Friday, August 31, 2007

Taiwan Aboriginal Dance

Video Find of the Day

I was already against the Vietnam War before it was called a war, in 1962, when I was 13. One of the experiences that informed me and led to my opposition to the war at the stage was having lived as an Army Brat in Taiwan at age 8 and having seen that almost no one in our military, including intelligence officers (who were the people I listened to, since they were the people around my Father), appreciated the fact that Taiwan was not a monolithic culture. The rulers and the middle classes were mostly Chinese, at that time, but much of the lower classes were indigenous Taiwanese.

We weren't at war in Taiwan, but could have been. I couldn't see how you could dare fight a war with that kind of blindness. The level of arrogance! We had officers assigned and paid to inform our generals of circumstances on the island who couldn't even be bothered to learn the players! I only once heard one Major acknowledge the existence of any significant population on the island other than Chinese and Americans.

[Upper right: a map from Wikipedia showing the traditional territories of some identified tribes of Taiwan. Modern migrations have altered the picture. Many have moved to the cities, where they have experienced unemployment levels comparable to that of urban Native Americans.]

Here's a video of Taiwanese aboriginal dancing, filmed in a park in Hualien City, which is a third the way down the eastern coast, where the sun rises from the ocean.

Dancing in the park

Slow Boats

Weekly Wes Whine

So the last time I looked at MySpace there was a sign-off link on every page. Had I hallucinated their absence?

Hallucinating the absence of things is a genuine form of hallucination. It is far more common, in fact, than the kinds of hallucinations that you read about in novels. Long before a crazy person develops the ability to hallucinate a flying elephant, he will practice on less difficult tricks, like hallucinating that his wife isn't yelling at him, or that he isn't losing a war. It's easier to hallucinate that something isn't there, because not seeing a thing takes less imagination than seeing a non-thing.

I know all of that from vivid first-hand experience, garnered during my Funny-Peculiar Years, also known as What Years? So I wouldn't be surprised if the sign-off links were there all along.

OK. Let's try to gripe about something real this week. I'll give MySpace a rest, and gripe about Wikimedia Commons instead.

Before I do, I want to say that I really really love Wikimedia Commons, and my gripe will be a kind of love-slap. Wikimedia Commons has single-handedly made my blogs and countless other blogs easier on the eyes, by providing us with media that us little people can use for illustrations without having to constantly seek permissions. This is a boon to humanity.

My gripe concerns the search process. You go to search for a picture and you have two ways to peruse the hits. Let's say you decide to do a search on something there's too much of, like "painting". Now you have pages and pages of hits. How do you pick one that you want to use? You have to see them!

That's what thumbnails are for. That's why Google Image Search and every other image search-engine provides thumbnails.

Does Wikimedia provide thumbnails? If you make a separate request for them! You have to click on "Find media with Mayflower" and Mayflower, the slow boat to the new world takes weeks to land you 400 miles from where you wanted to be. And you stay! Because you don't want to go through that again!

What kind of images do most people want? They want the most relevant ones! That's what "relevant" means! So why is the default to waste all my time to give me the "most recent" images first? So if some fool just yesterday uploaded 20 expressionistic paintings of his right big toe, that's all I get on page one?

And, while we're at it, why is Mayflower piloted by an administrator named tangotango, not to be confused with the Polish user of the same handle?

This has been a love-slap at Wikimedia Commons, Mayflower, and phonetic alphabet spellings, by Whiskey-Echo-Sierra Bravo-Romeo-Oscar-Whiskey-November-India-November-Golf

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Military Tattoo

Video Find of the Day

Some really unexpected pieces get performed here by the New Zealand Military Band. Since they're from Aotearoa, I should have seen the bit coming that happens around 4'40" into it, 3'20" from the end, but they tricked me by leading me on with the classical stuff and the James Bond.

New Zealand Band Military Tattoo 2006

Balls For NASA

Like many geniuses I get more brilliant ideas than anyone can use. This is one of those, which came to me last night as I was making my way from the bed to the bathroom at 4 AM, half asleep. I noticed that, as always, there was an enormous amount of Anitra leavings everywhere. Anitra leavings consist of books, half-spent shampoo containers, boxes, both empty and half full, loose papers, pamphlets, pointy things, half pairs of shoes, containers of garden crud, her glasses, which could be anywhere at anytime (they have a smeared out wave function), all unlaundered clothes, and probably a composting worm or two, trying with all his might to compost all the other stuff.

I thought, "Gee, if there were no gravity forcing all of Anitra's stuff to the floor, she'd be able to leave things hanging up in the air, too, and fill the whole room to the ceiling with flotsam! As I tried to picture that, it occurred to me that except for the pointy things, which we DO NOT want floating, it wouldn't be so bad. You could push against the stuff to move around.

Then I remembered all the problems NASA has with weightlessness in space capsules and the space station. Consider this image of a typical astronaut sitting in the space shuttle in orbit around the earth. There's no reason for her to protect against collision up there. The odds of hitting something are miniscule, what with flying through what's mostly a vacuum, and if you did collide with something, a seatbelt wouldn't help -- you'd be creamed. So why is she wearing one?

Because floating loose about in the shuttle is a pain, that's why!

Notice, too, that there are no books or papers lying about that aren't nailed down. That's because if there were, they wouldn't lie about for long. They'd be floating around and getting in the way, taking up our professional astronauts' valuable time so they can't do the important astronauting we put them up there for.

So I had a brainstorm. Let's give the astronauts balls!

They would be clear plastic hollow balls. They would be lightweight. There would not be enough of them in the cabin to prevent the astronauts from moving around, but there would be just enough that the astronaut could push against them as an aid in controlling their own motion. The problem with trying to swim in air, as NASA has long known, is that air just slips away. It doesn't offer enough resistance. Molasses, on the other hand, supply no oxygen, but would go up the nose unwelcome anyway.

Plastic balls larger than anyone's nostrils would not go up noses! Also, balls do not poke people's eyes out, so that's why I'm recommending balls rather than scissors, steak-knives, or icepicks.

Finally, by using translucent balls, our astronauts will still be able to find each other and perform their NASA mandated socializing duties.

Think how happy our astronaut will be when she's surrounded by brand new balls!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dance Teams

Video Find(s) of the Day

These are highly contrasting dance videos, but I think they have enough in common that seeing them back to back enhances each one. The first one features an innovative funk dance team that started in the late '70s.

Electric Boogaloos 1980

The second one features a unique Chinese dancing team.

Chinese Deaf Dance Team

Normal Life As Two People

My Mother was very happy to have Alex back. The bodily dysfunction problem went away instantly with his return. Less work for her. She was so happy she probably tolerated his Hawaiian singing more than ever. I was now allowed to sing Hawaiian chants any time my Father was gone, so long as I didn't do it with her in the room.

The other rule was, no mention of Alex. I was to call myself "Wesley" no matter who I thought I was, not only with my Father. I think she was afraid of letting me get used to it, for fear that I'd do it in front of my Father and he'd go ballistic.

As Kona, I really appreciated the Hawaiian chants. My Mother was never much interested in music or radio talk, so she never played the radio or the record player when my Father was at work. So the weeks without Alex were filled with long hours of silence.

I should say something more here about the separation between Kona and Alex. When Alex was in full control, Kona would shut down, and have no memory of what happened. From Kona's point of view it would be like a ambulatory blackout. He'd wake up to discover having done things while unconscious. When Kona was in full control Alex might loss consciousness or might not, but either way, when Alex was back in control, he knew everything that happened.

It wasn't always necessary for one or the other to be in clear control. So, for example, when Kona was playing with his toys, Alex could be singing. Alex's use of the vocal equipment didn't require complete control.

When Alex wanted to sing Kona would feel a momentary choking sensation, first, as the control of the throat changed over. It was unpleasant but brief. When it was done, Kona could go about his playing and a song would come out of his mouth, sung by Alex. Sometimes Alex would also take over just the left hand and slap the floor for a drum accompaniment.

