Who’s To Blame For This Massacre?

Memes have a way of making the rounds very quickly on social media, and with the disturbingly  horrific mass murder in Sutherland Springs, Texas days ago, it’s no surprise this meme is being shared on social media.

Yes, many liberals are blaming the NRA as well as the lack of gun control for what happened.  However, the facts aren’t backing up that claim.

A Thumbnail History Lesson

Sutherland Springs First Baptist church was the oldest operating church in the community. Dr. John Sutherland brought his medical knowledge to the area during the Battle of Alamo, and four years later, the area where he and his family lived became known as Sutherland Springs. He was also the postmaster.

Who was Devin Patrick Kelley?

He married his first wife in 2011, two years after graduating from high school and a year after enlisting in the military where he was responsible for moving passengers, cargo, and personal property in military transportation, or what is called Logistics Readiness.

A year later in 2012, he sneaked firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base, and allegedly threatened his commanders.  That same year, he was accused of assaulting his then-wife and stepson. He was accused of pointing a loaded firearm as well as an unloaded firearm at his then-wife (the charges were subsequently withdrawn and dismissed with prejudice).  He was court martialed, and found guilty of the charges against him.  He received a reduction to the lowest possible rank, and served a year in military prison with his final duty title being “prisoner.”

The Air Force chief prosecutor stated to the media that the shooter had violently shaken his stepson which resulted in fractures in the child’s skull and bleeding between the skull and the brain. The shooter could have gotten as much as five years in a military prison even though there was no doubt of the shooter’s guilt.

While the shooter was in jail, his first wife filed for divorce (the divorce was granted and finalized in October 2012).

He was investigated for sexual assault and rape in 2013 in Comal County but was not charged in the case.

In February 2014 (the year he received a bad conduct discharge from the military), a disturbance at an address where he and his then-girlfriend (who became his second ex-wife) lived was called in to the police and law enforcement responded. No one was charged as he told the police the situation was nothing more than teenage drama and a misunderstanding between the two.

SIDE NOTE 1: The two married two months after this incident.

That same year, he was arrested in El Paso County (CO) on animal cruelty charges. At the mobile home park where he lived in Colorado Springs (CO), neighbors reported him for beating his puppy with a closed fist. The sheriff’s department arrested and charged him. The shooter was given a deferred probationary sentence and ordered to pay restitution, and a protection order was issued against him on behalf of the local Humane Society.

He was investigated on two separate occasions by local authorities in Comal County on allegations of abuse against women.

There were accounts by former girlfriends of the shooter stalking and harassing them long after they stopped dating. Two of his former girlfriends who dated him years earlier stated that his behavior was disturbing and violent after they broke up with him. One former girlfriend said that when he was 18 and she was 13, she broke up with him and he continued to harass her long after the relationship ended.

And he had a number of minor traffic offenses.

His second ex-wife (with whom he had a child) was previously a teacher at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church.

He had a record of violence, and he had a history of texting threats to his second ex-wife’s mother-in-law.

He worked for 5 1/2 weeks as a licensed, unarmed seasonal security guard, having passed a criminal background check. His employment was terminated mid-season in July with a spokesperson for the employer stating the shooter was not a good fit with the business.

He posted anti-God statements, was vocally anti-Christian, and claimed to be an atheist. He was a member of a number of atheist groups according to his Facebook page (which has since been deleted).

Who Went After The Shooter?

The man who chased after the shooter is local plumber Stephen Willeford, a former NRA instructor and fourth-generation resident of Sutherland Springs (TX). When he ran out of his house with his shotgun, he ran outside barefoot. As the shooter ran off, Willeford got off two shots, hitting the shooter: One struck him in the leg, and the other struck him in the torso.

SIDE NOTE 2: The shooter died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head.

Johnnie Langendorff was the driver of the pick-up truck used to chase after the shooter.   When the shooter took off in a truck, Willeford ran up to Langendorff, told him the driver of the truck had shot up people in the church, and jumped into his pick-up truck.  Langendorff kept up as best he could, reaching speeds of up to 95 mph, when the shooter lost control of his vehicle, and flew off the road on a sharp curve near 307 and 539.

The Shooter Used An AR-15 In The Assault

According to CNN reporter Aaron Smith, mass shootings during the Obama administration years led to a surge in sales for AR-15s which is the type of gun the shooter used. He also reported that after Trump won the presidential election, gun sales for AR-15s dropped.

The reporter also stated a modern version of the AR-15 is what U.S. soldiers, and the AR-15 has been used by U.S. soldiers since the Vietnam War.

The Fifth Worst Mass Shooting in the U.S.

The worst mass shootings in the U.S. in the past 25 years are:

Las Vegas (NV) in 2017 when 58 people were killed
Orlando (FL) in 2016 when 49 people were killed
Virginia Tech (VA) in 2007 when 32 people were killed
Sandy Hook (CT) in 2012 when 27 were killed
Sutherland Springs (TX) in 2017 when 26 people were killed

In the end, the shooter in Sutherland Springs (TX) murdered 4% of the town’s population.

