Thursday, January 31, 2008

Who's Left?

Well, there are no liberals left in the nomination races for the Democrats and Republicans (the one major party).

John Edwards was the last contender with a liberal bent. He was also the last candidate with anything resembling an agenda, a plan, and details.

America is sadly left with four conservatives from whom to choose. Four guys whose plan will be to continue the liberalization of America's economy by giving banks, pharmaceutical companies, energy suppliers, military contractors, and media conglomerates the final say on all decision that affect the daily life of Americans, with no governmental oversight.

Clinton is a conservative whose plans to mire us more deeply in Iraq will guarantee her family, and the families of her friends like the Bush family of Texas, huge profits for years to come. She will move more jobs off-shore with the passage of CAFTA. She will restrict abortion in a round-about way by failing to include it in any health care plan she develops.

Obama will not do anything about aboloishing the death penalty, has no plan for the health care crisis, has made it clear that he thinks the sub-prime mortgage problem is the fault of cnosumers and has no plan for relief, will keep us mired in Iraq until his family gets their share of the profits, has no plan to relieve Americans of the rising cost of energy or banking; and he is a Reagan Democrat.

Romney will privatize as much of the federal government as he can, has no plan for managing the war, never met an anti-consumer law he couldn't love passionately, wouldn't know a health-care crisis if he saw it, and will gut what remains of our governmental oversight agencies.

McCain is just scary. Talk about a man with no plan! Holy shit!

Things look bad for the next five years.

Congratulations America! You have allowed the media to determnie who deserves a shot at the Presidency and they have left you with four conservatives!

Now, just go back to your televisions and Super Bowl party preparations, and let the world pass you by.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Wake Up, You're Liberal!
Ted Rall

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pardon The Interruption!

Dick Mac (alive!) will be out of commission for a few days while a minor wrist injury heals.

Use the subscription box in the right-hand column to receive regular notifications of new articles published here.

I expect to be back online by the end of the week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hillary's Connection To Obama's Slumlord Neighbor

Barack Obama won South Carolina in a landslide.

Since Dennis Kucinich has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, I am supporting John Edwards. Although Edwards placed third in South Carolina, I think it is most important that Hillary Clinton lost so handily.

My favorite side story leading up to the South Carolina primary was Clinton accusing Obama of having dealings with a slumlord (see, Obama on Rezko deal: It was a mistake), followed by a blogger publishing a picture of Clinton and her husband posing with the same slumlord (see, Hillary's Slumlord Returns to Haunt Her).

Clinton and her husband really lowered the bar in the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary. Her husband should be ashamed of himself for stooping so low. I know the United States Presidency has been stripped of all its dignity since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, but President Clinton has no business slinging mud the way he has been. I always thought President Clinton might work to restore some dignity to the office, but he is unable to find any dignity.

Congratulations to Barack Obama.

Continued good luck to John Edwards.

And not enough embarrassing things can happen to the Clinton campaign.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Wake Up, You're Liberal!
Ted Rall

Friday, January 25, 2008

WGA Strike Update

I was wondering why I hadn't been hearing anything about the writers strike recently.

So, I made my way over to Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily, the best site for strike updates, and I learned to my surprise that WGA and AMPTP members have resumed talks and agreed to a media blackout!

This message was sent to WGAE and WGAW members from the union's presidents:
We have responded favorably to the invitation from the AMPTP to enter into informal talks that will help establish a reasonable basis for returning to negotiations. During this period we have agreed to a complete news blackout. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion with industry leaders that we hope will lead to a contract. We ask that all members exercise restraint in their public statements during this critical period.

"In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation. Our organizing efforts to achieve Guild representation in these genres for writers will continue. You will hear more about this in the next two weeks.

"On another issue, the Writers Guild, West Board of Directors has voted not to picket the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) face many of the same issues concerning compensation in new media that we do. In the interest of advancing our goal of achieving a fair contract, the WGAW Board felt that this gesture should be made on behalf our brothers and sisters in AFM and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)."

This is good news: the two sides are talking and WGAW will not picket the Grammys.

So, for better or worse, perhaps there will be a Grammys telecast after all.

See the original post here at DHD.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Howard Zinn -
You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Matt Damon, Howard Zinn

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I was so depressed last night I called a suicide hot-line, and my call was answered by a call centre in Pakistan.

I told them I was suicidal.

They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.

Thanks to popbitch.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

28th Annual Razzies Nominations

The Razzies are given to the worst movies and performances of the year, and are awarded the night before the Oscars (which might not have a telecast this year).

According to their website:
Nominees were determined by mailing ballots to 747 voters in 44 U.S. states and 18 foreign countries. The RAZZIES® were created in 1980 as a logical antidote to Tinsel Town’s annual glut of self-congratulations by John Wilson, author of EVERYTHING I KNOW I LEARNED AT THE MOVIES . . .

This years nominations are in:

Worst Picture


Daddy Day Camp

I Know Who Killed Me

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry


Worst Actor

Nicolas Cage

Jim Carrey

Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Eddie Murphy (as Norbit)

Adam Sandler

Worst Actress

Jessica Alba

Logan Browning, Janel Parrish, Nathalia Ramos & Skyler Shaye

Elisha Cuthbert

Diane Keaton

Lindsay Lohan (as Aubrey)

Lindsay Lohan (as Dakota)

Worst Supporting Actor

Orlando Bloom

Kevin James

Eddie Murphy (as Mr. Wong)

Rob Schneider

Jon Voight

Worst Supporting Actress

Jessica Biel

Carmen Electra

Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia)

Julia Ormond

Nicolette Sheridan

Worst Screen Couple

Jessica Alba & Hayden Christensen

Jessica Alba & Dane Cook

Jessica Alba & Ioan Gruffudd

Any Combination of Two Totally Air-Headed Characters

Lindsay Lohan & Lindsay Lohan

Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) & Eddie Murphy (as Mr. Wong)

Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) & Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia)

Adam Sandler & Kevin James

Adam Sandler & Jessica Biel

Worst Remake or Rip-Off

Are We Done Yet?

