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Thursday, December 06, 2018
Friday, November 30, 2018
By SJ Otto
I'm a life-long Frank Zappa fan, so when I heard that Dweezil Zappa, his son, was playing the Crown Uptown Theatre, November 20, I just had to go. For such a well known celebrity, the crowd was not so big that it took all night to get in. There was almost no line. But there was plenty of people there—a packed house.
Dweezil mostly played his dad’s music, which was fine with me. He played a lot of the classics, such as Valley Girl and Call Any Vegetable. He also played some of the songs known to his followers, such as The Torture Never Stops and Sleep Dirt, but best of all, he played a lot of the lesser known songs, from such albums as Uncle Meat. That included; Dog Breath and Sleeping In A Jar.
I’ve always heard that Zappa’s music is hard to play and Dweezil said that between the songs they played. He had a large well equipped band and the concert was wonderful. It was a real treat to hear all those Zappa classics.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Zappa was his witty and satirical lyrics. Songs, such as Trouble Coming Every Day, about the Watts Riots, I Am The Slime, a slam on the effects of TV, and Porn Wars, a song about Congressional hearings over music censorship. He also did a lot of silly songs making fun of the latest trends, such as Disco Boy.
Dweezil Played center stage.
He had a large well equipped band.
Posted by SJ Otto at 7:01 AM
Saturday, November 17, 2018
Sunday, November 11, 2018
By SJ Otto
Every year I run an article to commemorate various holidays—some traditional, as Halloween or Christmas. Not being a Christian I don’t celebrate Christmas, but instead I celebrate the Winter Solstice. There are some holidays, Thanksgiving comes to mind, where the tradition involves controversial events or beliefs.
Tomorrow is Veterans Day and it is probably my least favorite holiday in the
All across the nation, and on my TV, people will honor the brave men and women
who fight wars to keep US
the dominant world power. It is a system of imperialism. It is built on
arrogance, violence and war. Not long ago I heard singer Patti
Smith say something to the effect, that it is ridiculous that we still have
the institution of war in the 21 century. And for the America , this is the most pro-war period
in history since World War II. To our leaders, both Democrat and Republican,
the entire world is our back yard and they are free to do with it as they want.
Gone are the illusion that the world is made up of free people who have the
right to decide their own sovereignty and destiny. For this article I’m
focusing on one imperialist problem— US . Afghanistan
“After the 9/11 attacks, there were two main goals in Afghanistan: First, to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven from which to plan, train, and launch terrorist attacks on a global scale, and second, to remove the Taliban regime from power as punishment for not cooperating with the international community and for harboring terrorism.
Both were accomplished with relative speed.”
This is the longest war the
has fought in modern history.
The US US accomplished these
goals, he lays out, almost immediately after the war in
started. The goal now seems to be to completely destroy the Taliban. Al Qaeda
left years ago. Now Afghanistan Afghanistan
built government which as not been acceptable to all or even most Afghanis. The
Taliban is a part of US ’s
political landscape. The Afghanistan
is still trying to punish them for something they did years ago. According to a
commentary in The
Washington Post, Daniel R.
DePetris, a writer and fellow at Defense Priorities: US
“To believe the Taliban wouldn’t think twice before again hosting transnational terrorists is far-fetched: The group lost its control of
because of it. Indeed, in the years since, Taliban officials have openly
regretted their past association with
Unfortunately no one is listening to DePetris or anyone like him. From IOL:
“The Trump administration has no intention of leaving
despite all of President Donald Trump’s campaign bluster about withdrawing US
troops and putting
first. According to Trump, he has now “studied America in great detail, and
changed his mind." Afghanistan
What lies behind this about-turn is the view of the security establishment that in order to maintain US global dominance, having a plethora of US bases in
is imperative.” Afghanistan
Today we will hear quotes by those who have put military service on a religious level as something sacred:
“On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free. -Dan Lipinski”
And the bottom line is that line that we will hear over and over again, “we can live free.” But that last line is a lie. We don’t depend on controlling
for our freedom. Our freedom has nothing to do with that. This is all about the
national arrogance of a nation that feels a need to control everyone else’s
government. It is all about what works well for this country and the lives of
those who live in such countries is barely an after thought. Afghanistan
What bothers me most about his is that there is so little debate or discussion on these national issues. I belong to the Peace and Social Justice Center, of South Central Kansas. There are peace groups such as this all across the country. But anyone wanting to find out about them through the mainstream news media will be disappointed. I do all I can to work with that group to promote peace issues. But it seems like I’ve accomplishes little. Most groups, as the one I belong to, are religious. Even though I am an agnostic and a Marxist, I find a lot of common ground working with these people.
