Podcast: Revealing Your Taboo Self

Annette Houlihan Verdolino is a versatile actress who’s been nicknamed the “secret sauce” of the Vegas theater scene. You’ve seen her performances in Las Vegas burlesque stage shows, in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and in Oberacker and Taylor’s nightmare musical, The Sandman. In Season 2 Episode 2 of the “Taboo Truths and Tales” podcast series Annette talks openly about revealing your taboo self to yourself and to the world.

Revealing Your Taboo Self

What to do if You Have the Disease of the Mind called “Groupthink”

The term “groupthink” is an accurate word to describe intense loyalty given to the 45th President, the January 6, 2020 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the ongoing belief by people that the November 2020 presidential election was illegitimate. This word was coined in 1971 by Yale psychologist Irving Janis. He wanted to diagnose a previously unknown and unnamed disease of the mind which he identified as interfering with people’s ability to make good decisions in a group setting. See this full explanation: https://neuroleadership.fi/…/groupthink-origins-of-a-word/

I see “groupthink” as an accurate term chiefly because I earned my master’s degree in 1976 in part by studying a cohesive group of decision makers in the Hollywood entertainment industry who allowed “groupthink” to infect their business decision making and thus destroy their own fame and financial success . See more: https://drwoodyg.com/hollywood-rock-and…/studying-radio/

A core problem with “groupthink” is that it is a disease of the mind and those who have it deny and disregard it precisely because they have this disease of the mind, per se. Whether they are Hollywood decision makers, elected federal officials, or loyal supporters of the 45th President, people whose behaviors point to “groupthink” symptoms need EXTERNAL assistance to heal this disease of the mind–especially because those who suffer from it often do not believe they need to be healed in the first place. See more: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/groupthink

What Happens in Vegas…

Since I live here in Las Vegas, I see this place through the eyes and mind of a local resident–not a visitor. As a local, I accept without holding anything back that Vegas is, if nothing else, a place of business.

Vegas is a place where people attempt to make money selling goods and services to others in ways that few other American cities ever attempt.

Money gets spent on marketing slogans to attract visitors to come here to Vegas so they will spend their money on gambling, transportation, eating, drinking (alcoholic beverages), enjoying legal cannabis, hotel rooms, live music concerts, pro sports events, and so on. Visitors who travel here need not stop to think about this aspect of Vegas as a place of business.

The whole “myth of Las Vegas” (if that’s how you’d like to think of it) springs from one totally comfortable falsehood: Vegas is primarily for being carefree, having fun doing things and experiencing stuff you normally don’t do when you’re back at home.

As social myths go in American culture, the Vegas myth is powerful and literally casts effective spells over mere mortals like you and me. Somehow, or so says the myth, whenever you visit Vegas, doing so instantly gives you free reign to behave however you want to behave (even to excess) without any responsibility to ever think about any consequences whatsoever of what you do here in Vegas.

You know exactly what I’m posting here is true. You know this because you, too, have heard the phrase what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas over the years.

That mindset is, of course, completely irresponsible. But it is also completely understandable.

Few, if any, visitors ever arrive in Vegas and tell themselves, “I am going to be responsible while I am here in Vegas!” And this is directly a result of all that marketing money invested by Vegas business interests to give clear-cut permission to all visitors to “do whatever you want” because everything stays here after you go back home.

Vegas is genuinely a playground for legal-age adults situated within a very large desert and sufficiently distant from most other American cities. The literal isolation Vegas has separating this place from other population centers in the U.S. promotes a sense of insulation for Vegas. When visitors arrive here, they instantly know they’re no longer in Kansas anymore (or wherever they may happen to claim as their home.)

In 2020 an awful thing happened to Vegas. A worldwide respiratory disease which is highly contagious and easy to spread from one to another person was brought here by someone. The coronavirus originated elsewhere (at least we know it was not created here in Vegas) so somebody had to bring it here. And they did.

Vegas suffered severe financial losses (not counting the number of human beings who died from the coronavirus) because since the early 20th century, Vegas has had to depend financially upon visitors who come here willing to spend their money here while visiting.

The worldwide spread of that highly contagious respiratory disease was at complete odds with visitors who would choose to travel to this fun adult playground to enjoy a few carefree days and nights without thinking about any consequences of their personal, public behaviors.

The pandemic changed all that during 2020. That was the year which forced people all around our planet to learn to think about such consequences. And now springtime of 2021 in Vegas heading into the summer months herald a return to the glorious, carefree days and nights when visitors came here to Vegas believing the social and cultural myth that what happens here stays here.

While that pleasant and comforting myth lives on as powerfully as it always has lived, we should know that the unpleasant and not-so-comforting reality is: You and I can still get infected by that airborne respiratory disease in 2021.

You may have done the correct thing and got fully vaccinated. Think of all those people who have not done so. Do you welcome them to Las Vegas in 2021?

While we all want to hear that Vegas businesses are happy making money once again in 2021. Do we want to jeopardize own personal health and the health of our loved ones by welcoming to Vegas unvaccinated visitors just because they are coming here to spend lots of money and help the local Vegas economy?

Think carefully before you answer this impossible question.

Appearance of Normalcy

So You Think You Can Appear to be Normal

We all endured changes we never chose nor wanted starting in 2020. COVID-19 is why.

Some of us personally know people who got sick and died in 2020 or 2021 because their bodies could not fight back against the highly contagious respiratory virus which continues affecting human civilization on our planet.

Some of us personally know people who choose to deny the seriousness of this airborne disease. Such people choose to believe the virus is “fake” or somehow was caused deliberately by “partisan politicians” in the United States of America.

We also know people personally who choose to use the word freedom whenever they refer to their personal choice to avoid the vaccinations to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and they do not wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth whenever they venture out in public. The belief in their definition of freedom stems from their personal and deliberate choice to deny science and medicine in 2021. Such a clear-cut denial despite the presence of other choices in beliefs fuels their favoring the complete untruth that we humans need not do anything and COVID-19 simply will vanish and stop making people sick or dead.

All of these things we all should know already if we simply pay attention to what is going on out there in real life.

Here is how you can give the public appearance of normalcy if you choose to do so. This is so very easy. Anyone can do it:

  • Get the vaccine that is designed to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth whenever you venture out in public.
  • Frequently use hand sanitizer and/or warm water and soap to clean your hands before and after you venture out in public.
  • Let your hair on top of your head and on your face grow as long as it will.
  • Let your hair color be what it will.
  • Smile though your heart is aching.
Photographs show the author of this post in Las Vegas, NV on April 21, 2021.

Veteran Washington, DC Radio Broadcaster Finds Pain Relief from Medical Cannabis

Evan Haning is a Washington, DC radio broadcaster you may have heard on all-news WTOP. He talks candidly about finding pain relief from chemotherapy by using doctor-recommended medical cannabis.

Listen Here.

Star Trek Memories

This is a companion web page for my Amazon Kindle eBook.

Star Trek Radio Documentary in Hollywood

When I worked in the radio broadcasting industry in the number two market, Los Angeles, I produced a documentary series about the original Star Trek on the occasion of the 1973 debut of the Saturday morning animated spinoff. Read more and listen to the voice of Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek.

I first met Gene Roddenberry in 1973.  I somehow persuaded him to agree to an interview for the radio documentary that I was producing.

At first, he did not want to talk with me. He told me that he had been “burned” by the media previously. So, I came up with the idea of using two tape recorders simultaneously while interviewing him at his office in Burbank.  I assured him that if I used those two tape recorders, I could then hand him his own copy of the taped interview before I even left his office. And so he agreed to talk with me!  Only small portions of the recordings I made of Roddenberry’s comments in his own words were ever broadcast.

By listening to the Roddenberry interview that I did, you will go deep inside the series and learn from its creator what was done and why.  Experience Roddenberry’s soothing voice, his intense personality, and his passion for Star Trek.

One significant (if unusual) aspect of Roddenberry was that even though he was a television producer, he much preferred books.

And he was certain that his appetite for reading directly influenced his writing and producing Star Trek

He credits starting out at Lucille Ball’s studio, Desilu (later sold to Paramount Pictures) because the studio was willing to spend “more than an ordinary amount of money” to make Star Trek work.

When he was writing the original format for Star Trek, when he did not have science fact to rely upon, he improvised.

Roddenberry created the basic concept of Star Trek from the ground up, but wanted to share credit with others, including Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, and others, saying it was “ a creation of many people.”

A woman was second in command in the first version of Star Trek, Mr. Spock was fourth in line, and none of that survived the development of the series because of NBC demands for changes.

