Friday, December 16, 2011


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"A sword day, a red day, ere the sun rises!"

Yeah. That last post was awkward.

How 'bout those Mets? Even better, how about some amazin' Joseph Campbell instead? You can struggle to ford a river you were never meant to cross, or you can simply walk alongside it until you reach the spring. My boots may be soaked, my scars bared, but I finally know which way I'm headed. Tempus omnia sanat -- I'm back in the quarry and will speak of it no more.

Look -- a real, live article about Ron Paul! It puts forth all the various permutations of each possibility and the respective sub-likelihoods of the good doctor winning the nomination. Is the process yet another Rube Goldberg contraption or is it decided by who receives the most votes? Call it hyperbole, but the 2012 election comes down to the Constitution of The United States of America vs.insolvency, fiat currency, more government, less rights, continued meddling and endless war.

There are McCharges that Paul's foreign policy amounts to isolationism. Bearing in mind our military and intelligence capabilities, however, I believe it is utterly impossible for this nation to be isolationist. At any given moment, from any location on the planet, the President of The United States of America can launch a cruise missile at anything, anywhere. Compromising our global reach has never been on the table. The only difference would be a foreign policy that shapes global presence, not the other way around.

Besides, focusing on your founding principles isn't sticking your head in the sand, it's acknowledging that we shouldn't even be in someone else's desert to begin with. Can you imagine the Chinese doing the same in the Gulfs of Mexico or St. Lawrence? Furthermore, if your house were to catch fire, would you keep watering your neighbor's lawn? Unemployment, immigration, civil rights, healthcare, crumbling infrastructure -- and we're more concerned with giving money to the people killing our service members? Ah, the lamentations of empire...

From the Irony Department: Prince called Sinead's seven hours and fifteen days all the way back in 1985. I'd like to hear his prognostications on The Bear.

Speaking of bruins, I did not spot Beorn in the recently released trailer for "An Unexpected Journey". I'm guessing he'll show up in "There and Back Again":

At least ten million of those views are probably mine, and Bombur easily has the second-greatest mustache of all time. I'm so thankful for the little sneak peek back into Middle Earth! I haven't touched on Tolkien much lately, but this certainly stokes the fires. His works contain the same tales of fidelity, senseless hatred, humility, perserverance, despair, laugh-'til-your-belly-hurts mirth and blessed deliverance as any holy book. No, I do not bend a knee to its tales or characters, I'm merely stating the professor borrowed from myriad religious influences. Aren't they all, Tolkien's included, messages of hope? I defy anyone with even a single tear duct to be unmoved by Samwise's speech. All of us have uttered Frodo's words at one point or another, and yet here we are.

One aspect of his work which fascinates me is the relationship between Gondor and Rohan. I've asked this before, but I find the answer changes: Which one would you choose? Minas Tirith was the shining city, its people strong and proud. The children played in Pelennor Fields, tossing pebbles that would've been precious stones elswhere. Rohan? A defeated Saruman summed it up best when he verbally skewered King Théoden (and then rightly skewered himself at the foot of Orthanc):
"A man of Rohan? What is the house of Rohan but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek and their brats roll on the floor with the dogs? The victory at Helm's Deep does not belong to you, Théoden, horsemaster! You are a lesser son of greater sires."
Gondor's glory came from the sea, Rohan's inconsequence from a sea of grass. Whereas Aragorn's people could trace their lineage back to the storied Numenoreans, Eorlingas were regarded as "half men". Sandwiched between savagery and snobbery, reviled on one side and not good enough for the other, their existence was a no-man's land between the nobility of Gondor and the wild Dunlendings.

In the end, no amount of finery or forebears could keep the Great Gate from being destroyed. In that eleventieth of eleventh hours, all appeared lost. The race of Men would falter, just as Elrond scoffed to Gandalf upon the Fellowship's arrival in Rivendell. But in stepped the men who weren't good enough, from whom nothing much was ever expected or sufficient. When the Westfold fell, did Gondor not ignore Rohan's call? And yet, it was these very same unwanted people who answered Gondor's plea. It was the barely tolerated who galloped headlong into the breach, and the fairest among them who felled the Witch-king. If that's not a message of faith, hope and courage, I don't know what is.

We're all on our own journey, and each and every one of us carries our own ring. Some of us don't know why and some never will. Sometimes we can't see the end, we want to turn back, we're physically and emotionally exhausted and we probably shouldn't @#$% kill anyone along the way, lest they not fulfill their journey. All we can do is make the most of our remaining time, hold our heads high and carry on. There is bonafide evil, to be sure, but it's not the only game afoot.

Our timelines aren't peppered with random coincidences, they're interwoven with a complex design we're not privy to. Since I'm on the Designer's side, I am resolute in believing tomorrow's joy dwarfs yesterday's sadness by orders of magnitude.

