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Acting / Acting Riots in New York
« on: May 10, 2012, 11:47:14 am »
Excerpted from Art Cashin’s stock market commentary today:

On this day in 1849, a riot occurred in the City of New York. “Big Deal!” you say – “A riot in New York, how unusual!” (Well, if you can contain the sarcasm, I’ll explain what was unusual.)

Sure New York City has had: draft riots; race riots; religious riots; bank riots; sports riots; anti-slavery riots and even race/religious riots. But if my research is correct, on this day (actually night) in 1849, it may have experienced its first and only acting riot.

Like most riots the seeds had been planted long before the fighting and killing began. In this case, the planting had occurred about five years before, on a stage in London.

By the 1840’s, America began to take itself seriously. It had its own poets, its own authors and even its own Shakespearean actors. Premier among the latter was a certain Edwin Forrest. Forrest was America’s pride. He was considered the most accomplished actor in America.

So when he had been booked into London to play “King Lear” in 1844, America felt his expected rave reviews would validate the presumption that America had finally attained cultural parity with Europe. But the reviews were anything but raves. Critics called him amateurish and saddled with American coarseness. And even before the reviews, the opening night audience had hooted and hissed Forrest nearly off the stage.

Forrest was convinced that his London tour had been sabotaged by Wm. MacReady, England’s “Premier Actor.” Thus, when Mr. MacReady came to tour America in 1849, Mr. Forrest, seeking revenge, was laying in wait. He scheduled performances head-to-head against MacReady. More importantly, he rushed to give interview upon interview retelling how nasty the British had been to him, thanks to MacReady.

The campaign worked. On May the 8th, 1849, MacReady opened at the Astor Place Opera House. Unbeknownst to the star, the audience was packed with Forrest’s friends who were also packed with a lot of yet to be recycled fruits and vegetables. As MacReady spoke his first lines, the audience recycled the produce at MacReady. Ungratefully, MacReady fled the stage and announced he was through with America.

The “don’tcha knows” were incensed and got the mayor to offer more police and even the National Guard to protect MacReady’s next performance. But all the publicity inspired even greater anti-MacReady feelings. So on this night in 1849, a crowd of 12,000 or so marched on the Opera House. (They were led by a certain E.Z.C. Judson who would later hide his police record by changing his name to Ned Buntline; write “Dime Novels” and create Western heroes.) Anyway, on this night, the mob of 12,000 started throwing cobblestones at the theater, the cops and the troops. (Now if you have not been in a New York riot recently, let me assure you that hurled cobblestones can sting more than rubber bullets.) So the cops, lacking a sense of humor, opened fire, leaving 30 dead and 50 injured.

Finance / A letter to clients about Apple
« on: December 15, 2011, 04:36:06 pm »
I just sent the following e-mail letter to some of our clients and want to share with the HEF family.

No advice here, just my thoughts.

December 14, 2011

Because we hold significant positions in Apple Inc. (AAPL), I want to take a minute to share my thoughts about AAPL's recent price performance and my expectations going forward.

AAPL stock has spent most of the last five months trading, in a range, between $370 and $405 per share. These periods of sideways price consolidation are typical for AAPL and have historically preceded sharp price movements. We also know that shares of AAPL typically rally into their earnings reporting dates.

AAPL is expected to report earnings around the third week in January 2012, so it would be in keeping with historical precedent to see AAPL stage a strong rally over the next six weeks.

Characteristic of these historical patterns, there is a high probability that AAPL will "retest" it's recent lows and could trade down to $370 per share (maybe even a couple dollars lower) before it embarks on a rally, going into earnings.

There is a very high probability (80% +), in my opinion, that AAPL will act the same as it has over recent quarters.

If we look at how AAPL traded from a low in June 2011 as it ran up into earnings in July, we see that it went from a low of $310, to a high of $404, in under six weeks. It similarly moved from $235 to over $300, in roughly six weeks starting in August 2010. Right before the stock made these massive 30% runs, investor sentiment was very bearish despite AAPL's fundamentals remaining in tact.

Today, AAPL's fundamentals remain very strong, in the face of overall bearish investor sentiment.  AAPL holds about $82 billion in cash! Roughly 23% of AAPL's entire market cap is held in cash, on their balance sheet. We are seeing reported sales of iPhones more brisk than originally estimated which bodes well for revenue and earnings.

If AAPL were to retest it's recent low at $370, then rally 30% into earnings, as it did  in the recent examples cited above, it would be trading around $475 per share, next month. It would not be surprising to see a rally in AAPL shares, play out this way.

AAPL is at, what should prove to be, a major inflection point. Barring an all-out collapse of the stock market, AAPL should be trading much higher six weeks from now.

Please contact me with any questions about AAPL or the market in general.

Be Well

General Discussion / The Mc Curse??
« on: June 24, 2010, 12:46:41 pm »
The Mc Curse??

I only know of three commanding Generals removed by their President, during a war.

