Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chester Bennington


Chester Bennington frontman for Linkin Park has passed. Possibly by his own hand. He was 41 years old. New York Times write up about Mr. Bennington.  

I have seen depression. I have been right next to it, up close & personal. It was thick – like a third presence or person in the room. You could feel it. It blanketed any possible light. It was not redirectable. It didn’t care if you reminded it of all the good things in front of it; of the good things it had. It simply wanted out.

And it got out.

But it missed so much in the process ~ children growing older, being there as a force in their lives as they have grown, being a partner to a widow/widower, it missed friendships, it missed the possibility of joy, and it missed the simple fact that the world is now a dimmer place for their light no longer being a part of it.

We all have storms. We all have seasons. It does not matter who you are.  If you are feeling that the storm is too much, that the season is too long, please, talk to someone about it. You do not have to carry all that weight upon your shoulders. Find someone and talk. There is another side to this. If you don’t know who to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Call. The world needs your light and seasons do change.  






Saturday, July 08, 2017

Farpoint ...It's A Toy Store

The Human Adventure is Just Beginning...


Today is Farpoint …It’s a Toy Store’s Grand Opening.  Last night was the Black Tie, Preview Party.  Two TITANS are joining forces on this adventure: Farpoint Toys and It’s A Toy Store.  Between them are decades of experience in doing what they do.

“Toys?”

Yes, there are toys, lest there be no doubt – oodles of ‘em!  

Oodles, I say!

However, what Justin, Penelope, and Frank (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman of their new founded Justice League) do goes far beyond going to a Toys-R-Us.  …No, they are curators.  Obtainers of rare antiquities.  Keepers of memories and mementos.  They are story tellers and story keepers.  Community builders who want to share their love of genre with others who share their love of genre.  Simply put, they are fans.  The wonderful thing about the new digs is that it is also a meeting place for fans & soon to be fans to come, to discuss, to have a cup of coffee, and to bask in the communal glow of shared memories and stories.  Yes, it’s a toy store – but Farpoint …It’s A Toy Store is much, much more.

BTW, that's an original Ken Kelly in the corner.

There is a quote from the film, “Serenity” where River Tam asks Captain Mal Reynolds about what the first rule of flying is.  Mal’s answer is on point for Farpoint.  He said, “Love. You can learn all the math in the 'Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurtin' 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.”

Welcome home.



Today Farpoint …It’s A Toy Store officially opens!  Farpoint can be found at these coordinates; 5113 Harding Hwy., Mays Landing, NJ, on Twitter, and on Facebook.



Excelsior!  






Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy Birthday to Blade Runner

35-years ago today, 'BLADE RUNNER', one of my all time favorite films, was released.


My father and I were going to see it together 35 years ago but the projector in the theater went down and they gave us passes for a return trip.  More on that story can be found right here: Cinema Reborn at Landis Theater.  ...Sadly, the film did not find it's audience and was out of the theaters before we could get back to see it.  Instead we went to see, "The Road Warrior" later that summer.  1982 was an amazing year for film.

"Chew, if you could only see what I've seen with your eyes."

It wasn't until about 30 years later that I got the chance to see it on the big screen thanks to the good folks from Farpoint Toys & Level Up Entertainment and one of their totally awesome Retro Movie Nights.  I am still thankful for this wonderful opportunity.  The crowd was great too.  We were all fans sharing the joy of a tale that transcended flying cars and shining futures - Blade Runner is really about what it means to be alive - what it means to be human.


One of the enduring questions in the narrative fans of the film keep coming back to, "Is Rick Deckard a Replicant?"  I'll let you decide that for yourself.  I believe that there is enough evidence to convict him and that would mean that he is a prototype of the next generation - a Nexus 7.  We will find out for certain this October when "BLADE RUNNER 2049" comes out.  Deckard is in there and the story will take place 30 years after the events of the first film.

Rick Deckard, 30-years on  

While there will never be another "BLADE RUNNER" there are moments in cinematic history where magic is conjured and a sequel actually furthers the narrative, meets expectations, or - dare I say on the rare occasion, exceeds it.  I have high hopes that 2049 will fall into one of these categories.  If the trailers are any indication then Denis Villeneuve (director at the helm) and company appear to be on the right track.

