RICKSTER IS THE COLUMNIST FOR THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION, "THE SOMERS RECORD"

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Friday, March 18, 2011

in memoriam

I wanted to acknowledge the passing of a friend who was taken off life support Tuesday night after suffering a sudden brain aneurysm.

To know Russell was to know the dramatic peaks and valleys that any life could achieve. A mercurial and capricious life lived at times to excess, and at others in spartan simplicity, he laid it all out for anyone to see, unapologetic. His passion and creativity was inspiring, his personality so strong it often left turbulence in its wake.

I once had the whim to write and produce a cable access television show starring all my friends, and Russell was one of the first I thought of. He is somewhere cringing that I should show this now, but his easy and understated talent shows through even here.

Russell wanted nothing more in life than his ultimate brand of freedom. He would sacrifice anything to find it, and in the end, that's just what he did.
video

Friday, March 4, 2011

WORLD EVENTS

WORLD EVENTS

Popular uprisings have never been more popular. It seems as though the will of the people is finally being heard all over the world. Which is why it pays to make out your will, just in case it finally gets heard. In Egypt they filled the square and wouldn't leave until their demands were met. Once their demands were met, they hung around anyway thinking of more demands. It turns out that life in the square is less demanding than going to work.

I pictured thousands of people storming the plaza with their hands in the Bangles' “Walk Like an Egyptian” configuration. Years and years from now, there will be pictures in a cave in Egypt depicting people massing in the square checking their email. In Libya they are trying to oust strongman Maomar Khadafi, but they can't find him easily because sometimes he goes under the name Muammar Gaddafi, or Qaddafi. They keep trying to look him up in the phone book but every year he is under a different letter. His first name is so close to Mallomar that I every time he makes the news my mouth starts to water like Pavlov’s dog. He is a slippery individual, just like Saddam Hussein, who evaded the entire U.S. Army because he looked so much like the guy who "makes the doughnuts" in that ad campaign.

Anyway, the first place I would look for him is the gym- a strongman has to be able to bench press at least 200 pounds or he damn well SHOULD be ousted. Khaddaffi recently delivered a rambling speech where he mentioned things like, "Freedom is a tree watered with blood," and "... those rats that move in the dark." Many of these themes can be seen explored in better detail in a Roger Corman retrospective, only the acting is not as good. Coincidentally, Charlie Sheen said much the same thing in a tweet, and he was ousted, too. He added some odd items about fire-breathing earthworms and some other news flashes that really should be analyzed at length for possible greatness.

Kadafi doesn't seem like the type that ever bothers to check in the mirror before he leaves the house. He usually looks as though he just smoked an ounce of crack, then dropped his comb down the toilet. I don't know much about Hosni Mubarak, except that will all those billions, he never misappropriated one dime on a nose job. But I'm not here to make fun of political leaders' looks. I’m here to make fun of their wives.

Ghaddafi doesn’t seem to be interested in endearing himself to the people, either. In every speech he insists that his people love him and would die for him. The truth is that most have de-friended him on Facebook and many have died FROM him. Incidentally one of my wife’s Facebook friends is President Obama. I don’t know how often they hang out together, but they do stay in touch. I assume he gets a cat video from her once in awhile and it gives him a chuckle.

In the Middle East it's one faction of Islam against another. I always say that I am fundamentally suspicious of all religions, but really I'm just holding out for the best deal. If I'm going to get up early and go to church every Sunday, and act like a civilized person, I have my own set of demands. Not only do I want eternal life after death, but also before death, and possibly during. I don’t need 72 virgins- if you spring a leak in your sink, would you call 72 plumbers who never fixed a leak before? Also, I would like better food during communion. It’s fine if you want to keep the bread and wine to represent the body and blood of Jesus, but let’s make M & Ms represent something, and beer too. The music is already decent, but they could put the words up on a screen like they do at Karaoke, and let re-enactors cheesily present the gist of the song.

There are many lessons here for future generations of dictators. For one thing, don't put a square in the middle of your city. That is the first place people will go to complain about you. Put the palace smack in the middle of a trapezoid, and call it a name so long that it won’t fit on Twitter. Secondly, if you must have a square, make the traffic signage so lousy that you would have to risk your life just standing on a corner, like in Paris or Rome. Third, offer better concessions right off the bat: tacos, Knicks tickets, making "Dictator's Day" a national holiday. Quell the movement before it gains momentum. The U.N. is thinking about installing a no-fly zone there, which would probably go a long way towards calming things down. I had no idea that the technology was available for this, and I would like to install it on our deck if possible, where the mosquitoes are ridiculous right around dusk. I don’t know how bad the raccoons are in Libya, but they might consider a no-raccoon zone there also, and then the place would be pretty close to paradise.


Incidentally, Libya was annexed by Rome in 74BC, which means they knocked down part of the living room to expand the kitchen. Oil even then was a major export, only it was olive oil. During the 5th Century, after the decline of the Roman Empire, the place was Vandalized; the Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that invaded Rome, destroyed artworks, and sprayed graffiti all over the place. After the Arabs took over and ruled for 900 years or so, the Ottomans moved in and rearranged the furniture again. Ghaddafi staged a military coup when he was 27 years old, and removed the newly-officially-named Libya from the Italians, who ruled after World War I.