Friday, January 20, 2017

Melbourne Attack

#BREAKING:  Eyewitness of #MelbourneAttack says driver shouted "Allahu Akbar". Assumed terrorist drove car into crowd near the Bourke Street Mall. At least three (some reports say five) killed, including a baby, and over 20 injured. January 19, 2017, local time.

The thin man was hanging out the car window screaming, "Allahu Akhbar, Allahu Akhbar, Allahu Akhbar!"

Apparently tentatively identified as a Greek male who has converted to Islam. May have Kurdish ties, as well.

The attack reminds commentary observers of the attacks in Nice and Berlin, and the ongoing series of car rammings of groups of people in Israel.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Death, Immolation, and the Inauguration

Death may be knocking on the doorsteps of Donald Trump's Inauguration as the 45th President on Friday, January 20, 2017.

It appears to be a time when the unexpected may surprise those who wish to have things so well-ordered and planned.

This was a special week in January 1989 called "Palach Week." It marked the beginning of the end of Communism in Czechoslovakia, and the Velvet Revolution. There is a powerful documentary made in 2014, Agnieszka Holland’s Burning Bush (image above is from that film) that chronicles those times. The title has many meanings, of course.

Self-immolations have a way of changing the course of history, as the form of protest is so powerful, radical and shocking.

The Burning Bush

Concidentially, another kind of Bush may be important in the midst of this upcoming very political American weekend.

On Wednesday, January 18, 2017, the 41st President George H. W. Bush was admitted to the intensive care unit at Houston Methodist Hospital to address an acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia. Bush underwent a procedure to clear his air passages. His wife Barbara, furthermore, was hospitalized as a precaution.

The 36th President Lyndon Baines Johnson died on January 22, 1973, two days after Richard Nixon was sworn in for this 2nd term. Johnson's death disrupted Nixon's "celebration" of the start of what would be his shortened term, and LBJ's state funeral was held on January 25, 1973.

In an era of wall-to-wall media, the death of George H. W. Bush would be an auspicious beginning for Trump's first term.

Immolations 2017

Two reports of self-immolations (suicides by fire) in which both people lived surfaced yesterday. One is directly related to Trump's assuming power.

On Tuesday night, January 17, 2017, a man set himself on fire outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
DC Fire and EMS received a call at 9:23 p.m. about an individual trying to place himself on fire.
"We did arrive and did find a male adult with burns and we transported that patient to an area hospital with potential but not life-threatening burns," DC Fire and EMS Department spokesman Vito Maggiolo told CNN Wednesday. The man attempted to start the small blaze outside the Trump hotel but was burned badly in the process and taken to a hospital for treatment.

The 45-year-old man, who has not yet been identified, said the act was in protest of the President-elect's looming inauguration, Daily Mail reports said.

Witnesses described how he yelled 'Trump' several times as 'flames ran up his back' before lying down in the street.

Also on Tuesday night, January 17, 2017, another self-immolation occurred, this one in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Union Leader reported:
Officials said a pair of passers-by came to the aid of a man who tried to immolate himself in a city parking lot Tuesday night, using jackets and snow from the ground to put out the fire.

Police and fire said they received the report of the unidentified man on fire just before 10:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Headlines store at 37 East Hollis St.

According to a press release from the Nashua Fire Department, the man had just purchased gasoline from a nearby gas station, poured it over his head and ignited himself.

The Fire Department said the man suffered burns over at least 20 percent of his upper torso, but was conscious and breathing. He was taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.

January 1969

In my book Suicide Clusters (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987), I revisited how Prague and immolations were keys in overturning Communism. Here is my summary from a later work.
Jan Palach, a student at Charles University in Prague, startled passersby by pouring a liquid over his body at about 3 P.M. on January 16, 1969, and then setting himself ablaze. The twenty‑one‑year‑old student chose the statue of Wenceslas, the Czech hero saint, as the site of his protest in Prague. Palach had left a note declaring that he belonged to a group whose members planned to self‑incinerate themselves, one every ten days, until the Soviet troops departed. Palach's protest and death three days later got worldwide media coverage with others following his lead.

