I don’t like Halloween

I don’t like Halloween. There, I’ve said it. And now, because I know you’re dying of curiosity, I’ll tell you why:

First, I’m not entertained by scary movies, scary cakes, scary fashions, scary candy, scary costumes, none of it. I gave up watching movies whose main purpose seems to be making the audience jump out of their skins, or at least their chairs every three minutes. I call them ‘jumper movies’ for just that reason.

I’m not entertained by ‘grody’ things either, you know what I mean, right? Chartreuse faces, fake wounds, skeleton heads, imitation bleeding or exposed internal organs and fluids, eyeballs, etc., etc. Again, you know what I mean, right?

And yes, you might interpret that to mean I’m squeamish. Well, I might be, or I might not and I’ve been called worse, anyway.

More recently it seems more accurate to say that my empathy for real human beings and real animals is profoundly triggered by such images, and even moreso when those images are of real live [or recently deceased] human beings or animals. When that happens I usually turn away, but if I’m not quick enough, I get some really fantastic [sarcasm] anxiety attacks.

Second, and here’s where I might get some arguments if I don’t just get laughed at:

I don’t like Halloween because it’s a mockery, at least in the way it has been celebrated since I was oh, in college.

Before that it didn’t ever seem that the celebrations were deliberately planned and designed to shock, to repulse and startle and yes, scare. It’s a mockery of two different, very different things I feel strongly about.

One is the medieval beliefs around All Saint’s Day and All Saint’s Eve. Those can still be seen as greatly honored by indigenous people who celebrate the Day of the Dead, as they do in Mexico and as they do in other ways around the world. Those ceremonies, those rituals HONOR those who have passed on. Those celebrations profoundly respect their lives and their survivors, too.

In the Middle Ages, All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Saint’s Day was meant to celebrate and honor those who had been lost in the previous year, or before that. It was meant to honor the ordinary people who had died, as the next day was reserved, literally for the saintly ones. I don’t know as much as I’d like to about the rituals of that time, but I know they did not involve chartreuse cake icing and orange faces with gashes, leaks and other charming ‘shockers’. And they didn’t involve people having to warn other people to keep their black cats and kittens indoors on ‘Halloween’ because some sick, scared people might take them and kill them because black cats are unlucky, right?

What’s the other belief being mocked by modern notions and practices and designs about Halloween? If you know me, you can probably guess.

It’s the older beliefs. It’s the older celebrations that spanned the western world at one time, some of us believe. It’s the notion that at this time of year as the wheel turns from fall towards winter, the days shortening and the nights growing longer, the ‘veil’ between this world and the next thins, and the next world’s inhabitants can reach us again and be reached. The spirit world can reach us and be reached then. And that’s kinda important, I believe because it speaks to the human NEED for an immortality of some sort. And that’s not something that deserves anything but understanding and respect, certainly not parody or mockery. IMO.











A Rant about Writing



[Caveat:  I understand the purposes of grammar and punctuation in language, honest. I know that serious lapses in these things impede communication. I know that writing is, for most people, myself included about COMMUNICATING. And still I will go on ranting and I will go on fighting supercilious, ego-stomping ‘critics’ who can’t be bothered to READ what they’re ‘critiquing’.]

Did I ever tell you about the teacher I had in high school who encouraged me to write poetry and helped me explore and further the love of poetry I first developed watching excerpts from Broadway productions of Shakespeare on variety shows on TV?

No? Still, it’s a true story.

Well, did I ever tell you about the high school teacher I had who, instead of reading poetry with us, insisted that we diagram the sentences in poems?

No? Also a true story.

The result from that first teacher’s classes was that her students, including me, learned to love poetry and language and its various art forms.

The result from the other teacher’s classes was that her students, with a few exceptions like me, learned to loathe the very idea of poetry and never looked back to find out what they were missing.

The first teacher cared about what her students would take away and learn from and explore as their schooling and their lives went on. She probably loved teaching.

The second teacher [as far as I could tell] only cared about nouns, verbs, and pronouns being correctly categorized and set in the ‘proper’ alignment.

She probably hated Ezra Pound and ee cummings, not to mention Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg. Maybe she actually hated poetry as a whole.

Well, that was a long time ago. But every once in a while I run smack into that poem diagramming mindset all over again. And as a writer, which I’ve been since I was ten years old, I find it not only wrong-headed but revolting, cruel and harmful.

So, yes, I ran into it again about three years ago when I was all but finished with a long, extensively researched and plotted work of fiction. And I thought it was pretty darned good as far as storytelling and character development and poetics.

I really did.

And then I ran smack into a ‘reader’ who refused to so much as attempt to read that work of fiction because there were flaws in my punctuation. She literally told me she couldn’t read it because some of the dialogue wasn’t punctuated according to her English Composition college classes notions.

Well, I never took an English Composition class in college. My English SAT scores got me past that, I have to guess, as they were pretty high. So, I have certain technical deficits as far as college English Composition classes are concerned.

Silly me, I thought writing so that people would feel what I feel and experience what I’ve experienced was what MATTERED as a writer. Silly me. Wow, was I ever silly? Nothing that I thought mattered to readers was even worth talking about because… punctuation, right?

And I took her idea of criticism intensely personally. Oops, that’s probably incorrect syntax right there! So, for most of three years afterward, I felt as though I fought with a brick wall and LOST.

So, I couldn’t write.  [ I tried.]

I couldn’t revise that story. [ I tried.]

I couldn’t write a new one. [ I tried.]

I couldn’t revise any old ones. [ I tried.]

I couldn’t write a poem. [ I tried.]

I could barely manage an email for a while.

[ yes, I tried.]

And email was and is my link to most of the rest of the world, and was even moreso at the time because I wasn’t using other social media. But, hey, punctuation, right?

This you may understand was a pretty bleak time for me. I lost almost all my confidence as a writer.  I think probably there were weeks and months when I lost that confidence completely.

Last year I began to make a comeback. I began writing fairly short stories. I began to think about writing more and longer stories. And I got positive feedback from readers. They liked my storylines, they liked my alternative universe ideas, they liked my characterizations [for the most part]

They had no trouble with my grammar or my punctuation. They had no trouble with my love of gerunds, even though I am trying to cut back on those. They had no trouble with my grammar. They READ MY STORIES.

And then I went back to some of my older stories, some of which are just plain awful as far as storytelling and so forth.

But some are fine and not in one single, solitary instance where those stories are posted, did I find ANYONE who had a problem with my PUNCTUATION.

So, why this rant this morning? Well, I wrote a fairly short work of fiction over the past three or four months. And even though that work and I struggled for a time, we came out friends and ‘she’ came out pretty darned good. So, feeling confident and even happy as I usually do when I feel confident about my writing, I put the story up for people to read. And I got some pretty fine feedback.

And then I ran smack into that poem diagramming attitude again, from the same person I ran smack into three years ago. Ellipses this time. Yes, punctuation again, this time.

Well, I’ll tell you what, Poem-Diagrammers of the World, I ran this story of mine through a lot of checking and spell checking and grammar checking and not one peep came up about two or three ellipses, not one. So I think you’re probably WRONG ABOUT THIS.

So this time I’m not buckling under to your Punctuation-Nazi mentality.  Sorry if that term seems over the top. You weren’t in my head for nearly three years when I could barely write an email.

So, I’m not buckling this time. No way. I am a danged fine storyteller and I’m not giving an inch of ground to ego-punching self-appointed grammar teachers. Not ever. Not one inch. Go ride roughshod over somebody else’s creative ego and I hope they reach up and bite… yeah, you get it.

That’s all for now, well, for now, anyway.

Rielle/aka Ronni Caitlin Gabrielle Sacksteder-Harper














Hillary Clinton Says “Send the Navy!”


In the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, Hillary Clinton was the first official from a foreign country to travel to Haiti and offer assistance. Four days after her trip, she announced the arrival of the USNS Comfort.

… we saw the arrival of the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship with more than 600 medical personnel, that adds important capacity to our relief efforts. Already, patients are being taken on board via helicopter, and treated. The Comfort adds to what is one of the largest international rescue and relief efforts in history. Food, water, medical supplies, and other essential aid continue to flow into the country.