McClellan, by Lincoln during the Civil War
McArthur, by Truman during the Korean War
McChrystal, by Obama during the Afghanistan War

It only seems fair to conclude that there is a “Mc” curse?

Hudlin's Huddle / Thurgood Marshall
« on: June 17, 2010, 11:31:35 am »
The Good In Thurgood Marshall
Posted 06/16/2010 05:23 PM ET

Marshall at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., in 1967 after his swearing in as associate justice, a position he held for 24 years. AP View Enlarged Image
Thurgood Marshall came to be revered by many Americans.

As a civil rights activist and lawyer, he argued the case that led the Supreme Court to outlaw segregated public schooling.

Later he became the first black justice on the Supreme Court itself.

For all that, no one was more irreverent about himself than Marshall (1908-1993).

Everyone who knew him, from presidents to law clerks, remembers him as a friendly, light-hearted character, given to telling funny stories and politically incorrect jokes.

Some of those jokes came back to haunt him during confirmation hearings, but that didn't stop him. In 1950 he told Collier's magazine, "I intend to wear life like a very loose garment and never worry about nothin'."

This attitude sometimes led critics to call him unserious.

But Marshall's carefree attitude was a key part of his success. It kept him upbeat through grim events — including attempts on his life.

Marshall's Keys
•Led the legal victory to desegregate public schools and was the first black justice on the Supreme Court.
•"If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his house, what books he may read or what films he may watch."
And it gave Marshall a remarkable charm that let him work with anyone, even diehard opponents. In the sharply divided racial climate of the mid-20th century, he had an almost preternatural ability to schmooze.

"That's how he was," said Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet, a former clerk for Marshall who has written several books about him. "He knew that he was doing very serious work, but he was also doing it in a way that he could enjoy life."

Work And Play

Marshall showed a facility at both from an early age. Growing up in the black middle class of Baltimore, he was something of a hell-raiser at school. But his parents — a waiter and a schoolteacher — were adamant that their children would make something of themselves.

Marshall's father was especially fascinated by the law and sometimes took Thurgood to watch court proceedings.

In 1930, Marshall applied to the University of Maryland's law school, but was rejected because of his race. He was furious, but it only increased his determination to make a difference through the law.

In 1933 he graduated first in his class from Howard University's law school. He also became close friends with the school's dean, Charles Houston, a litigator with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

As soon as Marshall graduated, he and Houston started working together on civil rights cases.

Two years later they avenged Marshall's rejection from Maryland by suing successfully on behalf of another rejected black applicant. Marshall pointed out that no state law school existed for blacks, so it could not reasonably claim to have "separate but equal" facilities.

Maryland's Supreme Court agreed, and in 1936 the NAACP employed Marshall full time.

For the next 20 years, he traveled the country, challenging local segregation laws and helping black defendants he thought were being treated unfairly. This often led him to Southern towns that had no lodging for blacks. So he stayed in private houses.

Things got hairy. In 1946, Marshall went to Columbia, Tenn., to defend two black men charged with rioting and attempted murder. He succeeded in getting one of them off; the other was convicted.

That was too much for some locals. One night, two policemen arrested him for drunken driving and took him off to a secluded spot by a river where angry men waited.


One of Marshall's colleagues followed them, and the police feared another race riot would erupt if the horde lynched the lawyer. So the cops took Marshall back to town, and he and his colleague escaped by sending another driver in the opposite direction in a decoy car.

"And sure enough, the mob was coming around the corner when we left," Marshall said in Juan Williams' 1998 biography, "Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary." "So they followed (the other) car, which we'd hoped they'd do. And incidentally, when they found out I wasn't in it, they beat the driver bad enough that he was in the hospital for a week."

This brush with death didn't stop Marshall from fighting civil rights cases and even befriending opponents. That approach worked even on the unlikeliest people.


In 1952 an NAACP employee, June Shagaloff, was arrested during an attempt to desegregate schools in Cairo, Ill. The authorities refused offers of bail. Enter Marshall. "The police chief ... (was) a fat, slobby, uneducated man with a big, stubby cigar," Shagaloff recounted to Williams. "Mr. Marshall took a straight chair and straddled it ... and just chewed the fat with this police chief. You would think they were old buddies. And that went on for a half-hour, 45 minutes. And finally Mr. Marshall said, 'How about that man's bond that he put up for her, pretty good isn't it?' And the police chief said, 'I guess so.'"

Shagaloff was released.

Meanwhile, Marshall and other NAACP lawyers were challenging segregation on progressively broader legal grounds. After his University of Maryland court victory, Marshall started arguing cases where there were such schools, but they had inferior funding and materials.

By the time the famous Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka came before the Supreme Court in 1953, Marshall was arguing that simply having segregated schools was inherently unequal treatment.

The opposing counsel on the case, John W. Davis, was a man Marshall had watched and admired as a law student at Howard as he argued cases before the Supreme Court.

Even though Davis was such an ardent segregationist that he came out of retirement to argue the case without pay, during the proceedings he and Marshall were seen having dinner together. Marshall defended the action by saying, "It's very important to have a civil relationship with your opponent."

