Friday, December 29, 2006

Wild Wild West

Kat-Renée Kittel - December 24, 2006
Kat Renée as "Actor # 4," The Scaredy Kat...
(There's a lamp under my hat!!)

Skit - "Carry The Light"
Written by Peggy Nikkel
Directed by Steve Rue

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
-Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

False Memories and The Constitution

End of Witness Accountability Will Have A Price
Paul Carpenter - November 11, 2003

As George Mason, James Madison and their pals were crafting the Bill of Rights, they saw the McMartin case coming from two centuries away. With witch trials fresh in their minds and the Inquisition still in effect, they knew a free society could not exist if prosecutorial zeal is unchecked; unscrupulous authorities can get witnesses, especially children, to say anything.

Therefore, they wrote in the Bill of Rights, ''In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.'' The Bill of Rights does not say the lawyer for the accused has the right to face prosecution witnesses; it says the accused has that essential right.

In the McMartin case in California, and in similar cases across the nation, hundreds of innocent lives were affected by a single preposterous dogma that said children never lie in court when it comes to accusations against adults.

The top interrogator in the McMartin case was Kee McFarlane, who, court documents later revealed, was stymied by some children at the day care center who insisted they never saw the lurid sexual activities that McFarlane believed allegedly took place. ''You must be dumb!'' McFarlane would yell at the children until they agreed to testify the way she wanted.

This was part of a modern tide of witch trials that ebbed only partially after the medical establishment finally persuaded courts that children indeed lie, that they can lie in concert, that they can be easily manipulated to create and cling to false memories and that there should be professional standards and limits for interrogating children.

Bit by bit, however, the Bill of Rights is being eroded by people who want to shift power away from individuals and into the hands of government.

In Pennsylvania, the Bill of Rights were augmented by their state Constitution which had a more explicit regard of the right of criminal defendants ''to meet the witnesses face to face.'' The only way to quash that right was to amend the state's Constitution.

Elections last week (i.e., Nov, 2003) offered two amendments on the ballot to eliminate the face to face requirement. Voters nearly always fall for measures to subvert the Bill of Rights or other constitutional precepts if the measures are presented as noble ideals...proposals to weaken the state's confrontation requirement would pass. This event troubled me most during my two-week vacation. In a free society, there must be a price to pay for those who accuse others. They must be accountable, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

In Coy v. Iowa (1988), U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia upheld the requirement for all witnesses to testify in front of the accused.

He wrote: ''The state can hardly gainsay the profound effect upon a witness of standing in the presence of the person the witness accuses,'' Scalia's ruling said. ''That face-to-face presence may, unfortunately, upset the truthful rape victim or abused child; but by the same token it may confound and undo the false accuser, or reveal the child coached by a malevolent adult. It is a truism that constitutional protections have costs.''

When Pennsylvanians voted to deny witness confrontation rights to others, they probably felt there never will be a cost to themselves; there never will be a "Kee McFarlane" coming after them. That's the way it always is with rights; they are less attractive when they benefit only strangers.

But if we let witnesses avoid accountability in criminal proceedings, we all will pay a high price, eventually. See

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Edge of New Beginnings

photo by Kat-Renée Kittel
The Edge
Most of us will never know
How dark this world can seem
When life becomes more nightmare than a dream…
...though my world
Might seem so torn apart,
Most often it is joy that breaks the heart…
So to all of you who have survived
A visit to the edge
I trust that you will understand this pledge.
I promise I will always leave
The darkness for the Light.
I swear by all that's Holy
I will not give up the fight.
I'll drink down death like water
Before I ever come again
To that dark place where I might make
The choice for life to end.
-Michael Card

(c'est magnifique. merci beaucoup.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

And Not Forget

-- photo by Steve McCurry

The atmosphere was so heavy...
trying to translate into film...horror and loss.
This was a whole other level of evil.
- Steve McCurry, Photojournalist

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Munch Amused

(Now where did I put that screen play?)

FEW stand-up comics end up on cop shows, but Richard Belzer is an original in every sense of the word.

Since he began playing Detective John Munch, the cop in shades (he never takes them off) in Homicide: Life on the Street, 1993-99, he has become the first actor to have played the same character in seven different primetime series: Homicide, Law & Order, The X Files, The Beat, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Law & Order: Trial By Jury and Arrested Development.