Or would it be, 'dwarves'?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Long Goodbye

My epically awful week was capped off by a young lady running into a busy city street last night. My vehicle knocked her over, and after realizing the surreal event was indeed unfolding, I pulled onto the curb and hopped out to check on her. She laughed, assured me she was fine and continued on unfazed. I wish I'd at least gotten her name.

On a different note, apparently others shared my previously mentioned appreciation. But all things considered, every last candidate has to answer to Emily Blunt anyway, so the point is moot.

Should her path ever cross with mine, I expect it to be as equally bizarre as my other celebrity run-ins. In my early 20's, I was walking through NYC on a f-f-FREEZING winter's day wearing a ski mask. Elliott Gould strode past, looked and scowled as though he thought I was going to rob him. When I was a bouncer in D.C., I hung up Bruno Kirby's coat. I was tempted to say, "Don't @#$% with Mr. Zero." He gave me a buck, and I wish I'd told him how much I enjoyed his work. But my favorite?

Crashing the Marriott Marquis in Time's Square with my sister and a friend when I was 16. We strolled right in, went up an escalator and entered a banquet area. There was a huge spread, so we of course partook. As we were finally departing, in strode a familiar face. I knew him instantly - it was one of my favorite Mets, Rusty Staub. Le Grande Orange! I looked up at him and said, "Hello, Rusty". Without breaking stride, he nodded and replied in his regal manner, "Hello."

The hellos in life usually are so pleasant. The goodbyes, not so much:

Jose Reyes has left for good. There is no in between, no if or when or maybe so. Just gone. He looks happier than ever, and can you blame him? The Mets didn't extend even basic courtesy to him, much less a contract. I purposefully omitted the word "inexplicably", for nothing this dysfunctional organization does anymore surprises me.

What's the happiest you've ever been? I don't mean in a general sense or even the momentous events in life, like the birth of a child, graduations, etc. No, I'm talking about that one moment, those few quiet breaths where it seemed as though every last star and speck in the universe had aligned squarely with your heart. If there was never another place for you to be, it would have been just as well.

For me, it would be the summer of 2001. It's a stormy Louisiana night and I'm laying beside the lady of my dreams. We're speaking in hushed, fake foreign accents and trying to stifle our laughter, lest we wake our gracious hostess. As teenagers, we would sit in front of her parent's bay window and watch the snow dance around the porch light. We talked for hours on a diving board, felt the rush of trains and listened to summer bullfrogs on an old, stone bridge. We were here, together. We'd recite the Warren Commission Report to each other in her basement, R.E.M. blaring from an old, rabbit-eared TV. Somehow, there we were all those years later, still sharing life and laughing about it.

I first saw her in the high school library in 1989. She sat on the chair back, her combat boots or somesuch tapping the seat. I'd never laid eyes on anyone else like her. She marched to a different drum and dressed with no apparent concern for any one style. She was brilliant, and there I sat, staring in wonder at the prettiest girl I'd ever seen. It was only fitting that I was literally looking up to her, for this girl would mature into that very same lady. I proposed to her on that bridge, so nervously that I'd mumbled the entire spiel, and she would go on to become my wife and the mother of my children.

We drove to see the Binghamton Mets play the Trenton Thunder one summer night. It wasn't to see just any old game, but rather one specific player: a lightning-fast kid with a cannon, some slick leather and a dynamite bat. It was already a foregone conclusion at that point, but still I turned to my beloved and said , "That's the next shortstop of the New York Mets."

Sadly, things didn't go exactly as planned in either arena, as neither Jose or I could stay healthy. For him, it was a hamstring tearing every other Tuesday. Me? Whenever I see something cherry-red, I still feel that warm, unwelcome rush. I was a sallow, aching pin cushion gnawing on my very teeth from the steroids. I was hollowed, both physically and emotionally, with the latter actually being the more difficult of the two. No young wife and new mother deserved that. None.

The amalgamation of heartaches and havoc would ultimately destroy my marriage. But much like my faithfully soldiering through chemotherapy, radiation and the 2004 Mets, I realize now that I've been on cruise control. Head down, nose to the grindstone, always finding a way to press on. While this may indeed get one through the forest, you sadly can't see it for the trees. In short, I never properly mourned. Grief can become a pretty big gorilla, and mine finally tore up the room.

For as strange as it may sound, cancer was a walk in the park compared to divorce. For starters, I loathe that this is where our path led us. I resent it, to be more precise, and don't know if I'll ever be able to make sense of it. It's like asking for answers when you don't even know what questions to ask. Why even have the youthful dreams in the first place, if in the end you have to cut ties and let them die? Why have so many wonderful, blessed memories burned into my heart and mind? They're like a mountain of single socks now and there isn't a drawer big enough to hold them. Why do these overshadow the less-than-joyous memories, when acknowledging hurt, confusion and disappointment might speed the road to recovery?

It's probably for the same reason that I'm not inclined to think of torn hamstrings, baserunning blunders or reggaeton. Rather, I smile about having been at Shea Stadium the night Reyes rounded the bases in 14 seconds, and then I get on with my day.

