Friday, February 24, 2017

Call to Action: Shut down the "Deathtrap"

Tell #NBC that you will NOT watch the March 1st episode of #ChicagoFire because you are a decent human being and it's too soon to make money off of the horror that was the "Ghost Ship" fire.

NBC is planning to air an episode entitled "Deathtrap" which is a realistic depiction of the Oakland warehouse fire that took place just 3 months ago. That fire trapped and killed 36 people and injured 2 more. The community and the survivors and their friends and families are still reeling from this devastating loss!

The synopsis of "Deathtrap" makes it clear that NBC is re-enacting the Oakland warehouse fire in a Chicago setting. The casting call makes explicit reference to "Ghost Ship" and the requirement for actors to re-enact the experience of being trapped in a blazing warehouse. How did this disgusting and crass story get green-lighted? Have the executives at NBC lost their minds?

Call to Action
  • Social media warriors, drive to ZERO the viewership for this indecent episode.
  • Corporate sponsors, withdraw your advertising dollars from this repugnant programming.
  • Dick Wolf, super-star producer, admit that this idea was a crass mistake, and acknowledge the lesson learned: We value life when we respect the dead.
Links to more information on this issue

"We value life when we respect the dead."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Venus and Mars are Alright Tonight!

This picture shows the view in the west-southwestern sky about an hour after sunset on Feb 20, 2017 in Alexandria, VA. About 30 degrees above the horizon, one notices a brightly glowing planet: Venus. Above and to the left of Venus, about 7 degrees away, is a fainter, redder planet: that would be Mars.

Venus and Mars are alright tonight!

The celestial dance of ultra-feminine Venus and the combative, uber male, Mars has fired up human imagination since time immemorial. The Roman myth of Venus and Mars is familiar to most of us. Venus, the Goddess of Love has a passionate affair with Mars, the God of War. Together they have a beautiful daughter, the Goddess Harmonia. But like love itself, the story of Venus and Mars is much more complicated than it would seem on the surface.

Venus is betrothed to pragmatic and hard-nosed Vulcan, Roman God of Fire, but she finds him too prosaic. She has a passionate affair with Mars. But Vulcan discovers what is going on. Being a blacksmith, he fashions a fine metallic mesh which ensnares Venus and Mars on a couch. They are then both humiliated in front of the other gods on Mount Olympus. 

Yin and Yang. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. In the long run, life did not work out well for these two star-crossed lovers. But tonight? Tonight, Venus and Mars are alright!

Sitting in the stand of the sports arena
Waiting for the show to begin
Red lights, green lights, strawberry wine
A good friend of mine, follow the stars
Venus and Mars are alright tonight

Standing in the hall of the great cathedral 
Waiting for the transport to come 
Starship two-one-ZNA-nine 
A good friend of mine studies the stars 
Venus and Mars are alright tonight

Any time, any day, you can hear the people say that love is blind
well, I don't know but I say love is kind 

Soldier boy kisses girl, leaves behind a tragic world but he won't mind, 
he's in love and he says love is fine 

and love is fine for all we know, for all we know our love will grow, 
that's what the man said


Garry Beckstrom's guide to exploring the night sky:

Charles J. Harwood, the forbidden love of Venus and Mars:

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992) is a book written by American author and relationship counselor John Gray.

Lyrics for the title song to The Wings' 1975 album Venus and Mars: Paul McCartney - Venus & Mars Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Listen to the whole album:

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Song to Walt Whitman, Doctor Who, and the Open Road: Allons!



  • ‘Let's go’; (also) ‘come now’, ‘there you are’ (used by way of encouragement, or as a general expression of acceptance, resignation, etc.).


Mid 17th century; earliest use found in George Tooke (1595–1675), army officer and writer. From French allons, 1st person plural imperative of aller to go from post-classical Latin alare, ultimately a variant (with loss of the unstressed medial -u- and subsequent assimilation of consonants, although the exact phonological history is unclear) of classical Latin ambulāre to walk.

"Allons-y? It means, Let's go!"
--The Tenth Doctor Who


"Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless....” 
--Walt Whitman


Perhaps you have seen the Volvo commercial which begins with the phrase, "Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road." The stunningly gorgeous commercial imagines a modern day Walt Whitman, voiced by actor Josh Brolin, wandering the wonderous world in his S90 luxury sedan.  

Anyway, I heard Josh Brolin's melodic voice and those words really spoke to me. A quick search landed me on the full version of Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road," a poem from his 1856 collection, Leaves of Grass.

The original poem is 328 lines in 15 sections. I quickly realized that Josh Brolin reads but a few lines from the poem and some are presented out of order. I also noticed that the original contains many instances of the word, Allons, all edited out of the Volvo ad. Being a Doctor Who fan, my appreciation for the original Walt Whitman text deepened. 

The TV spot is superb, but you really must invest the 2 minutes and 47 seconds it'll take you to watch the extended version. This longform video is part of Volvo's "Our Idea of Luxury" series featuring artful, cryptic, non-linear story-telling. I defy anyone to watch it only once. It took me a couple of viewings before I noticed the explicit reference to Walt Whitman. Can you spot it?

I love the stirring poetry of Walt Whitman, the campy fun of Doctor Who, and the endless appeal of the open road. Volvo makes a nice vehicle, but I'll take my Road King. 

Song of the Open Road

Related Poem Content Details

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 

Strong and content I travel the open road. 

You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, 
I believe that much unseen is also here. 

Here is realization, 
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him, 
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them. 

Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me. 
I inhale great draughts of space, 
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine. 

I am larger, better than I thought, 
I did not know I held so much goodness. 

All seems beautiful to me.

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me! 
Traveling with me you find what never tires. 

The earth never tires, 
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first, 
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d, 
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell. 

Allons! we must not stop here, 
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while. 

Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless, 

To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to gather the love out of their hearts, 
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you, 
To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls. 

You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you. 

Allons! the road is before us!