JUST MUSING: “Don’t be duck-ist…”

Mickey Mouse and his charge were angered by The Los Angeles Times reporting on Disney’s relationship with the City of Anaheim.  The Times’ story posed questions about Mickey’s influence on the City, to the detriment of other taxpayers.  After the Times refused to retreat, Mickey, Daffy, Goofy, and Elsa (a new generation star), persuaded the Board of Disney to invoke a Times only ban on the Times preview of Disney’s new releases.  For those unfamiliar, the press is allowed the opportunity to see new releases prior to the movies’ distribution to the public.  The Times responded in kind, issuing a press release telling the public about Mickey’s edict.

NOV. 3, 2017, 6:00 A.M.

A note to readers

The annual Holiday Movie Sneaks section published by the Los Angeles Times typically includes features on movies from all major studios, reflecting the diversity of films Hollywood offers during the holidays, one of the busiest box-office periods of the year. This year, Walt Disney Co. studios declined to offer The Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim. The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public.

 

Donald was the only one who sided with the Times.  Standing alone, on the right side of the Board room, one webbed foot planted on the floor, the other on the wall; leaning back, quacking, protesting much too loudly, speaking imperceptibly against the Board’s anticipated decision.  A good transcriptionist would have had difficulty deciphering Donald’s mutterings; spitting out choice words, some profane, in the heart of Walt’s world.              “The Board’s rule strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.   The right of a free and an unfettered press,” Donald’s words, translated to plain-speak.  Mickey and the others were nonplussed.  Mickey turned to his right, cuffed both hands, telling Snow White – and the other seven – to stop giggling.  A non-jolly Mickey, a different face than his public face; frowning instead of smiling, speaking in a lower octave – a bass not a tenor – explaining, “He knows not what he is doing,” seemingly revealing the voice the public has heard all these years was made-up, a false, comical, insulting, falsetto.

“We are not preventing them from reporting.   There is nothing requiring us to allow the Times to review of our movies, Mr. Duck.  Mr. Disney would be terribly disappointed in your position.  I have to tell you I am.   The Board is apparently in agreement, Mr. Duck.  The will of the majority, not the tyranny of the majority – as I heard you say,” said the Board’s chair.

Donald stood firm, hissing, spouting, spitting his words out – not Cajun, not Bawstan, nothing like the most severe southern accent – words spilling out in an unpredictable cadence, with quacks interspersed unexpectedly, further muddling his opposition.  Donald’s anger compounded the problem, distorting his diction, making the opposition doubly unreasonable.

Donald believed in free speech, even for Elmer Fudd.  Fudd didn’t look like him.  Fudd believed differently than he.  Fudd wasn’t part of the Disney family.  Donald didn’t know what Fudd was; he even sounded funny to Donald, a stuttering, cartoonish buffoon was Donald’s unkind opinion of Mr. Fudd.  The interesting part of their relationship – Donald understood what Fudd was saying when he talked.  His difficulty lay in Elmer’s tendency to repeat himself.  He also detested Fudd calling him down for cursing.  None of these differences with Fudd mattered at this time.  Donald was a pure civil libertarian.  He believed in the right of free speech even for Fudds; meaning others, friends and foes alike.

Donald was wrong however on his First Amendment point to the Board.  The Board’s lawyer delightfully corrected him.  “We are not the government Mr. Duck, and the last time I checked no one has amended the First Amendment to add anyone other than Congress.  ‘Congress and Disney … shall make no laws,’ no, no, no, not how it works.  I have never seen Disney’s name referenced in the Constitution.”

Oh, ‘the not how it works”, got everyone going; hissing, cackling, laughing, clapping, stomping, a rather cartoonish, clownish, clannish bunch they were – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Belle, Princess Jasmine, Maleficent and even Elsa turned in unison, shouting Donald down, pointing to the floor.  The scene took on the ambiance of a sporting event, done in a style that only Disney could produce.  Thumb emojis floated across the screen located on the back wall behind the Board, pointing downward.  Disney being Disney, the animations were life-like; they moved off the screen, floated through the air, pointing downward, frowning while they travelled in the unison.  Riotous, cavorting, snickering behavior was the mood of those watching this mean version of the Wonderful World of Disney, converting and changing the words of the theme song, “When you wish upon a star, makes a difference who you are.”  Daisy, Donald’s girlfriend, turned, batted her eyes and spit.  Instead of sputum flying the fifteen feet separating them, animated block letters flew out and upward, then corrected themselves, lining up in an orderly manner, and instead of a Disney-like chorus line, they spelled out the word, L-O-S-E-R.

The Board ignored Donald’s plea, leaving Donald isolated.  They voted their intent, exited stage right, and were heard mumbling over a live microphone, “He always quacks.”  The comment angered Donald.  He found the comment derogatory, off-putting, hateful; bordering on being … “duck-ist.”

The Board knew the law.  Disney has and always has had good lawyers.  The same lawyers who refused to give an interview to The Los Angeles Times when the story broke.  The law firm is located in Sleepy Hollow.  Absolutely, the lawyers had advised Disney correctly: “Disney can’t control the Times’ reporting (“the right of a free press is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution”) … “we don’t owe them the right to review our movies early.”

So it was, the Board accepted their lawyer’s advice; we don’t have to talk to you defense.  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Iger approved the motion, followed by a second, told Mr. Duck he was out of order, followed by the previously predicted unanimous vote; putting in place a Los Angeles Times only policy.  Thus the Mickey induced policy allowed Disney to raise the ladders, secret behind the moat, permitting Iger and his minions to secret away to their magical castles to cherish the applause of the admiring minions.