Similarly, it's in my nature to recall only the goodness about the girl who'd owned my heart for 23 years. But now it's time to build that wall once and for all and get on with my life. I'll continue to honor her more in passing than some still-betrothed husbands do their brides in routine. She is the mother of my children and was my greatest hope; while I may not ever understand the Creator's purpose or plan for me, I will fulfill my obligation regardless.

As always, it's all about perspective. I'll continue to see her 4 times a week, however briefly. Heck, even the Mets get to see Jose Reyes 19 times a year. All I know is that, in either situation, it may not be grounds for cheering - and it's hardly what anyone ever wanted or envisioned - but I'll be thankful for being there, and conduct myself with appreciation and grace.

Part of me perishes, but I'm willing to bet the sun rises tomorrow. At last, the long goodbye is finally over.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Solus Vocem

I've had seven great loves in my life, and I'd like to introduce you to two: Language and Liberty.

When it comes to the former, I'm a bull in a china shop. Like a kid with a crayon standing before a freshly painted wall, the inspiration is usually greater than the end result. Regardless, I'll always stop and marvel at my being allowed to do so. I am no one, and I've nothing more important to say than anyone else. But a few pecks here, a couple clicks there, and voila -- my thoughts are out there for anyone to see. I take it for granted, to the point that I can't comprehend how this most basic of rights is not available to all.

The Curiosity probe is on its way to Mars. The Monarch butterfly has been deciphered at the molecular level. How is it that we still live in a world where one human being cannot speak freely, particularly of a different kind of monarch?

Much like the Amazin's, notions such as these were roundly defeated and rightly disgraced by a gathering of men in Philadelphia. What better combination of language and liberty than the Declaration of Independence?

Jefferson, a successful lawyer and Virginia state representative, didn't even want the job. He sped through it in just over two weeks, and had his words fuddled with by men who'd deemed his beliefs too radical the first time around.

Not too shabby for a rush job, eh? Also, it's encouraging to know that Jefferson endeavored to address slavery. It's always vexed me that such brilliant minds could somehow condone such an offense, but his attempt to include it in the document is laudable. South Carolina and Georgia objected, and the bitter seeds were sown.

Alas, one of his words which thankfully remained intact from draft to Declaration was "inalienable". This may be the most powerful stroke in that entire not-sacred, but self-evident document.

It's the fulcrum from which all else swings, in my opinion. Stating that mankind is inherently free was the chisel, but declaring it something intrinsically impossible to surrender was the hammer. Why even bother with the undertaking, in effect signing your own death warrant, if the tenets therein are fleeting? 

Now think of the world in which this document was written. Freedom of thought was inexplicably a relatively new phenomenon.  Outward freedoms, such as those of speech, movement and self-determination, were in direct conflict with the crown. There were no shades of grey -- these men were either going to forge a Republic or die trying. Can you imagine having such purpose? I'd like to think I can, and yet I spit in their faces each and every day. I've come to accept the erosion of rights almost blithely, as if it's a long line at the market or an annoying commercial. Grit your teeth, get it over with and go about your day.

When I leave Walmart, a fellow citizen stands posted at the door. Not to thank me for my time and money, but to ask for proof that I'm not a thief. When traveling, other boors in blue operate checkpoints that would make the Stasi proud. They question my motives and take pictures of my body, they root through my luggage, swab my hands and scan the results. I stand there shoeless throughout, wondering why. Not so much why they're doing it, but why I allow it. I'm just a man, a single citizen among many. What recourse could I possibly have?

I can tell the Walmart secret police to go pound sand, but what about the TSA? If I submit, I reject the service and sacrifices of those who bled to fend off such intrusions. I'll feed my family, but as a summer soldier. If I pronounce my refusal to submit to any and all inquisitions, I'll be detained and fined. It is precisely this juncture which vexes me: I could eventually lose my job, my home, every last thing. But isn't that precisely the predicament faced by those who allowed me to breathe freely in the first place?

A mentor once told me in my early 20's that a man has to look himself in the mirror every morning. If he doesn't like the man staring back, it'll make for a horrible life. But which is worse, consigning your charges to destitution for your beliefs, or fattening them up on the absence of them? Frankly, I'm tired of having to make this decision.

So, once more, what can I do? Well, you're looking at it. I can blather on at will here, and no one can do a thing to stop me (legally). I can question authority and call out tyranny. I can posit that any encroachment on liberty, no matter how seemingly benign, is an advance upon them all. I can spit instead on the morass of American toddlers and elderly women getting felt-up in the name of combating radical Islam. In James Madison's prophetic words:
“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
I can also honor the efforts of patriots like Rep. Ron Paul, whose views are a beacon of liberty. I am proud to say that the good doctor inspired me to finally register in 2008, and I will once again cast my vote for him. It's not about a party or a personality, it's about principles.