About The Meme

Compiling the information into an understandable overview of what happened, the meme is correct in stating the allegations made by liberals are little more than cognitive dissonance on the left’s part.   Devin Patrick Kelley wasn’t a conservative Christian NRA member.

Devin Patrick Kelley was an atheist whose views were liberal.

His murderous rampage was stopped thanks to a law-abiding NRA member who was a conservative Christian who attended a different church in town, and thanks to another caring person who also gave chase after the shooter.

Who Should Be Blamed For This?

There’s more than enough blame to go around including whoever in the military did not forward the shooter’s criminal record to the proper civilian authorities, and whoever in law enforcement may be responsible for making the animal cruelty and domestic violence and other important information available to those entitled to know about these incidents.  Someone with the history the shooter had should not have been able to pass a criminal records check.

But rest assured what happened has nothing to do with the NRA or with gun control laws or those who hold conservative views.  It doesn’t even have to do with Christianity or atheism, believe it or not.

It has to do with a severely disturbed individual who believed he had the right to harm others for reasons that will only ever be known to him.

Elyse Bruce

 

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTED READING

ABOUT 4% OF TEXAS TOWN’S POPULATION KILLED IN CHURCH SHOOTING
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/05/us/first-baptist-church/index.html

DAVID KELLEY WAS AN OUTCAST WHO PREACHED HIS ATHEISM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5053013/Devin-Kelley-outcast-preached-atheism.html#ixzz4xfCL8Y6I

FBI SEEKING ACCESS TO THE SUTHERLAND SPRINGS SHOOTER’S iPHONE
https://gizmodo.com/the-fbi-is-seeking-access-to-the-sutherland-springs-sho-1820273857

HERO EXCHANGED FIRE WITH GUNMAN, THEN HELPED CHASE HIM DOWN
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/05/us/texas-church-shooting-resident-action/index.html

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, THREATS PRECEDED SUTHERLAND SPRINGS CHURCH SHOOTING
http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/A-history-of-violence-threats-preceded-12336789.php

IN 2012 ASSAULT, TEXAS GUNMAN BROKE SKULL OF INFANT STEPSON
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/us/devin-patrick-kelley-texas.html

MAN WHO SHOT TEXAS CHURCH GUNMAN SHARES HIS STORY
http://www.4029tv.com/article/man-who-shot-texas-church-gunman-shares-his-story/13437943

MASS SHOOTERS OFTEN HAVE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TRAIT
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/11/08/sutherland-springs-mass-shooters-often-have-domestic-violence-trait/846735001/

MENACING TEXAS CHURCH GUNMAN LEFT SERIES OF RED FLAGS
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/11/07/how-he-missed-menacing-texas-church-gunman-left-series-red-flags/841693001/

TEXAS CHURCH GUNMAN ESCAPED MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY IN 2012
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/07/us/texas-church-shooting/index.html

TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTER DEVIN PATRICK KELLEY’S TROUBLE PAST EMERGES
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/us/devin-kelley-texas-church-shooting-suspect/index.html

TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTER WAS A MILITANT ATHEIST
http://nypost.com/2017/11/06/ex-friends-say-shooter-was-creepy-atheist-who-berated-religious-people/

TEXAS HERO’S DAUGHTER SHARES STORY
http://www.4029tv.com/article/texas-heros-daughter-shares-story-with-4029/13446961

VIOLENCE FOLLOWED TEXAS CHURCH GUNMAN AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/national/violence-followed-texas-church-gunman-after-high-school

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE RIFLE USED IN THE TEXAS CHURCH MASSACRE
http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/06/news/companies/ruger-ar-556-ar-15/index.html

WHO WAS TEXAS CHURCH GUNMAN DEVIN PATRICK KELLEY?
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41884342

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Unfair Comparisons

Lately, this meme has circulated on social media, comparing the United States with Portugal in an attempt to justify decriminalizing marijuana in the U.S.  While it’s true that some States have legalized marijuana, the fact remains that marijuana is illegal on the Federal level.

Here’s something supporters of this meme seem to have forgotten:  Correlation does not imply causation.  Just because two things correlate does not necessarily mean one causes the other.

That being said, those who are bandying about this meme certainly would like people to believe that decriminalizing drugs such as marijuana in countries such as Portugal is the main reason (and perhaps the only reason) for everything else playing out as it does.

Let’s take a look at the facts as they pertain to Portugal and the United States of America because the meme leaves a great deal of factual information out.  If an argument is to be made for legalization of drugs such as marijuana, the argument must be iron-clad, not cherry-picked.

The United States of America (9,833,517 square kilometers) is 107 times bigger than Portugal (92, 090 square kilometers). To make it a bit easier to understand, Portugal is about the same size as Indiana. Surprise!

The United States of America has a population of more than 324 million people and Portugal has a population of about 11 million people. In other words, the U.S. has 29 times more people than Portugal.

The United States of America ranks 12th in terms of average monthly disposable income and Portugal ranks 53rd.

