Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year on a Personal Level

       As promised or threatened, depending on your perspective, here is a post commenting on the past year regarding my personal life rather than punditry on the year at large in the previous post if you are uninterested in self-indulgent introspection that has absolutely no relevance to anything in your life, you may skip the rest of the post with a clear conscience.
       It is safe to say 2016 was the best year I have spent in a long time. It was certainly the most peaceful and happy sine at least 2002. Thirteen years is a long time to feel life is too tumultuous to enjoy. I have gone round and round over why the years 2003-2014 were so bad as well as written about the upswing through most of 2015. So there is no need to rehash the story here. So let me only disuses what 2016 has meant.
       In short, 2016 has brought peace. I a on my on again in a new city, surrounded only by the people I choose to let in my life, and it is great. I finally shed a family tree that was more Dutch Elm Disease than anything else. You may think that is a cruel statement, but if you would care to look back on Team Chavis' response to my reemergence earlier this spring—which included a death threat—you will see why finally letting e dead leaves fall was good idea. Now I can sit back and watch Darlington County reach the same conclusion. Maybe it will not take a decade for the county to escape their clutches like it did me.
       Yes, there was a little stint in purgatory with some other difficult people who I eventually prevailed over. You can pin much fault for my experience there on Team Chavis, too. But I learned a lot about myself, made some good friends who are still sticking with me, and discover a part of my old personality I feared was long dead could be resurrected with a little nudging. Accentuate the positives, folks.
       The people I have let in my life are wonderful. I have written about and posted photos of them and me together throughout he year. I love them all dearly, as thy put up with the emotional soars and social awkwardness the last baker's dozen years inflicted on me. Not to mention the adjustments my new health issues caused. Not all family is connected by blood, and I a thankful for that.
       In spite of those new issues, my health has been the best I have enjoyed in years. I have maintained a healthy weight around 100 pounds. I am a runt, so that is okay for me. There have been no hospital visits, much less surgeries, in years in spite of those being frequent events when I was at the mercy of those "dead leaves.”  I barely suffered a cold throughout 2016.
       So 2016 was the best year for me in recent memory. Here s to 2017 being even better for all of us. Stay safe, and have a happy New year!