Agent K finds an interesting hideout.

I have hope for the future and in the dystopia that is the past.  35-years... that time has passed like tears in rain.

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe..."

Happy Birthday Blade Runner.




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Reset Button

Too many Thought Police wannabes drinking the Kool-Aid out there.

Let 'em drink.   

Deeply.

As for me, I'm switching things up.  Here is some comfort food of the internet - a cat!


I can't speak for you, Gentle Reader, but I certainly feel better.

Be good to each other.

We're all we've got.

EC



Cat picture found here: Emergency Kittens after a Google search.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Master of Puppets



(Part III of III)

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell


We begin Part III with the end of Part II... 

One thing is becoming clearer and clearer, it does not matter if you were on the left or leaning to the right – this past election we all lost.  In the first part of this series we admitted that we have a problem and we discussed the concept that freedom of speech must apply to everyone.  In Part II, we discussed how we arrived here, at this moment, in history and where we are at present.  Now that we have come to Part III, we are going to look at who holds the power in the White House and what the future may hold.

With all due respect, there is something not entirely right with our President.  You may be a fan but hear me out on this.  His actions appear to be unhinged.  He has consistently shown that he is more concerned with crowd size at inaugurations and Arnold Schwarzenegger than he is with the daily running of the United States of America.  The appointments that he has made to his cabinet and who have, thus far, been greenlit by the GOP in Congress, are counter-intuitive to the jobs that they should be doing.  This is a consistency and not the exception.  It is as if he is actively trying to implode each section of these branches of government.  The EPA, education, department of urban development, the cuts to PBS & the National Endowment for the Arts, the new head of the FCC, and, to reiterate, all of the appointments Trump has made to his cabinet where he has intentionally chosen people who have no business being where they are.  People who will, if left to their own devices, destroy all the toys in the toy box that they have been given.  The thing is, this was not a mistake.  This was done on purpose and it will continue to be that way.

“Why?”

Because of Steve Bannon.  Steve Bannon wants to deconstruct our government and he wants to do so to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.  No, really.  In the Washington Post article, “Where Did Steve Bannon get his World View? From my Book” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/where-did-steve-bannon-get-his-worldview-from-my-book/2017/02/24/16937f38-f84a-11e6-9845-576c69081518_story.html?utm_term=.1378093c3da2), by Neil Howe, Howe explains the influence the book that he co-wrote with William Strauss, “The Fourth Turning” has had on figures from the left and the right and, primarily in this article, Steve Bannon.  The article is a very interesting read.  In “The Fourth Turning”, Howe & Strauss argue that history repeats itself, that deconstruction must happen for new construction to begin, and that this process occurs to usher in the new and to dismantle the old.  Howe states, “We live in an increasingly volatile and primal era, in which history is speeding up and liberal democracy is weakening. As Vladimir Lenin wrote, “In some decades, nothing happens; in some weeks, decades happen.” Get ready for the creative destruction of public institutions, something every society periodically requires to clear out what is obsolete, ossified and dysfunctional — and to tilt the playing field of wealth and power away from the old and back to the young. Forests need periodic fires; rivers need periodic floods. Societies, too. That’s the price we must pay for a new golden age.”

“The Great Manipulator” – TIME Magazine, February 2, 2017

To Bannon, Trump is a catalyst to usher in the next golden age.  He can use Trump to usher in whatever happens next, social collapse or World War III – either way, the Fourth Turning comes.  What we have or have had here in the United States is subject to deconstruction – all to make things better by first making them much, much worse.  This is scary for a variety of reasons.  Trump’s campaign slogan was, “Make America Great Again”.  I have always been of the school of thought that America is great but what can we do to make it better.  The powers that be are in the process of intentionally failing us ...to make us better.  I’ll be the first to say that we have problems but I will also say that we can, as a people, make a difference.  The great problem that I see is that we may be too late.  We are proudly marching backwards at an alarming rate.  The damage may already have been done. 