Today, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Hillary tweeted that the Navy and specifically USNS Comfort should be sent in to assist residents of Puerto Rico.

This is a no-brainer and should have been done days ago. It…

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Yes #2

YES #2


As in yes, she’s back with another list of questions related to the present unholy mess/state of US politics and so called governance by the Republican party and their so-called leader.  So, here we go and yes, this may turn into a weekly thing, yes.


Whether or not you voted for Secretary Clinton as President or you voted for Jill Stein, Bernard Sanders, Gary Johnson, or that other Republican from Utah, or the so-called winner of the Electoral vote, please think about and if you care to, answer these questions:

  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton whether or not she was President would publicly declare an intention to ‘totally destroy North Korea’?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, whether or not she was President would visit a hurricane devastated area and brag about the size of the crowd who came out to see her?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President, would lie about neglecting to extend condolences to earthquake-ravaged neighbor countries?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President, would send armies of Immigration cops after hurricane survivors and children born in the US to immigrant parents?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton if she were President would publicly deride, degrade and lie about her supposed enemies?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would refer to the United Nations as an investment the US puts too much money into?
  • Do you believe that Secretary Clinton, whether or not she was President would constantly advocate for mass deportations and immigration bans on the basis of race, religion or any other element of basic human life and nature?
  • Do you believe that Secretary Clinton, if she were President would publicly declare a ban against active US military service members because of their sexual orientation?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President would degrade her husband in public?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President would begin every speech she made bragging about properties she owns or inauguration crowds she never had or popular elections she never won?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would insult foreign leaders, even hostile ones in a public forum such as Twitter?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would publicly threaten to ‘rain fire and fury’ on another nation even one hostile to the US?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would refer to anti-fascist protesters, school teachers, firemen, and police who happen to belong to unions as ‘thugs’?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President or not would over and over try to shift the blame for violent attacks on counter-protesters onto those counter-protestors?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would publicly OR privately refer to neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members as ‘very fine people’?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton if she were President would choose cabinet members who are renowned for wanting to destroy government departments and agencies for their own and the rest of the oligarchs’ profit?
  • Do you believe, seriously at this point do you honestly believe Secretary Clinton is a warmonger?
  • Do you believe that Secretary Clinton, if she were President would act in any way so as to exacerbate the worldwide threat of nuclear war?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President would use public forums such as Twitter to bully, denounce, degrade and lie about her opponents?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would publicly degrade men or women for their looks?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President would publicly state she wanted the ACA to fail and that she would work to see that happen?
  • Do you think Secretary Clinton, whether or not she was President would try to intimidate the Director of the FBI, much less fire him?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton whether or not she was President would hire white Supremacists for her chief advisors and only fire them under extreme public pressure?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton, if she were President would actively, publicly degrade, lie about and alienate members of her own party in Congress, the Senate or governor’s mansions?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton if she were President would abandon the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear agreement or any other diplomatic achievement of her predecessors for political spite or any other reason?
  • Do you believe the primary and general elections of 2016 were rigged in Secretary Clinton’s favor? If you do, can you please explain to me why she ‘lost’ the election?
  • Do you honestly believe the Democratic primary campaigns were rigged in Secretary Clinton’s favor and that’s the only reason she won the nomination by 4 million votes?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton somehow stole the Democratic nomination in 2016, seriously? Seriously? Really?
  • Do you believe the Democratic National Committee worked against Secretary Clinton’s primary campaign opponents? Seriously? Really?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would not have won the Democratic Party’s nomination or the General Election if not for California?
  • Do you actually believe that Secretary Clinton would make a worse President by any measure whatsoever than the supposed one we have now?
  • Do you honestly believe that Secretary Clinton is more crooked, more dishonest and less trustworthy than the person who supposedly won the general election in November 2016?
  • Do you honestly believe there were no Republican or Russian operatives and trolls spending huge amounts of time and money to divide the Democratic voters during the primary and general election campaigns last year?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would have colluded with hostile foreign entities, such as Russia for example, in order to ‘win’ the Presidential election?
  • Do you believe Secretary Clinton would have encouraged or even condoned such collusion by members of her campaign staff?
  • Do you honestly believe a woman with nearly 40 years as a gifted public servant should go home, sit down, shut up and put her hat back on, only after she bakes some cookies?

Tell you what, if you believe these things, maybe we don’t need to talk after all.

Maybe we have even less in common than I thought. And maybe you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

You Tell Me

Yes, it’s time for me to vent again. If you don’t want to ‘hear’ this, now is your chance to ‘duck and cover’.

I was just given a copy of Secretary Clinton’s book and I intend to read it cover to cover and the read it over and maybe read it over. Because the title all by itself is the question millions of people in this country and around the world have been asking since November 9th, 2016.

What happened?

But that’s not what I’m going to vent about this evening, not directly. No, instead I’m going to talk about some of the reactions to her book, to her recent interviews and to her continued presence as a force to be reckoned with in American politics.

So here’s my question to start off this ‘discussion’:

What the [fill in the blank] is wrong with people who are STILL hating on Secretary Clinton?

What is the matter with people, including an op-ed writer for the LA Times who want her to ‘go home, sit down, shut up and put her hat back on’ … and then bake cookies?

How is it even possible that after 30+ years as a public servant Secretary Clinton is still portrayed in the public media and in social media forums as the source of all evil and all wrongs and all troubles in this very troubled nation?

How is it possible that there are people who want her to act like nothing she believes in matters any longer because the so-called Presidential election of 2016 was STOLEN from her?

And furthermore: answer some slightly different questions for me, please, and answer them honestly, for peets sake!

  • Do you understand why it’s so incredibly significant for children of both genders to see the new ‘Doctor Who’ portrayed by a woman’ after decades of men in that role?
  • Do you understand why it’s so incredibly powerful, meaningful and significant for children of both genders to see films like ‘Wonder Woman’, and its sequel, and ‘Black Panther’ and so forth in which WOMEN are the indisputable heroes?
  • Do you understand the importance for women and men of all ages seeing and in most cases accepting and even applauding the existence of these FICTIONAL female characters and role models?
  • AND IF YOU ANSWER YES to all those questions then please explain to me HOW YOU CAN POSSIBLY deny, denigrate, disparage, and devalue the incredible, powerful, and significant fact that a real, living human woman named Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to win the Presidential nomination of a major political party in this country? HOW?
  • And if you don’t understand the power and significance of role models in human history and culture, we need to talk, because this didn’t begin this week or last year or twenty years ago or four thousand years ago. [Well, I suppose a case could be made for the idea that it started 4-5,000 years ago]

Maybe it’s human history you don’t understand. Maybe you haven’t seen the film ‘Suffragettes’ or if you have you didn’t see how that history of sacrifice, courage and finally achievement applies to people of both genders in the 21st century.

Maybe it’s the decades of lies about Secretary Clinton you can’t get past. Maybe you don’t realize how those lies were amplified and echoed and USED during the primaries and the general election by entities who are and were entirely hostile to our country and our democracy, especially our democracy.

Maybe it’s pure, unadulterated denial of how the so-called US Presidential Election of 2016 was in fact ‘rigged’, against the most prepared, most dedicated, most intelligent, most compassionate public servant of my generation and many others.

Maybe you don’t believe Secretary Clinton’s gender has anything to do with all this. Maybe you don’t believe that women, actually the majority in this country are still held back, lied about, abused, and otherwise denigrated because we are women.

Maybe you don’t believe that women’s rights are human rights.

Maybe you don’t see how such misogyny damages everyone in our society, regardless of their gender. Maybe you don’t understand that men and women of all ages, as well as children of both genders, are harmed by these old, old fears and hatreds.

I don’t know. You tell me. You tell me how you can go on letting those fears and hatreds harm you, your world, your lives and the lives and futures of your children and grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, your cousins, your neighbors, and everyone else of both genders. Because they have, they do and they will.

But You Tell Me. C’mon. Let’s Hear It.




A Love Letter to Hillary


Hillary Clinton, The White House, Washington DC, December 1993

Dear Hillary,

Tuesday morning, I was facing a longer than usual subway ride, so I thought: “Let’s see what’s the latest in Podcast World.” Scrolling through my subscriptions, I noticed a brand new episode of Pod Save America titled “Hillary Clinton.”

“Cool,” I thought. “The guys are going to talk about her new book. I wonder what they’ll have to say.”

And then….it wasn’t them talking ABOUT you. Dan, Tommy, and the Jons were talking WITH you.

You have no idea how happy I was to hear your voice and your marvelous, infectious, full body, from-the-belly, guffaw of a laugh.

I’ve missed you so.

The past 10 months have been hard. It feels like we’re invisible.

“We” who?

The millions of people who voted for you, believe in your message and your ability to Get Shit Done, support you with all our hearts, and love you still.

The media produces…

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Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book

by @GothamGirlBlue


I’ve been seething all day about the response to Hillary’s book, and I feel like I’ve finally channeled it into a coherent thread.


2/ Every last thing we’re experiencing now was predicted by Hillary during the campaign. And like Cassandra, we refused to believe her.


3/ I shouldn’t use the word “we” because I was a member of her coalition. I believed her and I believed in her.


4/ She represented her coalition ably, if not perfectly. She talked about issues that mattered to us. She made sure to express empathy.


5/ For that, she was heckled, harassed, attacked, dismissed, ignored and mocked by the very people who were supposed to inform us.


6/ And every time someone wrote about how unlikeable she was, or how she didn’t talk about what really mattered, or how it’s her fault…


7/ They were really saying it about our coalition. *We* were unlikeable. *We* didn’t really matter. It’s *our* fault that Trump won.


8/ This backlash is really about the idea that neither Hillary as a person nor the coalition she represented has any right to public life.


9/ She was supposed to stand for white supremacy and patriarchy. She was supposed to put the priorities of white rural voters above all.


10/ She was supposed to back down when shouted at. She was supposed to mold herself into something likeable.


11/ It goes without saying that white men determine what is likeable. They say it’s voters, but they mean white male voters.


12/ And we are seeing the backlash of not placating those who want our silence, our submission, our obeisance in their presence.

13/ Y’all get distracted when a GOP presidential candidate retweets white supremacists, but you can find all the time to harass Hillary.


14/ Trump is out here weaponizing the ICE into the goddamn Gestapo, but you can find time to tell Hillary her voice isn’t wanted.


15/ You ignored Cassandra as she begged and pleaded with you to listen, but she carries all the blame for your closed hearts and minds.

16/ And us, those who shared in her warnings and now feel the brunt of the brutality, we’re told that we had our shot and we wasted it.


17/ White men can make a president from a treasonous sexual predator who dreams of being a half-wit, and we ask what they want and need.

18/ But POC, women, urban voters who are responsible for 2/3 of the American economy? We should shut up and go home. No one wants us here.


19/ It’s very clear that the storytellers of this age are interested in protecting the narrative of white-dominated Americana.


20/ That it’s a myth, a cruel one devised to obscure crimes of blood and death that cannot be absolved, is precisely why it’s so beloved.

21/ And anything that would puncture that myth, or their gutless, cretinous protection of it, must be assaulted and destroyed.

22/ Hillary is speaking about what it felt to be on the ramming end of that myth. She’s speaking *our* truth, the one of her coalition.


23/ She’s taking on the very narratives that people are using to shield themselves from their ignorance and poor judgment.


24/ And she’s reminding us that likeability is a damn lie. You never would have liked her no matter what she did because she challenged you.


25/ Just as we, the coalition, challenge what priorities should be at the forefront of politics and what America looks and sounds like.

26/ You want us to go away. You want us to internalize her loss as our inferiority. You want our silence, our return to the back.

27/ We will not return. Neither will she. We deserved to win that election; we deserve her Presidency; we deserve *your* silence.

28/ You, who downplayed white supremacists. You, who accepted Trump’s lies and stupidity. You, who would accept our debasement.


29/ It is your fault that she’s got the time to write a book instead of leading our nation. You’re going to listen to us now, damn it.

30/ And maybe, mercifully, there will be the self-awareness to accept your portion of culpability and double your portion of silence. /fin

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By @GothamGirlBlue


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