"It's like a dream for me, I never would have predicted it," the grey-haired 62-year-old says. "I was just really lucky to get the role initially. I started as an actor before I did stand-up, but I'd really become known for the comedy."

A resident of France, Belzer is due to break his own record by going to Paris in October to act in an eighth show as Munch. He guest stars in the new French-language production of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, opposite Vincent Perez as the top cop.

There's also a Munch Muppet on Sesame Street. The Muppets created a bunch of cops called The Missing Letter Unit and they're searching for the letter M. Munch is one of the squad, taking his incarnations to nine.

What makes the character so attractive? "Well, Munch has a particular personality," Belzer says. "He doesn't grow that much! He has his own world view that he has settled into - that's part of the charm of the character. You never know what he's going to say, but you know he's going to be contrary. He's into conspiracy; he questions everything; he reads a lot; he's cynical."

Which is very much like Belzer himself. "Well, he's depressed and I'm not. "He's a policeman and I'm not. And I'm happily married and he's not. Otherwise, he's very close to what I'd be, if I were a cop.

He's distant, opinionated; radical when he was younger. He doesn't trust authority. He reads a lot. He's always got a dark joke about some grim situation. In those ways, he's close to me and the writers know it. And they write to that."

The conspiracy element is pure Belzer. He is the author of UFOs, JFK and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe. Yet only his third wife, actor Harlee McBride, can separate Belzer from Munch and vice-versa.

Belzer kicked off in showbiz with the Groove Tube cult movie and his wit has infiltrated all media from radio to off-Broadway and movies: Scarface, The Big Picture, Prince For A Day, Get On The Bus. The stand-up comic, actor and author mines his material from previous experiences as teacher, census-taker, jewellery salesman, dockworker and paperboy turned reporter. Surviving testicular cancer in 1984 even resulted in an album and an HBO show, Another Lone Nut.

He wears the dark glasses, because as a kid he wanted to be a beatnik jazz musician. "I never take them off. Well, the other day at a French photo shoot, the cameramen were all yelling: Reechar! Reechar!

Then this one guy yells: Reechar, drop your sunglasses. And I said: I will, if you drop your pants. I always say that. To my astonishment, this guy dropped his trousers, so I lowered my glasses for one second. Or two."

How did he react when he discovered his cop partner in the Special Victims Unit would be a rap singer?

"Ice T is also an actor. I was very excited because he is very controversial; he speaks his mind. He's very smart and brings a whole other element to the show. When we film in the streets, it's him the crowd come for. In fact we're perfect partners because we both look for the same thing in the scripts: how many days off!"

What sets SVU apart from the other Law & Order shows is that it is character-driven, and this suits Belzer's inclinations. "We're a little different. The other shows are more about the crimes. That gives the audience different choices. It's great for an actor to have great lines written that illuminate the character - as well as solving the crime. It's such good writing, year after year. Unbelievable!"


This version of original article by Helen Barlow has been re-edited.... See Helen Barlow, September 06, 2006 12:00am Cat photo taken in France by Kat-Renée Kittel.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Good Meal?

Silly American Rabbit.
A Good Meal is for the French.
Now you shall have indigestion.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sorry, Charlee.

(Or Sorry, You Dialed The Wrong Number)

So I seem to be in the minority here...

But the rest of y'all in are flaming a man who just happened to brilliantly help save my life due to struggling with severe depression...

I had to hear the video myself to find out the following:

"No one questions the nobility and the honor of these men and women who are serving... God bless your stepson... and God bless him." -Richard Belzer to Ros-Lehtinen on Bill Maher in March.

Link to the Video:

So now I know three things -- that my "distant" cousin / big brother:

1) is seeing something everyone else is missing

2) he didn't even get a chance to actually share his real opinion

3) The congresswoman -- Republican by title only -- distracted folks from her real agenda, whatever that is, by using emotional manipulation techniques.

And then without bothering to check her background, y'all just happily turned a decent guy into a Scape Goat... (during Passover).

So you think that you've never ever in your whole life been frustrated or annoyed with emotional manipulation? .... that you have never said or did something that you had to apologize for...

That you can cast stones at the rest of the us when we trip over our tongues?

When what we really wanted to do is smack someone with a rubber chicken for having a hidden agenda, but we held back?

May our hull plating depolarize and those stones bounce back at you...

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Kind Regardz.

A True Heroine

(Helen Szenes -- A near "spittin' image" of my mama)

Eli Eli / My God, My God
Genesis 22:17-18

Eli Eli she’lo igamer le’olam
Hacho ve’hayam rish’rush shel hamayim
Ver’rak hashamayim t’filat ha’adam

My God, My God, may it never end
The sand of the sea, the Sound of the waves
The brightness of the sky, and man’s prayer

Hanna Szenes (or Chana Senesh) was born in Budapest, Hungary on July 17, 1921. Her father was a playwright and newspaper columnist who died when she was six. Nonetheless, she and her year-older brother, George, were reared in a middle-class, assimilated home by their mother, Catherine. With rising anti-Jewish activity in Hungary, Szenes became a Zionist and yearned to go to the Jewish homeland.

She wrote in her journal: "The thought that now occupies my every waking moment is Palestine. Everything in connection with it interests me, everything else is entirely secondary." To Hannah's surprise, George also became a Zionist while studying at a university in France.

Just after her 18th birthday, Szenes got her papers to immigrate to Israel. Upon her arrival, she fell upon the sand at the seashore of Caesarea and afterward wrote this beautiful prayer of Hope, Eli, Eli (My God, My God). Later she went to agricultural college and worked the land on a kibbutz.

But Hannah also had an unwavering desire to help her brethren. She found herself in contact with a group forming to rescue European Jewry. Along with 32 other Jews, she formally joined the British army and was trained as a parachutist in Cairo. Their mission: parachute into Europe, help Allied pilots that had been shot down, assist local efforts against the Nazis and aid in smuggling Jews to safety in then-Palestine. Szenes went to Yugoslavia, where she helped pilots and partisans.

After a while, she grew dissatisfied when many of the partisans were not interested in helping Jews escape. When Germany began deporting Jews from her native Hungary, Szenes bravely crossed the border with a French partisan and two escaping Jews. Caught by a Hungarian Nazi patrol and brutally beaten, Szenes refused to give information regarding her mission.
November 7, 1944, Hannah (and her team) were sentenced to death for treason and executed by firing squad. Her only crime? Saving little children from going to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Refusing the blindfold, she stared squarely into the eyes of her executioners.

In 1950, Szenes's remains were flown to Israel and reburied on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem with six other parachutists who died during their heroic mission.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Start Small

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.
Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
-Samuel Johnson English author, critic, & lexicographer (1709 - 1784)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Mabel Normand - Queen of Comedy

One brilliantly beautiful funni lady who daringly braved the new frontier of film.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mr. Funni Is A Cross-Eyed Cat

According to Joan Rivers:
"Comedy is masculine. To stand up and take control of a audience verbally is very difficult. Women are oppressed in childhood and not allowed to do this. Also, women want to be attractive, and comics are not supposed to be that way."

(Actually polished-purrty fingernails get in the way of playing any sort of instrument, especially the guitar or typewriter...just ask my Mama. Now for those folks who's Mamas had to play Daddy, too--well we saw a different kind of lady with inner strength. Mine used to sing country music. Beautiful voice of a beautiful woman who had that audience enraptured... thanks for the inspiration, Mom.)

Yet Joan admits: "Shocking people is my job. Good comedy is never "nicey-nice"--comedy deflates hypocrisy. If everybody loves you--never mind your act--get on the shelf and put the oxygen away... It's over."

(And some have nothing to loose by getting heckled...and laughter to gain. After performing before a guy with a sawed off shotgun... I think I can handle a few insults... growl...
=^..^= )

Friday, April 28, 2006

Occupied Unoccu-Pied

"You have to come to a point when you don't care about getting feminine approval. My whole life I was miserable. I was always getting kicked out of class. I was not asked to the prom. I was not popular; I was infamous. It was extremely painful that I could not keep my mouth shut.

Finally when I became a comedienne, my life made sense. People say to me, "This must be the hardest thing in the world." For me, it's not. And it's not something I chose to do either. It's Something that very specifically and medthodically Chose me."

-Karen Babbitt, Stand-Up Comic.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Silent Comedian

"Through humor, we see in what seems rational, the irrational; in what seems important, the unimportant. It also heightens our sense of survival and preserves our sanity."

-Charlie Chaplin
(Photo from the film City Lights, 1931)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Not Ready 4 Comedy Club Playerz

The Laughter Safety Valve Commission Preezents:
An Eccentrically Meshuganeh
Street Performance of
(or three friendz making total foolz of themselvez)
Michael Ray (on the Sax), Kat-Renée Kittel (Clarinet)
& The Guy Who Doesn't Play An Instrument

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Tigerz Tail

Revised May 15, 2006

or The Other Side Of The Tale...
(Rewritten from an Ambidextrous Point Of View. )

On a Friday night in March -- HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Richard Belzer pulled the tiger by the tail in a heated debate with the Miami U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen(R), whose stepson just finished eight months of duty in Iraq. (Or should I say elephantz tail? Mazeltov either way, big brother...)

For some odd reason, the terrible tiff just downright offended conservative bloggerz and earned Ros-Lehtinen an appearance on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor to talk about the tussle. (How come I'm not offended? Oh... maybe I'm not ruled by emotional blackmail tactics... )

According to a transcript, Ros-Lehtinen told Maher that service members she's talked with on visits to Iraq and Afghanistan have said they were proud to be serving.
(of course they are....what else would they say??? Thanks for shopping at Walmart & buying "Made in China vs USA?" =^..^=)

"We know what we're doing over here," Ros-Lehtinen said, quoting the service members. "We don't want you guys in Washington to lose it over there."

Belzer suggested the troops -- "in the middle of a civil war" -- were in no position to determine the future of the war. (notice this waz a suggestion... and sometimes folks too close to the action can't see the forest for the trees... just sayin.)

"They don't read 20 newspapers a day," The Belz said. "They're under the threat of death every minute. They're not the best people to ask about the war because they're going to die any second."
("Oh, Private , what do you think about the war??? "...Excuse me, I'm a little busy right now defendin this here country. I'll get back to you...")

Ros-Lehtinen noted her stepson -- a college graduate -- supports the war. "He's a Marine officer. He volunteered for the Marines," she said.
(To which Richard had previously said.... God bless your step son and no one is questioning the honor and nobility of our soldiers.)

Belzer: "He's the exception for the rule."

"You think everyone over there is a college graduate?" he said. "They're 19 and 20-year-old kids who couldn't get a job."
(and I know a few of those...)

Ros-Lehtinen called Belzer's comments, "a cheap shot to demean men and women in uniform and to avoid discussing policies on their own merits."

(What policiez ?? This article didn't even mention what policiez that were suppozedly avoided in this debate... Were they avoided? I finally saw the video and the congresswoman was not calm nor rational with her remarks. Period. She did not stay on target during the debate. She used personal attacks, not facts.

I don't get HBO and I missed O'Reilly that night.

Suffice it to say... I have yet to find an article that is an objectively logical report on this debate.)

Reference: March 23, 2006 Miami Herald
U.S. CONGRESS: Ros-Lehtinen Scores With Tiff: t
elevised rumble with Richard Belzer is earning her notice among defenders of the war in Iraq - by Lesley Clark,

I still say that this debate would have been more fairly treated if Sean Hannity were interviewing Ros-Lehtinen and Belzer... He tends to be fair and an honestly respectful host.


Saturday, April 01, 2006


(but the carpet is yucky)

Humor Is Healing

The Old Testament even references the healing properties of humor: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Although Jews know intuitively about humor...(believe me, we've have had a lot of experience over the centuries with number four)

Well now we know a few things scientifically.

According to Maud Purcell (LCSW, CEAP) in her article The Healing Power of Humor

Humour does many things:

1) Reduces pain--Our bodies produce pain-killing hormones called endorphins in response to laughter.

2) Strengthens immune function -- A good belly laugh increases production of T-cells, interferon and immune proteins called globulins.

3) Decreases stress--When under stress, we produce a hormone called cortisol. Laughter significantly lowers cortisol levels and returns the body to a more relaxed state.

4) Helps put life's trials and tribulations into healthy perspective by making them seem smaller.

5) Aids us in overcoming fear.

6) Allows us to take ourselves less seriously.

7) Triggers our creativity.

Ms. Purcell goes on to say, "You have a choice: You can continue to be a 'grown-up,' and let all of the frustrations and disappointments in life weigh you down, or you can introduce levity into even the toughest circumstances. "

Friday, March 31, 2006


You said you wanted to help me find comfort...

yet you are uncomfortable with me and the truth you can't hear.

Perhaps there is a mote in your ear.