Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Crappy Day In Paradise

KONA COAST, HI--First of All is always down to hang out, so we are glad to be doing just that this week in Hawaii with our extended family. 
   Bright sun and big surf, good food and bad books, beach sleep and sweet heat--these suffice for most vacationers, us included. 
   But what's a Type-A person to do? Simple. Clique up with other Type As and make shit. To a plucky passel of strong men and true here, that means daily creating elaborate beachfront sand sculptures.
   Yesterday's effort? A Tiki Bar. With ferocious focus and a few makeshift tools the guys carved out a real-life drinks dispensary. The result? Free beverages and beer nuts for everyone!   
   (We note that the occasional tipple is many a person's diversionary pleasure and that for those with alcohol problems there is help. We do not condone underage drinking; there was none at the Tiki Bar. Anyway, it's the journey--construction--not the destination--drinkies--that matters, don't you agree?)

    The lads were at it again today, this time carving out a hammerhead shark with an enviro-friendly message. 

   And so we leave you, as the sun sets on another year and decade. Best wishes for the year/decade ahead. We'll see you on the other side of time. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crime of the Century (Spokes Person Division)

HONOLULU, Hawaii--"A 20-year-old man who tried to rob a man at a Kalihi bus stop Saturday night was arrested riding a stolen bicycle, police said." 
   This mystifying lede appeared in the first item of the "Police Blotter" in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser yesterday. The story went on: 
   "A 21-year-old man refused to give up his property at the bus stop at 9:45pm, police said.
   "He was then assaulted by the 20-year-old man, said police.
   "The suspect fled but was stopped a short distance away, riding a bicycle that had been reported stolen from a 57-year-old woman at a nearby store, police said.
   "The man resisted arrest but was subdued by officers, police said."
   The "Police Blotter" is endemic to newspapers in small communities. It calls to mind the sort of place in which everyone knows everyone and, when not on the job, the police chief sells used cars and trucks. 
   "Police Blotter" items often are written by the most junior member of a paper's staff. This person is learning, on the job, how to write in journalese, a language which resembles English not hardly a'tall. 
   For this bicycle-related item, the green reporter evidently wasn't aware that after noting in the first graf that police were the source of information ("... riding a stolen bicycle, police said"), he or she no longer needed do so. It is understood that all following facts derive from the same source unless otherwise indicated. 
   Still, our earnest correspondent showed a bit of flair in the third sentence. After twice writing "police said," he/she stepped out on a limb to write "said police." But reason swiftly reasserted itself. The nascent Hunter S. Thompson-esque rule-smashing newcomer once more prudently used the more conventional "police said." 
   That being said, we have nothing but good wishes for our intrepid if inexperienced reporter, even if he/she only exists in the fevered First of All imagination. To enter upon a career in journalism at this juncture in the Fourth Estate's enduring fadeout is brave beyond compare. Soon all journalists will be writing short pieces using sticks on leaves which they'll float down the river to the next village. But it will be called "Tweeting." 
   Oh, wait. Never mind.
   If it turns out our "inexperienced" reporter is in truth a broken-down alcoholic writing "Police Blotter" items in the final days of a long and storied career, well, so much the better. Good on ya, old-timer. You were there when dinosaurs roamed the land. First of All, a proud dinosaur, salutes you. 
   One last thing: robbing a man while riding a stolen bicycle? Seriously? 
   The burglars of yore would be aghast. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Crime of the Century (Can You Hear Me Now? Division)

