This has been my first opportunity to read a book as heavily redacted as this. That’s okay, this edition has a lengthy afterword by progressive journalist Laura Rozen to fill in the blanks. For instance, ms. Plame’s decision to become a NOC officer in the CIA.
If you recall from the first Mission: Impossible movie, a list of NOC agents was up for grabs which would’ve released their actual names to the spy world. In a crude inversion of life imitating cinema, what Tom Cruise was trying to prevent in that movie was exactly what Scooter Libby and Vice President Dick Cheney did to Valerie Plame.
Evidently the CIA has no romance in its heart either, as her courtship and marriage to Ambassador Joseph Wilson was deemed too sensitive to declassify. I’m still trying to get it in my head how the particulars of their relationship would be damaging to US foreign relations and intelligence gathering.
I’m grateful ms. Plame wrote this book. It’s a refreshing reminder to those seeing George W. Bush in a revisionist light, that his administration was just as corrupt as the current one. That his actions regarding Iraq and the Wilsons in particular were nothing less than pure evil. And I am frustrated that no one was held to account, that what Libby and senior Bush officials did in outing ms. Plame was an act of TREASON. Read it. It’s essential.
“Rocket Man ” was the first Elton John song that I fell in love with. It wasn’t even mine, my brother Kenny bought it, god rest his soul. The first single I bought on my own was “Daniel”, which I traded away. I guess I was disappointed at the time because it wasn’t a rocket like lot of his stuff was. Today I can say, “you IDIOT, why would you give that record away? It was a great song!” Maybe I share Elton’s lack of judgement; in his recent book Me, he admits that he thought “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me ” was a terrible song: funny how things will look so different in retrospect.
He was fortunate to have ‘come out ‘ in 1967, the very year that the UK struck down its law making homosexuality illegal. Or we should say he was Found out by his boss Long John Baldry: “Oh come on, don’t you know you’re gay?”(or words to that effect).
It never bothered me that Elton was bi or gay or whatever. I just loved the music, his preferences were his own business. Gay wasn’t a thing people talked about when I was growing up, at least not around me, so I didn’t have a chance to be indoctrinated by anybody’s paranoid ravings. It’s just funny now. For instance I always liked Queen from the beginning and I never got the gay reference in their very name. Didn’t know, didn’t care. Those fellas could still rock.
Elton’s early records came out on the Uni label, a division of MCA Records, which is how his early singles like “Rocket Man ” looked like that in America but by the time “Daniel ” came along everything was on that black MCA label.
Oddly enough the songs I listened to first weren’t actually sung by Elton. “Lady Samantha” was a song I loved and picked up on my dad’s Three Dog Night record from 1969, ‘Suitable For Framing “. I remember we were at his cabin in Lake Land Village, a development over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge near Allyn, Washington. Three Dog Night was also the first band I heard doing “Your Song ” on an album I got for Christmas of 1971, “Golden Biscuits “. Elton’s version was already a year old by then.
Of course he was also notable for announcing that he was retiring, and then coming right out of retirement a few months later. For some reason retirement just didn’t seem to take with Elton. The first time he said that was 1976 or ’77: didn’t last long. He’d be in a slump for a while but that was okay: he’d give himself a jumpstart like his live Melbourne shows in ’86 or ‘The Lion King ‘ soundtrack.
Maybe I also liked Elton because he wore glasses. So did John Denver but see the thing was, in the 1970s glasses were not sexy. I always wore glasses and I was never good at sports at any level of schooling. If you wore glasses, you were a four eyes: if you couldn’t play ball, you were a faggot–sorry, their words.
Elton wore ’em, so did John Lennon. Not only that but Elton made them a fashion statement. He had a gift for flamboyance unmatched in the rock world, which is saying something considering it was par for the course with acts like David Bowie and KISS on the loose. I always appreciated Elton’s music and his example, and I thought I’d say so now.
The foregoing was inspired by Elton John ‘s 2019 biography Me, published by Henry Holt and Company.
[Hello there. This was something I scribbled one night for a project that may or may not ever come to fruition, bringing together all my female characters. Just for the hell of it I’m throwing it out here. See what you think. Enjoy.–Mike.]
She pushed herself up from the pile of bodies, wrinkling her nostrils against the sulfar stench wafting up from the lowlands. She stood tall, her cinammon-skin already damp with perspiration. Someone had thoughtfully provided a tight pair of snakeskin trunks, while leaving her feet bare. Next time, she mused, I get to pick my outfit.
