“Poem,” Observations and Thinkings, Guest Filmmaker Tony Ramos, “Fighting Words,” Nonviolent Communication, and We Have Overshot (Again)

Welcome to this week’s “zine.”

by Mark M


He drove down to Kenoshia from Racing

every day.

But one day,

seeing him off,

she saided, “Don’t come back.”

And then his heart was all



From the past:

Some stuff from Observations and Thinkings (2001, the not so bad old days):

Let there be letting.

When you’re circumcised, it’s like you got no foreskin, man.

My butt’s an ass.

Good spellers of the world, unight.

Look before you jump to conclusions.

We shall come over.

There’s a flaw in the ointment.

Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked 1.6 km in his/her footwear.

A cigarette a day keeps the lung capacity away.

Say anything you want about me as long as it’s the truth — and as long as you don’t tell my employer.

Wow, did you see the cute butt on that ghost?

Do not necessarily take the person who uses the word “literally” literally.

Helium is such a gas!

Technology marches on! Pretty soon even our fingers will be digital.

Why be afraid of germs? They’re so…


Human(s are such funny) beings!

Motor mouths: Some people seem to assume that if they speak aloud their stream of consciousness you’ll find it fascinating.

Even one compulsive talker in the world is too many, but, unfortunately, there are far more than one. Is there a single compulsive listener, however?

Small talk is conversational junk food or at best merely hors d’oeuvres.

I’m pleased to report my (ex)girlfriend and I successfully broke up

Having been without a girlfriend for the last several years, I guess I’m zerogamous.

One good thing about not being in love is that you can’t get your heart broke(n).

Sometimes it seems like life is one big long experience of what all can go wrong…

Getting work done is a chore!

the job

getting the job

getting the job done

* * *

getting paid

Gender equality: No one should be allowed in the military.

p•nis q•nis — what’s the difference?

As Columbus’ “New World” was already inhabited, I predict we will find most if not all habitable planets already inhabited.

Traditions are bad habits en masse.

Mixed messages are merely the long road to no.

Besides the ideal of honesty, one of the reasons I try to be honest is that it sure is embarrassing getting caught!

Careful not to try too hard. One of the laws of the universe would seem to be that trying too hard is met with stiff opposition!

“It’s a grrl!” cried the womyn.

“That’s great!” replied the myn.

Let your consciousness be your guide.

About the Author:

The author wrote this book.


Racine native and resident, Tony Ramos, is a writer, actor, and filmmaker.

The photos below show him and me along with the original movie poster for locally-filmed I Dream of a Psychopomp the evening of its area premiere on September 4, 2021 at UW-Parkside hosted that evening by Dr. Destruction of Kenosha (who once ran for mayor of Kenosha!). The Doctor had a cameo in the film without his Doctor make-up under another pseudonym, Reinhold Von Bolt, and Tony wrote a segment of the film (where “Von Bolt” briefly appears) and co-produced the film. The director, Danny Villanueva Jr., and several of the actors were there that evening for a post-screening Q and A.

(I noticed imdb.com has a photo of Danny, who was the film’s director, but not Tony. When I asked Tony about that, he informed me imdb.com wants money to post such a photo, wouldn’t ya know it?)

Tony’s interview follows.

Q: Were you born in Racine?

A: Yes, I was born and raised in Racine, but my parents are both immigrants and originally from the state of Zacatecas in the country of Mexico.

Q: What are your childhood memories of going to the movies?

A: When we were very young, my parents would often take my siblings and I to a movie theatre either in Milwaukee, WI or Waukegan, IL. There was a theatre in each of those two cities that played movies from Mexico, and I think it made them happy to watch films they could understand in their native tongue of Spanish with characters portrayed by actors they knew, recognized, and were fans of. Thus my love for films was born in the darkness of those theatres’ large rooms with their bright screens telling me all kinds of stories that could and did transport me, to other worlds and my parents perhaps back to their homeland of Mexico even if for just a few hours. For English-spoken films, my parents would also take us to the nearby Park Theatre (which I remember as the Capitol Theatre before being renamed), over on Washington Avenue in the uptown area of Racine. For some reason, I vividly remember seeing the films Rocky III and Clash of the Titans at that theatre. It was such a historic, beautiful building … the kind that doesn’t exist any more and sadly was demolished even though by all accounts, I discovered it didn’t need to be and could have been saved and even restored to a modern working condition. That’s for another discussion I guess. At least our nearby cities of Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Chicago have maintained some of their older historic theatres, and one can visit those for a cool, unique, throwback experience; thus in my humble opinion, Racine missed out on having a cool historic location of their own that tourists could have visited and been thrown back in time while watching films.  

Q: Which part of locally-filmed I Dream of a Psychopomp did you write?