I suppose that sounds creepy to a lot of people, but it was just life as normal to me when I was 4.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Video Find of the Day

One of the tricks I use to find international folk music is to take the trouble to dig up the terms the people in each region and ethnic group use for their different kinds of traditional music. Sometimes I find a term that crosses cultures and leads to new discoveries every time I search on it. One great example is "cocek." Cocek is an anglicization of several words from different languages, sharing a common origin in Turkish. There is Serbian Čoček. In Macedonian Cyrillic it's: чочек. In Albanian: Qyqek. In Bulgarian: кючек. You also want to look out for transliterations such as

Cocek is believed to have originated with Ottoman military brass bands. It was adopted into gypsy culture which both preserved it and developed it as dance music. In English it's therefore been called gypsy brass. It also is called belly dance music, because it's often used for that sort of thing.

Here's a great video example.

More examples of just the music, no videos, can be found in Real Media form at Cocek Music. I especially like Prokupacko Oro

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ой, то не вечер

Video Find of the Day

One of my favorite Russian Folk Songs. I haven't succeeded in finding a complete translation but it seems the song is about a Cossack who nods off and has a dramatic dream, to be awakened by his Captain. Perhaps the dream is a bad omen. The singer is Kristina Vikhrova.

Ой, то не вечер. /Рус. нар. песня./ Исп. Кристина Вихрова

"I'm Alex"

While the summer weather held out my Mother saved diapers as she had done when I was two, by putting me outdoors wearing shoes and socks and a shirt and nothing else. But this time, the isolation of the House in Shirley led to outdoor rapes also. She was very lucky to never have been caught. It was risky for her to rape me outdoors because even if she could rely on my Father coming home from work at only the scheduled time, she couldn't assume that no one else would ever drive up. There was a sign that said "No Solicitors" at the entrance to the driveway, but I remember salesmen driving in anyway, claiming they missed it.

When Fall came there were still a few warm days. That was the first time I heard the expression "Indian Summer". The Massachusetts countryside was red and gold wherever the pine trees didn't dominate but it was still warm enough to walk about half naked. So I was outside wandering around without any pants on when Alaka'i came back again.

Alaka'i was now Alex to Kona. Kona had forgotten the Hawaiian name. Alex said he had "rested" and was able to take care of Little Brother Kona again. The first order of business was to put us in pants. The question came, "Why aren't we wearing pants?" and before Kona could answer, Alex knew, because he could read Kona's memories.

Alex hadn't realized that by going away, or becoming asleep, he would be taking the bodily functions with him. But he was sure that shouldn't be a problem anymore.
We went to my Mother and announced to her that we wouldn't need the diapers anymore.

She said, "How do you know that?"

I said, "Alex is back again."

"Really? How do you know Alex is back?"

"I'm Alex."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Soulful Epirotika

Video Find(s) of the Day

The description says the performance was in Thessaly, but the title says the music is traditional to Epiros.


Here's another. This one clearly says in the description that the music is traditional to Epiros.

Glykeria - Gianni mou to mantili sou (tv-live)

No Exit at MySpace

The Weekly Wes Whine

I'm two days late with the Weekly Wes Whine. I'd have posted something before but I was busy trying to log off MySpace.

Hey, does anybody out there know how to log off MySpace? Help!

I've tried everything I could think of. I quit the browser. I shut the computer down. I unplugged it an hour. I looked for sign-off links on the site. I looked for sign-off links on my home page. I looked for sign-off links on my dashboard page.

I got desperate. I tried superstition. I hung a dead rat in the doorway. I walked around a post three times counter-clockwise and spit. I hummed Brown Sugar at the back of a bus. I played opera music while watching American Idol videos with the sound off, eating cheese.

Nothing works!

If I could figure out how to log off MySpace I would go there more often. I'm not going somewhere on a computer other than my own if I can't get out.

This has been a whine, about MySpace.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Damas Gratis

Video Find of the Day

I love the Cumbia beat. The limp accents the fey. I've had a hell of a time finding good Cumbia videos online though. What, they can afford portable synthesizers but nobody can spring for a decent camera?

These I like. First the band Damas Gratis by itself, at a concert.

Damas Gratis en vivo

Second, in what looks like a TV rip, so the quality of the video is not their fault, the band is joined by the bailarinas.

damas gratis (se te ve la tanga con bailarinas)

Great Sentence

Because I write those humor column thingies for Real Change, the ones called Adventures in Irony, which I have been posting over at that other blog, I constantly read news items about various subjects, but especially about homeless people and homelessness. My main hope is to find something outrageous to rant about but sometimes I find other sorts of gems hidden in the rough.

Today's rough was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled Children who survive urban warfare suffer from PTSD, too. The gem is this sentence:

"The F-word flew smoothly out of Tierra's mouth as if it had been there before, which it had."

I want it known, here and now, that, if you ever see me writing a sentence like that, it was totally intentional. Oh yes, I write humor, oh yes.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kurdish Music

Video Find of the Day

As much as the Kurds are in the news, you'd think we'd be seeing this sort of thing all the time.

Kurdish music: Ayat ahmed nezhad - maqam


One day after I post Taylor Mali's rant What Teachers Make, the front page headline of the P-I is Educators Tackle a Math Problem. The problem being that kids are going to college without knowing the math they need.

Nobody will listen to me so I can safely say without any fear of creating any sort of disturbance: this didn't happen because of the new math, and it didn't happen because of the WASL. It happened because no one will pay teachers what they're worth.

A Little Irony at CAC

Wednesday had another meeting of the Consumer Advisory Council of the King County Committee to End Homelessness. I've lately noticed a little irony there.

In recent meetings the CAC has been wrapped up in plans to do outreach for focus groups and interviews. The idea appears to be to find out, mainly from other homeless people not among the CAC membership, what sorts of services work in King County, what doesn't work, and how homeless services and housing programs could be improved. I say 'appears to be' because there hasn't been a lot of focus within the CAC when the question 'why focus groups?' has been raised.

In conjunction with this planning, and to prepare the CAC for interviewing, the CEH has provided a consultant who is training the CAC in effective listening.

The little irony: the CAC was brought on board to be heard. The rest of the CEH was supposed to listen to the CAC. When will the rest of the CEH be trained?

Breaking Horses

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened a month to six weeks following my fourth birthday in 1953. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

Generally my parents tried to keep my loss of bodily function a secret from the public, because they were afraid people would ask too many questions and piece together a cause. Also my Father was ashamed of me. He wanted to have a son he could brag about the way he could brag about the dog. I was too young to be out sowing wild oats, but couldn't I at least be throwing a football around all day? The loss of my bodily functions was a crushing blow to his ego.

My Father's brush with manslaughter charges on my 4th birthday had a dramatic effect on him. He no longer would strike me. He never hit me again for as long as he lived. He also never hugged me or held my hand. For many years we had no more than incidental physical contact. Accidental bumping in narrow hallways, the hands accidentally brushing one another as the salt got passed, things like that. The most physical contact I ever had with him after my 4th birthday occurred much later when I was strong enough to be enlisted by Mother to help her move him to bed, when he was passed out from drinking.

But it wasn't all good. Just as he stopped beating me, he ramped up the verbal abuse.

At the time it didn't make any sense to me, but I get it now. He was so afraid of what he might do to me, and incidentally to his life and career, that he wanted to push me as far away as possible. He started referring to me as my Mother's son regularly. He called me an idiot and yelled at me for making the slightest noise to drive me out of his company. It was designed to reduce the likelihood of contact.

My need to have new words spelled for me, so that I could have ready-made "pictures" of them, was initially a small source of pride for my father. He wanted to be a writer and he wanted me to share his aspirations. He could brag that I was only four and already becoming a good reader. But that only lasted until the demands for spellings got on his nerves. Then he began to say, "Why can't your son learn to spell it later? I told him the word, I told him what it means, why does he have to know how it's spelled right this instant? Your son is an idiot!"

My parents had guests over just one time at Shirley during the period I was in diapers. As I've said, I don't think they wanted anyone over, but a certain amount of socializing is required in the Army. I was horrified to learn that the couple would be bringing a child my age. My parents treated my condition as shameful, and I knew from my experience at the nursery that children my age would laugh at me because of it.

