Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Pirate Looks at 42


     Today is my 42nd birthday. It was a tradition to post “Trip Around the Sun” every year on this date. The tradition was mostly because I am a devout Parrothead, but at that point, the upheaval in my life made the lyrics incredibly personal. The birthday anthem changed a couple times on Eye of Polyphemus 2.0 because life changed a lot, too. But for 2018, it is back to the old stand by. Credit the aptness of the lyrics for the song's triumphant return.
     The year was quite ordinary, for better or worse, as far as recent years go. This was true until late summer when it became necessary to repair a hernia. It should have been a procedure—and the surgery itself was. The operation was a full success. But nothing is ever easy where my health is concerned. My back was somehow injured on the operating table. While still ailing with that injury, my gallstones finally made their presence felt. While weak and injured, I had my gallbladder taken out.
    I am fine now three months after the whole mess began, but different. I enjoyed much time to think during the weeks of slow recuperation. New ideas and perspectives came to mind during the time when there were no distractions besides four walls at which to stare. Yes, it constituted a lot of navel gazing. But it was still in many ways refreshing. If nothing, I have drastically changed how much of my time is spent.
     Nevertheless, I am glad 2018 is drawing to a close. More than a year's worth of travails were crammed in the last three months. It is about time for a break. Give the song above a listen. You will learn my philosophy about the whole shebang. If you want to learn more, keep on reading The Eye. I post as often as inspiration strikes with no end in sight.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bob Dole Stands to Salute George H. W. Bush's Casket


   Watching 95 year old Bob Dole being helped to stand so he could salute George H. W. Bush's casket was the most moving things I have seen in a long time. Dole and Bush shared a tumultuous history for years stemming from their various presidential runs. But dole respects his fellow veterans and the flag too much to let any lingering bitterness prevent him from honoring the late Bush.
     Dole is a class act from a generation that knew the meaning of honor and decency. Sadly, there are not many like him left.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Saturday Night Live--"The War in Words"


     The humor of Saturday Night Live falls mostly into two categories these days. The first is bitterly dark humor regarding the Trump Era of politics. The cast and creators of the show have generally leaned left from the beginning, but there was always equal opportunity in the satire. Everyone get tweaked in good fun. These days, the tone is a passionate attack on conservatism. The second category is shock value. Offensive content for the sake of jarring the viewer is a way of compensating for a lack of humor, not humor itself.
    The situation is not helped by the lack of talent within the cast. It is telling how much of a reliance the show has had on guest stars for impressions of people in the news. No one in the cast even impersonates the president. Alec Baldwin is regularly drafted to fill the role. Add to that list Robert De Niro as Robert Mueller, Ben Stiller as Michael Cohen, Matt Damon as Brett Kavanaugh, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump, John Goodman as Rex Tillerson, and Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer and you must wonder whether the current cast can handle topical humor.
     Saturday Night Live may not be firing on all cylinders these days, but the show can put on a gem of a sketch every now and then. The most recent example is embedded above. Maybe it is The Crown's Claire Foy adding a touch of class. Maybe I am just a history buff so it is right up my alley. Whatever the case, “The War in Words” is my favorite sketch so far this season.  Watch as as a series of letter exchanges from a British soldier deployed in World War I and his wife become increasingly dismaying for the former.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

George H. W. Bush (1924-2018)


     George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, died peacefully at his home in Houston last night after a long illness. He was 94. He was preceded in death earlier this year by his devoted wife Barbara. Bush 41 was a war hero who enlisted at 17 after Pearl Harbor. He was once shot down and rescued at sea. Much of his life was spent in public service of his country. Bush 41 was at times a Congressman, US ambassador, CIA director, and, of course, president.
     Bush 41 was president during my junior high and early high school years. At that age, I was just beginning to feel that naive, uninformed dabbling into politics in which idealistic youth love to engage. I got a quick lesson in reality, as many of us did, as he lead the country into the Gulf War. We got a quick lesson in the reality of politics during what was the first truly televised war. We learned not to believe what we saw on television. We learned not to believe everything the government tells us. We learned how to sell a war of economic interests as a moral battle for freedom. Mostly, we learned to be discerning about politics because policy could mean life and death.
     It is fair to say Bush 41 presided over my political coming of age. My educational and career choices were geared towards politics and law for the next twelve years after Bush 41 left office. You can imagine the impact his first steps had on the beginning of my journey through politics.
     Bush 41 emerged in some unusual places in my life during his post-presidency as well. There was a time in the late '90's when I debated apologetic on internet message boards. Religion and politics are intertwined, more for the worse than better, so Christianity’s role in government frequently came up. Agnostics and atheists tended to be liberals, but they had a particular hatred for Bush 41. Their hatred stemmed from his statement during the 1988 presidential race atheists ought not be considered citizens. He was pandering to the religious right, but the infidels were roiled nonetheless. Bush 41's other major later appearance was in conspiracy theories, which is what happens when one uses the term New World Order in earnest. The internet is loaded with Bush 41-Illuminati conspiracy theories. I invite anyone to Google search them for amusement purposes.
   Bush 41 could laugh at himself in spite of his serious demeanor. One can hardly think of him without Dana Carvey's impression coming to mind. The time in which comedians could poke fun at political figures with good nature seems quaint in this caustic era of anti-Donald Trump humor. By the way, Bush 41 wanted Trump at his funeral because he respects the office of the president. He was a class act until the end.
   History will be kind to Bush 41. If nothing else, he will be considered the last of the true elder statesmen. He transcended partisanship to be a true leader. There will never be another like him again. Godspeed, Mr. President.
     "Jefe, we're going to heaven."