Tushnet says this was true to Marshall's character, and good strategy.

"It affected the way adversaries thought about him — not just about him, but about overcoming racial segregation," he told IBD.

Finally, the Supreme Court ruled in May 1954 that segregated schooling was contrary to equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution.

Marshall was a star and became more and more accepted by the white establishment. Even FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, infamously suspicious of civil rights activists, helped Marshall in his efforts to rid the NAACP of communists. (The purge even took one of the group's founders, W.E.B. Du Bois.)

Marshall had no patience with separatist black activist groups such as the Nation of Islam. Even Martin Luther King's civil disobedience rubbed him the wrong way, since it involved breaking the law.

Still, Marshall put the movement's interests before his own and supported King in public.

High Places

Marshall's stance led to a series of government appointments. In 1961 President Kennedy chose him as a federal appeals court judge, making him only the second black person to hold that position.

In 1965 President Johnson, a Marshall friend, made him solicitor general to the White House.

In 1967 Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court. Marshall served there for 24 years, retiring two years before his death in 1993.

At his funeral, Chief Justice William Rehnquist pointed to the words at the Supreme Court's entrance, "Equal Justice Under Law." "Surely no one individual did more to make those words a reality than Thurgood Marshall," Rehnquist said.

General Discussion / Father's Day
« on: June 15, 2010, 01:27:06 pm »
I'm looking for ideas. What are you giving your dad for Father's Day?

Or, if you are a dad, what are you hoping to receive?

Hard Choices / Lingerie
« on: June 09, 2010, 07:50:41 am »

Color, style, details what's your favorite combo?

General Discussion / Racist?? If not, why not?
« on: June 07, 2010, 03:08:03 pm »


Obama should get a white man to replace rahm....


Excuse me, for loving the white race!!!!!!!!!

Before you jump through your computer to rip my head off, all the above sentences were taken from beloved HEF member Afro Samurai, only I substituted the word “white” for “black”.

Here’s my question: when I read Afro Samurai’s posts, I’m not particularly offended. But, when I substitute the word white for black, I read the same sentence as racist and I’m not sure why.

Logic tells me that if the sentence is racist with white, it must also be racist with black – but it doesn’t feel that way.

Finance / What stocks do you own?
« on: June 03, 2010, 08:29:04 am »
What stocks do you own right now?

If you own a ton of different stocks, share your biggest 4 or 5 positions.

Finance / June 3, 2010
« on: June 03, 2010, 08:11:24 am »
June 3, 2010

With yesterday’s price/volume movements in the market, we have technically entered into a confirmed uptrend.

It was interesting to see the higher volume on the NASDAQ but lower volume on the S&P 500 and DOW. This relative disparity in volume suggests that we will see the NASDAQ outpace the other indexes, going forward.

Market uptrends that start in June have a horrible record of holding up for very long. So even though we are holding long positions, we will be very cautious in this market.

Historically, the early days and weeks of a new uptrend see the greatest percentage gains with new leading stock emerging. So far, this appears to be the case with this most recent technical break out.

There are very high expectations for tomorrow’s jobs report (released at 5:30 AM PST tomorrow) and those high expectations could set the market up for a disappointing day. If we see a sell-off materialize (assuming volume is lighter than today’s volume), we will use that as a buying opportunity unless we see the market undercut it’s recent lows – which would be a technical break down of the new uptrend that just started.

The correction the market underwent in May and the ensuing rally that has just begun, is classic “text book” market action. Let’s hope the market continues to follow these predictable patterns.

Have a profitable day.

This material contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Beverly Highland Capital LLC and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material has been distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.

Hudlin's Huddle / sleeping in a dorm room honoring the KKK?
« on: June 02, 2010, 06:58:38 am »
AUSTIN, Texas (June 1) -- In 1954, the University of Texas named a dorm after William Stewart Simkins, who taught law there for three decades. Simkins has been dead for more than 80 years but now his past -- as a leader of the Ku Klux Klan -- has come back to haunt the school.

The disclosure of Simkins' past in a recently published article has the UT administration considering whether to remove his name from the dorm -- Simkins Residence Hall.
William Stewart Simkins fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and taught law at the University of Texas.
"Simkins was a mask-wearing coward, a night-riding Klansman who admitted committing violence against freed slaves," legal historian Tom Russell told AOL News.

Russell, a former UT law professor, wrote the scholarly article, which was published on March 22 in the online journal, Social Science Network. Russell currently teaches at the University of Denver. His article describes Simkins as a Klansman who boasted to UT students about his activities and how he assaulted African-Americans.

In a May 10 editorial in the campus newspaper, Russell called for UT President William Powers to remove Simkins' name from the dorm.

The Texas NAACP, which has been at odds with UT over racial matters in the past, and some students also want to see the name removed.

"Having his name on that dormitory is highly offensive," said Gary Bledsoe, the NAACP president and an attorney who is a graduate of UT's law school. "One of my former roommates used to live in that dorm, but at that time we didn't know anything about the person who it was named after."