My parents consoled me by telling me, ""It will be all right, she's only a girl. She won't be mean about it like a boy would. She might even feel sorry for you." As if that were my goal in life now. As if my life would be complete if little girls my age would only feel sorry for me.

The visitors were, if I remember the rank correctly, a Major and his wife and a cute little blond girl with curly hair.

My hyper-sex drive, from the injury at age 1, had subsided. I'm not really sure I ever got to normal though, because I have no way to know what normal would have been. So I don't know if the fact that I was sexually attracted to the girl was typical of a 4 year-old. My guess is no, or no, not that much, but I would also guess that my high level of libido wasn't due to head injuries any longer, but a psychological or neurological consequence of the rapes.

It often happens that children who are sexually abused engage in overt sexual acting out, and some of that might be due to increased libido. Besides the psychological impact, constant sexual stimulation can alter the body chemistry, affect hormones, and change the activity of the brain.

Some child rape victims, a very small percent, turn around and rape other children. I wasn't part of that minority. The idea of doing to others anything like what my Mother did to me sickened me. My reaction to being sexually aroused by the little girl was to offer her a tour of my outdoor pacing route, just so I could talk to her and bask in her presence. I showed her the ruins of the old house that was torn down. I showed her the woods.

She was in fact sorry for me. it was just another disappointment, no big deal.

As we were finishing the tour my Father brought our guests out and set empty cans along one wall of the ruins, and he and the Major engaged in target practice while the wives and us kids looked on. Then we all went inside and the adults had drinks.

At no time did the Major or his wife comment about the fact I was in diapers. They were too terribly polite to avoid the embarrassing subject. Instead the Major complimented me on how well behaved I was.

My Father took this as an opportunity to brag about his child-raising skills. He said, "I'm of the school that says you don't coddle children. You have to raise a kid the way you break in a horse. You have to do whatever it takes to break his spirit. He has to know who's the boss. It's you or him."

All I could think of while he was giving this speech was the blood spurting out of my head over a month before and the sight of him driving off. I didn't fully get the references to horses. I asked my Mother later and she explained to me how horses were prepared for saddling.

Even before I got that explanation I knew that my Father wasn't going to be breaking my spirit, whatever it meant.

Somehow, I was going to break his.

The Devens Nursery

The first year that I lived with my parents at the House in Shirley I very rarely was taken anywhere else except to be babysat by our retired landlord. My Mother walked me to his house roughly twice a week and I stayed with him and his wife for two or three hours, almost always outside. Other than that I can remember only about a dozen trips during that year to Fort Devens. An average of one a month.

There were trips to the commissary and the PX (post exchange.) I was never allowed to go in with my parents to either one. They left me to wait in the car. That would be the trip. A fifteen or twenty minute ride to the commissary, wait in the car an hour with Koko, 5 minutes to the PX, wait in the car an hour with Koko, a fifteen or twenty minute ride home, done.

There were also trips to the Devens Nursery. I considered the Devens Nursery a new kind of Hell on Earth, different from the ones I'd got used to.

I was still going through the re-toilet training the first time I was taken there. My parents really didn't want to be seen in public with a diapered 4 year-old. They waited as long as they could stand it. But they had to go out for an evening dance, and the old retired farmer didn't want to take care of me evenings. So, not knowing any alternative, they took me to the Nursery, wearing pants over diapers. They brought extras and told the staff my problem and begged them to change me as needed. Then they left, telling me they were going to a party, but they'd be back in a "couple of hours."

I could tell time by then. I also knew a couple meant two, not eight.

They dropped me off at around seven. The institutional clock on the wall said I was still there at just before three in the AM. My parents were liars.

It was my first encounter with a mass of disinterested children, ever. The Devens Nursery was a one-story wooden structure just west of Headquarters, across the road from a big marching field. Once inside there was an administrative counter with staff desks to the left and a big room to the right where the children could be distracted with toys indoors. Beyond the big room was a hallway past bathrooms, janitorial closets and such, which eventually came to a door that opened to a yard that was corraled with the building on one side and a five foot high chain-link fence on the other three sides.

While it was still light out, all of us temporarily abandoned kids (there were at most about forty of us) were marched out to the corral and sat at picnic tables and fed graham crackers with milk. Then we were forced to nap against our wills. As it got darker, we were brought in, and made to play with toys, even though there weren't enough toys to go around. This meant that those of us who weren't bullies got to see the toys hogged by those that were, for a couple of hours, occasionally being threatened with bodily harm if we objected to the status quo.

At some point in all of this I had to go. There was an embarrassing "special" trip to a staff bathroom so one of the women in attendance could change me privately. The other kids figured out what was going on, and I couldn't talk to any of them after that.

Then we were all told it was bedtime. Curtains were set up and children were given wool army blankets and assigned to cots. It was actually long past bedtime by then for most of us. I think the staff put bedtime off as long as possible because it was a pain. Nobody wants to go to bed when they've been abandoned. You're afraid that if you drop off to sleep you'll miss the moment of your rescue. They'll come, but they won't see you because you'll be under covers somewhere, so they'll say, "must have run off," and forget about you. There was a lot of screaming and crying.

With all the rape and beatings, the concussion and all, you're probably wondering why I wanted my parents to rescue me. The truth is, they fed me, and they were the evil I knew. Very little in my experience led me to believe that my parents were unusual. To me, good parents would have been unusual, and I didn't know where any were or how to get any that I found to take me away.

They did rescue me, to take me back to the House in Shirley. Trips like that made me appreciate the isolation of that house. I didn't miss being around other children so much thanks to the occasional overdose.

The Unforgivable Rapes

Some few weeks into the re-toilet training ordeal I reached the point where I recover enough function that I could signal my Mother that it was time for me to go soon enough that she could get me to the training potty without accident. I really don't believe that my Mother's training had anything to do with it, I just improved control naturally. If anything her efforts were a distracting sideshow.

But she was convinced that her meanness and pointless punishments had motivated me. Now that I was doing better she decided, in her words at the time, to "use a little carrot with the stick."

My Mother's idea of the carrot was to come up with a new way of raping me. She actually asked me to tell her how I liked it best.

Mind you, I wasn't given the option of not being raped. "Do you like it more when I do this with my fingers, or this?" She went so far as to say, "Why did you cry just then? I didn't hurt you! What are you crying about?" and then, when the answer back was, "it's gone on too long," she actually stopped. She said, "I understand, honey, it's better when it comes in smaller portions, isn't it?"

My Mother used what she learned to offer rape-lite as rewards for good toilet performances.

It's very hard for me to explain to people why the violent rapes were the easiest to deal with emotionally when all this came up in therapy years later, and the rape-lite has been the hardest.

The soft and gentle anal violation that even at times felt good created a jumble of mixed feelings. There was still the feeling of being violated. It was still not possible to say no. There was still the feeling of humiliation, of being subjugated and having my will and my needs made insignificant. But there was also sexual arousal and physical sexual feelings which gave rise to incestual feelings and shaming sexual displays. All those feelings plus confusion about whether my Mother really WAS doing me a favor (isn't toilet training nurturing?) and maybe this really IS how I'm supposed to be loved, jumbled together, created a labyrinth of contradictory emotions that overwhelmed me.

I was 4 YEARS OLD! 4 year olds shouldn't have to find their way through that kind of tangle!

It's hard enough for forty and fifty year olds. After twenty plus years of therapy, the rape-lite still hurts the most. I could have forgiven the rest.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Taylor Mali

Video Find(s) of the Day

Taylor Mali is a former teacher and very successful slam poet. So successful that he now makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist. When I was looking for slam poetry videos today his kept showing up. He's avoids the deadlier mistakes that slam poets often make, the worst of which are the stereotyped sing-song delivery that doesn't adjust for the content, and the excessive self-centered whining. A little self-centered whining is wonderful, but a lot of slam poets go way overboard.

I can directly relate to what he says about teaching, having taught college math, and got the same treatment.