On January 20, 1969, crowds of people waving the Czechoslovak state flags, black flags and enlarged photographs of Jan Palach, gathered at the spot of Palach’s suicide. In the Philosophical Faculty building, the clocks were stopped so they showed the exact time of Palach's death (3:15 P.M.). Josef Hlavaty then self-immolated himself just as Palach had. Two days later, on January 22, Miroslav Malinka killed himself through suicide by fire, and Blanka Nachazelova suffocated herself with coal gas. On the day of the Palach funeral, Hlavaty died. 
In the next well-publicized suicide, Jan Zajic, an 18-year-old student at a vocational school in Sumperk, set himself on fire on February 25, 1969. Before his death, he gave his friends a poem about Palach and four letters, in which he described himself as “Torch no. 2.” He did it in Prague in the passageway of a building on Wenceslas Square, as he was trying to run to the statute, but he fell in flames and died there. He said he decided to immolate himself after seeing that life was returning to its old routine despite Palach's action.

On April 4, 1969, in another square, this time in the southeastern Bohemian city of Jihlava, Evzen Plocek, 40, set himself on fire. At least 26 people attempted suicide between January 20 and the end of April 1969, with at least seven of these dying by fire in Czechoslovakia, Scotland, and Hungary after Palach's death. Reports of seven other fatal self-immolations came from India, Pakistan, England, and the United States. ~ The Copycat Effect, (NY: New York, 2004).
Self-immolations, exactly 20 years later, in 1989, set off the overthrow of the Iron Curtain throughout the Eastern Block.

The self-immolations in the Arab Spring changed the political landscape, once again.


“Hold on—that’s a trash fire. Over there is Trump’s Inauguration speech.”

The above (by coincidence) is The New Yorker's Daily Cartoon (by Tom Toro) for January 18, 2017.

Thanks to Sarah N. P. for the 2017 news tips. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

McDonald's, The Donald, and a Dingo: The Darkness of the Golden Globes

During the 74th Golden Globes, Jimmy Fallon did a strange sync introduction for Michael Keaton. Meanwhile, Meryl Streep's appearance tied into a linked death in Australia (discussed at the end, below).

As to Jimmy Fallon's roundly criticized opening, no one but Fallon may be sure why he used some of the dots he connected, but it went something like this:

(Note how the Golden Arches appear as if wings behind Keaton.)

Fallon said:
Our next presenter stars in the new movie The Founder about McDonald's
-> McDonald's
-> Donald Duck
-> Ducktails
-> Tailspin
-> Spinoff
-> Off road
-> Abbey Road
-> bringing you back to the Beatles
-> Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice
-> Say my name, say my name
-> Three times
-> Only going to say it once

Donald Duck

Duck tails (tales)

Tailspin (Tale spin)



Abbey Road



Beetlejuice/Michael Keaton/Batman





"Meryl Streep was honored at the Golden Globes for a lifetime of notable work, and she took the opportunity to make a sustained attack on US President-elect Donald Trump.
In a nearly 6-minute address while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award, the actress denounced Trump's campaign rhetoric and criticized him for mocking a disabled reporter," as CNN reported.

Streep and Trump's tweet response ("Meryl Streep is overrated") was the worldwide news coming out of the Golden Globes. 

But on the other side of the world, a strange death sync occurred.

Michael Chamberlain, the father of baby Azaria, who was snatched by a dingo at Uluru (near the base of Ayers Rock) in 1980, has died at the age of 72.

The disappearance of Azaria prompted one of Australia’s longest-running legal court cases, in which Azaria's parents were both imprisoned for a few years. It was the subject of the 1988 film A Cry in the Dark (known in Australia as Evil Angels), starring Meryl Streep as Azaria's mother Lindy. Michael Chamberlain was played by Sam Neill.

Meryl Streep's acting in Evil Angels/A Cry in the Dark led to many nominations, including by the AACTA (now AFI) Awards, Academy Awards, Cannes Film Festival, NY Film Critics, and Golden Globes. She won the AACTA, Cannes, and NY Film Critics awards for Best Actress for her role in the movie. Sam Neill was nominated by AACTA for playing Chamberlain, for which he won as Best Actor.

As one review of A Cry in the Dark noted, at the time it was released:
Helping to whip up the hysteria were newspaper and television reporters. The parents were faulted for not having seemed more distraught immediately after the baby disappeared. The public wanted more tears, more visible signs of grief and torment. The Chamberlains were noticeably ''different,'' possibly because they belonged to what the reporters referred to as a ''cult.'' There were even suggestions the baby had been the victim of a ritual sacrifice. ~ The New York Times
As shared by one correspondent:
Interesting that the original movie was called Evil Angels, and that Sam Neill's [who played Chamberlain in Evil Angels] first major starring role was as the Antichrist in Omen 3.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Fort Lauderdale Shooting: Star Wars vs Star Trek

A deadly shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) has left 5 dead and 8 injured.

A law enforcement source identified the accused shooter as Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, 26, of New Jersey. The source said the recent father had an active military ID for the U.S. Army. Ruiz was part of the Alaska Army National Guard until August 2016 when he was discharged for unsatisfactory performance.

[In Spanish the meaning of the name Esteban is "crowned in victory." Santiago, (also San Iago, San Tiago, Santyago, Sant-Yago, San Thiago) is a Spanish name that derives from the Hebrew name Jacob (Ya'akov) via "Sant Iago," "Sant Yago," "Santo Iago," or "Santo Yago," first used to denote Saint James the Great, the brother of John the Apostle. Ruiz is a patronymic surname meaning "son of Ruy," a short form of the given name Rodrigo. Rodrigo derives from the Germanic name Roderick (Hrodric), from the elements hrod, meaning "renown" and ric, meaning "power." Ruiz is the 21st most common Hispanic surname.]

The shooter claimed his bag at the baggage claim area then took the gun from his bag before going into a bathroom and loading his weapon. He then reportedly came out of the bathroom and began shooting people in the baggage claim area. The accused shooter apparently ran out of bullets and sat down on the ground and waited for law enforcement to come and collect him.

Sources say he had a concealed weapons permit. The source added he had a minor criminal and psychological history.

Law Enforcement sources told CBSNews that in Nov. 2016, he walked into an FBI office in Anchorage, AK claiming he was being forced by the CIA to fight for ISIS but was sent to a psychiatric hospital after police was called. In 2011 or 2012, he was investigated for child porn. Three weapons and a computer were seized but there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.

"The gunman was reportedly wearing Star Wars shirt at the time of the shooting," stated several media sources.

But a view of one of the blurry photographs of his arrest shows the shirt might be a Star Trek shirt.

Authorities said the gunman opened fire around 1 p.m. in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.

“People yelling, people screaming, everyone in a big pack just running as far as possible away from the shots. Our bus driver wasn’t sure what was going on, he was asking, ‘What’s happening? What’s going on?’ But no one was answering because everyone was in a rush to get safe,” said a traveler named Ben who was at the airport grabbing a shuttle when the shooting happened.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Little People Lost: 2016

In a year of seemingly so many giants of Hollywood and music dying suddenly or shockingly, let us pause to remember the "Little People" often forgotten who we lost too.

For as long as show business has existed, little people have been delighting audiences — usually for the wrong reasons. In the early 1800s, they were billed as "midgets" and put on display alongside oddities like the "Feejee Mermaid" in dime museums, precursors to freak shows that served as entertainment for the unwashed masses.
The politically correct term is "little people," abbreviated to "LPs." "Dwarf" is acceptable, the plural being "dwarfs" — not "dwarves" (which conjures Tolkien or Snow White's pals). "Midget" long has been considered offensive, referred to by many LPs as "the M-word." ~ Seth Abramovitch, "Little People, Big Woes in Hollywood: Low Pay, Degrading Jobs and a Tragic Death," Hollywood Reporter, August 25, 2016.


Kim Tripp, 32, starred as the little people's "Mini Kim Kardashian" at Beacher's Madhouse in Las Vegas and Hollywood Roosevelt. She was found dead on the porch of her Las Vegas apartment, on Saturday, March 20, 2016.


Michu Meszaros, 76, the diminutive actor behind the beloved sitcom character Alf (1986), died following a stroke, on June 12, 2016. Standing at 2 feet, 9 inches, he was well-known in the skills of juggling, acrobatics and pantomime in Hungary, and brought to the United States in 1973. He was a performer formerly known as “Michu, the smallest man in the world," as a member of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Besides ALF, Meszaros played Hans in Waxwork (1988), Andy in Big Top Pee-Wee (1988), Augusto in Warlock: The Armageddon (1993), and Leprechaun in Death to Cupid (2015).


Kenny Baker, the British actor who gave life to the droid R2-D2 in the Star Wars films, died at the age of 81, on Saturday, August 13, 2016. He had been ill for years, with a lung condition. Baker, who was 3 feet, 8 inches, told his family he did not expect to live past his teen years because he was a "little person," so "it is amazing he lived this long," said his niece.

Up until his final moments, Baker was in good spirits and was watching the Olympics on television.
Besides appearing as R2-D2 in ten Star Wars and aligned films, Baker was in many movies, including Circus of Horrors (1960), Flash Gordon (1980), The Elephant Man (1980), Time Bandits (1980), Amadeus (1984), Labyrinth (1986), Willow (1988), and U.F.O. (1993).

FILE PICTURE - Martin Henderson Jr from Milborne Port in Somerset the dwarf who rose to worldwide fame five years ago after he was cruelly tossed by a drunken Rugby fan has died. See SWNS story NNDWARF; Martin Henderson, 42, suffered serious injuries in the prank which was blamed on the notorious antics of the England rugby team. His story went around the world when Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage asked fans to Google his name during his Golden Globes victory speech in January 2012. But sadly 4ft 2in Martin, from Milborne Port, Somerset., reportedly died a few months ago, according to his former partner. Rebecca Henderson - who had been in a relationship with Martin - confirmed he had died. Martin's name was trending worldwide on Twitter in 2012 thanks to fellow dwarf actor Peter Dinklage.

A dwarf, who shot to fame in 2011 after being cruelly tossed by a rugby fan in a bar, died earlier in 2016, according to media reports of December 19, 2016. The 4 ft, 2 inches tall Martin Henderson, 42, who played a goblin in Harry Potter, was left with serious injuries following the incident, while he was out celebrating his 37th birthday.

The attack was blamed on the notorious antics of the England rugby team. It came one month after star Mike Tindall and several of his teammates admitted attending a "dwarf tossing" event in a New Zealand bar.

Henderson’s story went worldwide and his name trended on Twitter after Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage asked fans to Google him during his Golden Globes victory speech in January 2012. Drinklage said: “I want to mention a gentleman I’m thinking about in England, his name is Martin Henderson. Google him.”


The actor Michael J. Anderson did not die in 2016. But some are saying he performed professional suicide with this claims against David Lynch.

The Year 2017 may be personified by the broadcast of Twin Peaks. Has Michael J. Anderson's Hollywood self-destruction late in 2016 already spelled the vanishing of "The Man from Another Place" in the revival of the series?

On August 10, 2016, as one online journal wrote:

In an astonishing online attack, Twin Peaks cult actor Michael J. Anderson has unleashed a disturbing barrage of hate-filled vitriol on esteemed filmmaker David Lynch’s reputation. The ‘revelations’ were posted up by ‘Little Mike’ on his Facebook profile photo.
It reads: “He totally did NOT rape his own under-age daughter and then write a television series about it. She totally has NOT lived under a DEATH THREAT from her own father, all her life if she ever told. He NEVER had his “best friend” murdered. And he DEFINITELY NEVER suggested to me that I should kill myself! There’s a whole bunch of other stuff he never did either.”

Whom did I miss?