Pre-med student Uwana Akpan said she heard about the Simkins controversy through a Facebook posting.

"We have a small number of minorities on campus and even a smaller number of African-Americans," Akpan said.. "It would be slap in the face to have a dorm named after a member of an organization that has terrorized our people."

The disclosure about Simkins comes during a time the university has been engaged in efforts to improve minority relations and overcome its past history of racial exclusion.

"We want to have a climate that is welcoming, inclusive and representative of all of the people at the university," Leslie Blair, spokesperson of UT's Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, told AOL News.

African-Americans make up nearly 4 percent of the faculty and 4.5 percent of the student population, according to figures provided by Blair. One-third of the new hires are from minority groups, she said.

Blair said that Powers has placed the division in charge of forming a panel to review the dormitory matter and make a recommendation to him by the end of the month. A meeting of the multicultural panel is planned for June 10. She said that the Board of Regents will have the final say over whether the dorm will be renamed.

Russell told AOL News that his article was written to examine the methods used to exclude African-Americans from UT. In it he discussed UT's policy of segregation before and after the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that outlawed segregation in schools.

The article mentions the historic lawsuit filed in 1946 by postal worker Herman Sweatt, who was denied admission to the law school. Sweatt won the lawsuit in 1950. He enrolled, but he left the following year after enduring cross burnings, threats and racial taunts by faculty and students.

Simkins was a Confederate colonel during the Civil War and taught at the School of Law from 1899 until he died in 1929, according to records Russell reviewed. At the end of the war, Simkins and his brother Eldred, who later became a member of the UT System Board of Regents, organized the Klan in Florida during Reconstruction.

In 1914, Simkins gave a Thanksgiving Day speech extolling Klan "virtues," to the students. He claimed that he never "drew blood" as a Klansman but boasted about whipping a black man with a "barrel stave" and how he tried to ambush and beat another who was a minister.

A faculty committee, according to Russell's article, omitted references about Simkins' Klan activities to the Board of Regents when they recommended that the dormitory be named in his honor.

Russell said that he did not take a position about Simkins in his article, but expressed his personal views in the editorial that he was invited to write for the campus newspaper.

In his editorial, he described Simkins as a "Klan terrorist," and accused the faculty committee of "whitewashing his past," by deliberately omitting his Klan history to the Regents board in 1954.

News about Simkins' past comes too late for Jacoby Eaton, a senior who is studying social work and African-American studies. Eaton said he lived at the dorm throughout his freshman year in 2007 without a clue about who Simkins really was.

"This gives me an eerie feeling," Eaton said. "I feel like I should have been told."

Sports Talk / Willie Mays
« on: May 18, 2010, 11:33:12 am »
Willie Mays, The Baseball Giant
Posted 05/17/2010 05:10 PM ET

Mays, in the mid-1950s when the Giants were still in New York, clubbed 660 homers, grabbed 12 Gold Gloves and won two MVP trophies. AP View Enlarged Image
Willie Mays knew tough times.

And how to get through them.

Born near Birmingham, Ala., in 1931, he grew up amid segregation. His father taught him to avoid bitterness and instead focus on maximizing his athletic gifts.

Mays got the message — and swung through baseball's stages.

By 1950 — three years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier — Mays signed with the New York Giants and joined their minor league team in Trenton, N.J. There he was subjected to race-baiting by fans and some opposing players as the Interstate League's first black player.

Mays' father, a former semipro baseball player, told Willie to keep ignoring the darts. Both knew his immense talent could take him to the major leagues while helping pave the way for other black players.

The next year he was in the big leagues. Yet early on he hardly looked like a Giant, going one for 26.

Could Mays endure? His father had prepared him for such situations, and his manager, Leo Durocher, believed in him. Neither mentor would let the center fielder quit.

Mays' Keys
•Called by some the top player in baseball history, he entered the Hall of Fame in 1979 and was chosen to MLB's All-Century Team in 1999.
•"In baseball, you have to be very disciplined as far as knowing what to do, how to do it. And you have to prepare."
Never Give Up

Mays bounced back with a vengeance, helping the Giants to the 1951 National League pennant and winning the NL's Rookie of the Year. Over the next two decades he performed on such a high level, fans lauded him as they did Babe Ruth.

"My father gave me that one thing, positive thinking, that allowed me to look past whatever was happening," Mays, 79, told James Hirsch in "Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend." "Sure there was some pain. But if you can overcome your pain and do your job, the pain disappears the next day. That's where the positive thinking comes in."

Hirsch told IBD that Mays shares that thinking with fans, advising them that "whatever you want to do, there's going to come a point where you're going to feel like you're not good enough. But don't give up. Don't give up when things are going badly."

With that attitude, Mays made sure things hardly went south. He won two NL Most Valuable Player trophies, in 1954 and 1965. His lifetime .302 batting average included 3,283 career hits, 11th most in MLB history. He hammered 660 home runs, fourth on the all-time list. His 1,903 runs batted in rank 10th.

In the field, Mays was so outstanding he received 12 Gold Gloves.