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” – Bob Dylan

There has been some saber rattling concerning Bannon’s position within Whitehouse as Trump’s closest advisor.  The Wall Street Journal in an article titled, “Donald Trump Considers Major Shake-up of Senior White House Team” by Carol E. Lee, Peter Nicholas, and Michael C. Bender (https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-considering-major-shakeup-of-senior-white-house-team-1491588185?tesla=y&mod=e2tw), discusses some of the rumors concerning how Trump is disappointed with how the healthcare vote went and how Steve isn’t playing well with his son-in-law.  This alleged infighting is, as one ‘official’ puts it, “The crisis this week in Syria has sharpened Mr. Trump’s desire to cut some of the drama out of his West Wing, and he is expected to make decisions soon. The continued infighting has “a very short life cycle...”  Again, this is rumor but if any of this proves true, expect Steve Bannon to remain not too far from the President’s ear.

“The crisis this week in Syria?”

In the last three days Trump did a sudden and complete 180 concerning President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian civil war after chemical weapons were used on civilians and 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched at the Shayrat Airfield, the airfield from whence the chemical weapons were launched.  Good, bad, or other, this is that first direct action from the United States during the Syrian civil war.

Are we closer to that Fourth Turning yet?  

Now, here is the part that truly frightens me.  What if Bannon is right?  We, as a species, do not learn.  We repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past by having history endlessly repeat itself?  I don’t know.  I do, however, know that history repeats itself all the time.  We are heard animals.  We do what we are told and we do so HAPPILY.  We hear, “Oh, look what the liberal media is telling you now!”  We drink the Kool-Aid, we don’t think, and we miss the fact that we have just been USED by the same people in power that fed us the line.  If you haven’t already please find a copy of Orwell’s, “1984”.  Some of the parallels are chilling. 

“What can we do?”

Our best.  That’s all any of us can do in good times or bad.  Our best means that we have to participate, we have to think, and, dare I say, base our actions on rational decisions.  We must seek wisdom and we must discern rhetoric from the truth.  To avoid manipulation, we must examine everything.  Question.  Despite what we have been told – the truth should still mean something.  This is a fact and facts should mean something too.  We need to be good to each other because things are going to get worse.  We need to be thankful for what we have because the line between ‘have’ and ‘had’ is a very thin.  We need to support each other – build each other up because, even now, we are still a beacon of hope to the world and we need each other now more than ever.  Gandhi said, "Be the change that you want to see in the world," well, here's our chance.  Be the light.  Here’s to better times.

Better times, indeed.





Monday, February 13, 2017

Give us Barabbas!



(Part II in a III Part series) 

I have heard some say, “Where were all the marchers on Election Day?”

To that I would have to say the same place the majority of Americans were – disenfranchised and believing that their vote really did not matter; believing that the dust would settle and we could all go back to our lives once the machines o either party fizzled out after Election Day was over.  After all, it had always been that way.  America could pick up and move on.  That’s the way a representative republic works.  The trouble with this is that there has never been an election cycle like the one experienced in 2016.  How did we get here?  Well, let’s simply say it was unprecedented. 

The machine on the left failed itself and the nation for the treasonous act of continuing business as usual.  Their machine was running just fine and there was certainly no need for change.  No, Hillary was going to be their candidate and the DNC made certain that Bernie Sanders popularity and grass roots movement were suppressed.  They anointed Hillary.  She wasn’t an outsider – she was part of the machine and the machine on the left worked quite well, thank you very much.

Bernie Sanders was betrayed.  He was the only candidate on either side who could honestly make the claim that he was for the people.  He was and is, I might add, the only one of the big voices who could say that he was in touch with the common, every day, working American.  Hillary couldn’t say it and it is ridiculous to even postulate that Trump has ever been for the common man.  It should have been Bernie.  Bernie was an outsider that the machine on the left was not comfortable with and so he was suppressed.  Big time.  It took WikiLeaks and it’s hacked emails to break the story but there it was, the truth behind the transgression.  The Washington Post had good coverage of the events.  As a result, then President Obama called the Democratic National Convention’s leading Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and asked her to resign.  She did but the damage was done.  Hillary was anointed and the blame for what happened in the election can squarely be lain right here.  Hillary had been part of the machine for the last 30 years, give or take – she was an insider.  The same machine that people had grown tired of.  One that was oiled by PACs, special interest groups, and lobbyists.  For this contravention, this treacherous act, The DNC can be called as to being the reason why we now say, President Trump instead of President Sanders.  The reality of the situation, as it stands, Donald Trump is the President Elect.  They didn’t simply let down Mr. Sanders, they let down the nation.  People’s faith in the entire system was now suspect – more now than it ever had been.  

But what of the machine on the right?  This machine had similar problems.  Things that had always worked were showing strain.  As the potential candidates assembled – a field strewn with the typical schmendricks that had always rallied to the political “pick me – pick me”, baby kissing, ilk.  As they gathered they ignored the very same thing that their left leaning counterparts did – the outsider.  They were simply not prepared for the ‘reality TV’, circus who was/is Donald Trump.  He said and did things that none of the other candidates would ever dream of saying or doing.  “Such behavior would never win an election!”  Trump’s audacity made people take notice; more to point, it made a lot of disenfranchised white people take notice.  Trump, who was now considered and outsider of the GOP, played on their fears and weaknesses.  During the election cycle Trump went from one sound bite to another; “I just grab ‘em by the pussy”, concerning women that he’d like to bed, in relation to protesters at his rallies he pined for the “old days” when people like that would be beaten up – effectively encouraging his followers to crank up the violence, he made light of a disabled reporter, he talked of banning Mexicans & Muslims, and during his campaign he said, “I could shoot somebody in the middle of the street and they (his followers) wouldn’t care.”  He was right.  Trump had tapped into an undercurrent of resentment that was closer to festering than a lot of people realized – including the GOP.  Referring to his cabinet if he were to become President, “I would hire the BEST people.”  Who they were did not matter.  During one of the nationally televised debates and referring to his taxes that he has NEVER revealed he admitted that he did not pay his taxes saying, “It was smart,” not doing so.  And it didn’t matter.  Discarded were questions about his character or his mental fitness – after all this reality TV star is going to make America great again.  Trump the outsider was now the GOPs candidate.  He courted the ‘religious right’ and a very large number of them supported him since he has become a “new Christian”.  The Christian faith is built upon Christ changing the lives of the people who accept and believe in him; then, those people move forward, being others driven, working towards being more Christ-like examples to bring others to the Lord and light to the world.  That’s a thumbnail sketch.  Redemption & change.  I provide it because there are those who claim the name of ‘Christ’ and, much like an alternative fact, are not acquainted with him at all. Matthew 7: 15-20 says...

 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Trump’s example did not matter.  His deeds meant nothing.  The evangelicals did not care for fruit, they only wanted to win and shape policy in their own image.  They ignored seeking the fruit in the life of their candidate and put off producing it in theirs.  Moral character no longer mattered to them.  They were too concerned with Trump’s kingdom and not so much with God’s.  False prophets are on all sides of this, left & right, and, historically, politicians use the ‘flock’ for their own means on a routine basis.  It is a given.  So, is Trump a Christian?  The only person who can truly answer that is Trump – that’s between him and God.  The evangelical right said he was.  Trump didn’t disagree.  The evangelicals did not care about any of the empirical data or his history – all of the things that clearly should have raised some flags or mattered did not.  They shouted, "Give us Barabbas!" and that is exactly what they got.  Pharisees.  This, too, gobsmacked the GOP.  As other candidates continued to fall they didn’t know whether to distance themselves from the Trump brand or to throw their arms around him.  They chose the latter. 

So the machine on the right retooled before the big showdown in November and it beat the machine from the left.  Trump won the Electoral College while Hillary won the popular vote.  Donald Trump is now the President of the United States.  This is how we got here.  The American people chose between two horrible choices and it will be up to history to decide just how horrible things will get.  If the first few weeks are any indication then the adage is more than true, we live in interesting times.  Here is a quick rundown of what has happened thus far and, please note, we are three weeks into the 45th Presidency. 