The economics of mid-sixties television production today seem more implausible than faster-than-light space travel.  But the original Star Trek pilot—the one that didn’t sell–cost a little over $600,000.

He explained how he worked as a producer, fostering joint contributions from everyone on Star Trek.

And he gave a clear picture of how the writing on Star Trek was carefully crafted to give the storytelling a high degree of believability.

Because of censorship restrictions, Star Trek producers and writers hid intended messages within stories of action and adventure in space.

He explained that he promoted an atmosphere of practical joking to relieve the pressures of production on Star Trek.

He declined naming his favorite episodes.

In what would be the final season of the original series, Roddenberry’s world changed. Roddenberry backed out of producing the third season (but for legal reasons he was given screen credit as executive producer) after failing to convince NBC not to schedule Star Trek in an unfavorable time slot.

Roddenberry says NBC made a business decision to cancel the marginally-rated series in 1969 and noted it was ironic that the network discovered too late the demographic power of Star Trek.

And he insisted on maintaining the quality of the original Star Trek series when he produced the 1973 animated series for NBC because he did not want to insult viewers.

He did not think Star Trek necessarily had long-term value in predicting how life may actually be in the future. But, he pointed to the exceptional value of the idea content of the storytelling that persuaded people “there is a tomorrow.”

Roddenberry said he would hate for mankind to go “barging around and getting involved in other societies and civilizations” in the cosmos because humanity does not, in his view, yet have the wisdom to handle extraterrestial contact. But he did not “hate mankind” and believed our species is “beginning to reach out of childhood now.”

k100 logo

Listen to 4 episodes of
“The Universe of Star Trek” radio documentary
originally broadcast on KIQQ-FM (“K100”) in Hollywood in 1973

featuring: DC Fontana MP3 (2:51) 1342 K

D.C. Fontana: She was very forthcoming about her passion for Star Trek and interviewing her at her office at Filmation was engaging.  She was a proponent of women’s rights and relished in telling me about a forthcoming episode on the animated series in which Uhura takes over control of the starship Enterprise.

featuring: David Gerrold MP3 (1:28) 691K

David Gerrold:  Especially famous for writing “The Trouble With Tribbles,” this Los Angeles writer allowed me to interview him in his home.  When I arrived at his front door, I was surprised to be greeted by a Vulcan female.  The young girl had the obligatory pointed ears and a Spock-like costume.  No, I never asked David Gerrold who she was and what she was doing in his home.

featuring: Walter Koenig MP3 (3:13) 1510K

Walter Koenig:  We all remember him as Pavel Chekov from the original series.  Walter Koenig was a very young man when I interviewed him.  He demonstrated a strong comfort level about his celebrity from Star Trek that I was not expecting from someone so young.

featuring: Bjo Trimble MP3 (2:17) 1077K

Bjo Trimble: It was a trip to visit the home of this campaigner who campaigned to save Star Trek from cancellation.  Her living room was filled with Star Trek memorabilia and she had boundless energy.

How did Roddenberry feel about my work? He wrote to me in response to my radio documentary, telling me how pleased he was with it. You can read his comments in the letter (pdf) he sent me.

Talk to a Medical Doctor about Cannabis

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Recommending “Star Trek: Picard”

What motivated me at long last to get the streaming video service CBS All Access (rebranded in March 2021 as Paramount+) was a simple life upended due to an international health crisis. Staying put in an apartment for longer than 30 consecutive days thus far has prevented me from getting the infectious virus. Yet the pressing sense of confinement started to affect my dreams, my moods, and my eating–not necessarily in that order. So it seemed the natural thing for me to do. I got this streaming service essentially as a distraction from real life.

I enthusiastically recommend that you also get this streaming service so you can watch Star Trek: Picard and other Star Trek shows.You may smile when you see the return of Sir Patrick Stewart in the cherished role as Picard in a science fiction series featuring richly developed characters. I hold a very high standard for critiquing any and all Strek Trek television shows and motion pictures. Why? I earned my doctoral degree in part because I wrote a lengthy study examining television producer Gene Roddenberry and a certain television series of his that you may have heard of. Learn more about my Roddenberry research findings and listen to rare MP3 recordings elsewhere at this website.
I consider myself fortunate to have interacted face-to-face with Roddenberry during the 1970s and 1980s leading to my publishing my research to share my findings. I examined his storytelling on Star Trek: The Original Series seeking to determine whether there were “secret powers” of audience persuasion embedded in the episodes. Spoiler alert: Yes, there were. These narrative persuasion devices in storytelling are, of course, not truly “secret” and they also show up in Star Trek: Picard.

Had Roddenberry lived to see Star Trek: Picard, I suspect he would not have been completely happy with how it turned out. But in fairness, it probably is accurate to the writer’s opinion that Roddenberry was not a man who could easily attain complete happiness regarding anything.

Rodenberry was very demanding and displayed a challenging personality (even by Hollywood standards) that directly led to entanglements with showbusiness people regarding the development of the Star Trek franchise through the 1970s until his death in 1991.He lived long enough to play a key part in Star Trek: The Next Generation bringing Patrick Stewart into the crucial role of the now-famous Jean Luc Picard. That financially successful series continued until 1994 for a total of seven seasons. Star Trek: Picard arrived on CBS All Access in January 2020 to show us ten episodes focused on the fate of the legendary captain of the USS Enterprise in his so-called “retirement.”

The character of Jean Luc Picard became well-known for his challenging personality, too, across 178 television episodes and four major motion pictures . That aspect of the character’s essence is sharply defined in Star Trek: Picard with great care and respect by the producers and writers. It is wildly surprising, therefore, when a superior Star Fleet officer actually says to Picard, “Shut the fuck up.” I have quoted the exact phrase here because no previous Star Trek film or television show ever dared to depict anyone speaking with such course language directly to the living legend known as Picard.

I found it very enjoyable to binge watch all ten episodes of Star Trek: Picard over the Easter weekend in an attempt to ease my cabin fever. The story spanning the entire first season is smart and entertaining in its coverage of existential conflicts between organic human life and synthetic humanoids who were created by humans. I already mentioned how the characters are one of the strongest features of this series. The performances of all the main cast members are generously full of energy.

The story dealing with organics versus synthetics, itself, should seem familiar to everyone (perhaps too familiar.) In the original Battlestar Galactica television series (1978 to 1979) and Galactica 1980, the concept of human-created war robots was at the core of the storytelling. In 1979 Ridley Scott introduced us to synthetic beings in his film Alien and that storyline continued into five major motion pictures that followed from 1986 through 2017. In The Terminator (1984) James Cameron gave us an indelible cybernetic organism created by human beings and portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 to 1994) gave us the beloved character of Data, a synthetic lifeform created by humans, struggles to be accepted by his human crewmates aboard the USS Enterprise. In the Ronald D. Moore reboot of Battlestar Galactica (2004 to 2009) the Cylons were reimagined to be indistinguishable from human beings and empowered with many superiorities over humans.

The question needs to be asked: Will audiences year after year continue to financially support science fiction storytelling on television and in movies that revisit the by now well-worn struggle between human beings and created being who merely look like us. While watching Star Trek: Picard you may not feel too sorry about the ill fortune humans suffer at the hands of the synthetics because it is crystal clear that the human race brought this entire mess upon itself.  

But let me get back to Ronald D. Moore. He is a respected member of the Star Trek family from his work as a noteworthy producer and writer on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Perhaps out of respect, the Star Trek: Picard producers snuck in (for a few precious seconds only) a framed portrait of Moore on one of the walls of Jean Luc Picard’s chateau.

There is one glaring storytelling element in Star Trek: Picard. I felt a deju-vu across many episodes that made me wish the Star Trek: Picard producers and writers would have invested more time and money to get stronger storytelling originality. Instead, there are narrative aspects and character types from Frank Herbert’s Dune instead of freshly genuine originality. To be specific, the Bene Gesserit religious sisterhood from Dune seems to have been the inspiration for the Qowat MIlat order of warrior nuns so crucial to the plot in Star Trek: Picard. Similarly, the Dune central character of Paul Atreides—raised since his boyhood in Bene Gesserit skills of observation and military arts—seems to have been the inspiration for the Star Trek: Picard Romulan character of Elnore—raised since his boyhood in Qowat Milat warrior nuns’ teachings and military arts.

However, the skills and talents of Sir Patrick Stewart in the title role, of course, are arguably the best attributes on display for anyone to see. I feel there should be nobody out there who would choose to avoid watching the second season of Star Trek: Picard once it finally is released somewhere out there in the far-off future.