Monday, May 31, 2010

What You Talking 'Bout, Willis!

I haven't posted for a week and a day now and last tried one day short of a week ago (on Tuesday). It seems that when I came home from my usual weekend outing last week (Monday was a holiday) and tried to log in on Tuesday my computer wouldn't log on to the internet. From what the "trouble message" says it is a connection error.

I may have knocked something loose. But the place where it would likely have happened I checked and all seems fine so I hope all is fixed quite easily when my "computer guy" friend comes to check it on Tuesday (the earliest he could do it).

Anyway, on to today's rather short post. I decided to post today (at the library) because I only had 11 posts for the month up until now. As I have said before, I like it better when the posts "match" more month-wise.

So it seems that Gary Coleman has died. Not a big surprise really as he has been in poor health for many years now but still sad. Turns out he was my age. Interestingly enough, Todd Bridges just wrote a memoir/biography. I wonder if Gary Coleman was interviewed about it before he died.

I just went to to read a little about him and it said (surprisingly, I think) that Different Strokes went on for about 8 years! It also mentioned that both the late Bob Hope and the late Lucille Ball were Gary Coleman fans.

Before Different Strokes, he got his start in tv. commercials. After the show ended and his career went downhill (although during the time of his popularity he was the star of several child centered films). The last movie he was reported to be in was a sad little, low-budget explotation film called Midgets vs. Mascots from 2009.

Oddly enough, he didn't die of a kidney disease related illness, it was a fall and bump on the head. Sad.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Literary Pursuits

Tonight (it is almost 1 am) I am "officially" posting two (in actual fact three) posts as I have gotten behind on my posting. Like my post on the Al Franken book, "Lies, And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them" this post concerns a book I have read/am reading. It is called "The Book Group Book: A Thoughtful Guide To Forming And Enjoying A Stimulating Book Discussion Group" by Ellen Slezak.

Perhaps it is not the most exciting title for a book but the book itself is quite interesting from what I have read so far. A friend and I, in much the same vein as a book club itself, took turns reading out loud many of the various essays on individual book clubs that make up the bulk and the most interesting part of the book.

The book is basically in two parts. The first part is the aforementioned essays. The second part is made up of book lists of the reading lists of many of the book club's who had a member or members submit an essay to the first (best) part of the book.

In this book there are essays by groups that meet or have met at one time as often as weekly (!) but mostly meet monthly. There are essays by groups that are strictly women's book groups (no men allowed!) and one that is made up of (surprisingly) four married couples and has been going on for several years.

There were even not one but two groups that I've read about so far that have been going on for well over fifty years! One group had been going for seventy-six years as of when the book was written in 1993 and another was started in 1926 (the year my now 83 year old mother was born).

The club that started in 1926 apparently is called The Arts Club and rather uniquely is not only one of the ones that elects officers to deal with the business of their club but has kept detailed minutes that go back to the original year they started in 1926 and have been archived in the the local university!

Some of the groups other than just the one with the married couples in it have men but that is apparently somewhat (probably not surprisingly) rare. Two of the thirty essays are by male members of the book clubs spotlighted. Being that they are the exception rather than the rule I read both of these articles already (as you can see I am cherry-picking essays and not reading them in the order they are in the book).

Having read many of these essays with my friend over the course of a day spent together I can say it has whetted our enthusiasm for potentially starting a book club of our own. We have pretty much decided that if we do start one that it would be a small group of about 4 to 6 people.

The clubs that I/we read about had anywhere between 4 and 30 some active members. We believe smaller is better. Which is good as we want to do it out of our homes, switching off between members. Also, we want to keep it intimate as neither one of us wants to be "on display" in a big group.

As for a focus on either fiction (like most clubs) or non-fiction (the odd club) or a mixture (some clubs) so far it is 50/50. I am a non-fiction advocate while my friend is partial to fiction. So it will be mixed. One wonders what the focus the other two to four as yet unknown members will prefer.

We plan on going the route of each choosing two or three books each that will then be voted on by all members with one title chosen from each person's choices. This seems the fairest option for picking titles. I can only hope that some of the other people who we end up with will also be partial to non-fiction as that is not seemingly the book club norm.