The Year That Was 2016

       Here it is folks. The final day of 2016 has arrived. There is a general consensus 2016 was a particularly bad year. In many respects, it was. But much of what made 2016 considered to be so awful is a matter of opinion. On a personal level, I found the year to hold far more positive than negative, but I save the commentary on that for another post to spare those who are not interested in the exercise in narcissism that is personal blogging. Instead, I will weigh in the five major pints that allegedly made 2016 so terrible.
       First political upheaval. I must expose my political inclinations here...I thought the year, with a few exceptions, turned out well. The Brexit and election of Donald Trump as President of the United States were welcome blows to the old order which has become far too obsessed with globalism. Let us here it for populist movements that are finally fed up with being ruled by out of touch elites in far off enclaves.
       That said, I am a realist who is prepared to eat crow if proven wrong in y support of the political changes I just mentioned. The Brexit may very well lead to a break up of the United Kingdom if Scotland gets its second independence referendum and the far less likely secession of London as both Scotland and London prefer stronger economic ties to the European Union. But the United Kingdom is not the only country growing more skeptical of the European Union. Th recent referendum in Italy was exclusively a national issue over government reform, but one side got labeled an EU favored position and lost. Germany and France have their own nationalist movements. Scotland and London appear to be vocal minorities.
       As for the United States election, I will admit I was not an adamant Trump supporter. Neither were many of the people jockeying for spots in his Cabinet. I am looking at you, Nikki Haley and Mitt Romney. I was simply did not want Hillary Clinton to win. Like pretty much everyone else, I assumed until about nine o'clock on election night Clinton would win. Trump's victory was a shock for me, especially when he broke through the blue wall to carry Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
       Am I concerned about Trump's lack of experience? Sure. Back in 2008, I was more adamant Barack Obma's lack of experience was a bigger problem than his liberalism. I think this was ultimately proven true. Obama was weak and naive as president. Trump has even less experience than Pbama at this point, but I do not think Trump I either weak or naive.
       There is no doubt the 2016 presidential election did not feature the best options. You had a Democrat front runner who spent the entire campaign under investigation by the FBI versus a Republican political novice with a loose cannon demeanor. All this also came under the shadow of possible Russian interference in the outcome and rioting afterward because—you know—the political left cannot fathom the idea of ever losing.
       But I am cautiously optimistic about it all. There are some seriously bad points from 2016: the coup in Turkey, the rise of fascism in the Philippines, deposed leaders in Brazil, Argentina, and South Korea, Cuba is still a dictatorship after Fidel Castro's death, the civil war in Syria and Venezuela's economy has collapsed. But not everything can be perfect. The lights that shine this year shine bright against he darkness.
       Two, terrorism. The issue of terrorism is loosely related to the first. ISIS was responsible for thirteen attacks across the globe. Most notable Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Berlin, Minneapolis, and Orlando. ISIS brought lone wolf terrorism to the West, and did best often by taking advantage of western compassion by sneaking in operatives as refugees fleeing various war zones. Much of ISIS' emboldened actions are due to a weak response lead by Obama. So yes, I will concede ISIS contributed heavily to making 2016 a bad year.
       Three, mass shootings. The Pulse night club shooting, in which more than fifty people were killed, is the worst mass shooting in American history. The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS, making it the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. The ambush of cops in Dallas only inflamed tensions over controversial police shooting around the country. The Ohio State shooting ended before it could become far worse if not for one rave, armed cop.
       Four, natural and man made disasters. Two earthquakes in Italy. The largest forest fire in Canadian history. The Zika virus. Some may say the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse have been set loose upon the Earth. While I do not dismiss these calamities, I am not that much of a drama queen, either.
       Finally, celebrity deaths. Famous people die every year, but it seems as though we lost an awful lot of iconic figures in 2016, from music to movies, television to sports, and literature to public service. It started with David Bowie and ended with the daughter-mother loss of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Sorry to say, but it is not going to get any easier. The baby Boomer generation is reaching its life expectancy. The icons of that generation often have their life expectancy exasperated by the hard living alcohol and drug excesses fame afforded. Brace yourselves. The number of celebrity deaths is only going to increase in the coming years.
        On that cheer note, have a happy and safe New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 30, 2016

"Goodwill to Men"

       Last year around this time, I featured "Peace on Earth," a classic anti-war animated short from 1939. The short left an indelible mark on me as a child because of its frightening depiction of humanity destroying itself in an apocalyptic conflict reminiscent of the First World War. The short probably struck me hard because of the End Times obsession frequent exhibited at the christian school I attended. It is probably also y affinity for history. Whichever the case, I still look up the short fro time to time on YouTube even now.
       There is a remake of “Peace on Earth” embedded above. It was made in 1955 and updated from a First World War style conflict to a Cold War turning hot conflict. In other words, instead of the two last soldiers on earth killing each other with the implication all civilian populations have been wiped out, “Goodwill to Men” features the bomb directly dropped on innocent men, women, and children. The children of the mid-'50were already immersed in the threat of bomb shelters, duck and cover, and nuclear attack., but “Goodwill to Men'” would scare the daylights out of anyone.
       “Goodwill to Men” has even stronger christian themes, probably due to the enemy at this point being the Godless commies. While “Peace on Earth” referred loosely to the Bible as a book of rules and noted “Thou shall not kill” specifically, “Goodwill to Men” cite both the Old and New Testament.
       In spite of the more pronounced Christian themes, “Peace on Earth” resonates more with me than dos “Goodwill to Men.” The difference could be it is simply not as good as “Peace on Earth,” Most critics and animation fans admit it is not. It may also be a matter of crying wolf. I first saw “Goodwill to Men” in the '80's. It is difficult to fret over a thirty year old warning about dropping the bomb, but the kind of major armed conflict over politics, religion, or resources like in “Peace on Earth” always seemed like a possibility. It still does.
       Even though “Goodwill to Men'” is not as good as "Peace on Earth,” I still like it and think it is worth a view. This time of the year always brings about a sense of finality before rebirth. In some years, the sense of rebirth is more optimistic than other. But 2016 is not one of those years. The world is in upheaval against its old order. We have only seen hints of the results fro events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump We may not even see much result n 2017. But there is a noticeable apprehension in the air as the new year creeps upon us. I, for one, cannot help but rewatch “Peace on Earth” and “Goodwill to Men” with a morbid curiosity for what the future holds.              