So year after year I write these articles and take part in activities with the Peace and Social Justice Center. As of today I don’t see any positive changes coming our way. But I keep opposing imperialism and the unnecessary wars that naturally come with it. Today is no different than last year’s Veteran’s Day.
Patti Smith - Without Chains
Posted by SJ Otto at 4:50 PM
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
By SJ Otto
This year my wife, Cam Gentry, and I carved pumpkins.
Saturday I went to a Goth night and mingled with friends. Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays. I just love the myths and lore of Halloween. It is supposed to be the night that spirits can come back to the Earth to meet with us mortals.
Even though it was just 24 hours later, here is my porch on Halloween night.
Happy Samhain/Halloween, etc! Most people know this holiday as a time for dressing up, and children getting candy from “trick or treating.” But this was the most important holiday of the year, before Christianity came to Europe. The Druids, witches, Wiccans and other pre-Christian religions saw this day as a kind of New Year day. It was the most important holiday of the year, in which people celebrated the end of the harvest and the beginning of the new year. It was also a time where people believed that spirits could visit the living. That is why many people wore masks. They carved pumpkins out of fruits, such
For the rest click here.
Posted by SJ Otto at 8:09 PM
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
By SJ Otto
I had a fine trip visiting my son Ethan, in
It is a long plane ride, but much better than trying to drive there. We flew
from Portland Oregon Wichita to Texas
and then to .
My son now lives with his girl friend Ce Ce Williams, and her son Dru, in a modest house that they rent. This was the first time my wife Cam Gentry and I got to meet Ce Ce. We found her a pleasant person and she was a fine hostess. My son seems to like her a lot and we were happy to meet her.
Our first day in
we went to the Timberline lodge.
We ate in the Timberline Bar. The whole building is fascinating and it was
built by the WPA
in the President FD Roosevelt days. Outside was Oregon Mount Hood.
I it is about the highest mountain in the state. The outside of this lodge was
used to make the movie "The
That evening we saw Ethan playing with his band Libido Cornucopia. They were playing at the Alberta Street Pub. I drank plenty of their tall boy beers which were on sale for $3. The band plays mostly a form of punk rock, which is my kind of music. It was a small audience, but the band has a large following.
The next day we went to the beach.
is about an hours ride to the
On the way we visited Fort Stevens. The Fort was mostly used for defending the Pacific Coast from attacks by
World War II. It is mostly just empty buildings today, with some cannons and a
jeep fixed up for display. Most of the fort is still there although much of it
is not open to the public. I read in the museum that a Japanese submarine
actually fired at the fort, during the war. They didn't hit anything and the
sub commander said he would not have fired at the coast if he new there were
all those cannons lined up just waiting to sink him. Japan
On one of the days we were there we all visited my brother Terry, his wife Barb, and his son Jeff. Terry lives in
Oregon, which is about an hours drive from . Terry writes a
column for The
Columbian. He also works for the Forest Service-Zigzag Ranger District
in Zigzag, Portland . Oregon
We saw a lot of
such as Powell's Books, a really big book
store that doesn't carry any of my books. Cam and I also hung out on Portland Hawthorne Ave, in , with Barb. That
street seemed somewhat of a bohemian area — kind of hippy like. Portland
Here is Cam and I at Hawthorne Ave.
