Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I will miss Jerry Lewis—a comic genius

By SJ Otto
I was a small child when I first went to see Visit to a Small Planet, back in 1960, my first Jerry Lewis movie. I was only 5 years old. I thought the movie was screamingly funny. But my taste in humor has changed a lot since I first saw that movie. Years later I saw the movie as an adult and I still found it to be humorous. There were parts of the movie I still found funny. There was humor I probably didn’t get as a child and some things I laughed at as a child were no longer so funny.

Lewis was probably the first adult human movie star I took a liking to. He was not animated like Popeye the sailor, another person I liked watching as a child. So I was seriously affected when Lewis died last month. He is no longer my favorite adult movie star. But I still like him and consider him an important influence on my life—not because he was a great philosopher, or a great meaningful hero, but because as a child I thought he was funny. Even today I feel like Lewis was a kind of comic genius. That’s not to say all his movies were great. He put out some real stinkers. Some of his early movies really sucked. But he was an innovator. He experimented a lot with humorous ideas. That meant that some of his films missed badly. The one I found really disappointing was Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River. And most Lewis fans probably agree that his master piece is The Nutty Professor. The latter movie turns the story of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on its side. Instead of the Professor turning into a monster, he turns into the kind of sophisticated and dominating person he always wished he could be. The movie is more than just funny. It takes up the issue of people wanting to be someone they are not and, with the magic of chemistry, the professor is able to become all he wants to be. So it is a movie that raises issues and subjects more than just mindless slapstick. Even Visit to a Small Planet has some satire in it.
It took a while, as a child, for me to realize that Lewis had been a part of the team of (Dean) Martin and Lewis. When I first saw some of those movies I thought they were pretty good. I especially liked Living It Up. But I think Lewis did his best work after he left Martin.
It’s been almost a month since Lewis died. He was 91 so he got a lot of years for himself. He made the best if his life—making movies, and many of us are glad he did.   

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor day & some Union Songs...

 It is a day to celebrate the labor most of us do. Here are some labor ditties.

You Gotta Go Down And Join The Union

Woody Guthrie - Union Burying Ground

Joan Baez- Bread and roses

And don't forget a picnic.

Pix by Simply Driven.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Swimming the English Channel

By Harsh Thakor
Commemorating 29 years of Swimming the English Channel-a feat I accomplished on August 22nd 1988 exactly 29 years ago, on this very day. In the year 1988 I became the 16th Indian to achieve the feat of Conquering Swimming's Mount Everest -The English Channel. My previous passions in my childhood and school days were Horse Racing and Cricket. However I pursued this goal with will power and self-determination I never exerted before. Its a treacherous stretch of water, one of the busiest shipping routes in the World. Less people have conquered the Channel than those who have gone into space or conquered Mount Everest. It’s a Treacherous stretch of water ,one of the busiest shipping routes in the world .Those who swim these 21.5 miles must accept that o the way they will swim through sewage, oil slicks and patches of seaweed. They know that the brine will make their tounges and throats swell ,making breathing difficult.They know that oif enough salt awter gets inti the stomach ,they may throw up.They know that they will have to fight the Chane’s micro-climate ,caused by being sandwiched between 2 water bodies.They know that they musty battle the tides that come and go every 6 hours. Everyone has heard of he swimmer who has been in the water for 10 hours with he French Coast close at hand only to be pulled away by flood tide. But on the chilly morning that I first dipped my body into he Channel, I realized that for a boy from the subcontinent ,it was going to be a battle with the temperature. After a few hours in the water even the best swimmers become confused and are unable to respond to simple questions from the Escort pilot, lips turn blue, bodies shake uncontrollably. Adrian Moorhose, a British Olympic Champ, fresh from the Barcelona Games, lasted only for two and half hours. Quoting Adrian Moorhose.’When I fisrt entered the Channel and attempted to swi I thought I was going to drown.The cold completely knockedthe wind out of me.I could not catch my breath.I was bringing up bile and I ahd a blinding headache. “Long Distance Swimming is a prolonged state of mind.It is you against the elements.It is a rael explorer’s job.You think about keeping your sroke –raete going.You do not think of anything else till something touches your foot. Sprint Swimmers do not realize how hard it is .i may have beeb an Olympic Champion but I terms of the Channel,I am a nobody and I have to respect that.”I virtually roze as the first chilly green waves made contact. But,In had come too far done too much to turn back. To participate in club and inter-collegiate events I trained 4,000metres twice a day.I have strong memories of logging 220laps of the Willingdon Swimming pool in Mumbai in the morning. I would again workout in the evening. I would swim sets of 1,000 metres 4 times within 1and a half hours. I secured 3rd place in the Inter-collegiate swimming in 400 metres Freestyle and 100 metres. I also attained 3rd place in the C.C.I Western India Championships in the 400 and 800 yards freestyle. I was now tutored by Mr. Kishan Singh of P.M. Hindu Bath and Mr. Jadhav at the Bombay Gymkhanna. I had increased my workouts to about 10 to 11km.daily. They would be divided into sessions only kicking, only pulling (Only using Arms) and then swimming intervals of 400 metres or 200 metres each. I qualified for the Maharashta State finishing 7th but couldn't qualify for the Nationals. I had stamina but I had some stroke defects. My debut in sea swimming took place in 1985' swimming Sunk Rock to Gateway of India in 51 mins. I now wanted to cross Uran to Gateway of India. (An island 12 km from Mumbai.) I logged continuous stretches of 6,000 metres twice a day as practice. On the day I cruised along to swim in the then record of 2 hrs 56 mins. It was a most peaceful swim and I felt much more at ease with myself than in the Swimming pool the waves simply seemed to pull me along. The following year in 1986-1987 I was unsuccessful in competitive swimming but in the I.N.S. Hamla to Dadar Chowpatty Swimming race I had one of my major personal triumphs .In the pool I did workouts of 5 km, twice a day. I also did an 8 km swim at a stretch. I finished the 35 Km. course in 10hrs 58 mins. finishing 11th. For most of the race I hardly knew where I was placed and for a prolonged period I was simply awaiting the finish. The guide kept indicating the Finish was around the Corner. However my willpower and determination persisted and I simply trugged along like a machine. In the end I heaved a huge sigh of relief! I now believed I could swim the English Channel. As a trial I did the 35 km stretch from Dharamtar to Gateway of India. I completed it in 9 hrs 44 mins., being under-prepared. This was like a practice swim for the Channel. I simply cruised along with ease. The Following months I logged 12 km a day in y my 50-metre pool. I had no doubts about my stamina. My main objective in crossing the Channel was to prove my worth to the world and make a name. My coach Kishan Singh and I arrived in June. My mother was to come later. At first I found the temperature of the Channel waters unbearable. I simply shivered and took a long time to recover. Gradually I could stay for 20 mins., then an hour and eventually I could do 3-6 hour workouts. (After a month) I would simply blaze in the water and can never forget how I would swim from one end of Dover to the cliff on the other side. Every half an hour or one hour I would take a feed. Through maintaining my diet my mother played a big role in my training fitness. She simply took care of my diet cooking my meals. As a preliminary I participated in the Lake Zurich International Marathon 26 km race. Here I simply swam with the utmost determination. For long periods I felt the end was coming and I seemed to be wearing down. However that inner courage won the day for me and finally I was relieved to see the end. My mental strength won the day for me. On the same day as my Zurich Lake swim two Indian Swimmers created a record becoming the youngest ever boy and youngest Asian female respectively. Abhijeet Rao at 11 years became the youngest ever to cross the Channel , while Naina Malhapurkar became the youngest Asian. On the same day as me Rajaram Ghag, a polio-affected victim was to attempt the Channel. A day before my attempt a major tragedy had occurred Renata Agomdi, a Brazilian Champion who had just won the Capri-Naple International Marathon died of hypothermia. The cause was that her body had not acclimatized itself to the Channel waters. After 9 hrs she was lifted out dead. It was one of swimming sport's saddest moments. I was 99% sure I would cross the Channel. I understood my endurance and reserves of physical and mental strength. On August 22nd I started my expedition. For the first 6 hours I was cruising. I could see the cliffs of Calais and the end seemed a formality. However then a storm broke out. With determination I chugged along kike a machine. I was deter determined to fight the battle till the very end like a soldier fighting to the very end in a war .I had not only to tap the highest reserves of my physical energy but also my mental determination. After 12 -13hrs I felt the end was almost there but I was battling with the waters. Up to 14 hrs I was still fully conscious. However after that my mind was slowly going into a state of semi-unconsciousness. The end was just round the corner. After 15 hrs 2 mins. I rolled over the Calais beach crawling not realizing the end had come. My mother eventually told me the swim was over and affectionately I kissed her. But for her care I would never have made it. After that I was dragged into the boat where I simply feel asleep. On getting up after an hour my mother informed me I had made it. More than the physical battle I had won the spiritual battle. More than my mind it was my heart that won the day! That day I had made swimming history in some quarters. I had become the first student of the Famous Eplphinstone College and Cathedral and John Connon school as well as the first Pransukhlal and Mafatlal Swimming Bath member to achieve this feat. Tingoo Khatau, India's champion failed in 3 attempts, so did other greats. That year the swimmers from India who failed included Manoj Erande who broke the Dharamtar-Bombay Swim record timing swimming the distance in 7 hrs 52 mins. as well as Khasnis who followed Erande. On returning I was headline news in the sports pages such as 'Harsh Swims the Channel against Odds". I was feted by the PM. Hindu Bath Swimming Club being the first swimmer to successfully complete the Channel from the Club. Four Champions from that pool had failed. Test Cricketer Sandeep Patil congratulated me and my name was mentioned in the paper's as a 'Hindu Bath's hero." I was touched, shaking hands with a great childhood idol who had shattered the bowling of Bob Willis and Dennis Lillee. Six years later Sunil Gavaskar praised the feat of crossing the Channel as a proof of one's self-determination . I was called to my school to make a speech. Here I told the young students the strength of mental determination over just physical strength. I accepted my achievement within it’s stride. I would love to equate the story of Swimming the Channel with the goals people strive o achieve in all fields of life. The ultimate winner was he mental tenacity. In the final analysis the end was the winer. To have achieved the feat in the time of Mihir Sen was one of Sport’s Super achievement s.O ne could write a book on Mihir Sen crossing the 7 straits in that time. For Rupali Repale to come up fro such a poor background and achieve this feat is another story. The story of her hurried last –minute preparation schedule could be a book.The same could be said of the polio affected Rajaram Ghag. Anita Sood’s superlative effort of swimming it in 8hrs 15 mins. was an all-time great effort in Marathon Swimming. I hope this story will inspire the youngsters in achieving goals in log-distance swimming or in any field. The power of the inner spirit is simply unconquerable!

Chat Conversation End
A photo of the English Channel. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

We had a great time watching the eclipse of the sun in Atchison, KS

By SJ Otto

As with the rest of the country, I went to watch the eclipse. We chose Atchison, KS as the best place for us to watch the total eclipse of the Sun. My wife, Cam Gentry, her brother Fred Gentry and I went to Atchison, which was in the totality area strip of the country where it actually got dark when the moon completely blocked out the sun light. It has been almost 500 years since this area last saw a total eclipse of the sun. It will be almost another 500 years before such an eclipse comes back. So I needed everything to go right so I could see this once-in-a-life-time event.
First there was the traffic. Our travel slowed down as we made it to the town. There were lots of other people coming from all over Kansas and other states to see the same thing we wanted to look at. The highway was jammed. There were cars everywhere. Then we had to find the least invasive place to catch this event. We chose a park along the Missouri River.
Almost everything was going fine when suddenly it started to cloud up. Then it started raining. We got to Atchison about 10:30. By 11:30, right before it started, there were still clouds in the sky. Off and on the sun peaked out and we could use those special glasses to see the eclipsed son. But the only way we could really be sure we were watching the sun get blocked was the approximate 2 minutes of darkness that fell about 1pm. It looked like night-time.
Look at the bridge below as it looked in the sun:


Here is that same bridge in the short dark period during the total eclipse:


And another picture of the dark in the park:


And here is a picture my brother John Otto took of the light from under trees affected by the eclipse:


And with contrast:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bees Knees Week Sept. 25 - Oct. 1

Barr Hill Gin, the perfect base for the Bee’s Knees cocktail, is partnering with bee and pollinator organizations to help save the bees.
Join them in raising awareness and funds for this essential cause.

For more on this click here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Good bye Martin Landau

Martin Landau was a very talented actor. He will be missed by his many fans. Possibly his best work was that of Bela Lugosi in the film Ed Woods. (SJ Otto) From The Hollywood Reporter:

His résumé includes 'Mission: Impossible,' 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream' and 'North by Northwest.' It does not, however, include 'Star Trek.'

Martin Landau, the all-purpose actor who showcased his versatility as a master of disguise on the Mission: Impossible TV series and as a broken-down Bela Lugosi in his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood, has died. He was 89.
Landau, who shot to fame by playing a homosexual henchman in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic North by Northwest, died Saturday of "unexpected complications" after a brief stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

For the rest  click here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


No one understands the intersection of drinking and culture quite like the Italians do. From morning to night, there’s a drink for every moment. Go ahead: Drink Italian. It’s a way of life.
That precious time between finishing work and starting dinner goes by many names, from cocktail hour to happy hour. The Italians call it aperitivo hour, which is a cornerstone of the country’s rich, vibrant cocktail culture.
Those hours, usually between 6 and 8 p.m., shouldn’t be spent hunting down the best drink specials. Celebrate aperitivo hour by drinking something truly special. Follow these steps to enjoy Italian cocktail culture before dinner.


The simplest way of lending Italian authenticity to your aperitivo hour is by picking up a bottle of a true Italian aperitivo. That means Aperol, Campari or Cinzano 1757. Each of these were traditionally thought to stimulate the appetite, but that’s not the reason they’re perfect for pre-dinner drinks. Aperitivos are also light, vibrant and relatively low in alcohol content.
They can all certainly be enjoyed on the rocks, but why not have some fun with these Italian originals?


Stocked up on your apéritif of choice? Good, because you’ll be using it to mix an authentic Italian cocktail for guests to enjoy as they wind down from a long day. Picking Aperol would make you a real crowd pleaser, since the fizzy, bright Aperol Spritz is Italy’s most popular cocktail with a straightforward 3-2-1 recipe of three parts Cinzano Prosecco D.O.C., two parts Aperol and one splash of soda water.
Should you prefer something a little more classic, you can grab Campari and make Italy’s most iconic cocktail, the Negroni. The simple 1-1-1 (equal-parts) recipe will allow you to mix up a great cocktail without spending more than a moment away from your aperitivo hour guests.
Of course, there’s no need to choose just one of these amazing and authentic spirits. You can always make an Americano, featuring an irresistible mix of Cinzano 1757 sweet vermouth and Campari.


Italy’s cocktail and culinary cultures are impossible to separate, and why even try? Explore the lighter side of Italian food to pair with your cocktails.
You can save the heavy pastas for dinner. Aperitivo hour is the perfect time to enjoy cured meats, cheeses and fresh vegetables. Even putting out some nuts or olives is enough to add a taste of Italy to your evening.
For the rest click here.

Friday, June 30, 2017

What does the Fourth of July holiday mean to me?

By SJ Otto
This Fourth of July I know what is important. We need fireworks, plenty of meat to cook out with and lots of beer.

For the fireworks we have day time things, such as firecrackers, smoke bombs, snakes made of glowing ash and parachutes (Those are the tubes that explode and send up a paper parachute with a weight to make it fall and look like a man is parachuting).
We all love the sound of firecrackers in the morning and afternoon. By nightfall, we want to send up rockets. We want to hold Roman Candles and sparklers. We want all types of exploding showers of sparks and colored lights.

Then there is the afternoon Bar-B-Q. I really like the brats myself. Then there are hamburgers, hotdogs and maybe some filet mignon. They are all good with Bar-B-Q sauce. Other needed foods include chips, devilled eggs and potato salad.

Then a nice smooth beer seems in order. For those who want a little more alcohol we can have whiskey, rum or vodka shots. Wine coolers are a must for some women. Some guys like them too.
So now we are ready for a great day of cooking out and enjoying the hot weather. (A swimming pool helps with that.)
We are now ready for great Forth of July celebration. I'll be reporting with more on this later.   

FREEDOM TIME, 4th of July Special

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Today is the Summer Solstice!

We are influenced by the five elements of earth, water, fire,air and ether, both internally and externally. Evening Flow on June 21st will feature an asana flow for balancing the five elements in the body and mind. We will end with meditaion for intention setting for the summer season. Happy Solstice!!
This is a complimentary class!! Please join us. There will be drawings for free massage, yoga classes and more!!

—If you couldn't make it to the event above, here in Wichita, buy yourself some mead, build a small outdoor Solstics fire and have a few drinks. Oak leaf wine is good also. Enjoy the longest day of the year. -SJ Otto

And let's not forget the beauty of the drink of mead.....and in this case, Oak leaf mead....

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's Father's Day—This one is special for me!

By SJ Otto
It's Father's Day. I'm a father myself, with a son who is almost 40. He lives in Portland Oregon. I still have my father, but I won't have him much longer. He has lung cancer and has about six months to live. He is 91. So today we can celebrate the three generations in my family. I have no grand kids.
This is likely my father's last Father's Day with me. I hope to make the best of it. Mao Zedong once said:

"Living is transformed into dying, lifeless matter is transformed into living beings. I propose that when people over the age of 50 die, a party should be held to celebrate, for it is in inevitable that men should die- this is natural law."[1] 

I think that is appropriate for my father. My mother died a day before her 80th birthday. Both my parents have had fine long lives. I'm sorry to see my dad go, but I'm grateful for the years we have had together.
My Dad and I have had our differences over the years. My Dad used to be a Republican, a kind of Dwight Eisenhower Republican, so the far-far-far-far-far to the right Republican Party political trend has turned my Dad off the Republican Party for now. I have always been more to the left so we used to argue about politics a lot in my younger days. Now we argue a lot less and agree a lot more. I'm still farther to the left than my Dad, but that seems to matter a lot less than it used to. Today my Dad and I have a real good relationship. I don't remember it ever being better than it is today.
So today, my brother, my Dad and a few other relatives will get together to Bar-B-Q some meat and sit around the back yard talking about the good ol' days. My son will probably call me on the phone this afternoon to say "hi" and "happy Father's Day." From what other men about my age told me the other day, "getting a phone call from your son or daughter is about the most you can expect out of Father's Day." And for me that is just fine. I'm always glad to hear from my son.
My wife, Cam Gentry has already lost her father several years ago. Cam really looked up to her father, even though he was a lot more conservative than her. Her Dad landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, during World War II. He was one of the lucky survivors. I know my wife still misses her Dad every year on Father's Day.
Father's Day is one of those little holidays. But this year I will make the best of it. Next year it may just be me and my sontwo generations, of the men in my family. I do have five living brothers, so for all of us the Father's Day situation is the same except for the one other son and the three daughters two of my brothers have. And those two brothers have grand kids.
So to all of you who have a father, or grand father, or great grandfather, etc., be sure and make the best of it. It doesn't matter how long we and our fathers live, it matters most what we do WHILE they are alive. 
My Dad and some of his sons and grand sons.

[1] "INSTANT WISDOM: BEYOND THE LITTLE RED BOOK," Time, 20 September 1976, Vol. 108, No. 12, p. 38.

Some sorta Father's Day (or Dad Day) songs

By SJ Otto
It's Father's Day and I wanted to find some cool Dad Day songs. These have some mentions of dad's in them. I'll will continue to look for more. But for now here are at least thress sorta dad songs:

Pink Floyd - Free four

Country Joe McDonald Hold on it's coming

Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Oak leaf wine- a great recipe

By SJ Otto
Several years ago I entered a bottle of oak leaf mead to a brew fair contest and it won best of show as well as best mead. I rarely win such honors so I was amazed to hear that I won.
As it turns out those tree leaves in folk's yard, if they have oak trees, make a really great wine. I got the recipe out of a book on Druidry, The 21 Lessons of Merlyn by Douglas Monroe.[1]
It turns out that Monroe's book is not all that accurate. But no matter where he got the oak wine recipe, it is worth passing on.
To begin with fill a pail with oak leaves, fresh off of a tree is preferred. Ad one handful of rose buds and one handful of chamomile.
Next put 10 cups of water in a large crock pot. Bring to a boil and then pour the boiling water on the leaves. Cover them, with a cloth, and let them steep for 12 hours. 
After the 12 hours, strain the liquid over cheese cloth or something like it. Next get the crock pot back out and put in 10 more cups of water. Ad 6 cups of honey. Then bring to a boil. Now poor the leaf liquid in the crock pot. Let the mixture cool and when it is room temperature, ad some yeast. To get the most alcohol out of the mixture ad some Champagne yeast. It has a high tolerance to alcohol and will allow the alcohol level to get real high. Put a lid over the crock pot so the alcohol does not escape. A fermentation lock may be used after the mixture is poured into a gallon jug if the brewer prefers that method. Otherwise just let the mixture ferment until it has enough alcohol to be a wine. That usually takes two to three weeks.
Then use a siphon hose to bottle the mixture into wine bottles. The wine can be aged if the brewer wants to make sure it is the best it can be- maybe a year. Or if it taste OK just poor a class and drink! It has a rich dark taste.

[1] Douglas Monroe, The 21 Lessons of Merlyn, (Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota), 1993, p. 339.