Joy, joy, joy filled the air, Donald grew silent, dejected and moved toward the exit, while others in Disney’s universe celebrated, anticipating a joyous holiday season and wonderful reviews of Disney’s movies with the banishment of the tattletales.  Donald’s sadness permitted the door to hit him where it shouldn’t – dead center – rousing him from his stupor, causing the emission of a severe, shrill, startling quack, propelling Donald upward and outward into the arms of the Times’ reporter.  She was there covering the meeting, and exited before Donald to interview him for a follow-up story.

Donald was particularly fond of the Times’ reporter.  No, no, don’t jump to conclusions.  Donald’s not like that; never has been; never will be; Donald is Donald, a different Hollywood star.  A different relationship was theirs.  He was the reporter’s source in a number of different areas:  labor issues, mergers and acquisitions, even admitting he had a favorite Mouseketeer.  This last admission appeared in a fluff piece published in January 2015.  The reporter was forever mining sources, listening, reporting, loving the breadth and size Disney represented.  A fan, a critic and now standing in the hallway, holding Donald, catching him with a basket catch, the same catch she had deployed in the Lassie League in San Bernardino when she was a child.

҉            ҉            ҉

The Disney universe is vast.  Disney’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing of subsidiaries reflects ownership of different entities worldwide, including the familiar Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Pixar, Marvel Studios, ABC broadcast television network, cable television networks such as Disney Channels, ESPN, A & E Networks and Lucas Films.  Other studios which are part of this conglomerate:  Touchstone Pictures, Maker Studios, and ABC Studios.  Disney also owns multiple musical publishing companies, resorts, and theatrical groups.   Disney’s holdings are worldwide; delivering a gross income in 2016 of 22.91 billion.  A conglomerate engaged in the business of speech through various means; movies, books, publications, entertainment, and advertisements.  Cornell Law School’s website explains, “Commercial speech has been defined by the Supreme Court as speech where the speaker is more likely to be engaged in commerce, where the intended audience is commercial or actual or potential consumers, and where the content of the message is commercial in character.”

Notwithstanding, what one may think of Disney’s size, the Board’s lawyer was right with regards to her assessment of the law and the proper way of protecting her client.  Moving a recognizable flock of white hair with one hand, back over her head; mingling the hair with hair a different color.  A raven now appeared, hovering overhead.  The lawyer emitted a laugh heard before, a familiar laugh.  Her name was Cruella de Vil.  Before going to law school de Vil was part of the studio’s permanent cast.  A classical, mean, beauty was she.  Meaning of the last statement? – One of those people who possessed a non-welcoming smile, a smile which was not a smile, an illusion.  Lawyer de Vil could honestly brag that she didn’t look her age.  Nary an errant line; possessing the same youthful mane when introduced to the public in 1961 (101 Dalmatians); same laugh, she was the original Frozen, frozen in place, over time, preserved.   Disney’s creators served her well.  Now a different profession, stacking papers, with an eerie smile affixed, talking to an associate:  “Mr. Duck’s reaction when he flew off the wall was classic.  When the emoji struck him on the side the head, it was better than any other animation I have ever seen.  Flying, stumbling out of the room, getting struck dead smack under his tail.  Bravo!  Dead center, I say, dead center!”

҉            ҉            ҉

In 1938 Mickey, Donald and Goofy starred in a film-short in which Goofy damn near got Donald killed.  Donald, for some reason, blamed Mickey.  There was a considerable period of time in which they did not speak.  Gossip has it Donald held the grudge for ten years and didn’t appear (voluntarily) in another film-short, until 1954.  May be true, may be not true.  The truth of their past didn’t matter when Donald exited, webbed feet first.  Donald understood fundamental rights were not about friendship.

The initial Los Angeles Times story was written by Daniel Miller and was published on September 24, 2017.  The story was entitled, Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim?:  The money battle outside the Happiest Place on Earth.  The article revealed some startling information, including the following introduction:

 A few hours after the gates swing open at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, the cars are still pouring into the massive 10,241-space parking garage.

They zoom into the six-story concrete structure, carloads of costumed kids, foreign tourists and graying baby boomers sporting Mickey Mouse ears, “Frozen” dresses and “Star Wars” backpacks.

The cash pours in too: Each vehicle pays $20 to park at the Mickey & Friends facility, $35 for a preferred space close to the escalators and elevators.

Even if the parking garage fills just half its spaces, it would still generate more than $35 million in annual revenue and easily hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the structure.

That money all goes to Walt Disney Co. The city of Anaheim, which owns the garage and spent $108.2 million to build it, charges the company just $1 a year for the lease.

The Times’ article concluded, and rightly so, that Disney is the master of obtaining subsidies for its ventures, securing “$866 million in incentives it secured for film production, real estate development and other projects from 2000 to 2016”, far outpacing “incentives won by its rival media conglomerates, according to IncentivesMonitor, a services of data firm Wavteq Ltd.  Disney’s haul was more than double what Time Warner Inc., Comcast Corp, Viacom Inc. and 21st Centruy Fox Inc. each got over the same period.”  The Times’ reporting did what a free press does, the article begged the questions which needed answering, allow fresh air to enter, invited sunlight to shine on a conglomerate, even one as beloved as Disney, to ascertain whether the Government was wisely using public funds.  Too much fresh air entered, The Times got itself banned the from the preview of Disney’s new releases, and the instatement of The Los Times’ only rule.  A rule instated to punish the press for telling on them; telling the public what Mickey and his friends were doing to the rest of us.

Donald understood free speech meant protecting the odious message too, even if the message was hostile to his interest.  Never aging, appearing in film-short after film-short, known world-wide, knowing his position may well lead to his demise – erased from tablets, deleted from computers, digitally altered, morphing into something else other than Donald Duck were the dangers he faced.   Donald had treaded this path before, once helping organize Park employees, who wanted to publicly tell which characters the employees played.  Fortune Magazine in June 2015 reported the dispute.  This union is attacking Disney’s weirdest policy, read Fortune’s caption.  The union – the Teamsters – represented the Park employees.

And what was Mr. Mouse’s position in this dispute?  Suck-up Mickey could not have cared less; always the favorite son; forever supportive of management, squeaking submissively.  Mickey could well have invented the quiet-ass-mouse adage (no mistake here on the adage, he was a quiet-ass mice, a suck-up).  Donald has always differed, forever irascible, confrontational, however never to the extent of silencing his and others rights.  Donald tendered information to the Teamsters, working toward resolving the dispute.  He stuck his beak out then.  He was sticking his beak out now.

On November 7, 2017, the New York Times reported thusly, Disney Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times Amid Fierce Backlash.  The Times reported that the change in course occurred when a number of news outlets, including the New York Times and A.V. Club said they were boycotting Disney’s advance screenings, in solidarity, until the Los Angeles’ Times only rule was lifted.  Their position was consistent with the unknown adage – because I’m making up an adage to apply to this story – Free Speech for Thee Too!

And since this musing is moving through the different levels of sanity, a few other points:   The New York Times’ story wasn’t totally accurate.  They failed to report on the meeting called by Mr. Duck; putting everything on the line, calling others to task, persuading they  vote against their economic interest in order to support free speech for themselves, friends, and competitors.  His was not a clear speech; his diction is never clear.  Spitting, sputtering, cursing – in a rage, he was – he was the not nice Donald.

Maybe the reporter for The New York Times didn’t understand what he was saying; had never seen any of his shorts; had never used him as a source.  The Los Angeles Times reporter sat in the corner laughing at their contempt, listening to the New York reporters mumble out loud, “A talking duck; a talking duck!”  She remained in place listening, chuckling to herself,  Give me a break, I have seen worse on the streets of New York … give me a frickin’ break buddy!   Donald was her favorite.  Didn’t I say that?

Those New Yorkers actually did a “fairly” (with contemptible air-quotes around “fairly”) good job in their reporting, biases notwithstanding.   Their story accurately reported the support of “several high-profile Hollywood figures, including Ava DuVernay, who directed A Wrinkle in Time, which is to be released by Disney on March 9.   Saluting the film journalists standing up for one another, Ms. DuVernay wrote on Twitter on Monday: ‘Standing with you.’”

What did those contemptuous reporters leave out?  They never mentioned the flying and attacking emojis.  They omitted references to the sputum which floated through the air like sputum initially before magically converting to block letters; letters which came out of nicey-nice Daisy’s mouth.  There was no mentioned of Cruella de Vil’s retirement and her now being a lawyer.  Disney never told us any of this, still playing the same films over and over again.  No mentioned of de Vil’s presentation (arrogant, rude, devious, cutting, and unbecoming of the profession).  Sure she looked marvelous (hair, skin tone, voice was the same, never aging not one day).  It seems to me – since I have plum fallen off the wagon with this musing – that none of her physical attributes should have mattered.  The reporting should have reported her role; she started the charge of the tyranny of the majority.  Those reporters probably didn’t trust the public knowledge of the term, tyranny of the majority and the persistent historical comfort in silencing the minority view.

The sad unwarranted and belligerent conduct of Mr. Disney’s favorites was not placed in the historical record; laughing, snorting, carrying on worse than Donald did in a 1952 film-short entitled Donald Duck – Trick or Treat.  Conduct worse than cartoonish, unreal.  Moreover, those foreigners entering a foreign land failed to mention Donald speaking at the meeting, calling a huddle of the reporters afterwards in the hallway, leading the formal meeting two days later, as he did for the Park employees in 2015, encouraging the press organizations and assorted celebrities to collectively boycott the Los Angeles Times only policy.  Seemingly those New Yorkers didn’t believe and didn’t believe their readers would believe.  Now you know the truth.

Perhaps, not believing, they too were being duck-ist.   Something we thought we were long past in our society.  We’re better than that.  Unfortunately in these times – this time – they were not.

 

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JUST MUSING: “One hundred and one Jason Bournes …”

I have often taken a position that the soul of a criminal defense lawyer is revealed early.  Much like a birthmark identifying kin, spanning generations, telling a tale, sometimes foreboding, other times a blessing.  Not like Catalan popular cultural beliefs with regards to witches, “a witch is a woman who, by means of a pact with the Devil, has acquired supernatural power, which she uses for her own benefit and for evil purposes.”   No, no, mine’s eye is different, believing the markings are not visual, instead sometimes bundles as a riddle, hidden, not hidden, confusing, not confusing.  Sometimes obvious signs are seen: rooting for the Indians to rout the Lone Ranger, even though the Lone Ranger appeared to be a nice guy; shouting “lock her up” and pointing at the screen at Dale Evans – yes Dale Evans – believing instinctively there has to be an “other side of the story”; hoping that someone would eventually make Clint Eastwood’s day.  No, the signs are oft-times obscure; nary a mark of the devil on their posteriors, only one pupil per eye – not two – no horns.  Matters not whether the indicators are open and obvious or obscured, everyone knows the child is different, and none are shocked by the child’s declaration years later of his/her intended vocation, to defend the criminally accused.

Walt Disney’s movie 101 Dalmatians was adapted from Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians.   Without viewing the movie, or ever cracking open the book, one can readily assume the title references the power of collective action, exceeding the power of one; a similar tale told in various parables, fables, lessons learned in life.  This muse however is not about 101 Dalmatians, the Lone Rangers, Dale Evans, or Clint Eastwood.

We have a President at war with the intelligence agencies in this country.  Complaining when they reported the Russians interfered with the presidential election.  Screaming fake news, lying and ranting over leaks when the leaks clearly are designed to show the American public our president is lying to us.  Insisting there is a bug in the White House, parsing his words, walking gently over the coals, careful not to over-speak, fearing there is actually a bug in the White House.  Tweeting … tweeting … tweeting, directing his rage at Jason Bourne, wanting us to root against Jason Bourne.

The initial confession contained in this muse is heartfelt, meaning it is difficult to admit a bias when the majority is rooting otherwise.   Something about color, being an active participant in that thing called southern heritage and known and unknown history of this country.  Imposing a minority paranoid, leeching, controlling thoughts, persisting much like a neglected bath tub ring.  Screaming at the movie screen – at no one in particular – throwing books down, away, against the wall, complaining about the distortion of history, seeing the distortion.  Seeing and remembering history differently than others.  Disagreeing with the assessment that Andrew Jackson was a hero, (seeing the travails of Trail of Tears), refusing the blame the victim, screaming, screaming, screaming when the Patriot Act was passed, reading, seeing abuses the language concealed, instead of protection promised to the American public.  Wishing against Tarzan’s, telling a different tale, seeing him deported back to Los Angeles.  Understanding the punch-line when the Lone Ranger turned to Tonto, speaking in a united tongue when surrounded by Indians, “What do we do now Tonto?”  Understanding the point when Tonto finally awoke from his previous submissive slumber, replying, “What we white man.”  So I confess.  Oh Lord do I confess.

However, this time I have to work against type.  Casting aside my paranoia, much like Superman’s cape.  Running toward the door, the window, hearing Johnny Nash’s voice, singing, singing, signing, “I can see clearly now.”  One foot up, one foot down, one foot down; turning as the song resides, understanding it is fundamentally necessary to root for the Jason Bourne, the one hundred Jason Bournes; those whom our President has declared war against.

Throwing the book of protocols out the window, telling others the lies, recognizing we are experiencing a difference the country has seldom seen.  Recognizing the ability to outrun, out-shoot means nothing at this time, calculating their survival, the country’s survival, exposing the duplicitous nature of he and his cohorts’ conduct.  Ignoring party lines – telling, telling, telling – hoping others too will awaken from their slumber and do the same.  Not caring that in movie and books, Bourne is always white, always blond, eyes sparking much like the blue seen in the Mediterranean Sea, the sky after a cleansing rain, projecting the historical-embedded argument of superiority, of supremacy, much like Tarzan, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.  Seeing a connection between “He Who Wants to Fight One hundred and One Jason Bournes” and the violent attacks occurring daily around the country, resurrecting and affirming hate, dividing us, pushing us into distinct and separate camps.  Hearing Bourne’s theme music, rooting for the enemies’ demise – because it is the patriotic thing to do – eating more popcorn, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

JUST MUSING: “My view of the inaugural address – now, say something nice” …

A habit I have had for as long as I can remember; digging inside my ears with twigs, molding paper into a cone, reshaping the paper clip, any object deemed safe at the time – removing wax, satisfying an itch, nervous energy.  Pencils, pens, nails, a blade of grass, the same purpose; each having a different feel; each serving the same purposes.  Watching others winch, putting the instrument of comfort aside; sneaking, secreting, soothing, turning away when detecting, those interfering in my quest, attention wane.  In middle school, the point on the pencil broke.  I think it broke.  The point was no longer there, sitting there trying to remember whether there was a point, telling myself there wasn’t a point.  Touching the side of my ear, feeling something, something I didn’t remember being there.  It is said we discover our bodies at that age, let’s say I was no different than any other child.

My definition of a habit is “an act done habitually.”  Regularly, conducted at no particular time, schedule.  Mine cued by no setting, mood, act of others.  Digging while others talked; to satiate a non-existence itch; exploring around the ear canal, directing attention elsewhere; feeling the non-existent itch.

The same as those who place objects in their mouths, outside other’s knowledge, directing energy elsewhere, supporting the habit, much like supporting any other habit.  Dare say a habit safer than alcohol, narcotics, jaywalking in Mexico City – See the cars – count – count- count … on two … go, go, go … run – run – run!

Digging deep, twirling, pushing as close as possible to the ear drum – clinching the muscles around the mouth, tightening, muting sound, so as not to bellow like a hound, preserving a tradition, a persistent, long-held habit.

Straws, keys, the point of a small screwdrivers inserted over, “Don’t do that!”

“What!!!”

Knowing what he/she/they were screaming about. Hearing, not hearing, knowing, absolutely, having seen that face before.  Knowing I shouldn’t do what I was doing; still doing it, a habit.  I did.

Never confessing about the lodged pencil lead; telling no one.  Couldn’t be that bad, could it?  Passing physicals, not as if I took many, never hearing a complaint about wax in my ears, or any strange object; moving forward, nodding, thanking the health care provider, reaching out and securing the papers handed to me, moving out of the line.

“Ears look good.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yep, I’m sure.”

“Thank you … .”

“Give this paper to the school.”

“Okay, thank you.”

Tiring of the irritant, making one more attempt.  Dislodging the point three/four years later; dislodging with the point of another pencil; lifting the tip, recognizing immediately the central nervous system was intact, radiating pain, filling the cranial cavity, sending a message to hands, feet, a synchronized pain, extending them, separating them, as if shocked.  Struggling to remember the anatomical chart for the head; seeing images instead, consequences of pushing too hard, piercing the brain, forever dumbed-down.

Can I say … no harm, no foul?  Of course I can.  Of course, I will.  I do.  I do.

Lifting, rolling, winching, stopping, working up additional nerve, waiting for the pain to dissipate; touching the lodged object again, lifting, rolling in the opposite direction, taking a deep breath; stopping, putting the right hand over the right hear, realizing sound still carried in the left ear channel, taking a break – I did.  I did until I succeeded, removing the gift I gifted to myself years before.

I had tried oil on past attempts; water at other times – to no avail – the object of my attention remaining secured and secreted in the recesses.  The success – that time – came after the third attempt.  Refusing to quit, desiring comfort on both sides, digging, twirling, pushing a little deeper until I succeeded.

On today’s date (January 20, 2017), I dislodged an eraser.  A rattle at first; forward, backward, seeming to disappear, causing renewed memory, , rebirth, and wonderment, “What on earth?” A journey down the familiar; this time caused by shaking too hard, while listening during the inaugural.  The same shake I heard my elders exercise when hearing foolishness.

A … “My, my, my” … shake.

A, “Bless your heart” … shake.

A, “You’re kidding me, right” … shake.

Incredulity, disbelief, hostile words scrolling out before my eyes, invading in another mode and manner, entering both ear canals, touching the left first, the right, the uncoordinated shake followed.  Like a dog, with a tic lodged in the inner ear canal, engaging immediately in distressed behavior.

Too many unexpected/expected words, a rapid invasion, pushing the foreign, forgotten object backward, forward, in the other direction again, compelling the unanticipated reaction; shaking violently came first, words of damnation followed.  Listening, shaking rapidly, tilting leftward when the movement was felt, extending both hands, capturing a pink eraser.  Now darkened, ossified, retaining its’ identified molded form.

When it occurred? – I don’t know.  How it occurred? – That’s obvious!  Every now and then there was a dull spot in the ear, causing another habit – the lifting of my left paw, scratching the unknown irritant, dislodging from thought the reason, justifying the self-inflicted tic’s presence.

Listening to the speaker push the envelope, pleasing his base, encouraging hate, dividing, doing what he said he would do.   Wondering why I was shocked.  Admitting the source of my anguish after the election, grinding my teeth during sleep, writing and tearing the mythical paper into pieces at the same time, awakening; arguing with the imaginary, questioning whether I was being unreasonable, irrational.  I didn’t think so.  I hoped that I am not – being irrational.

Why do I muse?  Not because of the eraser, not because of my historical, disturbing habit; digging to make the heart content.

I muse to say what I learned.  Say something nice sometimes, even to those who wish your demise.  That’s it – that’s my dose of niceness, the contribution to civility.  Words of carnage, dislodging another foreign object, showing the nightmare is real.

JUST MUSING: “Bad movie…”

I believe I have figured out the disturbing disconnect which continues to rage after this last presidential campaign.  You’re familiar with what I’m talking about, aren’t you?  … Aren’t you?

You know:  “Our president” versus “not my president”; “You voted for hate” versus “I didn’t trust Hillary”; “He is a nincompoop” versus “Make America Great Again.”  The variations are multi-fold, driving fissures throughout the country, dividing America, causing confusion in the republic.  Are you getting my point, as to why I muse?  Are you?

Merriam Webster’s defines fissure “as a narrow opening or crack of considerable length and depth usually occurring from some breaking or parting.”  My analysis has little or nothing to do with elections concepts we have all become familiar with:  within the margin of error, suburban housewives, firewall states, battleground states, predictive analysis, working class-whites, blah, blah, blah.

Beware, mind’s eye differs, remaining slightly slanted, eschewed, after the fog and anger cleared, offering a different perspective.  Are you there yet?  Not yet?  Let me continue.  Please let me continue.

No matter what side of the theater you sit, you are familiar with the script.  The predictable, reliable theme:  an attractive couple living in Any Town, U.S.A., loving, caring, patriotic, believing in the America dream; existing in a dangerous, imperiled world.  Profound evil existing, side-by-side with pure and utter goodness, who would ever believe, who would ever dream such?  Perplexing evil so all-encompassing that law enforcement is befuddled, undermanned, and out-numbered; invoking the need of a higher power, a savior.  Are you feeling me?  Of course you are not.  Please be patient.  We are almost there.  An unidentified Volvo is destroyed.  A row of suburban homes are blown apart.  At least ten police officers are killed within the first fifteen minutes of the movie.  Flashback to our couple:  Still loving, caring, dreaming the American dream; unwittingly going about their day-to-day routine, predictably marching into harm’s way; America imperiled; the world imperiled.  Now look stage right – the savior, the hero!

Social scientists use to conduct word association tests to determine our views on race, sex, money.  In such tests, the participants are given a word and asked to respond with one word to what they see, what they think.  By way of example to simply the subject, I will use “race” as the identifying marker.  The word “rapist” is given.  The subject is requested to identify the image he/she sees, “the rapist’s race?”  The writers and producers, of the genre of movies I discussed earlier, aptly apply social science; using knowledge from past studies, pulling us in, applying words to images.  So it matters not where you are sitting in the theater, the city of your venue, the state you reside, the time the movie runs.  None of us – hear me – none of us need any additional prompting during the movie.  Seeing the image of the hero coming to save the day; a clear image, defined racial features, gender specific, embedded in the recesses of our brains; possessing the same neurons, as if we have all been cloned.

The problem is this – we are fracturing as a society, no longer seeing the same image.  Words of starkness still bring forth images of James Bond, John McClane, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Peter Parker, running, flying, soaring, shooting away – to save the day.  No matter how belittling the words are to other groups – the rest of the world – the hero’s language, promise, and bold proclamations are designed to reassure.  He did promise to save the day, didn’t.  He did promise to make us great again, assuring the mythical (and real), attractive couples, living in Any Towns, U.S.A. their safety,  their survival.

During the elections, some commentators who knew this Super Hero (Señor Trump) told us his was all an act and that his racists and sexist words didn’t mean what they meant.  Assuring us that he was a good guy, like Bond.    Telling us, “you just got to trust James Bond, get pass the sexism, the racism.” They invited us to share a good laugh as the camera continued to roll.

In November 2014, Newsweek published an article reminding us of a long standing finding, that we are no different biologically. “In 1950, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that ‘race’ is not a biological reality but a myth.”   I get that, I do.  My point is different however.

We all possess the same memory neurons, the ability to retain information, symbols.  I believe that history and time has now re-programmed the others.  Of course, they still see Bond, McClane, Batman, Superman, and the other heroes.  They are no longer convinced these characters are on their side.  Seeing the same pattern, “they” (the hero) sleeping with the erotic woman before she dies (she always dies) (and then having their way with any other woman he wants).  Okay, I will concede this is primarily the Bond plot-line and I digressed slightly.  My point is the others now see differently, no longer believing the means justify the end.

The others still seeing the heroes ability to fight, maintaining super human abilities, in fact always winning, against the enemies, who happens to also be labeled others, who by chance, by happenstance, looks like them (Chinese, Africans, A-RABS, MESKINS, “the blacks”).  Always winning, always winning – always winning.  Hearing and seeing the hero’s message, making American white again, I mean great again, protecting others … but not them.

An election in which the participants (the audience), saw different movies.  As if the movie theater was divided in half, straight down the middle.  When the closing credits rolled, half of the audience cheered, crying with relief with their hero’s victory.  Thanking God.  Thanking only their God.  Comforted by their hero’s words, not at all insulted, taking him at his word, accepting the promises.  The other half  secured in their seats, seeing the credits, seeing but not seeing, locked in place, as if lashed in place, crying in sheer disbelief, frightened by the hero’s words, pulling back, curling inward, taking him at his words, accepting his words, frightened with their prospects; seeing and remembering the words of another great white American hero, Jay Prichett, “How that work out for you the last time”  (slightly paraphrased … you get my drift though).

See life is rather simple when you think about it.  We forever remain participants in a social experiment.  Seeing the same movie, hearing the same words, seeing the same characters – even crying at the same time – collectively moving uncomfortably in our seats during the show, all worried about the Attractive Couple, wanting the car, the house, the lifestyle, exiting the theater debating what we just saw, and the meaning of the hero’s words.  Still a hero to some, no longer a hero to most, all wishing the mythical heroes would come, could come, appear magically to save us all.  Unfortunately, they will not.  They cannot.

JUST MUSING: “Rock-paper-scissors” …

I never was good at the game rock-paper-scissors.  I can’t explain why.  Either I lost interest after one or two rounds, ultimately conceding, agreeing the other person was the winner, or I simply didn’t have the requisite skills to compete.  Wikipedia describes the game as “a zero sum game in which each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes with an outstretched hand.”   A simple fist (rock), a flat hand (paper), a fist with the index and middle fingers extend forming a V (scissors).  Rock beats scissors, paper cover rocks, and scissors in turn cut paper.  If both players choose the same shape, the game is tied and is usually immediately replayed to break the tie.  Maybe my inability and unwillingness to compete was because the game seemed to reduce winning to a simplistic absurdity.  Corrupting the game’s rules for me involved displaying the same form repeatedly.  No, I don’t know whether my chance of winning increased or decreased by forming the same figure.  No, I can’t give you any mathematical probabilities.  Opting out, choosing not to play – which I did, always, walking away, worried little whether rock-paper-scissors won.

I disagree with Wikipedia defining rock-paper-scissors as a zero-sum game. To me a zero sum game, in life, is a hand which is played when all else fails; occurring when there is a total loss of hope, followed by a be-damned decision, an act of defiance.  It is when life becomes unbearable, thus reducing winning to destruction, annihilation.  I am not sure I am making sense.  Let me try explaining with real world examples.

Palestinians strapping bombs onto their bodies to kill themselves and Israelis represents a zero-sum game – “my loss is your loss” – winning by losing, reducing life to an absurdity; an act which is clearly not a game of rock-paper-scissors.

A Tunisian vendor (Arab Spring), standing in the middle of the plaza and setting himself afire, taking his own life, is a zero sum game.  Rock-paper-scissors, ha!

Prisoners electing death over living is a zero sum game; indefinite detention, no hope of formal charges, or trial, in an isolated setting, invites hopelessness.  The game played at Guantanamo Bay is not rock-paper-scissors.  It is a life-game played against the backdrop of the total loss of hope causing the prisoners to react, taking power away from their captor, giving all, forsaking all to win.

