. I was dying inside living in Central IL. I was just surrounded by so many people who chose to settle and many of them lacked any real intellectual curiosity…like Trump, Dubious (aka Bush II) and St. Reagan. The latter graduated from a Podunk university nearby. To be fair, there were many great people too, most also eventually left for nicer pastures.

As for Austin, I remember it being 22nd largest city in America upon arrival. Now it’s the 11th and continues to grow. Huh. A predominantly Liberal city that has more of the jobs, while the Red States are withering away in a sea crystal meth and oxytocin, hence the term Pillbilly, Fancy that. We already have the expected problem of a city, we’re surrounded by selfish Republicans in the ‘burbs, or as I call it, North Reaganstan for their proclivity to rename streets and other monuments for the president who paved the way for the orange Vulgarian.

At least life is nice here. The weather is warmer than IL. We’re a frequent destination for the mid-sized music tours (New Pornographers are wrapping up here in May). And we’re on Gov. Shitbag’s short list for being labeled a sanctuary city which really means, we’re not going to have our police force do the Feds’ job on figuring out who’s here legally if they haven’t committed a crime. The real purpose to cutting funding is to attack Travis County’s special prosecutor who tends to indict cronies.

If I could do it all over again, I would’ve moved here sooner and maybe avoided the meltdown at GDW.

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This game warms my heart

These nice people were playing D&D (5E) at the table next to me at Emerald Tavern. What made me smile was the diversity present, namely the gender element. For years role-playing games were dominated by males, around 12-18 (most of the time college got in the way of continuing). With D&D and others going “mainstream” via comedy skits, podcasts and riding on the coat tails of the board game movement, I’m glad Lake Geneva’s contribution to leisure time has wider appeal. Plus the lady in the upper right corner of the photo was the DM. Another thrill. Younger people might say “so what!” yet this site was an aberration when I was growing up in the Eighties.

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