So that was our trip. I took plenty of photos to remember it.
Posted by SJ Otto at 6:22 AM
Monday, June 25, 2018
By SJ Otto
As I get older I do what I have always done to relax myself—No! Not going to the bar for beer—OK I do that also, but this is something else. I go out to a park in the country were I can be with nature. I like to swim in the
. And I've heard from a few friends and relatives: "You want to swim with fish poop?!" Walnut River
The water in that river, and many other
rivers, is fairly clear. I take into consideration that fish can't walk out of the water and use a porta potty. Pooping in the water is their only option. I personally enjoy watching the smaller fish swim around, as well as crayfish, cranes, ducks and other forms of water wildlife. Kansas
There is something about being one with nature that I really enjoy. After all, most fish don't have police or foremen to tell everyone what do and how to think. There are natural things all around and none had to be manufactured and paid for. It is all free. The fish and other animals seems to find food on their own and no one sells it to them.
I often get the felling that most people hate nature. Many people I know never venture out into a wooded area that doesn't have toilets and bottled water. Most people kill some kinds of animals, at least insects if nothing else. I kill some insects, such as mosquitoes and roaches, but I don't kill anything that leaves me alone.
Snakes are a real problem for people. I know a lot of people who say they "hate snakes." They don't usually say they hate lizards or turtles. We could assume that part of this is because some snakes are poisonous. But so are a few poison lizards. Maybe most people don't realize that the overwhelming majority of the snakes in this area, in this state, are not poisonous. After all it was a snake that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, and I think that has a lot to do with people's fear of snakes, even for atheists.
And that brings to another reason people seem to hate nature. I constantly hear of men (mostly white guys) who always kill snakes when the find them. They often chop their heads off with a shovel. Maybe they think the woods is safer without snakes, but that just isn't so.
"Several types of snakes live in the area. The only venomous types, copperheads and Massasauga rattlesnakes, are usually found around limestone outcropping and ledges and in fields when they are seeking food or trying to get some sun, he said, and most are just trying to get warm.
The water snakes in this area are not venomous."
And there is this:
“There are good things about snakes,” Charles Lee, extension wildlife specialist at K-State, said. “They are important in the ecology of our world. They do a little bit of feeding on critters like rodents or other small mammals that people may consider undesirable. All species have a value.”
I've noticed fewer snakes in the places I go in the last few years. I appreciate snakes. I like to see and watch them. It is too bad so many people kill them and kill them for no reason.
Snakes aren't the only problem. Many men I know won't swim in a muddy pond because of snapping turtles. Many women I know just won't swim in dirty water. But at least most of these people don't kill the turtles.
There are a lot of white rural men who enjoy going on a so called "coyote hunting." They don't eat these animals and the just want to see how many they can kill in one day. It really isn't hunting at all. It is mass slaughter. I listened the other day to an NPR story about coyote calling/hunting:
" AL MORRIS: They don't want me to hunt. And I want to tell them to go to hell. The reality of it is we're good people. And whether you understand or not, I'm doing something legal. And I really don't care if you like it or not."
As CAMILLA FOX said, in that same article,
"It's gratuitous slaughter, and that's precisely what cockfighting and dogfighting were. And it was up until not too long ago that both those practices were still legal in the
My question is why are rural white people, or maybe white people in general so attracted to killing things with guns. I can understand hunting a deer and eating it. But for many of these white red-necks It is as if they want to go around killing anything that moves, that they can kill legally. I think many of these people follow a culture of death that goes right along with hating nature. If man doesn't control something, many people hate it.
I for one value my time in the forests. I don't need to kill the animals I find in order to enjoy myself. And I think it is a sickness that so many people are attracted to killing things. Living things and the places they like to live have a great beauty that does not need to be killed.
Pix by El Dorado, KS.
Posted by SJ Otto at 8:35 PM