What Teachers Make

The the impotence of proofreading

Totally Like Whatever

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Extended Musical Flirtation

Video Find of the Day

I LOVE BOLLYWOOD! 7 minutes 18 seconds nonstop flirtation! I don't know what she sees in him. Waylon Jennings says, "Ladies love outlaws, like babies love stray dogs." You might question whether these are ladies but I have no doubt that they are, many times over.


Loose End: Koko Returns

I'm guilty of thinking of only myself. My memoirs, me, me, me. I forgot to tell you what happened to Koko.

You might recall that Koko is the presumably half Schnauzer, half Springer Spaniel that was ostensibly a 1951 Christmas present to me, but really was Dad's dog. On my 4th birthday my Mother scared him off, and he ran away, after he freaked her out by lapping up my blood.

He came back a week later, before Alaka'i returned. He appeared out of the tall grass in front of the house as my parents and I happened to be outside and he sauntered up with a big sheepish-looking grin.

I would have interpreted the grin as a sign that he came to realize that being fed daily beat foraging, and a desire to kiss up to us and get reinstated as the family dog.

My Father interpreted the grin as proof that Koko got laid.

Later, we heard that a family about a mile away was trying to get rid of some mongrel puppies born to their bitch. Dad said that cinched it, good old Koko got some action and knocked that bitch up.

That came to be Dad's public story of that time. Whenever we had guests over, and the subject of the dog came up, as it always did even if Dad had to force it up, Dad would tell the guests how he didn't believe in fixing male dogs, it's inhumane. Then he would say, beaming proudly, "Sure, there was that time that he ran off for a week and we found out later that he knocked up a neighbor bitch, but all of us men got to sow some wild oats, am I right?"

My Mother called it Dad's vicarious adventure. I asked what "vicarious" meant. She said, "You'll understand when you're older," so I thought it was dirty.

Never a mention of the real reason Koko ran off. When the neighbors with the female dog asked if our dog could be the sire, my parents said he'd been in the house or under leash the whole time.

All Day Rapes

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. Some posts specifically relate instances of sexual abuse conducted by my Mother. I am talking about it because I am tired of being silent about it. People need to know that things like this happen. Today I'm relating events that happened following my fourth birthday in 1953. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

Of course my Mother was furious that I couldn't control my bodily functions. There was a long screaming interrogation which ended with me telling her what I understood of it, which was just that Alex (my Mother's name for Alaka'i) had gone away and left me. She asked, "Why did he go away?" and I said, "Because you tried to kill him."

That made her more angry. She started to say that it wasn't Alex she wanted dead, it was me. It was the first time I remember her making the distinction. As time went on she would be more clear about. She still believed that I had a dual personality, but she also believed that if she were clever about it she could kill one of the personalities while leaving the other one alive.

The idea that she could do that was based on a naive interpretation of the psychiatrists' assertion that the right and left sides of the brain had slightly different functions. This was years before Psychology Today and before popular articles asking "Are You Right Brained, Or Are You Left Brained" trotted out split-brain studies as evidence that the two halves could operate independently, and before Roger Sperry convinced us that the hemispheres specialized more than a little. My Mother was quite capable of coming up with the notion of independently functioning hemispheres simply on the basis of being told that the different sides specialize differently, a fact which was related to her by the doctors who treated me on my 1st birthday.

[Below: A video describing later split-brain studies. My Mother thought my hemispheres operated separately without the need for any severing of brain connections.]

My Mother thought, all she had to do was figure out which hemisphere Alex lived in, and kill the other one.

My Mother preferred Alex to Kona because Alex was aggressive. Kona was originally created to be passive, precisely because aggressive Alex/Alaka'i could not avoid sparking my Mother's temper by lashing back against her cruel behavior. But my Mother preferred Alex to Kona, even though Kona didn't cause her to lose her temper as much, because she believed that Alex would be more likely to be able to make money for her.

The fact that as soon as Alex was "gone" I had to be toilet trained all over again confirmed her theory that aggressive Alex was the competent side of me and that Kona would have to be taken care of forever.

Finally she demanded to know what happened to the Hawaiian. I told her what Alex told me, it was lost when she held the pillow to my face.

She hit the roof. Instead of accepting her own responsibility for having caused the loss, she shrieked at me for having the gall to try to make her feel guilty. She said the Hawaiian wasn't lost by what she did, but because the wrong personality had died. It was my fault, for not having died as Kona instead of as Alex. She yelled at me as if I were the coffee table and I had maliciously stubbed her toe.

There was an afternoon of rapes and beatings. The beatings were to the buttocks so the black and blue marks wouldn't show when my Father got home. By then she had got the cloth diapers out of storage and put me in them.

My Mother told my Father none of what I told her. She said my loss of function was a delayed symptom of the concussion he gave him. Dad's reaction was first to deny that he had anything to do with it and to say there had to be something wrong with "her" son, and then to get drunk and pass out in the living room.

In the immediate weeks that followed my Mother came up with a new way to sexually abuse me. Up to this time the rapes were strictly either physical punishments or meant to aid her in her masturbations. Now she began to take a more deliberately psychological approach looking for ways to torture me with extreme humiliation and intimidation.

When she found that I couldn't tell her soon enough that a bowel movement was about to happen, she came up with the idea that she could check for herself when one was on it's way. She had me stand naked from the waist down on a high chair next to the dining room table. She put a jar of vaseline and rubber gloves on a shelf behind me. I had to remain standing that way all day long, so that I would be available for a rectal exam every half hour.

If the exam turned up fecal matter I'd be hauled to the training toilet and sit there until the bowel movement was done. If the exam turned up nothing she'd "reward" me for being clean with a rape lasting 5 minutes or so. Just long enough to induce wide-eyed fear and distress. Then she'd warn me not to get down while she went back to housework or reading or whatever she'd been doing, until the next exam.

The exams would start before noon and last until just before my Father was due to come home from the base around 5 PM. The dining room had a big picture window that looked out at the driveway. I remember how one day my Mother lost track of time and was raping me as my Father drove up. She got me back in diapers just in time as he walked in.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Funiculì, Funiculà, Manually

Video Find of the Day

Funiculì, Funiculà

I've been looking for a good manualist video. What follows is one of the best I've seen, and it happenes to feature one of my, and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman's, favorite songs, Funiculì, Funiculà.

NOT an Italian folk song, Funiculì, Funiculà was written to commemorate the opening of the first funicular on Mount Vesuvius.

The Flintstones theme is also not an Italian folk song, by the way.

The Four Squeezins Play Flinstones/Funiculi Funicula

Funiculì, Funiculà has English words!

Sing along with Rodney Dangerfield - Funiculi Funicula

Funiculì, Funiculà has Italian words!

Cabaret Italian Style - Funiculi Funicula - The Three Tenors

Italian version translated into English (from Wikipedia)!

Do you know where I got on, yesterday evening, baby?
Where this ungrateful heart can't be spiteful to me more!
Where the fire burns, but if you
run away it let you go!
And it doesn't run after you,
doesn't tire you, looking at sky!...
Let go on, let go, let go,
funiculi', funicula'!

We go from the ground to the
mountain, baby! Without walking!
You can see France, Procida and
I see you!
Pulled by a rope, no sooner said
than done, we go to the skies..
We go like the wind all of a sudden, go up, go up!
Let go on, let go, let go,
funiculi', funicula'!

The head has already got on,
baby, got on!
It has gone, then returned, then
It is still here!
The head turns, turns, around,
around you!
This heart always sings one of these days Get married to me, baby!
Let go on, let go, let go,
funiculi', funicula'!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Procol Harum?

Video Find of the Day

OK, can someone finally tell me what this song is about? Why the Chaucer reference? "... if behind is in front Then dirt in truth is clean." What the hell is that supposed to signify? Procol Harum?

Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale, 1967

Good News, Bad News

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. Today I'm relating events that happened following my fourth birthday in 1953. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

Alaka'i returned two weeks after my 4th birthday. The head injury hadn't killed him, but had weakened him. He said he was there for the prolonged rape, but couldn't intervene because he was too weak.