GORJ COUNTY, Romania--Police arrested a man here recently for attempted burglary after his intended victims discovered his presence in their home when his cellular telephone rang, a Dec. 27 AFP piece reports.
   The story neglects to mention the name of the man, who is eighteen. For the purposes of this post, then, the well-traveled and sophisticated First of All shall give him a name we assume to be typically Romanian: John Smith.  
  A police source in Gorj told AFP that Mr. Smith's victims, two neighbors in their seventies, "were resting on their bed when [Mr. Smith's] phone rang." The couple deduced that someone else was in the room, a task made easier by the fact that, as the police source noted, "they have no phone." 
   This couple shows a perspicacity First of All likes to think is native to all Romanians. Mr. Smith, on the other hand, displays a spectacular level of criminal folly. One wonders at his ringtone; was it, perhaps, the theme from The Three Stooges?
   Gorj is a Romanian county with a population of a few hundred thousand. Its main industries produce mining equipment, glass, wood, mechanical components and textiles. (This according to Wikipedia, the source of all information of dubious provenance.) There is also a vibrant food and beverage industry, aka hotels and tourism, aka partying.
   That Mr. Smith evidently was unable--or unwilling--to find gainful employment in any of these fields, and instead turned to crime, un-silenced cellphone in hand, fair baffles the mind. 
   This is Mr. Smith's second arrest for attempted burglary. He faces seven years in prison. 
   Seven years in prison because he neglected to silence his phone? First of All is not convinced that this is sufficient penalty. It would be perfectly apt punishment for those who do not silence theirs in movie theaters. But for a young man embarking upon what he hopes is a lucrative career in criminal enterprises, yet who forgets to silence his phone, seven years is not enough. Better would be a life sentence of hard labor, by which we mean being forced to text friends until his thumbs fell off.  
   Mr. Smith's foolhardiness affirms the truism that they just don't make 'em like they used to. The burglars of yore would be aghast. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cinema Notes From All Over (Deceit of the Crime Division)

CELLULOIDLAND, The Universe - I Love You Philip Morris is not, alas, a film about a shrinking sect of smokers with a passionate fealty to a large tobacco conglomerate who rebelliously use machetes to hack off the hands of the antismoking fanatics who fan those hands in front of their own scrunched-up noses to signal their disdain for cigarettes, cigarette smoke, free will, responsible choice, and anything else that gets in the way of their desire to dictate to others how they should live.  
   Instead, it is a romantic comedy-drama (a "comma"?) about a pair of gay guys. Steven Russell, played by Jim Carrey, is an incorrigible con man. Phillip Morris, played by Ewan MacGregor, is a trusting Southern soul. The two meet and fall in love in prison, where each is serving time for something or other. (Who, in the end, cares why they're behind bars? Life is short; we're all going to die someday. Tracking details of this or that movie's plot is, you might agree, simply too exhausting.) 
   The film is sweet and mildly enjoyable, excepting a scene which for First of All sabotaged the whole thing. 
   In it, Mr. Russell appears to be dying of AIDS. In a wrenching phone call, Mr. Morris, though angry with Mr. Russell for other reasons, sobs wildly when he learns of his lover's illness. For those of us who lost friends to AIDS in the eighties and nineties, the scene is a knife to the heart. 
   Later, it is revealed that Mr. Russell's "illness" was faked. It is another con, one that allows Mr. Russell, posing as a lawyer, to try to spring Mr. Morris from prison. 
   (Oops. Did we spoil the film for you? So sorry.)
   For the AIDS scene to work, the audience must feel Mr. Morris' agony. So the film tricks us in the same way that Mr. Russell tricks Mr. Morris. When the con is exposed we feel Mr. Morris' rage--he slaps Mr. Russell's face--and his exasperation with Mr. Russell's iniquitous duplicity. 
   First of All understands this filmic conceit. You know what? First of All does not care. It is a terrible manipulation of the audience. We found ourselves weeping at Mr. Morris' pain; we recalled our own in the same kinds of situations. So for the illness to be exposed as fake--well, for hours after leaving the theater we boiled at the film's aggressive guile. 
   In fairness, we note that the film is based on true events. Perhaps Mr. Russell's AIDS con did, in fact, happen.

   A side note: Mr. Morris and Mr. Russell's relationship does not last. In this sense theirs is no different from many nongay couplings. Love, sad to say, does not conquer all. Gays and lesbians eager to marry, in prison our out, need take note.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Fading Power of the Fourth Estate (Shoo-bee-doo-bee-doo Division)