Perhaps it was still night, Jamai thought. Somehow she knew this purple skyline with her roiling storm clouds had always been so. All it needed was a cliché bolt of–
“Holie!” And here it comes, grounded to the lightning rod her small companion thrust into the catwalk at the last second. A blinding flash illuminated her in white silhouette, but in all respects she appeared unharmed.
“Hah! Take that, you dinkoff! Nobody beats science around here!” After taking one quick around, she added to herself, “God willing.” None the less, her khaki shorts and dingy white safari blouse appeared undamaged.
“Well played, sister,” Jamai smiled, taking Kiana Richards’ hand.
“It was nothing special,” Kiana shrugged, flicking her neck-length auburn hair back from her face. “These things were just lying on the catwalk. It just seemed like the thing to do. One question…”
“Yes. Where are we?”
“Exactly where you need to be,” another voice intruded. Another sister. Her bootsteps rattled on the catwalk’s struts, shaking the fragile structure and sending sympathetic shivers through all their bodies. The violet skinsuit graced all her best features, while the window cut into the chest fabric did nothing to hide her globes.
“Lianna,” Jamai nodded.
Kiana did the same, adding, “This is gonna get confusing fast. So tell me, we were all called together for a reason, or fell out of time or some crap?”
“No need to get snarky, red.” A collective startle jumped up into their hearts as they jerked to the right. Another blonde like Lianna crouched on the handrail, honey-tinged this time. But even in this dank light she was pale beyond reason, the tips of her fangs dimpling the corners of her lips. Leather cloaked her from those wetlook leggings to the slinky coat on her back. “Hi there. I’m Vye.” Nudging Jamai’s forearm, she said, “Hi again, bosoms. Been a while.”
To the others she said this. “It’s probably appropriate that I’m here at least. Take a look down.”
Her gaze angled over the rail. Together the three of them joined Vye in peeking twenty stories down to the field of lava breathing acrid fumes below. A dark crust formed over a large proportion of the landscape, but there remained bubbling honeypots oozing fresh magma. And towards the east, from their position at least, there heaved a maw filled with stalactite teeth, wide enough to gorge on an elephant.
“Let me guess,” Kiana whistled. “That’s the devil himself.”
“I’m going for something more general,” Vye replied. “Evil from before the dawn of time.”
“And what say you, Godwalker?”
This was getting to be such a regular occurrence, the ladies simply joined in a mutual sag, then turned to greet the new intruders. Apparently this was to be the first man on their team, a husky fellow in buckskin breeches and waistcoat over a plain white shirt, with moccasins and a leather sash girding his Bowie knife.
“Welcome, Jeremiah,” Lianna grinned. “You’re just in time. Bring the reinforcements?” He nodded.
As the portal opened wide behind him, Kiana asked, “Excuse me. Godwalker?” “Just a nickname,” Lianna squirmed.
“You don’t say,” Jamai queried with her raised eyebrows.
Throwing up her hands, Lianna elaborated. “All right, I may have met some Hindu gods, and they were kind to me…”
“Hah! More like they fondled you!” Vye laughed.
“So wait…are we all…dead?” Kiana whispered.
“Only some of us, lass!” spoke the tall Irish beauty striding from the portal, flowing skirt trailing her. Beside her a girl of Chinese-American descent practically skipped to keep pace. Besides her TV-Western cowboy outfit, she also lugged a Santa Claus-sized bag across her right shoulder.
The flaming red Irish woman shook all their hands in turn. “Top of the day, lasses. I’m Caitlan, this poor we’en is my partner, Fong. As ye can see, television has thoroughly corrupted her.”
“Sez you,” Fong’s higher pitched voice laughed. “I got the gear.” She looked toward Jamai and smiled. “Hi, Granny!”
Six pairs of eyes at various heights swiveled to a suddenly bashful Jamai. “It’s an affectionate appellation…ohh!” Any shy feelings evaporated as Caitlan and Fong both swept in for a hug.
Lianna harumphed, drawing their attention. “Okay, we all know each other…most of us. We’re all connected in some way. We’re all sisters. A-and brother,” she noted, waving a hand to Jeremiah.