The GOP, who now run both the House and the Senate, voted to disband the Office on Ethics (hey, who need those?), they have started to deconstruct the Affordable Care Act, and – with a few pen strokes from the President, will make healthcare for about 15 million people disappear.  These are real human beings, right here in America, who will not be able to afford surgeries, therapies, or their chemotherapy meds.  People will be effected.  People will die.  Certain sites have disappeared from the White House website such as climate change, homosexual rights, and the entire “Spanish Language” section.  There was Trump’s inaugural speech where he underlined his “America first” ideology and, as a bonus, insulted each of the other living presidents.  Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary attacked journalists during his first outing in the role and picked an unnecessary fight with the National Parks Service over the amount of people in attendance at Trump’s inauguration.  Trump is upset that the numbers at his inauguration are not as high as were at President Obama’s.  He is in denial of this and has taken great pains to say that his was much better.  The next day, the President’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, on a news show claimed that Spicer did not misrepresent the numbers and that he was only presenting, “alternative facts”.  Note: Alternative facts are also called lies.  The next day Conway mentions Trump’s taxes that he has still not released saying, “If they (the people) cared they wouldn’t have voted for him.”  Trump forbids the EPA from sharing any information with the public or press concerning any scientific research on climate change.  The Department of Agriculture is silenced too.  We the people, however, have PAID for this research with our tax dollars.  This will certainly be reviewed once the system of checks and balances start to push back against Donald.  Trump signed the paperwork to start building the wall between Mexico and America.  He is still in full confidence that the Mexicans are going to pay for it.  He wants to bring back torture.  He believes that, “it works”.  His top military advisors are against this because they remember the Geneva Convention.  It is hoped that it will be explained to Donald shortly.  He wants to open more “Black Site” prisons offshore so people deemed to need them can disappear.  Stocks for concrete and private prison companies are up because of the wall for the potential need for more black site prisons to oppress others.  The President of Mexico cancels a meeting with Trump saying that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall.  Trump is upset.  He renews pressure on the National Parks Service to find proof of the inaugural crowds.  Meanwhile, sales of Orwell’s, “1984” have put it onto the NY Times Bestsellers list again.  CNN is a “Fake News” site as per the Whitehouse.  Trump placed a ban on Muslim majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days.  The only countries exempt from this ban are countries that Donald Trump does personal business with.  Let me repeat that, the only countries exempt from this ban are countries that Donald Trump does personal business with.  People who have green cards have been turned back at airports.  A green card is how workers and students are able to be fast tracked to become legal United States citizens.  Up until very recently, America was the ‘Great American melting pot’, the “land of opportunity.”  A Federal Judge put an end to this ban which caused Trump to stop and ask his cabinet, “What are checks and balances?”  And then there is the Dakota Access Pipeline, which Trump financially benefits from is back on which will drive the oil pipeline through Native American lands and tunnel underneath the Missouri River near Standing Rock – but, seriously, what’s more American that pushing native people off their own land?

...It hasn’t been a month yet.

  
One thing is becoming clearer and clearer, it does not matter if you were on the left or leaning to the right – this past election we all lost.  In the first part of this series we admitted that we have a problem and we discussed the concept that freedom of speech must apply to everyone.  Here, in Part II, we discussed how we arrived at this time in history and where we are at present.  In Part III, coming soon, we will discuss the future – what may come to pass and what may not.   


 "May the wings of Liberty never lose a feather."


* NOTE: For the sake of accuracy, the pipeline runs through disputed Sioux Territory.  Lands promised to them by the U.S. Government in the treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851.  These lands were taken away.  Who’s lands are they?  It depends on who you ask or who draws the maps.  The pipeline is buried underneath Lake Oahe and the Missouri River is the primary outflow of the lake.  The Missouri River is the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  They have a right to be concerned.  The citizens of Bismarck were too.  The pipeline was moved for them.  It was not moved for the Sioux.  The pipeline itself is almost completed.  Here’s hopin’ that pipes never burst.
 
See you next time, Gentle Reader.