SACRAMENTO, Ca.--It is not exactly, well, news that falling revenues and flagging readership continue to send the newspaper industry yet deeper into its current merciless tailspin.
   The decline has propelled newspaper executives to experiment with wide-ranging strategies to retain readers, including... well, lots of things, all of which we are simply too lazy to look up. 
   One paper evidently has decided to take an aggressively avant-garde approach: at the Sacramento Bee, reporters now write in Esperanto. 
   At least that's the conclusion to be drawn from reading the lede of a Dec. 24 Bee story reporting heavy snowfall in the Lake Tahoe area: 
   "Bing Crosby should come to Lake Tahoe. With a fresh heap of snow blanketing the landscape, the classic 'White Christmas' crooner couldn't have dreamed it any better. Nor could the area's tourist industry." 
   It would be cruel to unmask the miscreant who wrote this. It is the holiday season; we are determined to look kindly upon our brethren and sistern. For the sake of conversation let us call the Bee reporter by a randomly chosen name, one unassuming in the extreme, a name like, oh, we don't know, maybe something such as, let's say, Ed Fletcher (
   Mr. Fletcher may go unmasked; his lede shall not. It should be placed, like a severed head, atop a tall stick and paraded from town to village to burgh and back as a perfect example of exactly what not to do should you one day find yourself in the unenviable position of having to top a snow-related story with a catchy opening paragraph. 
   First off: Bing Crosby? Really? That rustling you hear is the sound of tens of thousands of Americans, ages sixteen to fortyish, scratching their heads as they murmur, "Bing who?" (Answer: the third most popular movie actor of all time, by box office numbers. Nevertheless...)
   But of course Mr. Fletcher name-checked Mr. Crosby. Recent studies have shown that the average age of newspaper readers is a hundred and sixty-five; the average age of reporters is roughly double that. 
   In recognition of these alarming facts, newspaper bigwigs have employed all kinds of tactics in the past decade to get those laptoppatizin', Tweetereezin', Facebookatatin', text-sendin' young folks to visit the ink-stained horse 'n buggy barn. Just last month, with an eye to creating an staff-wide understanding of the "youth demographic," New York Times editor Andrew Rosenthal ordered employees to be dosed with psilocybin and forced to wave glow sticks, suck on pacifiers and dance without respite for sixteen hours to drum 'n bass hits of the nineties. 
   But try as these media leaders might to hip things up, the Ed Fletchers of the world continue to fire bullets into their desperately dancing feet. When dreaming of a captivating snow-story lede, the best Ed Fletcher can do is to conjure Bing ("Who?") Crosby, a performer popular two and one-half centuries ago and best known for his mellifluous voice and his penchant--no offense to Crosby friends, family and fans across the globe--for beating his children.
   For an Ed Fletcher lede, however, a Bing Crosby reference is a mere warmup. What follows seems, on the face of it, a rather pleasant suggestion: that Mr. Crosby "should come to Lake Tahoe." Mr. Crosby used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area; no doubt he enjoyed many Tahoe trips. It is not difficult to believe that he would be game for another were it not for the fact that he is, in truth, entirely dead. 
   Crosbyesque Tahoe trips are therefore out of the question even were Mr. Crosby willing to strap skis to the maggot-chewed bones of his feet. 
   Mr. Fletcher, alas, soldiers on. Why should Mr. Crosby, dead or alive, come to Lake Tahoe? "With a fresh heap of snow blanketing the landscape, the classic 'White Christmas' crooner couldn't have dreamed it any better." 
   The way that sentence is constructed, if that sentence can be said to have been "constructed" (it cannot), suggests that Mr. Crosby himself has a fresh heap of snow blanketing some... landscape. The word "landscape" occasionally is used euphemistically to refer to, for example, parts of the body that would best be left unmentioned in polite society were there still such a thing as polite society. It immediately strikes First of All that there are most definitely "landscapes" of Mr. Crosby's badly decomposed body that we simply do not wish to picture (e.g., the anus). 
   Ahem, ahem. All right, children, gather round. Uncle First of All is now going to decode, phrase by phrase, the rest of that sentence for you:

   *"...the classic..." In addition to being a famous movie star, Mr. Crosby was an extremely popular singer. But when Mr. Fletcher writes that Mr. Crosby was a "classic" singer, he is not, kids, referring to what you think of as classic; that is to say classic rock, the music of the sixties that all but killed the careers of the Mr. Crosbys of the land. No, Mr. Fletcher means "classic" in a way that would make sense only to your average newspaper reader, age one hundred and sixty-five.
   *"...'White Christmas'..." A reference to a song, written by Irving Berlin in 1942, the lyrics of which set a nostalgic, elegiac tone: "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas/Just like the ones I used to know." Mr. Crosby sang the song in the movie musical Holiday Inn. (Executives at Paramount Pictures nixed his plan to perform it in blackface. They felt that audiences would simply be baffled by the sight of an African-American Bing Crosby singing, "And may all your Christmases be white.") The World War II-era song became a hit with soldiers overseas and their families at home. Mr. Crosby's version was so popular that a movie of the same name was made in 1954. It starred Mr. Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and a dancing gorilla. No, wait: that gorilla part is wrong. It was a dancing dwarf. 
   *"...crooner..." The nineteen forties and fifties singing style known as "crooning" was practiced by velvet-voiced male singers (Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones, et cetera) whose job was to: a.) seduce chicks; x.) cut a compelling, if compellingly bland, fashion figure; and 12.) create music that was the aural equivalent of Valium--just the ticket for a generation rattled by World War II and by the thunder in the distance that would come to be known as rock 'n' roll. 
   *"...couldn't have dreamed it any better." See "White Christmas" lyrics, above. 