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Steve Martin Deletes Twitter Tribute to Carrie Fisher After Feminist Backlash

       Comedian Steve Martin tweeted a tribute to the late Carrie Fisher yesterday, then deleted it after a feminist firestorm erupted. There does not appear to be a screen shot I can find, but the exact wording of the tweet is said to be this; “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.”
       It goes without saying deleting the tweet did not solve Martin's problem. The tweet is still causing a stir within feminist circles. The heart of the matter is Martin's recognition of Fisher's physical appearance before acknowledging her writing talent. Martin's perceived error in judgment was so offensive, he bowed to pressure and sent his comment down the memory hole.
       It is difficult to know where to begin discussing the matter. I will break it down into three points.
       One, I understand Fisher faced a difficult time creating an identity of geek sex object. In terms of Princess Leia, sh is probably best remembered as the bikini clad slave girl chained to a giant slug while cavorting about for a bunch of puppets. One does not have to travel too far within science fiction circles to learn what I just described is a frequent fantasy of male science fiction fans. Fisher spoke of any number of fans approaching her to reveal she was an object of their sexual fantasies. I can imagine how creepy that is as well as how much she would rather be remembered for just about anything else.
       Yes, Fisher was a talented writer. But she was not known as a talented writer when martin was a young man. He was merely acknowledging what he recognized first and complimenting Fisher on what he learned about her later. I am certain a talent like martin, who began his career strumming the banjo with a fake arrow through his head and eventually graduated to critiquing art for major magazines, was empathetic when drafting his tweet. He meant it as complimentary. No harm, no foul.
       Two, physical appearance we notice most often about people when we first meet. We do not find out other interesting things until later. It is really that bad to recognize the pleasant outward appearance of someone? It is not like martin was being suggestive in his tweet. Have we reached a point now in which we must ignore some positive attributes of a person n favor of others? Because Martin never dismissed Fisher wit and intelligence when talking about Fisher's beauty, but he apparently was expected to ignore her beauty when talking about her wit and intelligence.
       Finally, I am disappointed Martin deleted the tweet instead of standing his ground against his critics. One is usually motivated to become a comedian because of a recognition there is something wrong with the world and poking fun at the problem will compel others to think about it. Identity polities has long since reached absurd status in our culture and is therefore ripe for mockery. As a venerable comedian, Martin out to be at the forefront of sending up our cultural silliness. But he is sadly bowing to the politically correct police. It is sad martin is no longer a wild and crazy guy.       