This pretty much brings me to the end of this post except to ask my readers what your thoughts are on book clubs. Have you ever belonged to one? Would you like to belong to one? Do you have any "housekeeping" suggestions if my friend and I start a bookclub?


Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Contractual Obligations"

Over the weekend I was with the friend who can not be named and several funny things happened as is often the case when we are together. The one I am going to talk about concerns a "agreement" we "reached" vis a vis a little transaction.

Both of us are not the most flush of people financially (which is true of most of my friends - the few that I have - it seems misery loves company :) ). Anyway, my friend was broke at this point in the month and, for the most part, so was I. She is a smoker, which I am not, and had gone about three days, if not a little more, without cigarettes.

So, she asked me to lend them $10 so they could buy a package of cigarettes until her cheque came in. Being basically broke myself AND the hard-hearted bitch that I am (LOL), I said no. This was followed by some rather pitiful begging that went on for quite awhile.

Finally, it was suggested by this friend that perhaps she could do something for me (which would be in addition to eventually paying me back of course). I still did not want to do this for a variety of bitchy and non-bitchy reasons. However, said friend can be pretty compelling with her arguments.

She made a semi-serious offer to arbitrate between a "old" friend of ours (mostly mine) who had told us a few months ago that he wasn't interested in hanging out with us (and so basically was saying he didn't want to be friends anymore for some very obscure reasons).

I jokingly decided to make up a list of "demands" that I had for her if I were to consider lending her this money. The idea originally was to make it so onerous that she would give up on her quest to nag me into lending her the money. This was because I, one, didn't really have more than almost the exact amount she needed left myself until my next cheque came in (literally a few dollars more - less than five) -that being the non-bitchy reason. Then there was the bitchier reason that I myself am not a smoker as I said and thought that after three days she should just try to consider that quitting smoking for three days and just not restart. Easy for me to say.

Well, anyways, long story made (relatively) shorter, in writing the "jokingly" onerous list of demands, I actual started becoming invested in them. Also, I was starting to see her side of it (though not enough to want to give up on any of my "demands"). So after a "brutal" round of negotiating that literally went to the brink we reached an agreement that saw her get basically my last $10. Literally.

In exchange for this, one of the four conditions I had was that, like she suggested, she had to call this (former) friend of ours once a week for two months to advocate on my (our?) behalf. I was having some second thoughts about this as I didn't know how he (the mutual -former- friend) would react. Especially since, my girlfriend was even less in his "good books" than I was. But before I had conclusively decided to tell her to hold off on calling him for the first of the eight calls she was to make, she had swiftly decided to get her obligations dealt with.

That brings us to the title of this post. When she called me to tell me that she had made the first call and to tell me how it went she told me that she had told "our friend" that she was contractually obligated to call him once a week for the next two months. LOL. I myself found the term funny in a grandiose way. Apparently, his take on it was, according to her, that "we are twisted". LOL.

So, there you have it. I am not only a heartless bitch who enters into onerous contracts with my "friends" but also a twisted person. LOL. Or, as I would like to think of it, I am a compassionate but business-like person who has a unique (as opposed to twisted) way of looking at/doing things. What do you think?


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lies And The Lying Liars That Tell Them

Well today (actually several days after the time stamp - LOL) I am writing another review. This time though it is not about a movie but about a book. A book from several years back actually.

I'm sure some of you can already guess who the author of this book is by my highly original posting title. Normally I like finding creative posting titles (if I do say so myself) that I come up with but with this book by Al Franken (of course), I decided that finding a funnier or in any way better title was hopeless. You can't beat the best. So lying liars it is.

This book came out in 2003. I believe I may have read part of it before but if I did I don't think I finished it. If that is the case, it has nothing to do with the quality of the book which is both very funny and also informative in some areas. It would have had more to do with just not being into it at the time. I am not sure if it was Lying Liars I started or his other big title from several years ago as well (before this book in fact) called "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot". LOL.

Franken has actually written several popular books over the years and I think most if not all of them have made the New York Times Bestseller List. Some of his other titles are I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!, Why Not Me? The Inside Story Of The Making And Unmaking Of The Franken Presidency, and finally Oh, The Things I Know! A Guide To Success, Or, Failing That, Happiness.

