Monthly Archives: November 2013

I Was at LAX the Day of the Shooting, But I Don’t Want to Talk About It

I think it might make me feel better, though.
Following the Austin Film Festival, I boarded the filled-to-capacity plane to return to L.A. The pilot made an announcement that there was a shooting at LAX, so we might not be taking off right then. Then, they ordered us all off the plane, explaining that the situation was still (forgive the pun) up in the air and how waiting for a flight at the airport was a lot nicer than flying around extra to kill time until it was safe to land in L.A. or to end up having to land us somewhere else.
I grabbed lunch and read a book. I did not have a connecting flight or anyone waiting for me, so to me, personally, there was nothing to get stressed about.
Others weren’t so lucky. A few young women were going to fly in for a wedding that day then fly out the next day. After we were waiting in the airport a while to find out what would happen, they realized that they would no longer have a chance to attend the wedding. They decided to go home.
A few hours later, they boarded us back on the plane, saying the situation at LAX was over. Most of the people from earlier were gone. Most of us sat as the sole passenger in whatever three-person seat we took. The only people who sat next to anyone were, seemingly, those who wanted to, who knew their traveling companions.
I found myself wondering what “kind” of lunatic the shooter was. I figured he was a lunatic, yet another lost soul who for whatever combination of religious-political b.s. thought shooting a bunch of strangers who had never done anything to him was a good thing to do because of whatever type of b.s. was running through his mind and, no doubt, encouraged by the hatemongers of the Internet. Half of us don’t even both to vote.
Yes, I thought “he.” Let’s be honest.
But, I wondered, what particular cause did this guy find was just so important to justify murdering strangers?
With which holy book, if any, did he find justification? What group or groups did he blame?
Let’s be honest. They all blame others.
What political conspiracy did he prescribe to and what groups are victimized by this political conspiracy that most of us so-called “sheep” just don’t believe in because we’re too busy numbing ourselves with reality TV and the NFL to notice that aforementioned group or groups are doing whatever really bad things and how much worse it is going to get if people like him and the other people who read and write the things he agrees with don’t do something to put a stop to it?
As nonplussed as I was in Austin, my stress level rose after we landed at LAX. Some vehicles were being let onto the airport and some vehicles were not. The shuttle bus that connects people like me from the airport to Downtown L.A. to where we can take another train, if need be, to our urban homes, were not coming. No matter how long we all stood there waiting.
I began to wonder if it was as insane an idea as I thought it probably was to just walk off of the airport and keep walking until I could get a bus or a cab or something to get me home.
I started walking. I could not remember the configuration of the airport, if I was just going to walk into a highway or if there would be surface roads and bus stops and businesses. It’s funny how you don’t notice things like that when you don’t need to.
I quickly discovered a mass of humanity with the same idea, but with more luggage than I. (I only was in Austin for a week, and I travel light.) Rolling and hauling their suitcases, carrying or pulling the hands of small children, we all walked, like pilgrims toward a holy site.
Then, I noticed them. Another mass of humanity pulled and carried luggage and children onto the airport, realizing that for them, too, motorized transportation was not going to happen, and that they were going to do what they had to do.
So, now we all know, the shooter was a New World Order paranoid case/Alex Jones fan. That was one possibility I considered. I wondered if he was going to be a leftist Occupy-er or a fanatical Islamist (who were once the predominant terror suspects of the American imagination), but who now share the space in our minds where we keep our fears, along side those who bomb recruiting stations and factories where they test products on animals, men who feel sexually rejected by women and hurt by feminism and those opposed to . . . what? Abortion? Gay rights? Immigration? Gas-guzzling SUV’s? Logging?
Yes, I know about Timothy McVeigh, the Black Panthers, the Manson family, the Weather Underground, Neo-Nazis, the KKK and the other chapters of American terror.
But, I can’t help but feel like we’re entering into another chapter now. Mass shootings and bombings happen in quick succession.
Did anyone in the media even notice that LAX is not far from Santa Monica College, where not too long ago, another shooter with another cache of ammo made the same decision to kill a bunch of innocent strangers because of whatever justifications he made that whoever he was blaming for whatever he was blaming them for deserved to die by his hand?
When did we all get so blase about madmen and massacres?


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Bloody Mary


Today marks the death day of Queen Mary I, the unfortunate and undisputed first Queen of England, and thus the beginning of the “golden” age of Elizabeth. When I teach the Reformation, as I am doing now, I have to reveal my Protestant bias to my students, but even I can admit that poor Mary Tudor’s reputation has suffered from a hatchet job: she has been “Bloody Mary” from almost her own time and has somehow been transformed into a paranoid, desperate dwarf in ours. She was certainly a pious and intolerant Catholic, but in her time toleration was not an attribute: while almost 300 Protestants were executed during her reign the Chambre Ardent (“Burning Chamber”) of the French King Henri II killed far more. I see her primarily as a victim of circumstances and a woman of her time: the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon…

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Why I still go to the movies

And Now for Something Completely Different


I’m fortunate to live in a town that still has one of those grand old movie theaters from the early days of cinema. Our local theater seats over 1700 people. It has a magnificent and regal entry foyer and the inside is lavish and richly decorated. The original owners included a full stage and backstage areas, allowing for both live theater and movies. While still glamorous, the theater is now tattered and a bit sad around the edges. Many of those 1700 seats are in poor shape, and when attending sold out live performances canny attendees know to get there early enough to insure finding a comfortable spot to sit. The lush velvet curtains are torn and patched, the elegant plaster frescoes are chipped, and the whole place has the look of a once well to do house that has sunk down into poverty.

In recent years the theater was…

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UFC: Georges St-Pierre Beats Johny Hendricks In Shocking Split Decision

Hollywood Life

Georges successfully defended his UFC welterweight title for a ninth time on Nov. 16, defeating his opponent by split decision. But did the judges make the right call? The president of the UFC doesn’t think so!

As if two grown men brutally punching and kicking each other wasn’t dramatic enough, UFC 167 had some added controversy when Georges St-Pierre defeated challenger Johny Hendricks for the UFC welterweight title in a split decision that many did not agree with.

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[Book Nerd News] Doris Lessing Has Died

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Is Aidan Quinn Hollywood’s Most Underrated Actor?

I am watching Aidan Quinn in “Stolen Summer,” as I write this, playing to perfection the complicated part of an Irish-American firefighter, who is both a very good and decent man, but one whose prejudices effect his relationships with his sons.

His “Stolen Summer” role fits the template of most of his roles — supporting characters with as many dimensions and as much range as the main characters in their films — if not more. In “Legends of the Fall,” he portrays a successful lawyer and politician, who is hurt by his family’s greater love for his troubled brother. In “Benny and Joon,” he plays the brother and guardian of a mentally ill woman, feeling every bit of the burden of looking after his sibling.

As an actor, I think he is as good as it gets. That said, he does not have the movie star screen presence, which (stating the obvious) seems more a requirement for move stars than acting chops.

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November 15, 2013 · 11:01 pm

Tales From The Ward: Violent Young Females

It is my distinct pleasure today to bring to further attention a blog with the opening sentence, “People wonder why anyone would bother working at a psych hospital– but they don’t realize it’s a place where you can live out your Disney Princess Dreams.”

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