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

       The year 2016 has been particularly rough on iconic celebrities. One upon a time, obituaries for public figures with whom I felt some connection or another were a semi-frequent feature on my previous blog. Since the current blog has not been well defined in spite of its nearly three years of existence, I have been reluctant to resume writing obituaries. Especially this year as the urge strongly hit me on a couple occasions. The death of Carrie Fisher was the tipping point which has caused me to finally resume.
       I am a huge Star Wars fan. Always have been. While I try not to hate to rag too badly on the prequels, I am a die hard fan of the original trilogy. One of the main things to make A New Hope so great was the classic story of an old wizard mentoring a young farm boy and a scoundrel mercenary to storm the evil wizards castle and rescue a beautiful princess? What boy has not fantasized about such a scenario/ I know I did. Princess Leila was my first celebrity crush.
       Yes, her turn as a half-naked harem girl probably messed with my seven year old mind, too. My misspent youth was all about the peculiar role of women in the generally male dominated fandoms of comic books and science fiction. So do not blame a single film for warping my young, impressionable self. Suffice to say, Princess Lelia left an indelible mark on me.
       I am not one to follow celebrity gossip. Famous people put their pants on one leg at a time and what they do in their personal lives holds no more interest for me than the average trailer park drama. So I have no comments regarding Fisher's substance abuse or tumultuous love life. I honestly cannot say much authoritatively about its effect on her professional writing other than it has been described as edgy and bitterly funny. My writing has also been described at times as edgy and bitterly funny. Perhaps Fisher and I shared some views on life.
       I learned Fisher had suffered a heart attack the same way everyone else did—when the d-lit celebrity sitting in the row behind her on the flight from London to Los Angeles tweeted about it in a less than classy manner. When it became known Fisher stopped breathing for at least ten minutes, I knew her prognosis was grim. The survival rate when CPR must be performed hovers around ten percent. If there had not been an EMT on board, Fisher might have died on the plane.
       As far as I am concerned, sitxy is getting younger by the day, so it is difficult to consider Fisher's death a reasonable happening for someone her age. I am certain the matter was exasperated by her past drug use. I noticed in a couple recent interviews she was wheezing an awful lot. In spite of it all, including her turn as the aged Leia in The Force Awakens, I can still only picture her as the young, beautiful princess in need of rescue from the evil clutches of Darth Vader.
       Fisher is set to return in next December's Episode VIII in an expanded role. Principal photography has already wrapped, so we will get to see her one final time next year. There is no word on what will happen if Leia is supposed to return for Episode IX
       Fisher used to tell fans no matter how she actually died, she wants the narrative to be she drowned in moonlight strangled by her bra. You got it, Princess. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.
        Godspeed, Ms. Fisher.     

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Christmas Selfie

       Continuing in the new tradition of posting a new selfie on each holiday. I am even sporting a new, red shirt for the occasion. I originally had a candy cane between my teeth in order to look more Christmas-y. I thought it would be funny. As it turned out, it looked more like I was impersonating one of Santa's reindeer. Old St. Nick guides his reindeer with bridles, does he not?
        I am glad I dumped the candy cane and made the photo less Christmas themed.  It is one of the better photos I have taken in recent times.  my face certainly looks far less gaunt than it has in quite a while.  This is my new Facebook profile photo.  it will likely be used as my avatar for a few other online ventures.    
       It was a nice Christmas. Quiet, and I ate well. There was an nontraditional fried chicken dinner and a fantastic tradition ham, turkey, and vegetables supper. My decorations are even still up. Thy rarely make it passed sundown Christmas day. I must be unusually festive this year.
         I hope everyone else enjoyed a fine Christmas with either your wish list filled or lumps of coal in your stocking, whichever you most deserve. I pass no judgment one way or the other. Now we will run out the clock on 2016 and hope the year ends on a high note.

Have a Rocking Christmas!

Wait...there was a time when MTV played music?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through my room
All was bright. Not an ounce of gloom.
My stocking was hung on the closet with care.
Even a Christmas tree stood proudly over there.

It was near the of a year easier than the last few.
Which was a relief, because I was certainly due.
As I turn up faith hill's cover of “The Little Drummer Boy”
I cannot help feeling a sense of long lost joy.

I gaze out the window in quiet reflection.
Pondering my life's positive new direction.
As the months pass, I am healthier and fatter.
Old emotional burdens no longer matter.

The season insists the memories flow on
Of loved ones and friends long gone.
Today those memories begin tasting sweet
rather than like tears of bitter defeat.

There is freedom in beginning anew regardless of age.
If you allow yourself to turn the page.
To unfetter yourself from the chains of the past.
And endure until life's storms avast.

So carry on, storms! Throw at me your best.
As proven time and again, I am up to the test.
Tho my ship has been battered to the brink.
The Lord is my Captain. I shall not sink.

I faithfully acknowledge a life blessed with grace.
No matter my current circumstance or place.
So now I also exclaim at the last of sunlight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

All He Wants for Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas at Ground Zero

      This might be a more appropriate video for next Christmas. Well, appropriate if the wildly absurd claims President Donald Trump will destroy the planet with his blustery ways. Take a chill pill, folks. We will be just fine for the next four to eight years.
       In the meantime, enjoy “Weird Al" Yankvic's festive Christmas treat about nuclear annihilation at the most wonderful time of the year. The video even features Ronald Reagan, the last D-list celbrity elected president whom liberals feared would drag us into a devastating nuclear war.
       Fun fact: MTV banned “Christmas at ground Zero” for being too offensive. Since when has MTV worried about offending anyone?      

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bing & Bowie

       It has been nearly a year since David Bowie passed away. How about we remember that time Bowie showed up on a Bing Crosby Christmas special to perform a duet of “The Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth)” with Bing? Bowie supposedly made the appearance to prove he could be normal. I do not think it helped much.    

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Electoral College Will Meet Today to Make Donald Trump's Victory Official

     The Electoral College meets today to make Donald Trump's election as president official. In spite of any rumblings to the contrary, there is no chance anyone, much less Hillary Clinton, other trump will be the 45th President of the United States. For the political left, the plot to flip electors is either a public relations stunt to undermine Trump's legitimacy or the bargaining stage of the grieving process. Take your pick.
       At least if it is the latter, we will only have to endure their depression stage before their acceptance of the Trump Administration. If we are lucky, their depression stage will involve sitting in their jammies and eating Ben Jerry's while binge watching DVD of The West Wing instead of going out and really screwing hings up for the rest of us.
         Trump won 306 electoral votes to Clinton's 232. His 306 electoral votes is well passed the 270 needed to win the White House. In spite of any drama the media has stirred up over the possibility of a mass defection of electors pledged to Trump and Clinton electors coalescing behind a comprise candidate—the media needs drama to report, even when there is none—expect those numbers to remain virtually unchanged.
       Never has more than one elector not cast a vote for his pledged candidate. In order to keep Trump from earning 270 votes, 37 electors must defect. Even if such an unlikely event occurs, the republican controlled House will elect Trump instead when the election is thrown to them. So any effort to deny trump 270 electoral votes is simply delaying the inevitable.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Let Me Eat Cake

     I am actually enjoying a large chocolate chip cookie cut into slices. It is not truly a cake. The culinary delight may more accurately labeled a pie. I honestly do not know, and the confusion irks my pedantic nature. If anyone cares to weigh in to resolve the matter, feel free.
       Yes...all this turmoil for a play on an overused historical reference in a joke which was not that funny in the first place. There are likely better ways to spend y tie, but I am adverse to spend the tie to find them. So there.
      The chocolate chip cookie is the sweet tooth indulgence for my fortieth birthday. The campaign to put more meat on my bones marches on. As for the question of what the next forty years will bring, the answer is diabetes, probably.   

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Still Crazy After All These Forty Years

