HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker and writer/director of Wadjda

Meet Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female Saudi filmmaker. MSNBC did a special documentary about her, focusing on “Women Without Shadows.” Her husband, Brad Niemann works at consulates.

Howard Casner - Rantings and Ravings

This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.

First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE

 

Next up: a very special interview with Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker and writer/director of Wadjda

 

al mansour use this oneHaifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia (for her first…

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Bruce Dickinson: Historically Underutilized Bohemian Intellectual — A Biographical Sketch, by J.D. Meyer

Top musicians in the hard rock/heavy metal industry rarely receive the widespread serious respect and attention that they deserve. Hence, the subtitle for this biographical sketch is a play on words, a take-off on the Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) certification for predominantly minority or female owned businesses. Nevertheless, Bruce Dickinson succeeds in carving a wide range of niches for himself though his achievements largely go unnoticed as far as mainstream pop culture is concerned.

Best known as the lead singer for Iron Maiden since 1982 with a break for a solo career in the mid 90s, Bruce is a noted fencer who has a line of fencing equipment. Bruce has contributed his share of song lyrics to Iron Maiden, and he has written two novels. Dickinson also flies jets, does BBC documentaries on jets, and hosts a BBC music talk show.

Bruce began fencing at the age of 13 (1971) and became captain of the school fencing team by age 15. Music got his attention, so he quit fencing until 1983 when one of Iron Maiden’s roadies brought back his interest in the sport. Two years later, he endured a rigorous fencing trainers’ camp and earned a certificate. Bruce entered tournaments around Europe between the Powerslave (1984) and Somewhere in Time (1986-1987) tours. Bruce moved to Bonn in West Germany for tax purposes and to be close to the outstanding national center for fencing. Bruce ranked as high as seventh in Great Britain in men’s foil fencing, and his club—the Hemel Hempstead Fencing Club—represented Great Britain in the European Cup of 1989. Bruce founded a fencing supply company, Duellist.

Bruce wrote two novels, and they were translated into German. Bruce’s novels are about an English landlord, Lord Iffy Boatrace, situated in northern Scotland. Iffy’s problem in both novels is the lack of money. In The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace, Iffy tries to solve his money problems through all-year long grouse hunting. But Iffy needs some grouse built for him, so his next-door neighbor, retired wing commander, Bill Symes-Groat builds some indestructible grouse. But first, the commander introduces Iffy to a huge plum pudding with a cherry on top, a very special and magical pudding. Then Iffy invites some folks from his old boarding school under the pretense of a school reunion. The guests arrive and strange things start to happen. The book was written during the Somewhere in Time tour (1986-1987) and published in 1990. It sold 30, 000 copies.

The sequel to this novel is The Missionary Position. The story begins with the Battle of Hastings in 1066 then switches to a flight to Los Angeles where an elderly couple meets Lord Iffy and his butler, ex-con John Butler. Lord Iffy and his butler scam the elderly couple of their money and tickets. Meanwhile, Lord Iffy’s new scheme is to become a TV evangelist under the guidance of Jimmy Reptile. The evangelist was modeled after a corrupt character in the Iron Maiden song, “Holy Smoke.” At the time of that song’s writing, there were at least two TV evangelist scandals, and they involved Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. There are a few other fascinating bizarre characters, including a US senator, a Japanese businessman golf fanatic, a rock manager who spends his days in an earthquake proof Jacuzzi, and a porn star.

Bruce Dickinson’s flying career started with getting a private license before being taught by British Airways pilot, Phil Dales. Bruce passed his commercial pilot’s license and later his ground and flight exams. Now Bruce flies Boeing 757s for United Kingdom airline, Astraeus. He flew the Rangers Football Club (soccer) to a UEFA cup game against Hapoel Tel Aviv. Bruce feels that the greatest innovations in jets are the aerodynamics of swept wings and power plants. Bruce’s flying career and radio/TV career have intersected through the documentary, Flying Heavy Metal, a five-part aviation series on Discovery Channel UK. He was even a guest on a Discovery Channel about trains, and he drove a Russian T-34 tank for a program on tanks.

Dickinson presents the Friday evening rock show on BBC Radio Station Six. Bruce interviews up-and-coming musicians and plays their songs. You can find this program easily in the US on the Internet, along with archives of the series. He has taken over the BBC Radio Two serial, Masters of Rock. Bruce’s documentary career led to a show entitled, “Inside Spontaneous Combustion with Bruce Dickinson.”