“We’ve all experienced our days of terror, all looked into the face of damnation. I can’t force you to do this, but…that thing down there represents a power even the gods are a little nervous about. We all have our powers, all have our own little gifts, and that’s going to come in handy in the next few minutes. So, I’m asking you, will you stand with me?” As she spoke, so she circulated among the gathered, touching each of her allies with a gloved hand. Those hands were now open, beckoning.
“We’re gonna need a way down there,” Vye commented.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Fong huffed, dropping the bag onto the catwalk. Reaching inside with both small hands, she distributed a rocket pack to each of her fellow warriors. Each one of them fastened the gear as though they’d done this before, like they’d done this all their lives.
“All we need now,” said Kiana cheerily, “is Gail Simone to lead us.”
“Maybe next time,” Fong chipped in.
“Ready, Godwalker?” Jeremiah smiled.
“Don’t call me that,” Lianna moaned. As the smallest, Vye and Kiana bunched on the rails, ready to push off. Everyone else dropped to a runner’s crouch, ready to watch Lianna’s back.
“Okay,” she called, “Let’s go!”
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.
Mike’s Amazon page:
A team led by Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard has found 20 new moons orbiting Saturn. This brings the ringed planet’s total number of moons to 82, surpassing Jupiter, which has 79. The discovery was announced Monday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. Each of the newly discovered moons is about five kilometers, or […]
The harvest of Beatlemania of 1964 continued with their third Capitol album in a seventh-month period, Something New, a title which wasn’t that true at all. To summarize, The Beatles’ Second Album had only been released on April 10. The United Artists’ version of A Hard Day’s Night (US) was an abridged version of the original Parlophone (UK) LP. However, the US LP preceded the better UK version by two weeks (release dates, June 26 for United Artists vs. July 10 for Parlophone).
U.S. v., A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
and the original Parlophone release
With me so far? It gets better. Something New followed the UK Hard Day’s Night by ten days and less than a month after the US LP. If this album has any weakness, it’s the lack of a strong lead single. On the other hand, apart from “Slow Down’ and “Matchbox”, it is notably lacking in the cover songs that would fill their LPs up through Beatles For Sale, or Beatles VI, depending on which continent you were born on.
Anal details: eight of its eleven tracks had already appeared on the original A Hard Day’s Night; five of those songs had already appeared the month before on the United Artists’ album. It would be the third album release for “I’ll Cry Instead”, which we never even got to hear in the movie! Side One closes with two songs from the British Long Tall Sally EP. I’ll get to the song that closes in a bit. “A Hard Day’s Night”, “I Should Have Known Better” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” had already appeared on both/either Hard Day’s Night LPs. The only remaining orphans from the Parlophone album were “You Cant Do That”, which had already appear on The Beatles’ Second Album in April; and “I’ll Be Back”, relegated to Beatles ’65, soon to be released in December 1964.
Also of note, on the trivial side, in addition to being released in Mono, it was the only early Beatles album where all tracks were in true stereo. Alternate versions of “Any Time at All”, “I’ll Cry Instead”, “When I Get Home”, “If I Fell” and “And I Love Her” appear in the Mono mix. Parlophone released Something New to US Armed Forces bases in Europe; today those copies are appropriately great collector’s items. The German stereo version on the Odeon label has a reprocessed stereo version of “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand” and an extended version of “And I Love Her” that repeats the closing riff six times instead of the familiar four. This mix appears on the US version of the now-defunct LP Rarities (1980). In 2004 the album was released on CD as part of the box set The Capitol Years, Volume I.
All fine, but how does it sound??? Despite being A Hard Day’s Night Redux, it’s actually a pretty listenable album. “I’ll Cry Instead” gets it off to a rocking start; “Things We Said Today” was a reflection on Paul’s relationship with actress Jane Asher. “If I Fell” and “And I Love Her” were two of John and Paul’s most tender love songs; given their relative youth, it’s surprising how much depth and maturity they could fit into two and a half minutes each.
The final track, “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand”, was a German language recording of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. It wasn’t something they really wanted to do, and in the end they had to be dragged to the studio in Paris to get the job done. It wasn’t unknown for American artists in the ’60’s to record foreign-language versions of their biggest hits. The Temptations for example did the Beatles one better by recording “My Girl” not only in German but in Italian as well.
For “Komm…”, the band used the original instrumental track, then recorded eleven vocal takes, overdubbing handclaps later. And that’s all Capitol had to offer until November with the release of The Beatles’ Story, a two-LP spoken-word press release until Beatles ’65 arrived in December, with “I Feel Fine” rounding out the year.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com. Mike’s Amazon page:
[Another short post with my Deviantart OC, Lianna. Enjoy.]