       Way back in 2010 on my 33rd birthday, I began he tradition of posting the Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride duet “Trip Around the Sun” every year with the title "A Pirate Looks at _____.” The post title was a play on the popular buffett song 'A Pirate Looks at Forty” while substituting my actually age with forty. I always had the idea, assuming both the blog and I made it to 2016, to switch to “A Pirate Looks at Forty” on y fortieth birthday. The plan was so drenched in Parrot Head fandom, it it crossed the line int self-parody.
       My fortieth birthday has finally arrived. The blog I was writing at the time did not survive past 2013, but I am still here. It was touch and go there for a while, including a dark patch there in which I was my own worst enemy. But that is long sine gone. The desire to follow through with “A Pirate Looks at Forty” needed to be canned. I do not lament not sailing the high seas. I do not touch alcohol. I do not smuggle weed. If I am engaged in existential lament as I enter my fifth decade the lyrics do not represent it accurately. I even opted to skip the old “Trip Around the Sun” standby.
       This birthday, I am going with another favorite performer, Paul Simon. His “Still Crazy After All These Years" feels like a more appropriate choice. Lyrically, at any rate. Just who crazy I am after all these years is a matter best discussed privately among yourselves. Maybe a new birthday tradition is born?   

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dining Room or There is Nothing

       There is so much about “Dining Room or There is Nothing” that is creepy, it is difficult to know where to begin. The creepy music. The reverse dialogue before it is re-stated correctly. The face dive into the bowl. Maybe the mysterious setting which is obviously intended to evoke visions of hell. While all that is true, it probably the deep, soul-searing stare that really gets you.
       “Dining Room or There is Nothing” is the creation of danish artist and filmmaker David B. Earle. Earle intended for the short video to be viewed on a continuous loop. The video was designed to feature no definite beginning or end to symbolize Earle's personal desire for empirical proof there is nothing on the other side of life.
       All right. I can see how looping the video would symbolize the fruitless effort to find natural answers to supernatural questions. But it is odd to make the setting hell. Establishing the physical existence of hell would be a physical answer to a supernatural question. Oh, well. Maybe I do not appreciate the intellectual value of a metaphysical paradox relayed through a post-modern medium.
     I suggest making a game out of watching “Dining Room or There is Nothing.” Set the video to play on loop, as Earle intended, and see how many times you can sit through with becoming creeped out. I made it through three loops before feeling compelled to move on to other amusement. Your mileage may vary.      

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Italian Job

       Were you on the edge of your seat yesterday waiting for the results of the national referendum in Italy? No? Me, neither. The media hyped the referendum as a Brexit level event, but you cannot even claim it fizzled out on the premise. The referendum was no where near as monumental as the Brexit. Yet it was one strange event.
       Here is the deal in a nutshell. The Italian Senate is huge, and full of bickering politicians who cannot get anything done. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi proposed cutting the Senate down to 100 members in order to streamline the passage of legislation to get things done faster. A 'yes” vote on yesterday's referendum meant reforming the Senate. A 'no” vote maintained the status quo. Renzi tied his political future to a “yes” vote.
       But Italy, like much of the Western world, is going through a period of rising support for national sovereignty over globalism. Renzi's reform proposal, backed by his enter/left governing majority, was viewed as globalist. Conservatives sided with tradition in keeping the Senate as is. The “no” vote won, the senate remains bloated, and Renzi has killed his political career.
       Shrinking a legislative body certainly sounds like a conservative idea, but the consensus is Renzi would have used the smaller Senate to ram through his agenda. One assume his agenda favored the European Union over national interests. Or maybe there is simply a populist backlash against the Establishment regardless of the wisdom in it. Whichever the case, Renzi blundered by promising to resign if the referendum failed. While Prime Minister David Cameron was wise to bail and leave the messy tails of the Breit to his successor, Renzi could have hung on to power relatively unscathed. Oh, well.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Saturday Night Live Goes Off the Rails

