Strangers in Paradise 2-10

ICO003930_1Two weeks after being shot in the liver and miraculously surviving it, Katchoo returns home from the hospital with Francine, who left the heater going. She takes off her sweater, saying, “I’m hot!” Damn straight, mutters Katchoo contentedly. But Freddy has left 43 messages on the answering machine. Katchoo gets so mad she pulls some of her stitches. She swears she will kill Freddy if he comes near Francine. On a side note, their landlord is evicting them because they haven’t paid the rent for three months.

Casey is wearing some naughty underwear and tries to get Freddy to come to bed. He doesn’t want anything to do with her, because he’s thinking about no one but Francine these days. He leaves another message. Francine hears it but she won’t pick up.

Next day in the video store Francine gets goosed by none other than Margie McCoy. When it comes out that Francine is being evicted, Margie offers her small garage apartment for free, just so it won’t be vacant. Margie can’t think of anyone better to occupy it. She says Francine and Katchoo make the cutest couple. She says she wishes she had the courage to come out of the closet like Francine. She says “I guess dating Freddy would turn any woman gay.”

When she gets home Katchoo is on the phone to David. He says he loves her, and Katchoo says she doesn’t care. She is shedding tears of remorse even as she says it. She tells Francine she thinks she loves David.

The phone rings again. Francine picks it up. It’s Freddy. Francine hurls language at him that would make a sailor blush and hangs up. Francine screams, “No more phone calls! No more men! They’re ruining our lives!” Katchoo has her sit on the floor and gives her a beer. Francine reveals that Margie called her and Katchoo a “couple” and it was probably the happiest moment of her life.

Now we are getting somewhere! Katchoo says, “Would you hate it if I kissed you?” Francine says she would hate it if she didn’t. They draw close together. The doorbell rings! Katchoo runs to answer it, saying, “I don’t care who you are or what you want, you are dead! Dead! Dead!” But it’s David. He wants to come in to talk about “us”. Katchoo says there’s no “us” and there never was any “us”.

David persists, until Katchoo gets so riled up she lays him out flat on his back with a roundhouse uppercut. This is witnessed by the neighbor gal, who gives a play-by-play to her husband. The husband is uninterested until his wife mentions that Katchoo is standing in the rain in her underwear and you can see right through them. But he never gets there, he is in such a hurry he slips and hits his head on the coffee table and ends up on the floor covered with Cheetos.

David gets back up covered with mud and declares his undying love to Katchoo again, which earns him a slap. “I love you Katina Choovanski, and you’re never going to be that out of me.” He says if that’s how they want to spend their time together so be it, at least it will be her fists that beat him. This finally breaks Katchoo. She’s so sorry for hurting David. They embrace.

Once again Francine sees the whole thing and feels cut out. She goes back into the empty house for a while, then returns to the window to watch David and Katchoo in the rain.

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Operation Manna

lancasters-holland-operation-mannaOn a Friday, one full month after leaving Egypt the Hebrews came to the Desert of Sin and there was no food. On Saturday the people started to murmer, but God sent a bunch of quail that evening. Overnight God left on the ground white flakes of bread from heaven called manna which translates literally as “What is this?” For six mornings the people could gather manna, until about noon when the sun grew hot and melted it away. He told them to eat it all and leave nothing for the next day, but some of the people didn’t trust Moses, and they squirreled some manna away, but it got rotten and wormy, and pissed off Moses. On Friday he said leave some manna because the next day would be the first Sabbath of the Lord, a day of complete rest, when there would be no new manna to gather. Overnight into Saturday morning the manna they stashed away miraculously did not become rotten, so they had some to eat all that day.

Some of the people didn’t observe the Sabbath and tried to look for manna, but there was none, just like Moses said, and he was pissed off that they broke the Sabbath, but it was a new ordinance so it took a little bit to get used to. The people all stayed in their tents the following Sabbath.

The people ate this manna for forty years, for the entire time they wandered in the desert of the Sinai peninsula. Moses told the people to put a little bit of manna in a time capsule so their descendants could see what they had to eat. This ended up being placed in the ark of the covenant.  In five hundred years they will open one of our time capsules and find Pop Tarts.

The next order of business was water. God told Moses to strike a rock in Horeb, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.

After that came the first test of arms for the Israelites, in the form of an attack by the Amalekites. Joshua was chosen by Moses to lead men into battle against them, while he stood on a hill with the rod of God in his hand.

And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

When Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur held up his arms for him, until Amalek was defeated. God told Moses to write in a book that he would utterly put out the rememberance of Amalek from under heaven. Which Moses promptly did. Then Moses built an altar to God and dedicated it by saying, “Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Which exactly contradicts what God just told him, that he would wipe the remembrance of Amalek from the annals of the Earth!