It may make me unpopular, even unwise, but I refuse to consider liberty an aberration. Jefferson wrote that it is precisely the opposite, and that it is not only my right as an American to protect it, it is also my duty.

Sadly, our America is hardly his. It's become a confusing, conflicting calliope. We give away cherished rights, we give away our jobs, we give away our high ground. We have become a fiat empire whose greatest exports are high fructose corn syrup and war.

It gives me pause to write such things. I look around and see people entirely unfazed, more concerned with the annual Rite of Unbridled Avarice than the foundations crumbling around them. Many know nothing of the seditious "Patriot Act", and I'd wager most could not find the Earth on a globe. All I can do is wonder if they're either uninformed or uncaring, and I can't decide which is more distasteful.
There was once an America that minded her own business. An America whose breadbasket turned to bullets only when called upon. We drew up a compact with the divine, sealed it in blood and in sublime irony left it entirely up to you to choose the nature of that holy spark. Or even not at all. End of story. We had a Great White Fleet, we flew over barricades built for starvation, and Colin Powell said it best about our designs on dirt. I don't think it's a stretch to say that someday people will study us as we do now Rome and Athens.

Our soldiers were farmers and tinkers and heaven knows what else. Hell, it's was probably everything else imaginable at the time. Printer, painter, pauper, men firing right alongside their son's sons. At Concord, there were African men standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their European countrymen, all free men. What would any of these citizen-soldiers say about me? Would I be able to look them in the eye?

One man, one voice, and it's the only one I'll ever have. This mortal coil is a one-shot deal and I'd rather die free than draw a single breath oppressed.

In closing, Osama bin Laden's benefactors are fanning the flames, Iran is getting close, Israel is getting closer and that rejected bridge from "Mysterious Ways" turned into one heckuva song. As Bono says, you have to reject one expression first, before you get to the next, and in between you have nothing. You have to risk it all. As I gradually emerge from the darkest period of my life, I find that inspiring. Like Ted Danson's Don Quixote, if you're going to dream, DREAM BIG!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Courage, Cockroaches and Comets

I was watching the Swamp Channel™ again last night and was surprised to come across this interesting Afghanistan fact: One of the biggest intel ass-kickers of the woman-hating, mutilating and subjugating Taliban was...

A woman. Jennifer Matthews, RIP.

I won't apologize for the graphic nature of that first link. Do the perpetrators ask forgiveness for carrying it out? It's a permitted, barbaric reality, and I know of no accord between darkness and light. It's also a fitting irony that someone who'd inflicted such damage upon these Cro-Magnons was of the persuasion they've so little regard for.

If changing one's perspective was easy, the world would be a wonderful place. Then again, what one man can do, all others can do. I came across "Love Happens" and it portrayed this in the most beautiful and simple way. Aaron Eckhardt and that girl who was in that NBC show with that other girl who played the sister of that goofy guy who also played the douchebag Lieutenant in "Band of Brothers" with Marky-Mark's brother?

That's it - Jennifer Aniston. This is one lady who's definitely aging gracefully, no? If you're reading this, Jennifer, and find yourself inexplicably drawn to me, I'll have to respectfully decline. How can any man realistically follow up Brad Pitt? That would be like having runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the ninth of a season-ending game, your team down 3-1, and not bunting.

Back on topic: Eckhardt plays a speaker who takes his attendees outside, right into a busy Seattle intersection. It's bedlam. He asks them what they see and hear, and their replies are, "Cars. Honking cars. Jackhammers. Stoplights. Cement. A homeless person. Trash. Middle fingers."

He then takes them on an elevator all the way up to the roof and asks them the question again. With sighs and smiles the people gaze out, marveling at the vantage point. Their replies are,"The ocean. Trees. The Space Needle. Skyscrapers. Mount Rainier. Rivers. Beautiful rivers. The sun. Naked hot-tubber."

Eckhardt replies, "Wow. Little bit different up here, isn't it? And yet, it's the same. We haven't gone anywhere. We're just looking at things from a new perspective. Inside of each of you, there are sirens, honking horns and gridlock, but there's also this. We just have to do the work and climb the stairs to find it."

Wisdom, whatever the source, is always appreciated.

In other news, I walked into the bathroom last night and guess what I found on the floor? A cockroach looking back at me as if to say, "Um, knock?

I have not, will not and won't ever live in a place with cockroaches. I thought they were only in gritty 1970's crime dramas that happened to show apartments, not my apartment. Springing into action, I lunge for the plunger and corner him behind the porcelain. Our eyes lock. It's tense. He knows what's coming. "Don't fight it," I tell him with my icy stare, "There's no honor in kicking a lion's teeth goin' headfirst down its gullet."

I set the plunger down with a "whoomp", directly atop the revolting intruder. Ever thinking ahead, I'd grabbed an old bill in advance and slid it beneath the cup.