(A Rip-Off If Ever There Was One!)

Epic Movie
(Rip-Off of Every Movie it Rips Off)

I Know Who Killed Me

Who's Your Caddy
(Rip-Off of CADDY SHACK)

Worst Prequel or Sequel

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

Daddy Day Camp

Evan Almighty

Hannibal Rising

Hostel: Part II

Worst Director

Dennis Dugan

Roland Joffe

Brian Robbins

Fred Savage

Chris Siverston

Worst Screenplay

Daddy Day Camp
Screenplay by Geoff Rodkey and David J. Stem & David N. Weiss

Epic Movie
Written by Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

I Know Who Killed Me
Written by Jeffrey Hammond

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Screenplay by Barry Fanaro and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor

Screenplay by Eddie Murphy & Charles Murphy and Jay Sherick & David Ronn

Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie
New Category!

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem


Hannibal Rising

Hostel: Part II

I Know Who Killed Me

And there you have it! Make your choices and check back at the Razzies site for the results on February 23, 2008!

Oh! And the 80th Annual Academy Award Nominations have been announced, too. See them here.

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Vito Russo

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blog For Choice

Blog for Choice Day

Today is the 35th Anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision.

From Wikipedia:
According to the Roe decision, most laws against abortion in the United States violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings. Roe v. Wade is one of the most controversial and politically significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history. Its lesser-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, was decided at the same time.

The central holding of Roe v. Wade was that abortions are permissible for any reason a woman chooses, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable,’ that is, potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks." The Court also held that abortion after viability must be available when needed to protect a woman's health, which the Court defined broadly in the companion case of Doe v. Bolton. These court rulings affected laws in 46 states.
See Wikipedia entry here.

South Dakota and Mississippi have tried unsuccessfully to ban abortion. In South Dakota, the governor signed a bill banning abortion, but the citizens overturned that ban in a referendum, which shows (yet again) that the majority of Americans support unfettered access to safe and legal abortions. Mississippi's bill failed when the state's senate and house failed to reach a compromise, which shows (yet again) that the majority of elected officials are not really interested in banning a safe medical procedure they know will be replaced with unsafe, illegal procedures.

Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota have since passed laws that will automatically pass into law the moment Roe v. Wade is overturned. These are called trigger laws, and hopefully will be done away with irrespective of the status of Roe v. Wade.

Fortunately, thinking people in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada and Washington, have passed laws protecting the legality of abortion, irrespective of federal mandate.

It is important to vote Pro-Choice. This means viting for a liberal. I recommend John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich, two politicians whose commitment to supporting abortion rights is solid. If you must vote for a more conservative candidate, please consider the black guy over the white woman, but I don't trust either of them with the future of abortion rights (or anything else). If you're a Republican, then Giuliani is your only real choice for a candidate who supports access to abortion (good luck).

NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League, previously known as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, before Roe v. Wade was decided) has been doggedly protecting a woman's right to reproductive freedom since 1969. Please consider a donation to NARAL today. Click here.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Blog for Choice Day

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated by a single gunshot wound to the neck whle standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; and he later died in St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Today we celebrate the birth of Dr. King, who was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.

There are few men who have impacted Western Civilization to the same degree as Dr. King. His place in history is well-deserved and his veneration is underwhelming.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1964, and is considered a hero around the world. Possibly moer outside the United States than he is in his own country.

Those who choose to minimize his imoprtance, or denigrate his legacy, must do so out of ignorance, for he was truly a great man and an example to us all.

if you don't know his story, please read this chronolgy, from the King Center website.
Photo of MLK statue in the nave of Westminster Abbey.  Nicked from the site.  Used without permission.  Forgiveness is begged.

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Gospel According to St. Matthew
Pier Paolo Passolini

Friday, January 18, 2008

Surviving in the Workplace

Caroline Levchuck wrote an article for Yahoo! HotJobs about how to avoid alienating everyone at work. The article listed the top ten ways to " . . . Lose Friends and Alienate Coworkers":

1. Eat stinky snacks.
2. Make endless meeting requests.
3. "Reply to All" all the time.
4. Pump up the volume.
5. Be the office boozehound.
6. Take super-long lunches.
7. "Borrow" magazines or newspapers.
8. Use your manager as a referee.
9. Avoid attending company gatherings.
10. Always have the last word.

I am sometimes guilty of some of these, but thankfully I am never guilty of all of them!

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Barry Manilow

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dental Humor

(Overheard on the Internet)

A man and his wife entered a dentist's office.

The wife said, "I want a tooth pulled. I don't want gas or Novocain because I'm in a terrible hurry. Just pull the tooth as quickly as possible."

"You're a brave woman," said the dentist. "Now, show me which tooth it is."

The wife turns to her husband and says: "Open your mouth and show the dentist which tooth it is, dear."

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Al Tapper

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Drew Carey Helps Out

The Michigan primary was held yestertoday. Who cares? Not me. I'll wait a while before I bother with another primary.

Congress held hearings about drug abuse in baseball, too. I care less about that than the Michigan primary. Maybe I'll write about it again when the assholes who run, and ruin, baseball actually say something important.

More important is a how the Writers Guild of America will pay its bills.

Raising money is always difficult, even when it's for a noble cause.

Unions have to keep money coming in while their members are on strike. Hollywood people might have it easier than others, but it is still a challenge.

I was heartened by this story about Drew Carey at the United Hollywood blog:

WGA and SAG member Drew Carey and the cast of The Armando Show played to a packed house last night at the iO West theater.
Read more.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Wake Up, You're Liberal!
Ted Rall

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baseball Hall of Fame Voting

The results are in and the Baseball Writers Association of America has inducted a solitary player to be enshrined Baseball's Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York.

Baseball is ridiculous in its stinginess to recognize the players who make the game a game.

Rich Gossage (466 votes - 85.8%) was elected.

Jim Rice (392 72.2%), Andre Dawson (358 65.9%), Bert Blyleven (336 61.9%), Jack Morris (233 42.9%), Alan Trammell (99 18.2%), Tim Raines (132 24.3%), and Don Mattingly (86 15.8%), are all players I think should be elected, but failed to get enough votes. Perhaps they will be elected will be next year.

Tim Raines is a marginal call because he was implicated in the cocaine scandal of the 1980s (when we were all caught-up in the cocaine frenzy of the 1980s). Still, his numbers are impressive and I have always been a fan.

Dave Concepcion (88 16.2%), shortstop for Cincinatti's Big Red Machine of the 1970s has exhausted all eligibility and must now wait until the Veterans' Committee approves his enshrinement, which I think they will.

Lee Smith, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Dale Murphy, and Harold Baines, also received votes, and I have mixed feelings about their place in the game's history. Parker was also implicated in the 1980s cocaine scandal.

Mark McGwire (128 23.6%) should not even be on the ballot, if Pete Rose and Joe Jackson are not on the ballot. Here's a guy who used steroids and no matter his heart-felt, neo-liberal testimony to Congress, should be banned from the Hall as long as the ridiculous morals clause is in effect.

Why the baseball hall of fame, which includes such morally upstanding citizens as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Mickey Mantle, even has a morals clause is beyond me! You can be a drunken, racist, womanizer, but you better not have gambled. What?!?!?!?

First-time candidates receiving less than the 5% needed to remain on the ballot include Rod Beck (2), Travis Fryman (2), Robb Nen (2), Shawon Dunston (1), Chuck Finley (1), David Justice (1), Chuck Knoblauch (1), Todd Stottlemyre (1), Jose Rijo (0), and Brady Anderson (0). I am sad to see Todd Stottlemyre receive such little support. The hard-working, good-looking pitcher for the Blue Jays and Athletics was a work-horse and deserved more than a single vote.

Baseball should do away with the non-baseball criteria for being in the hall of fame. The hall is run by Dale Petroskey, one of the most immoral, unAmerican people to walk the sidewalks of New York, and if scum like him is associated with the hall, then a simple drug user should be allowed to associate with the hall, too.

Hall welcomes Gossage into its doors

After Hall of Fame Snub, Tim Raines’s Numbers Bear a Closer Look

Dick Mac Recommends:

Jose Canseco

Monday, January 14, 2008

The NFL Playoffs and A Reason to Celebrate the Failure of Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts

The New England Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, but not as soundly or as handily as expected.

The Green Bay Packers played through snow to beat the always dull Seattle Seahawks.

The lame, gimpy San Diego Chargers upset the always hateful Indianapolis Colts.

And, best of all, the New York Football Giants beat America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to dislike plenty of sports figures. For me, it is easy to dislike so many of them because they are "conservatives" and vote for Republicans. Some take it further.

It's easy to dislike the Cowboys because they are from Texas.

It's easy to dislike the Packers, because they are the team most likely to beat my team.

It's easy to dislike my team (the Patriots) because they are a dynasty in the making and have been caught cheating.

But, the Colts are the easiest to dislike.

According to ESPN and other "news" outlets, Tony Dungy accepted payment to speak about his "values" to the Indiana Family Institute, last March.

Sounds innocuous. Until you learn that the IFI is on the vanguard of denying gay and lesbian Americans equal protection under the law, even as they are expected to pay equal amounts of taxes.

The promotional material for his speech shows him dressed in Colts attire, including NFL logos. I am not surprised to think that the NFL hates homosexuals, but I am surprised that they wuold publcily align themselves with an organization that actively raises money for a political agenda.

Dungy is associating himself with an organization that wants all laws to be defined by "scripture" (that is, their personal interpretation of Judeo-Christian writings), in violation of the United States Constitution.

This makes Dungy a bigot. It makes him an enemy of humanity. It makes him loathesome. So, just in case you were looking for a reason to celebrate the Indianapolis Colts's loss, start with Dungy and his unAmerican agenda to discriminate against homosexuals.

Here are some links:

Colts Dungy Promotes Anti-Gay Agenda, from

Tony Dungy and the Indiana Family Institute, from Sports Media Review

Pro Sports Win Some And Lose Some, at

I have read over the years that many teenage suicides are committed by young homosexuals that are rejected by their families and find themselves alone at a time when they most need love. I don't have statistics about how many teenage suicide victims are homosexuals, but it's a pretty common scenario; and one I've heard so many times.

So, at a time when we are aware of the needs of homosexual teenagers, why would a billion-dollar corporation (the NFL) and one of their stars (Tony Dungy) work so hard to further isolate these marginalized children?

What does the NFL think of teenage suicide? Do they think that supporting an organization like the IFI helps teenagers in crisis?

Does Tony Dungy think the supporting an organization like the IFI is good for America, good for humanity, and good for teenagers in crisis?

What do you think?

Dick Mac Recommends:

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(And So Can You!)

Stephen Colbert

Friday, January 11, 2008

Another Production Company Signs Pact With Writers


David Letterman's Worldwide Pants
Tom Cruise's United Artists
Harvey Weinsteins' The Weinstein Co.

These three independent production companies have agreed to the writers' demands and are now back in production.

General Electric (NBC), Viacom (CBS), Disney (ABC), Time Warner (HBO), and News Corporation (FOX) have no writers.

The Weinstein Co. is the third to sign a pact and I congratulate them for their forward thinking.
Weinstein Co. signs interim pact with WGA
By Claudia Eller
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 10, 2008

The Weinstein Co. is the latest movie outfit to sign an interim deal with the Writers Guild of America, co-founder Harvey Weinstein confirmed in an interview this morning.

The agreement, which is expected to be announced later today, mirrors the pacts that the union recently signed with United Artists -- an independent company controlled by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner -- and with David Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Inc.

Such deals allow companies to hire union writers for their movie and television projects during the strike, which has been underway since early November.

Read more . . .

It is time for the big companies to come back to the negotiating table.

And what incentive could they have?

Well, how about Tom Hanks, one of the darlings of Big Hollywood, and a member of the board of governors of the Academy of Arts and Sciences (the guys who award the Oscars), who has said:

I am a member of the board of governors of the Academy, and we definitely want to put on a great show and honor the films that have come out in the course of the year. I just hope that the big guys who make big decisions, up high in their corporate boardrooms and what not, get down to honest bargaining and everyone can get back to work."

See, TOM TERRIFIC: First Triple-A List Actor Links Fate Of Oscars To Studios Refusal To "Get Down To Honest Bargaining" at Deadline Hollywood.

If Tom Hanks is turning on the big guys, then they are really in trouble. Perhaps they will pay attention to a box-office giant like Hanks.

Or, perhaps they should pay attention to another major Hollywood player:
Hollywood's Triple-A list actors have started becoming integrally involved in trying to solve the Writers Guild strike against the Hollywood CEOs. I've just been told that George Clooney today is volunteering to personally set up a so-called "mediation panel" including himself and with plans to ask Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and John Wells (the executive producer of ER and ex-WGA president) to be part of it, plus 3 or 4 bigwigs who are siding with the producers. The offer came in a phone call today with Harvey Weinstein who promptly volunteered to be part of the panel. Clooney suggested its purpose should be to oversee the talks and tell the WGA as each term is bargained "you have to live with this and get over it," and tell the AMPTP "you have to live with that and get over it", Weinstein quoted George as saying. It's also Clooney's idea that everybody would be locked in the room together and not leave until the deal is done.

See, George Clooney Offers To Set Up "Mediation Panel" To Solve WGA Strike, at Deadline Hollywood.

With these top names speaking-out, can the AMPTP hold out much longer?

On another strike-related note: I have decided to boycott all writers, artists, and performers who crossed picket lines. I will publish a list in the future. I encourage everyone to boycott them, too.

Strike information and resources:

Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily
United Hollywood
WGA Strike News Digest
Variety's WGA Strike Coverage
The Los Angeles Times' Strike Zone
Writers Guild of America, West
Writers Guild of America, East

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crossing The Picket Line

I have been concerned about what constitutes strike-breaking, what makes a person a scab.

I became a fan of a young musician I saw perform on the Letterman show after the Worldwide Pants agreement was signed. I had stopped watching Letterman many years ago, but decided to start tuning-in again because he became the only producer to sign an agreement with the Writers Guild of America, ending the strike against his shows.

Chicago-based Lupe Fiasco performed a duet with indie idol Matthew Santos (from Minneapolis) and it was quite lovely. The band was tight, the singers almost made me swoon, the performance - the interaction between the singers - was top-notch. I was impressed and instantly started a search of how to purchase the song. I wrote about them in my article about the Letterman return. I was really excited.

Excitement turned to agitation when I learned that they would appear on the Jimmy Kimmel show, which was a show still under picket because there was no contract with the writers. Fiasco and Santos were going to cross the picket line, and that is not acceptable to me.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the notion that young artists need to follow the trajectory designed by their agents and publishers if they hope to become stars. But sometimes we are confronted with moral issues that conflict with our professional plans and we are forced to make a decision.

I sent "webmail" to Santos saying that he should not appear and his management company sent me two different excuses about why it was acceptable for his to appear.

Sadly, for everyone involved, Fiasco and Lupe decided to cross the WGA picket line last night and appear on the Kimmel show, which is a failure to honor a very important strike. This was bad news for the writers. The bad news for Fiasco and Santos, from what I have read online, is that only about ten seconds of their performance was aired.

It is difficult to find thoughtful analysis of the strike online. It is easy to find statements from the two sides, but I've had difficulty finding details about the strike's rules. Which means, I have to draw my own conclusions about the veracity of the strike reporting and how the actions of strike-breakers like Fiasco and Santos are perceived by the WGA.

I finally found an article at The Huffington Post that addresses the issue. Jonathan Tasini, a New York labor lawyer and activist, writes about people who appear on shows that aer under strike.

I supported Tasini in his electoral campaign for Senate against Hillary Clinton, because he represents more of my beliefs than Clinton does. This article represents what I admire about him. (I reprint the article in full here, with a link to the source, hoping for forgiveness from the folks at Huffington.)

How Can LABOR People Hurt The Writers Strike?
Jonathan Tasini

Jack London wrote a famous essay about scabs -- those would be the low-lifes who break a strike. Which is what I thought about when I found out yesterday that two people linked closely to the labor movement had crossed the pickets lines of the Writers Guild of America. Follow this story and you will be, hopefully, appalled.