   Well. We have now spent roughly eleven hundred words dissecting--flaying?--poor Mr. Fletcher's no doubt rush-written lede. We can hardly be said to be carrying the Christmas spirit, white or otherwise. So we will leave well enough--and bad enough--alone, and wish you all a happy holiday season. May your  snow always arrive in fresh heaps and your landscapes always be, uh... well-showered?


PS: We are painfully aware that our little blackface joke was in poor taste. We apologize. 
   Thank God Mr. Crosby habitually displayed more discernment than we do. He would never have stooped so low even as to joke about blackface, much less appear in it, because... 
   Wait a minute. 
   In the 1943 film Dixie, Mr. Crosby played a young Kentucky songwriter who tries to bust into the big time first in New Orleans and then in New York. At some point during this cinematic tale, Mr. Crosby appeared thus (ha-ha, ho-ho, we win): 


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cinema Notes From All Over (A Film's Death in Venice Division)

CELLULOIDLAND, The Universe -- First of All has just seen The Tourist, and we can say without hesitation that it is the worst film ever made. 
   We are delighted to report that at the moment it is in theaters everywhere, so you can see it too. You may wish, however, to wait for the DVD release; you'll certainly save money and emotional pain. You'll also be able to rewind scenes multiple times to deconstruct this splendidly execrable misfire so that you never inadvertently make one of your own. 
   The Tourist was directed by a man with the stirring name of Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck. Mr.FMGCGHvD also wrote the screenplay. He was joined in the effort by three others who evidently bore a ferocious grudge against him. They certainly did every writerly thing possible to sabotage his film. 
   That the movie, supposedly a thriller, is chockablock with A-list stars is indisputable; so is the fact that their utter miscasting is so full-blown that it hovers near being brilliant. 
   Johnny Depp is a math teacher from Wisconsin who falls in love with an attractive financial-crimes agent from Britain, the birthplace of the Beatles and rain. (The Beatles even wrote a song about rain. Aptly, it is titled "Rain.") Beautiful and mysterious though the agent is meant to be, as played by Angelina Jolie she resembles nothing so much as an anorexic drag queen automaton. 
   The Tourist means to be a caper film happily enjoyed over a tub of popcorn, the kind in which the two leads dash about an enchanting foreign locale--in this case Venice, the city of lovers and sinking buildings. But the film quickly deteriorates more thoroughly than have any of Venice's vaunted edifices. 
   If this is the fault of the rousingly named Mr.FMGCGHvD, it is equally the fault of the stars. 
   There was a time when First of All would have sold our firstborn, if we'd had one, in return for a lifelong romantic partnership, not to say the occasional romp in the hay, with Mr. Depp. That time extended from the moment we watched the first episode of 21 Jump Street, in nineteen eighty-seven, until the moment, a few hours ago, we watched The Tourist
   Mr. Depp now appears oddly bloated and shockingly aged. His shoulder-length hair is a nonsense tangle and his makeup is only slightly less bizarre than Ms. Jolie's. Note to Mr. Depp: heavy eyeliner? Awesome for that Keith Richards/Captain Jack Sparrow look; not so awesome when you're playing a math teacher from Wisconsin. With his blocky body and ragged goatee, Mr. Depp resembles a female-to-male transsexual; this is not a terrible look for anyone except perhaps a math teacher from Wisconsin. 
   Ms. Jolie, on the other hand, appears to be drugged. She has acknowledged past heroin use; has the habit made a comeback? Well, no; she seems less a junkie than someone enjoying a lifetime prescription for Xanax. She floats serenely through every scene, head high, body taut, chin jutted, makeup caked; she is an affectless queen in her own private parade. 
   Ms. Jolie's character is a stick figure--figuratively and literally. Late in the movie she dons a shoulder-baring black gown. She is dreadfully thin, so much so that First of All, while reviling those who talk noisily in theaters, was hard pressed not to scream, "Angelina! Three words--burger and fries!"    
   The Depp-Jolie pairing is awesomely amiss. Can chemistry between actors actually exist in negative space? The Tourist boldly answers in the affirmative. Mr. Depp and Ms. Jolie make implausible lovers. The problem is not just the bloat and the heroin (Xanax?); it is the vast emotional chasm that yawns between them.   Johnny Depp looks like he just arrived from smoking opium with Aleister Crowley under a bridge. Angelina Jolie looks like she just arrived from having her electrical wiring switched on in some shady East European laboratory. The Tourist could have been made with no lead actors a'tall and it would have had more sparkle and star power than it does now.
   Then there is the plot, which involves--well, who knows? Indeed, who cares? In these sorts of movies, the joys of being diverted by a sensible--or even insensible-- plot run a distant second to the joys of watching famous people be themselves in glamorous places. The Tourist is meant to provide pure escapism in the tradition of mid-twentieth-century Hollywood thrillers. But Mr.FMGCGHvD, the director, manages to make Venice look bland. And his misdirection of his stars is so total that it verges on the inspiring. 
   The Tourist falls through all the cracks. It is neither a feather-light caper nor a so-bad-it's-good camp gem. Instead, it is a turd for the ages. One watches it in the same way that animals inspect their bowel movements: to be sure that, yes, this is indeed feces, and then to bolt in order to escape the stench. 
- - - - - - - - - - -
UPDATE (Dec. 23, 2010): We are extremely pleased to report that in televised interviews promoting the appalling The Tourist, Johnny Depp appears to have returned to his usual state of unbelievable hotness. First of All hereby throws its hat back in the ring viz. having a stable, longterm and physically raucous relationship with Mr. Depp, notwithstanding his really peculiar accent--part Brit-English, part Jack Sparrow, part Pepe Le Pew, part... well, who knows? It's Johnny Depp, for Chrissakes. That alone is enough. To be sure, it is all there needs to be, as one can see below. 