Then the bad news: Alaka'i couldn't find the Hawaiian anymore. He could remember having spoken it, he could remember all the conversations with Lani and Lono, just as I've been relating them. But he couldn't remember the Hawaiian.

I didn't lose my ability to speak Hawaiian over years of disuse. I lost it in one day by an act of attempted murder. I say attempted murder, because Alaka'i could remember Hawaiian up until my Mother, in her frustration at not being able to force me to speak Hawaiian, attempted to smother me. It was the asphyxiation, not the concussion, that erased the memory, as far as Alaka'i could tell.

Or, maybe it was the trauma. Alaka'i could still sing the songs but he wasn't sure what they meant anymore. I like to think the loss of the language was psychological and reversible. I've been hoping for that for 54 years, so I'd say the evidence is feeble.

Another loss was the eidetic memory. Alaka'i thought it was a lifting of a curse. "Now we can finally forget some of this." There was an hour or two when I sat outside under some pine trees and Alaka'i arranged visual memories in my head as if moving photographs around on a table. Some of the photographs were place on top, some were buried below. Those were the ones to forget, for now anyway.

Then Alaka'i said goodbye to Kona. He said he was going to leave Kona in charge. He wasn't going to try to go away physically this time. He was just going to go to sleep. Maybe forever.

For the next couple of hours, as Kona, I had to come to grips with the new losses. Alaka'i was gone. The Hawaiian was gone. Only Alaka'i could sing the songs then, so even the songs were gone.

Then I had an "accident," and discovered a horrible new reality. Alaka'i had been in control of my excretory functions!

Next: Mother has to toilet train all over again, and she's not happy about it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Boswell Sisters

Video Find of the Day

I saw this video on Classics Showcase tonight and fell in love with the group. It turns out they were a major inspiration for the Andrews Sisters, that they were classical trained but switched to jazz, that they grew up in New Orleans, that their names are Connee, Martha, and Vet (for Helvetia -- she was named after a country), that Connee was originally Connie but she changed the i to e to make it easier to write her signature, and that the video I saw was on YouTube.

The Boswell Sisters - Heebie Jeebies (1932)

Jean Godden Goes to the Environment

Yesterday I got a piece of pretty glossy campaign literature in the mail. It was from Jean Godden, excellent incumbent Seattle City Councilmember, running for her own seat again. If you live in Seattle you may have gotten it, too.

What Seattleites may not realize is that before Jean Godden could become a friend to the Environment, she had to meet it and get to know it. I mean, we all hear about how great the Environment is, but people tell us George Bush is hot stuff, and I don't think that's true.

One day Jean Godden was standing around at Occidental Park, when a voice in her head said, "Lookit all the trees around here. Pretty!" She asked a cameraman if the trees were the Environment. The camerman didn't know. He was from the P-I or something. He said, "You should ask somebody who knows, like Al Gore, maybe."

Jean Godden thought that was a great idea, but she didn't have Al Gore's cell phone number. So instead she went to North Seattle where all the smart local people live (some of them even went to Roosevelt!) and she asked a local. He pointed her east.

Going east from Crown Hill isn't easy! Fortunately there was this boat thingy on the shore of the big lake that was in the way so she didn't have to turn back.

When she got to the other side of the big lake she met a big scary Indian man. She saved herself by staying very very still. She thought, "They go for the motion. I will be as one with the weeds, and the danger will surely pass." And it did!

Finally Jean found the Environment, in a far off land the natives call Sno-kwal-mee Nash-un-nal For-est. Now the voice in her head was telling her, "Get me out of here!" But she ignored the silly voice in her head just this one time, and told her cameraman to set up his tripod. "We're going to make campaign literature right here!"

And that's how that glossy mailer came to be!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Video Find of the Day

I wanted to find a video apropos Seattle's Hempfest, which is happening this weekend. My first thought was to find something to do with the Grateful Dead, whose band has come to symbolize pot consumption to such a degree that most people use the terms Dead Head and pot-head interchangeably.

By the way, if you want to hear some Grateful Dead, a good place to go is the Internet Archive's Grateful Dead Collection, which archives over 2800 audio files of Grateful Dead concerts.

I was listening to one of those audio files, a live recording of a 1973 concert, and I realized that however much the Dead may be associated with pot for other people, the connection doesn't work for me. There's too much Blue Grass in it, not enough of the other kind. So I cast about in my memory and on YouTube, for a better fit.

I remembered Donovan. I then found out Donovan, who is old now, remembers Donovan, too!

Sunshine Superman

Friday, August 17, 2007


Video Find of the Day

A video depicting scenes of the Gypsy Holocaust, the Porajmos. The song accompanying the photos is the Romani anthem Gelem, Gelem, which was written in response to the killing and refers to it.

Gamelan Theory

The Weekly Wes Whine

This week I continue to whine about MySpace.

Regular visitors to this blog know that I like the music and the music videos. I am especially fond of out-of-the-way world music. I noticed that the only easy way to put music on my MySpace site was to get it from MySpace itself.

OK. First of all, would it hurt the management at MySpace to make the list of all genres immediately accessible when you are ready to search for music? Is it necessary for these puppy-killers to put the full list into a box you access only after making an initial inquiry? Or does the sadistic rush derived from knowing that we all have to make that extra step essential to maintaining their proper sado-masochistic balance?

Secondly, let's glance at the list, shall we?


I admit, sometimes I'm looking for Balinese gamelan music, and I'm so picky I'm not prepared to settle for Javanese gamelan. Especially Northern Javanese. But I'm not so crazy as to expect to see a genre of Balinese-but-not-Javanese-gamelan on MySpace music.

And I don't! Instead, we get Screamo? Shoegaze? Acousmatic-slash-Tape music? Two categories of trance, both called trance?

Melodramatic popular song? That's gotta be a joke. That and hyphy. Resurrection of HiFi?

And through it all, nothing that fully takes in world music. Oh sure, Latin, african, afro, Chinese, J(apanese), K(orean), German, if you like pop. But no place to put the gamelan.

MySpace hates me, and they hate my music.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Video Find of the Day

It's a measure of how little I used to pay attention to rock that I first heard of Bruce Springsteen while living in New Jersey during the '79-'80 school year (I was teaching at Rutgers at the time.) Needless to say, he was a GOD in New Jersey by then, so I couldn't have ignored him any longer, unless I lived naked in a cave by the river, eating fried leeches.

That kind of idolization tends to turn me off, though. Whoever the cheerleaders are for, I want to be for someone else, just to spread the cheer around. Nobody that popular needs me rooting for him.

But, with the passage of time, and the ebb and flow of this and that, and whatever, I have to say, I kind of have learned to be fond of the guy. It also doesn't hurt to know that on September 23, he'll be 58 too.

I like it best when he does this kind of stuff.

Springsteen doing Pay me my money down

Social Services Gripe

I live at the Union Hotel, which is not really a hotel, but a subsidized apartment building. I've been posting columns here for the Union Hotel newsletter, but even though this post will be partly about the Union, it won't be in the newsletter, because I'm not in the mood to be nice.

I'm really getting tired of the way these places are run. The management here has told me they want me to participate in the social activities. When they say "the" social activities, they mean by that the ones they arrange. So if I choose to have friends in the building and to enjoy their company, that doesn't constitute participating in "the" social activities. To do that I have to participate in activities initiated by and run by the management.

I get out. I'm involved in Real Change. I take part in political activities of my own choosing. But I've been told that this building has an active social program, which they want the residents to take part in, and, sadly, I don't take part in it as much as is expected of me. I was told they're wasting their program on me.

I've been told by some in the management that maybe I'm in the wrong building. I should be relocated to a building that's more appropriate to my needs. (Not that that's possible. The system doesn't allow for those kind of adjustments.)

They're the ones in the wrong building. In fact, they're in the wrong line of business. Nobody in ANY subsidized apartment building that gets any kind of public funding has any right imposing their narrow ideas of what constitutes socialization on me or anybody else.

