Thursday, November 16, 2017

"Army of spies"

You can't make this stuff up:

Harvey Weinstein reportedly employed former members of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, in the service of trying to dig up dirt on Rose McGowan and other women that have accused him of sexual crimes. Mossad is permitted by its government to act outside of the constitutional laws of that state. Among its activities since its founding in 1949, it was given the contract of tracking down the three surviving Palestinian terrorists from the Munich Olympics and with finding fugitive Nazis. The latter venture was largely a failure as the secret organization trampled upon the sovereignty rights of multiple states.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak says he was the person that introduced the Hollywood mogul to a group of these former spies that comprised a private security agency called Black Cube. The New Yorker magazine claims that one of these agents secretly recorded McGowan's statements while pretending to be a women's rights advocate. They compiled personal, psychological, and sexual profiles on dozens of people that worked for the Weinstein Company and that had also made claims of abuse against Weinstein. My boss sucks too. She's rarely brings in bagels.

The reporter that wrote this story in the New Yorker-- an absolutely extraordinary piece of journalism-- is Mia Farrow's son and rumored to be the love child of Frank Sinatra, to whom he bears a shocking physical resemblance.

I'm telling you, the power elite in Hollywood can match that of Washington D.C. for any and all of hubris, criminality, and corruption. For sure though they have more imaginative script writers.

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During the shooting of Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942, Jimmy Cagney's co-star Joan Leslie turned 17 years old. The studio had a birthday party for her on set. Jack Warner called in the newsreel cameras and Leslie, the industry's new "girl next door" on screen was presented by her boss with a new car. Warner shook hands with his young ingenue before the cameras, left the set, an assistant took the car keys, and Leslie never saw the car again.

Hollywood.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Another break-in at the DNC

Sometime during the last year and a half, or maybe during the 12 years before that, you might have read me referring to the Democratic National Committee as bought and paid for by the Clintons. But good lord amighty, I didn't think it was literally true.

I'll be damned. Donna Brazile has jumped from the boat and in order to sell some books to the growing horde of reformed progressive voters, she's disclosing a memo that has evidently weighed heavily upon her conscience. It seems that in August 2015 the DNC was on the verge of bankruptcy and blowing through money at a clip of about three to four million dollars a month. President Obama didn't care a lick about it. He had taken his 2008 army of small donors and basically told the troops to stand down during each one of the two-year election cycles that followed. A program of attacking conservative Democrats in primary races threatened to alienate conservative Democrats and discourage them from funding the winning campaigns that were not being won. Obama, the de facto head of his party by virtue of being the United States President, put Debbie Wasserman-Schultz-Clinton, a woman he didn't particularly care for, in charge of the DNC and he left her there for six years. Obama was re-elected in 2012, but the party lost 1,000 state and federal seats nationwide between his first and his last day in office.

You almost have to wonder-- at least I do-- if he did it on purpose. Did he want the Democrats to be lost without him in the same way Michael Jordan wanted the Chicago Bulls to implode after the sixth title in 1998 in order to further prove how great he was? Barack turned "Obama for America" into "Organizing for America," then starved it. He abandoned Howard Dean's 50-state strategy for the party. He sucked up to corporate Democrats while alienating progressives. The only action he took in relationship to the DNC after putting DWSC in charge of it in 2010 was to wait until after last year's presidential race was lost, and then put his labor secretary Tom Perez in charge when it looked like Bernie backer Keith Ellison from Minnesota was going to get the post.

Anyway, back to Brazile and the summer of 2015. So the DNC is worse than dead broke one year before their nominating convention. They're in the red and there's a Hillary election party to pay for. By Brazile's account, the hole was 24 million dollars deep. They secretly put themselves up for sale, and there was only one bidder-- the well-heeled Hillary Clinton for President campaign. That bunch swoops in, keeps the juice running to the light switches, and then-- get this reveal from Brazile-- their staffers take over all of the positions in the party's national committee. They handle all of the day-to-day operations. So when we say that Hillary was "coronated," or-- with less adornment-- that the DNC showed partiality towards her in her primary race against Sanders, we're not even really referring to what is traditionally known as the DNC. The DNC now is the Clinton campaign. I'm being totally serious. Can anybody confirm if this is mentioned in Hillary's book? I haven't read it.