The First of December

     Still too early to decorate.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Festivities


     No holiday selfie for Thanksgiving. I just posted one recently when I talked about a health update. I am just as skinny and shaggy-haired as I was then. There is no good reason to post another even if it is tradition. Vanity has its limits.
    My Thanksgiving meal was at lunch. It was the usual—turkey, ham, macaroni, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Today was dreary and rainy. Good sleeping weather, so how I spent the afternoon? If you guessed sawing logs, you guessed correctly. I am still feeling a bit weary even after all the time passed since my last surgery.
     I am thankful today I am, in spite of a little weakness, still on the mend. I feel much better than I have in quite a while even if a few issues linger. Recovery takes a little time. A little time often requires a lot of patience.

Happy Thanksgiving!

     Count your blessings.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Roy Clark (1933-2018)


     Legendary picker and grinner Roy Clark died today. He was 85. I had no idea he had been around that long. Here in South Carolina, Clark was a Saturday night staple for years for his musical talent and corny sense of humor on Hee Haw.
     My favorite Clark song is embedded above. “Yesterday When I Was Young” is one of his classics. Call me a late bloomer, but I first heard the song when Clark performed it at Mickey mantle's memorial service in 1995. I passed the song around social media on s melancholy birthday a couple times over the years.
     Godspeed, Mr. Clark.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Stan Lee (1922-2018)


     I do not even know what to say in an obituary for Stan Lee. Lee was a legend. Everyone knows he was the co-creator of Marvel's most famous characters like Spider-Man, Hulk, and the X-Men. Considering the mountains of comics he wrote during the early days of Marvel, he might well hold a record for most published short stories if one were to take a tally.
     The thing is comics mean much to me. They were a huge part of my life from the time even before I could read until I lost most of my eyesight in 2004. The last time I could see well enough to drive a car, I drove to the comic book store in Virginia Beach for my monthly haul. Not being able to read comics is one of the biggest regrets of my life and it is all because I am a dedicated Marvel Zombie. I am a dedicated Marvel Zombie because of Stan Lee.
     I regret never getting the chance to meet him. I have met many stars in the comics business during my convention going years, but never Lee. It is sad to know I will definitely never get the chance now.
     There is plenty of controversy surrounding Lee in terms of creator credits, royalty payments, and even how much of his persona was a character created for fans. I do not care to explore any of those issues. I have already seen a myriad of write ups that do go into them. You should seek them out if sordid details is what you want. They are easy to find. As for me, I have nothing but love for Lee. My life would have been terribly dull without him.
  Normally, I would end an obituary with “Godspeed,” but in this cse, “Excelsior” feels more fitting.

Turning the Corner


    It has been a bit under seven weeks since the whole health tumble began with an innocent enough hernia surgery. In that time, I managed another surgery, a back injury, a tube in my back, a prolonged hospital stay, and a hefty drop in weight. Pretty typical for someone with the combination of poor health and bad luck I frequently experience.
     So I sat in front of my camera last night to snap the above photo. There is no hernia. There is no hematoma. There is no gallbladder. I am in dire need of a haircut. I could stand to gain a few pounds, too. But otherwise, I appear to be all right after a tumultuous time of bad health.
     I have definitely been slack with the blog as of late. The situation is an added cruelty since I have had plenty of time to think about topics I would like to write about, but was too incapacitated to actually draft anything. Improved health should lead to an improved writing schedule. Unless I now draw a blank on ideas or something else bad goes wrong healthwise. I never can tell with these things, but I have a good idea.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"Werewolves of London"--Warren Zevon

     How about a little Halloween music?

All Treat, No Trick


     The staples were removed from the most recent incision earlier today. It feels weird specifying from “the most recent incision.” surely enduring a string of surgeries and procedures in quick succession is unusual. The staples were the last physical vestige of a month of bad health. 
     Now only the scars and a touch of weariness remain.

Happy Halloween!