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stars in the Firmament (Oopsy-Daisy Comments Division)

   We here at First of All adore the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. He has been a hero and spirit guide to us for nigh on forty years. 
   His autobiography, Life, due Oct. 26, is bound to be a good read, if excerpts in the current Rolling Stone are any indication. Keith's always been a great interview: lucid, funny, smart, knowledgeable. Even at his most drug-addled he was always elegantly spoken and possessed of a sharp wit and a penchant for analogy. 
   The book is an as-told-to (the writer is James Fox), so it'll be like reading a fifty-hour interview with the musician, a lifelong drinker who says he's not taken cocaine since incurring a head injury in 2006. He gave up heroin in the late seventies after ten years' use. 
   That opiates had a less than salutary effect on him is suggested by these two photographs, the first from 1973 and the second taken on the band's 1975 American tour:  
   The fact that he's good in an interview (and a book), however, does not mean Keith doesn't occasionally put his foot in it. Today's New York Post ran a story retailing some of the book's highlights (as has every other media outlet in the known galaxy), including, alas, this "advice" for singer George Michael, recently incarcerated on drugs charges: 
   "I say stay in jail, George. There's probably some dope and some gays. He probably won't leave." 
   Even allowing for the fact that Keith is old school (he'll turn sixty-seven on Dec. 18), sharp-tongued and provocative, the comment is disgraceful. It trucks in the tired cliche that violent rape between men is "gay" sex. Prison sex isn't "gay"; it's homosexual - that is, same-gendered sexual activity. And in this case it's about power, not intimacy. 
   This is not the first time Keith has heartlessly referenced gay men. In the late seventies, complaining about Studio 54, the au courant beautiful-people New York disco, he said, "They took a perfectly good theater and ruined it with a bunch of faggots running around in boxer shorts waving champagne bottles in your face." 
   It's true that these comments are of a piece with Keith's conversational style; he also refers to women, whom he professes to love, as "bitches." He's a seventies man. 
   Still, it is dispiriting that he needed to make the George Michael joke, because it's dumb and unfunny. It diminishes him. And it's odd, too. His wife, Patti Hansen, was a model; some gay men and lesbians are no doubt part of the Richards/Hansen inner circle. 
   Plus, the Rolling Stones, in their way, had an enormously liberating effect on postwar England and America. They were more than "rebels," though that they were. They were more like aliens, especially in the late nineteen-sixties. 
   Though possessed of a ferocious appetite for women, Mick Jagger back then appeared limp-wristed and lispy; his body, even in his twenties, was that of a thirteen-year-old boy, and he favored eye shadow and outrageously androgynous clothes:
   Keith, too, challenged male norms, although he always had about him the air of a decidedly heterosexual man. Still, dressed in satin shirts and blue jeans, wearing kohl eyeliner and blue eyeshadow, with a scarf wrapped around his neck and a high, frazzled pile of randomly chopped hair topping his head--itself precariously balanced on a heroin-and-cocaine-thinned frame--he cut a dashing if decayed figure, aged twenty-eight, when the Stones toured America in 1972 to promote Exile on Main Street, their masterpiece.

  It is, therefore, a disappointment that, so many years later, Keith would stoop to making a joke as low as the George Michael one. As a friend responded when I emailed him the Post link, "This from one of the main people who helped culture free itself from the old world's conservative shackles? Ouch." 
   A side note: you may have noticed we refer to the guitarist as "Keith" rather than, as we are wont to do, "Mr. Richards." This is because Keith is so casual and familiar that he feels like a pal. He is indeed, even when blitzed beyond belief, a friend to all, except perhaps George Michael and incarcerated men the world over. 

Stars in the Firmament (Speech-making Division)

   A few years ago, the actress Sharon Stone gave a short speech introducing the Dalai Lama, who was giving an address at the University of California at Berkeley, a school the sports mascot of which is the Golden Bear. The event, held in the outdoor, ten-thousand-seat Greek Theater, drew students, alums, and supporters of the Tibetan leader. 
   Ms. Stone (pictured left) will never be accused of - how is it best put? - living with her feet squarely planted on planet Earth. Her speech that day was inspiring in essence but baffling in execution. As a service to our readers, First of All has transcribed the address as it was recorded on a video now available on YouTube. 
   (The URLs linking to a video strictly of Ms. Stone's address and to one which includes both her and the Dalai Lama's speeches may be found at the end of this post. We would hyperlink them but for the distressing fact that even now, nine months into the existence of First of All, the goddamned hyperlinks disappear from posts within twenty-four hours. We have posted a question about this on a Blogspot discussion forum and eagerly - by which we mean dispiritedly - await answers. In the meantime, keeping in mind the compassion that Ms. Stone and the Dalai Lama tout in their addresses, we will just add this: fuck those assholes at Google.)
   Take it away, Ms. Stone: 

   It's just wonderful to be here in this beautiful open air theater on this glorious, glorious day, for such a wonderful and great opportunity. 
    Um. Wow. Um. It's a great feeling, uh, and we're here at a time when the world is full of so many different emotions and thoughts and feelings and changing times, changing opinions and assignments of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and when we're told that there is a structure of feelings, emotions and changing tides.
Unicorn Fantasy
   In fact, we're told that we're in a time of scarcity. But if we look to our genuine selves, our genuine truths, and depart from the illusions of that which is put upon us to that which is within us, of course we know that there is never a scarcity, but that there is a wealth of greatness, and that within us [...... six ...... second ...... pause......] there is much. 
   For every one of us has a dream. Every one of us has a destiny. Every one of us has a giant opportunity. It is upon us to follow our destiny and to fulfill that dream. It's our choice with how much integrity we meet that destiny. There's a giant puzzle in the world and it is ours to take our piece and fulfill that particular piece of the puzzle and glorify the destiny of the universe. 

    [......... Nine .........second ......... pause .........]

   I'm sure each of you sitting here has some beginnings of the understanding of what your dream is, and that's why you've come here today. It's the compassion within your heart, that you're reaching out in the hopes that you can simply let go and end that bit of fear that is restraining you [....... seven ....... second ....... pause .......] from the power of your generosity and wholeness to fulfill yourself as a world citizen. 

