Ekspot Sarawak Diyakini Kukuh Tahun Hadapan   
Pengarah Wilayah MATRADE Sarawak, Leany Mokhtar ketika memberi penerangan mengenai rangkaian operasi MATRADE di peringkat global pada Program Outreach MATRADE & Agensi MITI 2016 di Bintulu
BINTULU: Eksport Sarawak diyakini terus berkembang kukuh sepanjang tahun depan walaupun berdepan pelbagai cabaran semasa susulan ketidaktentuan ekonomi global.

Malah, Perbadanan Pembangunan Perdagangan Luar Malaysia (MATRADE) menjangka negeri ini mampu mengekalkan kedudukannya sebagai pengeksport utama negara, dengan produk petroleum, khususnya gas asli cecair (LNG) kekal sebagai penyumbang utama.

Pengarah MATRADE Wilayah Sarawak, Leany Mokhtar, berkata keyakinan itu juga bersandarkan kepada peningkatan permintaan terhadap produk berkenaan dari kalangan negara pengimport, terutama Jepun, Korea, China, Taiwan dan India.

"Selain LNG, sektor pembuatan membabitkan produk perkayuan, elektrikal dan elektronik dikenalpasti antara penyumbang terbesar prestasi memberangsangkan eksport negeri ini, begitu juga minyak sawit.

"MATRADE mengambil pendirian optimis, malah yakin dengan keupayaan eksport negeri ini untuk terus berkembang tahun depan walaupun berdepan dengan pelbagai cabaran di peringkat global," katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian selepas menghadiri Program Outreach MATRADE & Agensi Di bawah Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri (MITI) 2016, di sini semalam.

Keseluruhannya, 70 wakil syarikat pelbagai sektor, terutama  industri gas dan minyak menyertai program berkenaan yang juga sebahagian daripada inisiatif MITI ke arah usaha meningkatkan  penyertaan pengeksport dalam kalangan usahawan tempatan.

Leany ketika mengulas lanjut, berkata sepanjang Januari hingga Oktober 2016, Sarawak mencatatkan nilai eksport mencecah RM49.9 billion berbanding RM61 billion bagi tempoh sama tahun lalu.

"Berlaku sedikit penurunan dari segi nilai eksport antara tahun ini dan tahun lalu iaitu kira-kira 18..2 peratus. Ini disebabkan beberapa faktor yang tidak dapat dielakkan, khususnya peningkatan kos bahan mentah dan ketidaktentuan kadar tukaran wang disebabkan situasi ekonomi semasa.

"Namun, kita bersikap positif terhadap perkara itu, malah sedang merangka pelbagai pendekatan strategik dalam mendepani cabaran berkenaan," katanya.

Katanya, antara pendekatan dilaksanakan termasuk memperkukuhkan kerjasama dengan Kerajaan Sarawak melalui penganjuran misi eksport ke luar negara, khusus bagi meneroka pasaran baharu.

Pada masa yang sama, MATRADE turut merangka inisiatif meningkatkan penyertaan syarikat tempatan dalam pasaran eksport melalui penyediaan kemudahan berkaitan melalui rangkaian pejabatnya di seluruh dunia. -UnReportedNews™®

          2013-09-25 16:36:11   
Edited by darkcity
          2013-09-25 16:35:58   
Edited by darkcity
          Jawapan Wartawan Kepada Pengkritik Laporan Isu Kerja Ladang Di Australia   

Kepada : Akmar Abu Bakar

BAHAGIAN 1
----------
Terdapat beberapa kesalahan fakta asas dalam ulasan saudara Akmar.
1-Saya bukan wartawan Berita Harian tetapi Utusan Malaysia
2-Di Cutri, saya membuat kerja-kerja thinning, bukannya memetik buah
Maka saya tertanya-tanya sama ada saudara membaca sepenuhnya laporan saya atau sekadar membaca tajuk sahaja?
Sudahkan saudara membaca lapan muka surat laporan khas saya. Sudahkan saudara membaca sepenuhnya tulisan Nick McKenzie dan menonton 7.30 report?
Jika dibaca, pastinya jelas terpampang maklumat asas tadi. Takkan itu pun masih buat silap fakta.
Inilah penyakit orang kita. Dia baca tajuk, dia terus percaya. Dia tak kaji betul-betul tapi dia share di Facebook, WhatsApp.
Saya lihat saudara Akmar berada dalam kategori ini. Jenis suka baca tajuk, lepas tu terus melompat buat ulasan. Baca saudara, Allah dah kata, Iqra' (baca).
Macam tu jugalah kaitannya dengan iklan-iklan menawarkan kemewahan dengan kerja ladang buah di Australia. Ramai yang percaya bulat-bulat.
Memang duit jadi kelemahan manusia dan sebab tu lah iklan kerja Australia di Facebook ni semuanya tayang duit.
Mungkin ada yang plan nak pergi tiga bulan sahaja (selari dengan tempoh sah visa pelancong), maklumlah sebulan dapat RM9,000, tiga bulan dah berapa? Lumayan, boleh bayar hutang.
Tapi sedih, lepas tiga bulan pun tak boleh balik lagi.
Memang orang Melayu obses dengan duit segera. Tengoklah skim cepat kaya, MLM dan sebagainya, orang Melayu lah yang palig ramai kena tipu.
Saya pun tak faham sangat kenapa orang kita mudah sangat kena tipu. Gores dan menang pun kena tipu. Alahai...
BAHAGIAN 2
----------
Saya tidak berminat untuk menjawab serangan dan cercaan peribadi saudara ke atas saya. Pemikiran saya bukanlah serendah itu.
Saudara juga telah membuat tafsiran sendiri mengenai diri saya berdasarkan laporan yang dibuat walaupun tidak mengenali secara peribadi.
Maka, izinkan saya untuk membuat penilaian menggunakan methodology yang sama, siapakah diri saudara berdasarkan maklumat yang saya peroleh di laman Facebook saudara
Selepas disemak, saudara dilihat konsisten mempromosikan peluang pekerjaan ladang di Australia dan secara terbuka meminta rakan FB berhubung jika berminat.
Dan seperti biasa, yang indah-indah sahajalah diceritakan. Biasalah taktik FB marketing dan saya lihat saudara adalah orang yang mengkaji teknik FB marketing.
Maka, izinkanlah saya bertanya:
1- Apa yang dibuat saudara di Australia? Kerja ladang atau bawa orang masuk? Atau seorang pekerja ladang yang nampak peluang untuk buat duit dengan bawa masuk pekerja.
2- Berapa lama dah saudara di sana? Adakah visa membenarkan saudara bekerja di sana? Bagaimana dengan kawan-kawan yang mengikuti saudara, visa apa yang nak digunakan? Student visa?
3- Katakan saudara adalah jujur, tidak menganiayai kawan-kawan yang dibawa masuk, adakah saudara sedar apa yang dibuat adalah jenayah? Pernahkan saudara mendengar istilah human traficking?
BAHAGIAN 3
----------
Ramai menuduh saya menutup periuk nasi bangsa saya di Australia. Tunggu....saya jelaskan dulu okey.
Laporan saya bertujuan:
1-Mengelakkan rakyat Malaysia dan bangsa saya daripada terpedaya dengan janji manis ejen. Ramai dah orang terkena, orang dari kampung.
Saya pun berasal dari kampung dan tak sanggup tengok orang saya kena tipu.
Tak kena atas kepala saudara Alhamdulillah, tapi jangan nafikan ada kes macam ni dan jumlahnya besar.
Ada yang sanggup pinjam duit sebab fikir dia pergi sekejap je, dah dapat buat untung akan balik segera. Alih-alih hidup susah di farm dan berhutang lagi.
Apa yang saya tulis bukan rekaan. Bukan imiginasi. Semua makumat saya terima daripada pekerja farm juga. Saya bukan keyboard warrior, saya turun ke ground dan saya tengok dan rasa kehidupan orang kita di Swan Hill.
Cuma masalah dengan bangsa Melayu yang masuk farm ni, dia tak suka cerita kedukaan dia sangat. Dia bagitahu kawan-kawan di Malaysia kerja best padahal diri sendiri je lah yang tahu.
Yang di Malaysia percaya bulat-bulat dan terpengaruh ke sana.
Sebab apa? Sebab ego, orang kampung dengar tumpang bangga. Kerja di Australia beb, bunyi gah sangat, malulah kalau mengaku hidup susah.
Bagi yang berjaya, berjayalah, dan kita jangan lupa memang ada yang terjerat di Australia. Semoga yang berjaya itu tidak mencemari tangan mereka dengan memanipulasikan mana-mana pihak.
2- Disebabkan banyak sangat orang Malaysia salah guna visa pelancong dan langgar peraturan, Imigresen sana dah alert.
Kalau naik penerbangan tambang murah, lagilah Imigresen curios. Tengoklah apa soalan dia tanya masa nak masuk. Lebih-lebih lagi kalau Australia adalah negara asing pertama yang korang lawat.
Adil kah benda ni untuk kira-kira 30 juta rakyat Malaysia lain yang nak ke sana melancong, bekerja secara sah, buka bisness dan lain lain.
Disebabkan pekerja ladang Malaysia buat hal dengan imigresen, orang lain kena getah. Pekerja Malaysia di farm tuduh saya tutup periuk nasi, sedarkah yang korang juga tutup periuk nasi rakyat Malaysia yang lain.
Bagi lah apa pun alasan, kerja tanpa permit tetap salah. Hormatilah undang-undang negara orang, kita pun marah Bangla dan Indon masuk Malaysia kerja haram.
Setiap rumah orang ada peraturan, kena lah ikut. Bukan sesuka hati terjah dan bagi hujah kami cari rezeki halal (TAPI DENGAN CARA SALAH).
Kena ingat, apa yang berlaku di ladang-ladang akan menjejaskan 156,000 diaspora Malaysia yang berada di Australi secara sah tak termasuk pelajar dan pekerja haram lain
Untuk kefahaman, saya copy n paste petikan statement seorang peguam rakyat Malaysia yang memiliki law firm, Fides Lawyers di Melbourne sejak 8 tahun lalu, Vicknaraj Thanarajah dalam isu ini.
(HADAMKAN)
As of 30th March 2016 the percentage of Australian residents born overseas are one of its highest in Australian History. The latest statistics show that out of the current Australian Population 156,500 or 0.7 percent are from Malaysia.
These are the legitimate migrants on record till to-date.
The above figures do not include the students who come here yearly to study or the illegal migrants.
According to the statistics for the months of September 2016, there are approximately 35,000 thousand people from Malaysia who visit Australia between August and September of 2016.
The above figures shows us a few crucial facts;
1.The Malaysian Diaspora in Australia is about 156K, and we have a sizeable presence in Australia being the top 10 diaspora in Australia;
2.The Monthly Malaysian Entrants Australia is the top 5 in Australia;
Therefore, whatever happens to the Malaysian community in Australia, has an impact not only to Malaysia reputation but also to the rest of the diaspora that have migrated here or has legitimate business interest in Australia, this includes a series of investments by Malaysian GLC in Australia.
It is also commonly known that Malaysia is the only Southeast Asian country with access to the electronic travel authority system under which Malaysian citizens — and applicants from most of the Western world — can get a three-month tourist visa online.
This is probably the result of the excellent diplomatic relations that is shared between the two countries.
Common sense would dictate that should there be in surge in abuse of this privilege this efficient process is endangered in being scrapped.
BAHAGIAN 4
----------
Australia tak bodoh, dia bukan tak tahu apa yang pekerja ladang ni buat. Kalau tengok statistik protection visa pun dah kantoi sebab tiba-tiba mendadak naik. Ini kerja siapa sebenarnya?
Malaysia negara aman dan masih berungsi tetapi ramai rakyat kita minta visa perlindugan (refugee). Negara kita tak beperang pun. Untuk kepentingan dia, dia menipu dalam borang permohonan siap kondem Malaysia lagi.
Berdasarkan statitik laman web Imigresen Australia, didapati permohonan visa protection oleh rakyat Malaysia meningkat daripada 294 permohonan pada 2013-2014, 1,401 permohonan pada 2014-2015 dan meroket kepada 3,549 (2015-2016)
Dari 294 permohonan naik kepada 3,549 permohonan dalam masa hanya empat tahun? Kegilaan apa kah ini?
Berikut petikan kenyataan Vicknaraj Thanarajah:
According to the statistic published by the Department of Immigration in Australia, we can gather the following crucial facts;
•Asylum applications from Malaysians lodged while within Australia in the last financial year topped 3500, more than double the total for 2014-15 even though Malaysia is a stable and functioning state, new figures show.
•Immigration department figures show 87 per cent of these applications are refused. Of the reviews conducted by the Migration and Refugee Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, 88 per cent validate the original decision.
•The tribunal processed more than 2000 reviews last financial year — a fourfold increase on 2014-15 — representing almost half of its protection claim caseload.
•Details of the recent flood of onshore asylum applications from Malaysia, which totalled just 294 in 2013-4, are contained in documents published on the department’s website.
•In 2014-15, 1401 Malaysians applied for asylum from within Australia. That total surged to 3549 in the 2015-16 year.
BAHAGIAN 5
----------
Baca lagi petikan kenyataan Vicknaraj Thanarajah:
"Apart from the above financial and legal considerations, these workers need to be aware of the political considerations that are associated with the Horticulture industry in Australia specifically the Fruit Picking Jobs.
The truth is, this is not a new issue; the Malaysians are just a latest wave of workers that are being used by the syndicates as work-stock. Prior to in recent years this there was an uproar on the abuse of Pacific Islanders as illegal workforce and as a result of an inquiry, the illegal workforce have significantly reduce from the Pacific Island.
It is my personal opinion the Malaysians are merely filling in a temporary gap left by the prior inquiry in relation to the Pacific islanders. What the Malaysian migrants need to realise, that the labour dilemma is soon to be solve (at least in part); because a political solution has been reached recently.
The Immigration Department of Australia will be launching a special class of visa (416) to enable Pacific islanders to work in the horticulture industry seasonally. This is supposed to commence by the 19th of November 2016.
Unfortunately Malaysia is not on the list as that particular visa caters for Pacific Islanders.
The hypocrisy of politics are blinding, the blatant fact remains that there is a need for workers in the horticulture industry especially in rural Australia, and the industry and the syndicates are filling that gap and need.
The syndicates take advantage on this legal and economic arbitrage simply because workers are voiceless because of their legal status in Australia. 
Rhetorically, Corporations, Farmers and Authorities, at the Federal, State and Local Government manage the blame efficiently and seamlessly each respectively pleading ignorance of the existence of such syndicates and illegal workforce.
This plea of ignorance is laughable, especially with the example of the case of Swan Hill a rural town in regional Victoria is swarming with Malaysians Workforce.
The issue and the challenge now is whether the Australia Government specifically the Minister responsible for Immigration is going to provide an empty political retort by conveniently electing to enforce a pre-existing law or a sound policy resolution that is sustainable and future proof for all those affected by the labour shortage.
For the sake Human Dignity and Decency, I challenge the Minister to extend the same opportunity for Malaysians to enable them to apply as seasonal workers in the Horticultural Industry.
Alternative expand the quota of Sub Class 462 Work Holiday Visa which is currently fixed at 100 visa for Malaysian per annum.
BAHAGIAN 6
----------
Saya juga sependapat dengan Vicknaraj yang berharap ada sinar untuk rakyat Malaysia bekerja di ladang-ladang secara sah supaya nasib mereka lebih terjamin.
PM Najib pun dah jumpa dengan PM Australia, Malcom Turnbull di APEC, Lima, Peru, kelmarin.
Malaysia, Australia bincang isu kedatangan migran
LIMA, Peru 20 Nov. - Kerjasama berkaitan kedatangan migran secara tidak sekata adalah antara topik yang disentuh dalam perbincangan dua hala Malaysia dan Australia di luar persidangan Kerjasama Ekonomi Asia Pasifik (APEC) di ibu negara Peru semalam.
Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yang mengadakan pertemuan dengan Perdana Menteri Australia, Malcolm Turnbull berkata, Australia dalam pertemuan itu meminta kerjasama Malaysia untuk membendung isu pelarian, yang menghantui negara berkenaan ekoran kebanjiran migran itu.
"Beliau (Turnbull) mahu bendung masalah migran ini yang dikaitkan dengan permerdagangan manusia," katanya kepada wartawan Malaysia di sini selepas menghadiri program hari pertama Mesyuarat Pemimpin Ekonomi APEC.
Antara kerjasama itu adalah melalui pertukaran laporan risikan dan melakukan larangan rasmi iaitu dengan mengambil tindakan sekiranya migran berkenaan melalui perairan negara, katanya.
BAHAGIAN 7
---------------------------
Kita harap pertemuan ini dapat merintis jalan ke arah rundingan yang akan memberi manfaat kepada rakyat Malaysia yang mahu bekerja di Australia secara sah dalam sektor kemahiran rendah.
NOTA: Ada beberapa soalan Saudara Saharudin Jang yang perlu saya jawab.
1- Apakah keburukan yg ada pada rakyat malaysia bekerja di malaysia.
Keburukan? Saya dan jutaan rakyat Malaysia lain tetap kerja macam biasa. Memang ada kelemahan tertentu seperti gaji yang tak setara dengan kos sara hidup. Saya sebagai rakyat pun buat 2-3 kerja untuk survive. Dan buat masa ini saya belum terfikir perlu bekerja di negara orang secara haram untuk survive.
2- Adakah baik untuk kerajaan malaysia jika aliran wang tunai dari aussie masuk kemalaysia dan dihabiskan untuk membayar cukai & gst?
Betul tapi sepatutnya dilakukan secara sah. Pekerja haram tidak mebayar cukai kepada kerajaan Australia dan duit berkenaan mengalir ke Malaysia secara tak sah.
3- Ramai pekerja di aussie nie akan terdidik dgn cara hidup di aussie x boleh wat huru hara bising n sabagainya yg menganggu privasi org lain. Betul atau tidak?
Betul lah. Mematuhi undang-undang perkara yang mulia, begitulah juga undang-undang Imigresen di Australia. Kenapa tak hormat pula?
Kalau setakat nak didik supaya tak bising, kat Malaysia pun boleh. Hormati hak jiran tu kan ajaran Islam.
4- Pepatah orang dahulu jauh berjalan luas pengalaman.
Betul ke tidak.
1000 peratus saya sokong. Sebab saya sendiri suka berjalan. Sejak 2006 sampai sekarang, dah 24-25 negara saya dah pergi.
Pada 2010 saya berekspedisi dengan tiga lagi kawan naik motosikal dari KL ke London dalam masa 2 bulan. Di sepanjang perjalanan saya jumpa ramai rakyat Malaysia yang berjaya, tak ada seorang pun daripada mereka ni bekerja secara haram.
Bulan Ogos lepas, saya berada di Rio de Janeiro, Brazil selama tiga minggu untuk liputan sukan Olimpik Rio2016.
Saya pun kenal ramai lejen-lejen hardcore overlander yang dah pusing dunia, mereka tak der pula nak kutuk-kutu Malaysia. Jangan baru jejak kaki di satu negara, dah rasa Malaysia ni serba tak kena.
5- Berapakah komisyen yang bro saiful haizan terima daei egent egent pembuat bridging visa. Yg lebih membahayakan kedudukan malaysia pada PRU 14 nanti. Setiap pemegang visa a & c x boleh balik kemalaysia tau. Camner diorg nk undi BN namti. Heheheh.
Apa punya soalan ni. Apa kaitan dengan ejen buat bridging visa? Sepatutnya mereka yang marah dengan saya.
Kalau tak boleh balik, pergilah mengundi di kedutaan. Asalkan berdaftar dengan SPR.
Akmar pula ada cakap yang Imigresen Australia tangkap orang Malaysia sebab Najib nak rakyat balik undi dia.
Hahahaha...hal politik tak perlu masuk lah bro. Tak habis-habis dengan politik.
Terima kasih kerana membaca ke peringkat ini. Saya menghargainya kerana selepas ini saya tidak lagi mengulas isu ini secara detail di FB.
*Share jika bermanfaat*
Salam hormat,
Saiful Haizan
Besut, Terengganu


-UnReportedNews™®

          Star Wars Characters for MSH   

Rescued from Ty States old site.
For Boba Fett and the other Bounty Hunters, see the previous post, here.

LUKE SKYWALKER

Jedi Knight
F- RM (30)
A- RM (30)
S- GD (10)
E- RM (30)
R- EX (20)
I- UN (100)
P- UN (100)
H- 100
K- 220
R- GD
P- 20
Talents:
Resist Domination, Acrobatics, Tumbling, Medicine, Occult, Thief, Vehicles, Weaponry- Firearms, Weapons Specialist- Light Saber, Astrogation, Computers, Repair/Tinkering, First Aid, Pilot.

Contacts:
New Republic, Solo's family.

Equipment:
Light Saber- RM (30) material strength
Energy Touch- Heat MN (75)
Reflection MN (75)
Blaster: EX (20) damage; range 5 areas
Mechanical Hand: RM (30) material strength; EX (20) strength

The FORCE:

Control UN (100)
Absorb/Dissipate Energy
Accelerate Healing
Anger
Calm
Combat Trance
Concentration
Control Disease
Control Pain
Detoxify Poison
Emptiness
Enhance Attributes
Hibernation Trance
Reduce Injury
Remain Conscious
Resist Stun

Sense MN (75)
Blind Sense
Combat Sense
Danger Sense
Hyperspace Tracking
Instinctive Astrogration
Life Detection
Life Sense
Magnify Senses
Receptive Telepathy
Sense Disturbance
Sense Force
Sense Spirit
Time Sense
Truth Sense

Alter AM (50)
Haste
Injure/Kill
Telekinesis
Control/Sense
Blaster Combat
Farseeing
Lightsaber Combat Projective Telepathy
Control/Alter
Accelerate Other's Healing
Force Lights
Inflict Pain
Control/Sense/Alter
Affect Mind

HAN SOLO

F- EX (20)
A- EX (20)
S- GD (10)
E- EX (20)
R- GD (10)
I- EX (20)
P- EX (20)
H- 70
K- 50
R- EX
P- 15

Talents:
Acrobatics, Computers, Detective, Martial Arts B, E, Military, Thief, Vehicles, Guns, Gambling, Repair/Tinkering, Astrogation, Pilot.

Contacts:
Luke Skywalker, New Republic

Equipment:
Blaster EX (20) damage

MILLENIUM FALCON
CTRL: AM
SPEED: SH-X (Hyper-Space CL. 5000)
BODY: MN
PROT: IN
Equipment:
2 Quad Laser Cannons RM (30) Energy
Concussion Missles IN (40) Force
Sensor Dish IN (40)
Escape Pod  

LEIA ORGANA SOLO

F- GD (10)
A- GD (10)
S- TY (6)
E- EX (20)
R- IN (40)
I- IN (40)
P- AM (50)
H- 46
K- 130
R- AM
P- 25

Talents:
Diplomacy, Acrobatics, Engineering, Leadership, Law, Criminology, Guns, Law Enforcement, Detective/Espionage, Marksman, Pilot, Physics, Electronics, Martial Arts A, B, C, D, E, Military, Computers.

Equipment:
Lightsaber- RM (30) Material Strength
Energy Touch- Heat MN(75)
Reflection- MN(75)
Blaster Pistol- EX (20) force

The FORCE:

Control- AM (50)
Calm
Concentration

Sense- AM (50)
Danger Sense
Life Sense

By "MAD TITAN"

CHEWBACCA

F- EX (20)
A- GD (10)
S- RM (30)
E- RM (30)
R- GD (10)
I- RM (30)
P- RM (30)
H- 90
K- 70
R- GD
P- 10

Powers:
Hyper-Olfactory EX
Hyper-Hearing PR
Tracking EX
Claws RM (30)
Resist Cold FB (2)
Thermal Vision PR

Talents:
Computers, Repair/Tinkering, Engineering, Martial Arts B, C, Vehicles, Guns, Astrogation, Gambling, First Aid, Pilot.

Contacts:
Han Solo, New Republic.

Equipment:
Crossbow EX (20) damage

LANDO CALRISSIAN

F- EX (20)
A- EX (20)
S- TY (6)
E- GD (10)
R- EX (20)
I- EX (20)
P- GD (10)
H- 56
K- 50
R- EX
P- 20

Talents:
Acrobatics, Detective, Medicine, Military, Thief, Guns, Vehicles, Gambling, Mining, Business/Finance, Astrogation, Computers, Repair/Tinkering, Pilot.

Contacts:
Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, New Republic, Mining Industry.