These people can't get it straight. Their power over me is too great for them to insert themselves into my social affairs. People who have the power to evict you should not try to pretend to be den mothers.

When I moved in here I was told the social activities would be opportunities I could decline. I chose to apply here for one paramount social reason. The woman I would be married to if I could already lived here. She couldn't be relocated, so I located in her building.

The Union doesn't have have any business interfering with that kind of socialization.

Social workers can't be social engineers. They aren't really experts on human relationships. These people need a shot of humility.

The issue is bigger than the Union. This sort of arrogance is rampant throughout all social service agencies. If I moved to another building, I'd still find it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Victor Borge

Video Find of the Day

Whenever Anitra and I watch symphonies performing on TV we snicker at the conductors. "Ha, ha, look at that guy. he can't even play an instrument!" "Why is the camera always on that loser?" "Does he seriously expect us to believe that if he wasn't up there waving that stick around those musicians would be utterly lost?" "Ooh, I don't know what to play, there's no man waving a stick in front of my face!"

Here's a video clip that shows that a conductor can do more than just hog the camera. Victor Borge, doing it right.

And, what the heck, an impromptu encore of Monti's Csardas

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Noël Coward

Video Find of the Day

Best Noël ever! Singing his own best song!

The Closed Captioned Preschooler

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. Today I'm relating events that happened the week following my fourth birthday in 1953. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

The name/word problem was frightening. I was isolated as it was. The thought that I wouldn't be able to learn new words as needed was unbearable.

I consider my solution my greatest achievement. It came in three steps.

The first step came to me when I remembered having seen a crude picture of a cat. I drew a copy of it in sand outside, with a stick. Looking at it, I suddenly realized that the picture was standing for cats in general to me. The word "cat" still could not be anything but the name of one cat, but the picture could do the work of a general word.

The second step, and to me the one that was brilliant -- I'll never be this smart again, ever -- was to think, "Why don't I let the word 'cat' be the name of the picture?"

It was a little awkward. When hearing the word "cat" I would have to recognize it as the name of a picture in my memory, and then that picture would refer to the general class of animals being referred to, and I could proceed to use the picture to organize my thinking about what was being said, and when it came time to say something about the creatures referenced by the picture, I could just use the name ("cat") for the picture, and no one would need to know the extra steps involved.

I would seem slow, because the process would take longer than normal speech processes, but it was better than not being able to learn new vocabulary, and being totally cut off from social intercourse.

The third step came when I encountered a relatively abstract word I didn't recall knowing before, and I realized it would be very difficult to assign a picture to it that wouldn't be arbitrary. I don't remember the word now, but suppose it was "arbitrary". What would you picture to represent the concept "arbitrary?" Pretty much anything I can think of would be easily mistaken for something else.

What I needed was what we call in the math biz a canonical method for generating new pictures. I wanted a machine, in effect, that I could use to crank out pictures without having to go to all the trouble of inventing new pictures out of thin air for each new word.

It happens my parents were both readers. I hadn't started to learn to read yet. My mother had tried to get me interested by reading children's books to me, but I was into memorizing them and reciting them along with her reading. My memory had always been too good to need to learn to decipher the chicken scratches on the page.

But as I was pondering the problem of coming up with new pictures I had a flash of insight. I ran to my Mother to test the idea I was having. I said, "Mommy! Is there writing for every word you can say?" "Of course, silly." "Every word? Even words I don't know yet?" "If it's a word you can say, you can write it down."

That was the final step then. I could get my parents to show me the writing for each new word. That would be the picture that would constitute the actual word for me. The written form would represent the concept that ordinary people used the sound to signify. For me, the sound of the word would be the name of the written form, by which I could reference the concept.

In speaking and listening I taught myself to imagine English written subtitles under every scene -- and I'd never seen a subtitled film! We didn't have a television, and I'd never been to a movie of any kind.

It wasn't hard to learn. I had it down in a few days. At first, it was painfully slow, and people began to say I spoke to slowly, and get impatient with me. I had to do it consciously. The process was similar to speaking in English through translation back and forth from another language without other people knowing.

Damage Assessment

The GP didn't find anything wrong because he was looking for the wrong things. He was seeing if I knew my name, or if I knew it had been Thursday, 1953. He wasn't looking for my other personality.

Alaka'i was still MIA the second day and Kona was scared and lost. It felt like, well, loneliness. I felt loneliness.

But it wasn't until the second day after my birthday that the most serious symptom of brain-damage revealed itself. It was something that the GP was unlikely to have noticed.

A cat appeared from the woods. That was a common occurrence at the House in Shirley. Our neighbors were half a mile or more away, but that was nothing to their rat-catchers. The cats roamed far and wide looking for rodents and other cats.

I called Mother out of the house and asked her what it was. She said, "You know what it is, honey, it's a cat."

I didn't remember knowing that it was called "cat". But that wasn't the serious symptom. OK, so I "forgot" the word for cat. Not a biggy. Relearn it, move on.

But an hour or so later another cat came by. I said to my Mother, "What's that?"

"I just told you when the last one came by. It's a cat."

"The other one was cat. What's this one?"

My Mother just shook her head and returned inside. But I was shaken up by the whole incident. I knew that something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was right away. It took another week and more incidents of the same nature for me to work out what had happened.

It was only a couple of years ago that I read about research that proved that the human brain processes names and words differently. That's what I discovered for myself, the hard way. My ability to absorb words was affected but I could still learn names. New words could only be understood as names.

What was really weird about it was that I could remember what it was like before. I could remember being able to use a word like "cat" to stand for cats in general. I knew that the sound that you make when you say "cat" is meant to be a general term for all creatures of a certain class. But I couldn't use the sound that way. I could only use it to stand for one particular cat. I could only use it as a name.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Video Find(s) of the Day

Here's a couple of videos that show the talent of Sid caesar and company. First, Sid and Nanette Fabray (whom I had an age-inappropriate crush on) arguing to Beethoven's Fifth, beautifully choreographed.

In the second clip, the woman is played by Imogene Coca. The jealous boyfriend is Carl Reiner. The other movie-goer sitting at our far right is Howard Morris.

Sid Caesar At The Movies

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Japanese Educational Videos

Video Find(s) of the Day

If you look for it you can find some of everything you want to know about Japanese culture.

Some serious, like this account of Japanese puppetry.

puppet and puppeteer of Bunraku

Some not so serious, like this instructional video on the use of chopsticks.


Dad's Very Bad Day

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. Today I'm relating events that happened the day of my fourth birthday, July 9, 1953, and the early hours of the next morning. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

Once again, my life was spared simply because of my Mother's weak stomach. I turned blue, and she couldn't stand to see that. If she had thought of simply hiding the rest of my body under the sheets while holding the pillow of my face, she wouldn't have seen any of my skin turn blue and I would have died. But she was in no condition to think.

Next she took me back downstairs, where I sat for a long time on the sofa in the living room while she paced and talked to herself more. Smothering didn't work, what would? She kept talking about finding a way to kill me that wouldn't be ugly. She talked about locking me in a closet and walking away. It wouldn't take that long to walk to town. Then she could hitch a ride, take a train. No, they'd find the body, she'd be charged for leaving me, it wasn't fair. She said, "Damn you! Why couldn't you just die? I HATE YOU! FILTHY BRAT! DIE!"

She got me dressed. "We're going outside to look for the damn dog." It didn't make any sense. She was the one who chased the dog off. She never cared about the dog. Why were we going to look for him? In retrospect I think the idea occurred to her as worth doing just because nothing else she wanted to happen would happen. We were going to look for the damn dog because she couldn't think of a way to kill me that she could stomach that wouldn't leave evidence pointing to her.

I was still weak. I got outside and sat on the ground. She was ordering me back up when my Father came back. He drove up and parked directly in front of the house. He came out of the car reeling. He was drunk. But he said, "I'm here to give myself up. Call the police. Tell them I killed my son."

My Mother laughed at him. "You fucking idiot! He's not dead! He's right over there sitting under the trees. You think you're so fucking strong! You're such a big man! You couldn't even kill a four-year-old! Some soldier!"