The United States of America’s economy is at $15.68 trillion dollars and ranks #2 whereas Portugal’s economy is at $212.45 billion dollars and rolls in at #43 on the list.

The per capita GDP in the United States of America places the U.S. #10 on the list, and the per capita GDP in Portugal places that country #36 on the same list.

In Portugal, nearly 20% more of the population lives below the poverty line with only 18 other countries doing worse that Portugal. The United States of America is ranked 34th in this respect with 33 other countries doing worse (including Portugal).

Portugal has 79% MORE police officers than the United States of America. Think about that for a while before you continue reading this article. Seventy-nine percent MORE police officers than the number of police officers in the United States of America.

Is it any surprise with so many fewer police officers in the United States that there’s 54 times more crime in the U.S. than in Portugal?

But wait a minute: Wouldn’t you expect Portugal’s crime rate to be much lower since proportionally speaking Portugal has so many MORE police officers keeping the peace across Portugal?  No wonder the police in Portugal have more time to solve other violent crimes.  They have more officers with which to work, so it makes sense they would have more resources with which to solve outstanding crimes.  Sure, Portugal has 4 times fewer murders and 7 times fewer rapes.  It stands to reason they would since they have so many more police officers and only about 11 million people to police instead of more than 324 million people.

Imagine how much crime could be thwarted if the police presence in the U.S. was nearly doubled so it would be on par with the per capita police presence in Portugal!

In Portugal, the price per square foot on average when buying an apartment is $200. In the U.S., the price per square foot on average when buying an apartment in a similar market is $207. In other words, there isn’t much difference between the two countries when it comes to buying an apartment. But do you know where there IS a big difference? In salaries!

The average monthly net salary after tax in the U.S. is slightly more than $3,000 per month. In Portugal, the average monthly net salary after tax is just under $1,000 per month.  But that’s not where the differences end.  What do clothing costs look like?  Good news!  You’ll pay about the same price for clothing in both countries.  Except paying the same price for an article of clothing in Portugal isn’t like paying the same price for an article of clothing in the U.S. because people in the U.S. have three times more money to spend than people in Portugal.

And good luck with buying that car you might need because in Portugal you’re going to pay nearly $30,000 for the same car that costs a shade over $20,000 in America, but in an economy where people are going to struggle more to find the money for that car than people in the U.S. are going to struggle.

What this meme actually is, is a post hoc fallacy — a logical fallacy, a fallacy of the false cause. A post hoc fallacy is one where an event is presented as the reason a later event happened … on the basis that the first event occurred before the second event.

The comparisons in this meme are seriously flawed, rendering the point supporters of this meme are trying to make seriously flawed.

If people want to compare the United States with a similar size country, they would be better off comparing America to Australia, Brazil, Canada, or even China. If it’s a comparison based on population, that’s going to be a challenge as the American population falls between Indonesia’s at 263,991,379 and India’s at 1,339,180,127.

In other words, the U.S. is responsible for 4.30% of the world’s population. Portugal is responsible for only 0.14% of the world’s population. It’s hardly a fair comparison now, is it?

Elyse Bruce

 

SOURCE 1: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/

SOURCE 2: http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Portugal/United-States

Sharks, Shills, Scams, and Stealing

DISCLAIMER
An OpEd piece is written with a unique perspective on an issue,
and is a guaranteed right under the First Amendment allowing individuals
to articulate opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or
censorship, or societal sanctions.

Internet Marketing Expert Dan Dasilva is hopping mad after losing a copyright infringement lawsuit against him where he was found guilty of infringing on the copyrights of a photographer.  Dasilva reached a settlement with the photographer for $27,000 in June, and paid an additional $10,000 in legal fees … not including the fees he paid his owner legal team.

He’s so steamed about losing that he posted a video — against advice from his legal team according to Dan Dasilva — on YouTube lashing out at the photographer.  In part, this is what Dan Dasilva had to say about the situation:

To put it into context, the reason I was sued was because I used a picture that I found on Google Images. Now, I should have known better, yes, in my position I should know better. But, again, I never really thought that there are malicious people out there that […] maliciously put pictures on the Internet.

They copyright pictures that they take and what they do is they’ll get like a copyright on it, and they’ll put it out on the Internet, and it’s freely available on the Internet, If you run a Google search their image will appear […] and they literally, some people specifically do this as a job.”

Here’s the thing:  In the United States of America, copyright exists at the moment of creation of the work, although said copyright can be strengthened by registration through the U.S. Copyright Office.  That being said, Dan Dasilva lives in New Jersey (more about that in a bit) and the photographer lives in California (according to Dan Dasilva’s video on YouTube) so it can’t be argued that this is a case of people in different countries not understanding the differences that might exist in copyright laws in two countries.  All of this happened in the same country — the United States of America.

You can’t use a photo for any old purpose (especially commercially) just because you found it through Google (or any other engine) search.

For those of you who may be wondering who Dan Dasilva is, he has a website (duplicatedan.com) where in the ABOUT US section, he shares such a sad, sad tale about his life as a teen.  He claims to have been an emancipated teen and, according to his website, he didn’t grow up in the best part of the world.  Here’s the thing about that claim: He was born in New Jersey, and his parents weren’t as poor as he would lead people to believe on his website.


Perhaps he was a runaway; perhaps he was an emancipated teen.  It seems odd that in some of his backstory, he claims his father knew exactly where to catch up with him to talk to him about the difficulties that led to him returning home to his parents’ home to live.  But regardless, that he would trash New Jersey the way he does in the ABOUT US section of his website is odd.  Being from New Jersey isn’t the obstacle he portrays it to be.  In fact, here are the names of a few successful people from New Jersey who had much humbler beginnings than he.

Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin (astronaut) was the son of a career military man and a housewife.
William James ‘Count’ Basie (musician) was the son of a coachman and a laundress.
William John ‘Bill’ Evans (musician) was the son of a golf course manager and a housewife.
James Gandolfini (actor) was the son of a bricklayer and a high school lunch lady.
Jerry Lewis (comedian) was the son of a vaudeville entertainer and a radio station piano player.
Robert Pastorelli (actor) was the son of an insurance salesman and an artist.

Jason Alexander (actor) is the son of an accounting manager and a nurse.
Jon Bon Jovi (musician/actor) is the son of a barber and a florist.
David Copperfield (illusionist) is the son of a small business owner and an insurance adjuster.
Danny Devito (actor/director) is the son of a small business owner and a housewife.
Randy Edelman (composer) is the son of an accountant and a first-grade teacher.
Donald Fagen (musician) is the son of an accountant and a housewife.
Chelsea Handler (comedienne) is the daughter of a used car dealer and a housewife.
Ed Harris (actor/director) is the son of a bookstore employee and a travel agent.
Lauren Hill (musician/producer) is the daughter of a computer consultant and a teacher.
Nathan Lane (actor/writer) is the son of a truck driver and a housewife.
Artie Lange (comedian) is the son of a television antenna installer and a housewife.
Queen Latifah (singer/producer) is the daughter of a police officer and a teacher.
Ray Liotta (actor) is the son of an auto parts store owner and a township clerk.
George R. R. Martin (author) is the son of a longshoreman and a housewife.
John Joseph ‘Jack’ Nicholson (actor) is the son of a showman and a showgirl.
Joe Pantoliano (actor) is the son of a bookie and a seamstress.
Joe Pesci (actor/comedian) is the son of a forklift driver and a part-time barber.
Philip Roth (author) is the son of an insurance broker and a housewife.
Richie Sambora (musician/producer) is the son of a factory foreman and a secretary.
Norton Schwartz (retired U.S. Air Force General) is the son of a typewriter salesman and a housewife.
Bruce Springsteen (musician) is the son of a part-time bus driver and a secretary.
John Travolta (actor/producer) is the son of a tire salesman and a singer in a radio vocal group.

New Jersey has seriously cool people who have worked hard at what they do.  The list above is a thumbnail of easily recognizable names, but the list is considerably longer than what I have place for on this blog.  Shout-out to all the hard-working people born, raised, and/or living in New Jersey as well as the other states and protectorates of America!

But getting back to the article proper:  For some reason Dan Dasilva thinks that having affluent parents (as opposed to the two-parent middle-class family from which he hails) who lived anywhere but in New Jersey would have made life far easier for him.  He seems to be saying on his website that he would have had a bright future if only his parents had been rich and lived in any of the other 49 states.

That sounds defeatist, don’t you think?

To make a short story a little shorter (but more enlightening), at 19 he moved back home (when his dad called him up and invited him to move back home with his parents) and claims his parents were the ones who changed.  Supposedly that change allowed him to allegedly earned $115,000 in 3 months as an internet marketer, and now he markets his method to upstarts interesting in making untold millions in a short period of time.

So what exactly does Dan Dasilva teach people to do?  His advice on how to get rich from internet marketing is to run with paid traffic and SEO manipulation models, running with drop-shipping charges that rely on consumer gullibility, and how to ride on other people’s coattails to get places.

He runs an online “academy” teaching others how to do likewise at a set monthly rate (in November 2016, that rate was around $250 per month but has since dropped down to slightly less than $50 per month) that, according to savvybloke.com, was far less helpful than any information that could be found free online elsewhere. But he’s managed to get people to give him a million dollars according to the Internet and as most of us know, on the Internet you can be whoever you pretend to be — even a successful millionaire influence marketing guru if that’s what you want to claim as your identity.

He is also a believer in what some consider domain squatting, and he mentors others in the ways you can buy a domain for a few dollars, drive up the value of the domain through SEO manipulation, upsell it to generate monthly income as part of the domain flip, and finally, where you can find domain names for free so you can circumvent that first step of paying a few dollars for the domain. Of course, that’s if you believe jvzoo on SamanthasOutlet.

Now let’s do a little comparison between Dan Dasilva’s alleged income compared to what the average professional photographer in the U.S. earns.  According to copyrightdefense.com, the average professional photographer works 50 or more hours per week, and on average earns $35,000 per year.  Dan Dasilva claims to already be a millionaire.

Contrary to what Dan Dasilva claims in his video, Dan Dasilva is the proverbial Goliath, and the photographer who dared defend his copyrights to his photograph, is David.  It would seem that Dan Dasilva continues to use how social media popularity and social media following to attack and bully the photographer even though his own legal team (according to Dan Dasilva) advised against uploading his video airing his outrage at what the photographer had done.

But I see another money-making scheme going on behind all this.  You see, Dan Dasilva gets paid by YouTube on the number of views his videos garner.  If this latest video of him railing against the photographer (which serves to also deep six that photographer’s reputation) goes viral, he’ll make a mess of money from all those views.  Think of it as a way to generate an easy $37,000 to pay off the photographer while getting even with the photographer for daring to defend the copyright on the photo Dan Dasilva infringed upon.

Would someone like Dan Dasilva do something like that?  I can’t say for sure, but I do know that elsewhere on the internet, people have been posting their experiences with Dan Dasilva.

READ MORE HERE: https://www.reddit.com/r/dropship/comments/5tkkmc/dan_dasilva_scam/

Only you know whether you side with Dan Dasilva or if you side with copyright owners who are oftentimes victimized by large corporations and digital native millionaires who believe the laws of the land don’t necessarily apply to them or their business dealings.

Elyse Bruce

 

ADDITIONAL READING

INTERNET “ENTREPRENEUR” SHOCKED THAT COPYRIGHT OWNER SUED HIM FOR STEALING THEIR WORK
https://www.diyphotography.net/internet-entrepreneur-shocked-copyright-owner-sued-stealing-work/

YES, USING A COPYRIGHTED PHOTO WITHOUT PERMISSION CAN GET YOU SUED
https://petapixel.com/2017/10/19/yes-using-copyright-photo-without-permission-can-get-sued/

YOUTUBE ENTREPRENEUR SUED BY “MALICIOUS” PHOTOGRAPHER FOR STEALING COPYRIGHTED PHOTO
https://www.lightstalking.com/youtuber-entrepreneur-sued-malicious-photographer-stealing-copyrighted-photo/

US CONGRESS DEBATING COPYRIGHT SMALL CLAIMS REFORM BILL: GREAT NEWS FOR INDEPENDENT PHOTOGRAPHERS
https://www.lightstalking.com/us-congress-debating-copyright-small-claims-reform-bill-great-news-independent-photographers/

 

 

That Time When Sharks Attacked Those Artists

It’s 2017 and people are still shouting at people, “Watch out for sharks!  Stay out of the water!”  This is wise advice if you happen to be swimming in shark infested waters.  If you know the waters are offering refuge and sanctuary to carnivorous sea thugs, the wise thing to do is to steer clear and find a way around them.  After all, the wisest course of action is the most obvious, right?

But here’s something I’ve noticed over the years.  Some people are so focused on what they want, they fail to see the warning signs, and they put themselves at perilous risk.  They jump in with both feet and actually swim out to embrace danger.  What’s worse, when they come face-to-face with these fierce predators, the tendency is to blame everyone on shore for failing to hold them back.  It almost always ends badly for the swimmer, and occasionally ends badly for the shark.

Do you remember that time when those sharks attacked all those artists?  It was especially horrific since the sharks in question attacked landlocked artists who were unaware that, not only were these sharks predatory in nature, those sharks were too far inland to be trusted.

Some of you are undoubtedly trying to figure out the incident to which I’m referring, and really, I’m not talking of one incident.  I’m talking about the same incident that happens repeatedly albeit with slight variations each time.  I’m talking about the sharks that swim circles around naive and even gullible authors, artists, musicians, and other creative types, and at the first chance, they go in for the kill, leaving well-fed and their victims stripped to the bone.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to stay far away from sharks whether they happen to be in the waters where I happen to be vacationing or they happen to be circulating at industry parties and conferences on land.  I suppose this has a lot to do with the fact I learned about such dangers early on from watching those who failed to navigate to safer shores.  Sometimes being an observer an arm’s length away from danger is preferable to being the main course grabbing for a sliver of the limelight from someone else’s success.

Last week, as I researched an entry for my Idiomation blog, I found myself reading magazines from days gone by.  I don’t mean reading as in devouring every single article, and hanging on each and every word published between the front and back covers.  I mean I browsed the pages and remarked on the differences between magazines from the 1930s and magazines from the 2010s.  Near the back, I found a very small, easily overlooked advertisement from a business that was established in 1917.  Always interested in a good story, especially one that’s at least a century old, I screenshot the advertisement, curious as to whatever happened to those who waited patiently for eager men and women to pound down their doors with the next amazing motion picture script.

The dollar signs said it all:  Riches were ripe for the picking in Hollywood if you were a writer who hooked up with this agency.

Universal Scenario Company was really on the hunt for talent. Why, they even went as far as to advertise in Popular Science and other reputable magazines. Sometimes they were located at 214 Security Building on the corner of Santa Monica and Western Avenues in Hollywood, California. Sometimes they were located at 238 Security Building. Every once in a while they were located at 206 Western and Santa Monica Building or even 406 Western and Santa Monica Building in Hollywood, California.


These guys were everywhere, and they needed more scripts than any successful studio could ever ask to receive in this lifetime or the next. There was so much demand, one has to wonder why it is these days that Hollywood seems to be subsisting on reboots and remakes instead of delving into the many fine photoplays that were sent to Universal Scenario Company over the years in the early days of movie making. But I digress.

Universal Scenario Company was really on the hunt for talent. Why, they even went as far as to advertise in Popular Science and other reputable magazines. Sometimes they were located at 214 Security Building on the corner of Santa Monica and Western Avenues in Hollywood, California. Sometimes they were located at 238 Security Building. Every once in a while they were located at 206 Western and Santa Monica Building or even 406 Western and Santa Monica Building in Hollywood, California.

These guys were everywhere, and they needed more scripts than any successful studio could ever ask to receive in this lifetime or the next. There was so much demand, one has to wonder why it is these days that Hollywood seems to be subsisting on reboots and remakes instead of delving into the many fine photo plays that were sent to Universal Scenario Company over the years in the early days of movie making. But I digress.

The hook was more than just the money offered for original photoplay stories. They did it all for unknown authors trying to sell their first story. They revised. They copyrighted. They submitted to studios.

And because they were “located in the heart of motion picture industry” they claimed to “know production requirements.” What a sweetheart of a deal!

There isn’t much that can be learned about the Universal Scenario Company past a grat many advertisements in a great many publications but there was a lawsuit I found of particular interest. It was a lawsuit filed by Robert H. Sheets of Jackson (TN) against Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation with regards to their 1936 movie titled, “The Road To Glory.” The plaintiff claimed the studio had plagiarized his story and in making it a movie, he expected a six-digit pay-out (a considerable sum in 1934) for being the author of the story.

IMPORTANT NOTE 1:  The plaintiff’s claim was dismissed when proof was submitted to the courts that the title of the story typed in the form had been erased and typed over with the new title, “The Road To Glory.”

In his lawsuit, Robert H. Sheets claimed the following:

The plaintiff also introduced in evidence a letter, dated February 7, 1935, received by him from the Universal Scenario Company, in which he is urged to sign an enclosed application and agreement, providing for the payment of $25 in such installments as might suit the plaintiff for the publication of a synopsis and other marketing service. The printed form of agreement attached to that letter has, in the space for the title of the manuscript, the typewritten words “The Road to Glory.” The only other typewritten characters on the form are the figures “1250” to indicate the length of the synopsis to be published in the event the agreement should be signed. This is submitted by the plaintiff to corroborate his testimony that the story in controversy was in existence shortly after the time he stated that it was written by him, and that a copy of the story had been sent by him to the Universal Scenario Company. The plaintiff states that he did not execute the agreement nor make the remittance.

Mr. Sheets wasn’t signing a contract for representation where his agent was to be paid from the proceeds of the sale of his photoplay.  The payment was set up much the same way vanity presses in 2017 are set up to fleece unsuspecting authors and writers.

The point of all this is simple:  People looking to make a quick buck at the expense of others have been around for longer than any of us can probably imagine.  When something looks or sounds too good to be true, the numbers are not in your favor.  Chances are there’s something going on, especially if you’re desperate to have your voice heard.

As for what I plan on doing with all this information, I think I’ll keep scouring the Internet and old magazines and archived newspapers in search of details about the Universal Scenario Company.  For a company that did so much advertising, there isn’t that much more than just the advertising proclaiming the virtues of being involved with the company.  I wonder what became of them, and whether they were bought out or just faded away into obscurity.

Yes, a hundred years later, at least one person wonders whatever became of the Universal Scenario Company, and did they ever place any photoplays with major motion picture studios in Hollywood, California that became major hits with big stars in the roles.

Elyse Bruce

The Trouble With Assuming Political Incorrectness

The Toronto District School Board is replacing the word chief with manager because they believe they are being politically correct in doing so. Here’s the kicker: No indigenous person or group asked the Toronto District School Board to make these changes. That’s all on the Toronto District School Board.

SIDE NOTE:  The term ‘chief’ as it pertains to Indigenous peoples in North America is a colonial construct.  You can read more about that HERE.

But let’s take a look at how things are devolving these days. If the word chief is thought of by some to be politically incorrect in a school setting, what’s going to happen elsewhere in society?

How will this impact on businesses? Are the terms CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and CFO (Chief Financial Officer) doomed to be phased out? Someone who is a CEO or a CFO is more than just a manager (to go with the replacement the Toronto District School Board has settled on using).

According to the dictionary, a chief is a leader or ruler of a people or a clan or an organized body of people. The chief is the highest in authority.

It doesn’t sound right to have a Lead Executive Officer or Lead Financial Officer as it diminishes the responsibilities such positions carry. It doesn’t sound right to have an Executive Ruler or a Financial Ruler as it bring too much power to these positions.

Chief also means most important and highest in power or position, but you certainly can’t call someone Most Important Executive Officer or Most Important Financial Officer. What about all the others at countless businesses and organizations around the globe? Who determines which is most important?

And Highest Executive Officer or Highest Financial Officer just leads so many to think inappropriate thoughts about what these officers do while at work as well as in their off time. After all, would you want to deal with the Highest Executive Officer or Highest Financial Officer, and if you did, wouldn’t some small part of you wonder if you should prepare for an unexpected police raid?

I’m loathe to considering celebrity to replace chief even though some are celebrities (or act like they are). And I’m loathe to consider superstar even though it’s a fact there are some serious superstars in those business roles.

I’m not crazy with using daredevil, demigod, or diva for obvious reasons. Replacing chief with ace just sounds silly, don’t you agree?

I don’t believe executive would work well as in Executive Executive Director. And we can probably strike big cheese, big gun, big wheel, big enchilada, head honcho, top dog, and great kahuna from the list as well.

Somehow taskmaster and task mistress leave the wrong impression (one best left in the hands of authors of erotica stories and the likes) as does dominator or dominatrix.

Once we start down this slippery slope, things can only get worse. Imagine having to find another way of describing an economy’s chief exports. You can’t just substitute a synonym for chief and run with it without sounding pretentious.

And that’s the chief — er, main — problem with being overly politically correct these days. Perfectly good terms are being replaced because one word, taken out of context, might offend or possibly offend or allegedly offend (because sometimes those who claim to be offended are just looking to stir the pot) someone somewhere.

I don’t know where the Toronto District School Board got the idea it had to replace the word chief with the word manager but it did, and now this has opened up a can of worms the likes of which  haven’t been seen since the news last Spring reporting on culinary historian Michael W. Twitty’s allegation that barbeque was an appropriation of African-American and Native culture.  Michael, the first time a caveman or cavewoman decided to cook food over an open flame  is the first instance of barbeque existing, so pretty much anyone who figured out how to do that back then can lay claim to that discovery without tagging any culture in particular as being the originator of this style of cuisine.

SIDE NOTE:  Mr. Twitty also claimed that there’s such a thing as cultural culinary injustice, and that has to do with someone building a successful business on what they cook.  I don’t see that as cultural culinary injustice.  I see that as the entrepreneurial spirit rising to the occasion, and paying off for the hardworking entrepreneur.  But I digress.

Back in 1886, Rudyard Kipling wrote and published his poem “The Betrothed.” One line among the many stands out for its aptness to this situation: A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.

Sometimes a word is just a word, no more and no less.  And sometimes people see more in a word than what was there in the first place.  I guess you could say that’s the chief point of this essay.

Elyse Bruce

 

Creative Types Beware!

According to some medical professionals, daydreaming could actually be harmful to your health and indicative of maladaptive daydreaming disorder (MD). Yes, you read that right. If you’re an author or an artist, a songwriter or a sculptor, or indulge in any profession where creativity is a major part of your success, there are medical professionals who are willing and ready to label you with a disorder!

What exactly is maladaptive daydreaming disorder or MD (not to be mistaken for the MD that’s usually found after a medical doctor’s name)? Supposedly it is extensive daydreaming that replaces human interaction with extensive fantasies that creative types envision in their own minds. Of course, it would be far worse if it was extensive daydreaming that replaces human interaction with extensive fantasies that creative types envision in other people’s minds.

But here’s the kicker: As much as this is the latest buzz word in some circles, maladaptive daydreaming disorder (or MD as it is otherwise known) is not a medically recognized term. In other words, you aren’t going to find it in the latest edition of the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) or the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition) or any other diagnostic manual. Well not yet, anyways.

The concept of maladaptive daydreaming disorder was first coined by Eli Sómer, Ph.D., back in 2002, and it’s taken 15 years for the mainstream to find out about it. I suppose it was just a matter of time before being creative was seen as a disorder, and that time has only just taken hold of the general population.

How do you know if you suffer from maladaptive daydreaming disorder? Certain topics of conversation can trigger daydreaming that distracts the person from real life. Certain sensory stimuli such as noises or smells can trigger daydreams that distract the person from real life. Certain physical experiences can trigger daydreams that distract the person from real life. Up until recently, that was known as inspiration, but I guess we were all mistaken. It’s not inspiration: It’s maladaptive daydreaming disorder!

Other common symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming disorder include:

• extremely vivid daydreams with their own characters, settings, plots, and other detailed, story-like features
• daydreams triggered by real-life events
• difficulty completing everyday tasks
• difficulty sleeping at night
• an overwhelming desire to continue daydreaming
• performing repetitive movements while daydreaming
• making facial expressions while daydreaming
• whispering and talking while daydreaming
• daydreaming for lengthy periods (many minutes to hours)

The strange thing about all those allegedly common symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming disorder is that they are also important aspects of creating art. Ask any creative type if they suffer some, or all, of the aforementioned allegedly common symptoms of maladaptive daydream disorder and they’ll assure you that they have experienced all of those in varying degrees at different times while they were busy working on a project.

It’s called being inspired.

It’s called working at your craft.

Sometimes it’s even considered genius!

The funniest part about professionals touting maladaptive daydreaming disorder as a problem is that they are also claiming that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) are co-morbidities that happen alongside maladaptive daydreaming disorder (MD). In other words, those with the worst form of MD also have OCD and ADHD so really, what they have is MOCA 4D (not to be mistaken with WD-40 or anything made with the feature-rich JavaScript test framework known as Mocha or the high quality type of coffee made from a specific coffee bean also known as Mocha or the seaport in the Republic of Yemen on the Red Sea which is known as Mocha).

This may all seem like a bad piece of fiction, however, if you do a little Internet research of your own, you’ll quickly discover that what I’ve shared with you today is no conspiracy theory. It’s no early April Fool’s joke. It’s not even a parody of some very serious disorder. People out there are carrying on about destructiveness of maladaptive daydreaming disorder. I wonder how long it’s going to be before we hear of people self-diagnosing with maladaptive daydreaming disorder so they can put on a brave face, say they are working hard at keeping their MD in check, and proudly showing how little they have done that might be considered creative, artistic, or crafty.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in society, creative types the world over will now have to accept that they have some sort of horrible “disorder” when they are busy engaged in professional pursuits that require active and extended dreaming that replaces human interaction.

“Oh, the irony of it all,” the author/artist/composer/singer-songwriter exclaimed sarcastically.

 

Shuffle Off To Buffalo and Other Parts Unknown

Sometimes we recognize old songs without realizing they were originally songs from a musical before they became radio hits.  I love songs by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), and 42nd Street is a musical that spawned a number of Warren and Dubin radio hits (who also had cameo roles in the movie version of the musical).

In a nutshell, 42nd Street is about small-town Pennsylvania Peggy Sawyer (played by Ruby Keeler in the movie) who hits out by moving to New York City in the hopes that she’ll make her mark in Broadway.

Peggy Sawyer finds herself as a member of the chorus much to the dismay of Broadway diva Dorothy Brock (played by Bebe Daniels in the movie) who is romantically involved with the financial backer of the production, the very wealthy Abner Dillon (played by Guy Kibbee in the movie) who, unlike the director Julian Marsh (played by Warner Baxter in the movie), didn’t lose all his money in the stock market crash of 1929.  But behind Abner’s back, Dorothy is seeing her Pat Denning (played by George Brent in the movie) and thus the stage is set (pardon the pun).

The 42nd Street Special was a train that left Los Angeles on 20 February 1933, headed to President  Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inauguration on 4 March 1933 – the day after the movie version of the musical premiered in New York.  On board the train were stars such as Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Loretta Young, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.  It was an amazing way to draw attention to the film and captured the attention of the country in the middle of a bleak period in American history.

 

The train trip extravaganza began as an idea courtesy of Warner Brothers studios publicity chief, Charlie Einfeld.  The Depression had seen the number of moviegoers drop by more than fifty percent in the three years since the Crash, and Warner Brothers studios was dealing with huge losses to the tune of $14 MILLION USD.  This publicity stunt was going to set the studio back another $400,000 USD.

During the election campaign, the Warner brothers had backed Franklin Delano Roosevelt while MGM studios’ Louis B. Mayer had backed Herbert Hoover.  The spectacle was promoted in the media as “the greatest train ride since Paul Revere.”

General Electric, seeing an opportunity to get in on the publicity, co-sponsored and fully equipped the six-coach express train with outdoor lights, speakers, and an all-electric kitchen with what was then considered to be a state-of-the-art electric oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher.  At every stop (which totaled 30 in the space of 17 days), the public was invited to tour the kitchen car and see for themselves what these amazing appliances looked like.

With so many wonderful songs to choose from to include in this entry, I’ve gone with these for this article.  “Come and Meet Those Dancing Feet” sung by Ruby Keeler is mesmerizing.

 

You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me” sung by Bebe Daniels is fun and cheeky.

I’m Young And Healthy” sung by a very young Dick Powell (who in later years was known for his role as Nick Charles in the Thin Man movie series).

 

The song that first introduced me to 42nd Street was one I heard courtesy of the Bugs Bunny cartoons.  As a child, I had no idea where Buffalo was exactly, but the song was something I recognized and sang along to before I was old enough to attend kindergarten.    “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” was the kind of song that resonated with children as much as it did with adults.  The scene with this song in the movie version of 42nd Street makes the song even more fun than the Bugs Bunny segment (which was absolutely memorable and completely amusing).

The golden age of musicals may have been decades ago but the songs from that era still stand up to inspection in this generation, don’t you agree?

Elyse Bruce

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