A: The film is a “Supernatural Horror Anthology” that is composed of three vignettes and a wrap-around story, so a total of four shorts you could say. I wrote the screenplay for the segment titled, “Until Forever.” The logline for this particular segment is, “A determined young girl, treks into an abandoned building, to seek out an urban myth and an answer to her seemingly impossible question.” The entire film was shot at various Racine and Kenosha locations. Actually, a prominent location for the wrap around segment and one could say, the entire film is Racine’s Mound Cemetery, which is right across from where the Park/Capitol Theatre stood. Also, funny now that I think about it, the “Until Forever” segment of the film takes place entirely at the Historic Kenosha Theatre that is being restored. So there is that connection to old theatres again. The film will soon be available via streaming on several different online platforms next month in August sometime, although local residents have one more chance to see it on a big screen at the Port of Fear Film Festival this July 30th in Kenosha at the Kemper Center. I was also co-producer on this film, a film I am extremely proud of and learned so much from, as far as filmmaking I mean.

Q: Is there a large community of filmmakers here in Racine?

A: Yes, there are several filmmakers in Racine, but I would have to combine Racine filmmakers with Kenosha, Milwaukee, Madison, Burlington (which is obviously in the county of Racine) and Chicago, IL as far as the filmmaking community around here. I say this because as I’ve gotten deeper into the craft of filmmaking here in Southeastern WI, I tend to collaborate with many other filmmakers from these said cities. It seems we are all connected by networking throughout this region of the country and of course through our love or profession of filmmaking. Having said all this, Racine is in a prime location for anyone interested in filmmaking because it is a city situated between Milwaukee and Chicago, two bigger cities with, again, many opportunities to network, collaborate and work with other filmmakers on short films, feature-length projects, and/or other types of films.

Q: What film projects are you working on?

A: I am currently in pre-production development for a feature-length script I wrote based on a short film you can see on my YouTube, Night Watchman Productions YouTube channel titled, Charlie and the Empty Factories. In essence, I’m expanding that short film’s (which is a Zombie Apocalypse Dark Comedy) story into a much bigger tale where we’ll follow the main character Charlie through his post apocalyptic adventure. So, yes, apart from the pre-production on that feature length film, my first ever as writer/director, I need to raise the money to shoot it. Also, I’ll be acting and co-producing another feature length film that I wrote the screenplay for titled, The Night and Gail. Both films will be shot entirely in Southeastern WI, including Racine, Kenosha, and Milwaukee.

Q: Anywhere where we can see any of your films or follow you?

A: There is a new 12-minute short horror/drama film I directed titled, Becoming Undead III (for Ronco Productions) that has been selected to play at the Port of Fear Film Festival along with I Dream of a Psychopomp on July 30th. You can also see it during the Milwaukee International Short Film Festival on September 10th at the Avalon Theatre in Milwaukee. Then there’s my YouTube page under my production company’s name, Night Watchman Productions and a VIMEO (which is much better video quality than YouTube) link where you can watch two short films I wrote and directed. They were both shot entirely in Racine at locations that I’m sure Racine residents will recognize, including at the Reefpoint Marina and the other behind the old Horlick Malted Milk Plant (where I shot the “Charlie” short film), which I hear has now been renovated into a town center and new apartments which is awesome for Racine, but bad when for a filmmaker looking for an apocalyptic-looking location for filming. Seriously, it’s a good sign for Racine to progress. I hope it always does, because Racine may not be perfect, but it is for me. It’s my home and I love this city. 

Tony’s links:







Back to Mark M:

“Fighting Words”

Very often in this country “violent words” are used even though the goal is admirable:

War on Poverty”

War on Drugs” (I realize this cause was a bad idea at least from all the racist incarceration it led to but that’s another – vital! – topic), etc.

When I wrote the piece entitled Chicago’s “Sound Opinions” vs. Milwaukee’s “It’s Alright Ma, It’s Only Music I couldn’t recall the name of Jason Marks, who hosts Radio Z, which I like. At the start of each show, he promises to play “some killer tunes.”

There is even a brand of brownies called “Killer Brownie.”

I realize Jason Marks intends to play some songs that will hopefully really really impress us and that the name of these brownies is meant to convey that the brownies are really really good, but we only imprison human killers or worse.

In Minneapolis, once having breakfast with my brother there at a restaurant, a choice on the menu was called “Kamikaze Plate.” I realize the actual word and practice is Japanese, but what an idea for a breakfast dish when you think about it.

Who, for instance, would name a plate, “Suicide Bomber Plate”? After all, the name of a dish should “inspire” appetite.

I have long felt “fight” is not a good word to use when it comes to admirable causes. But it’s used all the time.

For instance, I remember a good number of presidential races ago (ca. 1988 or no later than 1992) the driver of the bus I would take to/from work saying he liked Democrat candidate X “Because he’s a fighter.”

And I thought to myself, “What? He deals with his colleagues across the aisle with his fists?”

I recall during the second Trump impeachment, the Republicans used the word “fight” against the Democrats in an attempt to blur Trump’s use of the word on January 6 by playing what seemed like endless examples of Democrats using the word “fight” in their speeches.

Also, so much of what comes out of Hollywood is violent, guns ablaze, bombs going off, and so forth. It contributes to the problem of positively conceiving needed social changes as I see it since US/Americans are so awash in such images and narrative.

And Alec Baldwin would have had no murderous mishap were he not making yet another Hollywood film featuring guns.

And the influential film The Matrix, which gave us the famous “take the red pill” line, while starting out in my view rather in an interesting manner, chose the total cliche of an NRA-approved manner of conflict resolution.

(Its other cliches were things like the “I’m going with you [into danger]” cliché, the few good managing to fight off an army of the bad while receiving barely a scratch, and so forth.)

Incidentally, peace activist David Swanson writes that “The Pentagon and CIA Have Shaped Thousands of Hollywood Movies into Super Effective Propaganda.”

Let’s try to more positively frame our efforts to improve things.

Instead of a “War on Poverty,” how about, I don’t know, “An Unceasing Effort to Help Those in Need”?

(If we’re actually serious about such an effort, we could just call that socialism.)

Instead of politically “fighting” for improvement, how about we “relentlessly advocate” for it?

There may well be far better positive phrases, but we have to start somewhere.

For what it’s worth, I sent peace activist David Swanson many of these thoughts, and his two-word reply was, “I agree.”

Finally, it’s better to state what you want than what you don’t want.

It’s better to tell someone to remember to do something than to say “Don’t forget…”

And PeaceAction is a better name for a peace group than War Resisters League. Both do great work, but one has a positive name, the other doesn’t.


Nonviolent Communication

In his book, Nonviolent Communication, the late Marshall Rosenberg, asserts that a basic human social desire is simply to be heard. And a heard-person, is, in fair measure, a satisfied person, for at least the situation at hand.

One effectively hears another out by practicing empathy.

In one of the book’s anecdotes, Marshall wrote of a woman who was only very newly acquainted with his teachings having attended just her first workshop training. She worked the night shift at a drug detoxification center in Toronto. At eleven o’clock one night, when the place was full rooms-for-the-night-wise, a man who’d clearly had been taking drugs walked in off the street and demanded a room. She started to explain to him tht all the rooms had been filled for the night and was about to hand the man the address of another detox center when he hurled her to the ground, ended up sitting across her chest, holding a knife to her throat and shouting, “You bitch, don’t lie to me! You do too have a room!”

She said a joke Marshall told at that training may have saved her life: Never put your “but” in the face of an angry person; she was about to say “But I don’t have a room!” when she recalled the joke.

She managed to remain calm and instead draw him out by saying things like, “It sounds like you’re really angry and want a room.”

His response to that one was, “I may be an addict, but, by God, I deserve respect. I’m tired of no one giving me respect. My parents don’t give me respect! I’m gonna get respect!”

To which she asked “Are you fed up, not getting the respect you want?”

And so forth — for about 35 minutes!

But eventually he became calm enough to take his knife from her throat and get off her allowing her to help him find a room at another center.

In another anecdote, using Marshall’s techniques, a policeman was able to defuse a situation that otherwise would likely have erupted into a riot.

There was also a meeting of Palestinians and Israelis where his techniques were helpful.

Marshall doesn’t believe in apologizing. He feels it’s too degrading. He does have a “substitute” for it, however.

Instead of apologizing for being late, say, he recommends saying instead, “I mourn the fact that I was late.”

He wrote of an interesting insight into motor-mouths, what his friend Kelly Bryson calls babble-on-ians:

He suggests one interrupt when one has heard one more word than one wants to hear, that waiting longer makes it harder to be civil when we do step in.

It’s a delicate matter and too long for me to type out what he once did, but in doing it, the motor mouth ended up confessing he was totally bored with the conversation when he’d been the one doing most all of the talking!

Marshall discovered that “conversations” that are lifeless for the listener are also lifeless for the speaker.


This just in (or what would Paul Ehrlich do?):

This year, Earth Overshoot Day lands on July 28. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth regenerates during the entire year.

I = P × A × T

The expression equates human impact on the environment to a function of three factorspopulation (P), affluence (A) and technology (T). In the U.S., A and T are among the highest in the world. In contrast, India and China have very high P.

How to tell if we are overpopulated:

Easy. Just take two actual population figures and reverse them. Like this:

Imagine nearly 8 000 000 000 vaquita porpoises and hardly 10 human beings (where inbreeding then becomes a danger). Clear as the finest crystal. And no thanks to the U.S. Supreme(ly Fascist*) Court with its recent and threatened rulings.

*Just my opinion!

The End.

Preview of next week (subject to change): Scraps and Frags, Guest Jeanne Denney and SoULL, Billionaires and other Rich People, Seth/Jane Roberts

Boilerplate: As part of my community project as Racine Writer in Residence, I hereby invite Racine-area people to send me prose or poems of 250 words or less for me to consider for inclusion in my posts as a “guest appearance.” I don’t know as I write this if this will cause a flood of responses or hardly any responses at all. If a “flood,” I will obviously have to pick and choose. If you want, also send a photo and a very short “bio.” You will retain the copyright for the material you submit. Send to m.mk at att.net with “Racine WiR” in the subject line. Thank you.

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