What exactly is the name for the end of a plunger? "Plunger" is the device itself, handle and all. Cup? Bell? Bell sounds a little better. There's gotta be an industry standard for that. Hey, there's another entirely meaningless evening of research for me. I'm not kidding.

Anyway, I slowly raise the paper and the plunger in unison, careful not to break the hermetic force field of disgust bonding the two. Hovering now over the toilet, I carefully pitch slightly left, parting the paper and the... bell.

The dirty creature hits the water and immediately begins scrambling. I almost don't want to watch. But it's like Osama: no picture, no proof. I don't want any living thing to ever suffer, either, so I reach for the toilet handle.

That @#$% must have felt a nano-millibar change of the surface water pressure on his 11th leg and dashed. He dove down, oriented his bearing for the big drain-hole-thing (I'll look that name up, too) and expertly maneuvered through the waves, darted in and escaped.

Would you believe this? I have little Spetznas cockroaches in my @#$% apartment now. What truly bothers me, however, is this: How do I know he's not going to come back? You know, bring some friends, a little payback.

Barge in, chase me around, trap me in a bell with a bill you'll never pay? I know I would.

In closing, the first-ever test of the nationwide Emergency Alert System is taking place on Wednesday, 11/9/2011 at 2:00 PM Eastern. Interesting in its own right, I was also intrigued to learn of a comet passing between the Earth and the orbit of the moon the very same day. In the infinity of spacetime, this is akin to a bullet grazing your temple.

More coincidentally, the third trumpet in the Book of Revelation is a star falling to Earth: Wormwood. This can be found at 8:11, which is also the date (November 8) YU-55 first enters and becomes visible. I'm not saying it's going to hit, and neither is NASA. I merely find the confluence of details peculiar.

We track less than 10% of such celestial bodies. For every aircraft carrier-sized YU-55, there could be nine Montana-sized meteors. But don't fret - should calamity strike (again), the cockroaches will turn out the lights for us.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"I don't dance."

Remember that great response delivered by Harrison Ford to the conniving commander-in-chief in  "Clear and Present Danger"? His character, Jack Ryan, is being positioned as the fall guy in an illegal covert war in Colombia. President Bennett asks Ryan to take the fall, a.k.a., "do the ol' Potomac two-step." Ryan's defiant retort made for a memorable scene.

While I'm no Ryan (or Harrison Ford, thankfully, as I loathe crowds), I've finally reached a similar point. I'm not going to gnaw on this stale, Orwellian loaf another day and feign fullness.

Debt is prosperity. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Eat to get slimmer? I'll opt for the honor of starvation, thank you.

What has just occurred in Libya is the bloody cherry on top of Iraq. For all his tyranny and flamboyance, his brutality at home and formerly abroad, what clear and present danger did Moammar Howeveryouspellit pose to the United States of America? Surely, it had to be weapons of mass destruction.

Well, no. He actually capitulated on them in December of 2003. Therefore, he not only had no WMD, he also lacked the nearly infinitely powered 1:72 scale Piper Cubs necessary for getting them across the Atlantic Ocean and into a major metropolitan center in the United States.

Posing no threat whatsoever to the nation, why, then, did the U.S. intervene? If it was for humanitarian reasons, as suggested, we should be auto-penning a very long letter of apology to Sudan and Rwanda. As for the expenditure, 900 billion dollars would have certainly gone a long way on our shores (barring any further adventurism in Africa, of course). 

As is often the case, the answer is both complex and simple: The international oil market is funded by the U.S. dollar, or "petrodollar" as it is commonly referred to. In 2000, Saddam Hussein announced that he was eschewing this standard for the newly-launched Euro. This made some sense, for who doesn't wish to receive the greatest sum in return for their most valuable commodity? Heck, that's the American way. Fast-forward six years, however.

Similarly, Khaddafi wanted to move from the increasingly worthless dollar to gold, in the form of a united African gold dinar. This made perfect sense, both for the increased profit and the collective benefits to be reaped by all African nations. I believe it would be pollyannaish to suggest that any such change would have yielded better living conditions for the people, however. All they would have seen in Libya, for instance, is the outside of an even bigger tent.

With Tunisia, Egypt and Libya now altered, it's pretty clear who's next on the chopping block, and I'm very interested to see how Iran and Pakistan react. There are already seeds being sown. I'm not deluded enough to think that any of these changes instantly translate into more security in the region, and one needn't dip their toes any deeper than this to gauge the water.

What I'm discovering in my hackneyed research is that traditional notions like "good guys" and "bad guys" don't apply in this arena. Today's friend is tomorrow's tyrant. What surgeon lets a hemorrhage flow? Make no mistake, oil is America's blood, so wouldn't any insecurity surrounding it comprise a threat?

Had Libya succeeded, its people could have prospered under just and fair leadership, but they opted for the fiat standard and Sharia law instead. They executed the monster who was laying the foundations for their own welfare (and the bullet hole in his temple should have been a dead giveaway, if you'll pardon the pun).