It's traditional for the party's nominee to take over responsibility for the debt of the national committee. Candidates, because they are personalities, do a much better job of raising money than does the committee, which is a rather vague-seeming yet vitally-important mechanism. The thing is though that none of this is supposed to happen until the nominee actually becomes the nominee. In this case, it happened 15 months prior to. See what we've been saying? Coronation.

Brazile already admitted months ago that she had handed over debate questions to Clinton during the primary race when the Clinton/Sanders drama was at its thickest and the politico was moonlighting at CNN between DNC assignments. And now this thought just entered into my mind for the first time-- presidential candidate Martin O'Malley really didn't have a chance.

So now I see what Hillary's supporters meant when they said Bernie wasn't a real Democrat. His opponent was the party apparatus. That's tough to compete with. You can't be more Dickensian than Dickens. All along, Bernie's raising money and his campaign contributions go to the DNC, where much it is spent on Hillary's campaign. Sanders voters have been trying to tell us this but they've gotta shout real loud to be heard. Remember when we heard about the alleged violence caused by Bernie supporters at the Nevada state convention? Remember the lobbyists serving as superdelegates? Remember the lawsuits filed by Sanders supporters citing collusion and the RICO statutes? Remember the suppression of Ellison and other Bernie supporters when they attempted to secure post-election positions with the committee? Remember the DNC emails that were not hacked by the Russians, but rather leaked by one or more disgruntled Bernie supporters? Oh, did I just take it one step too far?

None of it was illegal. Within a wide range of reason, political parties can do what they want with their money. It's only yours up until the point you give it to them (and so good luck to you if you're drawing up that blueprint for your personal budget). They can make strategic financial and political decisions as they see fit. And this is the contagion you wind up contracting when you swim in the foul cesspool that is the Democratic Party. It's what you get when you try to reform an institution that is far past the capacity for reform. And they still don't get it. Go online tonight and read the defense of the misdeeds by the apologists-- Bernie wasn't a real Democrat so he shouldn't have expected a fair fight. Ok, were O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb real Democrats? Is the next move to purge the party of all independent voters as well? More Democrats still voted for Hillary in the state-by-state primaries. True, and I weigh 220 pounds with your foot added to the scale. As I suggested before, the most recent purge of progressives with the committee took place after election day. The superdelegate system, complete with voting lobbyists, has been affirmed for 2020. Among elected officials, all but four of them in the Senate voted for the National Defense Authorization Act on September 18th, the military appropriations bills whose financial commitment to the war machine exceeded even that laid out by President Trump (and one of the dissenting votes was not cast by liberal hero Elizabeth Warren). They ain't learned nothing. In fact, the power brokers now have greater cause to tighten their grip on the handle.

Fear not, though, oh lovers of peace and equal opportunity. This is what it looks like when it's all collapsing. Keep your eye out for more books to be published.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Hollywood harassment

Some opinions on sexual harassment, Hollywoodland, and the news media, in the order that they occur to me…

1. One shouldn’t be so naïve as to believe that Hollywood was immune from this behavior on a large-scale basis, either because it’s in “woke” California or representative of some sort of ultra-modern industry. If anything, the entertainment business is likely among the worst environments for women. There’s an implicit understanding within the visual media that physical attractiveness is an acceptable characteristic to consider in hiring, with talent being very subjective and arguably meaningless. By that I mean, acting talent is an important ingredient in the quality of a particular production, but not necessarily in the profitability of that production. Talent there is, by and large, very disposable. Conditions are ripe.

2. I have had nothing but women as immediate supervisors at my work going back across two careers, five individual leaders, and 19 years. I can’t explain what a gratifyingly ideal it is to have the experience I have had and not to have dealt with any issues ever. I've taken that for granted, but shouldn't. Everybody should want a woman as their boss, based on my experience, regardless of the industry in which they work. Why don’t we have more women in charge? Aside: Do women have the same level of sex drive as men? I believe so, yes. Do they have the same sense of entitlement and license? No.