DEAR DIARY: It fits perfectly.
The second I graduated from the Space Academy and got my Independent Pilot’s license, I wanted to try it on. Professor Chronitis kept all my parent’s belongings after he took me in, including Mama’s skin suit.
It still smells like her, all jasmine and roses. I want to go to all the places she would’ve gone to. I’m gonna find every weird form of life she never got a chance to. I know it’s kind of weird, but sometimes it’s like she’s still with me, even though she’s been dead over 15 years. I do miss Papa; but I wanna do this for her more.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com. Mike’s Amazon page:
I’m afraid when I started posting pix of my OC Lianna Jensen on my Deviantart page, I had no story to go by. Basically I was following the Jim Starlin method of writing, ie, I was making things up as I go. I hadn’t even given her a name until my fourth art set with her. Fortunately by then I also concocted an origin story, and it’s held up pretty nicely since. Enjoy.
I wasn’t actually born there. I was seven years old at the time of her launch. She was a Podship, the first of its kind, with a fully-automated wetwork to monitor our life-signs as we slept between the stars. Her Bangali designers christened her the Naga Sentry.
Her solar sails could harness the currents of Dark Energy between stars. We weren’t scheduled to be awoken for another 100 years, once we reached our destination. She was billed as the Perfect Vessel to colonize the stars, and in a way she was…a perfect nightmare.
Seventeen years into our voyage, our ship hit a solar storm, a corrusation of gamma-ray bursts within Sector 006. Oh, our sleeper-beds were undamaged…we were ray-shielded after all. But the sheer energy billowing through our sails pushed us violently off course, into unknown space. The star-patterns weren’t any that the Navigation banks had been programmed for, so the passengers were awoken too soon in order for them to take charge.
That might explain the subsequent behavior of the passengers and crew. We’d entered a sector where the Multiuniverses converged. The quantum energies flowing between these tiny, overlapping Multiverses began to affect our minds. You might say the adults all got cabin fever…
Even my parents. I-I mean, they adored each other…both as smart as whips…b-but they became like….like…oh God…
By the time the Naga Sentry left that sector and returned to a semblence of normal space, the only ones left alive were the children. The bully boys basically took over, organizing into their own little cliques. They kept some of the Smart Boys on, ‘cause they knew how to work the ship. Some of the smart girls attached themselves to the bully-boys in charge. Anyone who wasn’t attached was called a Loner. And culled.
They might just as well have called us lepers. It wasn’t easy being a Loner. You really had to be ninja. You had to be quick…you had to be sneaky…And you had to know where to hide…
There weren’t many Loners left by the time that lone mining tramp-ship almost collided with us. At least her captain had the decency to call the Space Port Authorities. You see, we couldn’t have known there’d be such advances in sublight engineering in the decades since the Naga Sentry left port. Even the most common ship possessed speeds that had easily overtook our ship and surpassed it. Our mission had become irrelevent. In fact, we’d gone down in history as a legend; the Lost Ship they called us.
We were all pretty much in rags at that point, and didn’t care. Some of the career Terranauts were scared to be around us. Not one man though. He was one of the Observers who came with the rescue ship. I don’t know what Professor Chronitis saw in me, but…he offered me his hand and took me in, and raised me as his own daughter.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at Amazon.com. Mike’s Amazon page:
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The third book in the Butterfly & Serpent series has logged another chapter, so I am making progress. The challenge is getting into another culture, another mindset, which might be hampered a bit by an inability to travel. The problem is compounded by the fact that just in the first section of the new book, I’ve had to learn not one but two cultures, diametrically opposed. But I’m keeping at it.
My biggest regret in this regard is that I wasn’t ready until now. I would have loved to have asked my grandmother Elsy about Spain, she was very knowledgeable about all things Spanish. That’s my bad. I’ve finished Vicente Blasco Ibanez’s classic novel Blood and Sand. If nothing else I’ve come away sharing the author’s healthy disgust with the whole ‘sport’ of bullfighting. I feel more for the bulls than the matadors. I can’t even talk to my wife about what happens to the poor horses. The people who go to these things are animals.
That’s where I’m at. I’m moving on to the next chapter. Thanks for the support, everyone.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.
Mike’s Amazon page: