Category Archives: Autobiographical

My articles: Atlas Shrugged Movie Update and more!

 Hello, everyone. Please keep up with my writings at www.parcbench.com!

See http://www.parcbench.com/2010/07/29/atlas-shrugged-movie-wraps-where-is-john-galt/

and for more articles by me, see

http://www.parcbench.com/author/gregzeigerson/

You might also find a few humorous bits I wrote if you type Zeigerson in the Search box at

www.parcbench.com.

Keep up with me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/zigory

and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gregory.zeigerson

See samples of my artwork and caricatures at

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=39543&id=608848095&l=bf591a8f8f

and

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=126135&id=608848095&l=4138bf2600

Thank you!

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Evolution

I’ve been reading Darwin recently. I am trying to clarify the answer to this question: In the most advanced scientific understanding today, are evolution’s mutations thought to occur randomly, or is DNA influenced by an organism’s environment and/or experiences to mutate in a specific way needed for optimum survivablility? Does anyone have knowledge on this?

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Recent Zigory Tweets

Here are some of my recent tweets, in reverse order. Go to Twitter and find me under the name Zigory.

A promising candidate in Colorado is Stephen Bailey! http://www.stephenbaileyforcongress.com/ 8:05 AM Jan 10th

Having a Party? Contact me and I’ll draw caricatures of your guests! Samples: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=126135&id=608848095&l=4138bf2600 7:59 AM Jan 10th 

Samples of my cartoons. Contact me if you need artwork done! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=39543&id=608848095&l=bf591a8f8f 7:55 AM Jan 10th 

See Stossel’s FBN show about Atlas Shrugged on Youtube in six parts! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy_4RLd9QPE&feature=player_embedded 12:44 PM Jan 8th

All right! The states are fighting back! http://www.resistnet.com/forum/topics/states-fight-back 12:43 PM Jan 8th

If Scott Brown wins we’d have a political earthquake, turning Obama into a lame duck, per Robert Tracinski. http://www.brownforussenate.com/ 6:39 AM Jan 7th This is urgent! To reverse the tide, throw your support to Scott Brown. Donate to Scott Brown!  

Isn’t all this security unnecessary if Israel & USA actually tried to win wars instead of funding enemies? How does Israel avoid unions taking over and ruining security? How do you avoid anti-discrimination lawsuits re eye-contact-evasion profiling? http://bit.ly/5Tp5RD 11:59 PM Jan 4th 

If anyone knows of an agent who seeks new writers (especially TV/film scripts and nonfiction books) Pls write me: zigory@comcast.net. Thanks! 4:11 AM Dec 26th, 2009

Hello everyone! Season’s Greetings! I hope you got what you wanted on Christmas if you celebrate Christmas! I got to watch my happy children 4:09 AM Dec 26th, 2009

This article expresses why I love Thanksgiving. It was my fave as a kid. http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1125/p09s01-coop.html 5:01 PM Nov 25th, 2009

I  enjoyed HBO Rock Hall of Fame special last night. Two Beatles songs but why no Paul or Ringo? 12:30 PM Nov 30th, 2009

Now is the time. Send “Health Care Is Not A Right” to Senators. Use Morality to stop Health Care Bill: http://fwd4.me/4Uk 11:17 PM Nov 19th, 2009 

Wondering if Christie can make a difference in NJ. Even if he cuts taxes and spending, the Fed undercuts his impact. 6:30 PM Nov 4th, 2009 

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My Tea Party Videos

If anyone is going to the July 4 Tea Parties, be sure to read the material or view the videos at  http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=media_topic_tea_party to get a sense of what is really important,  the deeper principles we need to convey in order to make a significant impact.

I took my old camcorder to New York City’s Tax Day Tea Party back on April 15 to do some interviews and generally videotape the event. I intended to do this as a volunteer reporter for www.PJTV.com (Pajamas TV).

Unfortunately, I discovered that my old camcorder recorded in a format that YouTube and other sites would not accept.  Eventually, I downloaded format-conversion software, but the urgency (newsworthiness) seemed to pass, and  I became busy with other activities. More problematic was that my computer memory modules were not working properly, causing the computer to keep freezing up. Then the video was too long for YouTube so I had to figure out how to break it into smaller chunks.

So, to summarize, the internet debut of my videos were delayed due to technical difficulties.

Now,  I have replaced the memory modules in my computer. Also, I have a new camcorder for future ease of uploading.

The good news is, I finally uploaded the Tax Day Tea Party video in time for the renewed interest created by the Independence Day Tea Parties!  And the message of the Tax Day Tea Party is even more relevant now. The administration’s reckless spending and regulations  have only compounded since April. Taxation and hyperinflation fears are even more well-founded.

And since the Tax Day Tea Parties, some on the left have claimed that the Tea Party Protesters are racists, or are a bunch of rich white guys, or are organized and paid to show up by large corporations.

These allegations have made my videos perhaps more valuable. I interview an Asian woman, a lesbian mother, and a young ordinary middle class couple. I videotaped an anti-tax sign proudly displayed by an African American woman, and a sign protesting the banks’ mishandling of money that clearly wasn’t being held by a wealthy Wall Street banker. It’s  plain to see that there are people of all ages and all walks of life in the crowd.

Some  of the signs refer to Ayn Rand and “Atlas Shrugged” and “John Galt.”  I brought my own copy of Atlas Shrugged to hold up in lieu of a sign (My hands were full enough with the camcorder). Several people commented as they walked by, “Good book!”

The spirit was one of benevolence,  and a deep desire to stop the destruction of America’s future, stop the violations of the Constitution (especially the Tenth Amendment), and of our rights. More than one member of the crowd told me they had recently been laid off, as I had just been laid off myself, after working for 23 years at the same firm.

I did see a few “VIPs” in the crowd although they are not in my video. I said hello to radio host and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley, and I met Kevin Williamson, an editor and writer at National Review. My video does include a few moments of a speech by KT McFarland, a New York politician.

Here are my videos:

Tax Day Tea Party NYC Part One 

 Tax Day Tea Party NYC Part Two

Tax Day Tea Party NYC Part Three

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Jerry Lewis Honored at Oscars

Jerry Lewis will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars on Sunday. Unfortunately, he has never received an Oscar for his filmmaking or performances. I think “The Bellboy” and “The Nutty Professor,” as well as parts of other Lewis-directed films including “The Errand Boy” and “The Disorderly Orderly,” deserve recognition.

Ayn Rand said in a radio interview, regarding her personal taste in comedians, “I cannot stand Jerry Lewis and Phyllis Diller.” As I recall, she didn’t like their image of Man or Woman as a non-heroic, under-achieving, juvenile (Lewis) or miserable (Diller) type. I’m not sure when the interview took place, possibly the early 60s, but I suspect she was referring to Jerry’s work with Dean Martin. In my opinion, Jerry Lewis’s characters were less whiny, unintelligent and irritating, and more funny and whimsical, in his 1960s solo movies. I do think the live TV shows with Dean Martin had spontaneous moments of unrepeatable hilarity, mainly when they ad-libbed, because of the dynamic of the team, the exhilerating timing and the relationship of the two performers, as described beautifully in Jerry Lewis’s book “Dean and Me”.

Jerry Lewis has steered clear of politics most of the time, but I understand he has usually supported Democrats, notably JFK. His few political comments tend to be common sense, and I usually find myself agreeing with his stated opinions.

In his book, “The Total Filmmaker,” which helped to inspire me as a teenager to want to make films or otherwise be involved in creative expression (I’m still working on that), Lewis refers to the bureaucratic way film studios are run and describes it as exactly like the scene in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” where a committee alters Howard Roark’s building design.

Here’s a clip of Jerry from “The Errand Boy”:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MA3406YJUg]

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News from Florida’s Disney World and Florida’s Kip Liles

My family visited Walt Disney World again over the Thanksgiving holiday. I was very impressed this year. While inrecent years I found thatthe formerly unmatched high level of customer service started todescend to the level of average or worse, this year we had nothing but outstanding customer service. Everyone was super friendly and helpful and in good humor. It mayhave helpedthat because the crowds were not so heavybetween Thanksgiving and Christmas, their stress level was lower. I particularly appreciated the cast members who seemed to be over retirement age. They had the magic in them, as if theyhad knownWalt Disney, and had somehow fully embodied his warm, benevolent, humorousspirit. Like Leon Trager whom I mention in my previous post, and like the recently deceased original Disney animators Ollie Johnston and his friend Frank Thomas whom I met at an animation art gallery years ago, the delighted-by-his-job senior citizen cast member who greeted me and answered my questions at the Pop Century Resort was an example of the kind ofperson I want to be likewhen I grow older.

I worked at Disney World in 1989 and I found it easy to be friendly and to enjoy my work and I think my customer service was Disney-worthy (I did well on my evaluation). Butin recent years I’ve seen a cast member at the Boardwalkroll her eyes when informed ofa slippery floorthat needed to be cleaned, and I’ve seen two Disney housekeepers at the elevator bank of the All Star Movies Resort,having a loud argument thatculminated inone punching the other inthe face. This year I saw nothing of the kind.

I also want to especially recommend one particular attraction. Epcot’s Spaceship Earth, which is the giant “golf ball” near the entrance, has been updated in the last year. The new version keeps all of the best qualities of the original, but is actually superior to the old one. It has many new, elaborate scenes and includes a wonderful interactive finale, where each passenger selects aspects of the future he’d like to see, and then sees himself in it. But most important is the overall theme. The new Spaceship Earth, which is sponsored by the excellent technology company Siemens, suggests that we are in the midst of a second Renaissance initiated by the vast opportunities that computers have made possible. The optimism and excitement about the future was a great contrast to the gloomy pessimism of CNN, MSNBC and the major networksand newsmagazines (except for theirrose-coloredreports on socialist Barack Obama,which causeme to expect soon the headline”The Sun Shines Out of His Behind,”apologies toThe Smiths ).

There were many more highlights. The Pixar attractions “Toy Story Mania” and “Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor” (not to mention the amazing “Turtle Talk with Crush” which we skipped this year) are as much fun as, or more funthan, you have already heard.

And this is the first year I have seen the Osborne Family’s Christmas (plus Chanukah) Lights. Talk about exceeding expectations:it is one more example of Disney and their partners at their best. Words cannot adequately convey the experience of seeing the city streets of the backlot lit up in such imaginative ways.

Also,we took side trips to the Wilderness Lodge to see part of Walt’s own model railroad train exhibited, and to the Grand Floridian Resort to see and smell the gingerbread house they have every Christmas season. And everyone, especially my daughter who loves to dance and sing, enjoyed the Hoop De Doo Revue.

We also were able to briefly meet up with Kip Liles and her husband. They are, once again, the kind of people I hope to be like, and the kind of people I want to surround myself with, people who are role models for all Earthlings. If you don’t know who Kip Liles is, she is the Super Foster Parent whom I interviewed on The Zigory Show. That podcast is available at http://zigory.solidvox.com/?p=3.

Update regarding the Kip Liles interview and the Michelle Malkin articlecalled “The Death of Bradley McGee”: Kip has learned from a source that Billy, the brother of Braddie,is alive, still living with his (murderer) mother Sheryl Hardy, and outwardly appears to be okay. However, appearances cannot be trusted and I hopeBilly’s community in Illinois keeps its eyes open. As should we all, for justice’s sake and our own.

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Leon Trager

I learned from Nicholas Provenzo’s blog Rule of Reason that Leon Trager has passed away.