3. If I was given only one axe to grind on this topic, I would have to whet the protection of “innocent until proven guilty.” These now-daily reports are sickening in the details, but I refuse to let emotion cloud any of it. It is exactly wrong that all accusers deserve to be believed. I don’t know who came up with that. All those that are accused and deny the charges deserve to be believed until they-- and we-- have been presented with the evidence, and they have been allowed to defend themselves against it, and even then we should recognize the imperfections of the justice system. We are naturally skeptical of charges of crimes-- I hope, and that’s as it should be. I do not care if this gets me labeled as insensitive to this issue of sexual assault. I’m not going to apply a standard to sexual harassment or even rape that I don’t apply to murder or any other heinous crime. Professed victims of crimes deserve to have their charges investigated to their fullest, and without the threat of harassment, and if that's what's meant by "deserve to be believed," then I'm with that completely. But when charges are denied, I'm going to go with the evidence. Weinstein makes it easy because his comments today indicate he still doesn't get it.

4. I simply stop reading if I read an article that links the alleged predatory behavior of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, James Toback, Brett Ratner, and others within the Hollywood power circle to the political phenomenon that is Donald Trump-- if it then does not also link it as well to the legacy and the facts of the public life of Bill Clinton. To a man, the behavior these guys are accused of engaging in predates this time last year when Trump was elected, and also to a man, these are all Bill Clinton supporters going back to the 1990’s (as Trump was also for years). If there is anything in the political landscape that enabled the actions that we’re finding out now, it was the free pass that Bill Clinton got from self-described liberals and feminists when he was accused by Paula Jones and Juanita Broddrick of predatory behavior. He earned that pass only because he was pro-choice, and attached to it has been a very damaging legacy for the Left.

5. That’s all that the rest of us needed was one more issue where Trump gets to claim a victory because the Clintons’ financiers are revealed to be hypocrites.

6. I have more understanding for Hollywood denizens like Matt Damon and Quentin Tarantino, who reportedly knew of, or were witness to Weinstein’s behavior but said nothing. They both say they regret their inaction. If we’re going to cut the victims a break for not reporting assaults for fear of reprisal, then we also have to cut a break for onlookers that were subject to the same fear. When some of these people heard rumors and stayed silent, maybe that’s because they were rightfully aware of the lack of physical evidence in many of the cases and the risk of a defamation suit. Indeed, Ratner let loose with a very expensive defamation suit against an accuser this week.

7. It's all so icky, so warped. Corey Feldman says he’s going to name his sexual abusers, but first he needs several hundred thousands of crowd-sourced dollars to reveal the names as part of a movie that he’s planning to produce. And can a person emerge from the closet in a less affirming way then Kevin Spacey just did? He hides his homosexuality for decades and then he comes out in what certainly seems likes a ploy to change the focus of an attempted assault on a minor that he doesn't deny took place.

8. I’m not giving any pieces of art back. I still plan to watch and take pleasure in Weinstein Company movies and in the handful of Kevin Spacey performances that I really enjoy, just as I won’t give up the Cosby Show.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Happy Game 7 Day

A World Series reached its seventh game tonight. This is not an annual thing. It's the 39th time in history we've had one of these, and here's a fun fact: the St. Louis Cardinals have won eight of them. That's more than any other team. Even the vaunted Yankees, with their 27 total championships, have only won five Game 7's, and the last one of those took place against the San Francisco Giants in 1962.

There is no sports team for whom Game 7 is more sacred. For the Cardinals, Game 7 means flickering memories of a hungover Grover Cleveland Alexander playing hero and Babe Ruth ending the action by getting himself thrown out attempting to steal second. It means Pepper Martin running with abandon and Burleigh Grimes throwing his "grandfathered" spitball to victory. It means the Gashouse Gang in a 13-0 blowout, Ducky Medwick being removed from a game in Detroit for the consideration of his own safety, and Dizzy Dean delivering what he promised. It means Enos Slaughter's "Mad Dash" from first base on a long single against the Red Sox. It means a complete game, nine-inning victory on the hill for the great Bob Gibson, and then a repeat of that same feat three years later. It means an Ozzie back flip, the self-styled "one tough Dominican" Joaquin Andujar, and the shutdown splitter of Bruce Sutter in the conclusion of the colorful "Suds Series," and then it means Chris Carpenter and David Freese each supplying the juice one more time and wrapping up the greatest combination-regular season/postseason comeback in American sports history.

It's the Dodgers and Astros tonight. The Dodgers clinched in a Game 7 in both 1955 and 1965, but for only one of those were they the Los Angeles Dodgers and they've never done it at Dodger Stadium. The Astros of Houston, Texas, of course, had never won a World Series game at all until last week.

Good luck to both teams. The winning one will be remembered forever.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Don't let money fool ya'

Imagine having created something everlasting and then having that thing completely perverted by outside forces. Thus is the saga of the 1973 song and a Grammy Hall of Famer “For the Love of Money” from the O’Jays. It shuffled to the front of my iPod yesterday and I gave it another hard listen. It’s seven minutes and eleven seconds of rhythm, wisdom, and pure indictment of that “lean, mean, mean green.” It’s First Timothy, actually: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Anthony Jackson, and recorded by Eddie Levert and the O’Jays in Philly in '73, it was put to paper at a time when the authors were starting to experience terrific financial success, yet were reconciling their newfound monetary gain with their spiritual values. The tune features an unadorned and cautionary message to match Paul's first epistle to Timothy: “For the love of money/People will steal from their mother. For the love of money/People will rob their own brother. For the love of money/People can’t even walk the street.”

Then more: “People don’t care who they hurt or beat… a woman will sell her precious body… Money can drive some people out of their minds.”

And that it has. The song’s principal hook “Money, money, money, money” has proven to be too tempting to be left by others to its actual intent, and the focus of the song has shifted to one instead of idolatry, greed, and the celebration of money's accumulation. It has been appropriated by boxing champ Floyd Mayweather, Jr. as his “walk out” music. Mayweather, notable for being the world's highest paid athlete, has shown no capacity as of yet for a social conscience. Tax giant H&R Block uses the song unsuitably in television advertisements promoting how much money the company will get back for consumers from the United States Treasury. And of course, most famously, it was falsely incorporated by NBC to anchor Donald Trump’s reality-competition programs The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice. 'Trump loves money' is the unmistakable message of that show and its poorly-matched theme song. That accumulation of "money, money, money, money" has caused younger listeners, like my wife, to recognize "For the Love of Money" first and foremost, as President Trump's theme song. It followed him from NBC, first, to his appearance on the WWE professional wrestling circuit, and then he started breaking it out last year at his presidential campaign stops, At that point, the O'Jays had to finally gather the lawyers together and pump out a cease and desist.

An attorney's letter to Trump’s campaign co-chair Paul Manafort read in part, “Your use of our clients’ signature song, and utilizing the original recording, constitutes a patently false implication that Mr. Levert and Mr. (Walter) Williams have endorsed you or your political agenda or Mr. Trump’s agenda. Our clients unequivocally do not endorse you, your agenda nor your party’s views or those of Mr. Trump. On the contrary, Mr. Levert and Mr. Williams have actively opposed these ideals.” 

Levert followed with a personal statement, “[Trump] presents himself as supporting ‘law and order’ but, in truth, he’s not respecting the law at all. Mr. Trump resorts to painting pictures of gloom and doom and suggesting that he, alone, is the one savior who can fix things. This reminds me of another story and that would be the Book of Revelation.”

Could things get any worse for the O’Jays and their message? Let’s hope not. Their other signature song is “Love Train," and there's precious little room on board that one for any misinterpretation.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

An anti-racist's creed

In 1985, Miles Davis told Jet Magazine that if he had one hour left to live on the planet, he would spend it choking a white man. “I’d do it nice and slow,” Davis said. Truthful or hyperbole, I like to think that, if Davis followed through with his hypothetical homicide, the white man he chose wouldn’t be Bill Evans. Evans had played piano in Davis’ first great sextet in the late ‘50s and performed on the seminal Kind of Blue album. Davis cared enough about the man to try to help him kick his heroin habit multiple times. Of course, Evans was already dead by 1985.

Where does that leave the rest of us? I give this question a lot of thought these days. This is an extraordinary moment in global history to rise up and remodel white consciousness. It’s demanded of us. We’re needed. We’re late to it. Our black brothers and sisters are putting themselves in the street. Again. Through some miracle, they have pulled us away from our passionate pursuit of escapism and seem to have garnered our attention, even if many of us feel simply inconvenienced. They’re marching. They’re picketing. They’re boycotting. They’re kneeling. They’re teaching. What are we going to pay out to cover our share of the rent?

For Malcolm X, the ideal white soldier was an actual soldier, the pre-Civil War guerrilla fighter John Brown. White America, even liberal America, would have us remember Osawatomie Brown as a religious lunatic, a demented dreamer, a terrorist. That wasn't Brother Malcolm's take...

"We need allies who are going to help us achieve victory, not allies who are going to tell us to be nonviolent. If a white man wants to be your ally, what does he think of John Brown? You know what John Brown did? He went to war. He was a white man who went to war against white people to help free slaves. He wasn’t nonviolent. White people call John Brown a nut. Go read the history, go read what all of them say about John Brown. They’re trying to make it look like he was a nut, a fanatic. They made a movie about it, I saw a movie on the screen one night. Why, I would be afraid to get near John Brown if I go by what other white folks say about him. 

“But they depict him in this image because he was willing to shed blood to free the slaves. And any white man who is ready and willing to shed blood for your freedom—in the sight of other whites, he’s nuts. As long as he wants to come up with some nonviolent action, they go for that, if he’s liberal, a nonviolent liberal, a love-everybody liberal. But when it comes time for making the same kind of contribution for your and my freedom that was necessary for them to make for their own freedom, they back out of the situation… We need white allies in this country, we don’t need those kind who compromise. We don’t need those kind who encourage us to be polite, responsible, you know. We don’t need those kind who give us that kind of advice. We don’t need those kind who tell us how to be patient. No, if we need some white allies, we need the kind that John Brown was, or we don’t need you.” 

What he’s getting at here is the distinction between what author and educator Ibram X. Kendi calls the “assimilationist” and the “anti-racist.” The assimilationist aspires to equality, but it’s going to be on the white majority’s terms. The white canvas serves as the norm. We’re not going to disrupt the fundamental structure. Indeed we must always affirm it. Act proper, they say to black people, not the fool. Lift yourself up. Your culture needs you to assimilate into one that is not your own to prove that you are worthy. This has been an evolution in racist thought. Booker T. Washington was an assimilationist. He championed uplift. He engaged valiantly in the struggle during a time of Jim Crow terror, but he promoted behavior and the development of educational institutions that mirrored a white ideal. Better behavior among blacks, he believed, could erase racism. W.E.B. DuBois came after. He was an assimilationist that became an anti-racist with the benefit of living to see the failures of attempted assimilation. He lived long enough to march on Washington with Dr. King in 1963. The anti-racist believes that the onus is on the oppressor. Being black doesn’t require one to be super-white. The white oppressor built the racist institutions, the economic system that enslaves, and the military force that polices the streets and imprisons, protecting the de facto imbalance that comforts the white power structure and afflicts the black underclass.

Off on an unusual tangent, assimilationists, who tend to dwell in the middle- and upper-class, hated the early-mid-century radio and television depictions of the comedy team, Amos and Andy, who were first white men portraying black men on the radio, but later the comedic characters were portrayed by black actors on TV. Amos and Andy did not uplift. They were buffoons, uneducated hustlers. But poor blacks made the show a popular one in both media formats. They were grateful for media images that revealed black people to possess the same human foibles that were being depicted for and by other ethnic groups. Being black doesn’t mean you don’t also get to be human. Black people, in reality, are a collection of groups differentiated, according to Kendi, by gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, culture, skin color, profession, and nationality. Getting treated as an individual is actually the finest example of white privilege in the U.S.

Here are other examples I’ve come to recognize recently by investing just a modicum of time and effort, torn from today’s headlines-- carrying guns in a public place, that’s white privilege; the Second Amendment in general; the presumption of innocence; unqualified respect for having served in the nation’s armed forces; getting to define for yourself what it is you are protesting instead of being told by someone else what your motivation is. This is on us. This is shit for us to deal with as white people. Slave labor built this empire. The police state, which we empower, arm, and legislate, preserves the fundamental disorder.

What is racism? I was asked this question in the comments thread of one of the blog entries years ago. One of my readers was angry about something I had written, and I came up with an inadequate answer. With the help of Kendi’s book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” I think I have a better and more educated answer to offer now: If you believe that all people are created equal and are truly of equal biology beneath the skin, then you must acknowledge that all inequities that exist in the culture—in the economic system, in the political system, in the criminal justice system, of opportunity, are the products of racism. That is the anti-racist position. If you do not believe that, that is racism. There’s no other explanation for these stark discrepancies that exist except to believe that some races are inferior to others.

Can blacks be racist? White reactionaries often tell us that they can, and you know something? I believe those reactionaries are correct-- but not in the way they intend to convey. Members of an oppressed race cannot be racist towards their oppressor because racism is part and parcel of the controlling institutions. Racism is systemic and the oppressor controls the system. But… the reality is that, in a racist society, because racism is a disease, many blacks come to internalize themselves that they are inferior. Like so many whites, they also buy into the pervasive lie that they are less than worthy, that their culture is less than worthy, that their heritage and their customs are less than worthy. That’s the racism many black people live with within themselves because it’s been ingrained in them. We have a responsibility then, and not an easy one. Our mission is to educate ourselves, to liberate ourselves, to self-critique, to open our minds to help change, collectively, what is the pathological reality of a racist America.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The war in Vietnam revisited

Ken Burns' The Vietnam War is dynamic, to be sure, and endlessly watchable. It's 18 hours in full, and I've been plowing through it as quickly as I can (only 2 of 18 remain) with a plan to double-back for a complete encore. The iconic filmmaker that has already given us The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The West, and so many memorable other historical templates can't tell the entire story of this most important war-- even with such a vast canvass upon which to operate, and he was never going to go as far as he could-- or should-- in his editorial condemnation of the war. He would have to declare Johnson, McNamara, Nixon, and Kissinger all war criminals to do that, and this taxpayer-funded production has to appeal to the widest possible audience to be what Burns wants it to be-- an art piece that will be a touchstone for the populace. America's not ready to fully face the reality of our crimes in Southeast Asia, and I fear we never will be. We've spent four decades since its conclusion still debating the war, and we could spend four more just debating Ken Burns' Vietnam War. I feel he has touched on everything that I've felt was important, coming into it as I did with my natural biases, though he hasn't hit some as hard as I would have liked. We need to know about the fragging though, the mutinies on the battlefield, the aerial holocaust, the shameful ambitions of government technocrats, the unequal sacrifices of so many ethnic groups, in general, and American families, in particular, and broadly speaking, we need to know about and accept the moral failures of our leaders and of ourselves. Precious Lord, how we need to know about the moral failures. I hope that the current United States President was watching, but I'm certain that he wasn't.

Burns lets the men and women of that time tell their story. He lets the war's engineers indict themselves with their own words. We have Oval Office recordings that tell us precisely what we need to know about the inadequacies of those men. Perhaps it's best, actually, if Burns doesn't give us exactly what it is that I wanted from the film in advance. The truth is there for all to see, without our being bopped on the head with it. I hope people found it or eventually come to it. I've been shocked at how little cultural buzz and critical analysis it has garnered.

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I haven’t written about television in forever’s time. In May, I recall seeing Michael McKean’s witness stand meltdown as Chuck McGill on Better Call Saul (an episode entitled "Chicanery") back in June and declaring him instantaneously the winner of 2017 Emmy’s award for best supporting actor in a dramatic series. And then McKean didn’t even garner a nomination. With the Academy now discredited by that sin, it probably doesn’t matter then that Maggie Gyllenhaal just rendered the rest of the field superfluous-- in the contest for the best lead actress in a drama-- with her performance in the fifth-ever episode of HBO’s The Deuce. The episode this past Sunday was called “What Kind of Bad?” and it featured a tour de force scene of fiction on the streets of 1972 New York City, supported as she was also on the screen by the artist known as Method Man. Wow. Just wow. You will see it and you will be transported in a gale of wind.

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Quote of the day: Umberto Eco once wrote of the classic film Casablanca, “Two clichés make us laugh, but a hundred clichés move us because we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion.” If it was me that had said that, and not him, the world could really just kiss my ass.