I found this book a couple of months ago at a second hand store and took the opportunity to own a copy of one of Franken's books. I'm glad I did. I read the book in one sitting! I'm sure some of that had to do with my state of mind when reading it, as well as the intrinsic worth of the book but the book itself really was a good one that is well worth owning.

I won't go into a long review of the contents but do want to give you some highlights to show that it is truly well worth reading yourselves. Actually, until I reread the table of contents, I was going to say that other than one not so funny but very informative piece on pig farming there was only one section I could specifically remember as standing out enough to comment on. But in looking at the contents I can say that is not true. That said, most of the humor "just finds you" within the chapters and I wouldn't recognize it from a chapter heading.

So first off, lets start with the informative stuff. That would be the chapter on George Bush Jr's environmental policies and pig farming. In it, Franken talks about how pig farms create vast "lagoons" of pig shit that not only threaten the environment but cause havoc for land-owners within a fairly substantial radius of these environmental nightmares.

Then there is a chapter called "The Waitress and The Lawyer". It is about a female duo of waitress and lawyer who have a rather enlightening conversation about tax-cuts and what they really mean for those at the bottom of the economic barrel. He frames it as a pseudo-play. Sadly, if I were to put myself in the shoes of either character, the one that I resemble most is the waitress - who is not surprisingly the one who comes out with the short end of the stick. By this, I am mostly talking about my level of financial literacy.

One of the stories that sticks out in my mind comes from a chapter entitled "I Meet Former First Lady Barbara Bush And It Doesn't Go Well". I can't remember the source of the first book/magazine article (book I think) where I read what a enormous bitch Barbara Bush, Sr. is, but suffice it to say this was the second time I have read something of this sort. It is a funny but disturbing little chapter about how dismissive and haughty Mrs. Bush apparently is.

There was also a chapter titled "I Attend The White House Correspondents Dinner And Annoy Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, And The Entire Fox News Team". This chapter proves you don't necessarily have to know all the players to find his "insouciance" funny. He definitely was a burr under these peoples skins. He basically made the rounds at this dinner being a bit of a "righteous" shit-disturber.

A chapter called "I Challenge Rich Lowry To A Fight" shows that sometimes even a out-of-shape middle ager can make his point with a bit of a blowhard and there is a chapter called "Operation Chickenhawk" that spoofs right-wingers like Bush, and Limbaugh as well as others that is a little over long in my opinion and has a rather obvious ending (necessarily so though) but is still funny.

There are chapters on every liberals "favorite" shrill right-wing bitch Ann Coulter and the right's poster boy Bill O'Reilly as well as chapters on Bernie Goldberg and (the late) Rev. Jerry Falwell. One chapter deals with the Fox News team of Hannity and Colmes, where he has a unique way of referring to Alan Colmes in print. You will understand immediately if you borrow a copy at your local library or decide to buy your own.

Well I think I've given a good overview of a few of the just under fifty chapters in the book. It is a pretty standard size book of 377 pages including the miscellaneous additions including the sources and acknowledgements - but sadly no index, as he mentions a number of books and people throughout that I would have liked to reference in an index.

So, by all means take a look at this or some of his other books and let me know what you think.


Monday, May 17, 2010

"Are You My Stalin?"

Yesterday I went to a "meetup" at the Second Cup with someone I met on-line. It wasn't a bad first meeting but I was a little disappointed that there weren't more people from the on-line group that the two of us there were a part of. Nevertheless, it was nice to meet the one person, A.J., that I did. This is not, however, what this post is about. Just a little introduction to how my Sunday went and what led to what followed, which is the subject of this post.

After the meetup, which started at 4:00pm and lasted until almost exactly 5:00pm (though it wasn't on a schedule - it just happened that way), I decided to go to a movie and, likely, dinner because I was between screenings. So, after an ok dinner at the Elephant and Castle that is right next to the theatre, I saw the Canadian movie out of Montreal (I can't believe I'd like something like that! LOL) - The Trotsky.

I will attempt to give you a little preview of the movie without spoiling it for anyone who would like to see it for themselves. The summary is as follows: a young anglo Montrealer named Leon Bronstein thinks he is the modern-day re-incarnation of Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Complete to the end, ice-pick and all.