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Yad Mordechai

searchresult_watermark.phpAfter the war Benjamin Gervasi grew completely disillusioned with England, which had repaid his service with a terminated career, a dead wife, and shell-shocked daughter.  He sought to emigrate to Palestine, but even loyal subjects of His Majesty found their way blocked.

Lilith, survivor of a brutal process where only those clever enough to make alternate arrangements around every obstacle remained alive, suggested to her father that they emigrate to America instead. Their prospects along that route were somewhat better. Benjamin was an educated professional weatherman. Lilith was a survivor of a Nazi extermination camp. One or the other, or both, would be a ticket to the land of the free and America had no restrictions on traveling to the Holy Land.

When the State of Israel was formed in 1948 Lilith was only sixteen years of age,  She and her father had managed to enter the United States only the year before and were still trying to get on their feet.  Lilith followed events in the paper and yearned to go to Israel to fight, but the resources to make the trip were simply not there and her emancipation would have been another prerequisite.  She had to sit this one out, but it was only a temporary situation.

When the Haganah completely abandoned the coastal highway running south from Tel Aviv, Lilith’s future kibbutz at Yad Mordechai was completely cut off. Only four private aircraft maintained contact between north and south, carrying basic supplies and newspapers.

A handful of defenders at the kibbutz were not even Jews, but were called Mahal, or foreign volunteers.  When Lilith arrived in 1952 she would be part of the Gahal, or immigrant soldiers, and hold dual citizenship, both American and Israeli, having thoroughly renounced her British citizenship as her father did. Most of the children in the kibbutz were Sabra. That is, they had been born in Palestine and knew no other home. Lilith would be their guardian when their parents worked the fields.

Yad Mordechai lay just west of the road that linked Gaza to the Egyptian beachhead at Majdal. Egypt hurled two infantry battalions, one armored battalion, and an artillery battalion against them at dawn on May 24 for an attack that lasted five days.

Much enemy armor was taken out with the PIAT (Projectile, Infantry, Anti- Tank). Those tanks which managed to breach the Yad Mordechai perimeter were set alight at close range with Molotov Cocktails or attacked with hand grenades whose fragments would enter the tank through the view slit, wounding the crew and forcing them to retire. Other tanks were taken out with mines, and still others broke down and were dragged out of range by armored cars.

With great reluctance, Yad Mordechai was abandoned, and in the morning the Egyptians burned it to the ground. But during those five days of resistance Tel Aviv was saved from being overrun. The stubborn defense at Yad Mordechai gave Tel Aviv time to bring in reinforcements and firm up the defensive line on the road between the city and Gaza.

On May 31 the Haganah merged with the Irgun and Stern Gangs to form the Zahal, the Israel Defense Force, and this new combined force was hard pressed to keep the Egyptians from breaking through in the south on the road to Tel Aviv. Two Egyptian troop transports and a warship were turned back by an air attack as they drew near to the city.

On June 11, a truce called by the United Nations went into effect and lasted until July 9. In nearly one month of war Israel had lost 900 soldiers and 300 civilians.

During the first truce a new road was constructed to supply Jerusalem with food while bypassing an Arab strongpoint at Latrun that had not fallen after two fierce Israeli attacks, and would survive two more. The Arabs in turn built their own road to reinforce Latrun from Radar Hill, which allowed them to keep the fortress in Arab hands until 1967.

Between the first truce and a second one was ten days of fighting. The IDF captured Nazareth, the home town of Yeshua.

The second truce lasted until October 15, and was followed with one solid week of fighting against Egypt. On the first day Israeli warplanes bombed the Egyptian air base at El Arish on the Mediterranean coastline of Sinai, and cut the railway from El Arish to Rafa.

Some of the most intense fighting of the war occurred at the Arab village of Huleikat, surrounded by six fortified hills, and when the Israelis pushed through the road to the Negev was opened to them.

From there they bypassed the stubborn Egyptian troops holding Faluja (who remained in place until the end of the war) and with just twelve hours remaining before the scheduled cease-fire, the IDF took Beersheba, the capital of the Negev region.

After the third cease-fire took effect on October 22, the Polish settlers who would one day welcome Lilith Gervasi as one of their own moved back into the ruins of Yad Mordechai. There would be renewed fighting in the winter, and a fourth and final cease fire, but the existence of  the new nation was no longer in doubt.  Lilith rued only that she had to follow the whole thing from the sidelines, thousands of miles away.

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Strangers in Paradise 2-9

ICO003929_1Katchoo sees Emma in a place that looks like Hawaii, and asks if this is heaven. “Sort of. You can see it from here,” Emma replies. Katchoo doesn’t want to go back. Emma tells “Chewie” she must go back, her whole life is in front of her. It’s a gift from God. “I’ll be here when you come back,” she promises. She turns in her hospital bed and sees Francine there waiting for her. Katchoo takes her hand, and Francine sheds quiet tears of happiness.

Katchoo has made a rapid recovery from her bullet wound. Detective Walsh stops by, says anyone brave enough to walk in there with a wire he considers a partner, Samantha Weis was pronounced dead at the scene. Bambi Baker is recovering a couple floors above them, when she’s ready she will be indicted for the murder of Wayne Digman. Darcy Parker herself is rich enough to wiggle out of any trouble she might be in. Katchoo mentions that Bambi has a twin sister Tambi, and she thought she saw her recently, but Walsh says Tambi has been in California with alibis and witnesses.

Walsh gives Katchoo her FBI file, he had a buddy pull her file out and purge her from the computer. Katchoo is free and clear, but Walsh says he thinks Katchoo has more than a gunshot wound to recover from. He wishes her luck.

Freddy runs into a pal who once dated Francine. He talks about what a wild girl she was, and how great the sex was. This gets Freddy thinking about her again, and in fact this turns into an obsession. He starts leaving messages on Francine’s machine, but Francine rejects this emphatically. She walks away saying “No! No! No!” to herself with each step.

Francine brings Katchoo’s clothes to the hospital and is ready to take her home. She says the state is paying for the operation, it was arranged by Detective Walsh. Then David pokes his head in the room too. There is ice in Katchoo’s glare, as well as Francine’s glare, and David can feel it. He says he’s going back to New York and wanted to make sure they were okay. He has a small gift, but Katchoo doesn’t take it. He leaves it on the bed. He’s sorry how things worked out, and he sees that he hurt both of them.

Katchoo says “Tell your sister to give you a raise. You did a great job. You had me fooled.” David replies that he doesn’t work for Darcy, he’s just an art student who came to Houston because Darcy asked him to do a favor. He doesn’t care what’s going on between her and Darcy, and he doesn’t care about the money, he lost the best friend he ever had and no amount of money is worth that. Then he leaves.

Katchoo opens the gift. It’s a picture of the same house where Katchoo lived with Emma in Hawaii. Darcy gave it to David in return for staying with Katchoo and Francine, and now he has given it to Katchoo. Francine asks Katchoo if she wants to recuperate in Hawaii. Katchoo says it’s a great idea but she needs to stop in Zurich first. Francine realizes that Katchoo had the money all along and put it in Samantha’s name to frame her. Katchoo says Samantha was embezzling millions of dollars of Darcy’s money, and it was only a matter of time until the storm hit, so she hid her own money in the eye of the hurricane.

Francine wonders aloud what will happen if the mob finds out. Katchoo tells her to relax, it’s a dead account, nobody knows about it and nobody cares what two girls from Houston do. They ride away in a taxi, watched by the statuesque figure of Tambi Baker.

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To the Sinai

Now Pharaoh told Moses to take his people and flocks and herds out from his people and go serve jindo-island-miracle-141God on religious leave. What he had in mind, of course, was merely a temporary leave of absence, and he was counting on them coming back to make more bricks later. That is why the Egyptians “lent” them jewels of silver and gold, and clothing for the trip. The assumed the Hebrews would come back within the week and give them all back.

So a great multitude went into the desert on foot, six hundred thousand adults, and all their children, and their animals. This crowd was not pure Hebrew, but included those of mixed ancestry, half-Hebrew and half-Egyptian. They were in such a big hurry that they had to eat unleavened bread, because there was never time to let the bread rise, and that is in fact what the feast of unleavened bread commemorates, the necessity to make do when responding immediately to God.

The entire span of the House of Israel in Egypt was four hundred thirty years to the day, bringing us to the calendar year 1,497 B.C.E.

God himself led the Chosen People out of Egypt. He went concealed inside a moving pillar of smoke during the day, and at night this was seen as a pillar of fire which gave them light to see. He did not go straight to Canaan to show them the land of the Philistines, which he promised them, because he knew they would chicken out when the saw Philistine chariots, and scurry back to Egypt.

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, to honor the oath the House of Israel swore to Joseph to take his bones with them when God delivered them from Egypt.

The Red Sea separates Egypt from Saudi Arabia, and at the Sinai Peninsula it divides into two long fingers of water that resemble the eye stalks of a snail. In ancient times the left eye stalk terminated at what is now Lake Timsah, or Crocodile Lake. Timsah Lake and the Bitter Lakes are in the ancient depression of this old seabed. Perhaps the land has risen a bit, or the sea level has fallen. But so nearly flush with sea level is this whole area that a simple ditch dug in the 1800s, with no locks, was sufficient to link these lakes with the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to create the Suez Canal.

Soon after fleeing Egypt, God led the people to make their first encampment on the west shore of this extension of the Red Sea, just south of Timsah Lake. When it was obvious the Hebrews were not coming back to make bricks for Egypt again, nor to return the jewelry and clothing they “borrowed”, the Pharaoh took his charioteers and went out after them.

The tide went out, and the stretch of land between Lake Timsah and the Great Bitter Lake became mudflats that were dry enough for those who go on two and four feet to cross to the eastern shore, but those who went on chariot wheels had a little bit of trouble. Pharoah and his Egyptian cavalry got stuck in the mud. They could not escape before the tide came in and drowned all of them.

Then Moses broke out into song:

I will sing unto the LORD, For he hath triumphed gloriously:

The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

The LORD is my strength and song,

And he is become my salvation:

He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation;

My father’s God, and I will exalt him.

The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.

Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea:

His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.

The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone…

There is a tradition in the Talmud that the angels of heaven started singing this song too, thinking it would please God, but God told them, “What the hell are you doing? My children are drowning and you want to sing about it?”

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Terminal Cruise Season One Episode Four – The Sunset Discourse

StrasbergThe Sunset Discourse was the fourth episode of the first season of Terminal Cruise, airing on Thursday, October 16, 1975 after a hiatus of two weeks during which time ABC aired episodes of the crime series “Harry O” in its place. The episode introduced the character of Lilith Gervasi, played by Susan Strasberg, who appeared in a wide variety of ages through the magic of make-up. Lilith would go on to become the central character of the entire series.

The growing pool of enemies of the show didn’t like it of course, but there was little content that was deliberately controversial in this installment, unless one was offended by the devil anointing someone named Israel as his prophet. Clearly the show was not intended for small children. The scenes depicting the Nazi death camps in France and Germany were among the most intense and harrowing moments in television history. But the so-called Cruisers, the rabid fans of the show, continued to grow in numbers

In this installment, Belial ordered Binah to construct an avatar for him, but this one is black and somewhat larger and much noisier than the avatar of Binah which appeared in previous episodes. Belial appeared to a nephil named Israel (played by Sid Haig), ordained him a prophet, and ordered him to go to King Gordiel far in the west and in turn order the king to arrest Talishi in the name of Belial, for she has been stirring up the population with teachings of peace that were quite out of place on a world of constant violence like Gorpai.

But King Gordiel (played by Peter Ustinov) refused to arrest Talishi on the say so of a self-styled “Lord” Israel and asked her instead to teach in the city of Aramel so that he might judge what she had to say for himself. When she gave her Sunset Discourse (styled somewhat after the Sermon on the Mount), Talishi captured the rapt attention of the king’s troublesome daughter Khondiel (played by Joanna Cameron), who has led a pack of female pick-pockets and ne’er-do-wells rather than fulfill the station of princess.

The now-standard montage sequence featured Talishi healing an endless stream of the sick and wounded accompanied by the song “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship, with the real miracle being the transformation of rebel girl Khondiel as she witnessed this. Billboard magazine noted a distinct bump in sales for the single after the episode aired. Terminal Cruise was gradually becoming a force in popularizing contemporary music.

But far more remarkable than the montage set to music was the backstory of Lilith, presented in stark black and white camera-work that greatly elevated the episode to the ranks of superior television. In a muscular twelve minute sequence, Lilith was introduced as an English schoolgirl, daughter of a Jewish parents who ran a weather station and lighthouse on the southern tip of the Isle of Wight. In a breathtakingly cynical ploy, a British admiral, Bertrand Ramsey (played by Richard Harris), provided Lilith’s father Benjamin Gervasi (played by Ben Kingsley) with false information about the immanent Normandy invasion to reinforce the wall of deception codenamed “Bodyguard” in the not-so-unlikely event he and his family were captured by German commandos and interrogated, which indeed comes to pass.

We then follow Lilith and her mother Edith Gervasi (played by Vanessa Redgrave) as they were taken to a work camp in occupied France to ensure Benjamin remained silent about the raid. But the breakout of Patton at Avaranches resulted in Lilith and her mother being taken to a series of everworsening camps to stay ahead of the liberating armies. In the final camp Lilith witnesses the crippling of her mother’s arms on the Screaming Tree, which puts her into shock and makes her unable to run fast enough to avoid being clubbed to death later. Lilith, mourning her mother, is herself flogged along with an entire row of prisoners for having “poor posture”.

After Liberation, Lilith was returned to her father at Portsmouth, but there was a vast gulf between them, for she had experienced hell.

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All this technology is making us antisocial

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