*           *           *

I have been in a state of daze since the presidential election.  No, not because my candidate lost.  No, not because the United States continues to limit its highest office to a limited class of persons (Just Musing:  Babble, babble, babble …”).  No, not because of my health is failing, allergies, the change in seasons, or because I just realized, at this late date, that elections have consequences (Just Musing:  “No longer a chameleon”…).  No, no, no … this haze is different, much different.

When Barry Goldwater ran for the office of the presidency (1964 election), I was nine/ten years old.  Mr. Goldwater was a United States Senator from the great state of Arizona.  I remember, even at that age, being insulted by his words.  He was talking about me and people who looked like me.  His picture of America, cast under the umbrella of conservatism was much like the black and white television sets of my youth – clear – black and white – pitting white folks against black folks.  Telling his fellow America to follow his lead, give him their vote, to protect “us from them.”  The American public didn’t follow his lead, rejecting Goldwater’s call to hate.

In 1968, George Wallace, the Governor of the great state of Alabama, ran for the office of the presidency.  He, Wallace, was an avowed segregationist.  His image remained ingrained in the minds of every southern black child, standing in front of the school house door, telling the rest of America that America was a white man’s country and he, and he alone, would remain principled to protect America from us.  The American public by and large rejected Wallace’s message, affirming that hope remained part and parcel of the American dream.

Oh sure, part and parcel of any election is an “us against them” message; encouraging citizens to vote for a particular candidate, showing contrast, extending a hand requesting “the privilege of your vote.”   Absolutely, communities of interest become important, even when those communities of interests invoke race, sex, nationality, religion.  But this election seems different.  A tactical invitation to separate “us from them”, played masterfully from beginning to end, an in-your-face display of hate.  The results of this election caused the haze to roll over the hill, clearing the horizon, making it clear the American public accepted this candidate’s words and lead.

When he moved down the escalator and cast aspersions against Mexicans, a good friend of mine who is a White female, a liberal most of her life, told me she thought the candidate was funny; as if he didn’t mean it, as if he was play acting.  I listened to her hearty laugh, curled my mind around her words and laughter; curled my body around my anger and anxieties.  I explained then that his invoking race and racism could never be funny to me; it is always personal.

He never stopped his supposed joking – grabbing and reaching – touching any many disparate groups as possible.  But he was not joking, not at all a play of symbolism, no, no, no – his were direct words – directed against “the Muslims”, “the African Americans”, those lying women (whom he promised to sue), the disabled (whom he openly mocked and then said he wasn’t mocking; sort of like others contention of his joking, play-acting).  The consequences of his actions however were clear – causing others to laugh, point, cheer and jeer.

*           *           *

Americans stood up in 1964, a time our society was under fundamental pressure to do better; truly a zero-sum time in the country’s history.

Americans rejected Wallace’s attempt to import his hate to other states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – and white women – said no – but not now, but not now.

No, this time was different.  They laughed at him while gifting him as much press time he needed to import his hate.   As if making a point, they remained silent, saying they were undecided.  Ginger-flexing (if ginger-flexing is a word), self-reflecting, assuring the rest of us he didn’t mean a word he said, while casting their ballots in the privacy of their homes, in voting booths throughout the land.  Not like Goldwater.  Not like Wallace.  Not like the rest of nation who rejected the hate – then.  Not this time.  A stark reminder we do have something to lose, while they closed their doors in the rest of our faces, to finish their hearty laughter.

JUST MUSING: “Abraham, Martin and John…”

Let’s see – Colin Powell, John Podesta – hacked – both powerful individuals with superior technical support, arguably superior to the average citizen, with security clearances that allow them to receive sensitive government data.  Both existing in cloistered worlds, separate from the rest of us, seemingly immune from our mundane problems.  So they assumed. So we assumed.  After they were hacked, we all participated unwittingly in the breach.  A breach which played out on the news, in cable-land, accompanied with questions about what the “public wants to know,” ignoring and refusing to discuss the fundamental breach of privacy and illegal activity done on our watch, supposedly in our name.

What else do we know? – Government and corporate entities are also not immune. India hacked.  India hackers in turn targeted Pakistani websites.  Name any country, if connected by phone, computer, banking, in this bold-new world, they too have been hacked, are doing the hacking, invading, exploring, stealing data.  The Europeans, the Africans, the Asians, the Americans – all participants in the new rules of plunder.

In the United States, 21.5 million were affected by the breach of the United States government computers (obtaining health care information, financial data, personal information, including social security numbers, and fingerprints).  Think your financial records are secure?  Think again. Even the IRS isn’t immune – hacked.   USA Today reported a 2015 IRS hack exposed 700,000 accounts.  US News reported in February 2016, the additional hacking of IRS accounts, affecting 100,000 accounts.  Robbing a bank by gun seemed so passé.

The predictable sentiments are loud and clear, wishing for the good old days.  Don’t worry – the good old days are here.  We are going to sleep at night with our doors and windows unlocked, comfortable with our safety, while hackers (both private and government) enter our world, pulling back the bed covers and do as they please.  Telling us to put tape over the camera while we sleep doesn’t seem to solve the problem.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) this past month (October 2016) issued a ruling [WC Docket No. 16-106], that some commentators have labeled “landmark.”  The new rules permit the consumers to forbid Internet providers from sharing sensitive personal information, such as app and browsing histories, mobile location data and other information generated while using the Internet.  Privacy advocates have applauded the changes.  I would contend it is a good start, but we can’t ignore the other inaction and direct actions of our government; tantamount to locking the door, disabling the camera and security system, while leaving 9 out of the 10 windows cracked, open for theirs and others access.