Iron Maiden songs represent the peak of thinking man’s lyrics. Like Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, bass guitarist, also was a history major in college and writes many of the lyrics for Iron Maiden. For example, Iron Maiden’s longest song (over twelve minutes) adapted Samuel Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” “The Flight of Icarus” comes from the ancient Greek myth. True to the British Air Force, “Aces
High” shows the life of the fighter pilot. “Trooper” recounts a cavalryman’s tale of the Crimean War between Russia and England in the mid 1850s. Yet “Mother Russia” (1990)hails the end of Soviet domination and welcomes the beginning of a new era; time has shown the change to be a major improvement over the Cold War era. Bruce may not have written all these songs, but his influence has always been felt in the lyrics of the band.

Bruce Dickinson certainly fits the definition of a Renaissance Man, someone with a wide range of intellectual pursuits and curiosity. Furthermore, he has taken all of them into moneymaking professions. Bruce can say that he has been 42,000 feet above earth in a Boeing 757 and played in front of 300,000 fans at Rio de Janeiro with the rest of Iron Maiden. What will he do next?

Note: This information came from various websites—Wikipedia, Bruce Dickinson’s Official Website, Discovery Channel, and BBC Radio Six. Originally, this article was published at the now defunct Voices.yahoo.

Arithmetic for Beer Drinkers: The Average Beer is 4.8% Alcohol. What if you drink strong beer, wine, etc? By J.D. (Joffre) Meyer

I am writing this beer consumption article because it seems easy to underestimate the actual number of beers that you have consumed. In other words, do you favor alcoholic beverages that go beyond the 4.8% average? Maybe you’re a fiscal conservative, who wants a cheap buzz? Usually, I walk a block to Speedy’s at the NE corner of E. Front ST & S. Beckham AV in Midtown (Hospital District) Tyler, Texas. Speedy’s is also a gas station. This article focuses on drinks in my neighborhood.

My Choices at Speedy’s
Let’s start with my favorite strong, very cheap beer: Milwaukee’s Best Ice ($1.79). This quart comes in a fat can–blue and black with white letters, together with red and gold trim. Milwaukee’s Best Ice is 6.9% alcohol, meaning you really drank 46 ounces–closer to 4 beers than a quart.

How about a Bud Light-a-Rita ($2.69)? They come in a variety of exciting flavors—such as mango, lime, lemon, grape, strawberry, cranberry, apple, watermelon, peach, etc. The 24 ounce slender can is 8% alcohol, meaning you just slammed a 40-ouncer!

The Gold 4Loco ($2.69) tips the scales at 14%, the second strongest beverage you can buy at a take-out store in Damp Tyler, Texas. A 23.5 ounce can is more like 68.54 ounces of standard beer. I like mixing it with low-fat milk, horchata powder (Mexican rice milk powder with cinnamon), and water. I call it a Damp Eggnog! If it’s half-&-half, I’m still drinking a 40-ouncer.

The Schlitz Gold Bull ($1.89) arrives in a 24 ounce can that is 8.5% alcohol—roughly 1 ¾ times stronger than regular beer. So you really drank 42.5 oz of conventional beer. It’s stronger than the original Schlitz Malt Liquor. The original Schlitz with the brown label was my favorite regular beer; unfortunately, it seems to be rare, unless you leave town for a liquor store.

Once I got adventuresome and bought a Bud Light Platinum ($2.69)–a 25 oz. beer in a silver can. Don’t let that word, “Light,” fool you. It’s really 6% alcohol, or 1 ¼ beers. So 25 ounces is really the equivalent of 31 ¼ ounces.

Most Ice beers range from 5.5% alcohol (Bud Ice) to 5.9% (Keystone Ice). I’ll let you do the arithmetic this time; just divide the beer in question by 4.8 & multiply by the ounces per can. You’ll get less than a 1/4 extra beer per 12 oz. serving in both cases.

My Picks at Family Dollar
Steel Reserve ($2.35) combines size–42 oz–with strength: 8.1%. This big, plastic bottle condenses a staggering 70 7/8 oz of conventional beer—nearly a 6-pack! A new blue disk on the label tells you if your beer is cold enough, based on how blue the cold sensor gets. I buy Steel Reserve at the Family Dollar on the NW corner of E. Front ST & S. Beckham AV–across the street from Speedy’s.

Let’s say I’m wheezing. I’m going to buy red wine because there are no bubbles like beer; plus, you get glutathione, a natural anti-inflammatory for those eggshell lungs. Liberty Creek Sweet Red ($6.49) is 8% alcohol in a 1.5 liter bottle. So that’s like drinking 83 1/3 ounces of standard beer.