What will their gratitude be to the West? It remains to be seen, but a better bellwether there is not. 

If and when the dollar collapses entirely, all of Africa would have remained secure. I'd be paying at least $6.50 for a gallon of gasoline, however, and I'm already limiting my travels at half of that. But this is precisely what Obama's Department of Energy is hoping for, so round and round we go:
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," Mr. Chu, who directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September.
What I have found equally as troubling is the absence of indignation. Where are the international human rights groups denouncing the violations of the Geneva Convention? Where is Michael Moore? Where are Sean Pean and Susan Sarandon? The legions of protesters around the globe? It's a stunning lack of consistency and integrity.

It's the same "partisanship trumps principles" mindset which permits $500 million in Solyndra graft and looks the other way when Holder's Department of Justice arms the Mexican drug cartels. The troubled throngs? If I'm a "teabagger", are they fleabaggers? Apparently occupation is acceptable now (though I'll give a pass to the Mets fan, who is rightly getting his @#$% frustrations out on that Amazin' drum. You go, brother, you go.)

They should be in Washington, though, not on Wall Street. It's akin to going to the Superbowl and rooting against the football. The financial sector can only do what it does because the government allows it. We The People are the government! Assuming elections are still in vogue, why not take off the emperor's new clothes and enact change where it can truly be enacted? Like Libya's deposed dandy, however, they're dressed to kill and guess who's dyin'?

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Pleasures remain, so does the pain..."

Does God break His own laws? Certainly He could, for anything is possible, but would He? If so, why? Equally compelling would be the consequences.

Mark tells us that a house divided cannot stand. Similarly, Matthew asserts that not even the slightest stroke of God's quill will ever disappear from His law. In keeping with this are the laws we've subsequently discovered, such as Geometry, Astrophysics and never making the first out at third base.

To answer my own question, God tells us repeatedly in His book that He keeps His word. But here's where I'm vexed: John states that in the beginning, there was the Word. This is the same beginning described in Genesis, naturally, in which we're told of the limitless nothing. No Earth, no moon, no sun, no stars. Nothing.

He then spoke and creation commenced. Sound can most assuredly affect matter, but one of the rules inherent to His work is that it cannot travel in a vacuum. What, then, was His word comprised of?

Voyager communicated via radio signals, for instance (give a listen sometime; it's fascinating to know that something wrought by human hands could be so intricate, so inconceivably far away). From a different perspective, you're reading this right now via a global network of fiberoptic cables. Laser lights are flashing bits 'n bytes at rates of speed that would make soon-to-be Milwaukeean Jose Reyes envious. In each scenario, however, the communicator relies on the signal being received. Without this acknowledgement, the transmission is essentially superfluous.

In the Great Architect's case, there still wasn't anything to communicate with, and yet His word did not go unheeded. It was uttered in an environment devoid of molecules to vibrate in reaction to His sound wave, but The Message somehow carried. What was the medium?

Thought, perhaps? We're created in His image, after all, and our thinking shapes our world, both inside and out. "Be all of one mind", I'm frequently reminded.

Speaking of the East, another not-so-Amazin' summer has mercifully drawn to a close. With only so much leisure time to go around, I decided in July to loosen the hold this vexed baseball team has had on me. I'll ever bleed orange and blue, but after Wainwright's curve, Collapse I, Collapse II: The Reckoning, The 2009 MRI-palooza, Whatever Happened in 2010 and this year's equally underwhelming version/billion-dollar lawsuit, I'm exhausted.

As Jon Stewart points out, the prospects for next year aren't exactly glowing, either. While I won't say I rue the day I inextricably bound my soul to the Mets, it does serve as an abject lesson in self-destructive behavior. For some people, it may be a syringe. For others, a bottle. Me? It's missed cut-off men, tender hamstrings and one very bad pitching staff. When a leisure activity ceases to be enjoyable, it's time to cry step away.

In brighter news, Peter Jackson and crew are well underway down under. The dwarves look absolutely incredible, and it's amazing to see their respective personalities portrayed in expressions and garb. A young Legolas is set to return, and Evangeline Lilly is learning Sindarin between pushes. It should go without saying, but I've never been more eager to see a movie. 

Always one to split hairs, I have to wonder why New Zealand isn't referred to as "down under down under", as it's actually further south than Australia.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"There is a light and it never goes out."

I loathe the shift in programming on History Channel. Gone are the exposés on, well, history, and in their place is a hodge-podge of gobbledygook that must leave Spike TV executives drooling. It's as though every last career choice my high school guidance counselor's TRS-80 spit out now has its own television show.

It's become an increasingly ridiculous cavalcade of minutiae: Crabber. Logger. Alligator hunter. Truck driver. Junk collector. Junk restorer. My favorite? Pawn shop worker. What, did someone already own the rights to "Carpet Shampooers"?

It's been an overall dumbing-down of programming across the board. Take one look at their 24-hour lineups and you'll see just how devoid of *gasp!* history the History Channel has become:

8:00 PM - Pawn Stars
9:00 PM - Pawn Stars
10:00 PM - Pawn Stars
11:00 PM - Modern Marvels
12:00 AM - Pawn Stars
1:00 AM - Pawn Stars
2:00 AM - Infomercial
3:00 AM - Infomercial
4:00 AM - Infomercial
5:00 AM - Infomercial
6:00 AM - Infomercial
7:00 AM - Infomercial
8:00 AM - Pawn Stars
9:00 AM - Pawn Stars
10:00 AM - Pawn Stars
11:00 AM - Pawn Stars
12:00 PM - Pawn Stars
1:00 PM - Pawn Stars
2:00 PM - Pawn Stars
3:00 PM - Pawn Stars
4:00 PM - Some big, fat, dumb hillbilly cable repairman doing something
5:00 PM - Pawn Stars
6:00 PM - Pawn Stars
7:00 PM - Pawn Stars

Somewhere in the midst of all this will also be the nadir of Western Civilization, the utterly banal "How The States Got Their Shapes". Yes, a show which is essentially playing a mono-syllabic game of "big puzzle" with my fellow Americans, the majority of whom couldn't find the Earth on a globe. Why didn't they just name it what Jim Carrey does here?

Pardon the sardonic tone, and I mean no offense to those who enjoy such shows. It's just that, in a time when the world desperately needs more light, this dimming -- especially on what had been a beacon of educational and inspiring programming -- is maddening. I refuse to believe that this is the best they can do. I suppose it sells better than Belleau Wood, however, and that's an utter shame.

On the flip side, I recently watched a most enjoyable movie: "Tristan + Isolde".

Tolkien said, "History became legend, legend became myth." I'm sure these words apply to the tale put forth in Kevin Reynolds' 2006 film. Tristan's arc is so close to Lancelot's in the story of King Arthur that it can't be mere coincidence.

Their love story was tragically redeeming. Tristan won the veiled princess for his King at the tournament, only to discover he'd essentially hocked his heart. Still, he knew that losing love was but a small price to pay for ending a hundred years of bloodshed. For as straightforward and easy a decision as that may sound, I don't think it's one many could make. He had high ideals, so it was interesting to see him wrestling internally and descending the closer Isolde grew to Marke (whose understanding, forgiveness and acquiescence to their love should set the all-time standard for magnanimity).

When Marke was discussing the merits of love with Tristan and called Isolde in to comment, this exchange was one of their finest:

Tristan: There are other things to live for: duty, honor.
Isolde: But they are not life, Tristan. They are the shells of life, and empty ones if in the end all they hold are days and days without love. Love is made by God. Ignore it and you suffer as you cannot imagine.
Tristan: Then I will no longer live without it.
He finally gave in to his heart, his passions, and Isolde was all too willing to meet at the old Roman bridge. Marke took him in as an orphan, raised him as a son, and this is Tristan's gratitude? All of them had to be absolutely tortured. In the end, what wins - loyalty or love? Which is more important, more binding? 

Yet again, actor Mark Strong plays the consummate scheming English prick and steals the show. His deftly maneuvering the night party into happening upon Tristan and Isolde's moonlight escape, and then exploiting the forgotten Roman tunnel, were dastardly.

The battle scenes were great, particularly the forest ambush and subsequent defeat of Isolde's smarmy betrothed. Also, Tristan defiantly thrusting his sword into the keep door's gear works and defeating Wictred - again, and this time with no yielding - was just.

As an aside, James Franco's gradual fall and the visible darkness he developed in both manner and appearance reinforced an old belief for me: He should've gotten the part of Anakin Skywalker.

There are so many interlinking parts to this story, it's remarkable. From the Irish attacking the British council in the beginning to their attempted sack at the end, Tristan and Isolde were like chess pieces moving from square to square, ever closer.

In the end, the impression I had was one of fate. These two souls were ordained for each other, but irony, obligations and circumstances did all they could to keep them apart. When they were in stolen repose in the garden, Isolde eyed the two ancient lovers on the mural and pondered their fate. When she was nursing Tristan back to health, she read:

"My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; Where can we find two better hemispheres Without sharp north, without declining west? Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally; If our two loves be one, or thou and I Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die."
I think that's precisely what it's all about. In the end, love is the only true power. It's not the might of kings or the force of generals, it's the bonds of affection, humility and forgiveness, and those who accept them are neither dead nor forgotten, ever. Here we are, after all, thousands of years later experiencing their story. As Tristan said as he pushed Isolde's boat away:
"For all time they will say it was our love that brought down a kingdom. Remember us."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait now.”

The condemned don't scour the countryside for the most comfortable noose. In similar fashion, I'm not expending any more time or money on finding the cheapest gasoline (bang-bang). Is the money I might save even worth the effort? I can take that $2.88 at the end of the month and, what, put it towards a book on nihilism?

The rising prices have been attributed to ongoing unrest in places like Libya, which is ironic. People are clamoring for liberty and apparently choking the alleged land of it in the process. So, render unto the House of Saud what is the House of Saud's and, should you have anything left over, give to God what is God's.

While we're on the Creator, a friend and I were communicating recently about all things eschatological. CNN might as well be a "2012" trailer and it got me thinking: assuming the Book of Revelation does contain valid insight into the end of our age, where do we stand on the timeline? Just as the infamous Doomsday Clock portrays our proximity to nuclear annihilation, there should be a real-time plotter for Armageddon. But what of the Torah, Qur'an, Gita, et al?

Zack Hemsey's "Mind Heist" makes even the most mundane task a heart-pounding tour-de-force. This morning alone, I've vacuumed, emptied the dishwasher, dusted and changed the sheets with unbelievable urgency and aplomb.

A light no brighter than Stephen Hawking weighed in on time travel. How did I miss this? In an interesting twist, he claims that sojourners may only go forward: 
"He dismissed the idea of traveling backwards through time, saying doing so would violate a fundamental rule that cause comes before effect and that such an act could allow people to make themselves impossible, such as if a person traveled back in time and shot thir (sic) former self."
Scott Warren should make every attempt to go back in time and re-write this paragraph. But I digress. While retro-chronality may violate the laws of known physics, I'll ignorantly maintain that it's still possible. Bear with me, this is going to be a doozie:

Here Hawking acknowledges the possibility of a cyclic universe, thereby questioning any linear notions of spacetime. This concept from Princeton's Center for Theoretical Science really got me thinking:
"The big bang is not a beginning of time, but rather a transition to an earlier phase of evolution."
The Great Architect of The Universe said in Genesis, "I am the Alpha and the Omega." The beginning, therefore, is the end, and vice-versa. Check out at this presentation by Dr. Paul J. Steinhardt - it's the same concept. Look at things we already know and observe: Our orbit around the sun, the moon's orbit around us, the subsequent ebb and flow of the tides, our seasons, our Circadian rhythms and cellular cycles. This roundabout nature of life is incontrovertible. Why would what lies beyond suddenly defy this? Hermes Trismegistus nailed it when he stated, "As above, so below." 

I recall my Father asking me once on a long drive, "How far can you walk into the woods?" After much head scratching and counter-questioning, the obvious answer finally came: "Halfway." One step further and you're walking out, right? So, looking at the universe as the aforementioned cyclical "loop", and knowing that space and time are one, how far can you go around before you start to return?

In Hawking's example, massive ships traveling through spacetime at nearly the speed of light would carry people into the future at a rate of 1 ship day:1 Earth year. But once they reach the farthest point on the cycle and go into the "turn", would they then start traveling back in time? This gives me pause. All things being equal, would they simply return to Earth at the precise moment they were leaving? How awkward. Like driving all over the state to find the cheapest gas, it would be a monumental exercise in futility.

For the sake of argument, I'm going to be entirely unscientific and insert an 'X' factor. Let's presume the travelers do return to Earth, but long before they left. Why? I don't know, and I hate math. I'm a history/literature guy -  just go with it.

Our time travelers return in 4000 BC to an area known today as Iraq. Its hunters and gatherers are understandably impressed, and their civilization experiences a sudden explosion in the arts and sciences. The latter-day humans are hailed as gods, and why not? They've descended from the sky in a flaming chariot bearing knowledge of medicine, agriculture, architecture, astronomy and countless other "mysteries".

Just look at the changes within our generation alone. Imagine someone handing you an iPhone in 1981. How would you have reacted? Of course neolithic man thought these men gods! But what if they were one in the same, merely at different stages of human potential?

What really gets me thinking is that this is all part of recorded Sumerian history. The visitors were called "Annunaki", which meant, "those who came down from the heavens". Relics from the period depict... well, you be the judge.

Mesopotamia. Sumeria. Iraq. The fertile crescent. The Tigres and Euphrates. There was also a garden there, per Genesis. Why does everything seem to come back to this one spot (and to the Templars, per Eco)? What if future travelers do (did?) find a way around that pesky Physics and go backwards in time? We'd be our own self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you knew a tsunami was coming to wipe out the human race - and therefore your future existence - wouldn't you feel obligated? Even Hawking touches on this in the article above when he states,
"Theoretically, such a space ship would allow the crew to repopulate the earth if they found our species had become extinct during their flight."
Our future is our past. Our past, our future. It's all cyclical. Our bodies, the world in which we reside and everything else in it (yes, even the @#$% Mets). My favorite modern-day depiction of this is the Wachowski Brothers destroying their Zion six times (ergo, vis-a-vis, concordantly).

My mind wanders to Enoch and Elijah, to Noah and Gilgamesh. On this day in which the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated - the same Jesus who said we are fully capable of doing everything and more - let's close with His own words: