Tribute: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins: 18 July 1929 – 12 February 2000

Today marks the birth anniversary of a very influential musician: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Best known for his song “I Put a Spell on You,” his over-the-top theatrics and stage antics influenced many singers who are popular today, including Alice Cooper, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson, to name a few. From Biography.com:

“Singer, songwriter and musician Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was born Jalacy Hawkins on July 18, 1929, in Cleveland, Ohio. One of rock and roll’s original madmen, Hawkins was as famous for his music as he was for his stage antics. He spent the first year and a half of his life in an orphanage before being adopted. His mother reportedly gave him up because she already had too many children to care for. Hawkins’ interest in music emerged at an early age. He taught himself to play piano and could read music by the age of 6.

While in his teens, Hawkins took up boxing. He had some success in the ring, winning a Golden Gloves championship in 1943. Still, Hawkins maintained an interest in music. Inspired by Paul Robeson and Enrico Caruso, Hawkins studied opera. But he left school to join the U.S. Army to fight in World War II in 1944. As part of his service, Hawkins entertained the troops. When he returned, he continued to box for a time before pursuing music full time.”

“I Put a Spell on You” wasn’t an immediate hit when it was first released on Okeh Records. It took a drunken session at Columbia Records to get the sound that was needed! More from Biography:

“In the early 1950s, Hawkins worked such artists as Tiny Grimes and Fats Domino before striking out on his own. It took two tries to score a hit with his best-known song, “I Put a Spell on You.” The first version for Okeh Records failed to attract listeners.

During his next attempt for Columbia Records, he and the studio musicians drank heavily during the recording session. The result, which Hawkins claimed not to remember recording, was a bluesy, voodoo-tinged single filled with boisterous vocals, including moans and other sound effects. This version gave him his first hit in 1956.

After some encouragement and a little financial incentive from disc jockey Alan Freed, Hawkins enhanced his stage persona to project a more macabre image. He made his stage entrance from a coffin and often dressed as a vampire. Besides his coffin, Hawkins used other creepy props, including a skull perched on a stick that he named “Henry.”

Sometimes he appeared wearing a turban with a bone through his nose or wearing a loincloth and carrying a shield and spear. While audiences enjoyed his wild antics, others, including the National Association for Colored People (NAACP), were concerned that his actions reflected badly on the entire African-American community.”

Screamin’ Jay moved to France in the late 1990s. He dabbled briefly in acting, appearing in Mystery Train (1989) and Perdita Durango (1997). I’ve not seen either of those movies, so I might give them a look-see one of these days…I guess I’ll check what is said about them on IMDb! Married six times, he is believed to have fathered over 57 children – both in and out of wedlock. According to an ABC newspiece, some of those kids attempted an “Illegitimate Family Reunion” in February 2001:

“With bones up his nose, a vampire cape, and a cigarette-smoking toy skull named “Henry,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins put the cool in ghoul.

Now, the legendary blues man and womanizer is being celebrated posthumously in a way only he could have appreciated: His illegitimate children — and he claimed to have more than 50 of them — are getting together to throw him a party.

Call it the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Illegitimate Family Reunion. At least 12 of his offspring are coming to Los Angeles — making pilgrimages from as far away as Paris, Cleveland and Honolulu — to celebrate the bizarre showman Feb. 12 at L.A.’s House of Blues.

Hawkins, best known for the hit “I Put a Spell on You,” died in Paris last February of multiple organ failure — a condition presumably not related to supporting his prodigious extended family. His was a storied life of stage antics and skirt chasing. One girlfriend even stabbed him in the back when she found he was cheating on her.

But that episode occurred some 40 years ago, and the Cleveland native lived to the ripe old age of 70, singing, dancing and dressing like a ghoul, right up to the very end.

“He led a fast life, a hard life — and he said without exaggerating that he had 57 children,” said his friend Maral Nigolian, a banker and film producer who is working on the singer’s life story.

“He wasn’t boasting,” she said. “He was just sad that he didn’t get to know many of the people who should have been more present in his life.”

Hawkins left behind a 31-year-old French widow — his sixth wife — and thousands of admirers, who packed European venues for his concerts up until his final years, when he was residing in Paris.”

Of course I’ll put a link to “I Put a Spell on You” here! I’ve loved that song from the first time I heard it – and it wasn’t the Credence Clearwater Revival version I heard; it was by this legendary musician. The late, great Nina Simone also covered it during her career, so I’ve included her version as a bonus link. I’ve also included a few other choice songs by Screamin’ Jay for your listening pleasure…enjoy!

Nina Simone: “I Put a Spell on You

I Put a Spell on You

Old Man River

Alligator Wine

Constipation Blues

Game Review: The Elder Scrolls Online

Ah – here it is; my first gaming review in some time, and my first review of an online game, ever! As mentioned before, I used to play Ultima Online, which was the online version of a game that I played for years, beginning in the 5th grade. I think playing Ultima is the main reason I never noticed the Elder Scrolls series – the other reason was because I was going through a divorce and had relocated, so I was without a computer for about two years – and this was when the Elder Scrolls was first released. Back to UO: I didn’t willingly cancel my account; it was cancelled for me by the oh-so-helpful fuckwads at Electronic Arts (EA Games), who were unable to help me make one tiny change to my account – so 13 years of enjoyment went down the drain. When that happened, I swore that I would never get sucked into another online game. EVER. NEVER AGAIN!!! Well, you know the old saying, “Never say never?” Um…yeah, about that…have I mentioned that I have a semi-addictive personality? I keep it under control for the most part, but I got sucked into the MMORPG world once more. The culprit this time? The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO), brought to you by Bethesda and Zenimax. It brings the genius of the entire Elder Scrolls series to life; if you’re a fan of that specific game, then you’ll know what I’m talking about!

First off, the graphics are fantastic. I love running my character through the countryside and battling, but I also enjoy the scenery when strolling through the towns, villages, and cities. The armor worn by the avatars of others is wonderful to see, and I have fun mixing and matching armor pieces to let my style and fashion sense shine. My husband and I always play together, and our play style is quite complementary to the other in almost every way – I say ‘almost’ because I played games on a strictly solo basis; now, with a partner, I have to allow for certain aspects. For instance, there are prime times for gathering crafting resources, and prime times for adventuring. He wants to gather resources CONSTANTLY, whether it’s a good time or not, and that tendency interferes with my single-minded, straightforward quest-completion. Otherwise, our character class and skills nearly always contain something that benefits everyone in any battle we enter, because that’s just the way we are!

Speaking of other players, I’ve busted a gut laughing at some of the names that others have chosen for their characters. Some are clever and some are stupid – and unfortunately, yes, some are outright racist, even though the Elder Scrolls series has long been a game that features non-white human characters. The game also allows for same-sex partnerships, and makes mention of same-sex unions as far back as Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, but the intolerance of others is widespread and unavoidable. Anyway, I love the nods to books; it’s nice to see other avid readers running around advertising their favourite writings. I’ve seen ‘The Metal Rat,’ ‘Polgara the Sorceress,’ ‘Rikki Tikki Tavi,’and ‘Skillgannon the Legend.’ Obviously there will be Star Wars and LOTR geeks, evidenced by names like ‘Sith Lord,’ ‘Smeagol,’ and ‘Gandalf Stormcrow.’ I’ve seen the names Awesome-O, William Murderface, Toki Wartooth, Lemongrab, and a Khajiit named ‘In Boots’ (good pun, I thought). Other names I’ve seen are Evel Kneivel, Ugg Me Ork, Bigfoot it is, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The pot-smoking contingent is well-represented, with names such as Herbhauler, Wakenbake, Smokes-Herb, FourTwenty, and Heals-with-Weeds. The silly and stupid, but freaking hilarious names that I’ve seen, include Squats-on-face, Hugh Jayness, Slaps-with-Tail, Pleasurus, Farts-in-Lair, Squats-in-Reeds, Fart-Splitter, Osama Bin Inyomomma, Huge Caulk, Are You Kidding Me, Swims-in-Muff, Thunderkunt, Schwettyballz, and Bulgeinmapants. I think I got some screenshots of other names that just begged to be preserved for posterity, so I’ll post ‘em if I find ‘em!

Back to the review: gameplay is very intuitive and fluid, and the tips and hints that pop-up at crucial times are invaluable. From my experience, the learning curve of your skills depends on what type of character you play. I usually like playing a fighter or tank-mage that goes toe-to-toe with bad-ass beasties, so it’s a challenge for me to be a complete mage that only uses a staff and wears light robes…but it’s doable, and I enjoy dabbling with different spell attacks. I love to bring down the thunder on an enemy, slap them away with a flaming staff, or bring down a blazing nova to crush and burn them to Oblivion!

The dialogue with the NPCs is entertaining, as are the random statements and conversations you hear from same as you wander around. For instance, part of one little side quest requires you to take a bottle of special brew to a drunk in a specific inn. The gentleman is so happy with what you give him that he “feels like singing.” The song he sings is hilarious and causes him to get punched out by the innkeeper, because he sings in a high, screechy falsetto – too funny! The details given to the maps and books in-game are fantastic – the designers outdid themselves in that regard, and I enjoy how finding books is an important part of gaining experience levels in a particular skill line…I love finding the tomes and reading them! Kudos to the brains behind this epic game – TESO is a masterpiece.

Of course, there are downsides to any MMORPG, and TESO isn’t immune to those. For instance, the insidious ‘bot’ – an account created for the sole purpose of spamming others with offers for crafting materials that can be found with a lot of time and patience. Some people want to be the first to find certain items, and they are easy prey for the ‘bot’ that offers those items – online via Craigslist or PayPal, for example, and for a cash amount. People were prone to do that in Ultima as well: I recall seeing many adverts in chat-rooms and forums offering 100,000 Ultima gold for $25 (USD); not sure what the comparable amount would be for other countries, but I’m sure those similar offers were out there.

Other annoyances caused by ‘bots’ is the way they and their ‘clones’ will take over a dungeon and repeatedly kill a boss, stacking the bodies so that reaping a reward is virtually impossible for the honest gamer. The reporting system has improved somewhat since the launching of TESO, so bots are fewer and farther between…they still slip through, though!

I would ask if any of my readers are into games, but only a couple of you have stated that you are. Of the two, games such as GTA or Call of Duty are listed as tops but those types of games aren’t my thing. I like the swords-and-sorcery, Dungeons & Dragons-type RPGs first and foremost and always have! I will be adding some select shots from TESO to my PhotoBucket account soon…no definite ETA on that. In the meantime, here are some links to the trailers for the game – check them out and see what you think! If any of you ARE currently playing, what character(s) do you have, and what levels are they at? Are you a PvP master in Cyrodiil or Craglorn, or, better yet – have you attained the Emperor’s throne? Let me know – I’d love to hear about it!

Elder Scrolls Online – Cinematic Trailer

Elder Scrolls Online – “Live Another Life” E3 2014 Trailer

One side note before closing: very belated congratulations to Ms. Lupita Nyong’o for being the first REAL Black woman to grace the cover of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People.” It’s about fucking time us dark-skinned sisters get noticed in a positive light! I was happy to hear her send a message to all of the chocolate-skinned little girls out there to hold their heads high – white women or pale-skinned mulattoes aren’t the sole epitomes of beauty, regardless of the skin-bleaching, face-butchering freaks out there who believe otherwise! She’s beautiful, intelligent, talented, and gracious…a far cry from the usual gang of idiot celebutards that are worshipped by the mindless masses. I hope that she doesn’t get sidelined like every other dark-hued actress has been, and is able to get roles that don’t limit her or her acting abilities. Hey – maybe she will be an ass-kicking character in a movie based on a computer game! That would be a refreshing change from the Lara Crofts and other ridiculous white female characters that are prevalent. One can dream, eh?

Well, shut my fat ol’ mouth and call me corn pone…Lupita has been cast in the newest ‘Star Wars’ film! Well done, young sista…well done.

***** STANDING OVATION *****

A Little Bit About Aries!

April would have been the perfect month to commence my series on Western astrology, but I was neglectful and untimely. With that, we’ll start late in the year with my favourite sign, which is my sign and the first in the zodiac – Aries, the Ram!

Aries individuals are usually born between March 21st – April 20th, but some years that changes to March 20th – April 19th. This is due to the time and day that the Spring Equinox and Ostara fall on the calendar, since Aries is the sign of Spring. Yes, any ‘April Fool’ is an Aries, and they should be proud of it, given how that day came to be! Aries is a Fire sign with a cardinal aspect and a masculine gender, ruled by the planet Mars. The glyph for Mars is the one universally recognized as the one which indicates male gender, which is said to represent the spear and shield of Mars (Ares), who is the god of war. The glyph for Aries shows the curled horns of the Ram, which are quite useful in battering down those silly doors and irritating walls that get in the way!

In mythology, Aries is the ram whose golden fleece was sought after by Jason and the Argonauts. From Heavens-Above: (full article can be found there)

“Aries, The Ram, is the first of the twelve zodiacal constellations, and in Greek myth represents the animal whose fleece was sought by Jason and the Argonauts. Legend has it that when King Athamus of Boetia took a second wife, Ino, she was extremely jealous and resentful of his existing children, especially his son, Phrixus. She therefore deviously plotted the failure of the corn crop, intercepted and bribed the messenger sent by her husband to consult an oracle on the matter, and instructed him to say that he had been told that Phrixus had to be sacrificed if the people were to escape starvation. Despite pleadings from the boy’s mother, Nephele, King Athamus agreed to the sacrifice but, at the very last minute, the boy and his sister, Helle, were saved by a magnificent ram with a golden fleece, sent by Zeus in answer to their mother’s prayers.

According to astrology, Aries individuals are fiery, feisty, fearless and funny. We have big hearts that we sometimes wear on our sleeves and will give people our shirts and shoes if we think they could use them. If a person fucks us over, we will get it out of our systems in a beautiful, brilliant fireworks show of anger – and then we roll on down the road. Nothing keeps us down for long! We are quick to anger but don’t hold a grudge; however, you will be met with a wall of ice if you show that you can’t be trusted. The Aries shunning can be generational!

There are many notable Aries folks out there, past and present, in many different fields. Famous Aries musicians include Johann Sebastian Bach, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Cliff, Al Green, and Chaka Khan. Many have acting chops, both comedic and serious – Sir Alec Guinness, Marlon Brando, Jackie Chan, Charlie Chaplin, and Robert Downey, Jr. are some names on that list. Brilliant minds lie protected under those great horns – Dame Jane Goodall, Booker T. Washington, Robert Frost, and the Buddha, for example. As an active sign, many Aries individuals shine in sports: Felix Hernandez, Richard Sherman, Mike Zunino, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Morse, and Hisashi Iwakuma, for example. Other famous Aries people include Chico Marx, Akira Kurosawa, Harry Houdini, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Merle Haggard. A notable, albeit fictional Aries character, is the irrepressible Bart Simpson!

Understand that it’s only astrology, and my series is strictly for fun – it’s a pleasant diversion from the inanity and bullshit that others engage in. For now, enjoy two clips from my favourite Aries comedian, Conan O’Brien. In the first one, he tests out sidekick Andy Richter’s podium, which has been modified to perform  like a mechanical bull. In the other, he tests out some video games at A T & T stadium in Dallas on the massive DiamondVision screen – that’s a nerd’s dream right there! I’d love to play Skyrim or ESO on that thing…anyway, I’ll do a post on Taureans very soon…promise! I’m determined to start posting more often, and you should know what Aries determination can do!

Conan O’Brien rides Andy Richter’s podium

Conan O’Brien Clueless Gamer: A T & T Stadium Edition

Saturday / Sunday Supermoon…July 2014!

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know, I’ve been bad! Writing plenty but blogging little; gaming and puttering around the house, and enjoying my sanctuary – those things consume my time. Doesn’t mean that I’m clueless and disconnected…no, I’m just not interested in jumping on every single bandwagon that happens along.

I planned on doing a consolidated post at the beginning of May, but distractions got in the way – so here I am, late to the game in the second full week of July! What’s been going on in my little world? I’m glad you asked! Let me fill you in…pull up a chair, won’t you? Let me pour you a drink. What’s your pleasure? I have ale, mead, or wine…no beer, that’s piss-water! Oh, you don’t drink alcohol? Okay, let’s see…I have coffee (cream and sugar is available for it), there’s tea (green, chamomile, peppermint, or lemon ginger), orange or grape juice – mix it if you want fruit punch – and if you want a soda I have ginger ale, ginger beer, or Hansen’s mandarin-lime. Sorry, the hard alcohol is locked away…the ‘special stuff’ is for me and mine; guests can only imbibe on special occasions.

Let’s see…where to begin? For starters, Tuesday, 8 July, marked ‘Green Day’ here in my home state, which became the second one in the nation to sell ‘recreational’ marijuana to the public. I have mixed feelings about that…suffice it to say that the so-called ‘war on drugs’ really isn’t, and never was! The shops, licenses, and clientele of ‘the green’ all seem to be exclusively white – go figure. Colorado is a white state, obviously, and I guess Washington is as well…when you get out of King or Pierce counties, you might as well be in Idaho or Montana! At any rate, I had to laugh at the morons who lined up early to get their faces on the news. Quelle surprise, one guy whose face was shown might lose his job because he failed a UI requested by his employer. Uh, DUH, what did you think would happen? You think you’re special because you want to toke up on television? Sheesh…

In June, my eldest nephew graduated from high school so we went out of town to attend the ceremony. I was also able to visit with my dad and my brother on Father’s Day and had a nice dinner with them and two of my nephews. I have five nephews and one niece, and they keep me laughing whenever we go to visit! Much love to my fam…every day and always.

I’ve been quite pleased with the performances of my Seattle Mariners; they have been playing some fantastic baseball of late (well, not against the Twins), and seeing them put a beat-down on the bearded boys from Boston a while back was a joy to see! Four Mariners made the All-Star team, but at least five others were deserving of a spot, IMHO. In other sports news, it was interesting to note the half-assed attempt to rebrand the football team from Washington, D.C., but that seems to have fallen off of the radar. At least NFL players will get more care for their concussions when their careers are over, eh?

I didn’t jump on the soccer bandwagon like an arseload of people seem to have done. Those of you who went gaga over the Copa Mundial, especially the fair-weather fans in the USA, strike me as being a little disingenuous and a lot pretentious! Case in point: since the U.S. soccer team was shut out of the competition, there hadn’t been one story on the local or national half-hour ‘info-tainment’ broadcasts, save for the final match between Argentina and Germany. Before, you couldn’t get away from hearing about every match, provided the U.S. team was competing; now, it’s *crickets* and only the Google doodle, BBC, or Al-Jazeera keeping a small spotlight on the matches. Seriously – if you have always loved the sport and can recite Pele’s career verbatim, then you’re fine in my book. It’s the late-comers who think they’re special because they like ‘futbol’ that are an irritation!

What next…ah, yes – I completely missed doing my blessings for Beltane and the Solstice, didn’t acknowledge Juneteenth, and missed out on the birthdays of Bob Marley, Malcolm X, Stevie Wonder, Stephen Colbert, and Mr. T. And I completely dropped the ball when it came to doing a post for the full moon Friday the 13th in the second week of June – such unforgivable sacrilege!

Three notable people passed away within days of each other: actress and activist Ruby Dee, baseball great Tony Gwynn, and radio legend Casey Kasem. I will devote posts to those three in a moment – they were giants in their respective fields, and deserve some personal recognition for their life endeavors.

The 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer was being observed during the final week of June. In 1964, Mississippi was the worst state in the south with regards to segregation and civil-rights injustices. Lynchings were all too common as the KKK was fully supported by local (and federal) officers, who turned blind eyes to beatings, rapes, hangings, and cross-burnings. Means used to intimidate PoC to keep us from voting. Being treated as a third-class citizen was the order of the day. Medgar Evars’s murder. The three young men slaughtered. The horrors of that era are not that far behind us, but the SCOTUS seems to feel that upholding the civil rights of certain people just isn’t necessary anymore. Case in point: the bullshit involving Hobby Lobby stores and a certain Xian university, combined with removing the buffer zones from family-planning clinics, should prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the SCOTUS is, and always has been, just another arena for political volleying. They aren’t interested in upholding any sort of real justice!

I’m getting off-track…this post isn’t for getting on a soapbox, it’s for being happy that summer is here and the weather has been spectacular! A doe and her new baby fawn have made regular appearances around the house, as have a couple of rabbits and two raccoons – Mr. Fluffypants has a buddy! I’m still watching my Saturday night / Sunday morning anime, with two new series in the lineup: Blue Exorcist and Attack on Titan. Attack on Titan is intense, brutal, and awesome to watch – similar to Deadman Wonderland, Ghost in the Shell, and Deathnote – give it a look-see if you’re so inclined! I’ve also been indulging in a new MMORPG…yes; I said ‘never again,’ but…never say never, right? A post about my ESO adventuring is in the works as well.

With that, I’ll end with some songs – enjoy!

Jim Stafford: “Wildwood Weed

Mutabaruka: “Dis Poem

King Harvest: “Dancing in the Moonlight

Bob Welch: “Ebony Eyes

Muddy Waters: “Champagne & Reefer

Brewer & Shipley: “One Toke Over the Line

Quicksilver Messenger Service: “Fresh Air

Belated Memoriam: Dr. Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou (née Marguerite Ann Johnson): 4 April 1928 – 28 May 2014

I literally shed tears when I saw the news…Dr. Maya Angelou – author, poet, songstress, honored recipient of multiple awards, and renowned “Global Renaissance Woman” – passed away on 28 May, at the age of 86. She died in her sleep at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Words still can’t convey the sadness I feel, even after watching re-airings of some of her many interviews – part of that sadness is due to the fact that I hoped to meet her and have her read my book. At the same time, I know that I should honor and celebrate the fantastic, rich, full life that she led. I feel blessed that I had the privilege to read her writings and glean some life-altering lessons from them. My most important personal motto, “Everything in moderation – including moderation” was learned from her.

I watched the live presentation of her memorial service that was held just this past Saturday, 7 June – the most touching eulogy was given by Maya’s son, Guy, who eloquently stated that “I did not grow up in her shadow…I grew up in her light.” His voice broke when he mentioned her failing health, and the physical pain she endured from chronic respiratory failure. Other wonderful memories were shared by First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, former President Bill Clinton, and Maya’s personal pastor – his commentary was amazing.

Dr. Angelou is one of very few females that I’ve ever admired, past or present. I looked up to her with reverence the day I learned her name, and she instantly became a woman that I aspired to emulate in many ways.  Such talent! What grace! Few people know first-hand the brutality that she endured, but there are many of us who were forced into similar experiences. Do I know why the caged bird sings? Oh, yes…yes, and yes, and yes again. She wrote that book before I was born, and I read it when I was aged 10. It resonates with me now, just as much as it did those many years ago. To not speak for close to six years…I understand what drives one to do that. I was a voracious reader who lost (and then found) herself in books and music after my own violation…we sensitive, creative types do what we must to shelter our tender selves from the sicknesses of others.

Digressing…I devoured Dr. Angelou’s poetry and books whenever I got the chance, but had only recently learned of her early singing career – what a voice! That powerful, orator’s tenor was perfect as a contralto singer of calypso. She appeared in the 1977 movie “Roots” and the 1993 film “Poetic Justice,” but her film career began long before that. From her website:

“In 1954 and 1955, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom.

In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. The next year, she moved to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times.”

Dr. Angelou was a Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest Park University, and has received over 50 honorary degrees. She delivered the powerful poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at President Clinton’s first inauguration and served on two presidential committes. She travelled around the world, spoke five languages (besides English), and worked closely with Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – I can imagine the conversations they all must be having with each other in the afterlife! More from her website:

“During her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. While in Ghana, she met with Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America to help him build his new Organization of African American Unity.

Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and the organization dissolved. Soon after X’s assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked Dr. Angelou to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King’s assassination, falling on her birthday in 1968, left her devastated.”

One of the television interviews I happened across was Dr. Angelou speaking with Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. Ms. Harris-Perry apparently worked for Dr. Angelou shortly after graduating in 1994, so was one of many women fortunate enough to know her personally – Dr. Angelou even hosted Melissa’s wedding reception, from what she stated. Anyway, the words that struck close to home were these – apologies for my clumsy paraphrasing:

“Courage is the most important virtue one can possess…When you find the courage to stand up for yourself as a human being, then you find the courage to stand up for other human beings…Imagine what this country could be like if people allowed themselves to be truly intelligent…Being a woman doesn’t mean that I’m a ‘B’; being Black doesn’t mean that I’m an ‘N’, and being an American doesn’t mean that I’m a fool or a criminal.”

 

Those are wise, true, and powerful words from a strong, wise, courageous, powerful woman. She refused to be embittered by her past experiences, and that is something I strive to attain for my own personal growth. I’m not completely bitter, but I am cynical…and that is a trait that stifles growth. Too many people say, “This, that, and the other happened to me so I’m going to blame X and hate Y and wrap myself in self-pity to justify being a stunted, bitter, miserable individual.” I don’t have time for people like that, and I don’t want to be a person like that. It isn’t easy, but nothing worth having comes easy!

Maya Angelou was another amazing Aries dynamo! Actress, singer, activist, artist, professor, teacher, warrior, author, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother…the list of her accomplishments is long. I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t already been stated by the many other people who knew her best, so I’ll close with some notable quotes written and spoken by this beautiful, talented, intelligent, vibrant, forgiving, shining star of a woman and a genuine human being. Rest easily, sweet sister…you were truly golden. Phenomenal woman…your logic and wisdom is needed more than ever these days.

 

Aaaaahh…It’s April – 2014!!!

Baseball season has begun! I was pleased to see my Seattle Mariners whomp on the L.A. Angels, sweeping the 3-game series quite decidedly! Outscoring the ‘Halos’ 26 – 8 through the series, giving the mighty Ms their first 3 – 0 start since 1995…I remember those days! “King Felix” got the 10 – 3 win in the first game; great pitching was also done by Tom Wilhelmsen and Danny Farquhar, while a line drive from Mike Trout connected solidly with the lower leg of Charlie Furbush…I hope he’s all right. The bats were on fire as well, with explosive blasts from Justin Smoak, Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, and Robinson Cano. Michael Saunders made an unbelievable catch as he was falling which robbed a double from the afore-mentioned Mike Trout; it was spectacular to see. Erasmo Ramirez was dynamite in the second game (final score 8 – 3), and southpaw rookie James Paxton was sure and steady through his 7-inning appearance during the third game (final score 8 – 2). Hisashi Iwakuma, Stephen Pryor, and Taijuan Walker are on the 15-day DL; I wish them speedy recoveries and hope to see them back on the field soon. Also, I must admit that I was surprised to see Raul Ibanez wearing an Angels uniform, as I hadn’t heard that he’d been traded. That’s the way it goes in the sports world!

Seattle Mariners 2014 Schedule

Speaking of sports, it appears that the owner of the Washington, D.C. football team is sponsoring an ill-named ‘charitable’ foundation, which is a direct slap in the face to the First Nations peoples. Why, then, are none of the Twitterpated idiots (a.k.a. ‘twidiots’) jumping on that bandwagon? You would think that the ‘hashtivists’ would be tweeting, tumbling, Insta-gramming, Reddit-ing and Facebooking over that. No; they would rather go apeshit on Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A., over a Tweet that he didn’t even send, from an account that he has no control over. What’s really amazing is how many of them have sided with Michelle Malkin! Yes, that Michelle Malkin, the Asian darling of FauxNews and the self-hating slagheap who wrote a book justifying the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Back to the ‘hashtivists’ – those same people also sided with the ‘female’ who started the #CancelColbert campaign. From what I saw, the picture associated with that account shows some slutty-looking Asian chick, and we all know that some overly-made-up, barely-legal-looking female striking a ‘sultry’ pose will always garner attention. What gullible fools the knee-jerk reactionaries are! No surprise, there…

It’s easy to distract people whilst getting their attention!

Speaking of fools, I want to shout this from the rooftops: “P.E.T.A., STFU!” Ye fucking gawds…Michael Vick, whether you like it or not, has done his time and paid his debt for that long-ago incident. Time to move on and get over it! Fucking hypocrites, anyway – if you’re so concerned about animals, why aren’t you bitching at the people working to find bodies after the landslide in Oso? Those poor dogs are being exposed to harmful chemicals from ruptured septic tanks and overturned diesel drums; why not go protest there? Oh, that’s right…it’s easier to target a single Black man – heaven forbid that you might piss off an entire group of grieving rednecks! I really can’t get behind a group that needs to use nude women for promotional purposes, anyway…seriously, though, animal-rights ‘activists’ are a hypocritical breed. Case in point: there is a veterinary hospital here on the Washington coast, located in the community of Raymond. A recent news story  on KOMO News spoke of how the employees lauded ‘Barefoot Bandit’ Colton Harris-Moore, who apparently ‘donated’ some of his ill-gotten gains to that hospital – that money is now up for auction. So, in a nutshell, these P.E.T.A. pricks want to hang Michael Vick from the nearest tree for actions done in 2006, but have no problems accepting a donation of stolen money that is mailed to them by a white criminal. That’s PERFECTLY logical, right?!? Sheesh…

What a sweetheart that thief, the “Barefoot Bandit,” is!

All right, enough from my soapbox for now. I’m off to Tamriel with my mighty, fighting Uruk-Hai! If you have to ask what I’m referring to, then don’t worry about it. It’s a gaming-geek thing…you wouldn’t understand!

Hellacious battles, anyone?

Springtime Sunshine!

Ah, yes…Spring has sprung! Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It entered the Pacific Northwest at 9:57 a.m. PDT (16:57 UTC) and the day was beautiful – mostly soft sunshine with a few light showers passing through. Other parts of the country aren’t as fortunate, as the snow on the ground reflects any sunlight, preventing it from melting. Since there is so much of it, it could be another two weeks (at least!) before people in Chicago or New York will see any bare ground. More sunshine today with intermittent showers, and a light, warm zephyr wafting gently – it’s positively idyllic.

Spotted towhee

It’s been fun identifying the various small birds that flutter around the house. Besides the hummingbirds, we have chickadees, spotted towhees, and dark-eyed juncos. I’ve been able to get some of them to respond when I whistle, and a few will stand by the porch when I scatter seed for them. Sometimes they forage on the porches if they don’t see me moving by the window – they’re so cute! I refuse to have birds in cages…it’s such a cruel thing to do. I like watching my little feathered buddies doing their birdy things in their own environment! The deer mosey through the yard regularly now that the shrubs are leafing out, and Mr. Fluffy-pants paid us a visit a couple of nights past.

Dark-eyed junco

Springtime means that baseball’s Spring Training is going on, and the Seattle Mariners home opener is 8 April – I’m looking forward to it! Their lineup has changed slightly since some trades were made, including the addition of Robinson Cano. Hisashi Iwakuma has been rehabbing a sprained tendon in his finger, Taijuan Walker was recently diagnosed with bursitis, and Stephen Pryor is recovering from a torn lat. Hopefully they have swift recoveries and return soon; their presences on the team are solid and their contributions are necessary!

There are many interesting happenings in the world, lately. Vladimir Putin missed the Cold War so much that he’s decided to throw the U.S. right back in the middle of it, what with his figurative buttocks-baring towards NATO, the EU, and President Obama. Not sure what can be done if Putin brings back the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, remodeled in the image that he grew up under as the son of a KGB agent. It’s fascinating that the FauxNews fucktard crowd seem to want a fascist like Putin for POTUS – they positively drool over Putin’s shirtless horseback-riding. Xenophobic racists have their new poster-boy for the 21st Century! Meanwhile, their juvenile name-calling of President Obama finds new lows on a daily basis. When the next white is elected POTUS, you can bet that they will get treated with kid gloves…especially if they are a darling of the RethugliKKKans or the nazis who are toolin’ for a warm tea-bag!

The Malaysian airliner is still missing and unaccounted for, even as the focal point of the search is now somewhere off of the southwestern coast of Australia…halfway to Antarctica. My husband and I had talked about what might have occurred and came up with an interesting probability, but I don’t want to speculate here – especially when there are so many grieving families. I will say, though, that the lack of a debris field immediately following the disappearance indicates that the plane didn’t crash after takeoff, as initial reports suggested. If and when the plane is found, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the black box and the data recorders reveal.

Speaking of tragedies, Seattle residents were horrified as a KOMO-TV News helicopter plunged from the station’s helipad as it was taking off in the early hours of Tuesday, 18 March. Both men aboard the chopper were killed on impact, while a third man is receiving excellent care and treatment in the burn unit of Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. The man was in a car stopped at a traffic light when the chopper landed on the vehicle; he managed to extricate himself approximately 2 minutes afterwards, with his clothing alight, and a security guard at the KOMO studios helped snuff out the flames. That footage of the burning fuel from the chopper, running swiftly down Broad Street, was unbelievable…

What else…oh, it seems that some troll, who is overtly obsessed with Seth McFarlane, simply can’t stand that fact that I had the audacity to criticize the Family Guy creator in a post I wrote quite some time ago. They keep begging for my attention in a manner that befits a desperate, pathetic creature who needs the firm ministrations of a mistress. Backhanding them in the mouth with the butt of a whip would be a fun start! Anyway, I might get around to giving them the attention they’re crying for – when I get really fucking BORED, that is!

Back to important shit – yes, I’m still gaming…why wouldn’t I be? As long as computer games that appeal to me keep getting made, I’ll keep on enjoying them. It beats being a sad, little Internet troll with no life, LMAO! I’ve been sorting out some new and recent screenshots from Half-Life and Skyrim, and having a lot of fun exploring  Morrowind…that old game still has plenty of appeal! I noticed that there’s an expansion pack for Starcraft II coming out soon; I will definitely scoop that up and see if it’s any good…and, we’re seriously considering checking out TESO. Our curiosity got the better of us and we enrolled in a couple of Beta tests, so now we got sucked into another MMORPG. Oh well!

Belated Ostara blessings, dear readers…have a fantastic weekend!

Birthday Wishes…

My birthday is coming up soon, but I wanted to talk about someone else’s special day – my father, who just turned 90 years of age. He is much older than my mother, who will turn 60 later on this year; he is also much older than my stepmother, who turned 56 over the weekend. He certainly liked the young ladies, LOL!

My dad was born in Louisiana. He left home at the age of 17 and joined the U.S. Army, where he served for 21 years. He is a decorated veteran who fought in WWII and Korea, and served through the Vietnam conflict. He was part of the Red Ball Express. He knows well the era of Jim Crow and segregation; he was one of many Black servicemen who served this country with honour, but was treated like a subhuman entity upon returning to U.S. soil.

He is a business owner. He’s had three successful neighbourhood markets, where he butchered meat and sold homemade sausages. He sold real estate for many years, and opened one of the first Black banks in the Greater Seattle area. He was very active in the community and the church, and bought brand-new baseball outfits for a Little League team one year. He’s worked tirelessly all of his life, retired in 2010 – even a quadruple-bypass couldn’t slow him down for long.

He is a Freemason. He is loved and respected by a great number of people – he has touched many lives. He has a quiet strength and a masculine grace. He is dignified and courteous…a true gentleman. He is my father, and I am proud to be his daughter. I am one of his three blood-related children, not ‘married-in.’ His courage, strength, and dignity flows in my veins…nobody can take that from me.

Happy birthday, Dad…all my love to you.

Lastly, a belated Lá Fhéile Padraig to my Irish kin, wherever they may be…happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Beauty, Food & Fashion

With the changing of the seasons and the accompanying ‘Spring Cleaning,’ my thoughts turn to light, airy clothes for the warm summer months ahead. I can tell that the weather is going to be wonderful, even better than last year – I can’t wait! The warm sun calls for long, lightweight skirts that cling in just the right places, paired with feathery, lacy tops…I like wearing them just about anywhere, whether out here on the coast, or in the city visiting friends or relatives. Casual wear, for attending baseball games or going on a quick jaunt on the bike, consists of jeans and t-shirts or the tops that I pair with casual skirts. Finding jeans is difficult for me because of my height; inseams need to be at least 36” to look proper on me, especially when I sit down. The clam-digger look only works on girls with big thighs and fat calves!

My favourite style of sandal is the ‘gladiatrix’ – I have ankle-high, mid-calf, and knee-highs of that style…I love their versatility! I don’t like spending a shitload of money on one entire outfit; I like things that mix and match even if they are made by completely different designers, sell in different stores, or even wear in different seasons. I have the ability to make things work, so I do – hell, I used to model clothes so I know what to do with them, and I’ve always had my own unique style…I simply play around and have fun!

Evening wear depends on the occasion, so I have a nice variety of outfits – even a few which would be perfect for wearing on a late-night talk-show to promote my book! Speaking of my autobiography, I have determined that it will be completed by March of 2015, so that is the final word on it…promoting it has already begun.

Recently, I’ve been working out a bit more and getting my fitness regimen on a more regular schedule. On sunny days we try to wake up early and take a bicycle ride to the ocean shoreline, then take a long, roundabout way back home. When it rains, the elliptical machine and the fitness DVDs get more use, but we use them about three times per week. I really enjoy weight training, so investing in a home universal machine is in the works. We already have free-weights and kettlebells, but I need variety in my workouts – especially since I have no access to a private swimming pool. I’d really like one of those ‘swim spas’ …that would be ideal.

Speaking of beauty rituals, my skincare and makeup test is complete. I use the Bare Escentuals / Bare Minerals line on a daily basis, and Fashion Fair Cosmetics for evening and special occasions. My skin is looking fantastic by alternating those brands. My hair is looking great, too – I’m in my third year of growing ‘locs, and they are coming along nicely. I have an appointment this weekend for a deep-cleansing and conditioning, followed by a touch-up on the twists – I’m looking forward to it, as the stylist has been tending to the ‘locs of my mother and my youngest sister and he came highly recommended by them. I love what he does with their hair! For home use, I’m looking into a good-quality brand of hair-dryer, along with a steamer, so that I can finally do full-maintenance on my own hair. Steaming is essential for moisturizing and tending to the new growth, keeping hair from matting and ensuring that each strand is oiled and conditioned properly. Thorough drying prevents mildew, mustiness, and dulling buildup. I love how my shoulder-length ‘locs look and feel…they are soft, fluffy and bouncy!

As the seasons change, so do the types and amounts of local foods in the stores. Shellfish makes way for spring runs of trout and Copper River salmon. Oysters and clams will be inedible after April, especially if the warm-weather trend maintains its course. There is truth to the tale of only eating mollusks in months containing the letter ‘R!’ Fortunately, chicken is available year-round thanks to local, free-range farms. Local beef is excellent as well – it’s a shame that there are few local pig farms that raise quality pork under humane conditions. Local fruits and vegetables are varied and plentiful throughout the year, and I utilize my window-box herb garden to the maximum! I love cooking with fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage…rosemary is a fantastic seasoning to use when grilling kebabs. Garlic, shallots, and onions are also favourites of mine and are generously used in certain dishes. If I’m making something with lots of carbs, it will most likely be a breakfast dish such as waffles or French toast with a nice portion of fresh fruit on the side.

In the spirit of ‘legalized’ recreational marijuana use, I will close with one of my favourite ‘Scooby snacks’ that I used to make for my own, personal ‘pot parties.’ A tasty little hors d’oeuvre, which was healthy as well. Keep in mind that these ingredients are best used fresh, so are most likely only going to be available on the West Coast and in the Pacific Northwest – if you don’t reside in these locales, then you’ll just have to use your imaginations for substitute ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 2 Hass avocados (California)
  • 1 French baguette (small to medium)
  • ¼ lb. of Havarti cheese (sliced, if you prefer)
  • ¼ lb. of Nova Scotia-style lox
  • A tasty beverage of your choice, to wash it down with

This is easy to make: thinly slice the avocados, cheese, and lox and arrange on a plate. Slice the baguette in ¼ inch-thick pieces and arrange accordingly. Take a slice of bread and layer one individual cheese, avocado, and lox slice on the bread in that order. If cut properly, there will be even distribution of all of the ingredients, but if you have a little extra avocado or cheese left over then you can use them in a guacamole topping for the bread as well. Another fun option is toasting the bread before or after the toppings are on; it all depends on your taste – so it’s a nice, versatile snack that can be served anytime, anywhere! Hope you like it…

Random Tuesday Thoughts…

My mind feels like a pinball machine sometimes – the thoughts bounce around with a clanging, jangling clamour…zig-zagging and careening here and there. They zip to and fro like a hummingbird, lightly touching for a moment and then soaring off.

For instance, I heard of the unfortunate incident in Florida, where a young woman named Ebony Wilkerson suffered a severe mental breakdown and drove her SUV into the surf off of Daytona Beach. She was attempting to take her own life and the lives of her children, one who is still in her womb. Family members tried to get help for her, to no avail. Police officers had stopped her before the incident and felt that “something wasn’t right,” but claimed that they had no reason to detain her and let her go on her way. I wonder; if they had a valid reason to pull her over in the first place, why couldn’t they have waited for any of her concerned family members? It’s sad that this woman felt so overwhelmed and desperate – I wonder if her domestic situation is a dire one. I sincerely hope that she gets the help she needs, and incarceration isn’t the answer…but, knowing how ‘fair and just’ the legal system is in Florida, I fear that she will become another sad statistic.

A plane has vanished in Southeastern Asia while en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. All aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are feared lost, and there has been much speculation over what might have occurred. This is what ‘news’ has been reduced to: innuendo, speculation, conjecture, and opinions based on rumours. It used to be that facts were reported; now, stories are created. One used to be able to find different news-pieces on different stations – now, every station airs their own version of the exact same ‘story’ which, again, has been created with very little fact. Salacious ‘teasers’ are used to keep people tuning in and making sure that the ratings and revenue remain sky-high.

We’ve lost an hour because of Daylight Savings Time in this country. It’s funny how we humans strive to control nature by attempting to control time itself, amongst other things. Science has given us the power of gods, which we misuse horribly and to detrimental ends. Pollution, destruction, and extermination are things which we have mastered. Too bad all of that energy wasn’t put towards conservation, creation, unity, and non-invasive explorations…imagine where we could be if we’d done these things long ago! Instead, we focus on divisive politics, brain-dead celebutards, and idiotic attention-whores.

Dr. Carl Edward Sagan: 9 November 1934 – 20 December 1996

Speaking of science, I was excited to see the new Cosmos series, which is sub-titled A Space-Time Odyssey. I adored the original as a child, which sparked my burgeoning imagination – along with books, music, and Dungeons & Dragons. Cosmos was originally hosted by Dr. Carl Sagan, it aired on the Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS), and produced by KCET, BBC, and Carl Sagan Productions. The new Cosmos is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who is the director of the Hayden Planetarium. It airs on FOX-owned stations, including National Geographic, making it a heavily-incorporated show. The executive producer is one Seth McFarlane – the same Seth behind idiotic, racist tripe like Ted, Dads, and the Cleveland Show. I’m truly amazed that Mr. McFarlane is involved in this show, since he’s never struck me as one with intellectual pursuits. Since Cosmos is now airing on FOX-owned stations, I was triply amazed to see an opening statement by President Obama – but the President’s interest in the sciences is better-known to me.

I had to laugh at the latest move by the politically-correct crowd, which is some celebrity-backed ‘initiative’ to ban the word ‘bossy,’ especially if it is directed at little girls. Really?!? Are you fuckin’ KIDDING ME?!? There are far worse things to be called than ‘bossy,’ for one. If people are really concerned with things that have adverse effects on the collective psyches of girls and young women, then they should focus on the negative images that we get bombarded with before we even leave home for that first day of elementary school – and, of course, that begins with PARENTS.

Now that I think about it, it seems that the whole gender-identification and reassignment arguments made popular by Facebook and Twitter have rendered Women’s History Month moot, no? If people like Janet Mock, RuPaul and their ilk get to decide and define what is ‘feminine’ and/or ‘female,’ then it’s only a matter of time before anyone with enough money can make themselves into whatever they want to. Oh, wait…that’s already happened! Never mind, then.

The sun is shining beautifully today! The deer wandered past the yard this morning, nibbling on the shrubs on the outside of the fence-line. There is LOTS of yard-work that needs to be done, so we’re divvying up the chores and getting things done a little bit each day the weather permits. When it’s raining, we tend to the yard equipment so it will be ready for mowing. I need a different weed-puller, and I wouldn’t mind a roto-tiller to tear up the matted grasses and roots; get the earth tumbled and jumbled to assist with the natural growth process, and clear out the moss that wants to take over! Keeping a lawn looking pristine is much harder than it looks…why do you think that cemeteries and golf courses have large maintenance crews?

Ah, well…y’know what? It’s been a while since I posted some music, so I crawled into the dusty corners of the music vault in my mind and dragged out a few long-forgotten favourites. They keep with the ‘Cosmos’ theme, IMHO. Enjoy!

Elton John: “Rocket Man

David Bowie: “Space Oddity

Peter Schilling: “Major Tom (Coming Home)”

The Moody Blues: “Legend of a Mind (Timothy Leary)”

Sacred Spirit: “Yeha-Noha

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