In 1979, six years after his final season, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"Whatever I did, I tried to be the best in each category, in hitting, running and throwing," Mays told IBD in a 2000 interview.

Durocher, a Hall of Fame manager who played with Ruth, consistently called Mays baseball's greatest player ever. Hirsch wrote that Mays "was an American icon ... a distinctive figure of ambition, sacrifice and triumph. He succeeded by hewing to the country's most cherished values — hard work, clean living and perseverance."

Mays grew up seeing that baseball was his ticket to a better life. His heroes were ballplayers, especially Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Ted Williams. He learned about their success by reading about them and watching newsreel footage. Soon enough, he would pattern his batting stance after DiMaggio's.

During his 22 seasons in the majors, Mays played to win games, not pile up statistics. "Winning the pennant was more important than anything I could accomplish individually," he said.

"You never heard Willie talk about his stats when playing," said former Giants broadcaster Lon Simmons.

Mays led the Giants to three pennants, helped the New York Mets to one in 1973, his last season — and made the World Series poster catch that sparked their sweep of the Cleveland Indians in 1954.

Mays hit .286 and scored four runs in that upset of the Indians. But it was his defense that set the tone.

The grand moment came in the first game. In a 2-2 tie, Cleveland had men on first and second with no outs in the eighth inning.

Up stepped Vic Wertz, who drove one deep to center. Running full speed with his back to the plate, Mays made a stunning over-the-shoulder catch. He then wheeled and fired a rope to second base, keeping the runner at first from advancing. "I knew exactly what I was going to do if I caught the ball," he said. "You have to think all plays out before they ever happen."

After he made another great catch in the 10th inning, the Giants won it in the bottom of the inning, 5-2.

Mays' eighth-inning heroics live on as The Catch, which Indians skipper Al Lopez called "the best play anybody ever made in baseball."

Such clutch play made Mays the first black captain of a team in the majors. "Baseball was my life when I played," he said. "I didn't know any other way than to play hard."
Mays would charge after balls in center field as though he "actually registers belligerence toward" them, the Sporting News wrote in 1958, the year the Giants moved to San Francisco. The article also said "Mays attacks a ballgame — any game, one that doesn't count as well as one that figures importantly in the standings — as if history for the ages depended on that score."

Capping It Off

Bill Rigney, who managed Mays on the Giants from 1956 to '60, said: "Every time Willie walked into the clubhouse you knew you had a chance to win. He brought electricity to the clubhouse. He was a winner all his life. Consequently, everybody followed after him."

Mays was so detailed, he'd check each stadium's turf. Depending on its speed, he knew how deep to play. Then he would go all-out, with his cap often flying off — his trademark. "You got to learn for yourself (and) do it your way," he said. "If you love the game, you can do it."

Directing / The Scary Discipline Of Alfred Hitchcock
« on: May 12, 2010, 11:58:53 am »
The Scary Discipline Of Alfred Hitchcock
Posted 05/11/2010 04:44 PM ET

Hitchcock was born in London and was already directing movie hits when he reached Hollywood in 1939. AP View Enlarged Image
The '20s hadn't started to roar when a young ad illustrator at a London telegraph firm learned that Famous Players-Lasky had opened a studio.

The production outfit was preparing to film "The Sorrows of Satan."

The illustrator, Alfred Hitchcock, quickly read the novel, by Marie Corelli. He then imagined the film and drew designs for the stylized title cards used as dialogue and description in silent films.

He submitted them to the studio with his portfolio.

The movie was canceled before it started. But Hitchcock didn't let that discourage him. He kept at it: imagining and drawing cards for other gestating films until the studio finally hired him full time in 1920 to design the cards for its productions.

Within two decades, Hitchcock would become Britain's greatest film director. He would then move to Los Angeles to become the top director of suspense films in America.

His work pioneered production and story-depiction techniques that locked in the look and feel of the suspense and horror genre.

Hitchcock also linked film to the developing field of psychology.

Hitchcock's Keys
•Became Britain's top film director with a dozen silent films and talkies, including "The 39 Steps" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much." Directed an additional 31 movies in America to become one of the industry's most influential filmmakers.
•"We (the directors) make the film succeed. The name of the director should be associated in the public's mind with a quality product. Actors come and go, but the name of the director should stay clearly in the mind of the audience."
Murderers and victims became objects of study, shifting "the focus away from the classic Universal (Studios) monsters of the 1930s and 1940s and onto the monsters in human form that cast dramatic shadows over the horror movies of the 1950s and 1960s," Karina Wilson, who runs, told IBD.

Hitchcock (1899-1980) was born in London's East End.

He was seven years younger than his sister, nine years younger than his brother. He was pudgy and soft and often excluded from neighborhood games. This forced the shy boy to live in what would become one of the most influential imaginations in the world.

Hitchcock's father was a grocer, a serious businessman and disciplinarian. His mother managed the home and doted on her youngest boy. Together, his parents were the portrait-perfect Victorian couple.

Hitchcock said he came away from that childhood with a keen sense of good and evil.

Tough Learning

His Catholic education continued that process. It included a stint at London's Salesian College, where the authorities used laxatives as punishment. He then moved to Saint Ignatius College, where the Jesuit priests ordered pupils to choose "the moment when they would receive their strokes with a hard rubber cane," according to Paul Duncan's "Alfred Hitchcock: The Complete Films."

The schools taught Hitchcock "control, organization, discipline and that I did not like to get a tanning," the director told Charlotte Chandler in her biography "It's Only a Movie."
Hitchcock took a job right out of school in 1915 at Henley Telegraph & Cable. Bored with the work, he took night classes and began drawing. His talent and energy eventually landed him in Henley's ad office.

Now thoroughly engaged, he worked creatively. And he took time to attend plays, watch the era's silent movies and read intensively. He especially liked Edgar Allan Poe.

Hitchcock followed crime tabloids closely, attending some murder trials at the Old Bailey, England's Central Criminal Court. And he scoured film trade journals, which would lead him to Famous Players-Lasky.

The U.S. company exported some of its top American talent to the London studio. Eve Unsell, Margaret Turnbull and Ouida Bergere all taught Hitchcock the ins and outs of story and screenplay mechanics as well as adapting novels for film. He soaked up the lessons.

He also made himself indispensable around the studio, learning every aspect of the trade while performing his title card design tasks.

Yet when he was about to direct a short comedy, the studio had slipped into financial trouble. Players-Lasky quit producing films and began renting its space and hiring its talent out to other studios.

In 1923, he had been hired out as an assistant director on "Always Tell Your Wife." A break came when Seymour Hicks, the film's producer/actor/writer fired director Hugh Croise and had Hitchcock direct the remaining scenes.

On his next film as assistant director, the producers needed help, so Hitchcock offered to write the script and handle the art direction. The film was a smash, so the trio worked on four more films.

Next Scene

Hitchcock wooed one of the studio's editors, Alma Reville. They became an item and soon moved to Germany's Ufa studios where Hitchcock dived into the technical aspects of that country's expressionistic filmmakers.

While sailing back on the English Channel, he proposed. A seasick Reville reportedly answered with a burp. He took the reply as a yes, and they were married in 1926.

In 1925, Hitchcock had been hired to direct "The Pleasure Garden" at locations around Europe. Then came turbulence. Authorities confiscated the production crew's film as he and his team traveled from Germany to Italy. Later, he was robbed of the funds he needed to finance the production. He had to borrow cash to pay the crew's hotel bills.


One of Hitchcock’s most shocking scenes had Janet Leigh in the shower that turned deadly in 1960’s “Psycho.” AP View Enlarged Image
More bad news arose. The studio delayed the release of Hitchcock's first two films, uncertain how the strange stories would affect audiences. Not until his third movie, 1927's "The Lodger," did the young director receive public exposure.

The story, from Marie Lowndes' 1913 novel, was based on the Jack the Ripper murders of the 1880s. Hitchcock's film was a smash.

Innovating From The Start

In "The Lodger," he used an overhead shot in one suspenseful scene in which only the lodger's hand on the banister is visible as he descends — a technique the director called a substitute for sound.

In another scene, the lodger paces upstairs. Hitchcock installed a plate-glass floor and filmed the frightened family below, looking up.

In "The Lodger," Hitchcock made the first of his trademark cameo appearances. A couple of extras hadn't shown up, he related, so he filled in.

By 1939, Hitchcock had directed a dozen silent films and 16 talkies as a British director. Those included such groundbreaking works as "The 39 Steps," "Blackmail" and "The Man Who Knew Too Much."

Ready for a change, he, Alma and their daughter jumped to America in 1939. There he began his string of box office smashes for producer David O. Selznick, beginning with "Rebecca." Over the next 35 years, he would direct an additional 31 films and seven years of his TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."

What made his work so magnetic?

"There is a look to Hitchcock films and the way they are put together that are really a unique signature," said Steve Mamber, a professor in UCLA's Film, Television & Digital Media Department.

Hitchcock never went to see his own films, wrote Chandler. He had already imagined them thoroughly and was disappointed at what never made it onto the screen.

Hitchcock pioneered storyboarding, mapping out each shot with drawings. He had special lenses made to handle focus variations in his running shots.

Many directors rely on multiple shots from many angles, then make design decisions during post-production editing. Hitchcock was in the school of "conceptualizing first and filming second," Mamber wrote in the Stanford Humanities Review.

Hitchcock also pioneered the technique of placing the camera in the character's position. In "Rear Window" (1954), most of what you see is what a wheelchair-bound L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) sees. "Hitchcock was able to enforce a very close identification with the main characters by restricting what you could see to what was visible from their point of view," Mamber said.

The Zinger

A goal was to provoke an audience's anxiety, to zero in on a personal sense of horror.

Hitchcock was especially adept at prolonging the suspense to make viewers squirm. In 1963's "The Birds," Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) and her class of children take the audience along, whispering, terrified as they try to sneak past a cloud of crows and sea gulls.

In "Psycho" (1960), Hitchcock put the audience in the shower with Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she's knifed — making it the prototype for Hollywood's slasher film genre. After all that, Hitchcock compared the film to a ride in an amusement park: suspense, thrills and chills.

"In a way that's true," Mamber said, "but in another way it is one of the most terrifying films ever made."

Hudlin's Huddle / The Welfare State's Death Spiral
« on: May 12, 2010, 09:21:24 am »
Below, Samuelson lays out a pretty clear argument.

I read this and worry about the future of the United States unsustainable increases of entitlement programs. Good intentions don’t automatically equal good results. I don’t question the motives of those who push for an ever expanding net of welfare programs (health care, TARP, bailing out Greece via the FED & IMF), whether the welfare is targeted at individuals, corporations, or countries, but I’m scared to death about the unintended consequences.

May 10, 2010
The Welfare State's Death Spiral
By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON -- What we're seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn't Greece's problem alone, and that's why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven't fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.

Americans dislike the term "welfare state" and substitute the bland word "entitlements." The vocabulary doesn't alter the reality. Countries cannot overspend and overborrow forever. By delaying hard decisions about spending and taxes, governments maneuver themselves into a cul de sac. To be sure, Greece's plight is usually described as a European crisis -- especially for the euro, the common money used by 16 countries -- and this is true. But only up to a point.

Euro coins and notes were introduced in 2002. The currency clearly hasn't lived up to its promises. It was supposed to lubricate faster economic growth by eliminating the cost and confusion of constantly converting between national currencies. More important, it would promote political unity. With a common currency, people would feel "European." Their identities as Germans, Italians and Spaniards would gradually blend into a continental identity.

None of this has happened. Economic growth in the "euro area" (the countries using the currency) averaged 2.1 percent from 1992 to 2001 and 1.7 percent from 2002 to 2008. Multiple currencies were never a big obstacle to growth; high taxes, pervasive regulations and generous subsidies were. As for political unity, the euro is now dividing Europeans. The Greeks are rioting. The countries making $145 billion of loans to Greece -- particularly the Germans -- resent the costs of the rescue. A single currency could no more subsume national identities than drinking Coke could make people American. If other euro countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) suffer Greece's fate -- lose market confidence and can't borrow at plausible rates -- there would be a wider crisis.

But the central cause is not the euro, even if it has meant Greece can't depreciate its own currency to ease the economic pain. Budget deficits and debt are the real problems; and these stem from all the welfare benefits (unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, health insurance) provided by modern governments.

Countries everywhere already have high budget deficits, aggravated by the recession. Greece is exceptional only by degree. In 2009, its budget deficit was 13.6 percent of its gross domestic product (a measure of its economy); its debt, the accumulation of past deficits, was 115 percent of GDP. Spain's deficit was 11.2 percent of GDP, its debt 56.2 percent; Portugal's figures were 9.4 percent and 76.8 percent. Comparable figures for the United States -- calculated slightly differently -- were 9.9 percent and 53 percent.

There are no hard rules as to what's excessive, but financial markets -- the banks and investors that buy government bonds -- are obviously worried. Aging populations make the outlook worse. In Greece, the 65-and-over population is projected to go from 18 percent of the total in 2005 to 25 percent in 2030. For Spain, the increase is from 17 percent to 25 percent.

The welfare state's death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day -- no one knows when -- doubt governments' ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder.

Greece illustrates the bind. To gain loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, it embraced budget austerity. Average pension benefits will be cut 11 percent; wages for government workers will be cut 14 percent; the basic rate for the value added tax will rise from 21 percent to 23 percent. These measures will plunge Greece into a deep recession. In 2009, unemployment was about 9 percent; some economists expect it to peak near 19 percent.

If only a few countries faced these problems, the solution would be easy. Unlucky countries would trim budgets and resume growth by exporting to healthier nations. But developed countries represent about half the world economy; most have overcommitted welfare states. They might defuse the dangers by gradually trimming future benefits in a way that reassured financial markets. In practice, they haven't done that; indeed, President Obama's health program expands benefits. What happens if all these countries are thrust into Greece's situation? One answer -- another worldwide economic collapse -- explains why dawdling is so risky.

Copyright 2010, Washington Post Writers Group

Hard Choices / ... Your Last Meal, what ya havin??
« on: May 11, 2010, 10:01:46 am »
…. Imagine you’ve been on death row for 10 years, thought about it virtually everyday since you got here, now it’s time to order… what do you order for your last meal?

Hudlin's Huddle / Henry Johnson - worth reading
« on: May 03, 2010, 06:55:40 am »
From today's Investors Business Daily.

In my opinion, worth an email to our Senators and Congress people. Not that posthumously awarding Johnson a Medal of Honor can right the wrongs, but at least it would set the record straight and acknowledge a truth of our country’s history.