The movie stars a young actor named Jay Baruchel who has apparently been in a few other movies so far. There are also some name actors/actresses in the cast... Genevieve Bujold, Colm Feore, Saul Rubinek and Michael Murphy. The last of which is recognizable by face if not by name and has apparently, according to been in the largest number of Robert Altman movies of any actor. The leading lady in this movie is an actress named Emily Hampshire. She has been in several Canadian movies/T.V. shows since 1996.

The title of this post comes from a line in the movie which was kind of funny. The title character spends his time plotting out how to live his life as much like the original Trotsky as possible and looks for his revolutionary counterparts like Lenin for instance at various times in the movie. I must say, I thought it was an interesting premise but was worried that it wouldn't live up to it and would be a disappointment. And while I agree with a poster on imdb that it ended up being a bit "by the numbers" it certainly kept my interest and despite the somewhat silly subject matter managed to come off as fairly believable - that is, I had no problem with my "suspension of disbelief".

I actually had a choice of two movies to see when I checked out the offerings that night. The other was Letters To Juliet with Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. That I picked this movie over a romantic comedy says a lot for the premise, I think.

In short, see this movie for yourself. I definitely recommend it. And if you do see it yourself (and if you want to - go soon, as it is Canadian and a film fest film so it probably won't be in theatres for long!) leave a comment on what you thought about it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Lovers and Haters" - The Same Person!

Hello people. I am back after a break of several days licking my wounds. It appears this post was done on Thursday, but it was in fact the first of several done on Monday. My dirty little secret of time-stamping a post in draft having been revealed before.

Anyway, as I said, I was off licking my wounds after having read a frequent reader comment on the most recent post "Pimp My Blog". I'd like to think I have a pretty thick skin (like a rhinoceros) but the truth is not as far as my baby goes. It stung. Sob. LOL.

Actually, it was a fairly innocuous criticism that the post was a bit like an "instruction manual" for my blog. Which strictly speaking was true. But after the love bombing I received from several of my readers over the past little while that the comments have been coming regularly, it was a bit sad for me to read.

I guess if I "put on my big girl panties" it's not really the worst thing that could have happened. A little constructive criticism never hurt anyone (I think?). And she did end it with the heartening "love ya".

One thing I will say in my defense is that another site I happened to catch sight of recently (at about the same time I read the comment) was listing/talking about a new feature on their blog (a movie themed blog). So I have some company. Always a good argument.

Another thing that was nice was (and this is where the title of this post comes from) after returning from a weekend away from home (and the computer), I got a pm in my FB account that was from the above mentioned commenter. In it she asked if I was on vacation and stating that she was waiting for my next blog posting. Yay! A fan.

So, what dear readers have I learned from this. Well first of all, that I need a new pair of big girl panties. LOL. Second, that maybe, just maybe I need to "step it up" a bit in my topic selection from time to time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pimp My Blog!

So today we have a very exciting topic. LOL. Two days ago I "pimped out" my blog. And just like on MTV's Pimp My Ride now my blog has mucho bells and whistles.

For those who would like to check them all out here is the rundown. First of all, these two are not really bells and whistles but they are changes. The first of the two is that the subtitle just under my blogs name has been expanded upon with a little more explanation. Second, the number of blog posts that show on the main page has been increased from the default seven to a more "rounded" ten.

The next two changes come as "headers and footers". Above my most recent post are my new additional pages tabs. I have two of them. There is an annoying problem with these though. They don't load properly. When you click on them nothing initially seems to show up on the page. It looks like I created these pages and then left them blank. You have to use your arrow keys and scroll down the page a fair bit and then scroll back up and only then do they load. Below my tenth and last post to show on the main page is a subscription option for potential regular readers. It is not the ideal way to follow the blog though because if you follow that way it doesn't show up as a "number" on my followers list but at least the benefit to this blog is that ideally people who want to do it this way can still read it regularly if they want and ideally, if they are regular readers may become regular commenters too. Also they can, as regular readers, possibly recommend my blog to others. Yay.

Now on to the main "pimping". All of it except one item is to be found on the right hand side column where you find the Facebook Badge at the top, the recent comment feed that I have had there for awhile, my list of followers and my profile information. New to this section is the SocialVibe widget/gadget. Please click on it to help the charity One Laptop Per Child. It will prompt you to do some simple little actions to gain points or such to "micro-give". Next is the poll feature. As I just added it, I am not sure how it will work as far as saving old polls but we will see in less than a week as I set it to expire after the default one week.