I met Leon and his son Noah, who was still in high school, at the Objectivism ’92 Conference in Williamsburg, VA. Leon was full of positive energy and joy and was exactly the way I hoped I would be in my later years. He was encouraging to me. I said I was working on a writing project for a long time, perhaps too long, but I still thought it needed more work before submitting it to the marketplace. He said, “If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. When you’re ready you will do it.” I had videotaped his son singing, with another attendee, comedic songs by Monty Python. Leon beamed at his son singing in public, as Leon said Noah was normally on the reserved or shy side. Leon asked me for a copy of the videotape but, alas, I didn’t have a working second VCR so I regret that I did not dub it for him. (My mother was fighting cancer that year and the next which put the video on the back burner). Another fact about him: Leon Trager decided that the US Holocaust Memorial Museum ought to carry Leonard Peikoff’s book “The Ominous Parallels” so he single-handedly convinced them to carry it.

Here is the URL ofNicholas Provenzo’sblog about Leon Trager:

http://ruleofreason.blogspot.com/2008/12/in-memory-of-leon-trager-1928-2008.htm

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Wall E is Not Walt D–Repeat

I am re-running one of my blog posts from June 30, 2008, because Disney is releasing Wall E on DVD for the Holiday Season. I can think of few films less appropriate for Christmas, the festive, joyful holiday. Here is my review of Wall E withreaders’ comments following:

One of the most important qualities Walt Disney’s movies, television programs, and theme parks imparted to me as a child, and to children everywhere, was a feeling of reassurance. I’m referring to the works of Walt Disney himself when he was alive, and of his studio the first few years after his death.

Even if the story is about things going wrong in one character’s life, it is clear that there is a larger world out there of sensible people and a system and world that makes sense, that there is something called normalcy, and the goal of the characters is to get back to normalcy or better, to improve their lives and live happily ever after.

The Banks family in Mary Poppins is at first somewhat unhappy, but there is hope and magical delight in the world outside, and there is a policeman and there are friendly neighbors who bring runaway children home. The home of (1961’s) 101 Dalmations’ owners is a happy, sane, home, and once the dalmations fight off the bad guys, they return to a state of eccentric yet happy normalcy. The world is expected to be filled with reasonable people who can get along and solve problems.

Even the satirical post-Walt movie The Barefoot Executive indicates that the larger world may be a little silly, but still okay at its core.

To a child, the sense of a system and society that is dependable and rational is extremely important to his feeling secure and optimistic, to his feeling free and motivated to learn and grow and become ambitious within that society.

The new Disney-Pixar movie Wall E is not at all in the spirit of Walt Disney’s movies. The characters of Wall E, Eve and The Captain are Disney-esque and very charming and funny. But the universe they inhabit is the opposite of Walt’s universe.

We are expected to believe and accept that in the future human beings (A) allowed a corporate monopoly to replace the U.S. Constitution (and all other governments) and become a dictator and (B) that no one noticed a problem with garbage disposal until it got so bad, the entire species had to leave the planet. In this dystopian vision of the future, the technology to build extraordinary robots and a spaceship that holds and takes care of the needs of the entire human population exists, but not the technology to get rid of garbage and plant trees or grass. Human beings are intelligent yet immensely moronic simultaneously.

Above all, the problem with this film and the fact that busy parents, or their child care providers, will one day buy the DVD and play it over and over for their children without watching it is the message that the universe makes no sense and the future is dark and adults are incapable of dealing with their problems until long past catastrophe. This is not a reassuring message to children who love life and can’t wait to grow up and flourish. It is harmful.

As my 5-year-old son said, “That’s a Garbage Planet. That’s not Earth. Why are they calling it Earth?” He understands that Earth makes sense. People are rational beings.

I explained it’s a make-believe silly story about Earth in the future where, as my wife said, “people become stupid” and can’t get rid of garbage. I reassured him and his sister that it’s ridiculous and that this is not going to happen in real life.

I received the following comment from Artifex:

Exactly right! For all the visual beauty and charm of Wall-E, the world we’re presented with is complete nonsense. BnL can build a massive spaceship with seemingly inexhaustible energy supply, human level artificial intelligence, what must be near-total recycling of resources (although strangely enough they seem to be ejecting a lot of trash into space – where does all that matter come from?), and the ability to hyperjump into another galaxy (!) in a matter of seconds but they can’t figure out trash disposal? Why doesn’t earth-that-was just fill the Axiom with garbage and hyperjump THAT into another galaxy? Why don’t they use the same recycling technology that must be present on the Axiom to solve the same problems on earth? Completely insane. It’s a shame – I really wanted to love this one.

I received the following comment from Mike:

Great post.

Saw your comment at the Think Progress site; your words were a voice of reason amongst so much vitriol, those words of hate that seem to be only language of left-leaning websites.

(wouldn’t consider myself to be a right-winger, but I sure don’t want to be classified with those who are haters of traditional values)

I’m so glad there are folks such as yourself who teach their children to think for themselves. Not having children myself, it makes me feel better about the future of this country.

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Thanks to TCM for Glimpses of True American Spirit

The cable channel Turner Classic Movies often provides a better glimpse of American history than the History Channel, because it shows the spirit, or sense of life, of America in the past. This is an elevated, inspired, courageous, innocent, moral spirit that lives on in the hearts of many Americans who were fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by it. It is a spirit that lives on today in the families and communities in America that aren’t interested in the hopeless-violent-crude-hostile-negative-gossipy-nihilistic culture presented by much of the arts and entertainment media today.On Veterans Day, through the night, TCM showed films I would not allow myself to stop watching, though I had not intended to see them. My feeling about my life and how I interact with people days later are still elevated by the glow of these films.

They were movies released during World War II: “Hollywood Canteen” and “Stage Door Canteen.”

They were made in 1943 and 1944, about real places in NYC and Hollywood at the time. The canteens were nightclubs where stars served food to thousands of soldiers on leave, and performed for them, for free, while civilian women volunteered to keep the men company for the evening. Everything about these films are so different from today. There are speeches that burst forth as if unwritten, from characters or stars playing themselves, about the meaning of the war, and why we must win, to preserve our freedom and specifically the pursuit of individual happiness. No altruism at all.

In “Stage Door Canteen,” the volunteer hostesses encourage the boys to be happy and to enjoy the women’s company, and berate a woman who doesn’t behave warmly to a man. Obviously it’s about soldiers so they get extra consideration, but the culture was so far removed from the fundamental hostility toward men, the presumption of evil or harmfulness in men, that I witnessed suffusing college campuses and large cities in the radical feminist-influenced late 1970s and early 1980s. This attitude still influences parts of the culture today.

It felt revolutionary to me to see these 1940s films where women respect and encourage men so directly, and women are also respected and adored. This is shown more vividly in these two movies than perhaps in any other film or TV show I’ve seen, even from that period. It’s so rare to see this fundamental respect so explicitly portrayed, rather than merely implied while part of another story. Maybe it’s because the characters seemed much more real to me than usual. These films expressed my sense of life, my sense of how people should act (even when it’s not wartime). Perhaps they seem especially real to me because I saw a bit of this positive ideal in the culture during my childhood in the early 1960s.

These films make the canteens come alive, and show the reality of them, by exquisitely choosing the best moments. I wonder if any of the incidents are based on actual ones.

If you want a happy sign in 2008 that marks the end of the feminists’ pitting of women against men, and marks the end of the hippies’ egalitarian removal of commitment, masculinity and femininity, and passionate romance, from relationships: It’s the joyful musical film for kids, “High School Musical 3.” It is has a non-cynical, innocent point of view, with worshipful adoration shown by boys and girls toward the ones they love, and pleasant flirtation all around. The songs and dances are about joy and energy and optimism and looking toward a great future.

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