        Saturday Night Live is two episodes shy of the halfway point to its 42nd season, so far, I am awarding it a “C” for effort, but room for improvement. The show has featured some gems this season, but they have been few and far between. The big problem is how much the show has gone completely off the rails in its response to Donald Trump winning election for president.
       I indulge in a flippant, sometimes nihilistic sense of humor frequently myself. Pretty much anything is open to humor, and sacred cows make the best hamburgers. I am not even offended by the sort of sketches SNL is airing in order to jab at Trump. I am simply pointing out how pathetically embarrassing the sketches are. Take the above screen cap from last night's cold open. That is ale Baldwin playing Trump. The Grim Reaper to his right represents Steve Bannon.
       I do not care one way or the other about Bannon. I am as skeptical of Breitbart as I am any news source wearing an ideological slant on its sleeve. But the strongest attacks I have heard on him are accusations he is a white supremacist. Those accusations are so absurd, even Anderson cooper called out en. Elizabeth Warren for repeating when there is no shred of evidence to prove it. How do you jump from knee jerk, unfounded accusations of racism to comparing Bannon to the embodiment of Death?
        It is absurd to make that leap even for a comedy bit. Th sad part is I a not certain the caricature is for the sake of comedy. The absurdity was not meant to be funny. Witness Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton's somber rendition of “Hallelujah” which opened the first post-election episode. She was fighting back tears. She was not crying over the recent passing of Leonard Cohen. Her sorrow was all about the supposed death to America a President Trump will bring. This stuff is tough to watch if for no other reason than people genuinely believe the loony narrative.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Operation Wandering Soul

       All the creepy videos I have posted thus far became less disturbing once explained. So how about I post one in which the truth is not any more comforting than what the intention appears to be? I encountered a snippet of the above video I a compilation of frightening recordings a few months ago. It sent a shiver up my spine. Keep in ind I am not the superstitious type, either.
     Operation Wandering Soul was a campaign of psychological warfare conducted by the United state military during the Vietnam War. Operation Wandering Soul played recordings of ethereal, anguished voices through the jungles of Vietnam in order to play on the belief of the Vietnamese the souls of those buried away from the homeland would wander the Earth forever in pain. The recording were blasted through helicopter speakers at night to torment the enemy. The military was advised not to play the recordings near South Vietnamese allies since they might be discouraged to fight as much as the Vietcong.
       The success of Operation Wandering soul is difficult to determine. The Vietcong who fired in the direction of the disembodied voices were met with return fir, which negated the results. But the recordings are still a terrifying listen. Much of the disturbance cones fro me not understanding Vietnamese, so the voices sound even stranger. But the above video features subtitles. But reading the translations does not make the Ghost Tapes any less unsettling.         

Friday, December 2, 2016

Open Your Heart to Everyone

       A former teacher of mine posted this video on Facebook a couple days ago. She awarded it Best Christmas Commercial of 2016 even though December has just begun. Concur. It is a touching commercial with an important message about acceptance.
       She not only earns points with me for sharing the commercial, but for correctly referring to the main character as Frankenstein's monster. He is too often mistakenly called Frankenstein. Frankenstein was the doctor who created him. I would expert nothing less than such level of accuracy from a retired English teacher.
       Frankenstein's monster has always been my favorite classic monster. There is the clash of science versus religion in Mary Shelley's novel to appeal to me. But I feel an empathy with the monster. He is different than everyone else. He feels alienated because virtually all of what can be considered a normal life is unavailable to him. Yet he must find his own place in the world. I identify with his struggle. I therefore appreciate the measure of acceptance he finds in the above commercial.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Eat Your Heart Out, Charlie Brown

       I put out my Christmas decorations this afternoon. It is a charlie brown tree, but the little fellow put me in the spirit of the season. My stocking is hung out for Santa. Ready for that lump of coal I so richly deserve instead of Reese Witherspoon in the Slave Girl Princess Leia outfit I put on my list every year. Maybe next Christmas.
       December will be especially monumental this year. I will turn forty on the eleventh. It may sound strange, but I am eager to leave my 30's behind. The last ten years were a disastrous decade. Even though I have now physically escaped all that made me miserable during that time, there is an emotional boost to beginning a new part of life in new, better surroundings.
       The year will draw to a close as December winds down. While I have mostly enjoyed a good year personally, it has certainly been rougher than usual for the world at large. No wonder so much of it is in revolt over the status quo. I will say much about the good and the bad in reflection as the year fades into twilight. Until then, hopefully December will turn out well for all of us.