First, to set the tone, here is what London wrote:

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab."

"A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles."

"When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out."

"No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself." A scab has not.

"Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army." The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class."

Technically, a scab is someone who crosses a picket line to take a job from a striker. But, a scab's first-cousin is someone who crosses a picket line in defiance of the damage crossing a picket line does to the leverage workers have when they are on strike. It is as disgusting and reprehensible as literally taking someone's job because the end effect can be the loss of a striker's job.

On Monday, both Jon Stewart's Daily Show and The Colbert Report featured a discussion about the Writers Guild of America's strike against the Big Media.

The Daily Show featured Dean Ron Seeber, who is a full professor of, believe it or not, collective bargaining at Cornell's School of Industrial & Labor Relations. Despite pleas from a wide range of labor representatives, Seeber crossed the picket line; Seeber was, according to a letter circulated by Gene Carroll, Director of Cornells' Union Leadership Program (based in New York City), lobbied by "two union leaders who are Cornell trustees, Bruce Raynor, President of UNITE HERE and Denis Hughes, President of the NYS AFL-CIO, as well as the head of the NYC Central Labor Council, Ed Ott, and the head of the Writers Guild of America east, Mona Mangan." (Ott and Mangan both carry the title of executive director of their respective organizations).

Let me cut right to the chase: for his action, Seeber should be removed from his post as assistant provost of the university.

Why? People have forgotten that the The Wagner Act, which established the framework of collective bargaining, was aimed at "encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection."

The law also provides for the principle of the right to strike, at least in theory. One reason that legitimate collective bargaining is dying in this country is that people really don't have the right to strike anymore. I don't want to get into a long digression here about why workers don't have a real right to strike anymore. But, undermining a strike is unconscionable.

And one way you undermine a strike is by crossing a picket line. It is a statement, not needing any verbal excuse or explanation. It speaks for itself.

Seeber represents an institution that is dedicated to advancing labor relations. By crossing the picket line, Seeber took sides: he helped undermine a strike and, thereby, undermined the fundamental principles inherent in collective bargaining. He cannot continue to serve an institution that presumes to advance labor relations and collective bargaining.

I wrote to Seeber to find out how he justified his actions. He wrote back: "will you print what I write word for word? it is complicated?" I assume he didn't mean to question whether it was complicated...I think he believes it is. I responded: "yes, within reason -- meaning not 3,000 words worth...people won't read that. But nothing to take it out context." I was writing on a Blackberry so my point was: I would represent his full position fairly. I haven't heard back.

I was drinking my morning tea yesterday morning reading The New York Times story on the return of Colbert and Stewart when I came upon this snipped referring to the Colbert Report:

Later, he did separate interviews with two authors who had crossed the picket lines (about 20 strikers gathered outside the theater on West 54th Street): Andrew Sullivan, who discussed an article about Barack Obama that he wrote for The Atlantic, and Richard B. Freeman, a scholar on labor movements who teaches at Harvard.

I understand why Sullivan has no appreciation of what he had done -- and maybe even took a secret delight in doing so -- but Richard Freeman? That had to be a mistake, I thought. His web profile tells us this about Freeman, who is a big academic presence in labor circles with many books about labor: he holds the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. He is currently serving as Faculty Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School. He is also director of the Labor Studies Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Senior Research Fellow in Labour Markets at the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance, and visiting professor at the London School of Economics.

I know Richard. I'm shocked that he would cross a picket line. I cannot imagine that he was unaware that the Writers Guild has been aggressively asking supporters not to cross the picket line. Lord, even celebrities who aren't always the most labor-conscious people have basically respected the picket lines. I wrote him but I have not received a response.

But, I say this with a heavy heart, too: how can Richard continue to serve as a director of a program on Labor and Worklife at Harvard Law School after he has crossed a picket line?

The line has to be drawn. Somewhere. I'd trace that line right between a picket line and the door of the employers.

Following Tasini's analysis, I can only conclude that Fiasco and Santos made a bad choice. It's unfortunate. If they are unwilling to support other workers in the entertainment industry, why should anyone support them?

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

McCain, Clinton, Edwards, Santos, and Fiasco

John McCain won the Republican primary in New Hampshire, and Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic primary. Clinton's narrow victory in a Northeast state is not impressive, but it keeps her very much in the running.

I am surprised by the poor showing of John Edwards in New Hampshire and Iowa, but I can find a silver lining:

Is it possible that Americans are done with Southerners? That Americans are sick and tired of the thinly-veiled phony christus-waving draped in phony flag-waving wrapped in post-Reagan economic terrorism that Southerners of every stripe have promoted the past twenty-five-plus years? That would be a sparkling silver-lining in the otherwise dark cloud that is Edwards' poor showings.

(Edited 1/9/2008 1530)
On the writers strike front: I am disheartened to learn that Lupe Fiasco and Matthew Santos, whose appearance on Letterman I applauded last week, are planning to cross the picket lines at the Jimmy Kimmell show.

I am unsure what this means: are all musicians expected to honor the picket line? Do the writers sympathize with young musicians/performers and exempt them? I am trying to learn more and find out the writers' position on this.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Howard Zinn -
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Matt Damon, Howard Zinn

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Foreign Press To Hold Press Conference; United Artists Agree Deal

. . . or . . . in my attempt to emulate Variety

Foreign Bribes Don't Jibe For Scribes, and Artists Know Best

The Writers Guild of America held out against NBC's efforts to broadcast the Golden Globes Awards, and so the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has decided to announce the winners at a press conference that will be broadcast live. The WGA has given the nod to the press conference broadcast, as it does not violate the strike terms.

According to the press release published at,
the recipients of Golden Globe Awards in 25 categories will be revealed during an hour-long HFPA press conference at The Beverly Hilton to be covered live by NBC News . . .

In other WGA-strike news, United Artists have agreed a side deal with the union so that production can begin on their projects. UA owners Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner officially announced the deal today, that Nikki Finke reported on Friday.

UA minority shareholder MGM is not included in the deal, but that does not stop other major studios from being furious with MGM Chairman Harry Sloan for allowing this UA side deal to be negotiated.

The UA deal, along with the Worldwide Pants deal, shows a chink in the armor of the producers. The producers are completely wrong about this strike and they will lose in the end.

Keep up the good work, WGA!

Added at 0730:
I watched the Late Show With Jon Stewart last night. It was terrible. His guest was a Cornell University professor of Labor Relations. I guess he isn't very expert on labor relations, since he crossed a picket line to appear on the show. Jon Stewart should reconsider his broadcasts. Why is he damaging his previously stellar reputation with these crap broadcasts that make him a scab?

Dick Mac Recommends:

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Screen Actors Guild to Honor Writers' Strike and Snub Golden Globes

According to Associated Press, members of the Screen Actors Guild will not cross picket lines to participate in the Golden Globe awards ceremony scheduled to air on NBC January 13th. This conclusion has been reached after weeks of canvassing members.

Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg said
there appears to be unanimous agreement that these actors will not cross. . . ."

This will be a victory for the writers; but, I assume NBC will force some of their current scabs to participate. Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien have been happy to participate in writer-less television, and I assume they will participate in the Golden Globes telecast, even if there are no actors or actresses to accept the awards.

Now is the time for all the other unions to come to the support of the writers. I am pleased to hear that the 72 actors nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will not cross the picket lines.

I am certain that the SAG decision is far from unanimous. I think there are plenty of conservative and neo-conservative actors whose interest in their union stops at the point when it becomes inconvenient. I am tempted to list the names of actors I think would be happy to cross the picket lines if they were nominated; but I will refrain.

Are there actors, composers, directors, producers or writers that you think would cross the line?

You can see the list of all nominees at the Golden Globe site.

Are you honoring the strike? Are you supporting David Letterman and Craig Ferguson while boycotting Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmell?

Dick Mac Recommends:

Wake Up, You're Liberal!
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Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa Caucuses

8:30 P.M.
Anderson Cooper is reporting from the CNN studio. The blurbs at the bottom of the screen state that entrance polls have Clinton and Obama in a dead-heat for first place in the Democratic caucuses; however, with 5% of the caucuses reporting, John Edwards is leading with 36%.

CNN can't even match the graphics on their screen with the graphics on their board. This is already a bigger joke than I anticipated!

9:10 P.M.
NBC has called the Republican caucuses for Huckabee. CNN has Obama leading the Democratic caucuses with 34%, Edwards with 32% and Clinton 31%.

9:13 P.M.
CNN and CBS have called the Republican caucuses for Huckabee, too. It looks like Mitt Romney's millions have not purchased the caucuses for him.

9:26 P.M.
NBC is calling the Democratic caucuses for Barack Obama; and at 9:29, CNN made the same projection.

9:43 P.M.
85% of Democratic caucuses reporting, Obama has 752 state delegates for 37%, Edwards has 618 state delegates for 30%, and Clinton 615 state delegates for 30%. It's nice to see Clinton at the back of the pack.

10:07 P.M.
94% of Democratic caucuses reporting, Obama has 865 state delegates for 37%, Edwards has 695 for 30%, and Clinton 685 for 30%.

10:15 P.M.
95% of Democratic caucuses reporting, Obama has 879 state delegates for 37%, Edwards 704 30%, Clinton 693 30%. Clinton has slipped a little further back! Hooray!

10:28 P.M.
96% of Democratic caucuses reporting, Obama has 900 state delegates for 38%, Edwards 717 for 30%, and Clinton 706 for 29%. Now Clinton has dropped an important percentage point behind! Like Romney, Clinton's millions are not winning her Iowa!

10:41 P.M.
96% of Democratic caucuses reporting, and now the national delegate assignments are being counted as well. Obama has 910 state delegates for 38% and 16 national delegates, Edwards has 723 state delegates for 30% and 14 national delegates, while Clinton has 711 for 29% for 15 national delegates. I don't quite understand why Clniton gets more national delegates while counting fewer state delegates, but I'm sure there is some convoluted method to explain it.

10:41 P.M.
97% of Democratic caucuses reporting, Obama 911 38% 16, Edwards 724 30% 14, Clinton 713 29% 15.

At 11:00 P.M. Barack Obama delivered his victory speech.

Now the 2008 Presidential Election is underway!

Added at 0758:
Nobody should underestimate the importance of the fact that a black man has won a state that is 95% white; and this in a year where Democratic attendance at the caucuses increased from 124,000 to 227,000. America's desire for change might actually be greater than I anticipated, and might actually be strong enough to change the tide of elections, which tide is usually the purview of the media alone.

If Ameriacns vote their heart and soul, then the media and the conservatives will have little chance of maintaining business as usual.

My question remains: Does Obama really represent change or change of skin color?

Dick Mac Recommends:

Howard Zinn -
You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

David Letterman Brings Back His Writers

Now is the time for me to drop my resentment against David Letterman. I stopped watching him a long time ago because . . . well . . . it doesn't matter why, really.

Today, David Letterman has moved onto my good list. His production company, Worldwide Pants, signed an agreement with the Writers Guild of America, meeting all the union's demands and returning to the airwaves with a vengeance.

The entire focus of the show was discussion of the strike, and Letterman's unwavering support of the writers shone through, sincerely, in every joke.

First highlight: the Top 10 list being read by striking writers from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Conan O'Brien Show, and other local productions, including writer and director Nora Ephron.

Robin Williams was the first guest and he entertained as only he can. Letterman treats men of Williams' stature with a reverence that is palpable, and a liberal of Williams' stature deserves it. He talked about the strike, walking the picket line with the writers, travelling to Iraq and Afghanistan with the USO. He was, of course, hysterical.

Musical act Lupe Fiasco was wonderful and I plan to get their CD. They support the striking writers and we should support Lupe Fiasco.

Craig Ferguson, who is a very funny man, also returned right after Letterman. His show included an appearance by Tim Meadows.

What is most important here is not that the Letterman and Ferguson shows are back, but that the writers union has gotten a production company to agree to their terms, which says to me that the writers' demands must be reasonable.

I do not pretend to understand the arithmetic at the center of the dispute, but if David Letterman can make a deal happen, then others should be able to do the same thing; and those production companies refusing to make the deal are run by the type of people who are destroying America.

I know it is popular in these post-Reagan times to hate unions, but unions are a vital part of the success of American capitalism. Without unions, workers (even non-union workers) are screwed. Everyone who works, should support unions: they brought us the weekend, the 40-hour work-week, holidays, vacation and sick time, health insurance, benefits, and safe working conditions. They have done nothing but good and they deserve our unwavering support.

I watched Letterman and Ferguson because they supported the writers, and I will not watch competitors on CBS or ABC because they are scabs. Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmell, Conan O'Brien: all scabs.

Even if (like me) you don't care for Letterman, tune in to support the writers.

Update at 1009:
Please note that Mike Huckabee, an alleged populist running in the Republican primary for President, crossed a picket line and appeared on The Tonight Show, showing his true colors as a scab. Shame on you, Governor!

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Wife Leaves, Husband Panics, Law Enforcement Agency Makes Poor Choices.

According to Associated Press:

A man whose wife seemingly vanished near a suburban Chicago river only to be found days later with another man across the country said he noticed romantic text messages he didn't send on his wife's cell phone two days after they were married a little more than a year ago.

So, this guy knows his wife is carrying-on with another man. When she runs off, he calls the police because he thinks she has vanished mysteriously.

He goes on to lamely explain:
I gave her a chance because she promised me she would be 100 percent faithful. I completely trusted her. I would never have run away with another girl. I would have tried to work it out."

So, he thinks everyone should be like him.

But the outrage in the story is not that his wife left him for a dalliance (however temporary), the outrage is that:
Authorities are considering whether to file charges against Anu Solanki or make her pay for the cost of the search effort that included underwater divers and helicopters.

Now, abandoning your spouse is grounds for divorce, but I did not know it was grounds for prosecution.

Is it? I don't think so.

If she had abandoned minor children, there might be grounds for criminal charges, but it is likely that it would lead not to criminal charges, but loss of custody.

Law enforcement agencies are alleged to have spent a quarter-of-a-million dollars searching for her. Now they are suggesting that she pay that money? This has got to be one bunch of assholes in Des Plaines, Illinois!

Sure, the husband has grounds for divorce, but the government does not have grounds for punishing the woman. If this idiot of a husband can't figure out that his wife is cheating on him, after reading romantic text messages on her cell phone within days of their marriage, then the only person who should be punished is him!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Soccer in 2007

In 2007:

The Iraq national team was crowned champions of Asia.

The United States national team won the CONCACAF (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) Gold Cup championship.

Brazil won the Copa America and the Confederations Cup.

Boca Juniors, of Argentina, won the Copa Libertadores.

Manchester United was crowned champions of England.

Real Madrid was crowned champions of Spain (La Liga) after the final match of the season.

AC Milan was crowned the Champions of Italy's Serie A, the Champions of Europe and won the FIFA World Club Championship. I guess this means that AC Milan was the best club in the world in 2007.

Houston Dynamo was crowned champions of MLS.

David Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy. Becks and his wife, Victoria, took America by storm and have settled nicely in Los Angeles.

Juan Pablo Angel joined Red Bull New York, to become part of the crop of first-rate international players to join Major League Soccer, in 2007. The others, Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Chicago Fire), and Luciano Emilio (D.C. United) all had a major impact on their teams, even if they did not deliver a championship. I pray that more international stars will join MLS and help increase the league's standing in the international market.

Jose Mourinho left Chelsea F.C. of the English Premier League after guiding them to two titles. It was believed that he would take over as England manager when Sven Goren Eriksson stepped down, but that job went to Fabio Capello,

Eriksson took over Manchester City F.C. and have turned them into a success story.

What did your club or country do?

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 Obituaries

Here is a list of famous and infamous people who died in 2007. May they rest in peace.

Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, 54
Michael Kidd, choreographer, 92
Oscar Peterson, jazz pianist, 82
Dan Fogelberg, singer, 56
Ike Turner, musician, 76
Evel Knievel, Daredevil, 69
Sean Taylor, athlete, 24
Kevin DuBrow, Quiet Riot singer, 52
Ira Levin, 'Rosemary's Baby' author, 78
Delbert Mann, 'Marty' director, 87
Dick Wilson, character actor, TV's "Mr. Whipple", 91
Peter Viertel, novelist and screenwriter, 86
Peter Zinner, film editor, 88
Norman Mailer, author, 84
Barbara West Dainton, Titanic survivor, 96
George Osmond, Osmond family patriarch, 90
Lillian Ellison, professional wrestler 'Fabulous Moolah', 84
Friedman Paul Erhardt, TV's "Chef Tell", 63
Robert Goulet, singer, 73
Porter Wagoner, country music legend, 80
Joey Bishop, 'Rat Pack' comedian, 89
Deborah Kerr, actress, 86
Teresa Brewer, singer, 76
Lois Maxwell, actress, 80
Marcel Marceau, mime legend, 84
Brett Somers, 'Match Game' quipster, 83
Alice Ghostley, 'Bewitched' actress, 81
Rex Humbard, televangelist, 88
Madeleine L'Engle, author, 88
Marcia Mae Jones, actress, 83
Jane Wyman, actress, 93
Johnny Hart, cartoonist, 76
Alex, Renowned African Grey Parrot, 31
Luciano Pavarotti, famed opera tenor, 71
Hilly Kristal, rock club founder, 75
Jose Luis de Vilallonga, actor, 87
Michael Jackson, beer critic, 65
Alfred Peet, coffee pioneer, 87
Leona Helmsley, hotelier and 'queen of mean', 87
Max Roach, legendary jazz drummer, 83
Phil Rizzuto, Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop, 89
Merv Griffin, entertainment impresario, 82
Michelangelo Antonioni, Italian filmmaker, 94
Bill Walsh, football coach, 75
Tom Snyder, 'Tomorrow' talk show host, 71
Ingmar Bergman, film director, 89
Tammy Fay Bakker Messner, Televangelist, 65
Charles Lane, actor, 102
Lady Bird Johnson, first lady, 94
Doug Marlette, 'Kudzu' cartoonist, 57
Chris Benoit, pro wrestler, 40
George Melly, jazz singer, 80
Bill Pinkney, Drifters singer, 81
Beverly Sills, opera diva, 78
Joel Siegel, 'Good Morning America' movie critic, 63
Hank Medress, 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' singer, 68
Don Herbert, television's 'Mr. Wizard', 89
Charles Nelson Reilly, actor & 'game-show fixture', 76
Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., 51
Jerry Falwell, television minister & Moral Majority founder, 73
Wally Schirra, astronaut, 84
Tommy Newsom, 'Tonight Show' backup bandleader,78
Tom Poston, comic actor, 85
Bobby 'Boris' Pickett, 'Monster Mash' singer, 69
Jack Valenti, president of the MPAA, 85
Michael Smuin, dancer & choreographer, 68
Kitty Carlisle Hart, 'To Tell the Truth' celebrity panelist, 96
Brant Parker, 'Wizard of Id' cartoonist, 86
David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, 73
Boris Yeltsin, Russian President, 76
Barry Nelson, actor, 89
Don Ho, 'Tiny Bubbles' singer, 76
Roscoe Lee Browne, actor, 81
Kurt Vonnegut, novelist, 84
Stan Daniels, TV writer & producer, 72
Johnny Hart, 'B.C.' cartoonist, 76
Mark St. John, KISS guitarist, 51
Bob Clark, 'A Christmas Story' director, 67
Betty Hutton, actess and singer, 86
Buck Jones, singer, 33
Luther Ingram, singer, 69
Calvert DeForest, Letterman's Larry 'Bud' Melman actor,85
Stuart Rosenberg, 'Cool Hand Luke' director, 79
Gareth Hunt, 'New Avengers' actor, 65
Bowie Kuhn, commissioner of Major League Baseball, 80
Richard Jeni, standup comedian, 45
Walker Edmiston, actor, 81
Herman Brix, Olympian and actor, 100
Brad Delp, musician, 55
John Inman, actor, 71
Ernest Gallo, Billionaire winemaker, 97
Thomas F. Eagleton, United States senator, 77
Clem Labine, athlete, 80
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.,historian and presidential assistant, 89
Ian Wallace, musician, 60
Damien Nash, athlete, 24
Lamar Lundy, athlete, 71
Lothar-Guenther Buchheim, author, 89
Ryan Larkin, animator, 63
Robert Adler, television remote control inventor, 93
Ray Evans, songwriter, 92
Mary Kaye, Singer and guitarist, 83
Janet Blair, actress, 85
Dennis Johnson, athlete and coach, 52
Anna Nicole Smith, Playmate & reality TV star,39
Frankie Laine, 'Rawhide' singer, 93
Gian Carlo Menotti, opera composer, 95
Tige Andrews, actor, 86
Eric von Schmidt, singer, 75
Liz Renay, model, actress, felon and stripper, 80
Joe Hunter, musician, 79
Molly Ivins, author and columnist, 62
Sidney Sheldon, best-selling author, 89
Louis Malcolm Boyd, "Grab Bag" columnist, 79
Emanuele Luzzati, Director, 85
Brent Liles, Social Distortion bassist, 43
E. Howard Hunt, key Watergate figure, 88
Scott "Bam Bam" Bigelow, professional wrestler, 45
Art Buchwald, columnist, 81
Denny Doherty, singer and songwriter, 66
Ron Carey, actor, 71
Benny Parsons, NASCAR champ, 65
Darlene Conley, soap opera actress, 72
Alice Coltrane, jazz performer and composer, 69
Michael Brecker, saxophonist, 57
Carlo Ponti, film producer, 94
"Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, musician and artist, 72
Yvonne De Carlo, 'Munsters' actress, 84
Bobby Hamilton, NASCAR driver, 49
Iwao Takamoto, animator, 81
Tillie Olsen, Feminist Writer, 94
Garry Betty, CEO, 49
Frank Campanella, character actor, 87
Momofuku Ando, inventor of instant noodles, 96
Gasper, whale, 17
Nikki Bacharach, daughter of songwriter Burt Bacharach, 40

And a special acknowledgment to my uncle, John Lespasio, who passed away in 2007

Primary source, Deathwatch Central