My Choice at CVS Pharmacy
I go to CVS Pharmacy for asthma & COPD medicine: Advair, Combivent inhaler, & Dalisresp pills–as well as CoQ10, Red Wheat Rice, macular degeneration capsules, & Montelukast-an allergy pill at the corner of S. Broadway AV. & 5th ST in the Bergfeld Shopping Center—home of the 2nd Tyler Transit hub. I buy a bottle of Grape & Vine Sweet Red ($3.60), a 12% alcohol wine in a ¾ liter bottle. Once again, I avoid carbonation in beer and acquire glutathione. That’s like an even 2 ½ beers per drink, so it’s really like having 1 ½ liters of regular beer.

Miscellaneous
Wild Irish Rose is Tyler’s strongest takeout drink at 17% alcohol! Among other stores, you can find it at D&N in North Tyler near W. Gentry & Palace–next door to Neighborhood Services. Who could forget MD 20-20, aka. “Mad Dog 20-20?” This 13% alcohol, 3/4 liter wine comes in a wide variety of flavors, even Dragon Fruit & Habanero Lime-a-Rita. Alas, we can’t buy it around here either.

Conclusion
In conclusion, a beer needs to be over 6.5% to be particularly strong. So with standard Ice beers, you can have the full flavor without a severe alcohol level. Beware when your beverage is in the 8% alcohol level and over. Enjoy the flavor! Seek variety and save money.

THE TOWERING 5’10” BEAUTY IRISH MCCALLA | 1950s QUEEN OF THE (PINUPS AND) JUNGLE

The Selvedge Yard

irish mccalla pinup legs chest

Irish McCalla, the towering beauty who posed for Vargas, and then found fame as “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle” was tough to measure-up against. She grew up humbly, forever the athletic tomboy, and even did her own vine-swinging and tree-climbing with her pet chimp, Chim, on “Sheena” until the day she misjudged a vine swing and crashed into it tree, smashing her knee. After that, the producers did the only thing they could do (due to her size), they hired male stunt men, and dressed them in leopard skins and blond wigs.

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VARGAS PINUP MODEL IRISH MCCALLA

5’10” beauty, Irish McCalla, posing for famed Peruvian pinup artist Alberto Vargas. Since she was born on Christmas Day, McCalla posed nude for the December page in a Vargas calendar. McCalla’s attention-getting measurements were reported as 39-24-38 in her heyday.

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NuGlarus Initiative of Switzerland, by Roberto Balmer (Translated from German by Google)

“The NüGlarus initiative wants to create the digital canton and build up innovation clusters. And then become a national model.

An initiative supported by industry and the private sector wants to use the rapid digital development in Glarus to make the canton attractive for start-ups. The young companies are wooed with the favorable tax foot which the rural community has just passed. At the same time, however, firms in the canton should also receive support for the economic changes that are likely to occur with digitalization. The initiative, organized as an association, is presented in the Glarner dialect as “NüGlarus” with the website of the same name, and not only started with initial private and company members, but also with concrete technical projects.

The initiative, launched as a non-profit organization, does not have its own office and all inquiries are processed online, promises
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Companies, the administration and the private, to use development opportunities and niches. In the end of 2018 Glarus will be able to access the “fastest and cheapest data highway in the Alps”. Furthermore, new startup services will be rolled out and so-called co-working opportunities will be realized in all major locations in the canton. As the board of directors of Roberto Balmer explained on request, it is concretely about bridges, Glarus, Schwanden, Näfels and Linthal.

The fast data highway in detail
The good tax conditions for start-ups that want to settle in the canton are, moreover, determined by the government, which is represented as an observer through its business support. Balmer explained that the government had agreed on a quick and uncomplicated settlement, which did not presuppose the establishment of a company.

In addition to taxation, NüGlarus also promotes the deep space costs, the wide range of local services and good networking with local companies.

Ivan Büchi, privately in the steering committee of the initiative of dedicated head of the digital office of Glarner Kantonalbank, explains the specifications of the planned data highway. It will consist of a redundant network that provides the cloud connections with 0.5 milliseconds to data centers up to 80 kilometers away and delivers 2.5 milliseconds to all other Swiss data centers. It has already been implemented for the Glarner Kantonalbank and is now being expanded by Glarus (TB.glarus) and HIAG Data, with the result that the entire canton is now fit for new, eg cloud-based business models.