   'Cause we're no longer individuals. No matter what you do, you're no longer an individual alone in your tiny space. We now know for certain that we're world citizens, walking together hand in hand to fulfill our destiny as one. And the day is upon us. 
Magical Unicorn
   Ever practical, Ms. Stone, having offered a few pleasantries to gathered dignitaries, ended by adding this: "And before I go, I have one thing I'd like to say - go Bears!"
   The transcribed speech is, in itself, a wonder, but it really has to be seen to be believed and, as Ms. Stone might say, received. 
   *Ms. Stone's remarks:
   *The full event, including Ms. Stone's and the Dalai Lama's remarks:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Crime of the Century (Purloined Cruiser Division)

PORT ARTHUR, Texas - It is cheering to know that the women of America are stepping up their efforts to match and even to best the country's men, including in arcane pursuits such as stealing police cars and leading cops on exhilarating high-speed chases. 
   As sport and leisure past-time, pilfering police cruisers is nothing new. As we recently reported, a Greely, Colo. man named Adam Segura, who was allegedly drunk, allegedly pinched a cop car and allegedly raced down a highway for a bit, after which he allegedly came to a halt at the entrance to a mall, where, alas, he was arrested. 
   Not to be outdone, a woman named Candace Broussard pulled a similar stunt late last month. Ms. Broussard, who hails from Beaumont, TX. (pop: 110,099 in July 2009), was arrested for creating a disturbance on the campus of Lamar State College - Port Arthur ("A Great Place to Begin"), according to a Sept. 24 report on the Web site of the Beaumont Enterprise
 Welcome to Lamar State College - Port Arthur      
   Ms. Broussard apparently kicked up a bit of a fuss when police attempted to guide her into the back seat of a cruiser. So they cuffed her hands behind her back and sat her in the car, the engine of which, as it happened, was running. 
   The Enterprise reports that Ms. Broussard managed to maneuver her hands so that they were in front of her. This Mr. Segura also did. So at this point in the cop-car-filching competition, the two are pretty much even.     
   But in a daring move that requires no little skill - and which, therefore, elevates Ms. Broussard's alleged crime head-and-shoulders above Mr. Segura's - Ms. Broussard then slid open the screen separating the cruiser's front seats from the back ones. She wiggled her way through the foot-wide slot and into the front of the car. 
   Let us just pause here to say that, according to statistics that Blogspot is kind enough to provide, First of All has readers from as far away as Denmark (2), Canada (1), the United Kingdom (1), Lebanon (1), and, bewilderingly, Malaysia (1). (Evidently, they simply can't get enough of ironically re-interpreted odd news stories there.) We have a full ninety readers in the U.S., for a readership grand total of, it turns out, roughly ninety-six. 
   It  possible that some of our U.S. followers hail from, or live near, the Port Arthur area, or are familiar with it. It is with them in mind that we mention that Ms. Broussard, having gained the driver's seat of the police cruiser, shot down Proctor Street and turned north on Woodward Avenue. She managed to hit what the Enterprise referred to as an "occupied vehicle at Lake Charles and Proctor...." No one was injured. In time, she raced up northbound U.S. 69, zipping along at speeds of up to 100 mph. 
   Presently, coppers managed to lay down spike strips, the second pair of which did the trick. Her tires shredded, Ms. Broussard inexplicably pulled into a Conoco gas station. (For our Port Arthur readers, it's the one at U.S. 69 and FM 366, a name which suggests a radio station in a distant galaxy far above the world, where the stars look very different today.) 
   It was there that she was re-arrested, according to a police source, quoted by the Enterprise, who goes by the arousing name of Major Raymond Clark. 
   Major Clark (no relation to Major Tom, who, incidentally, is herewith encouraged to contact Ground Control) told the Enterprise that Ms. Broussard has a history of mental illness. 
   He added that he had no knowledge of whether or not she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs - colloquially, drunk as a skunk or high as a kite, which, incidentally, Major Tom was known frequently to be. ("Ashes to ashes/Funk to funky/We know Major Tom's/A junkie....")
   The mentally ill often excel in particular areas of life, and Ms. Broussard appears to be no exception: her stolen police vehicle of choice happened to be a Dodge Charger that, at that point, had been used for only four months. 
   The moral of the story is this: if you're going to steal a police car, steal a fast, new and sexy one. Doing so will give you something to tell your grandchildren, provided you are not strung out in Heaven's high, hitting an all-time low.