My Father ignored her taunts. Seeing me, he broke out in tears. It was the only genuine sign of concern for my welfare I experienced from the two of them that day.

Following that I was allowed to go back into the house. I collapsed onto the sofa while my parents argued what to do next. There were hours of argument. I slept through some of it, so I can't remember it all.

I know that the question of whether to finish me off was raised again by my Mother. My Father was adamant about that. He wouldn't consider it. My Mother spent a long time yelling at him for abandoning her with me. She called him a coward and a wimp for driving away. I found out that he had been gone 3 hours, and spent all the time in a bar. At first he acted humiliated but as she rubbed it in more he began to threaten to hit her if she didn't shut up about it.

Finally she started in to him about the fact that I needed to see a doctor. "If we aren't going to finish him off, we can't just leave him the way he is. He hasn't been able to stand on his own two feet for more than a minute since it happened. How are you going to explain that to your army buddies?"

This led to a long hushed discussion about my Father's career and how he had to be careful. If it got out that he caused this, it could cost him a promotion. My Mother was more than willing to help him preserve his career, but how?

One thing: they both had to be sober. So deep into the evening there was an aroma of coffee brewing from the kitchen.

Another thing: They shouldn't go to an army clinic. I didn't know it then but there was an army infirmary close to the east gate of Fort Devens near Shirley. At any time that day I could have been driven to it within 20 minutes, and there would have been doctors on duty to take care of me. It was ruled out because the army doctors would likely have reported signs of abuse to my Father's commanding officer.

So my parents called a civilian general practitioner out of the phone book. They woke a doctor up that worked out of his own home. They wanted him to make a house call but he insisted that they bring me to him. Fortunately it wasn't far. The doctor's house was on Leominster Road near the east end of Shirley, fewer than two miles away. We got there in five minutes.

As we were getting ready to go, and on the way, I was told that I had fallen down the stairs in the house. I was told, further, that if I didn't say that, "Don't think you'll be safe from us. They won't take you from us right away." I was told that the doctor would try to trick me into saying one of them hurt me. I was to just keep repeating that I fell down the stairs and not give any more details. "Tell the man you can't remember anything more, since you hit your head. You don't even know how you fell."

The doctor was a spectacled old man in his late 60s or 70s who looked a little like if Wilford Brimley put on glasses for his Liberty Medical commercials. While my parents were in the room he peeled the rags off my head. He looked and grimaced and said, "This injury is hours old! Why wasn't he brought to me sooner? Am I the first doctor to see him?"

My parents made lame excuses. They said they didn't think it was serious at first. "We thought the bleeding would have stopped by now."

The old man glared at my Father, and said, "You're with the army aren't you? I've never seen you before. I know everybody in Shirley." My Father said he was a Captain, and the doctor said, "Then you should have had enough training to know that with a head injury like this you need to think about the possibility of concussion, not just bleeding."

Then he demanded to speak to me in private. My parents stood up, my Mother saying, "Do you have to?" but the doctor ignored her and took me firmly by the hand into a small office leaving my parents open-mouthed in his living room/waiting area.

He first made small talk with me. Then he asked me questions that he already knew the answers to, like, "What's your name?" "They told you." "I want you to tell me." He asked the day of the week and the month.

He asked me how it happened. I said, "I fell down the stairs in the house." He said, "They told you to say that. What really happened?" "I fell down the stairs." "It isn't the kind of injury you'd get from falling down the stairs." "I fell down the stairs."

This went on a few more rounds. I never said anything except, "I fell down the stairs," "I fell down the stairs in the house," "I fell down the stairs, sir," "I fell down the stairs in the house, sir." Finally he smiled faintly, and took me back to the waiting area.

The doctor said there was no sign of mental impairment, but I should be taken to a specialist for further evaluation in a few days. He said there were plenty of good specialists at the base that could see me. He said any danger of concussion had passed.

On our way out the doctor told my Father in low voice, "I'm going to be keeping an eye on your family. I have sources on base. If I hear about anything like this happening again, I'm going to find out who you work for and they're going to hear from me. And no, he didn't say anything to me, except that he fell down the stairs. But you and I know you told him to say that."

Dad was unusually quiet during the trip back.

No Escape

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. Today I'm relating events that happened the day of my fourth birthday, July 9, 1953. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

I regained consciousness on the porch. My Mother was talking to herself loudly and excitedly. She cursed my Father for driving off with the only car and ditching her with me. She cursed me for bleeding. She cursed me most for waking up. "Why doesn't he ever die?"

She said, "What am I going to do? If I take him inside he'll bleed all over everything! I don't want him bleeding all over everything!" This was the argument that prompted her to get rags from the kitchen and wrap my head with them. It would be nice to think that some mothering instinct was at work but it's very hard to say.

Once I was wrapped up she dragged me in to the kitchen. She complained that my rags were already soaked with blood. I was fading in and out. Sometimes she seemed distant. My vision occasionally blurred and doubled. My head was pounding. She took off the first set of rags, lifted me up and rinsed my head under the faucet, and then wrapped me in fresh rags.

By now, her running monologue was veering into a new subject: what sort of permanent damage might have been done. She started to say things like, "What if he can't speak anymore? What if he can't speak Hawaiian anymore? That was the only chance he had of being useful! What good would he be then?" She interrupted her conversation with herself to demand me to speak.

"Talk to me! Say something! Damn it, say something right now, or I'll take you and bury you in the woods out back right now!"

I managed to say something like, "I can talk, Mommy, I'm OK, don't worry about me."

She laughed and said, "You're the one who'd better be doing the worrying if you can't still speak Hawaiian!"

Then she took me by one arm and half dragged me and half made me walk up the stairs and around to the bathroom next to the master bedroom. She stripped me and made me stand in the tub, and began raping me anally with her fingers. She said, "I want to hear Hawaiian! Now!"

It always worked before. Whenever she raped me, Alaka'i would come to Kona's rescue. Kona never had to bear being raped. Alaka'i was the "older" personality. He was the one there for the first birthday. He was experienced with horror, so he would bear it and shield Kona from it. Then, he would curse my Mother out in Hawaiian, which she would think was beautiful because she didn't know one word he was saying. Maybe I get my xenomania from Mother. Everything is connected to everything else.

It didn't work this time. I was there as Kona. Alaka'i didn't arrive. That rape was my first as Kona. As Kona, I didn't speak Hawaiian.

It went on for a long time. I don't know how long. Maybe an hour. Maybe only half an hour. She raped me until after I lost control of my bladder and bowels. She washed me with water, then raped me some more. I would have spoken Hawaiian to make it stop if I could.

During the raping I became light-headed and felt my consciousness fading, only to be screamed at, "You're not going to faint on me!" and have cold water splashed in my face and up my nose. There was no escape.

Finally she gave up and took me in and laid me out on her bed. I was glad that the raping was over for the moment, but I was in a panic about Alaka'i. It suddenly occurred to me that when I was in the driveway and thought I was dying, it could be that just one of us was dying, and that the other one would have to go on without any help.

But my Mother's monologue was now all about killing me. Her speech was racing. She paced back and forth in front of me at the foot of the bed. She was saying that my Father was probably gone for good, and there was no way she was going to take care of me by herself. She discussed with herself, as if I wasn't in the room, how she could finish me without being charged with murder. The discussion was frantic and chopped, with different refrains mixed together, repeated over and over again.

"John was the one who punched him. He's the one they'll convict," was one refrain. Another was, "I can smash his head with a shovel, and bury him so far in the woods they'd never find where I did it." Another was, "I don't have to smash his head, if I bury him he'll die soon enough anyway. Just so long as the police can't hear him making noise when they come looking for him."

Finally she decided she wanted to "get it [my dying] over with." She said I'd be easier to bury that way. She took the pillow out from under my head and put it over my face. As Kona, I felt relief again that I might be able to join Alaka'i in the ultimate escape. But I struggled anyway, because you can't help it. When someone's smothering you, the panic and fear and struggling just happens.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Little Richard

Video Find(s) of the Day

I don't think many people today realize the impact Little Richard had on this country. When Tutti Frutti came to their attention White Middle America adopted it as one of its prime indicators that civilization was winding down. The expression "a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-whop-bam-boom" was determined to be far more dangerous than anything silly Whites had ever written, including "mairzy doats and dozy doats". I even read a post-apocalyptic science fiction in the early sixties that featured a shell-shocked "last woman on Earth" who repeatedly sang Tutti Frutti, which was represented as one of the old classic folk tunes of her youth.

Tutti Frutti

Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

Good Golly Miss Molly

Friday, August 10, 2007

Epic Korean Chant

Video Find of the Day

Let's indulge my xenomania!

This is an example of Pansori. It's a Korean style of spoken and sung performance accompanied by drum. The remaining traditional repertoire is said to consist of 5 pieces. The one here is called Shimchungga, or Simcheongga in the Wikipedia article.

These performances can go on for hours. The stories, as I've seen them described, are not exactly Homeric, but the style, including the drum, at least in the solo parts, strikes me as probably very close to how an ancient recital of the Iliad might have sounded.

WWW Gets New Meaning

New Arc: The Weekly Wes Whine

I don't need no money, fortune, or fame.
I've got all the fake friends one man can claim.
I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?
MySpace (MySpace, MySpace)
Talkin' 'bout MySpace (MySpace).

Now that I'm not able to do the Technorati Sucks posts I was doing, I feel a great void in my life that can only be filled by whining about other things. Originally the plan was to do a "MySpace Sucks" arc, but I have decided that I need more. I can no longer limit my whining to one internet service or another, but must be free to roam the web and complain about it all.

I'm calling it the Weekly Wes Whine in imitation of Technorati's annoying Where's The Fire BS: stealing a popular abbreviation for my own use. Like WTF will never mean anything but what THEY say it means, from now on. Right. And, similarly, if I do enough of these posts, you'll one day google www and get this blog. Ha! Sure you will.

All that aside, I'm hot to bitch about MySpace this week. I have so many complaints about MySpace I think I could use the WWW to complain solely about them until the Mayan Calendar gives out in 2012.

I have already alluded to the fake friends. The last couple of weeks I have been actively updating my MySpace account, for the hell of it. To see what would happen. Like poking a stick in a pile of worms. What will the worms do?

Here's what: From getting an average of one New Friend Request every week, I've got up to an average of 5 or 6 per day!

The fun part!: if I do absolutely nothing about the New Friend Requests I get on any given day, by the next day 4 of every 5 requests will show this sort of message:

Then, when I've deleted all those, what I have remaining is a bunch of would-be New Friends who send me pictures like these:

Now, it says right on my MySpace profile I'm a 58 year old man. I'm old enough to be the father of any one of the pictured young ladies. Do you see how some of them are dressed? Especially the one on the left wearing the yellow ball. Outdoors in the snow, getting all flushed in the cold! That is totally inappropriate, young lady.

I swear the one in the blue can't be more than twelve, and the one holding up two fingers is showing way too much of the wrong sort of skin. That's not midriff, that's below-the-midriff. Don't think I'm too old to remember the difference!

The only one that might conceivably be an appropriate online internet buddy for a 58 year old old-fart like me, is Miss No Photo Provided, who for all I know is the online persona of the Seattle Mens Choir. At least we might have something in common.

Here's a little extra something for you readers so you won't feel too teased:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Carnaval de Oruro

Video Find of the Day
Today the Port Authority made a dumb decision regarding the disposition of some housing (the Lora Lakes Apartments in Burien) near Seattle. The decision was based on, as far as anyone sane has been able to determine, ego, stupidity, and arrogance. It made me think of this video.

This is from the Carnival in the city of Oruro in Bolivia. It is a traditional march in which the marchers portray lawyers. Originally, only men marched. Their strutting, slow, marching step was meant to show both the arrogance of the lawyers themselves and also the painfully ponderous slow legal process they preside over.

Nowadays women march too, and the image they portray may be heavily influenced by the fact that women lawyers are now relatively younger than men lawyers, and people are unused to them, and evidently a little frightened by them. Hence high heels, grinding into the pavement every few steps. Yikes. I don't want to be sued by one of these. Please don't hurt me!

Boys Bleed

My 4th birthday was uneventful until my Father arrived home from Fort Devens. There were presents. I remember two of the presents.

One was a Fisher-Price educational toy that consisted of a plastic weighing balance with weights in the shapes of digits. The weight of each digit was proportional to its value. So you could learn adding by discovering that 2 and 3, for example, exactly balanced 1 and 4, but not 8 and 9.

One was a Raggedy Ann doll. I really despised that one. It looked like an evil witch to me. I hated her almost as much as "Teddy", the bear my Dad gave me on my first birthday, the birthday that by now was a nightmare best forgotten.

I didn't get long to play with the presents because my parents said that for another present they were taking me out to a nice dinner. The self-serving aspect was obvious to even to me, the 4 year-old. But I shrugged it off, knowing that I was going to be leaving for Hawaii. Or half of me was.

My Mother was slow getting ready. She had to "put on her face." So Dad and I went out alone to the car. He got in the driver's seat. I slid into the back seat from the right side. Alaka'i assumed control, and said, in Hawaiian, a short speech he had composed and memorized. The gist of it was, "Father, though we have had our difficulties, you are an honorable man. So it is right I tell you I leave now for Hawaii. Keiki Kona will stay, so you won't be losing a son. I am sorry to have to leave, but since we can't get along, this is for the best for both of us."

Alaka'i's idea was that he would give the speech first in Hawaiian to give my Father an opportunity to show off his knowledge of that "beautiful language", and then, only if necessary, translate. Translating became urgent when my Father turned red and screamed, "HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU NOT TO TALK LIKE THAT! YOU SPEAK ENGLISH AND SPEAK IT NOW!" He jumped out of the front seat and ran around to the passenger side of the car.

So Alaka'i said, quickly, in plain English, "I'm going back to Hawaii. Goodbye, Daddy."

As the words left my mouth, Dad was at the passenger-side back door and hauled me out. He shouted, "YOURE NOT GOING ANYWHERE! YOU'RE NOT TALKING TO ME LIKE THAT! NO KID OF MINE IS TALKING TO ME LIKE THAT!"

My Mother walked up, face intact, in time to hear that and see him draw his fist back and give me a roundhouse punch on the left side of my head. The force threw me to the ground, where my right temple struck a large rock jutting up from the earth.

I sprang to my feet immediately and ran from my parents around the front of the carand south along the long driveway in front of the house toward Leominster Road. I would escape yet running that way. I got about 100 feet and felt a wetness and heard my Mother scream "LOOK AT THE BLOOD! HE'S GOING TO DIE!"

I thought she couldn't mean me. I was alright. I stopped and turned around to see who was going to die. When I looked back I noticed out the corner of my right eye that a fountain of blood was striking the dirt to that side. I felt sick to my stomach as I realized it was my fountain of blood, from my temple.

My mother had been bringing the dog Koko out to go with us. She was preparing to put him on a leash. In the excitement he got free and ran toward me. He ran up and found the puddle of blood that I was creating, and he began lapping it up.

My Mother couldn't take the sight of that. She could demand my Father kill me, over and over again, but she couldn't deal with anything as gross as the dog licking up my blood. I can't complain. I'm alive today because of her revulsions.

She started yelling at the dog now. "You horrible, horrible, animal! Get away!"

She ran up to us and chased Koko away from me, just as I dropped to my knees dizzy from the loss of blood. I said, "Please don't hurt him. Let him drink, he's just a dog, he doesn't understand." At the same time I saw the car's tires spin gravel out as my Father drove off by himself, and turned back once more to see him leaving.

The car with my Father driving passed Koko, who was by now twenty feet from my Mother and I. Koko was standing there looking back at me and my Mother, and she yelled at him, "GET AWAY, YOU MONSTER!" and he ran off at top speed in the direction of the receding car as if in obedience.

I was left alone with my Mother. I passed out, relieved at the thought that I was dying, and that Koko had also gotten away.