In 2015, President Obama, urged Congress to pass a Personal Data and Protection Act, legislature which would require companies, read this as private companies, to notify customers within thirty days of discovery of a breach and if sensitive information is exposed.  Congress took no action on the President’s request.

Our government (effective December 1, 2016), now has invoked new rules, “which would let judges issue search warrants for remote access to computers located in any jurisdiction, potentially including foreign countries.” These new rules broaden the government powers, allowing further access to data, breaching our privacy, further eroding the Fourth Amendment.

Absolutely, they tell us (read they, as politicians) that they too are concerned about privacy.  In fact, it was reported that on October 27, 2016, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. Congress asked the Justice Department to clarify how the new rule change in the government’s hacking powers could impact privacy of innocent Americans.  Of course, they (politicians) will ask, point to their asking and then go about their busy lives, reminding us of security concerns, and the need to make us safe, while our privacy rights continue to be eviscerated.

Sure, we can attempt to go off the grid, riding ourselves of computers, phones, any microchips found anywhere in our homes or work, but any such solution is about as unrealistic as some of us swearing off anything made with butter or sugar.  Some of you can.  Most of us can’t.   Travel, banking, our jobs all implicate privacy concerns – where there is a computer, there is access.  Ask the Democratic National Committee (DNC) – they too were hacked.  And everyone laughed, ignoring the threat to our freedoms.  Posting, musing, engaging in Face-time exposes each of us to the world.  I can’t help but muse:  if John Podesta and Colin Powell can be hacked, no one stands a chance, no matter what we do – particularly not under the current rules.  Changing our passwords, spending billions on patches and security systems seems to ignore there are eight other windows open in which they can crawl through.  Invading, touching, taking as they please – they did it to John.  They did it to Colin.

JUST MUSING: “It never rains in southern California…”

Years ago Roberta Flack hosted a radio show which originated out of New York – WKRS, KISS FM.  The show aired in Houston at 4:00 a.m. each Sunday morning.  As with her music, so was her hosting; soothing, instructive, invoking memories.  Laying a marker in time, before and after, educating her audience how music, life, and time remain forever interconnected.  I religiously rose, turned on the radio to participate in Roberta’s music appreciation class.  One particular morning, Roberta seemingly isolated us by age, instructing the listeners of a certain age not to ignore new artists.  Marveling over “those artist under twenty five,” before introducing the musical group Tony! Toni! Toné!

Roberta spoke of those who influenced Tony! Toni! Toné! ’s sound, imploring the rest of us to listen to their voices to hear the voices of others.  Playing the song, stopping, allowing silence to invade – one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three – before speaking again, forever soothing, pulling us closer, rewarding our joining her so early in the morning.

“I am going to do something I normally don’t do.”

Playing the song again, allowing the voices of the artists to instruct the class.  Making the point, bridging the gap, making sure those who arose each and every Sunday morning understood why she rose each and every Sunday morning to share with the rest of us.

So that I am clear, this musing has little to do about music, less about Roberta Flack, and absolutely nothing to do about Tony! Toni! Toné!  It is, this musing, is written to discuss the dance the mind does to make sense of nonsense.

In listening to presidential candidate Donald Trump explain away his conversation with Billy Bush, my mind tried to make the sense of what I heard, what I saw.  Bragging, pointing, ogling (in front of others), caring little what others said, thought, or heard.  Allowing their handlers to depart the bus, while they remained seated, continuing to share their views on women, assessing their figures (“move, move”), comparing (“the short one”) as men or wont to do, then reaching for the tic tacs – not caring their mikes were hot – behavior which had normally been protected.

My mind did that dance, jumping over logic, not hearing the voice of a grandparent, parent, or theorist, ignoring the political pundits, instead hearing Roberta Flack’s voice, while Tony! Toni! Toné! ’s lyrics rang in my head.

It may never rain in southern California –♫ “They tell me.” ♫ – Trump’s voice, and Bush giggle, said that it didn’t.  At least they have never experienced such rains.  Their setting was no different – the comforts of luxury, surrounded by handlers, protected, sunny California weather, privileged – allowing them to let down their hair, to share a commonality; and share they did.

Perfect, perfect for ten years, until someone told.  Putting NBC in a bind; causing them to hold the tape for a week, refusing to tell the rest of us (my paranoid surmise), suddenly hit with a stark realization – sometimes it rains in sunny California.  Sometimes you have to tell, even if it hurts the franchise.

Perfect, perfect weather, until someone got angry at NBC’s refusal to tell (the tattle-tale among us strikes again), sending the tape to the Washington Post – the Post told, telling the rest of us.

♫ “It never rains in Southern California.”♫

Trump apologized – “if any of us were insulted.”  Bush suddenly became “embarrassed and ashamed.”  It felt if both were actually apologizing for getting caught (as men are wont to do) before he – Trump – instructed the rest of us to dismiss what we heard, saying it was not what we heard.

♫ “It never rains in Southern California.”♫

Of course it doesn’t (never rains) – so they assumed.  So we were told.  So we have always been told.

Explaining bigly styled – as if life experiences and time suddenly became irrelevant – so he says.  So his handlers say.  So they will now tell us?

Hearing the explanation causes me to hear the voices of others.  Life and time forever remains connected.  Playing life’s song, stopping, allowing silence to invade – one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three – knowing what we heard, hearing Roberta’s voice, soothing us, knowing it finally rained in southern California.