Discounts and expansion plans
NüGlarus also lures its members with discounts for offers of participating companies. It is always about innovation projects. For example, the first NüGlarus partners already promise special prizes, such as the telecom sector, premises for virtual collaboration, or for the field of hololens or special drones. At the same time, private persons can benefit from the Internet, TV and telephony. NüGlarus promises to expand its partner offerings on a continuous basis.

Mit-Initiator Balmer emphasizes that you have found strong support in the last few days. But it was necessary to support further Glarner, Neuglarner, Heimwehglarner and sympathizers. “Our instruments and fuel are ideas, networks and financial resources,” he adds. “As long as so many innovative sponsors, partners as well as private and company members join us, we can do something and will continue to engage with the initiative.”

As an ambitious one, one can describe the plan to make the initiative “nationally” a model for other regions. NüGlarus writes in any case that the expansion is already in the pipeline.

Currently, the HIAG Data initiative, TB.glarus and Netstream are active as telecom partners. In addition, the Rapperswil University of Applied Sciences, as well as Linklabs, IT service provider Glaronia, co-working provider Ungleich, the video producer BSV and the consultant ob8. (VRI)”

First April 2017 #SliceOfLife & I’m a Day Late! Spring Cleaning +

OK, technically this SOL entry may not count because Tuesday was yesterday. Nevertheless, I’m ready to ramble. Plus, I love reading old Slice of Life stories from 2015 when I was active. Right now, I’m waiting for the annual apartment inspection by Neighborhood Services, which will determine if I keep getting a subsidy. This wonderful program is through the Department of Housing & Urban Development(HUD). It’s in danger of being cut in Trump’s budget proposal. Without the program, 60% of my SSDI would go to rent.

Anyway, I’ve been on a serious Spring Cleaning binge. Plenty of old papers have gone to the dumpster, and I’ve gone through a bottle of purple, generic Fabuloso floor cleaner. (Break to sweep maroon rug). I’m back. I focused on different parts of the efficiency each day. A major change was moving a laundry basket from the path to the second closet!

I’ve been playing catch-up on Twitter followers. I started on Twitter in October 2011. Now I’m up to 24.3K tweets and around 6900 followers; they’re on every continent and 1/3 are outside the USA.

I’m watching “Live with Kelly” while I type my day-late SOL. I was really happy to hear Kelly Ripa tell about some man who corrects grammar and spelling mistakes on signs. She added that poor grammar is a pet peeve of hers, and feels that schools don’t really teach grammar much anymore because of grammar checks on computers and no more cursive teaching. When I taught Developmental English/Writing, I only allowed for one of the essays to be on the computer for that very reason. I’d give two grades on each essay–grammar and writing. I read every essay and corrected grammar before returning a second time to evaluate writing style. A new Twitter writing education reminded me of that practice. Do you think “narrative” is a good tag for this post?

Last night at my nearby “watering hole” was extra special because I got to visit a couple of friends from my previous neighborhood–Chris and Calvin from the North Side. Then Facebook revealed today is Chris’s birthday! I joked on the site. “You’re kidding! I just saw you at Stanley’s Famous Bar-B-Q last night…” Let’s say I’m more conservative than in the past, so these two friends are folks I’d like to see more nowadays.

I’ve become a fan of spicy chicharrones, aka. fried pork rinds but sometimes they’re wheat. Way back when, I tried the soft version of chicharrones and didn’t like them, so I didn’t try the snack version is a bag. Golden Flake, Louisiana Hot Sauce pork rinds are my current favorite. Takis in most flavors also get my attention. I just made myself hungry.

A Writer On Twitter

Salute to Twitter and its #amwriting community.

Olivia McCabe

birds-on-a-wire

When I first started my Twitter account in August of last year I didn’t really understand what it was all about. Being somewhat verbose I found it difficult to express myself within the 140 character limit that Twitter allows, and I felt rather as if I was shouting into an empty cave with only the echoes of my own voice to keep me company.

Then I discovered the hashtag #amwriting and realised that there was a vast writing community on Twitter who actually speak to one another. When you get beyond the incessant self-promotion and pleas to follow, follow, follow and buy, buy, buy, what you actually find are people just like you, sitting at their computer, sipping on their tenth cup of coffee, trying to create something out of nothing.

I started to interact with a few of these people, and began making some online friends. I created a…

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Trooper 2: A Short-Story Sequel to the Iron Maiden song

By J.D. Meyer

As she tromped through the field, a battlefield, where the lifeless and wounded warriors lay, the now-famous nurse–Florence Nightingale–tried to help the living while other personnel carried away the dead. The time is the 1850’s; the war is the Russian-British Crimean War (1853-1856); the battle is the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. Alas, The Trooper himself was one of the slain. Ms. Nightingale burst into tears when she saw this soldier dead on the ground, for she heard of his legendary bravery from previous battles.
The Russian musket fire killed our Trooper and even his beloved horse. A couple of bugles lay on the ground amidst the fallen soldiers—no longer to summon the troops to battle. Florence Nightingale and the other nurses had to hurdle the lifeless bodies to reach the wounded—although often mortally wounded. Nurse Nightingale told another nurse, “Such carnage! I’m ready for peace, so we can return to dealing with colds and sprained ankles.” The other nurse agreed, “Our calling is tough. But it’s really becoming a modern science.”
The last round of fire in the Battle of Balaclava got The Trooper; he feared the end was near during this bloody battle. At first, it looked like either side could have claimed a pyrrhic victory. But then the British blundered with a final cavalry charge, immortalized in Tennyson’s, “Charge of the Light Brigade,” that wiped out many British cavalry. Ottoman Turk losses were extra heavy too.
A few Turkish allies lay near the Trooper—some clinging to life. One Turk told Nurse Nightingale about The Trooper’s bravery. “The Trooper seemed like a man possessed. He kept charging toward the Russian lines, dodging many a bullet until the last ones felled his horse then him. We didn’t think he’d last as long as he did.” Nurse Nightingale wept.
No country had more to lose in the Crimean War than the Ottoman Empire—now known as modern Turkey, a smaller but stronger country. Long known as “The Sick Man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire’s decline was well under way. World War I, some sixty years later, finished the Ottoman Empire’s demise: only to be reborn as the first secular Moslem country in history—Turkey—through the leadership of Attaturk in the 1920’s.
Now we have Indonesia as the second predominantly Moslem secular country. It has a constitution that protects non-Moslems, and it’s even has had the Confucian Church of Indonesia since the late 19th century through the efforts of Chinese immigrants.
Thanks to the noble Turk soldier at the Battle of Balaclava and Nurse Florence Nightingale, The Trooper is not forgotten and never was alone. Nurse Nightingale even sent a message by telegraph about the tale of The Trooper to her former hospital administrator back home in England—just in case she didn’t make it back, but she did.

J.C. Watts: Coming to God like a Child to a Parent: 2005 Founders’ Day Convocation Address at Texas College

Takeaways
• Being an unforgiving enemy is when God has lost us. Sophistication results from growing maturity. “Aha” experiences.

J.C. Watts has achieved remarkable success in a wide variety of high-profile activities. Watts was the quarterback of Big 8 Champion, the University of Oklahoma in their wishbone days and Canadian Football League quarterback. Then he became a multi-term Republican congressman from Oklahoma, ordained Baptist minister, and now economic development specialist and beyond.
In our 2005 Founder’s Day Convocation, J.C. Watts showed the value of child-like spontaneity through several examples that reinforced the famous statement in the gospels about how being like a little child towards God is how the relationship is supposed to be. Initially, Mr. Watts found this imagery to be surprising, even confusing, because as a family man, Mr. Watts has seen his children do some embarrassing things in public but out of innocence.
Then Mr. Watts recalled times like when his son pretended to be scoring a touchdown, a heart-warming spontaneous joy. Through such reflections on things near at hand, Mr. Watts saw the meaning of being like a little child-often described as being born again.
Furthermore, one time one of Mr. Watts’s kids asked him to fix a burst balloon! Small children believe that daddy can do everything. And since there are parts of our lives that need mending, we should ask God for help in the same way.
Thus, careful analysis by Mr. Watts deepened his faith rather than reducing it. When skeptical people become cynical, they find less to believe in and probably become more arrogant.
This brings up another point by Mr. Watts. God wants us to be the best we can be in such areas as work, sports, grooming, etc. Sophistication results from growing maturity with time; however, sophisticated adults can be unforgiving enemies too. They can lose the ability to say that they’re sorry to others and God as well-something little children still have the ability to do. Mr. Watts defined this state of being an unforgiving enemy as when God has lost us.
Therefore, Mr. Watts had an epiphany of understanding, or what the Buddhists call a satori, and the creativity researchers term an “aha” experience about the essential nature of how to be spiritual.
To conclude, despite all of Mr. Watts’s stellar achievements, his faith and experience as a family man served as the source of his address. Mr. Watts tackled one of the more important and difficult concepts in the Bible-being as a little child/the meaning of being born again. Moreover, Mr. Watts connected the value of humility with sophistication