The final two features come well below the poll feature under the recent comments, the number of followers and the about me sections. These are the Daily Puppy and Vanity Fair features. The daily puppy shows five (instead of the default -one-) pictures of puppies along with reader comments under them. If you click on the Daily Puppy box at the bottom of feature it will take you to it's site. The Daily Puppy is one of the only ones (if not the only one period) that did not have little ads attached to it. The Vanity Fair feature is the final one (so far - lol) at the very bottom of the right hand side column. Even though I tried out and deleted many other features that came with the little google ads attached, I kept the Vanity Fair one. That's because it is Vanity Fair. The wealthy person's (or wanna-be's) National Enquirer. Another reason I initially considered deleting the Vanity Fair feature is it has unattractive, plain graphics. But I guess "one can't have everything one wants, can one". LOL.

So that is that. Enjoy the new, improved C.A.T.Stuff and don't forget to use the new features (especially SocialVibe and the poll as well as the little boxes under where you make your comments!)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Am A Tea Partier

Happy Mother's Day everyone. Just got back from my oldest sister's place where most of the family went for Mother's Day. Today we (the royal we - lol) are going to talk about how I spent part of the Mother's Day weekend. I became a tea partier yet again.

No not that kind of tea partier. For the third year in a row, my mother has bought tickets and taken my two older sisters and myself to the Third Annual High Tea held by her church (a United Church congregation). We have gone every year since it started.

It is a nice little fundraiser for the church that has very good attendance. As the "M.C" of the event always notes at the beginning of the event, it is attended by ladies (and a few odd - well not exactly odd, lol - gentlemen) from not only their church but several other churches around the city and members of the neighborhood/community at large.

The "M.C" has the attendees from the various churches that have bought tickets to raise their hands when she calls out their church and there are a good five or so usually mentioned. As for the aforementioned men, there was about eight there this year by my count (including the young man who provided the piano music that provided the entertainment). There is also a contingent of "Red Hat Society" ladies who fill up one full table each year.

The menu includes "fancy, shmancy" little sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Some are layered, many are rolled. All are very cute. A few are even tasty. LOL. There is also scones with clotted cream and jam. I must say that I am definitely not a fan of clotted cream. In addition, they serve both white and dark chocolate-dipped strawberries and a variety of little pastries - my favorite, the chocolate-dipped shortbread "rounds" (which are actually not round at all - lol).

Even though this event takes place the Saturday before Mother's Day (that is to say, the day before) my mom always takes me and my sisters. It is the one time of the year when both my sisters, myself and my mom are all together. All in all, a very nice day and, I guess, a new tradition.

I mention "High Tea" at Beverly United because, other than the fact that it is, as I said, a nice new tradition in my family (and one of the few we have) it kind of "dove-tails" with my previous "Vanderbilt post". Basically, I am now part of the "hoi-polloi" who goes to High Tea, etc. LOL.

Anyway, I hope everyone else had a wonderful Mother's Day. If you would care to, feel free to post about your Mother's Day celebrations/traditions in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from my regular commenters and maybe some newbies.


Friday, May 7, 2010

The "Burden" Of Friendship

Hello people. Today I have exciting news! At least I think so, anyway. But before I share it, let me digress. Today is apparently a special day in history. Today is the 170th Birthday (of course he's not actually around to celebrate it - lol) of the composer Tchiakovsky.

I only know this because Google (which is my homepage) had a "Google Doodle" up in place of it's usual faceplate or whatever you would call it. It was kinda ugly though, I must say. Anyway, I hovered over it with my cursor to find out what it was about and voila, Tchiakovsky.

A final thing about the composer (I almost typed composter by mistake - lol - I don't think people composted back then - lol) is that he was apparently, according to, the creator of all of the following works: Swan Lake, The Nutcraker, Sleeping Beauty and the 1812 Overture. Now you know. You're welcome.

Now on to the topic of the day. Yesterday something absolutely amazing happened. It happened on A day or so previous, I had been furiously adding new titles to my to-read list (I am at about 1900 - lol) and I came across a book by an author named Wendy Burden.

Wendy Burden is not just anyone. Remember how I had briefly mentioned Cornelius Vanderbilt in passing in my post on (Some) Women And A (Little) History about two posts ago. Well coincidentally (as this happened like a day or so after that post), Wendy Burden just happens to be Cornelius Vanderbilt's great, great, great, great granddaughter.

Well, apparently Ms. Burden just wrote a book called Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir. I read several reviews on goodreads and decided to contact the author who was on goodreads herself as a "goodreads author" and see if she would like to become an on-line goodreads "friend". I am excited to say she responded (and promptly I might add - probably the good training of youth - lol).

Perhaps what made her do this was my "delightful" little blurb I put with the request describing myself as 1st generation poor as opposed to her 4th (or is it 5th) generation filthy, stinking rich. LOL. Or perhaps she likes "slumming" - that is, seeing how the "other half" lives. Regardless, I now can say I have an (on-line) "friend" who is a descendant of the 11th richest family in U.S history (source forgotten - probably Wikipedia).

According to (that's right bookslut - those wild & wacky readers - lol), a online book review WB at one point in her book was "plunging without apparent irony, into bigotry and stereotype" when talking, for example, about the Irish maids. I, however, was more disturbed at the mention of her boiling her brother's pet turtles and pan-frying the hamster! also notes that her not so maternal mother gave her as a 14th birthday gift - the pill. That's right, the pill. I guess that shows a certain level of motherly concern. In one of the goodreads reviews someone quoted WB as saying that her mother only really acting like a mother one time of year. On her birthday.

Well, now that you know a little more about my latest "on-line friend" I will start to bring this post to a conclusion. Before that though, a last attempt at tying Tchiakovsky in with the Vanderbilts by way of the painter Renoir. I was thinking that perhaps in an effort to tie together the two aspects of this post I would try to find a Tchiakovsky desendant to befriend. LOL.

However, it would be easier I realized to "get to know" a Renoir, as there are actually (at least there used to be) actual Renoir descendants in Edmonton. I think I found this out in the Edmonton Journal a couple (many actually) years ago. If I am not mistaken they owned a restaurant in this city. Why Edmonton? Who knows.

Anyway, if I decide to continue being a "fame whoring friend finder" (or is it called "star-fucking" - lol) then the Renoir's it will have to be. Sorry about that Tchiakovsky.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Hate Little Kids

So, ok, the truth is I don't hate all little kids. Just some of them. One in particular. And the thing is I don't even know him. I know, I know. This makes me a very bad person. Nevertheless, it's true.

It all started about a week ago. I was minding my own business (yeah right - lol) and was taking a bus to a friends house. I was almost there when it happened. I have never been more disgusted in my life. Ok, so I am laying it on a little thick, but it was annoying.

About a dozen stops before I get off I notice this little kid, a boy, that was between 5 and 7 years old. He was with his dad. And he had his thumb in his mouth. Yes, that is correct, his thumb in his mouth. A kid who was between FIVE and SEVEN years old. Disgusting.

Perhaps, not all of you share my distaste (disgust) for this scene. But let me remind you he looked to be between FIVE and SEVEN. What in the world are parents doing letting their kids do that, and in public no less, at that age. My niece's two year old daughter isn't even allowed to do that, for God sake.

So tell me, slight over-reaction on my part (still sickened and annoyed thinking about it) or completely normal reaction by a sane and normal adult. Readers you be the judge.


Monday, May 3, 2010

(Some) Women And (A Little) History

Continuing in much the same vein as the last two posts I decided that today I will talk about women and history. Specifically U.S. women and presidental history. Don't ask me why this subject interests me as much as it does, but it does.

Today, I will again try to keep it fairly brief. This is not out of any concern for the reader I must admit but sheer laziness. LOL. As always I would encourage you to read further on the subject - both on the internet and at the library.

This will not be a definitive listing of all the women to run until Hillary Clinton as in researching this on non Wikipedia sites it turns out that the list of candidates (both those that were considered more or less serious than others) is really quite long. These are just a smattering of those that interested me, as I was writing this, the most. These are the women who ran beginning in 1872 and ending in the year I was born 1968.

Let us begin at the beginning. Or at least at the beginning as I know it. The first woman I know of that ran for the presidency of the United States did so in 1872. That was almost exactly (4 years difference) 100 years before I was born and in the blink of an eye it will be 150 years ago! Her name was Victoria Woodhull.

One of the most interesting things about her is that she actually was quite radical in her personal life. She worked as a prostitute at one time! She also was a spirtualist. Although being a spiritualist wasn't as out there as some might think in "Victorian" times. Her sister Tennessee was also a spirtualist and got into some trouble as a result of this work. Her sister later married a titled British man. Woodhull herself didn't marry as well as her sister did but she did marry again, also to a British man. A banker. Not so bad I guess.

She also worked on Wall Street as the first female broker along with her sister. She and her sister became close to a big financier of the day, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who set them up in that business. They eventually had a falling out though, I believe.
They became quite wealthy as a result of this career turn.

Another thing she did was work as a muckraking journalist for a newspaper that she was in fact the publisher of. This was something she was able to do as the result of her financial success as a broker. She got in some trouble for this muckraking though. She was the one to expose a leading preacher of the day of having an affair with one of his parishoners. This got her into trouble as he was quite popular and was from a prominent family (he was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe).

When she ran for president she actually chose as her running mate a black man, the also famous Frederick Douglass. He apparently disassociated himself from her during the campaign.

Also during Woodhulls lifetime there was another woman who ran to become the first female U.S. President. That was a woman named Belva Lockwood. Lockwood was a teacher then a principal and finally a lawyer. One of the first, if not the first lawyers in the United States. She gained her education after being widowed early and had, as it can be expected many troubles obtaining her education at that time.

Some say that she was the first women to legally run for president (because of some legal criticisms of Woodhull's candidacy) in 1884 and again in 1888. The first time she ran she ran with a female running mate. The second time with a male one. On her second run, her original choice for running mate was not shy in making his horror at the idea known and she had to pick another (again it was a male).

According to my favorite by not only source Wikipedia the next woman to run for President was in 1940 and was Gracie Allen. Yes, that Gracie Allen. It was apparently a gag/publicity stunt and her "party" was the Surprise Party. LOL. During the campaign she did a tour and with the "help" of the Burns/Allen writers wrote a book. She apparently even got some votes!

Fast forward to 1964. That is the year a Republican, Margaret Chase Smith, decided to run. She ran for the nomination of the Republican's to run for President for their party but did not get the nomination. She was a politican and was seen by some as a credible candidate but aside from sexism, ageism played a part in her not being taken very seriously overall. She was 66 at the time.

Finally in 1968, the glorious year that is my birth year and a pretty eventful year in U.S. history with the assassinations of both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. there was a run at the Presidency by the first Africian American woman (no not Shirley Chisholm). This was Charlene Mitchell and she ran for the Communist Party! Unlike Shirley Chisholm who ran her unsuccessful campaign for her parties nomination but was a popular and long-time elected politican, Charlene Mitchell actually got her parties nomination.

She was apparently the great granddaughter of a slave and was the only woman (or one of two) that the Communist Party has run for President. She got only 1,076 votes in the election compared to the 4,000 odd votes Belva Lockwood got in one of her two runs much earlier in the history of women running. It is also the case it seems that in the early 1990's she was run out of the party and now is part of an off-shoot party.

Well, that concludes my look at a small sampling of women who attempted to run for the U.S. Presidency. This also probably concludes, for awhile anyway, my writing about "world" events topics. So this will have to do for that, FJ. Back to my usual unimportant silliness that usually provides fodder for this masterpiece I call my blog. LOL.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day!

Hi again, everybody. It's a funny thing but I heard from a FB friend and follower of this blog that she had just started to read my blog regularly when I went on my end of April "sabbatical". LOL. Naturally. That is just the way the universe seems to work. But that's ok. I'm back now.

As for my blog entry for today, it's a funny thing also that the last thing I wrote about was a special day (ANZAC Day) and today is another one (May Day). I don't think my May Day entry will be as long as the ANZAC Day one because I don't really feel like writing that much but since May Day is a holiday of "ours" (originating in North America), it just might turn out to be unexpected long. So consider yourself warned.

Off to google for a second ...

Apparently, the IWW (International Workers of the World) are alive and well in Richmond, Virginia circa May Day 2010. They held a parade there (Google May Day 2010). That caught my interest since I "participated" in a piece of "direct action" once (actually twice) against a former employer. I got the idea from the IWW, in a pamphet entitled "Fire The Boss". LOL.

Briefly, I was working for an employer who I think was having money troubles. He gave me a check that I took to his bank. The teller there was nice enough to tell me that it wouldn't clear (saving me - and the owner who was a friend of the teller I found out - a ridiculously large bank fee for an cashing an NSF cheque).

So, thinking about it from a IWW/"Fire The Boss" standpoint I came up with a nutty idea. I would take the nights deposit one night that was basically the same amount as my cheque. It's a wonder he didn't call the police. I think the reason he didn't was because he knew (even though he refused to admit it - and actively denied it in fact) that I knew that his account didn't have the money when it should.

Eventually we worked it out, I don't remember how, but all was well that ended well. Only it ended up happening a second time when I decided to stop working there. This time he threatened action and I accepted a check, which cleared.

Not something I would recommend anyone doing but I must say (in retrospect) I feel like a good little radical (a good thing indeed - lol) for having the experience. And not going to jail for it. LOL.

That was the beginning and end of my experience with the IWW although I find them interesting and would be interested in learning more about them and the people (including many famous labor activists) who were a part of them in the 1930's for example.

The only other time I actively participated in a labor action of any kind was to attend a May Day event one year around that time. I remember it because one of the people there was taking pictures which kind of made me queasy as it was a bit of a radical event or so I thought although the details escape me as it has been several years since and because it was at about the time I "got sick".

Back to May Day "proper", it started apparently in 1890 which is exactly 70 years ago (see same article on google that talked about the IWW parade in Virginia).

Two people that I would like to bring up at this point are the Eugene Debs and Emma Goldman. I can't say as I know very much about either but I want to share a tidbit or two about each that impresses me.

First, Eugene Debs. He was a leading socialist of his time and was actually defended in his first tangle with the law by Clarence Darrow who had switched sides (he had worked as a lawyer for the railroads that were on the other side of the issue).

He was one of the people to have gone on to help form the IWW. He ran for president 4or 5 times starting in 1900 and ending in 1920, the last time during which he was actually in prison for something like inciting draft dodging. He got something like 6percent of the vote!

When he was finally let out of jail on time served by the President of the United States (the new one as the old one detested him and made sure he stayed in prison) he actually met that President (Harding) at the White House and was mildly praised by him.

One final thing to note about Debs was that in spite of the man he became, he actually came from a rather privileged background. Which only goes to show you that you never can tell where a leader of a cause will come from.

Now for Emma Goldman. Emma Goldman was born in Russia. She came to the United States when she was quite young (about 15 or 16). She escaped being married off by her father before she left but married shortly after coming to America. It was unsuccessful. Unlike Debs, the socialist (as radical as he might have been, although not as radical as Bill Haywood) Goldman was an anarchist.

She was ahead of her time, believing and supporting things like atheism and homo-sexuality. She herself though did have a long-term relationship with a fellow male radical. She apparently wasn't a typical feminist (although she was a strong woman) and distanced herself from the suffragette movement(s) of the time it has been said.

The thing that stands out to me about Emma Goldman is that in a book I read (don't remember what it was exactly) it mentioned that in order to not get her friends in trouble when she herself was in a great deal of trouble at one point she actually took to sleeping in a public park rather than ask to be put up by some of them.

So much the radical anarchist she was actually deported at one time she nevertheless found her way back to North America first through Canada and then back to the United States.

While obviously no scholar of labor history (or any kind of history for that matter) I find these two people of interest when thinking of "modern day" men's and women's contributions to the labor movement. As you can see, while not an activist myself for the most part in my every day life I much admire people who put themselves on the line to forward the labor movement for the working class.

I encourage you to read a little something about each of these people and perhaps others you would encounter in reading their stories. As always, the first source I would encourage your use of is the quite useful Wikipedia.

On a final note, I'll leave you with "a question or few". What do you generally do for May Day, if anything? What about this year? Who are your labor heroes/heroines, if any?