A Hero With Harlem's Hellfighters
Posted 04/30/2010 04:54 PM ET

After his knife-wielding battle in May 1918, Johnson was promoted to sergeant and posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross. DG View Enlarged Image
At 5 feet 4 inches and 130 pounds, Henry Johnson didn't look that tough.

But early on May 15, 1918, in the thick of World War I, a German raiding party of two dozen found out otherwise.

Johnson, then a private in the famed Harlem Hellfighters, was on overnight sentry duty on the French battlefield. His unit was new in the sector, and the Germans seemed to be looking for easy prisoners.

Instead they found Johnson.

More than nine decades after the battle, the exact details are blurry. But what's undisputed is that Johnson, despite multiple wounds, fought off the attackers.

And when the Germans finally began to retreat, carrying his wounded comrade, Needham Roberts, off with them, Johnson drew his large knife and chased after them.

He wounded more of the attackers and rescued Roberts.

Soon after, France awarded him that nation's highest medal for bravery: the Croix de Guerre, with Gold Palm.

Johnson's Keys
•His bravery in Europe so impressed the French, they gave him what translates as the Cross of War.
•"I know I speak for all New Yorkers when I say his accomplishments during World War I on behalf of his comrades, fellow soldiers and the nation are nothing short of heroic," said Jim McDonough, director of the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs.
Late Honors

Johnson, who was black in a segregated U.S. Army, didn't receive medals from his own country. At least not right away.

In 1996, President Clinton posthumously awarded Johnson a Purple Heart. And in 2003, the Pentagon awarded Johnson the Distinguished Service Cross.

"I really think he deserves the cross, and Negro history deserves it," his son, Herman Johnson, told Albany's Times Union in 2003. "Young blacks and African-Americans need to know we've been doing great things for years. It's important. And if we let these things die, people will never know about them."

Herman Johnson, himself a member of World War II's Tuskegee Airmen, died in 2004. He never stopped pushing for his dad to be awarded the Medal of Honor, America's highest military recognition.

Henry Johnson (1897-1929) was born in Alexandria, Va., and moved to Albany, N.Y., as a teenager.

With war raging in Europe and America having just entered the fray, Johnson enlisted in the Army in June 1917. He was assigned to Company C, 15th New York Infantry Regiment, an all-black National Guard unit, according to an account in the Times Union.

His unit, renamed the 369th, arrived in Europe on New Year's Day 1918. But the segregated Army didn't know what to do with these troops. At first, the unit did manual labor, digging trenches and unloading ships at the docks.

But the 369th's commanding officer, Col. William Haywood, promised his men that they would fight and pressed his higher-ups for combat. The unit was soon attached to the French army and sent to the Western Front's trenches.
"I have no idea why he would go and why anyone volunteers for something like that," said James Dandles, a Vietnam War veteran and president of the Albany chapter of the 369th Veterans' Association.

But Johnson and others did volunteer, despite the tepid response from the military. Then, Dandles says, the entire 369th honored itself on the battlefield.

Johnson and Roberts were on sentry duty until midnight that May 14, according to an account by author William Allison Sweeney soon after the war. The Germans had fired shots at them, and the two expected more trouble before the sun rose.

So when a corporal tried to send two green recruits to replace them at midnight, Johnson and Roberts offered to pull a double shift.

"I told him he was crazy to send untrained men out there and risk the rest of us," Johnson said, according to Sweeney's book "History of the American Negro in the Great World War." "I said I'd tackle the job, though I needed sleep."

At about 2 a.m., the pair heard the raiding party snipping barbed wire in front of their observation post. Then the Germans lobbed grenades at them, injuring both.

According to various accounts, Roberts was hurt worse.

So he lay prone and handed up grenades to Johnson, who lobbed them toward the Germans.

Once out of grenades, he moved to his rifle, firing until it jammed. After that, the Germans were on top of them, and Johnson used his rifle as a club to beat back the attackers.

When he saw the retreating Germans hauling his friend off, he drew his knife and went after them.

Accounts differ as to how many Germans were killed or wounded in the fight. Johnson's Distinguished Service Cross citation notes at least two cut and one shot. Commanders at the time believed several casualties, based on blood trails they followed to German trenches.

Promoted to sergeant, Johnson downplayed the clash. "There isn't so much to tell," he told Sweeney. "There wasn't anything so fine about it. Just fought for my life."

The French authorities thought more of his actions, bestowing medals on the two wounded Americans. Johnson's carried the Gold Palm, the highest distinction.

Weeks after the war's 1918 end, the 369th was feted with a hero's parade in New York's Harlem neighborhood, with Johnson waving from a convertible. Governors and former president and Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt praised him.

Among Other Heroes

Johnson was buried at Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery. But even that honor was soon forgotten. His family didn't even know, believing he was buried in a pauper's grave outside Albany. The Johnsons discovered his final resting place in 2002.

Some veterans say Johnson deserves more: the Medal of Honor.

"We forget them too easily," said Joe Pollicino, director of the Albany County Veterans Service Bureau. "These guys volunteered and fought for their country. And even though he got the Distinguished Service Cross, he never got his just due."

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