Equipment:
Blaster EX (20) damage

R2D2

F- FB (2)
A- FB (2)
S- PR (4)
E- EX (20)
R- EX (20)
I- TY (6)
P- TY (6)
H- 28
K- 32
R- N/A
P- 0

Powers:
Claws GD (10)
Resist Cold GD (10)
Comprehend Languages TY (6)
Energy Sponge TY (6)
Heat Vision GD (10)
Circular Vision
Life Detection RM (30)
Radarsense IN (40)
Radio Communication MN (75)
Total Memory UN (100)
Body Resistance PR (4)
Communicate with Cybernetics MN (75)

Talents:
Computers, Detective, Thief, Vehicles, Languages, First Aid, Pilot.

Contacts:
C3PO, Luke Skywalker

Equipment:
Grappling Hook & Line- 3 area range
Fire Extinguisher

C3PO

F- FB (2)
A- PR (4)
S- TY (6)
E- EX (20)
R- EX (20)
I- TY (6)
P- TY (6)
H- 32
K- 32
R- N/A
P- 0

Powers:
Resist Cold GD (10)
Comprehend Languages UN (100)
Hyper-Hearing GD (10)
Microscopic Vision GD (10)
Total Memory UN (100)
Communicate with Cybernetics UN (100)
Telescopic Vision PR

Talents:
Computers, Languages, First Aid.

Contacts:
R2D2, Luke Skywalker, Ewoks

YODA

F- FB (2)
A- FB (2)
S- FB (2)
E- PR (4)
R- IN (40)
I- UN (100)
P- UN (100)
H- 10
K- 240
R- FB
P- 50

Talents:
Alien Species, Bureaucracy, Cultures, Languages, Planetary Systems, Astrogation, Bargain, Leadership, Gambling, Persuasion, First Aid, Jedi Lore.
 
Contacts:
Jedi Knights.

The FORCE:
Control SH-Y
Absorb/Dissipate Energy
Accelerate Healing
Concentration
Control Pain
Detoxify Poison
Emptiness
Enhance Attributes
Hibernation Trance
Reduce Injury
Remain Conscious
Resist Stun
Short-term Memory Enhancement

Sense SH-X
Combat Sense
Danger Sense
Instinctive Astrogration
Life Detection
Life Sense
Magnify Senses
Receptive Telepathy
Sense Disturbance
Sense Force
Sense Path

Alter UN
Injure/Kill
Telekinesis
Control/Sense
Farseeing
Lightsaber Combat Projective Telepathy
Control/Alter
Accelerate Other's Healing
Control Another's Pain
Return Another to Consciousness
Transfer Force
Sense/Alter
Dim Other's Senses
Control/Sense/Alter
Affect Mind
Control Mind
Force Harmony

DARTH VADER

Annakin Skywalker
F- IN (40)
A- RM (30)
S- RM (30)
E- IN (40)
R- EX (20)
I- UN (100)
P- UN (100)
H- 130
K- 220
R- UN
P- (-75)

Talents:
Leadership, Occult (the Force), Military, Space Pilot, Martial Arts D.

Contacts:
Emperor.

Equipment:
Light Saber Rem material strength
Energy Blade Psyche (UN-100) rank damage
Reflection Psyche (UN-100) energy reflection

The FORCE:

Control SH-X (150)
Absorb/Dissipate Energy
Accelerate Healing
Concentration
Control Pain
Detoxify Poison
Enhance Attributes
Hibernation Trance
Reduce Injury
Remain Conscious
Resist Stun

Sense UN (100)
Combat Sense
Danger Sense
Instinctive Astrogration
Life Detection
Life Sense
Magnify Senses
Receptive Telepathy
Sense Force

Alter MN (75)
Injure/Kill
Telekinesis
Control/Sense
Farseeing
Lightsaber Combat Projective Telepathy
Control/Alter
Feed on Dark Side
Inflict Pain
Control/Sense/Alter
Affect Mind
Telekinetic Kill

THE EMPEROR

F- TY (6)
A- TY (6)
S- PR (4)
E- TY (6)
R- IN (40)
I- UN (100)
P- UN (100)
H- 22
K- 240
R- MN
P- (-50)

Talents:
Alien Species, Bureaucracy, Cultures, Intimidation, Law Enforcement, Military History, Planetary Systems, Archaic Library Systems, Arcane Technologies, Clone Vat Systems, Dark Side Lore, Jedi Lore, Lightsaber Histories, Fleet Tactics, Ground Assault Tactics, Leadership, Bargain, Detective/Espionage, Lightsaber Repair.

Contacts:
Sith.

The FORCE:

Control SH-Y
Absorb/Dissipate Energy
Accelerate Healing
Concentration
Control Pain
Detoxify Poison
Enhance Attributes
Hibernation Trance
Reduce Injury
Remain Conscious
Resist Stun
Short-term Memory Enhancement

Sense SH-X
Combat Sense
Danger Sense
Instinctive Astrogration
Life Detection
Life Sense
Magnify Senses
Receptive Telepathy
Sense Force

Alter UN
Injure/Kill
Telekinesis
Control/Sense
Farseeing
Lightsaber Combat Projective Telepathy
Control/Alter
Accelerate Other's Healing
Control Another's Pain
Feed on Dark Side
Force Lightning
Inflict Pain
Return Another to Consciousness
Transfer Force
Control/Sense/Alter
Affect Mind
Control Mind
Doppelganger
Drain Life Essence
Enhanced Coordination
Telekinetic Kill
Transfer Life
Sense/Alter
Dim Other's Senses

GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN

F- TY (6)
A- TY (6)
S- TY (6)
E- GD (10)
R- IN (40)
I- RM (30)
P- IN (40)
H- 28
K- 110
R- AM
P- 0

Talents:
Artist, Detective, Martial Arts E, Military, Vehicles, Guns, Leadership.

Contacts:
Empire.

ADMIRAL DAALA

F- EX (20)
A- GD (10)
S- TY (6)
E- GD (10)
R- RM (30)
I- IN (40)
P- IN (40)
H- 446
K- 110
R- IN
P- 0

Talents:
Guns, Martial Arts E, Acrobatics, Law, Law Enforcement, Pilot, Military, Criminology, Computers, Electronics, Leadership.

Equipment:
Blaster Pistol- EX (20) Force

By "MAD TITAN"

STORMTROOPERS

F- EX
A- EX
S- GD
E- EX
R- TY
I- GD
P- EX
H- 70
K- 36 Equipment: Blaster Rifle EX Energy damage or intensity stun
Armor GD vs. Physical; TY vs. Energy 

JABBA THE HUTT

F- GD (10)
A- PR (4)
S- PR (4)
E- EX (20)
R- EX (20)
I- RM (30)
P- RM (30)
H- 38
K- 80
R- RM
P- (-30)

Special Abilities:
Force Resistance
Hutts have an innate defense against Force based mind-manipulation techniques. They receive a +2CS to resist.

Talents:
Resist Domination, Bereaucracy, Business/Finance, Cultures, Intimidation, Languages, Law Enforcement, Streetwise, Bargaining, Leadership, Gambling, Persuasion.

Contacts:
Galactic Underworld, Empire.

Limitations:
cannot move without assistance
          The Star Wars Bounty Hunters for MSH   

Here are the MSH stats for the bounty hunters from Star Wars.
These were originally hosted by Ty States and I resurrected them from his old site.


BOBA FETT

A- GD (10)
S- EX (20)
E- IN (40)
R- GD (10)
I- RM (30)
P- RM (30)
H- 100
K- 70
R- EX
P- (-50) Equipment: Battle Armor
personally modified Mandalorian battle armor that covers his head, torso, and arms with no Agility penalties.
* Body Armor: RM (30) Material Strength and EX (20) protection from Physical and Energy attacks.
* Wrist Lasers: RM (30) Energy damage with PR (1 area) range.
* Rocket Dart Launcher: Can pierce IN (40) Material Strength or less. Tip is coated with poison (Poison, Knock-Out, etc.) of RM (30) intensity. FB (1/2 area range).
* Turbo-projected Grappling Hook: 20 meter (1/2 area) lanyard (RM (30) Material Strength) with magnetic grappling "hook" (RM (30) Magnetism). FB (1/2 area) range.
* Flame Projector: RM (30) Fire Energy damage in 1 meter cone. FB (5 meter (5.45 yards) (1/8 of an area)
* Concussion Grenade Launcher: IN (40) Blunt damage to all in one area. Has firing range of AM. Magazine carries 20 grenades.
* Jet Pack: For every charge used, he can move at FB Airspeed (30 MPH / 0.5 MPM) either 3 areas horizontally, or 2 areas vertically. His jet pack only has enough fuel for 20 charges.
* Sensor Pod: AM (50) Tracking ability.
* Infra-red / Motion Sensor: Integrated infra-red and motion sensors in helmet gives EX (20) intensity and range Infra-red vision in darkness. It also allows him to detect motion in front of him and to his sides with EX (20) intensity and range.
* Macro binoculars: Enables him to see objects at up to IN (12 area) range. Scope-linked into blaster rifle, allowing him to fire it at +2CS to his Agility (in addition to Marksmanship).
* Sound Sensors: Makes out sound at up to EX (20) range. It can tell where the sound is coming from with AM (50) ability. This only works in quiet areas.
* Internal Comlink: Can be linked to Slave I's control system (with beckon call) to have it operate under remote control (come to his location, fire weapons, etc.), or it can be tuned into other standard frequencies. It also has an external speaker.
* Broadband Antenna: Can intercept and decode most communications made on standard frequencies. As a result, Boba Fett can patch into shipboard communications.
* Winch: This is capable of lifting TY (221 pounds) weight (Boba Fett and his equipment only).
* Sealed Enviro Filter: Filter system can block out harmful molecules, or in case of insufficient or deadly atmospheres, the suit can seal drawing upon a two hour (1,200 turn) supply of air.
Blaster Rifle: Range: AM, Price: (Gun) GD (1,000 credits), (Power Pack) FB (25 credits)
Damage: IN (40) Stunning or Energized Force
Rate: 1, Shots: 100 per power pack
Material: GD (See Macro binoculars in suit description for bonus to hit.)
Comlink: This is a personal communication device. It has a SH-X (150) range. It can broadcast over countless different frequencies. It can pick up normal Standard Clear Frequencies (SCF's) (non-restricted bands). It can monitor one specific frequency and SFC's simultaneously. It costs FB (25 credits).
Wookie Scalps: Several dangle from his belt. His Popularity with Rebels, Wookies, and the like drops by -10.


Slave I:


This is Boba Fett's personal ship. It has the following:
* CONTROL: TY (6).
* SPEED: (Atmosphere) UN (40 areas) A.S. / (Space) SH Z (200 areas) A.S. / (Hyperdrive) CL 5000/1 (5,000/1) (100 x light speed)
* BODY: RM (30) vs. Physical and Energy.
* PROTECTION: RM (30) vs. Physical and Energy. * Shields: GD (10) vs. Physical and Energy.
* Sensors: Passive: AM (50) range /// Scan: UN (100) range ///Search: SH X (150) range /// Focus: TY(06)
* Sensor Mask: -2CS to detect Slave I at ranges of MN(75) or greater.
* Sensor Jamming: -3CS to sensors to identify Slave I as a ship instead of an ion storm, -2CS to detect the ship's vapor trail.
* 2 Twin-mounted Blaster Cannons: Fire Arc: Turret, Fire Control: +1CS to Agility for firing; Range: SH X (74 areas), Damage: RM (30) Energized Force.
* Concussion Missile Tube Launcher: Fire Arc: Front, Fire Control: +2CS to Agility for firing; Range: AM (17 areas), Damage: EX (20) Blunt to all in 1 area.
* Ion Cannon: Fire Arc: Front, Fire Control: +1CS to Agility for firing; Range: MN (37 areas), Damage: RM (30) disruption of electrical and mechanical devices.
* Tractor Beam Projector: Fire Arc: Turret, Fire Control: +2CS to Agility for firing; Range: UN (50 areas), Damage: RM (30) Tractor beam.
* Two Proton Torpedo Launchers: Firing Arc: Turret, Fire Control: +1CS to Agility for firing; Range: SH X (74 areas), Damage: None; attaches homing beacon or S-thread tracker which is mounted on dummy proton torpedoes and which magnetically attach to a target ship's hull. They have short ranges of 15-20 light years, utilizing the same technology as subspace radio's. The S-thread trackers send frequencies on HoloNet reciever bands, allowing him to track a ship to the side of the galaxy provided the ship passed HoloNet S-threads.
* Craft: Kuat Systems Engineering's Firespray Class: Firespray-31.
* Type: Sublight Patrol and Attack Craft.
* Length: 21.5 meters.
* Crew: 1.
* Passengers: 6 (prisoners).
* Cargo Capacity: IN (40) weight (40 metric tons). (It is currently converted into a high security holding area with force cages and restraints to hold the prisoners).
* Consumables: 1 month (30 days = 414,000 turns).
* Type: Space.
* Cost: N/A.
Talents: Marksman, Thrown Weapons, Languages, Astrogation, Pilot, Jet Pack Operation, Leadership, Crime, Repair-Tinkering, Computers, Demolition, Electronics, Detective-Espionage, Weapons Specialist: Mandalorian battle armor weapons.
Contacts: None. (As per employer. When job is over, it is doubtful that the employer or those in his/her/its employment will remain contacts.)
By WLB (WMLEBG@webtv.net)

BOSSK

F- RM (30)
A- TY (6)S- EX (20)
E- IN (40)
R- EX (20)
I- RM (30)
P- GD (10)
H- 96
K- 60
R- GD
P- 0 Powers: Claws EX (20) edged damage
Armor- Natural Hide TY (6) vs. Blunt damage
Equipment: Blaster Rifle RM (30) force damage
Grenade Launcher IN (40) force damage
Flamethrower RM (30) energy damage
Binders RM (30) material strength
Talents: W.P. Blaster Rifle, Martial Arts A, B, Pilot, Engineering, Detective/Espionage, Computers, Electronics.

4-LOM

Bounty Hunter/Droid F- TY (6)
A- RM (30)
S- EX (20)
E- RM (30)
R- RM (30)
I- RM (30)
P- TY (6)
H- 86
K- 66
R- GD
P- 0
Powers: Analytical Mind- +2CS to Intuition rolls on guessing the next move of their bounties.
Body Armor GD (10)
Equipment:
Blaster Pistol- EX (20) Force damage
Stun Gas Blower- RM (30) intensity
Talents: Medicine, Law, Pilot, Buisness/Finance, Engineering, Criminology, Detective/Espionage, Computers, Electronics, Languages.
By "MAD TITAN"

DENGAR

F- EX (20)
A- EX (20)
S- GD (10)
E- RM (30)
R- EX (20)
I- RM (30)
P- TY (6)
H- 80
K- 56
R- GD
P- 0 Equipment: Blaster Rifle- RM (30) Force damage
Concussion Grenades- IN (40) Force damage
Vibroblade- RM (30) Edged Energy damage
Talents: Guns, W.P. Blaster Rifle, Marksman, Martial Arts A, B, E, Acrobatics, Pilot, Crimonology, Detective/Espionage.
By "MAD TITAN"

IG-88

F- TY (6)
A- TY (6)
S- EX (20)
E- AM (50)
R- IN (40)
I- MN (75)
P- GD (10)
H- 82
K- 125
R- GD
P- 0 Equipment: Blaster Rifle- RM (30) Force damage
Talents: Guns, Marksman, Weapons Master, Pilot, Engineering, Criminology, Detective/Espionage, Computers, Electronics.


SHIP IG-2000


CTRL: AM
SPEED: SH-Z (Hyper-Space CL. 5000)
BODY: AM
PROT: RM Weapons: Forward Laser Cannons- AM (50) Energy damage
Ion Cannon- IN (40) Shields do not effect this weapon.
2 Tractor Beams- MN (75) strength
By "MAD TITAN"

          Fashionable Ways to Coordinate Shirts and Suits   
Contrary to popular belief, dark suits can be worn everywhere and not just in the office. These pieces can also be perfect for other occasions like a casual party or affair. The only rule for you to pull it off is to match it with an appropriate necktie. You can create a very confident and pleasant image by wearing a smart tie or shirt in a bold color. Read on so you can equip yourself with the proper knowledge on how to match your tie and suit to make it work for you all the time.
          Appropriate Ways to Be Handsome   
President Barack Obama is always seen wearing a stylish necktie over a dark suit in big events that he attends. For this reason, the President is slowly becoming a fashion icon in the political world. If you want to be seen in your office and make people notice you with your fashion statements, then you should look at the President as an example. Upgrading your wardrobe does not necessitate that you buy new pieces. If you can choose a perfect tie with a different texture and color and tie the knot that is appropriate for the occasion, then its taking your clothes to a different level. Wearing the appropriate tie to meet the occasion can definitely bring salutes from your colleagues.
          Busch Gardens Summer Nights is in full swing   
Midway through its June through August run, Busch Gardens Summer Nights is open for after-dark thrills and entertainment. Ride the roller coasters after dark and enjoy the park activities and entertainment during the cooler evening hours in summer.
             
Firstly, I've not been able to post any updates on my dear little felt bag, because I've not been able to finish it.  Just after my last post, I caught my finger around one of the dog's leads, and it wrenched.  Subsequently, it's been painful and I've not been able to hand sew or cross stitch, and writing with a pen has also been painful and difficult.  In the first week or so, even holding a knife was hard.  It's finally getting better, so I think I should finish it very soon and will then post pics - it really is adorable.  






Since then there's been quite a bit to share.  I've just finished a quilt but haven't yet photographed it, so will save that for another post.  Some birthday cards - first up.  The first card shown is one I made for Andrew's 40th birthday which was on the weekend.  I started with a plain white card blank, then added some dark blue linen textured card.  Layered on top of this was a turquoise card which I had embossed through the Sizzix Bigshot machine, giving it a nice texture.  Then I added another panel, which I had previously decorated using alchohol inks in a random splodgy, swirly pattern, with silver metallic bits randomly added too.  On this card, I used some Tim Holtz rubber stamps, added in black ink, and finally I added some adhesive blue butterflies.  Unfortunately the metallic splodges haven't photographed very well - the effect in real life is gorgeous.  Importantly, the recipient was very pleased with it.  

The second card was for Roger, Andrew's dad, whose birthday is the day after Andrew's.  I started with a plain gold square card, and layered on a piece of K & Co patterned paper.  Then I took a piece of paper and ran it through the Sizzix using a new die, giving the square with the bobbly edges.  Once I had the basic shape, I gently sponged the paper with green ink and sprayed it with the Glitz spritz using the silver and emerald colours. These were dried with a heat gun and finally I stamped it, using the pear stamp I got from Blade Rubber up in London, back in March and a small message saying Happy Birthday. Immediately after stamping, I brushed some gold Perfect Pearls over the pears which gave it a gorgeous shimmer.  The last step was to add some leaf shaped brads to the corner holes of the square. Unfortunately the photo didn't come out very well, and I only realised this after I had posted the card, so was unable to redo it.  

The third card was a thank you card for the tutor on the Kennel Club course I have recently done with Boola (full details on my other blog).  I started with a plain white card, then added a layer of green linen textured card.  On a piece of plain white card, I gently sponged some distress inks over the background then stamped it using several botanical images in different colours, mainly in an autumnal palette.  Finally, using a brad, I attached a Tim Holtz Adage Ticket, in this case saying "Soar" which seemed appropriate for a teacher.     Lastly, I gave the whole card a gentle spritz with a glitz spritz which added a subtle shimmer. 

Finally, I have just finished making the place cards for the family party we are hosting this coming weekend.  There will be nine of us round the table in a joint birthday celebration for Andrew, Roger and Booty.  Given Booty's fondness for squirrels, we decided that would be a great theme, so I spent ages scouring the net for squirrel themed craft goodies.  Eventually I was able to find some squirrel dies that could be used in my machine so I ordered them.  For each card, I started with a folded base card of a pewter wood effect  card (this seemed entirely appropriate!).  Next, I added a cream card that was embossed and then brushed with a distress ink gently, this had the effect of picking up the raised embossing.  On top of this I layered up a piece of patterned K & Co card from the Wild Saffron range, then on top of that I added a printed name which I had printed out on the computer. On the right side of each name, I added a couple of die cut leaves or nuts, in autumnal shades of brown and green.  On the left hand side was the squirrrel.  Each squirrel had to be diecut in two parts, body and tail and this was done on orange paper, which I then gently shaded using a brown ink. The squirrel's eye was a black adhesive pearl and the final touch was to add a little orange glitter glue.  I'm very happy with the finished article and they should add a nice festive touch to the party. 

 
             

So, Tuesday is the birthday of a dear friend. I've already posted about the table topper I have made for her, and on Saturday we went into Cardiff and I bought some L'Occitane goodies for her. I am also stitching a sampler for her - this is not going to be ready for her birthday but I don't want to post it anyway, and will give it to her when she next visits. Attached are some pics of her birthday card.
I took a tall, narrow pink pearlescent base card and started by layering up some striped paper. Then on a piece of white card I stamped the image of the owl and the greeting in a dark blue ink and rounded the corners. Then I used colour from ink pads to gently smudge paler blues and violets around the card background, giving a sort of cloudy effect. Then I spritzed the picture with a blue glimmer spray and dried it with a heat gun to give a subtle blue shimmer. I used a Gelly Roll metallic pen to colour the little flower on the owl's head and ran a dark ink pad round the edges of the card before mounting it onto the card base. Below, I added a horizontal ribbon and then using my pokey tool made a hole for the yellow flower, and attached it using a small pearl centred brad. Finally, I used some crystal Stickles brushed over the petals to give a shimmery dewdrop effect to the flower. Once it was dry, I wrote in the card and posted it - yippee!

             



A few things to update on. July of course is when I disappear from the planet to immerse myself in Tour World - all other things become secondary to that. This year's Tour finishes this Saturday so I will begin to re-emerge from my hibernation then. I'll start with some cross-stitch. One of Andrew's colleagues is expecting her first baby very shortly (approximately three weeks) so I decided to stitch a small sampler for her and her husband and the new arrival (sex unknown). This is a very pretty Joan Elliott design from a small supplement that came with the World of Cross Stitch some time ago - I like Joan Elliott's designs very much. As you can see I am stitching it on a pretty pale blue aida which has been dyed in a way to appear like clouds with little swirls of lighter and darker colours - very attractive. The design is predominantly in soft pastels and won't become distinctive until I add the backstitch at the end. There will also be beads to add which should add a very nice finishing touch. The sampler is small enough for me to feel as though I am making good progress and I am enjoying stitching it. Keeping my fingers crossed, I should have it finished, pressed, framed and a matching card stitched and made up by the time the baby arrives. I will probably pop down to Ikea for a simple frame, likely plain white wood.
Also pictured are some ATCs that I made recently for a Docrafts colour swap in pale blue. Following the wonderful day in May over at Barry, I have fallen in love with the technique of blending inks using cotton wool and in this case I started with two plain white cards. Both were coloured using pale blue ink and then a little bit of darker blue added round the edges to give an attractive shaded effect. On one, I stamped and glittered some birds, the word "Love" and some swirly motifs. On the other, I used some butterfly stickers, glitter glue, ribbon and a rose bud bow to finish the decoration. These were posted a couple of days ago, and I now have a list of other swaps waiting for me to get stuck into.

             

In 1984, George Orwell referred to a characteristic called Doublethink - where a person could hold two contradictory ideas but not object. I feel rather like this about Christmas. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely adore the festive season. My already tenuous hold on taste is abandoned gleefully and I enjoy going wild with decorations, gifts, crafts, cooking, entertaining and general merrymaking. However, and this is the sticker, I loathe going into shops in August and finding the shelves filling up with Christmas puddings and cards. To me Christmas should be celebrated and anticipated at the end of the year - shopping and posting should be in darkness and cold, not sunshine. Now here's the doublethink - as a crafter, you simply cannot start too early. All that merrymaking means that it is without doubt the busiest time of the year yet it is also the time when you need to create things like cards and gifts. So to sum up, I am happy to start early for my own crafting but throw a major hissy fit if I so much as sniff something festive in a shop before the end of October.
In this Orwellian spirit, I illustrate the point with two little cross-stitched designs, just completed that will be mounted into cards. They are both by Margaret Sherry who designs frequently for magazines. For the little robin, I used a blending filament along with the dark thread for the backstitch - this gives it a nice twinkle. For the hedgehog, I used a rayon thread for the star - this gives a luxurious finish. On both, I used Thread Heaven for the first time. I have often seen it advertised in magazines as an aid to using metallics, rayons and so on. Having bought some, I tried it out on these small projects and I was completely blown away. It makes using these threads a breeze - normally the air would be blue as they got knotted, tangled, wouldn't thread and so on. Instead, I glided smoothly through - if you haven't tried it, I can recommend it.
I am hoping to build up a small stash of these little Christmas designs for mounting into cards throughout the year, thus avoiding too much late panic by the end of November! Well, that's the plan, anyway. I'll keep this updated as more are added.

             



Some more ATCs to show. These are for a DoCrafts swap on the theme "Simply Vintage". I made three cards and for all of them, I started with a blank white card. I used my new inkpads to colour them in - one in yellow, one in a soft pink and another in a pale blue. Each card blank was then spritzed with glimmer spray, in amber, pink and teal successively, and heat gunned to dry.
For the yellow one, I edged the card with a soft orange ink to add a little intensity, then added some shimmery orange flower stickers and a sticker in one corner featuring music and the same orange flowers. Finally I added a little printed square featuring an old piece of music manuscript.
For the pink one (which was my favourite when it was finished), I layered on some printed pink card then added a printed tag, affixed with a crystal brad. A couple of embossed K & Co corner stickers were added,then I put in a rectangular printed card which was fixed behind the tag and lay diagonally across the card. I trimmed the corners to fit the card and added a tiny pink pearl to the centre of a flourish. Finally, I added a row of three white roses above the card. It looks great.
For the blue one, I worked in a portrait rather than landscape format. First I went over the edges with a darker blue ink to define them. Then I added an embossed K & Co sticker to the front of the card and put in a crystal brad at the top of the shape. Finally, I added a printed blue square looking like a vintage French postcard and then added a small ribbon rose in blue. Luckily I was able to catch Friday evening's post with these.

             



Some more ATCs and a birthday card for our nephew. The ATCs are for a stitching theme on Do Crafts Forum. I cross-stitched two small pieces - one of a blue bunch of flowers with a creamy yellow bow, and the other of a poppy with seed beads added to represent the stamens. For the blue card, I took a textured card blank and gently rubbed two ink pads over it, Adirondack Juniper and Cool Peri, then spritzed it with a Sky Glitz so giving it a subtle sheen. I added the trimmed and backed stitching, then stamped a row of three flowers along the base in dark blue and coloured them in turquoise. These had a layer of glitter glue added to them for some sparkle. Finally, I went round the edge of the card with a dark blue Sakura pen in a faux stitch and added two ribbon roses to the top of the stitching. I am very pleased with the finished card, as the colour scheme is lovely, very fresh and pretty.
I am much less happy with the other one and am thinking I am not likely to send it to the swap- at least not in its current form. I may have another go at it tomorrow morning.
Finally, I made a birthday card for our nephew who will be eight this week. I used a K & Co card blank in shades of blue and green stripes. To this I added a colourful tag, featuring Chinese lanterns in a row, with some orange ric rac tied at the top. Then I added some K & Co stickers from the same family as the tag and finally an initial J for the birthday boy. This will be posted tomorrow.

             



A quick update on some recent ATCS. These are for a Distressed swap, on Do Crafts. Two were for the swap, and one was a RAK for the organiser. As her name begins with an N, I started with a plain white card which I coloured using an Adirondack Lemonade ink pad. I then spritzed it with a Glimmer spray. Then added some crumpled Coredinations card in beige, also spritzed, across the middle part of the card. On the right border I stamped a floral border in dark pink and added some mini brads at the bottom of the Coredination in cream, beige and dark grey. The letter N has stripes in pink, beige, grey and similar colours so was added along with a little butterfly sticker.
For the two swap cards, the first was covered with a piece of distressed paper we made at the recent ATC day in Barry. Over this I applied some flowers, attached with brads and then alongside I stamped and embossed the words Lots of Love and a pretty heart.
The second card was also one that started life in Barry - being one of the ones I coloured using shaving foam, in tones of coral, yellow and pink, like a tequila sunrise. Over this I applied some crumpled, torn Coredinations card, then spritzed with a pink glimmer spray. I worked round the edges of the card with a dark red ink pad. After drying the spray with a heat gun, I stamped on pretty dark pink flourishes at random and the word Friendship in black. Finally, I added a vintage metal butterfly embellishment, affixed with mini brads.

          School leavers claim careers advice gap leaves them in the dark about best career routes   

The post School leavers claim careers advice gap leaves them in the dark about best career routes appeared first on The Big Choice.


          Gagging Brunette Gets Tortured In Dark And Scary Basement   
Watch Gagging Brunette Gets Tortured In Dark And Scary Basement at XXXPorn.rs - best free online XXXPorn videos for you to enjoy.
          Bellingham comic book publisher branches into board games   
By Emily Hamann The Bellingham Business Journal If you read comics, some of your favorites may have been published right here in Bellingham. Space Goat Productions works with major companies like DC Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics to publish comic books, graphic novels and, now, board games. They’ve published comic book adaptations for major titles [...]

          Geek Shock 75 – Turn Off The Goram Dark, Already!   
It’s a sad day in geekdom as we mourn the loss of two Hollywood greats, plus some woman in Spain is gonna make us all rent the sun. But OnLive is is coming out we’ve all been anxiously awaiting it, right? …right? Before a Duran gets your solar money we stuff you mind full of […]
          MP3 At 3PM: Three For Silver   
Three For Silver has been described as “dark cabaret,” and “Down In The Cut” follows through on that idea. The song, which comes from the band’s September 1 release The Way We Burn, mixes metal-tough vocals with a late-night folk musical backbone to create something theatrical and certainly original. Check it out below. “Down In […]

          MP3 At 3PM: Nathan Oliver   
Nathan Oliver has just released the Head In The Sand EP, and we hope you’re not missing out. We submit for your approval “Sing Blue Silver,” a downtrodden rock song that begets quite the emotional apex in its slight darkness—like a warm, welcoming cut from Unknown Pleasures. Check it out below. “Sing Blue Silver” (download):

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          Done Your Homework Before Traveling   
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          An Evening Paddle on the Tonawanda   

Serenity can be found just steps from our back door.
Because it borders our property, we’ve paddled Tonawanda Creek more than any other local stream during the past three decades. While anytime we get the opportunity to paddle together is a good time, it’s during the fall months that we most enjoy being on the water. During the last half hour of daylight is an especially magical time, as day fades into night. It is then, as darkness slowly permeates our surroundings that the sounds of the nocturnal denizens penetrate the still of the evening – perhaps the trill of a Screech owl or the loud splash of a beaver sounding the alarm.

It's at about this time – on ultra clear nights - stars will start appearing overhead. There'll be one or two at first while there is yet a faint orange flow on the horizon, then, as the heavenly recesses become inky black, the night sky suddenly resembles a celestial display of diamonds scattered on black velvet. At such times I'm reminded of a passage from the Book of Psalms….”The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

"He leadeth me beside still waters....."
Whether paddling night or day on a slow-moving stream, this autumn has been nothing short of spectacular, and a great season for seeing first hand an awesome display of God’s Handiwork.

Until Next Time, 
Jim & Claudia







          Nonmetaphorical Snakes in the Grass    
A close-up of the 2nd largest Northern Water Snake I've ever seen.  
I had my first snake encounter as a youngster in the early fifties, before I ever entered kindergarten. Not knowing what a snake was at the time, I received my intro to reptiles courtesy of a Northern Water Snake along the shore of Little Tonawanda Creek. As a result I became fascinated with snakes for a number of years, and while that fascination has waned a great deal, a water snake never fails to arouse my curiosity. 

Last week I was able to relive that very same first experience.  What began as a nature outing with my grandsons in pursuit of frogs, dragonflies, grasshoppers, etc. turned into something else entirely when my youngest grandson yelled, “Snake!”.  We watched them intently for a time and then set off for more exploring.  

The following morning I decided to return to the same spot alone that we had been the day before, this time with camera in hand in the hopes that some picture taking opportunities would arise, and did they ever!   

This is the same snake, its crossband markings quite vivid, with
 alternating dark blotches stretching from its neck all along its back and sides. 
I had taken several photos when I happened to look down and received quite a surprise. Hardly more than a foot way was a second snake and although its head and tail are hidden, it was easily the largest Northern Water Snake I’ve ever seen. It is looped rather than coiled and as is the case with older water snakes, this one’s pattern has all but faded, giving it an all black or dark brown appearance.   
This is the sight that greeted me when I happened to glance down to my right. 

By now I’m both surprised and curious, and I was intent on locating the head of this jumbo water snake. While trying my utmost to keep my feet stationary and perfectly still, and in the process doing a good impersonation of a contortionist, I twisted and turned my torso trying to locate the head of the second snake in the tall grass. I managed to locate the head of the larger snake and, as you can see, there are no vivid markings, its blotched pattern has definitely faded with age. It is massive for its species.


The milky, opaque coating over the eye indicates the snake is getting ready to shed.  
I was puzzled.  Three mornings in a row both snakes were located in the same location well away from their preferred habitat. There was a pond to the north, maybe twenty yards away, and a small, sluggish stream, forty yards to the south. Judging by the size of these water snakes, their habitat provides a readily available menu, one that is vast and varied. Both locations have frogs, fish, crustaceans and other critters that water snakes readily feed on. But instead, both snakes had stayed away from obvious food sources and stayed put in the grassy meadow and always in very close proximity to one another.  

Could this be the reason for the "snakes in the grass"?
There is one possible explanation I can think of. Each year the meadow and its tall grasses serve as a nesting site for dozens of Bob ‘o Links (pictured above) and a few other songbirds that nest on the ground. I can’t help wondering if, come nesting season, this pair of large and aged Northern Water Snakes take up residence in the meadow – at least on a part time basis – in a quest for bird eggs – a reptilian delicacy.  

Until next time
Jim & Claudia

          The Much Maligned Snapping Turtle   
Cute & cuddly, he's not.
While a good many of nature’s creatures have their share of admirers, there are those which the general public, for the most part, hold in low esteem. But like all of God’s creatures, those same critters held in disdain by many, all have a role to play in the natural order.  The Snapping Turtle is one such creature.

The dark green moss covering this turtle's back
 is proof positive he's a sloooooooow moving fella.
His head is larger than a grown man’s fist, characteristics which speak to his longevity. And no, he isn’t much to look at, but he is important to the environment. In addition to dining on plant and animal matter, he is an aquatic scavenger, cleaning up decaying and rotting flesh from its watery environment. 

The claws of the Snapping Turtles come in handy when excavating a nest
 in gravel and hard ground where they like to deposit their eggs
The Snapping Turtle also has earned a bad rap for eating ducklings. While they do on occasion take unwary birds, to be fair, their own young offspring suffer a high mortality rate. Whereas the adults have few predators to contend with, mink, raccoons, opossum, fox, skunks and crows will readily unearth a Snapping Turtle nest and feast on the eggs.  Last weekend, while hiking atop one of the berms on Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area, we counted no less than a dozen or more nests that had been unearthed, all within a half-mile stretch.  The threat doesn’t end there for the young. Hatchlings are subject to the same predators in addition to herons, bitterns, hawks, owls and fishers just to name a few.      

This turtle uses every inch of his long neck while scanning his surroundings. 
Longer than most people realize, the turtle's neck is also heavily muscled and quick as lightning, able to strike in the blink of an eye. He’s an excellent swimmer and while he may move slowly along the ground. many a would-be Good Samaritan attempting to “help” one across the road has learned the hard way just how fast and how far back they can extend their neck.

Lastly, the Snapping Turtle has no choice but to tough out our long northern winter. It was once believed that all Snapping turtles go into a semi-hibernation called torpor, buried in a layer of mud and silt. While some indeed do spend the winter beneath a layer of muck, telemetric studies have shown some specimens fitted with transmitters to be active beneath the ice – nowhere near as active as in the warmer months, but barely moving about and using minimal oxygen.

For sure the Snapping Turtle is frowned upon by many, yet he has been on the scene since time immemorial and he has endured. He is a touch customer a verse from the Good Book comes to mind.  

Job: 41:1 “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?”

Until next time,
Jim & Claudia 



          A Strange Visitor From Afar   

The Horned Grebe is a rather unique creature. For the most part, they breed on freshwater lakes and marshes from Canada’s Prairie Provinces northwest to Alaska and, come fall, nearly the entire population moves to the coast. They migrate nocturnally and after reaching their wintering grounds, they seldom fly.  So it was more than a bit of a surprise and a real treat to find a Horned Grebe cavorting and diving for small fish in our flooded backyard after the Tonawanda Creek spilled its banks a couple of winters ago

There are numerous species of grebes but the Horned Grebe is thought to be tamer than the rest, allowing a closer approach by humans. This fellow didn’t seem to mind our presence one bit, allowing Claudia to take a number of photos while he swam about non-stop, diving at random and, after having stayed submerged for several seconds, would pop up like a cork. More often than not it was successful in finding small fish in the murky floodwater.


"I'm watching you, watching me,"

As seen in this photo, the Horned Grebe’s deep-red eyes are connected to its bill by a thin line and may play a role in locating prey in dark and dingy water. They are excellent swimmers and the young are able to swim immediately after hatching but mostly they hitch a ride on their mother’s back. 

Down the hatch!

By tilting its head slightly, the Horned Grebe allows its finned prey to easily slide down its gullet. More at home on the water, they feed mainly on fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects.  Unlike ducks which are content to sit motionless if undisturbed, the Horned Grebe is perpetual motion, constantly on the move when on the water.  



Still sporting its winter plumage, the “horns” for which this species derives its name are actually tufts of feathers located behind and slightly above its eyes. The russet-colored “horns” will become much more prominent during breeding season at which time the Horned Grebe’s neck will become rufous (reddish-brown) and the plumage along its back will darken considerably.

The solitary bird spent the better part of that weekend with us. We first spotted him around noon on a Saturday and for the entire time – during daylight hours anyway - he was constantly on the move, alternately swimming and diving for food. He must have been fueling up for the next leg of his journey as he was gone by first light on Monday morning.  

Until Next Time,
Jim & Claudia


          Comment on Martha’s Transformation by Ja'Nicqua Johnson   
Apologies my mom recently got out of the hospital on Tuesday, today is sunday and yesterday we kinda had a larfe disagreeance now everything is akward in the home... Sumtimes i feel like she doesnt see what she does the little faces and uneccessary comments and responses. I went to be in tears and frustration because i know God tells us to be slow to anger but when a person is angry or bothered by whatever it is big or small... Why is that belittled by people? There reason is there reason it doesnt mean u have to agree it could be minimal to you but big to them? In my room in the dark on my bed i felt like everything i expressed was non on void like your just mad over nothing and ur allowing the enemy to use you.. I felt like i had no where to go no one would understand what iam trying to say!!! In all my years of beileving in God i still beileve but im just really mad at not just what she said but her whole way of approaching it from beginning to end... Then i feel guilty because i know its my mom but shes a person just like iam ..am i not allowed to disagree or feel what i feel whether she thinks its necessary or not?? I dont feel im crazy i know what im feeling?? I need help... God Bless Martha for her dedication and sacrifice and the young Woman God used to Bring Martha out Of the Shadows!!!😊
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          Black Cat – episode 3   
“A cat in the dark” Pinky promises with artificial lolis! I’m there! In this episode, both Black Cat and Sven are after Eve, the blonde loli of mystery, but for different reasons. Sven uncovers Rins’s true identity, and then decides that Eve must be liberated for her own good once he learns that she is […]
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Shame.  I hang my head in SHAME, people!
I've not had a hot minute to sit down and say hello since....

Oh hell, last year.
it's been 5 months since I wrote last.  Here's some bacon. 

here's some smoky chipotle to cover the blogger's shame halo.

this one's just cute.
So so so much to report, Turtle Faithful!  First, let's go back to LAST YEAR's last post, which talked about our new location in Salem MA.  318 Derby St, people!  It's the prettiest shop we've had in Salem to date. Just lovely. The neighborhood has been so warm and supportive, and Amy, Brandy and Kathleen have been loving the new space.  A complete lemons-to-lemonade story, as far as I'm concerned.  Huzzah!
We had a great holiday season in both shops, then a great Valentine's Day, as well.  One of the reasons Valentine's Day was so fab (despite its being on a Tuesday) was that the Phantom Gourmet filmed an excellent piece on us.  Couldn't have been nicer to work with, and the timing of the release was beyond perfect.  Watch it here: 

In that same week (more great timing, and lovely people to work with), our caramel apples got the spotlight on InsiderFood, here:

SO:  we had a crazy amount of really wonderful publicity, and have gotten to see a ton of new faces as a result, not to mention all of our loyal customers who have made us what we are today. We are lucky dogs!
In chocolate news, we've stretched our truffle wings a little this winter, and added a couple of new flavors:
Sharing is optional, and not necessarily recommended.
One of our turtle worker bees, Natalia, (and her husband) love to travel.  She often brings me back treats.  Last summer she brought me back a most divine pink grapefruit truffle, which haunted me for months.  I had to figure it out, as I didn't expect to be heading that way with the holidays approaching, and I wanted more.  I couldn't be more pleased with the final product (if I do say myself):  a true balancing act of tart, sweet, deep, dark, delicious.  Feeling pretty proud of that baby.
We also made a beautiful milk chocolate wild fruit ganache truffle.  I'm not always a milk chocolate-with-fruit type of gal, but I have to say, it's damn good.

Of course, March is here, so the Stout Truffle is here too.  Grab them while the grabbin's good, people.

See?  I've been a busy bee. Too busy to write until just this moment.  And actually, it was great to get back to the ole keyboard.  It's really something to put it all down and see how much has actually gone on in the past few months!

Next up?  Easter!  Stay tuned for bunny updates!  xxx




          Hippity Hoppity and Shake that Shillelagh, Turtle Babies!   
The light is changing.  The sun feels kinda warm sometimes in the afternoon.  There's an unspecified optimism emanating from our customers, despite the chill.

Spring.  So close!

It's crazy how much these little things mean by the time March rolls around.  This year, Easter is early, so March has a little more oomph to it here at the ole chocolate factory.  But Easter isn't just it: St. Patrick's Day, too, is right around the corner -- this means only one thing to our fans:

STOUT TRUFFLES!

 No really, folks --

They ARE all that.  And more.  So much more.  Super silky, deep and dark, the stout is right in front, nothing subtle about these babies.

Just how we like it.  We make them for the month, and then we make then a little longer, if folks ask.

They ask.

We've been making these for about a decade or so.  One of my first forays into breaking out of the tried and true truffle combos.  It took just a couple of batches before they were perfect.  I'm really proud of these -- and tooting my own horn is a rare thing.  These guys are close to my heart, and that's saying something (my Scottish grandmother is positively rolling in her grave reading this).

Back to Easter!

I love this holiday because the most imaginative, fun, and whimsical molds are made in it's honor. We've got some great ones this year, and the astronaut bunny is among my favorites.  That's not to leave out the boater bunnies, peep baskets, edible eggs and baskets, the Dapper Bunny, the Jelly Belly bunny, and the ever popular Bunny Boxes.  Our last little bunny is hands down the crowd pleaser of the season:

               And that's just some of the things we offer.  So many options.

Happy Spring, Happy St. Patrick's Day, Happy Easter, and everything in between!

Me?  I'm celebrating the light.  The crocuses emerging from the ground.  The fact that I get to be surrounded by this sweetness every day.  I'll take unspecified optimism, any day, from any source.       Winter?  Can't say I'm sorry to see you leave.  Onward ho!
          Happy New Year. Better late than never!   
Woah, it's been a little while since I was tapping away at the keyboard, giving y'all the latest blow by blow of life as a uke totin' chocolatier...

It was a crazy successful, crazy good December for us in the Alley. After a restorative week off, we're back to it. It's quiet in January, but we have so much to do in terms of preparing for Valentine's Day, it's sort of nice.

I'm not a sap, really, but there's something about Valentine's Day that cheers me. This time of year on the East Coast is dreary, dark, and gray.  A lot of the time.  I find myself welcoming the bright colors and textures of each year's Valentine's designs greedily, enraptured by the sheer over-the topness of it all.

That's just a taste, folks!  There are so many more!


Okay, maybe I am a bit of a sap.  You can't be in this business for 24 years without that happening, apparently.

To add to the February fun, our sister shop in Salem is part of the Salem's So Sweet Festival, participating in the Chocolate and Wine tasting event on the evening of the 5th.  Amy and Brandy will be representing there with some of our tastiest bits. Such a fun night!

Valentine's Day is very different from other holiday seasons; the crush is intense for about 4 days. The 10 days prior are busier than normal, sure, but the sheer volume of folks we have coming through the door is really something to be seen.  It's always a bit of a gamble, too -- the things that really sell (truffles, cherries), we have to just make as much as we can and hope stocks hold up until the 15th. Thankfully, we have a really wonderful, loyal fan base; more often than not, if we're out of something, we can point them to something else they'd like.  Of course, the goal is to not run out, but...

In the past we've had some  great write ups right around Valentine's Day, which always helps.  This year, we'll be in a sweet little spot on the news on channel 7 (NBC) throughout the day on the 5th, so that's exciting.  In the spot I show you how to temper chocolate so you can make Valentines at home, just like in my book, Turtle, Truffle, Bark!  Go ahead.  Try your hand at it.  Even a failure can be pretty delicious, and you know we are always here to make your favorites.

Always -- except that first week of January, that is.












          October, Witch City, & the Neverending Story of the Caramel Apple Forest   
and so it begins...
It's not quite a month since my last dispatch, but man oh man, has it been a busy not-quite-a-month. First, let's just get this out there:  we have a sister shop in Salem Ma.  It's October.  I'm delirious.

Sorted!

This month has been really fun, exciting, and intense.  I've been able to do my favorite thing, making candy, but also have had the opportunity to do some other things, mostly around my book .  On the 10th, I did a chocolate making demo and book signing at Williams Sonoma  in R.I. (my home state).  It's a beautiful shop, and I had a really lovely crowd there.  Probably the best part about the whole thing was I got to troubleshoot a truffle recipe an attendee was having difficulty with.  When I was able to explain what the problem was, I swear, I actually saw a light bulb go off over her head.  It felt really good to connect in that way over one of my favorite subjects.  Also, we sold some books, which was excellent.

A couple of days later, I did an interview on local TV (here in Gloucester).  The show "Writer's Block" has been hosted by John Ronan for 26 years.  John's an old friend of my husband's, and a lovely fella.  We had a great time talking about the book and such.  It was a bit surreal to be introduced as an author -- I'm still getting used to that.  The actual show will air December 17th; I hope it looks as fun as it actually was.

In October, with the Salem shop in full swing, the shop here in Gloucester really starts to feel like a factory:  constant production, long hours, many hands making the work flow smoothly.  For me, it's about heading into work in the dark, and leaving work in the dark, too -- and that's fine.  Making hay is hard work.

I'm pretty proud of the caramel recipe I've been tweaking over the years.  It is exactly the caramel I always want to eat.  Probably about 8 years ago, our longest running manager in the Salem shop, Jennie the Boots, basically nagged me into adding caramel apples to our repertoire.  It was a truly brilliant idea. It is crazy how many of those babies we sell.  Right now, I feel like pretty much all I'm doing is cooking caramel and dipping apples into it.

Dark out.  
Also dark out.
This is actually really cool.  Early in the morning (when I can hear myself think), I sometimes take a second to think of just how many people have enjoyed our apples, turtles; all of the stuff we make here with our own hands.  Somehow it makes it not seem so dark out.

I'm going to sign off now, there's a batch of caramel on the stove that will not be ignored.  Before I do, I'm going to take a second and think about all the people at Turtle Alley that make the work so much fun, and make my days so much easier.  Graham, LeRoy, Amy, Kathleen, Hannah, Brandy, Bree, Julian, Fiona, Natalia, and Zoe:  thank you.   I couldn't do it without you, and wouldn't want to!















          Summer See Ya   
Oh, Summer, must you leave so soon?!

Even though Labor Day is late this year, summer is slinking off before our very eyes.  Our student employees are getting ready to go back to school, the light is changing, thoughts turn to fall flavors.


Cider Caramels, hooray!
I had some really good luck with a new recipe for wrapped cider caramels, so that's exciting, and a nice change from pumpkin spice everything that we see come September.  I for one, have always loved autumn the best, but after last year's winter, the summer has been too sweet to let go of quite yet.

Let's cling to the last week of summer with a guilty pleasure recipe, shall we?  We're dipping into my recipe book, Turtle, Truffle, Bark!  for this one, so keep in mind, the recipe for tempering chocolate can be found in Master Recipe One.


                                   


 Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bark

Can you say guilty pleasure?!


 Layer upon layer of childhood memories and guilty pleasures here!  Milk chocolate pairs with peanut butter in a most irresistible way, without a doubt.  If you're a dark chocolate purist, go right ahead.  To  my palate, though, the sweetness of milk chocolate and the saltiness of the peanut butter really complement each other well.  To really send this over the top, I stir in puffed rice cereal into the bark and then sprinkle with salt.  You can make this without the rice cereal, but why would you want to do that?                                                                                                                                     

What You'll Need:

1 sheet parchment paper
1/2 cup scoop of peanut butter
2 lbs. tempered milk chocolate
1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
2 pinches large flake salt
offset spatula, or a silicon spatula
chef's knife

Lay out the parchment paper.

Stir peanut butter into the tempered chocolate, incorporating fully, then fold in puffed rice cereal.

Pour chocolate mixture on the center of the parchment paper.

With your spatula, spread the chocolate out on the parchment.  Keep the thickness uniform (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick).

Using your hand (a vinyl glove is nice on that hand!), drag your fingers through the chocolate to evenly distribute the cereal.  Sprinkle salt lightly across the top of the bark (Go easy -- a little goes a long way.)

When it's just set, but not wet looking, cut the bark with a chef's knife.  Start the cut with the tip of the knife and rock the rest of the blade into the bark.  Remove from the chocolate and continue.  If there's too much chocolate buildup on your  knife, wash it off, rinsing with cold water.  Make sure the knife is completely dry before cutting into the chocolate again.

Best scarfed up within 2 weeks of storage in an airtight container.

Here's to the rest of summer!!

PS:  favorite chocolate right now:  dark mocha truffle

PPS: currently butchering NOTHING on the uke.  Too busy!
















          Hearty hellos and here goes!   
Sooo serious, this chocolate stuff.
Hallie Baker here, from Turtle Alley Chocolates, my own personal haven, and your own personal pit-stop for all things sweet.  This is the place where I get to write about the things I'm elbow deep in, whether it's a new recipe, a flavor I can't get enough of, the latest song I'm butchering on my uke, chocolate tips, recipes, just whatever the hell I'm excited about -- on the sweet side.
Such freedom! Such overwhelming freedom!

Yikes.  

About half my life I've been messing around with chocolate.  In 1999, I opened up my first shop in Gloucester, MA.  A few years later, a second shop in Salem, MA.  We've had a  lot of luck with great reviews, and extremely loyal and devoted fans.  In the past year, everything culminated in the chance to write and publish Turtle, Truffle, Bark! -- which was way more fun than I could have anticipated.

It's a lucky life I lead.
It's true.  All those words came out of MY HEAD.

As the business has grown, our Turtle Crew has expanded (in a most excellent way, I might add), leaving me more time to play with flavors and test out new recipes, which is my favorite thing. Because I really am a lucky so-and-so.

So welcome to the blog, welcome to my world, hold on to your hats, and enjoy the ride!


Papaya coconut caramel.  Genius!  
PS.  favorite chocolate right now:  dark chocolate papaya coconut caramel.

PPS. currently butchering "Girl Talk" on uke.

PPPS.  favorite smell on a scooter ride is beach roses on the back shore.

Over and out, good buddies!


          The Warriors   
THE violent, dark Walter Hill picture The Warriors has become something of a cult favourite owing to its timely subject matter – inner city gangs – and its notorious reputation.
          Comment on On Sleep Quality and a Persistent Sense of Fatigue by Ray Ebersole   
Michael, while I'm not the sleep guru here is what I find works. As a parent of 3 I've been through your situation, but you have to adapt to each child differently. 1. You need to nap when Addy naps. 2. Set a sleep schedule for your actual bed sleep. 3. Set a work schedule and stick to it. 4. When not within the work schedule you are not allowed to think about work. If you are with the family, then it's family time. If you have work intrude then write it down and move on. This family time is important to proper sleep. 5. Before bed remove yourself to a quite place for 5 minutes. If you have a favorite white noise play it. Dean Everson does great white noise. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and take slow, long breaths. Just think about the breath and with each one relax the body a little more. No thinking about ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT THE BREATHING. 6. Go to bed in a dark room, put that phone in Do Not Disturb mode. 7. This item will sound weird, I know it works. In your mind envision 100's, even 1000's if little masseuse's working in ever tired muscle, relaxing it. That includes your brain. You will see how well this works after a few days. You will fall asleep faster each night and your little massage helpers will have you feeling refreshed when you wake up. If you practice that for a few weeks you will get in the habit. It will make you feel less tired.
          Tuggo Mini Ball - 7 Inch (ca. 17 cm) - von Tigern getestet! Glow in the Dark   
32,99 EUR
Der Mini Tuggo Ball ist die neue Herausforderung f?r alle energischen und starken Hunde. Getestet von Tigern ist der Tuggo Ball absolut robust und bietet einen tollen Spielspa? f?r einen oder auch mehrere Hunde. Der Ball ist mit einem verschlie?baren Deckel best?ckt, durch das Sie ihn mit Wasser oder Sand auf ein Gewicht von bis zu 2,27 kg auff?llen k?nnen. So entstehen ganz neue Spiel- und Trainingsm?glichkeiten. Durch das Seil ist der Ball leicht zu fassen und eignet sich so auch perfekt f?r Zerrspiele, egal ob Mensch und Hund oder mehrere Hunde beteiligt sind. Sollte das Seil irgendwann ausgedient haben, l?sst es sich ganz einfach durch ein neues Seil ersetzen. Die passenden Ersatzseile sind separat erh?ltlich.Durchmesser: 7 Inch (ca. 17 cm) Farbe: Glow in the Dark (leuchtet im Dunkeln)

          We Saw a Vision   

On this day, September 18th, in 1914, the Government of Ireland Act had reached the statute books in Westminster. This act was set to give Ireland Home Rule; something that the Irish politicians and the Irish people had been aiming towards for decades. But, as is natural in Irish history, bad luck has to mock the wishes of the downtrodden Irish (as if Father Time and Mother Éire had had a very difficult divorce. This probably originated in the early Middle Ages when Ireland refused to experience the Dark Ages. )

World War I shook the Home Rule Bill off the table in Westminster. And it would only be back on the table after the conflict had ended.

“Hmmm, lunchtime, maybe? If not, then surely by Christmas?”

Eh, no.

And so, frustrated by this, the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) met to decide the fate of Irish republicanism. The Easter Rising was the ultimate result of this meeting. In commemoration of the importance of the site (north Parnell Square), the Garden of Remembrance was opened in 1916, on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. 

For those who gave their lives in the fight for Irish freedom…




Incidentally, also on this day, in 1922, another bill rose to attention. This was the Constitution of Saorstát Éireann Bill, which W. T. Cosgrave (the first Taoiseach/Prime Minister/President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State) introduced to enable the implementation of the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland.

And its successor is still on the table.

In Dublin, not Westminster.  

          ‘… a grey eye will look back’   

I picked up Human Chain today. It's a book of poetry written by Séamus Heaney. I picked it from my bookshelf where it had been sitting for a few months. I'm not a big reader.

Though I do enjoy poetry. Once in a while. It enriches words again and, in doing so, enriches and clarifies the passing of time. Poetry is well-thought meaning-rich words. Talk is cheap these days. It's always been. Though, it seems to be getting cheaper with every advertisement, and every figure who has said too much.

Here's one of his poems from 'Human Chain' to reinvest the meanings to words that are, like nearly everything in this financially-vacuous state, in need of reinvestment:


‘Colum Cille Cecinit’
1. Is scíth mo chrob ón scríbainn
My hand is cramped from penwork.
My quill has a tapered point.
It's bird-mouth issues a blue-dark
Beetle-sparkle of ink.

Wisdom keeps welling in streams
From my fine-drawn sallow hand:
Riverrun on the vellum
Of ink from green-skinned holly.

My small runny pen keeps going
Through books, through thick and thin,
To enrich the scholars' holdings -
Penwork that cramps my hand.

II. Is aire charaim Doire
Derry I cherish ever.
It is calm, it is clear.
Crowds of White angels on their rounds
At every corner.

III. Fil súil nglais
Towards Ireland a grey eye
Will look back but see
Ever again
The men of Ireland or her women.

11th-12th century


          The Croppies Acre   

Primordial have released a new album. Actually, it’s been out for quite a while now. Upon initial listen, it doesn’t sound like their best work. But then I recall how it took me no less than a year of occasionally listening to Primordial before I realised how brilliant the band is.

This new album is called ‘Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand’. Now, for those of you who are familiar with Irish history you will at once be reminded, upon reading ‘puritan’, of that darkest of figures in Irish history, Oliver Cromwell. Obviously, the title imbues the notions of redemption from someone closer to God and His will, and of death at someone’s hand. As is Primordial’s style, they have never mentioned the English outright and, rather, prefer to simply allude to them. Hence, their songs are metaphorical, sometimes ironical, and often include very rich imagery and intense emotive expressions, which all make their songs, for all intents and purposes, poems (you rarely say that about any genre of music, let along metal).

The first song ‘No Grave is Deep Enough’ has the chorus ‘O death! Where are you teeth? That gnaw the bones of fabled men. O Death! Where are you claws? That haul me from the grave.’ and ends with a great lyric: ‘Rise, my brothers, rise from your graves. No grave is deep enough to keep us enchained.’ I just had the thought that this could so easily refer to the Croppies’ Acre.

Croppies’ Acre is an enclosure situated in front of Collins Barracks in Dublin city centre. It was in this small patch of ground where hundreds, some say over one thousand, of Irish men were buried in one mass grave after the 1798 rebellion. They were mercilessly tortured, marched out to their soon-to-be graves in heavy chains, before being executed for ‘being’ rebels. Then, their corpses were thrown into a mass grave. Made an example of by the British authorities, buried in unconsecrated ground, their memory erased, forgotten about by not only the British but also the Irish themselves, the souls buried underneath that patch of grass are still very angry. I’ve been told by psychics that many of those souls have not yet passed on into the next world. Such was the injustice served to them that they can only but wait for those wrongs to be righted, or avenged.

I, as well as many others, remember them. We have not forgotten. I believe they know this. And I hope they also know that no grave is deep enough to keep them enchained.


          Stunning Teen Brunette Met Stepfathers Dark Side   
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          body like a back road, driving with my eyes closed, I know every curve like the back of my hand; Carter Baldwin   

body like a back road, driving with my eyes closed, I know every curve like the back of my hand; Carter Baldwin

body like a back road, driving with my eyes closed, I know every curve like the back of my hand; Carter Baldwin by ravenwood on Polyvore.com

Carter Baldwin is New York City's mysterious, perfect, golden boy. He's perfect in everything, and he even has the 'All-American' look down. He has dirty blonde to light blonde, moderately sized hair that is almost always styled up. He has piercing, light blue eyes, and extremely tan skin from is summers in the Hamptons. He has a muscular build, that's lean, and not too buff, but he is defined in all the right places, due to his love for biking around the city and soccer. He currently attends Columbia Univeristy, and is a major in buisness and entrepreneurship. He is heir to the Baldwin Factories throne- as his parents run one of the most leading oil companies in the country. Carter is kind of forced into the company, as his parents tend to force him to do as they say. And if not... well, he ends up bruised and bloody, all thanks to his father. Carter enjoys music- all types of music, from rap to EDM to pop, as long as it gets him distracted and thinking. He has a few friends, and one best friend, Sam, who he has known since he was 6. Carter is in his second year of college, trying to make it through alive, and without any distractions. But, no one knows where Carter goes in his free time. everyone think's he's so innocent and perfect, yet no one really knows the dark sides to Carter. He doesn't really spend time with girls, as he is aways drawing, playing soccer, or studying. However, all of that might change one day. **** pm me if you'd like to roleplay! :) @txstrawberry @gypsyoccult @amy1239 @amyburns567 @hayley-177 @fiohelston @natasha-maree13 @pitchslapped @slothwithablog @teenage-rxjxct @this-is-reighn @questing-witch @muggle-worthy


          broken love; a demigod roleplay: chapter one   

broken love; a demigod roleplay: chapter one

broken love; a demigod roleplay: chapter one by ravenwood on Polyvore.com

So @txstrawberry and I have been working on something special- a demigod roleplay story of our two characters, Ashton and Evangeline. Nothing is finalized and it's still ongoing, but I thought I'd post a full first chapter on here before... I hope you guys like it! :) comment down below what you think:) **** Evangeline Stratou just walked through the gates of her first ever demigod camp. It was a whole new experience for her, seeing as she rarely ever left home. She looked around, seeing kids with all different types of abilities practicing their talents. Sword fighting, archery, gymnastics, horseback riding, you name it. It looked like an ordinary camp, but she knew it wasn't. She noticed that her messenger bag was wiggling around, so she held it closer to her body. She may have snuck in her feline companion. What? She needed something to remind her of home. As she continued walking and looking around at the camp, she collided with someone and catapulted backwards onto the soil. "Ouch," she groaned, turning invisible on impact with the ground. She couldn't help it, it was an instinct. "Watch where you're-" she paused, looking up to see whom she collided with. Her soft green eyes widened slightly, the guy was drop dead gorgeous. "Wow," she breathed softly. She slowly reappeared, and pushed herself up, after taking a quick peek into her bag to make sure the animal was alright. "Sorry about that," she looked up at the boy again, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. **** Ashton had been walking through the camp, preparing himself for his next training session. As a child of Ares, fighting and war skills were some things he just had to master. He had been pushing his way through camp, analyzing every camper as they gave him either startled, mesmerized, and terrified looks. He couldn't quite figure out what happened when he felt something small, yet curvy collide into him. He looked around for whatever he bumped into, but he didn't see anything. He shook his head a little, and came to contact with the most stunning pair of green eyes he had ever seen. They glistened with anticipation. The girl had a petite yet curvy figure, as he imagined, with the most luscious brown hair. "Watch where you're- oh I'm sorry, I..u-uh... new..." the girl hesitated while speaking in a soft voice. Ashton rolled his eyes. "Fine. Don't talk to me," he snapped, a darkness clouding his once bright grey eyes. He pushed around her, and headed to the arena to train. That was strange, he thought. **** Evangeline Raised her eyebrows when the boy pushed past her, and headed straight toward the area. "Rude.." she muttered out. She dusted off her jeans and continued walking, trying to find her way around the camp. She was completely lost, but some friendly faces helped her out. Eventually, she ended up in her cabin. It was weird, she thought, how they suited it to her every need. It was a nice room, with black walks and black hardwood floors, decorated with soft, gray furnishings. It even had a cat stand in the corner, which made her even more suspicious of the camp. Evangeline shrugged it off, and set her things down on one of the bunks, letting her cat crawl out of the bag. It meowed up at her, rubbing against her hand, before it jumped down and began to explore. She smiled and went back out onto the porch, looking around with a soft sigh. So this is where I'm going to spend the summer, huh? She thought to herself. She gazed around, and spotted that boy she'd bumped into before. He was leaving the area, glistening with sweat. She wanted to go say hi, but judging by the gloomy look on his face, she figured that he didn't want to be bothered much. **** Ashton had a rough night in the arena. Chiron decided to put him up to a huge challenge, one even the great Percy Jackson could only defeat after his teenage years. Ash had finished the monster at age sixteen. He walked out of the arena, sweat glistening his tanned complexion, causing his t-shirt to stick to his body. One could easily see his defined six-pack with the now see-through white shirt he had been wearing. The rich smell of Old Spice deodorant radiated off of him as his walked back to his cabin in the setting of the sun. He noticed the Aphrodite girls giving him a lustful look, and the girls from all the other cabins giving him either a 'damn,' look, or a 'go away,' look. Everyone was the same though. They all wanted to use him for something. Sighing, he heading down to the dining hall for his dinner, ready to start a new day. As he sat at the end of his table, alone, expecting himself to be alone for the next few hours, but his hopes were crushed when he looked up to see a familiar pair of sparkling green eyes. **** Evangeline watched as the boy walked to the dining hall and sat down at the table all by himself. She felt bad for the boy, and couldn't help but wonder why nobody wanted to sit beside him. Well, after their previous interaction, she had an idea. She hopped down the steps of her cabin and walked over to the dining hall. She cleared her throat when she stood in front of him, holding her hands behind her back. "Uh, hi.." she began, her eyes sparkling as she looked down into the boys clear gray ones. "Do you mind, um, if I sit here?" She asked. She didn't really wait for an answer before she sat down. She noticed that the boy glared at her, but she didn't take it to heart. "You could have just said no, you know." She shrugged her shoulders. Ashton rolled his eyes. "I was trying to say no," he grumbled angrily. Evangeline just shrugged. "Well, you didn't say anything, so..." she bit the inside of her lip, the boy rolling his eyes in utter annoyance. **** Ashton was completely and utterly confused. Why is this girl trying to be his friend? No one ever tried to talk to him. So why start now? He rolled her eyes at her persistence, and soon after, became annoyed at her ability to keep talking and talking and talking. Ashton didn't pay any attention to the green eyed girl, as he continued poking and prodding at his dinner. "Are you even listening?" She had asked. "No." He snapped. She smiled to herself, "You just listened to me! Yes! My name is Evangeline." Ashton couldn't care less. "Ashton. Don't call me Ash. What do you even want anyways?" He nonchalantly spoke, as if he rehearsed this many times. His grey eyes pierced through her gaze, as he leaned in closer to her, heat radiating of his skin, and a alluring smell of him filling the air. He smirked. Ashton liked how her cheeks flushed and she looked down at their proximity. Playing with people was absolutely the most entertaining thing to do. **** Evangeline smiled and talked about her trip to the camp, and how she had managed to snuck a cat in. Halfway through her story, though, she noticed that the boy really didn't seem to be listening. She frowned, looking over at him as he poked at his food. "Are you even listening?" She asked him, a pout still on her lips. "No." He snapped, clearly annoyed with her. But, that made Evangeline smile. "You just listened to me! Yes! My name is Evangeline." She giggled, holding out her hand across the table. Ashton just ignored, it of course, and with a roll of her eyes she pulled her hand back. "Okay then," she sighed. "Ashton. Don't call me Ash. What do you even want anyways?" He nonchalantly spoke, as if he rehearsed this many times. His grey eyes pierced through her gaze, as he leaned in closer to her, heat radiating of his skin, and a alluring smell of him filling the air. He smirked. Ashton, she thought to herself with a smile. It was a really nice name, she liked it. It suited him. "Well, Ash," she began "I just wanted too.." she trailed off, her cheeks flushing when he leaned in closer to her. What in the world.. it seemed as if though his eyes just pierced right into her sole, and he could see all of her deepest and darkest secrets. "U-Um.." she stuttered shyly, quickly dropping her gaze to her pale fingers. It made her feel slightly uncomfortable, being that close to Ashton, but at the same time it was nice. He smelt good, and he was gorgeous, and they were so, so close.. she could just lean in and... she shook her head a little, clearing her thoughts. No. All he would do is break her heart, and that was the last thing she wanted. Evangeline swallowed and slowly looked back up at Ashton, continuing her sentence from before. "I just wanted to try and make a friend, that's all." She murmured, her cheeks still tinged red. **** Ashton thought the girl's blush was cute- which was weird for him, because he never thought anyone was cute, or had the ability to be cute. He shook himself out of his thoughts, and slowly inched away, back to a normal distance. "Well, I'll see you later, Ash," she called out, walking to throw away her trash, and back to her cabin. Hadn't he told her not to call him that? He rolled his eyes, once again. He hadn't been more confused in his entire life. Little did he know that he would be seeing her later. After taking off his shirt, and putting on a pair of basketball shorts, he had bundled himself up, ready for sleep. He crashed after a few seconds, before letting his demigod dreams take place. The dream was a memory. The first time he had ever stood up to his bullies. Ashton flinched at the thought. He saw himself cursing and punching the kids in the corner. He watched himself tie them up and scream what he felt. He watched himself beat each and every one of them to a pulp- the skin of his knuckles tearing and the blood streaming down his arms. He watched the sirens of the police fill the air, and the panic fill his void. He wanted to kill them. To kill.... Ashton bolted out of his sheets. He ripped them off, and snuck it of the cabin. He didn't know where he was going, but he soon found himself in front of the Selene cabin. He barged open the door, only to see the green eyed girl he had seen before. He made contact with her startled eyes first. Then, he saw the blush form on her cheeks. At first, he thought it was because she was surprised. He then he looked at what she was wearing. A tight little tank top with nothing underneath, easily showing off her cleavage in a alluring matter. Her shorts that were too short- they shouldn't even be called shorts. They curved around her rear in a perfect manner, outlining her body in a form he hadn't seen before. Her hair was messy and let down, framing her face in another way he hadn't noticed before. Ashton wanted to hold her. He wanted her. ****


          ashton khatri: son of ares; demigod   

ashton khatri: son of ares; demigod

ashton khatri: son of ares; demigod by ravenwood on Polyvore.com

pm me if you maybe want to roleplay with this character! :) Full Name: Ashton Khatri Life: Ashton is born into a family with a single mom due to his godly father. His mom is the only person he lets in- he doesn't not allow himself to get close with anyone, or to even have friends, especially after eight years of bullying. He worked hard to get the the image he now has. He has North Indian heritage in him, coming from his mother. He is usually cold and rude towards people. Visual: Around 6'1" with dark brown hair, which sometimes looks black, and is usually styled into a quiff. He has piercing grey eyes, and a naturally tan, light brown complexion, with an athletic and defined build. Weapon of Choice: Knives or Daggers. Ash can throw a bullseye without even looking at the target. Likes: Music, heat, fire, knives, his graffiti art, the galaxy/space, the color red, girls, and smoking. Dislikes: Fake people, happy people, bright colors, drowning, not being good enough, disappointing his mom, and the fact that he is too cold towards everyone, but can't help it. Secrets: Ashton almost killed the people who bullied him when he finally fought back, he is scared of being lonely forever, and can get extremely violent at times, not being able to control his anger. @fiohelston @gypsyoccult @hayley-177 @teenage-rxjxct @jiminslefteyebrow @txstrawberry


          Round One: Summer Vacation: Alaska Ryde   

Round One: Summer Vacation: Alaska Ryde

Round One: Summer Vacation: Alaska Ryde by ravenwood on Polyvore.com

Summer Vacation // Round 01 The Set (x) 2+ pictures of your OC (x) Your OC’s house crest- wampus (x) Your OC’s name somewhere in the set- Alaska Ryde (x) A landscape theme regarding what your OC did during their vacation- yacht/ocean (x) a magazine/newspaper filler (x) One thing that is your OC’s most prized possession - Arctic Monkeys CD she used to listen to with her mom 30//30 The Description (x) Your OC’s name Alaska Ryde (x) Your OC’s house Wampus (x) What year is your OC in? Seventh (x) What did you do in your summer vacation? This must be over two paragraphs Alaska has had enough of her father, so she decides to leave her flat in LA, and spend her summer with her best friend, Dylan, on a yacht to Italy and back. Over the week she had on the yacht, she discovered that she had feelings for Dylan, but she knew she couldn't have him the way she wanted. She was going to turn into her father eventually, she thought. She was going to become a monster. They both explored the realms and secrets of Italy, having the best time of their lives, especially listening to the Arctic Monkey's, as they drove around in Dylan's jeep. Everything changes when Dylan tells her how he feels about her. So she denies everything, and they finally come to the agreement of friends with benefits. But slowly, this escalates to more. She can't hide her feelings any longer, and neither can Dylan. They both keep getting hurt, and they can't stand it. When Aly, otherwise known as Alaska, goes missing on a hike in one of the Italian mountains in Pompeii, Dylan realizes how much he needs her. Day after Day, Dylan's feelings slowly start to turn to stone as the search for Alaska has no change. But when she comes back with another man, he looses it all. He continues the vacation in Italy using his player ways, distracting himself and ignoring Alaska the whole time. Exploring on his own, learning on his own. Alaska and Dylan may never be that inseparable duo again. (x) Tag the mod: @natasha-maree13 (x) Use the hashtag: #ilvermorny2016 (x) Write a scene between 100 – 1000 words about an activity your OC did during your vacation. This could be a day at work or something your OC did whilst travelling. Use dialog Alaska went straight back home right after sixth year ended. She didn't say a word to her teachers or friends. Not even Dylan Hathaway, her best friend. She headed back to her flat in LA, only to see her father, her murderer of a father, making love to another woman. A blonde woman who wore too much make up and looked half his age. She could not stand the sight of her poor excuse of a dad. He was terrible to her. So she did the first thing that came to mind. She trashed the living room, took his credit cards and her bags, and bolted out of the house without even saying goodbye. Again. She did the first thing that came to mind. She called Dylan. "D-Dly... Dlyan..." She whispered, tears surfacing her eyes. However, she did not allow them to fall. Crying is for the weak. "Alaska! Aly! Where the hell were you? You just left without even saying anything! I was so worried! Thank god you called-" He frantically spoke. But then he cut himself off, knowing that something was wrong. "Alaska... what's wrong?" Dylan asked, concern lacing his deep voice. "H-He... was with another woman! He doesn't have feelings! He's probably going to break that poor woman too! He didn't even bother to acknowledge me!" She wept. "Oh, Alaska... I didn't know. Damnit, come over here, I'll help you. We're traveling on the yacht to Italy- yes, the no-maj form of transportation- for dad's business trip. I'm sure he wouldn't mind, because I definitely wouldn't mind. But when I get my hands on that poor excuse of a man who makes you feel like this, who hurts you, who killed his wife, he will pay. I'll make sure of it. He won't hurt you anymore, darling. I promise." Dylan spoke, spitting out the last few sentences. He was shaking with anger- his eyes darkening, as he thought of someone hurting his Alaska. "Okay, Dylan. There will be none of that, but I'll be over in a few. Thank you. You're the bestest best friend ever." She thanked, finally allowing herself to calm down. But, Alaska wanted to be more than just friends. She just new she didn't deserve someone as great as Dylan. 50//50 @natasha-maree13 Bonus (x) Include something with text that is not the magazine/newspaper filler (x) Include another OC that belongs to someone else in your story- Dylan Hathaway 10//10


          11 Weird Facts About The Simpsons That Will Make You Say 'Aye Caramba!'   

1. The Original Showrunner Thought It Wouldn't Last Past Season One

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The Simpsons is one of the longest running shows of all time, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it's the greatest television show ever made period. (If you disagree, I hate you...) Ironically, this might be due to the fact that the show's original showrunner, Sam Simon, didn't think that the show would make it past season one. When in the writer's room, Simon was said to tell his employees that their fledgling show would be "13 and out," meaning that the show probably wouldn't return after its initial order.  Though this way of thinking annoyed series creator Matt Groening, who view Simon as being a defeatist, Simon claims that he was actually just trying to make the best show he could. By making the writers believe the show had no future, it allowed them to focus on the sole goal of making 13 great episodes of television that they would be truly proud of. This arguably contributed to the show's quality which, in turn, contributed to the show's unfathomable popularity. Apparently, focusing on quality is a good way to make something that's actually good. Who woulda thunk it?

 

2. Marge's Hair Used To Hide Secrets...Incredibly Stupid Secrets...

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Matt Groening is responsible for some of the greatest television ever created. It's weird therefore that his instincts about his own properties are often....odd. Take for example the story behind Marge's iconic hairdo. It's pretty well known at this point, but it's worth noting because MATT GROENING ORIGINALLY WANTED TO REVEAL THAT MARGE WAS A FUCKING BUNNY RABBIT! Matt Groening came to prominence with the comic strip Life In Hell and it seems to have taken him a while to realize that once The Simpsons came along, nobody could give less of a shit about his stupid comic. As such, Groening wanted to reference the strip (which prominently featured rabbits) by having Marge take down her beehive and reveal a pair of bunny ears underneath. Sam Simon quickly shot down the idea because, well, he wasn't a psychopath, but there's an alternate universe  where the greatest show in history was ruined by the stupidest reveal conceivable.

 

 

3. There's A VERY Dirty Easter Egg In Apu's Alma Mater

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The Simpsons writers can cram so many jokes into a single frame that it would be impossible for a mere mortal to catch them all. This was the case with the episode Much Apu About Nothing. In it, Apu gives the story about how he came to be an illegal alien living in America. One of the thing he mentions is the fact that he studied at Springfield Heights Institute of Technology. It's a small moment, and one that you're probably not likely to take a second glance at...at least that was the case with censors who didn't notice that the initials for Apu's university spell out "SHIT." Is this the most clever thing The Simpsons has ever done? Not by a long shot. But it's always fun to see just how deep the show's humor can get.  

 

4. Manjula Appeared In A Flashback TWO SEASONS Before Her Actual Debut

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Speaking of Much Apu About Nothing, there's another fun easter egg in there. The episode predicted more than just America's rise towards jingoistic nationalism: It actually gave us our first glimpse at Majula two seasons before her proper debut. When Apu is telling his story about leaving India, he includes a part where he bids goodbye to a young girl and apologizes for not being able to marry her.  To people watching the show at the time, it seems like a small, mildly racist joke, but two seasons later the little girl returns as Apu's now adult, arranged wife, Manjula. Majula then goes on to be a fairly major character on the show, with several episodes revolving around her and Apu's relationship....none of those episodes are particularly good and she's arguably the most banal character in the entire series, but it's still a fun easter egg nonetheless.

 

5. Milhouse Is Named After History's Greatest Monsters

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Millhouse is an unfortunate little guy and as such, the writers wanted to give him "the most unfortunate name" they could think of. They settled on Millhouse after Richard Nixon's middle name. You may think that things couldn't get worse than being named after history's jowliest president but you'd be very wrong. The other parts of the character's name come from much darker people. For starters, his last name, Van Houten, comes from Leslie Van Houten. If you don't know, Leslie Van Houten was a murderer from the infamous Manson Family, and was the youngest woman to ever be sentenced to death in California. As if that weren't bad enough, later on in the show's run, it was revealed that Milhouse's middle name was "Mussolini." This is, of course, a reference to Benito Mussolini, who if you don't know who that is....well, let's just say he did some very bad things as well. This is all to say, poor Millhouse.

 

 

6. The Couch Gags Serve More Purpose Than You Realize

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One of the most iconic parts of The Simpsons is their couch gags which are different every episode...You know, except when they aren't. Fans of the earlier episodes might notice that there's one couch gag that's reused more than all others. It features the family in a circus setting and is noticeably longer than most other openers. Why is this the one that gets recycled, you ask? Well, let's just say that when you're creating something as jam packed and ingenious as The Simpsons it can be hard to reach the minimum required runtime. As such, they would often use the nebulous nature of the couch gag to pad out an episode, piping in elongated ones like the one at the circus as they needed. Basically, even the filler on The Simpsons is better than most other things on TV.

 

7. Dustin Hoffman Is Credited With A Very Funny Pseudonym

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One of the greatest guest stars in the history of The Simpsons  was Dustin Hoffman in the season 2 episode, "Lisa's Substitute." Strangely, despite it arguably being his most important role ever, Hoffman only agreed to do the episode if he was credited using a pseudonym. This being The Simpsons, they obviously used this as an opportunity for a joke, choosing to credit one of the greatest actors in history as "Sam Etic." If you don't get the joke, say it out loud. This name is an obvious reference to Hoffman's Jewish heritage, and possibly even his "Semitic good looks," that Lisa talks about during the classic episode.

 

8. Moe Didn't Get His Last Name Until Season 6

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Moe is one of the greatest characters in a show full of great characters. He's popular enough that most of you would probably know the answer if I asked you to say his last name. What you may not know is that he didn't get that last name until season 6 for the sole purpose of throwing off the audience. In the epic two parter, "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", the major clue as to the identity of the shooter revolved around the fact, after being shot, Mr. Burns passed out with his arms pointing to the W and the S of the town sundial. undefined

To create multiple viable suspects, the writers played up the possible involvement of anyone whose name might involve those initials. As such, to throw Moe into the mix, they showed his liquor license revealing for the first time that his last name was Syzlack. This gave him initials that lined up with the clue from the sundial and made some internet nerd probably lose his shit thinking he'd cracked the code of who shot Mr. Burns, before ultimately punching a hole in his computer screen when he found out it was Maggie.

 

9. Two Members Of The Main Family Have Been The Subject Of TV Movies

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One of the fun parts about The Simpsons is that the family's exploits can grow so large that they actually make national news within the world of the show. This can be seen in the fact that both Homer AND Bart have been the subjects of two unrelated, made for TV movies. The first of these focused on Bart after he was accused of murdering Principal Skinner. The film was aptly called Blood on the Blackboard  and it starred a young child actor named Neil Patrick Harris as Bart.

Three seasons later, Homer got the TV movie treatment himself when he was accused of sexual harassment. His film was called Homer S: Portrait of an Ass-Grabber and it starred Dennis Franz as the title role. So, if you're ever curious what the writers think a real world Homer would look like, it's this: 

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source 

 

10. The Simpsons Actually DO Go To Delaware

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The season 11 episode, Behind The Laughter, was an off the wall, meta-masterpiece that also probably should have served as the show's series finale. Unfortunately, it did not and the show returned season after season to diminishing returns. In a humorous nod to the show's apparent decline in quality, one of the last scenes episode, we see Homer in an editing room watching  a cut of an episode in which Lisa excitedly declares, "The Simpsons are going to Delaware!" It's funny because no show would actually base an episode on the family winning a trip to the most boring state in the union...except, they totally do!

Exactly one season later, The Simpsons do, in fact, win a trip to Delaware! The show reuses the audio that was presented as an example of the show's lack of ideas and work it into an actual episode. Granted, it's clearly done ironically and the majority the episode is an anthology about tall tales, but the instance is still fun to think about. Not only is it a fun callback to an earlier episode, but it also seems to serve as infuriating evidence that even the writers knew that the show was beginning to lose its luster.

 

11. You Can Apparently Find Waldo Hiding In Springfield

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The Simpsons is so jam packed with references that watching it can you're reading a Where's Waldo book....Sometimes, literally! The classic children's character has shown up as a sight gag on at least two unrelated occasions.

The first of these occurs in the episode "Bart's Comet" when the entire town of Springfield is crammed into a tiny bomb shelter. See if you can spot him:

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The bestriped traveler appears again a few seasons later in the episode "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder." Homer plays looks at a Where's Waldo? book and fails to find him, only to have the actual character walk around behind him outside the kitchen window: 

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So, is the show trying to tell us that Waldo exists in the world of The Simpsons and is, in fact, a resident of Springfield? No of course not. These are clearly just two unrelated sight gags...A guy can dream, though.


          audition- Alaska Ryde   

audition- Alaska Ryde

audition- Alaska Ryde by ravenwood on Polyvore.com

Name: Taruni Username: @ravenwood OC Name: Alaska Ryde Age: 16 Gender: Female Blood Status: Half-Blood Faceclaim: Phoebe Tonkins Sexuality: Straight House: Wampus Quidditch position: N/A Prefect: Not a prefect sadly Wand: Dragon string, 12-inch, Lilac Wood Patronus (keep in mind this is only mastered after the third year): Dolphin Pet (nothing bigger than a medium sized dog): White Cat with blue eyes, named Oceania Personality (include good and bad): + Always tries to make people laugh and smile + Stands up for her friends and what she believes in + Isn't afraid to take risks + Smart, witty, carefree, irresistible, and "impossible to kill," as a Wampus is. - Puts others before herself too much that she forgets to care for herself - Has a sassy attitude that gets her into trouble - She is a known troublemaker in her hometown - She tends to hurt a lot of people with her heartbreak ways Likes: + Boys + Music + Drawing + Exercising Dislikes: - Studying - Oranges - Running too much - Long-term relationships Bio (at least two paragraphs): Alaska is a very outgoing, sassy and hilarious person. She's got the looks that seem to get her out of every consequence, and the street smart brain from growing up in Los Angeles. She flirts with almost every guy, but she has her own reasons and limits. She is a known heartbreaker and troublemaker. Alaska has long, luscious brown air, and the most captivating blue-green eyes. She loves Ilvermorny- she feels it is the one place she can truly be herself, without the constant pressure she receives from her Dad-to be better. She acts as though she does not value education at all, but really, she is one of the smartest people in her class. Alaska tends to be well rounded, popular, and always happy looking. However, she has some really dark secrets that have wrecked her inside. Secret x 2 (if you want to be an animagus, please PM the mod as we cannot have a school full of them): Alaska has a dark past- her abusive father had killed her mother, and this a secret she has told nobody, and is something that she fears- turning into her dad. She fears long-term relationships because she is afraid that if she is with someone for too long, she will hurt them, as her dad did to her mother. She believes she doesn't deserve to be happy that way. @hayley-177 @fiohelston @seahorsewii @the-icon-cuties @fashion-and-cats Mod: @natasha-maree13


          Los Tucanes Snap Back   
Los Tucanes Snap Back

As smooth as the life and trajectory of Los Tucanes de Tijuana, This dark blue with burgundy 3D embroidery hat personifies Los Tucanes!

Features

Los Tucanes snapback hat.
Tucanes Iconic logo on front.
Satin inside linning
Navy body, burgundy top button eyelets, gr..

Price: $32.99


          Meh Suff! 2015   
Meh Suff! 2015 will take place in Hüttikon, Switzerland on September 4-6, 2015. Abbath, Suffocation and Darkspace are among the bands that will perform at the Meh Suff! 2015 festival.
          O 1° Post da maravilhosa série: "Rick convida" Não poderia ter outro convidado...   

Primeiramente gostaria de agradecer a todo o pessoal do blog, pelo convite que recebi, mas vamos logo ao que interessa!

The Symphony of Life!


1º Movimento: The Keeper of Light:

No princípio tudo era Luz!
Uma luz fria, como o topo das mais altas montanhas, e este frio era o que conservava o coração do guardião relativamente gelado, mantendo-o paciente e estático em sua posição, ignorando os acontecimentos ao seu redor.
E esta luz era suficiente para manter a personalidade do guardião intacta, podendo ser preservada eternamente a salvo de qualquer alteração vinda do mundo exterior, continuando o mesmo sábio de sempre, o sedentário que usa camisetas gola pólo e é fã de certo encanador bigodudo.
Porém o guardião notou que a mesma luz que o protegia do mundo exterior, também acabava ofuscando sua visão para determinados assuntos; E foi ai que começaram os problemas...

2º Movimento: Chaotic Space

E o Caos se espalha!
...Após descobrir que a mesma luz que o protegia durante todo o tempo, também ofuscava sua visão, o guardião acabou entrando em uma crise existencial.
Então através de sua sabedoria, o guardião notou que duas forças interiores estavam entrando em conflito, pois uma pequena sombra começava a tomar forma em meio à luz, e esta sombra começou a aumentar de tamanho e disputar por espaço, causando um Caos que não poderia ser controlado tão facilmente, obrigando aquele que antes era tido como Iluminado, a fazer duras escolhas, pois este já não sabia distinguir Luz de Trevas, Passado de Futuro, Quem era e o que Queria...

3º Movimento: Darkness

As Trevas aumentam de tamanho!
...Então, após o Caos ter sido instalado devido ao surgimento das Trevas no guardião, um mundo novo de escolhas e possibilidades aparenta ter surgido diante de seus olhos, porém, estas escolhas levariam a um aumento do seu lado sombrio.
Sendo este um mundo mais escuro que o normal, é muito fácil se perder nele, necessitando de mais força física do que intelectual. E devido a ser um território fora de sua área de conforto, mais precisamente em sua área de conflito, alguns pensamentos sombrios começam a surgir em sua mente, sendo necessário certo cuidado para não expor demais tais pensamentos. Porém, devido sua sabedoria ainda estar preservada, o guardião nota que deve dissipar todo esse lado negro antes que seja corrompido por ele, então começa a fazer coisas que ninguém imaginaria que ele fosse capaz de fazer, porém acaba sendo criticado por seus mais próximos.
Sendo este, um prólogo para o 4º Movimento, onde tudo deverá ser decidido, se as Trevas tomarão conta do guardião, ou a Luz voltará a iluminar (Só o tempo poderá dizer!)...


4º Movimento: Equilibrium in Time

...

 

aloC-acoC!

Sir. Eduardo Hösel Miranda


          Acordei meio poeta hoje, mas acho que foi o frio.   
    Sei lá, me deu vontade de postar algo legal nessa noite fria de junho... Hoje eu me sinto inspirado... O que é raro, pois normalmente eu me sinto expirado... Acho que foi a overdose de fofurices ao descobrir (tardiamente) esses dois no youtube. Ou sei lá, hoje eu achei um gibi americano da Liga da Justiça Europa que eu tanto queria achar na vida (É a saga daquelas estrelas aliênigenas que grudam no rosto das pessoas as transformando em seus escravos... - Clááááááássiiiico!! - ). Hoje ouvi muito e tentei tocar de ouvido "Simple twist of fate" na Marianne (Minha gaita). E não saiu lá essas coisas =D. Mas continuo tentando U.U

     E é ela que eu quero postar aqui hoje. Não. Não a Marianne. A música. Vou postar a letra original (sem traduções) Pros canadenses poderem ler de boa... Há sim. Hoje eu descobri russos no Rick! Uma pessoa da Russia nos visitou... Fico feliz em poder estar (talvez) criando algo diplomático que vai unir todas as nações um dia em paz e amor. Hahahaha. Bom. Agora dou a palavra ao tio Bob. Fiquem todos na paz e que Deus esteja com todos nessas noites frias de junho. Shalom!


They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark.
She looked at him and he felt a spark
Tingle to his bones.
It was then he felt alone
And wished that he'd gone straight
And watched out for a simple twist of fate.

They walked alone by the old canal.
A little confused, I remember well,
And stopped into a strange hotel with a neon burning bright.
He felt the heat of the night hit him like a freight train
Moving with a simple twist of fate.

A saxophone someplace far off played
As she was walking on by the arcade
As the light bust through a beat up shade
Where he was waking up.
She dropped a coin into the cup of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate.

He woke up; the room was bare.
He didn't see her anywhere.
He told himself he didn't care ;pushed the window open wide;
Felt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate.

He hears the ticking of the clocks
And walks along with a parrot that talks.
Hunts her down by the waterfront docks
Where the sailers all come in.
Maybe she'll pick him out again. How long must he wait
One more time for a simple twist of fate.
People tell me it's a sin
To know and feel too much within.
I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring.
She was born in spring, but I was born too late.
Blame it on a simple twist of fate.
          Tempat-tempat Favorit   
Hallo.. Hari ini aku mau ceritain soal Banda Aceh, tanah kelahiran yang sudah aku tinggali sejak lahir. Aku lahir dan besar di Banda Aceh tepatnya di sektor timur, Kopelma Darussalam, mungkin biasa orang-orang bilang "Sektim" atau komplek dosen, whatever..
Banda Aceh itu kota kecil yang jalanannya tergolong cukup bersih, di jalan-jalan jarang kita temukan sampah bergelimpangan karena selalu rajin dibersihkan oleh para petugas kebersihan setiap harinya. Banda Aceh juga bukan kota besar seperti Medan atau Jakarta yang sering macet. Jadi kalau mau bepergian antara satu tempat ke tempat yang lain itu nggak butuh waktu yang terlalu lama atau harus bermacet-macet ria di jalanan. Tapi yang kurang dari Banda Aceh cuma satu (menurut aku) yaitu nggak ada BIOSKOP. Padahal bioskop itu penting banget buat kita yang suka nonton film, jadi kalau mau nonton film baru nggak harus nunggu keluar CD nya atau terpaksa download di situs-situs film. Oke, tinggalkan masalah bioskop, ayo kita jelajahi tempat-tempat makan yang ada di Aceh, khususnya Banda Aceh. Walaupun cuma kota kecil tapi tempat-tempat makannya nggak kalah enak dong ya sama daerah-daerah lain, apalagi warung-warung kopinya yang bertebaran di mana-mana. Bukan hal sulit mencari tempat ngopi di banda aceh, karena Aceh merupakan surganya warung kopi. Dari yang tua hingga yang muda berjubelan di tempat itu. Kalau dulu aku paling suka ngopi di Dago, lamnyong. Karena Dago punya tempat duduk di belakang yang berada di ruang terbuka, anginnya sepoi-sepoi dan pemandangannya hijau jadi duduk lama juga nggak bosan. Tapi sayangnya sekarang Dago udah tutup, nggak tahu deh kenapa, padahal aku paling suka duduk di situ.
Makanya kalau sekarang diajak ngopi terserah di mana aja, walaupun aku paling suka tempat yang wifi nya cepat dan duduknya nyaman. Mungkin bisa dibilang kalau sekarang aku sukanya duduk di New Tower Coffee yang di sebelah KFC simpang lima, karena tempatnya kalau siang nggak terlalu rame dan wifinya juga cepat. Biasanya aku suka ngerjain skripsi di situ sendirian sambil download film. Sekali duduk aku bisa download sampai dua film, lumayanlah internetan gratis :)
Kalau tempat makan yang paling aku suka itu adalah nasi uduk kelapa gading, lokasinya itu di depan asrama haji Lingke, Banda Aceh.
Itu tempat favorit aku, nggak cuma aku aja sih, orang rumah juga suka. Biasanya kalau aku makan di situ, mama selalu nitip dibeliin gorengannya (tempe, tahu, terong). Yang paling aku suka banget ya nasi uduknya, setiap makan bisa nambah dua kali (wajib), kalau bawa pulang ke rumah pun aku selalu minta nasi uduknya dobel hahaaaa :) padahal kalau makan di tempat lain makanannya nggak pernah habis tapi entah kenapa kalau makan nasi uduk itu bisa sampai 2 kali tambah. Mungkin juga karena pedesnya gilaaaa. Di antara teman-temanku, memang aku yang paling doyan makan pedas, kalau makan pedas teman-teman pasti pada nambah air tapi aku nggak pernah sekalipun nambah, karena kalau aku minum maka sensasi pedas itu akan berakhir jadi aku sengaja minumnya cuma dikit supaya aku bisa ngerasain setiap sensasi pedas yang terasa di lidah, rasanya TOP banget :D 
Aceh selain terkenal dengan kenikmatan kopinya atau surga warung kopinya juga terkenal dengan kelezatan Mie Acehnya. Mungkin mie Aceh yang paling terkenal itu Mie Razali, tapi ada satu tempat makan mie Aceh yang rasanya top yaitu Mie Sarena. Tapi biasanya aku dan teman-teman menyebutnya "mie kakek". Kenapa kita manggil mie kakek? Karena pemiliknya sudah lumayan tua, nggak tua-tua banget sih, lokasinya pas di depan MIN Peukan Bada.
Kakek membuat sendiri mie kuningnya jadi dijamin mie-nya lebih aman tanpa bahan-bahan pengawet. Cuma di sini aku bisa makan mie goreng sampai habis dan kalau aku bisa menghabiskan makanannya sampai habis berarti makanannya enak. Karena aku tergolong orang yang susah banget ngabisin makanan atau dengan kata lain cepat kenyang kalau makanannya biasa aja atau nggak sesuai selera. Jadi cuma makanan-makanan yang rasanya pas dilidah yang bisa bikin aku ketagihan. Makanya kalau aku menemukan tempat yang makanannya enak dijamin aku akan terus pergi ke tempat itu. Mungkin aku bisa pergi ke tempat-tempat berbeda setiap harinya tapi kalau tempat yang udah aku anggap favorit akan selalu aku datangi terus menerus. 
Oh iya, sekarang di Banda Aceh ada cafe baru, namanya "maroon", lokasinya di sebelah wisma Lampriet, depan kantor PLN. Cafe ini menyediakan beragam jenis cake, juga ada american risol.
Risol di sini unik, kalau biasanya risol itu isinya sayur dicampur daging atau ayam tapi kalau american risol ini isinya telur rebus kecil dicampur daging iris tipis-tipis dan dilelehin mayonaise. Kemudian disajikan dengan bentuk risolnya dibelah dua. Seporsi harganya 10 ribu berisi tiga potong risol. Cake nya di sini lembuuuuut banget. Kemarin aku baru nyobain "dark devil cake", cake nya itu dilapisi coklat di luar dan dalam, enak tapi terlalu banyak coklat jadi kalau dikonsumsi banyak-banyak jadi "enek". Kata pegawainya cake ini yang paling banyak dipesan, seporsinya 20 ribu. Yang paling enak di sini adalah minumannya, beberapa minggu lalu aku pernah nyobain "milo frappe" enak banget loh, porsinya juga banyak jadi puas minumnya, segelasnya 15 ribu. Maroon ini dibuka dari hari selasa sampai minggu, dari pukul 4 sore sampai sebelum magrib.
Tempat favorit untuk aku makan bakso goreng adalah di Ulele, kalau aku nyebut tempat ini "pantai tanpa ombak" karena cuma di sini yang pantai nggak ada ombaknya. Sebenarnya bukan nggak ada ombak sih tapi sejak tsunami pantai ini ditembokin ditengahnya, jadi ombak dari arah laut nggak sampai lagi ke pantai ini karena terhalang sama tembok-tembok tersebut. Biasanya di sini ada bebek-bebek dayung, aku senang banget naik ini, biasanya tiap naik semester aku selalu ngajak teman-temanku naik bebek dayung,  tapi semester ini aku belum sempat naik, mereka nggak ada yang mau diajakin naik, nggak mungkin juga kan aku naik sendiri. Aku paling suka duduk di tempat ini buat mandangin laut. Ngeliat pemandangan laut, ngeliat anak-anak kecil main air bisa bikin aku happy jadi pergi ke tempat ini lumayan menghibur. Biasanya aku suka pergi sendiri ke tempat ini, sebenarnya sih sekalian jalan-jalan, quality time with myself :)
Dua minggu lalu aku diajakin teman aku ke Lhoknga Riverside Resort. Di sini ada pemandangan sungai yang cantik banget. Kalau biasanya air sungai itu warnanya putih kecokelatan, tapi di sini warna sungainya hijau, jadi lebih mirip danau daripada sungai. Lokasinya itu hampir dekat PT Lafarge, Lhoknga, tapi tempat ini berada setelah jembatan. Biasanya setiap aku mau ke Lhoknga, aku suka banget ngeliatin sungai ini dari jembatan, karena pemandangannya yang serba hijau mengingatkan aku pada dunia dongeng atau dunia fantasi. Makanya senang banget waktu aku diajak ke sini. Akhirnya aku nggak cuma bisa mandangin sungainya dari jauh aja tapi bisa mandangin lebih dekat. Sebenarnya Lhoknga Riverside Resort ini adalah sebuah resort yang diperuntukkan bagi tamu-tamu yang mau menginap. Tapi kalau ada pengunjung yang mau duduk-duduk di cafenya dibolehin sama pemiliknya. Cafenya ini sebelahan sama sungainya, jadi kalau duduk di cafe ini bisa mandangin pemandangan sepuasnya. 
Jumat besok aku dan teman-teman SMA mau nyoba tempat baru lagi, yaitu cafe La Lumina. Nama cafenya kayak nama-nama Italia gitu ya hihiii :) lokasinya di Stui, di dekat Bubur Jazz. Aku belum tahu sih cafenya ini kayak apa soalnya belum pernah nyoba, biasanya cuma ngeliatin sambil lewat. Oke deh, ntar kalau enak aku rekomendasi buat kalian semua ya ;)

          2013-09-26 08:36:11   
Edited by darkcity - ~[[How Puppy Works|]]
          2012-09-24 10:56:45   
Edited by darkcity - typo
          2012-04-24 06:33:36   
Edited by darkcity - expand
          2012-04-24 06:30:10   
Edited by darkcity
          2012-04-24 06:28:13   
Edited by darkcity - link
          2012-01-08 15:52:16   
Edited by darkcity
          2011-10-30 09:22:28   
Edited by darkcity - SquashFS SFS
          2011-10-30 09:21:42   
Edited by darkcity
          Welcome to the Black Rose Caffe   
itunes pic
The Black Rose Caffe is a magickal place where creativity and inspiration flourish. A place where you can meet with friends, surf the internet, or just relax and enjoy an immensely pleasurable visit. A haunt where you'll always feel free to linger over a cup of our extraordinary coffee or tea. Consider the Black Rose Caffe your hamlet, a place of refuge where you can escape the pressures of the day and the rigors of the "real" world. At the Black Rose Caffe you can delight in the aromatic pleasures of our special brews, such as dark, earthy coffees and unique teas. You can savor the exquisite taste sensations of our enchanting cakes and pastries (some are even sugar free or very low in sugar), or try one of our divine sandwiches or salads. And if you’re in the mood for something truly decadent, why not indulge yourself in the intensely sensual experience of our fine sipping chocolate. At the Black Rose Caffe you can listen to jazz and rock, view photographs and artwork featured on the walls, and enjoy poetry and live music, featuring local talent, at our open mic night. Please feel free to bring your original music or poetry if you’d like to join in. Always guaranteed to be a truely eclectic evening. Be sure to bring your laptop computer so that you can take advantage of the free wireless internet connection. At the Black Rose Caffe you can surf the internet, message with friends, check email, or work on class/business projects. While you're here don't forget to visit our "curiosity shop"...a mystical corner where you can find all manner of wonderful delights to stimulate the senses. The Black Rose Caffe is truly a magickal place that has a little something for everyone. Our goal is to provide you with a complete sensory experience so you can enjoy the ultimate in taste, visual, auditory, social and intellectual sensations. Come in, relax, and immerse yourself in the bouquet of our fine coffee.
          How Big City stress affects your health    


The crime, the traffic, the congestion, the noise, and non-stop pace of the big city take its toll on your health. That’s not just anecdotal any longer, researchers are uncovering some not so surprising facts about the negative impact big cities have on peoples’ health.

In the heart of the busy metropolitan jungles, more people suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and anxiety than those who live in more rural areas.

The Big City is a Threat Your Physical Health

All that traffic, high crime, and noise isn’t just going gentle into the night, it’s having a real affect on its residents physical well being. New research shows that people living in a big city have a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Busy commutes tend not only to be stressful, but detrimental as well. Spending hours on a train or hopping from bus to bus means a lot more time spent parked in a seat. That’s not good for the heart or the belly. Studies reveal that many choose to eat while commuting in an effort to save time. The net result is a bigger waistline, which increases blood pressure, decreases circulation, and cause more fatigue.

More weight means a higher risk for hypertension and other physical health risks like high cholesterol. Simply put, less walking and more sitting have an adverse impact.

It’s Also Mental, Studies Show

Aside from the physical health risks, people living in big cities face a 21 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders, a 39 percent increase in mood disorders, thanks to a study conducted on 32 healthy participants which was published in the journal Nature.

Conversely 24 participants from rural communities were included in this brain scan study,  a statistical dead-heat in the world of MRI. Those 24 people showed little to no signs of increased risk to their mental health, a finding that wouldn’t at all surprise the average urban dweller.

The hustle and bustle of the big city isn’t healthy, physically or mentally, according to the research.

A solution to these potential problems? Well, one such solution is to either move to a smaller, less stressful area like the Homer Alaska and Anchor Point area. Or, invest in a property to rent and buy a second home to vacation in the peaceful landscape only the 
Homer Alaska and Anchor Point  area can offer can offer.
For more information about Homer Alaska Real Estate contact Coastal Realty Alaska at 

COASTAL REALTY 

Mile 156.7 Sterling Hwy
Anchor Point, AK 99556
Phone: 907-235-7141
Fax: 907-235-6876


          This is the Water: Twin Peaks, Roswell and the Siren's Song (UPDATE)   

Please tell me you're watching the new season of Twin Peaks. 

Like nearly everyone else my jaw is still on the floor after last night's episode. All the more so since it seems to very closely align with a topic I explored in great detail last year and that's the explosion of the atom bomb seeming to open some kind of doorway that allowed something dangerous to enter into our reality.

And whatever it is that crossed over seems to possess us and use us to its own ends, as we seem to be seeing in recent posts.

Lynch paints this picture in a way that simultaneously feels like a fever dream, Stanley Kubrick's lost masterpiece and some kind of bizarre MK Ultra conditioning session. As we'll see, this episode drew heavily on the work of Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano's Outer Limits, so much so that it played like a tribute.

It's going to take time to sort through but this series seems like a oracle. It feels less like television and more like revelation. Lynch is tapped into something very deep, very dark and very important.  


And it's only because of the conjunction of Chris Cornell's death and the return of Twin Peaks that I got thrown back down the Siren's well. I really thought I was done and good with the story but it so happened that the story wasn't done with me. 

It wasn't until I started putting some of the pieces together that I began to see how Twin Peaks, Chris Cornell and the Siren's song have been locked in a spiderweb of synchronicity since the very beginning.

Pay attention here- someone may be trying to tell us a story in the same nonlinear manner David Lynch is telling the new Twin Peaks.


Chris Cornell 's only acting credit is the Cameron Crowe film Singles. He appears onscreen with Bridget Fonda.


Bridget Fonda also appears onscreen with Bill Pullman in Singles.


Bill Pullman appears in the David Lynch film, Lost Highway, which features Elizabeth Fraser's version of 'Song to the Siren'

UPDATE: Still don't believe in the dark power of the Siren's Song?

In Lost Highway, Bill Pullman plays a musician falsely accused of murdering his wife, played by Patricia Arquette (who was cast as Jeff Buckley's mother in an unproduced biopic). Though never really explained it's implied that the Mystery Man, played by Robert Blake, is responsible for the murder.

In May 2002- same month the Jeff Buckley biography Everyone Here Wants You aired on British television- Robert Blake was accused of murdering his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakely, in back of a restaurant in Los Angeles.



Just months after David Lynch's Mulholland Dr - a film about an actress (Naomi Watts†) who has her lover killed - had depicted a memorable scene about a looming horror in back of a Los Angeles restaurant.

Mulholland Dr was originally produced as a TV movie after Lynch made Lost Highway.

Blake was acquitted on account of there was no evidence to tie him to the crime, and the only testimony came from two stuntmen associated with Bakely's former lover, the convicted murderer Christian Brando.

Brando shot and killed his sister's lover at Marlon Brando's residence on- wait for it- Mulholland Dr.

And "Bakely?"
The name Bakley belongs to the early history of Britain, its origins lie with the Anglo-Saxons. It is a product of their having lived in any of the places named Buckley, or Buckleigh, in England.
Bakely's daughters later successfully sued Blake for wrongful death. 

Lost Highway was Jack Nance's last role. He died under mysterious circumstances before the film was released. David Lynch produced a documentary in his honor, released 2002.

A special thanks to longtime Shemsu Sunner Devin. I knew there was something I was overlooking.



Patricia Arquette is featured in the Lost Highway's 'Song to the Siren' scene.



Arquette also stars in True Romance, which she plays the lover of a young man who is channeling Elvis Presley, who died in Memphis and whose statue overlooks the site of Jeff Buckley's death. Arquette was cast to play Jeff Buckley's mother in the unproduced docudrama Mystery White Boy.

True Romance also features Brad Pitt and this memorable use of Chris Cornell's MDD anthem, 'Outshined'. 


Brad Pitt appears in Jeff Buckley documentary Everybody Here Wants You, which also features Elizabeth Fraser. 

Chris Cornell's tribute to Jeff Buckley, 'Wave Goodbye,' is played on the TV series Roswell, set (of course) in New Mexico 


Roswell star William Sadler played Death in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, starring Keanu (or Ki-Anu) Reeves

Keanu Reeves played Buddha in Little Buddha, with Bridget Fonda and Chris Isaak 


Chris Isaak starred in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, the franchise's last chapter until 2017.


Ben Rosenfield appears in its next chapter. 


Rosenfield's first feature film role is portraying Tim Buckley in the Jeff Buckley biopic, Greetings From Tim Buckley.


Roswell's William Sadler portrays Lee Underwood (the guitarist on the Starsailor version of 'Song to the Siren') in Greetings from Tim Buckley.


Tim Buckley's first public recording of 'Song to the Siren' first heard on the "Frodis Caper" episode of The Monkees, whose plot revolved around the capture of a flying saucer. 


The 1994 TV movie Roswell revolved around the capture of a flying saucer in New Mexico. 

It aired the very same day Soundgarden played the Fox Theater in Atlanta. Cornell died after Soundgarden played the Fox Theater in Detroit.

Soundgarden performs live in Singles, playing 'Birth Ritual'. Singles co-star Bill Pullman later stars in Independence Day which centers on a UFO captured at Roswell. 


Roswell starred Kyle MacLachlan, who portrays Dale Cooper on Twin Peaks. 


Cooper emerges from the Black Lodge into a storeroom where characters played by Rosenfeld and Madeline Zima were last seen. 


Madeline Zima starred on Californication (itself loaded with Siren symbolism) alongside David Duchovny. 


David Duchovny played a cross-dressing FBI agent on Twin Peaks. He'd later play another FBI agent on The X-Files.  

Duchovny would later be replaced on The X-Files by Robert Patrick, brother of original Nine Inch Nails guitarist Richard Patrick (whose band Filter recorded the rock theme for the first X-Files movie). 



Robert Patrick first appears on X-Files same episode 'Scully's Theme' first heard, which was based on Elizabeth Fraser's 'Song of the Siren'.

 

Don Davis, who portrayed Major Garland Briggs on Twin Peaks, appeared as Scully's father on The X-Files. Davis's first appearance on The X-Files was in 'Beyond the Sea', which also guest-starred Brad Dourif. 


Brad Dourif appeared in Blue Velvet, the film where Lynch tried and failed to secure rights to Elizabeth Fraser's version of 'Song to the Siren'. That film starred Laura Dern, who also appears on the new Twin Peaks. 


Laura Dern first appears in Episode 6, which also features this very Blue Velvet-like performance by Balthazar Getty, Patricia Arquette's lover during Lost Highway's playing of  'Song to the Siren'.

'Song to the Siren' was produced by John Fryer, who also produced the prophetic 'In the Gold Dust Rush.'  

Fryer also produced the first Nine Inch Nails album.

Nine Inch Nails toured with David Bowie in 1995.



David Bowie appears in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.  

Nine Inch Nails appear on Twin Peaks episode that centers around a locust chimera that possesses a girl through the mouth.

The Nine Inch Nails' album The Downward Spiral was released the same day as Soundgarden's Superunknown

Trent Reznor appears in 2014 documentary Beautiful Noise, about Cocteau Twins and the movement they inspired.

Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden toured together in 2014. They opened in Las Vegas.

Downward Spiral, which was recorded at Manson-massacre house 10050 Cielo Drive, features a sample from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the song 'Reptile'.*



Texas Chainsaw Massacre's 2003 remake features cover of Fraser's cover of "Song to the Siren."

David Bowie and Trent Reznor sang "Reptile" as a duet on their 1995 tour.

Three days before Downward Spiral released Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser began their love affair in Atlanta, sparked by Fraser's version of 'Song to the Siren'.



Fraser is from the Falkirk council area of Scotland, which boasts two enormous statues of the Kelpie, the Scottish water-demon version of the Siren, that shapeshifts from horse to human. 

Falkirk is a half-hour's drive from Rosewell, the town that borders the Rosslyn Chapel.


 There's locusts in her honey mouth 

In the final scene of Episode 8, the possessed young girl is mesmerized by the incantation of a demon who chants an incantation that wouldn't sound out of place on Garlands: 

"This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend.  The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within."

Like the Sirens and the mermaids, the entity is a chimera of a frog and a locust, both plagues that Moses brought down on Egypt in Exodus. 

Elizabeth Fraser's only solo releases are the singles 'Underwater' and 'Moses'. 


The girl in Twin Peaks is played by Tikaeni Faircrest. Tikeani is an Inuit word meaning "Wolf."

After the girl is possessed you hear horses in the desert. Or perhaps it's the Kelpie.


BONUS TIMELINE

• Blue Velvet released. Includes 'Mysteries of Love', song written when Lynch was unable to license 'Song of the Siren'. September 1986 

• Ccoteau Twins release Love's Easy Tears EP September 1986. 


+++++

• Elizabeth Fraser's first child born September 1989

• Soundgarden release first major label album Louder than Love, September 5, 1989

• Julee Cruise releases her first album Floating into the Night, featuring debut of Twin Peaks theme 'Falling'. Also features 'Mysteries of Love'. Released September 12, 1989

• Nine Inch Nails releases first single, 'Down in It', September 15, 1989

+++++


• Jeff Buckley moves to New York February 1990

• Andrew Wood dies of overdose March 1990

Twin Peaks premieres April 1990

Lynch's Wild at Heart is shown at Cannes. Laura Dern stars. May 1990



+++++

• Elizabeth Fraser and Jeff Buckley first meet in New York's Roseland Ballroom, April 1991

• Jeff Buckley makes his public debut at a tribute to late father Tim Buckley in April 1991

• Chris Cornell releases Temple of the Dog, tribute to late friend Andrew Wood, in April 1991

• Twin Peaks put on hiatus April 1991 (canceled June)

+++++

• Elizabeth Fraser and Jeff Buckley begin relationship March 5, 1994 in Atlanta.

•  Superunknown by Soundgarden and The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails released March 8, 1994

• Kurt Cobain is murdered April 5, 1994. Body is discovered morning of April 8, 1994. Cocteau Twins tape appearance on Tonight Show that same afternoon.

• Soundgarden play in Paris that night, where Cocteau Twins' death-omen "Road, River and Rail" is set.

Holy Matrimony opens same day, starring Lost Highway's Patricia Arquette and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt would later star in UFO-themed Mysterious Skin which features Cocteau Twins' 'Crushed' and score by Cocteau Twin (and Fraser's ex-husband) Robin Guthrie 


+++++

• Trent Reznor clashes in media with Courtney Love over liaison, Spring 1995

X-Files airs Roswell-themed 'Anasazi', set in New Mexico, featuring actor Bernie Coulson, who former roommate Brad Pitt based his character in True Romance onSpring 1995

• Courtney Love and Jeff Buckley date, Spring- Summer 1995

• David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails tour begins featuring duet on 'Reptile'
early September 1995 

• Cocteau Twins release Elizabeth Fraser's love letters to Jeff Buckley, Twinlights and Rilkean Dreams, September 1995

+++++

Lost Highway, featuring 'Song of Siren' released February 1997

The X-Files airs UFO-capture two-parter in March 1997, guest-starring Tom O'Brien, who later stars on The Dead Zone, whose theme song is Jeff Buckley's 'New Years Prayer', from album co-produced by Chris Cornell.

• Chris Cornell quits Soundgarden in April 1997

• Elizabeth Fraser records 'Teardrop', a love letter to Jeff Buckley, same day he drowns in May 1997

Air Force Roswell Report released June 1997

+++++

Twin Peaks revival announced 2014

• Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails tour together 2014

• Cocteau Twins documentary Beautiful Noise released 2014

+++++


X-Files Season 11 schedule announced May 15, 2017 

• Chris Cornell dies near site of Siren-like legend May 18, 2017

Twin Peaks, the Return Premieres May 21, 2017, featuring Cocteau Twins wannabe's Chromatics

•  70th anniversary of Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting, June 24, 2017

• Nine Inch Nails appear on interdimensional-themed episode of Twin Peaks, June 25, 2017

• Elizabeth Fraser to make first public appearance in 5 years, July 23, 2017, the day of the   rising of Sirius, to talk about Blue Bell Knoll, whose title comes from fairy lore.



The published lyrics for the song NIN played on Twin Peaks reuses a lyric from 'Reptile': "she leaves a trail of honey to show me where she's been." That line is not on the final recording. 

Spirit possession, honey, mouth, locusts. Oh, plus gold that isn't really gold. Why does that all sound so familiar?


† Naomi Watts is married to my wife's second cousin, Liev Schreiber. Bonnie Lee Bakely is from my old stomping grounds Morristown, which is also Richard Hoagland's birthplace.

          Interlude: Sirius Rising    



Click here if you're at all lost.

The first thing I'd like to do here is reframe this narrative. The prism we should see this through is that of the story of the theme song to what was at one time the most watched television show in the world, namely House MD.


And subsequently we're also looking at the backstory of a music video that's gotten over 48 million views on YouTube. Those are Beyonce numbers. 


So rather than try to figure out why this incredibly strange and impossible chain of events has focused on a couple singers most people have never heard of, let's approach it all under that context. 


This is a story tens of millions of people have been exposed to without realizing what it is they're hearing.

I'd also like to let it be known that this isn't a story that ended twenty years ago. As we've seen Chris Cornell- whose death continues to make headlines- somehow found himself wound up in all this, both through his close relationship with Jeff Buckley but also through his unlikely connection to the mythos we're unfolding here.


And into the midst of it all comes the announcement that Elizabeth Fraser is appearing at Royal Albert Hall in July:

John Grant will chat to Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser about her iconic indie group’s 1988 album, Blue Bell Knoll, with all proceeds from the show going to gay rights charity Stonewall. 
The event on Sunday 23 July is a rare chance to see Fraser talk about her distinctive, indelible music, which influenced an entire generation of performers, including Grant, with his exquisite electro-balladeering.

I really don't know where to start. I couldn't possibly make up an event more symbolically loaded. Is someone actually fucking with me here?

Where to begin? Let's try this, from the must-read VISUP site.
(Robert Anton) Wilson is primarily responsible for bringing the 23 enigma to public attention. Wilson in turn partly became obsessed with the number 23 after supposedly receiving telepathic messages from an alien race based upon Sirius after performing a Crowley-inspired ritual on July 22, 1973. The next morning he found a peculiar message in his 'magickal diary' stating "Sirius is very important." This led Wilson to doing some research. 
"The Skeptic went to town and browsed in the public library. Imagine my state of mind when I discovered that this very day, July 23, when I had received the message 'Sirius is very important,' is the day when, according to Egyptian tradition, the occult link (through hyperspace?) is most powerful between Earth and Sirius. 
"Celebrations of the Dog Star, Sirius, beginning on July 23, are the origin of the expression 'dog days,' meaning the days from July 23 to September 8, when the last rituals to Sirius were performed."- The Cosmic Trigger Volume I, pg. 87 
What Wilson is referring to is the heliacal rising of Sirius, often associated with July 23:
The heliacal rising: the first visible, though brief, appearance of a star on the eastern horizon before sunrise. On the previous morning, sunlight made the star invisible.  
Sirius is also identified with Isis, who plays a major role in our story here:
As the star Sopdet (Sirius (in Greek Sothis)), she heralds the life-giving inundation. 
July 23rd has also been connected with the Ancient Egyptian New Year:
Ancient Egyptian culture was closely tied to the Nile River, and it appears their New Year corresponded with its annual flood. According the Roman writer Censorinus, the Egyptian New Year was predicted when Sirius—the brightest star in the night sky—first became visible after a 70-day absence. 
July 23rd is also identified with Our Sweetheart, the Drunk:
This massive party was tied to the myth of Sekhmet, a war goddess who had planned to kill all of humanity until the sun god Ra tricked her into drinking herself unconscious.  
Which turned her into the love goddess Hathor. And then there's this little detail here: 
In ancient Egypt, the helical rising of Sirius coincided with the annual rising of the Nile at Memphis.
Wait: did they say Memphis? I thought so.

Elizabeth Fraser last appeared at Royal Albert Hall with the Cocteau Twins, touring the Milk and Kisses album, which included a number of songs written about Jeff Buckley.




Blue Bell Knoll is a luscious album, the musical equivalent of having warm honey dripped on your head while you're taking a milk bath on really good drugs, but its title has a darker meaning:
In folklore, the flowers assist mortals in seeing fairies or seeing into their reality, but were regarded by some as unlucky because they could also reveal or even attract malign spirits, including the Devil himself... They are also called Dead Men's or Dead Man's Bells, because hearing the bells ringing is an omen of death.  
Remembering the line from Song to the Siren, "Did I dream you dreamed about me? Were you hare when I was fox?", note that bluebells are also known as harebells:
Campanula rotundifolia is associated with the fairies and with witches...The name Harebells may also allude to a folk belief that witches used juices squeezed from this flower to transform themselves into hares. 
And hey- milk again.
These juices lent the flower another Scottish folk name, "Milk-ort" (milk herb).
More importantly, the bluebell also connects to the central conceit of our story- the seemingly inexplicable symbolic overkill connected to the ancient myth of the goddess (variously associated with sex, war, music and the Moon) and her shepherd-boy consort.

Shepherd-boy being the literal translation of Buckley.


As it happens milk plays a very major role in that ur-myth as well. From the first known telling of the story, The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi:

  Make your milk sweet and thick, my bridegroom / My shepherd, I will drink your fresh milk / Wild bull Dumuzi, make your milk sweet and thick/ I will drink your fresh milk.
Elizabeth Fraser's dedication on Milk and Kisses plows the same metaphorical furrow.

 "Milk and kisses for the first man / my old man / love and a thousandfold rose for Buckley /my Rilkean-Hearted friend."
(We're going to return to The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi again, in a big, bad way).

The bluebell has also been named for Endymion, the young shepherd consort of the goddess Selene, who fell in love with and put under a spell of eternal sleep so that she alone might enjoy his beauty. Selene was also known as Phoebe and one of the key tracks on Blue Bell Knoll is "For Phoebe, Still a Baby."



So I suppose it's only appropriate that this is being held at Royal Albert Hall, named in honor of Prince Albert, formally known as Albert, Prince Consort. 

And here were have another goddess-consort sad story. 

Albert was husband of Queen Victoria, herself named after the Roman goddess of victory. And for those of you who don't know the rest:
Albert died at the relatively young age of 42, plunging the Queen into a period of deep mourning in which she rarely appeared before her subjects.
 CARNIVAL OF LIFE AND DEATH

We saw that that Jeff Buckley drowned on the evening of the Carnival Memphis. As it happens it seems that he and Fraser began their courtship on the eve of the original Carnival...


This would be the night of March 4th, when both Buckley and the Cocteau Twins were playing in Atlanta. Significantly, the Twins performed "Road, River, and Rail" that night.

Simon Raymonde of The Cocteau Twins remembers Jeff being introduced to them as Tim Buckley's son while they were touring America in 1991.

Road, River and Rail is 3:17
3/17 is the day of Osiris' drowning

OK, I thought I heard that Buckley met them before 1994 but I couldn't find any corroboration online for that so I thought I had imagined it. If that is indeed true it makes the prophecies on 1990's Heaven or Las Vegas even creepier because that was the album they were touring then (and the only significant omen after that is the insanely-disturbing post-breakup Rilkean Dreams). 

Continuing:
Having recorded an ineffably beautiful version of Tim's ‘Song For The Siren’ (as This Mortal Coil) they were pleased to meet the young man, who was in turn awestruck by their music, especially the spectral voice of Elizabeth Fraser. Three years later it was their turn to see him perform. Simon and Liz went together to a small bar in Atlanta. "It was just Jeff and his little Fender guitar and amp. He sang for two hours and he knocked me sideways. Liz and I spent some time with him over the next few days."
It's likely that Fraser connected (or reconnected) with Buckley on what is technically March 5th, since the Twins had their own concert to do the night of the 4th. But what is the significance of March 5th? 


It's sacred to Isis. Very sacred, in fact:
Ididis Navigium, or alternatively Navigium Isidis, means Vessel of Isis. The festival gets its name from the main offering to Isis. In Apuleius’ Metamorphosis he describes the grand procession of worshippers from the temple of Isis to the harbor. 
Harbor. And the connection to Carnival? 
Modern carnival resembles the festival of the Navigium Isidis, and some scholars argue that they share the same origin (via carrus navalis, meaning naval wagon, i.e. float – later becoming car-nival). 
Reminding us again the Carnival Memphis is centered around Ancient Egyptian symbolism:
The twelve Grand Krewes that Carnival Memphis recognizes are the Mystic Society of the Memphi, Osiris, Sphinx, RaMet, Ennead, Phoenix, Aani, Ptolemy, Kemet Jubilee, Ptah, Luxor, Queen Bee...The Grand Krewes of Memphi, Osiris, RaMet and Sphinx are "old-line" Grand Krewes and were all started in the 1930s as the original secret societies of the Memphis Cotton Carnival.
And let's remember this Carnival centers of the appointment of the new Queen Isis and King Osiris:
Our Queen Isis has always been known for her beauty and membership in a prominent family. She wears the Ring of Isis, engraved with her hieroglyphic symbol. 
The identity of King Osiris is revealed at the Banquet of Past Kings. He and all Past Osiris Kings wear the King’s Medallion on a scarlet and white ribbon at all Osiris and Carnival events.
And this: 
Many elements of Carnival were in turn appropriated in the Corpus Christi festival, most prominently in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). 
Jeff Buckley recorded "The Corpus Christi Carol" on his first album.

Then there's this: 

Thus Plutarch tells us that Osiris was murdered on the seventeenth of the month Athyr, and that the Egyptians accordingly observed mournful rites for four days from the seventeenth of Athyr. Now in the Alexandrian calendar, which Plutarch used, these four days corresponded to the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth of November, and this date answers exactly to the other indications given by Plutarch, who says that at the time of the festival the Nile was sinking, the north winds dying away, the nights lengthening, and the leaves falling from the trees.
Which would mean, according to this reckoning, that the "Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys" took place either on or right before November 17. Why is this significant?
Jeffrey Scott Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997), raised as Scott Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. 

Next we'll take a closer look at the prophecies involved and why they might have gotten some unwanted attention.


TO BE CONTINUED


UPDATE: Darren reminds of that famous Beatles song that namedrops Albert Hall and also  tells us of another doomed young prince, Tara Browne, dead exactly a month after Jeff Buckley was born. More 17s:

On 17 December 1966, Browne was driving with his girlfriend, model Suki Potier, in his Lotus Elan through South Kensington at high speed (some reports suggesting in excess of 106 mph/170 km/h).[2] He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. Browne failed to see a traffic light and proceeded through the junction of Redcliffe Square and Redcliffe Gardens, colliding with a parked lorry. He died of his injuries the following day. Potier claimed that Browne swerved the car to absorb the impact of the crash to save her life.


"A Day in the Life"
On 17 January 1967 John Lennon, a friend of Browne's, was composing music at his piano whilst idly reading London's Daily Mail and happened upon the news of the coroner's verdict into Browne's death. He worked the story into the song "A Day in the Life", which was later released on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

John Lennon's "Good Morning Good Morning" was the first song you heard on the last episode of The Monkees. "Song of the Siren" was its swansong.

          Interlude: Swan Song, or In My Time of Dying   


A weird little coincidence struck me yesterday.

As we've seen, the last songs Jeff Buckley and Chris Cornell sang were songs most commonly associated with Led Zeppelin.
Cornell’s “sudden and unexpected” death right in the middle of Soundgarden’s U.S. tour that kicked off only last month is compounded only by the fact that his death was ruled a suicide, and while the 52-year-old musician outwardly showed no signs of depression or suicidal tendencies, the final song from last night’s sold out show at Detroit’s Fox Theatre: a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying”. 
And this: 
When Buckley entered the water from the trash-strewn bank, he was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and boots. He turned, grinning back at Foti, as he drifted in backward. When he was about knee deep, Foti remembers cautioning him: "You can't swim in that water." As Buckley continued, Foti repeated his caution: "What are you doing, man?" But Buckley smilingly reclined into the slate-gray water, singing the chorus of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" as he backstroked into the channel.
In 1974, Led Zeppelin started their own record label called Swan Song. 

The term swan song comes from an ancient belief that swans will sing a beautiful song just before they are about to die. 

Now we're treading into dangerous waters here, no pun intended. There's a temptation to cast too wide a net in search of symbolic connections, which, as they pile up, can tend to have a numbing effect. Plus, ancient mythology is so enormous that you could probably dig out a connection for whatever you like if you're not rigorous about it.

And there's still the open question as to why we would see so much symbolism and prophecy - practically to the point of overkill - attached to what most people might see as an historical footnote.  

So let's then establish that we're specifically looking here at the "swan songs," the very last performances by the people in question.




So with that in mind let's look at the very last line of the last verse of the last song on the last Cocteau Twins album- or if you prefer, their swan song. The song is "Seekers Who Are Lovers" and the line goes like this: 


"So send Lucifer into Hell."

The song is- you guessed it- yet another of Elizabeth Fraser's love letters to Jeff Buckley*, in this case a little note explicitly reminding him how amazing she thought the sex was.  Which is probably why nearly all of her performances of the song were extremely passionate, in her very strange way.

Then there's this :
Love, on the tip of it/ The old river's lack of other sweet sex†/ So sweet/You are a woman just as you are a man
The last line there corresponds to Buckley's self-identification of a "chanteuse with a penis," a reference to his interpretations of torch songs by singers like Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf. Which, of course, it's also entirely compatible with his role as a postmodern incarnation of Attis. 

And then there's that "river" reference again.

This in turn then corresponds to the more recent death of one of Buckley's closest friends (and posthumous spoeksman) just a few minutes away from Belle Isle on the Detroit River, which is itself closely associated with a Native American variant of the Siren myth.

Note also the connection of these fertility gods we've been looking at to rivers:
Adonis sprang from a tree; the body of Osiris was concealed in a tree which grew round the sea-drifted chest in which he was concealed. Diarmid concealed himself in a tree when pursued by Finn. The blood of Tammuz, Osiris, and Adonis reddened the swollen rivers which fertilized the soil.
But there's another connection between these ancient fertility gods and Lucifer; all of them were sent into the Underworld.  

And the way to the Underworld was traditionally the River Styx.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN(ELL)

Bearing in mind that Buckley died on the eve of an explicit Osiris ritual in Memphis, remember that the consort of Osris (who drowned in the Nile River) is Isis, whom "The Greeks conceived of (her) as a corn-goddess, for they identified her with Demeter. In a Greek epigram she is described as 'she who has given birth to the fruits of the earth,” and “the mother of the ears of corn.'” 

Similarly, Attis was identified closely with corn:
  Like tree-spirits in general, Attis was apparently thought to wield power over the fruits of the earth or even to be identical with the corn. One of his epithets was “very fruitful”: he was addressed as the “reaped green (or yellow) ear of corn”; and the story of his sufferings, death, and resurrection was interpreted as the ripe grain wounded by the reaper, buried in the granary, and coming to life again when it is sown in the ground
Corn-- and subsequently Cornell-- both derive from the Latin cornu, meaning "horn."

The closest Egyptian analog to goddesses like Isthar and Aphrodite is actually Hathor, whom Isis would eventually syncretize with, and who was commonly depicted as wearing horns. She has an interesting origin story: 
In the Story of Re, she was created by her father Re as "Sekhmet" as a destroyer of men, who were disobedient to him. Later Re changed his mind, but even he could not stop her from killing men. He then disguised beer as blood and when Sekhmet became drunk, she could no longer kill and was known thereafter as Hathor, a goddess of love.
Jeff Buckley's eventual swan song- which Chris Cornell was closely involved in producing- was the collection Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk.  It included the song "Morning Theft", commonly assumed to be a documentation of Buckley's reunion with Fraser sometime around the recording of 'All Flowers in Time Bend Toward the Sun'.


LUCIFER FALLING



There's been an ongoing controversy over the Swan Song label, which depicts an angel or winged man in the throes of death. One side of the debate claims it's a depiction of Icarus and others claim it's actually paying homage to Lucifer, and that the image is a depiction of his fall from Heaven. 

The painting is in fact an adaptation of a sketch by 19th century painter William Rimmer entitied "Evening, the Fall of Day." Some have argued that the image is a depiction of Apollo, but we don't see the chariot here which was associated with him when he absorbed the aspects of the Titan Helios.



So I think the Lucifer interpretation is probably closest to the mark. "The Fall of Day" is most probably a reference to Phosphoros the daystar, whose name is the Greek equivalent of Lucifer. Note that Jimmy Page had recently recorded the Lucifer Rising and later used a similar image for the release of the soundtrack.

Plus, Jimmy Page. 

What we also need to remember here is that Led Zeppelin's first use of the Swan Song logo was on the first side of the first disk of Physical Graffiti. And the last song on that side is Chris Cornell's swan song,  'In My Time of Dying'. 

The album also has a strong link to Jeff Buckley:
"When I was 12, I decided to become a musician," Buckley says. "Physical Graffiti was the first album I ever owned. My stepfather [who lived with Buckley's mother from 1971 to 1973] bought that for me."

But wait! There's more: Swans were closely associated with the love goddeses of the ancient world, particularly Aphrodite. 

As we saw, Elizabeth Fraser- in what seems to be her only foray into cosplay ever-  explicitly portrayed herself as a rising Aphrodite (0r Atargatis) in the video for 'Bluebeard'.

That single was released in February 1994. Fraser and Buckley met in March. At the time Fraser was in the midst of an ongoing personal crisis and seemed to experience a meltdown when the band performed 'Bluebeard' on The Tonight Show, going into full-WTF alien mode.

That meltdown was taped the same day Chris Cornell's friend Kurt Cobain died, which was called a suicide at the time.

And just to throw out another creepy death omen, Jeff Buckley would have a fling with Cobain's widow shortly before he died.

ALL FLOWERS

Lucifer also links us to another prophecy we recently looked at- Fraser's retelling of the myth of Narcissus and Echo, "Mud and Dark" (again, Jeff Buckley was swimming near Mud Island in the dark when he drowned). From The Aeon Eye blog:
Like Icarus, the archangel Lucifer is said to have fallen because of his pride and vanity over his own beauty and power, much like the myth of Narcissus. This supreme spirit of evil who was once radiant, but who because of his sin of pride fell from heaven into darkness and became Satan, saying: “Non serviam: I will not serve,” and thus brought upon himself the everlasting wrath of God.  
There's also a strain of the Narcissus daffodil called "Lucifer." 

And there's a Daffodil Hill in Memphis.

The mind reels.



TO BE CONTINUED



NOTE: It's also important to remember that Icarus- whose sin was disobedience- actually died by drowning.

The lyric "His poor essence" may in fact be "His Pur Essence," a reference to the fact the Fraser may have realized that she seemed to call Buckley by his given name - Scott Moorhead- in "Summerhead" (read:"S.Moorhead") in between the songs "Essence" and "Pur" on Four Calendar Cafe. 

That album was recorded while Buckley was still doing club gigs in tiny dive bars in Manhattan. They wouldn't begin their relationship for at least another year.

† Erroneously listed as "sweet scents" on some lyric sites.


          Deeper Than You Could Ever Know, or The Eternal Psychodrama   



The rabbit keeps digging. And digging. How far are you ready to go down?

I first began to follow this story when I heard about the drowning death of Jeff Buckley. I'm not sure why but the first thought that came into my head was that it had something to do with Elizabeth Fraser. 

I had no idea that all of this had been prophesied for years and years before, in ways that actually give me chills.

I had no idea that this was all closely following a very ancient script, for reasons I can't begin to wrap my head around. The symbolism is almost shockingly unambiguous, as we'll soon see.

I had no idea that a tragedy involving Chris Cornell, Jeff Buckley's close friend and posthumous spokesman, would take place on the banks of another river almost exactly 20 years later, a tragedy that seemed to follow a remarkably similar mythic script. And a tragedy that would seize the attention of millions all around the world.


And I most certainly had no idea twenty years ago that at the very same time police divers were scouring the muddy waters of the Wolf River Lagoon for Jeff Buckley's corpse a well-publicized reenactment of a mystery religion based on the drowning death of a revered ancient Egyptian god was being undertaken by an elite "secret society" just a few blocks away.

Yeah. That happened.

I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around that one too.

WHY AND WHAT FOR?

A reader asked a highly pertinent and perceptive question in the comments section of the previous post. It cuts to the heart of this extraordinarily unlikely mystery we're trying to crack here.
The thing that I keep asking is "why?" Why would spirits reenact this little passion play at all? Why with this small handful of singers and songwriters? It seems like a lot of effort, a lot of autistic attention to trivial details few would even notice - so where's the actual payoff for the Good Folk's effort? The only thing I can think up is that all the world's a play to them, but the dramatis personnae onstage never see more than a few glimpses of their lines before it's time for them to be spoken.
Why indeed? We're not talking about show biz superstars here, we're not talking about Benifer or Brangelina,  we're talking about two cult performers who never broke into the mainstream. 

We're talking about two very vulnerable souls whose supernatural gifts were balanced out by their struggles with their troubled upbringings and mental illness. But at the same time we're talking about two performers who could count the highest echelon of the music biz elite in their circle of apostles.

And we're talking about a love story whose tragic end was prophesied in a song that has garnered a staggering 48 million views on YouTube. Those people may not realize it but they've soaked all this in.

Which only makes sense because what we're actually seeing is a ritualistic reenactment of one of history's oldest love stories.


It's becoming increasingly well-known on the Internet that this song is about Jeff Buckley, though I think most people tend to underestimate how deep Fraser's obsession with the man really was. I don't think she ever got over it.

Buckley idolized Fraser, studied her, imitated her (the first time I heard Jeff Buckley- knowing nothing about him- I said to myself, "this guy sure sounds like he listens to a lot of Cocteau Twins records"). But when they met Fraser was in the middle of a serious- and painfully public- mental health crisis that would find her hospitalized twice within a year. 

Buckley brought color and excitement back into her life but he had far too many groupies chasing him to stay with an older woman who brought a lot of emotional baggage in tow. Plus, his star was rising and her band was in the process of winding down their long run.

The Wikipedia entry recites the almost-unimaginably eerie fact that Fraser was recording this song while the man about whom she was singing was dying on the other side of the world, but omits the fact that they were lovers:
Fraser wrote the song's lyrics. While recording the song on 29 May 1997, she found out that her once-close friend, Jeff Buckley, had drowned. "That was so weird ... I'd got letters out and I was thinking about him. That song's kind of about him – that's how it feels to me anyway." 
And what most people tend to overlook is that not only is she singing about Buckley- yet again- she is also unconsciously prophesying his death. Yet again:

Night, night of matter (?)
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath
Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my breath

I have a problem with this interpretation of the lyrics. As far as I can tell what Fraser is actually singing is "Night, night of murder" not "matter." Which makes a lot more sense when followed by "black flowers blossom." 

Why?

Because black flowers have traditionally been associated with death and mourning:
The color black has always been synonymous with death and mourning. It is thus the color of sadness and farewell. So, many people consider black roses to symbolize bereavement, loss and mortality. They are often used at funerals. 
And then there's this couplet, which connects us to a constellation of ancient goddesses whose dramas all center on lost loves ( and one of whose incarnations is known as "the first mermaid").


Water is my eye
Most faithful mirror

OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN


Some of Fraser's most extraordinary vocal performances come when she is channeling the dramas of ancient mythologies. This of course includes the Siren but also Lorelei, Echo, Pandora (not just once but twice), Persephone and Coatlicue.

She was, after all, "the Voice of God."

But there's one particular story that she seemed to embody and that's the story of the goddess who fell in love with the young shepherd boy. It seemed to start in an oblique and incidental way:
The Cocteaux released Moon and the Melodies in late 1986, which featured 'Sea, Swallow Me' and 'She Will Destroy You', among others. Then they released Blue Bell Knoll, which again is a reference to an old folk belief about a death omen. The bluebell is also known as Endymion non-scriptus. 
Endymion is yet another doomed mortal whom a goddess fell in love with: 
 Wandering farther afield from the British Isles, the bluebell is associated with the shepherd boy Endymion.  The moon goddess, variously called Seline or Diana, fell in love with him and cast an eternal sleep on him so that she could enjoy his beauty alone, forever.
One of the key cuts on Blue Bell Knoll is 'For Phoebe Still a Baby'. Phoebe is another name for Selene.  
This story goes back to the very cradle of civilization:
In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.
Inanna and Dumuzi also seem to be the stars of one of the earliest known tellings of the Descent into the Underworld, where Inanna traveled to retrieve the soul of her lost shepherd-boy consort. This story would be told over and over again.

This story was retold in Phrygia as the myth of Cybele and Attis (note see Tracy Twyman's dissertation of this myth at her blog):
Cybele loved the beautiful shepherd, and made him her own priest on condition that he should preserve his chastity inviolate. Atys broke the covenant with a nymph, the daughter of the river-god Sangarius, and was thrown by the goddess into a state of madness, in which he unmanned himself. 
This story was told in the pages of Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough, a book Elizabeth Fraser certainly seemed to have read. A variant on the story has the hermaphroditic Agdistis in place of Cybele. Strangely enough this version also correlates to the Fraser-Buckley drama, given the Cocteau Twins' singer's own innate androgyny. As the singer explained in 1995:
"I was very worried about being unattractive because I think I look quite masculine. Sometimes I feel more masculine than feminine and I don't like it. I mean, you've got a person who is in recovery from incest surrounded by men. I've never had a highly developed sense of being female."
Fraser would refer obliquely to Cybele in one of her many songs focused around moths and butterflies, 'Great Spangled Fritilary', a butterfly whose scientific name is S Cybele.

The Greeks retold the love-goddess and shepherd-boy story as that of Aphrodite and the shepherd-boy Adonis:
(Both) Aphrodite and Persephone, goddess of fertility and death, love Adonis, a beautiful young man. Adonis is killed by a wild boar while he is on the hunt: Aphrodite begs Zeus to restore him to life, but Persephone also demands that he be brought back to life for her sake. Zeus settles the dispute by resurrecting Adonis, but commands him to live six months in the upper world with Aphrodite and six months in the lower world with Persephone.

And sure enough, just before she would meet Jeff Buckley, Elizabeth Fraser would be depicted rising from a scallop shell like Aphrodite in the music video for 'Bluebeard'. 

The Syrian version of this archetype, widely believed to be the original incarnation of Aphrodite herself, who takes us right back to the world of sirens and mermaids. The very first mermaid, or so the story goes:
Atargatis was in love with a human shepherd but accidentally killed him.  Out of guilt, the goddess flung herself into the ocean hoping to become a fish.  But her beauty was so great, that she never could fully become a fish.  Instead she became half goddess, half fish, with a tail below the waist and human body above the waist.   

BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER...

...let's play the Name Game. You see this little mythology primer here isn't just for the giggles and grins, it cuts right to the core of the very strange daisy-chain of synchronicity we are trying to untangle.

Because Jeff Buckley's very surname means "shepherd boy."
Ó Buachalla, taken from the Irish word 'buachaill' originally meaning 'herdsman' (in modern Irish it has come to mean 'boy'), was anglcised early as Ó Boughelly, Boughla, Buhilly and later as Buckley. 
So you see I'm not exaggerating when I claim that what we're seeing here is a very ancient psychodrama that chose to play itself out in real time. I mean it literally. Do you understand me now?

And what about Liz Fraser? Well, given the Egyptian origin of the Biblical name (the first Elizabeth was connected to Moses and Aaron, both of which are native Egyptian names) I will go to my grave believing that in fact it comes from Eloah-Esi-Beth, or "Temple of the Goddess Isis." We'll get to Isis shortly.

But first the Fraser name, which ties into Knights Templar history, of all things:
The Frasers are believed to have come from Anjou in France. The name Fraser may be derived from Fredarius, Fresel or Freseau. Another suggestion is that the Frasers were a tribe in Roman Gaul, whose badge was a strawberry plant (fraisier in French). 
Might come from "fraisier." Gee, you think? 

But what's the significance of strawberries in this tale here? Well, it ties right back into the lineage of the same goddesses we're looking at. In this case the Syro-Roman variant:
The strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shapes and red color.
In a connection that will take on greater significance when we get to the next chapter of this drama, it so happens that Venus had a very Roswell kind of origin story:
In another story, told by Hyginus, an egg fell from the sky into the Euphrates, was rolled onto land by fish, doves settled on it and hatched it, and Venus, known as the Syrian goddess, came forth
Yeah, we're going there. But don't worry- it's baked right into the cake.


Yeah, those eyes. I know.

But of course the big kahuna of love-goddess and doomed shepherd myths is that of Isis and Osiris. In the best-known telling of the tale, Osiris' first death comes when he is drowned in the Nile inside his sarcophagus:
In some cases the texts suggest that Set takes the form of a wild animal, such as a crocodile or bull, to slay Osiris; in others they imply that Osiris's corpse is thrown in the water or that he is drowned. This latter tradition is the origin of the Egyptian belief that people who had drowned in the Nile were sacred.
And just to establish his shepherd cred:
 He also carries the crook and flail. The crook is thought to represent Osiris as a shepherd god. The symbolism of the flail is more uncertain with shepherds whip, fly-whisk, or association with the god Andjety of the ninth nome of Lower Egypt proposed.[12]
And as the fathomless enigmas of fate would have it, one of the foundation texts for the Isis-Osiris myth takes us back to- you guessed it- Memphis:
Another important source is the Memphite Theology, a religious narrative that includes an account of Osiris's death as well as the resolution of the dispute between Horus and Set. This narrative associates the kingship that Osiris and Horus represent with Ptah, the creator deity of Memphis. 
Quoting directly from the Memphite Theology, we have this:
Isis and Nepthys without delay, for Osiris had drowned in his water. Isis [and Nephthys] looked out, [beheld him and attended to him].  
OK, we have a river, a drowning and a Memphis. Can I shoehorn a wolf into this little catty-corner?

Oh, yes I can:
In the beginning, Osiris was associated mostly with agriculture. This cult spread rapidly into Upper Egypt, and soon Osiris became identified with the funeral god, Abydos, Khenti-Amentiu, who was symbolized by the wolf.  
But then we get thrown right down the crazy-stairs...

Oh, the eyes. Interesting.

While police divers were still dragging the Wolf River Harbor for Jeff Buckley's body, just a few blocks east the Grand Krewe of Osiris was enjoying the Carnival Memphis, kicking off at the Crosstown Concourse:
The Carnival Memphis Association organizes, plans, budgets, and promotes the King, Queen, and Royal Court, as well as many of the events staged during Carnival week. However, the Grand Krewes (once known as secret societies) also stage their own festivities throughout the year, elect their own royalty, manage their own budget, and have their own membership requirements.  
Most of these organizations bear Egyptian names in accordance to tradition originally set out by the Mystic Memphi, and in conjunction with Memphis being the sister city of ancient Memphis, Egypt. The twelve Grand Krewes that Carnival Memphis recognizes are the Mystic Society of the Memphi, Osiris, Sphinx, RaMet, Ennead, Phoenix, Aani, Ptolemy, Kemet Jubilee, Ptah, Luxor, Queen Bees.  
The Carnival kicks off the first weekend following Memorial Day. 

But what exactly is the Grand Krewe of Osiris? Well, besides the hosts of osirismemphis.com, that is?
Osiris was founded in 1934 as a Mystic Secret Society. Osiris membership has always consisted of top professional and business leaders. 
The Great Eye, the hieroglyphic symbol of Osiris for thousands of years, continues looking intently forward to the future of great city of Memphis, on the American Nile.
The Great Eye? You mean the one glowing in the middle of that giant pyramid you got there? The one on the shore of the Wolf River Lagoon? OK. Thanks.

Good, clean Masonic fun

And what exactly do their ceremonies entail?
The ceremonies were mysterious and symbolic, but the most common feature was the procession of Queen Isis in her carriage, far beyond the precincts of her temple on occasions to other towns. 
These occasions were passed amid great rejoicing, music, dancing, and feasting which formed important parts of the festival rites. 
The feast was held within lofty walls, with an entrance between immense pylons inscribed with hieroglyphs. 
Those called to join celebrated the regeneration of the land, the renewal of friendships, and the hopes for a productive and joyful year!

Is it just me or does this sound like something straight out of Summerisle? And how exactly do these ceremonies climax?
Our Queen Isis has always been known for her beauty and membership in a prominent family. She wears the Ring of Isis, engraved with her hieroglyphic symbol. 
The identity of King Osiris is revealed at the Banquet of Past Kings. He and all Past Osiris Kings wear the King’s Medallion on a scarlet and white ribbon at all Osiris and Carnival events.
OK, now I'm sure this is all fun and harmless and zany (totally Masonic) fun for the Memphite upper crust. But that doesn't matter in the context of ritual, especially the kind of ritual that goes beyond ritual. 

Because all this was going on while Jeff Buckley's body was floating a few blocks away in the Wolf River in the same exact way Osiris' body floated in the Nile.


You know Osiris-- the star-sailor. 



I said the Starsailor.

But again, the point is that happened. That actually happened. A bunch of drunk lawyers, doctors and their wives were playacting the mysteries of Isis and Osiris while an aspiring rock superstar was actually playing the part of Osiris in a ritual who I can't begin to imagine who -or more accurately, what -- was staging.

I mean, I never heard of this Carnival until a few hours ago. Have you?


What are the odds Elizabeth Fraser knew about any of this while she was writing songs that prophesy how a man she wouldn't meet for another 12 years would die? 

Somewhere between slim, zip and fuckall I'd wager.

But stay tuned because this story is about to take a very dark and sinister turn, taking us into the world of elite UFO cultists, the Tower of Babel, demons of the air, World War Three, and a prophecy of the most momentous event of our times.

I wish I were kidding.



TO BE CONTINUED















          "I Always Felt There was a Prophecy of Death in That Song."   


PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR

NOTE: Updated 6/12

Led Zeppelin. John Lennon. Prince. George Michael. The Monkees. Lord Byron. Sinead O'Connor. Chris Cornell. What do all these people have in common? They're all connected in one way or another to an unfolding drama orbiting a seminal song written by a doomed folk singer and debuted to the world wrapped in a salad of black magic, alien technology and mind control. 

And from then on, things got really weird.

I really didn't mean to get sucked back into all of this. I meant to do an overview post to observe the 20th anniversary and be done with it all. But then Chris Cornell died and the same archetypes rose again. Which means this story is still telling itself. That kicked in the OCD and got me looking again for prophecies.

And boy howdy, I found some real brain-blowers. 

"NOW WE ARE ANGELS"

Now I know a lot of you out there don't care about the Cocteau Twins or Jeff Buckley's music. And for a lot of you this might all be old news. I get that, it's totally fine by me. But the music isn't really the point of all this. 

The point is the story, this ancient archetypal myth playing out in real time, for whatever possible reason it may have other than the spirit world seems to have a dark sense of irony. And it may have well taken more trophies.

So, esoterically speaking, this is the equivalent of a Darwinist being able to watch a dog evolving into a turtle. 

You see, what we have here is a drama that seems to weave in elements of the occult, witchcraft, precognition, prophecy, synchronicity, and maybe even some spirit possession. 

We have the story of a strange young woman from a dysfunctional working class family who grew up in a place saturated with the power of the old stories. A woman who seems to have dabbled in witchcraft before undergoing a startling transformation in which she suddenly came into possession of an electrifying musical gift that led one British newspaper to declare she had "the Voice of God."

In an entirely matter of fact, self-effacing manner she would claim that in fact she was possessed by or channeling some kind of entity, something I don't find very hard to believe at all. 

I mean, think about it; what sounds more like genuine entity possession to you, this or this

This or this?



TESTING THE SIRENS

Of course, the first test of the spirits comes through prophecy.

And from the very first moment Elizabeth Fraser came into the public eye she seemed to prophesy a terrible event that revolved around an old 60s folk song that seems to have taken on a life of its own in the years since it first debuted. 

And if you take all the apparent prophecies-- prophecies that fly around this story like wasps at your birthday barbecue--together, you come up with the name, place, time and manner that this story would reach its inevitable climax. 

And it all seemed to unfold over a span of four decades.

Mind you, all of this is something we can objectively document. Interpret the facts any way you like but the beauty of it is that you don't need to rely on hearsay or anecdote here. We're looking at accepted and recorded events of history not testimony or speculation.

But there's also that song, which itself seems to be some kind of supernatural totem.


ENTER THE SIREN


In true Secret Sun style, the 'Song to the Siren' made its worldwide debut in a very strange and unlikely venue. It was first heard on the final episode of The Monkees TV show in 1968. 

And as readers would probably expect by now, the episode dealt with aliens, mind control and black magic. Plus, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:
The episode begins with a sunrise scene as the boys awaken to the sounds of the Beatles’ “Good Morning Good Morning,” which was the first time the Beatles had allowed their music to be used in a non-Beatles arena. 
The episode is, in short, about the evil Wizard Glick (played by Rip Taylor) who is on a mission to control people’s minds via their television sets. The airwaves beam out a hypnotic eye that is, well, hypnotizing its viewers, a not-so-subtle comment on the brain deadening effects of television. 
Evil wizards using alien technology to take over the world? Why does that sound so familiar?
Eventually, the boys discover that a creature called the Frodis plant had been captured when its spaceship landed on Earth, and was being used for evil by Wizard Glick. They realize they must rescue the Frodis and return it to its spaceship. Upon rescue, the plant emits this cloud of smoke, and in the process, seems to mellow out Glick and his cohorts, “I’ll let you work out that reference, folks,” adds Dolenz. The anti-war song “Zor and Zam” is featured during the “typical Monkees romp.”
As the story part of the episode ends, on walks the late singer-songwriter Tim Buckley to perform a solo acoustic version of his classic “Song to the Siren.” Buckley was a friend of Dolenz, who thought he should be introduced to the world. 
The beautiful song had, at the time, not been released.  
Note John Lennon wrote 'Good Morning Good Morning'. 

The episode is also known as "Mijacogeo," a (sub)title which wouldn't sound out of place on a Cocteau Twins record. In fact, there's even a scene where the Monkees begin chanting  in a style not unfamiliar to Cocteaux fans.

I mentioned this episode several years ago but hadn't seen it until recently. And my god, is it terrible. But as it happens, it also had an alternate title; 'The Frodis Caper.' I hadn't known that until just this past week. What's the significance of that title?

Here, let me write it like this: FRodiScapER
No luck? Try this: FRodiScapER

How's that?

There's even an A in there, if you want to get anagrammatic. And an 'Odic' too. If you really want to get obsessive you can make the p silent (as in Pfeiffer).

Tim Buckley, who never actually knew his son, died of an OD in 1975 at the age of 27. But already the prophecy machine seemed to have hummed to life.

 It'll End in Tears including
'Song to the Siren'

A PROPHECY

And just so we're clear on all this, I'm by no means the only person who gets how eerie this whole situation is, even if I was probably one of the first outside of the inner circle of people involved to do so. Even The Guardian has caught on:
(Tim) Buckley's eerie original is backed by stark waves of guitar and occasional high-pitched "siren" wails (is it his voice? An extremely flanged guitar?), and his five-octave-spanning tenor – "the closest thing to flying without taking acid or getting on a plane," Watts-Russell reckons. 
But Fraser's version suggested she was the siren of Homer's Odyssey personified, luring lovers to a premature grave
Sinead O'Connor, who was heavily influenced by Elizabeth Fraser, frames the story quite well here:
"I didn't know Buckley hadn't written the words," O'Connor says, "but I always felt there was a prophecy of death in that song." It's apparently the reason Fraser won't discuss the song (an interview request was ignored). Tim Buckley's son Jeff wrote to her when he heard the This Mortal Coil cover and, a couple of years before he drowned, aged 30, in 1997, they had a relationship.
The Financial Times also suggestively dropped that tragedy onto the last paragraph of their piece on 'Song to the Siren', but also noted the TMC/Cocteau Twins' version was so influential, that subsequent versions have mostly been covers of them:
Their reading set the template for those that were to follow — drifty, druggy, drenched in reverb, a perfect setting for lyrics such as “Did I dream you dreamed about me?"
And it so transpires that there are lot of well-known fans of Fraser's interpretation (including superstar directors Peter Jackson and David Lynch):
In 2002, Robert Plant covered it on his Dreamland album, garnished with his characteristic “oh-ohs”. In 2007, George Michael opened his gig at the new Wembley stadium by singing “Siren” from offstage (he later released it as a single)…Sinéad O’Connor’s 2010 version is heavily indebted to This Mortal Coil’s mystic-Celticism.


Indeed, George Michael - Greek by origin- did his level best to reproduce- note for note- Elizabeth Fraser's version of the song. At what was one of the biggest gigs of his career.

Of course, Michael himself recently died under circumstances that don't seem entirely transparent. There was a lot of mystery surrounding his passing, even if it was subsequently declared to be from natural causes. But Michael wasn't the only pop superstar to worship the Twins:
Madonna loved them, Prince wanted to sign them and Scritti Politti's Green Gartside said the vocally gymnastic Fraser was his third favourite melodicist of all time (behind Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson).
You can throw in Peter Gabriel and Boy George as well (George once said Fraser was his favorite singer). And yes, Prince was indeed a major Cocteau Twins fan.
Tictactoe is the tenth track on Prince's 36th album Plectrumelectrum (the first by Prince and 3rdEyeGirl). It is likely the track was recorded in February 2014.  
The magazine quotes Prince describing the recording of the track: “We recorded it in Bryan Ferry’s studio Studio One in London, after a night of partying for which the Cocteau Twins was the soundtrack. You can’t understand the words of Cocteau Twins songs but their harmonies put you in a dreamlike state.” 
Prince also died recently, at too young an age. Under circumstances that have inspired terrabytes of Internet speculation.



When the Levee Breaks, originally recorded 
by "Hoodoo Lady" Memphis Minnie

ENTER THELEMA

And just to add more fuel to the occult fire we have the Led Zeppelin connection to all of this. 

As you know, both Jeff Buckley and his best friend Chris Cornell sang Led Zeppelin tunes (or more accurately, blues standards commonly associated with Led Zep) shortly before they died. And Zeppelin's personal connections to Buckley are well-recorded:
One man who loved Grace was Jimmy Page. There was arguably no-one whose opinion Buckley valued more. He’d sung Zeppelin songs at Sin-é…One might even say there was a transference of Zeppelin energy taking place, a blessing or endorsement from afar, from the older men to the young. When Page and Buckley met, it was clear they understood each other on a profound level. 
“Jeff told me they cried,” says Chris Dowd. “They actually cried when they met each other. Jimmy heard himself in Jeff, and Jeff was meeting his idol. Jimmy Page was the godfather of Jeff’s music. A lot of people thought Tim was the influence on Jeff, but it was really Zeppelin. 
Less known is Led Zeppelin's connection to the Cocteau Twins- Robert Plant was/is a major devotee, saying in one interview "I wanted to be the Cocteau Twins". Then there's this, from a Twins interview:
Robert Plant went through a phase of raving about them in every interview he did. Liz doesn't tell me about the time she introduced herself to him, but Robin does. They had gone to see Echo & the Bunnymen. Liz, who was a little tipsy, spotted Robert Plant at the bar and tapped him on the shoulder. 
"Excuse me," she said. "I read that you really like the Cocteau Twins.""Yeah," the mousy-maned ex-sex god grunted. "I like them. Do you like them?"Mortified, she muttered her assent and slunk away.
According to another telling what she actually said is, "they're OK, I guess." Which is absolutely adorable.


EXHIBIT ONE: GARLANDS LYRICS SLEEVE

The lyrical swatches printed on the inner sleeve of the Cocteaux' 1982 debut album Garlands are tantalizing, and the band's official bio lists them in an interesting order. See this post for more information on Garlands.

And again, Jeff Buckley died on Garland Day.

First we have a quarrel with a lover, peppered with threats of violence.
"My mouthing at you; My tongue the stake; I should welt should I hold you; I should gash should I kiss you..." (Blind Dumb Deaf)

Things get a bit darker next- a song about blood sacrifice.
"Things from the forest die here, but I don't; Dead forest things are offered here, but I'm not...." (But I'm Not)

Then death on a river. Bear in mind the person who wrote these remarkable lyrics was only 18 years old:

"The then shallow she Earth as we know it; The then hallow she a sky for the sacred; Stars in my eyes; stars at my feet; womb in the belly; capital place..." (Shallow Then Halo)

As mentioned before, Memphis was the capital of Egypt's lower kingdom. And Jeff Buckley was swimming in shallow waters when he drowned (the deepest point of the Wolf River Harbor is only nine feet deep).

Next we have drugs, religion and death. 
"Garlands evergreen; forget-me-not wreaths; chaplets see me drugged; I could die in the rosary...." (Garlands)

Then this:
"Grail overfloweth, there is rain; and there's saliva and there's you...." (Grail Overfloweth)

As detailed before, we have two Buckley connections here, both to the rain during the search the night he disappeared and to the Grail-inspired "Corpus Christi Song" on Grace.

Now, returning to 'Shallow then Halo' we see wings and feathers connected to the river. We also see the mention of fertile soil.
Winged water
Feathered river
Dirty rich soil
Strong and fertile

What's the significance of wings and feathers to a river? Well, considering this is the Mississippi, perhaps we need to look at the Mississippi state seal for a clue.


Ahh. Dream-logic at work.

Then the soil:
At Cairo, Illinois, the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi, doubling its volume and creating the point that divides the Upper Mississippi from the Lower Mississippi. The Lower Mississippi Valley is a wide and fertile region… As it flows in this southern region, the Mississippi deposits rich silt along its banks.
Now this odd use of she:


"The then shallow she Earth as we know it; 
The then hallow she a sky for the sacred"

Wouldn't you just know it, the word sidhe is pronounced "she." In the context of the lyrics here it just happens that sidhe makes a lot more sense than she. 

Try this: "the then-shallow sidhe" (a spirit in shallow waters) and the "the then-hallow sidhe" (a spirit honored as sacred, re:"a sky for the sacred").

 If you didn't catch the update on the Chris Cornell post, here's the lowdown on one of the Siren's Celtic cousins:
In Celtic folklore, the leannán sí "Fairy-Lover" ...is a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí …who takes a human lover. 
Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.   
The leannán sídhe is generally depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for their love and devotion; however, this frequently results in madness for the artist, as well as premature death.
She also granted the power of prophecy.

The leannán sídhe is related to the more well-known Banshee. 
But only certain families of historic lineage, or persons gifted with music and song, are attended by this spirit; for music and poetry are fairy gifts, and the possessors of them show kinship to the spirit race—therefore they are watched over by the spirit of life, which is prophecy and inspiration; and by the spirit of doom, which is the revealer of the secrets of death.
Sometimes the Banshee assumes the form of some sweet singing virgin of the family who died young, and has been given the mission by the invisible powers to become the harbinger of coming doom to her mortal kindred. Or she may be seen at night as a shrouded woman, crouched beneath the trees, lamenting with veiled face; or flying past in the moonlight, crying bitterly...
And Jesus, here's a five-star money-quote if ever I heard one. It basically synopsizes this entire story:
The Banshee even follows the old race across the ocean and to distant lands; for space and time offer no hindrance to the mystic power which is selected and appointed to bear the prophecy of death to a family.  
Which would probably be a good time to drop this old bit of snarkery on you:
All you need to know about the Cocteau Twins is that they make Siouxsie and the Banshees records, OK? -- Melody Maker 10/16/82
Of course, the wild howling of early Cocteaux is more akin to the Banshee myth than Siouxsie's rather modest vocal range. But the influence is plainly there (the Scots seemed to be particularly found of the Banshees). Especially in early songs like "Speak No Evil", which offer more hints of that unexpected connection to witchcraft and the occult (bonus factoid: Fraser used to go around in outfits decorated with chicken bones):

My soul I sold
I can't forget to ask
There's nothing movin' it again
Wolf thirst said me

This song is included on the Garlands CD, alongside 'Shallow than Halo'. Note that- again- we have references to both a river in a song about drowning in shallow water and to a wolf in a song about a daemonic pact. 

In that latter line, we also have a suggestion of death and a connection to water ("wolf thirst"). And just to remind anyone new to this conversation here:
Making a stop at the Wolf River channel of the Mississippi River, a fully clothed Buckley waded into the water and began swimming. 

Noise Rock-era Twins opening for Killing Joke in 1982 

EXHIBIT TWO: Alas Dies Laughing

On their next release after Garlands (the ironically titled Lullabies EP), we see two more songs whose titles also make semiotic connections between birds and water travel, namely the songs 'Feathers Oar Blades' and 'It's All But an Ark Lark'.  Sandwiched between them is one of the Cocteau Twins' most unsettling songs, 'Alas Dies Laughing', a song the early PiL would have been proud to call their own.

After two attempts at conventional choruses, the song breaks down into a bridge that has (a pre-transformation) Fraser moaning like the Pythia as the fumes rise. After the breakdown, she dispenses with the niceties and lapses into a repetitive chant about exactly how Alas died laughing:

Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a
Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a 

Jesus. And just to remind everyone again:
The wake of a passing boat sucked Buckley under, and he drowned. His body was recovered six days later, after it was seen by a riverboat passenger.
So sandwiched between two songs that refer to boats (and symbolically connect to the Mississippi via the bird imagery) we have a song about drowning. In a wake. 

Fifteen years before the singer's lost love died that very same way. .

Now is it just me or is this like something out of one of Philip K Dick's most unhinged fever dreams?  This is really just the tip of the iceberg though.




EXHIBIT THREE: It's All But an Ark Lark

Those aren't all the clues to be found on Lullabies. 'Ark Lark' also has some as well.

It's all for my, all for my, all for my
Charisma
Charisma
Charisma 

Charisma- divine gift- originally referred to extraordinary characteristics of the gods. In Christianity, charisma manifests itself in glossolalia and prophetic gifts.

Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails

We have references to a wolf (yes, wolves do bark) and water travel again.



And oh yeah- 'Song to the Siren' was first recorded for the Tim Buckley album Starsailor.

Wolf. Water. Buckley. Siren. 

Then this:

He's mocking both my lullabies 
Is Mockingbird my lullabies?
Is mocking both my lullabies 
Is Mockingbird my lullabies?



Mockingbirds are the state bird of Tennessee.


These lyrics from 'Feathers Oar Blades' are tantalizing as well.


Here comes the oppressors
Oppress, fallen, weaken
Feathers-oar blades
Spitting their feathers
Spitting out oar blades 
Spitting out oar blades 
Crestfallen
Weaken

There are the feathers and water connected again. That notion of spitting feathers (Mississippi) and oar blades (Wolf River Harbor) is gnawing at my skull as well.



EXHIBIT FOUR: THAT, UH, BAND NAME

The band's next album would be released on Halloween 1983. With original bassist Will Heggie having quit, the duo needed to find a replacement. 
Although Robin and Liz hadn't specifically
          Chris Cornell: The Muses Choose Broken Vessels   

Jesus Christ Pose

The Alternative Rock explosion of the early 90s was fueled by a wave of great singers. After a lost decade of metallic shriekers and New Wave gurglers-- which some call the 80s-- there was suddenly an embarrassment of strong voices revitalizing rock music, especially hard rock music. 

Most of these had cut their teeth on punk and hardcore and subsequently learned to trim back the fat and excess that torpedoed their 70s forebears. They also learned to step around the wretched excesses that ran the 80s metal explosion into the ground; cookie-cutter sameness, image over substance, half-written songs, cliche piled on cliche.

Alternative rock would itself get watered down and xeroxed into oblivion, especially as careerists figured out a way to counterfeit the formula (I'm looking at you, Candlebox and Seven Mary Three) and record companies signed up every pseudo-grunge band they could find (and strong-armed other acts to hop on the bandwagon). 

By the end of the 90s it all devolved into an obnoxious fratboy rock (I'm looking at you, Limp Bizkit and Creed) that reached its inevitable apotheosis at the disastrous Woodstock '99 (held on a decommissioned military base). 

But before that all went down some of the most vital and exciting rock music of all time was produced.

Alternative Rock, or more accurately GenX Rock, has taken its place in the classic rock canon. Tracks by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are snuggled in tightly between all the Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd cuts overplayed on FM radio. But five of the most remarkable vocalists of that era- Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Jeff Buckley, Scott Weiland and now Chris Cornell--- are lost to us.

And the 9-ton Tyrannosaurus lurking in the back of the concert hall is that modern plague, clinical depression. It's a subject I'm all too familiar with. It's the witches' curse on Generation X.

Chris Cornell was an enigmatic figure among the Grunge pantheon. If Kurt Cobain was the snotty punk, Eddie Vedder the self-serious poet, Layne Staley the tortured howler and Scott Weiland the Joker in the pack, Cornell was an entirely unique presence, as was Soundgarden. Tall, lean but ripped, possessing an odd, androgynous beauty and an enviable black mane, he came across as aloof, Olympian. His piercing, multi-octave voice felt like a weapon,  more like an incarnation of Apollo the Destroyer than Ozzy Osbourne.

Similarly, Soundgarden was perhaps the most effective translator of the power of early Black Sabbath yet, but were brainy, difficult, challenging. 

They were unmistakably Heavy Metal-- in the original, Blue Cheer definition of the term --but didn't shriek the usual ditties about dick size and date rape. It was pretty clear they had no time for that kind of nonsense (See "Big Dumb Sex"). It was clear they took as much inspiration from King Crimson and Black Flag as from Zeppelin and Sabbath. 

Their first major single was an epic environmentalist jeremiad that goofed on Metal's "kill-your-mother-music" reputation by screaming "you're going to kill your mother" in the refrain. The mother here being Mother Earth, of course.

Predictably, Chris Cornell's corpse was literally not cold yet before the modern ambulance chasers of the Internet were declaring it was obviously an Illuminati sacrifice. One hilarious YouTard video went on about how there was no other explanation for Cornell's death, that he'd have no reason to kill himself. 

Obviously someone who never actually listened to a single stitch of Soundgarden.

Like Ian Curtis-- who hung himself 37 years almost to the day before-- many of Cornell's lyrics read like suicide notes. After all, this is a man who kicked off one of his biggest hits with the couplet "Nothing seems to kill me/ No matter how hard I try." Two of his other big hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days" are practically master classes in the art of expressing the utter hopelessness ("'Neath the black the sky looks dead") that can overtake you when a depressive episode strikes. 

The same goes for Soundgarden's breakout hit, "Outshined," practically a hymn about searching for a crack of sunlight while waiting a dire episode out. "The Day I Tried to Live" is even more astonishing, a documentary retelling of those mornings when depression- aggression turned inwards- becomes aggression turned on the world outside.

Cornell was very candid about his struggles with depression. In an interview with Rolling Stone he discussed the inspiration for "Fell on Black Days":
This reissue includes several versions of "Fell on Black Days," which is pretty dark. What inspired it? 

Well, I had this idea, and I had it for a long time. I'd noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, "Things aren't going so well, and I don't feel that great about my life." Not based on any particular thing. I'd sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn't a catastrophe. There wasn't a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody's parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same. That was the song I wanted to write about. 
No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you'll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that's something that – as far as I know – we don't necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write. 
It wasn't just for the gloom-metal gimmick of Soundgarden that Cornell laid bare his struggles. They crept into tracks he recorded with Audioslave- the supergroup made up of Cornell and the musicians of Rage Against the Machine, including their biggest hit "Like a Stone."

Cornell was also candid about his history with clinical depression, which he traced back to a somewhat hardscrabble upbringing. 
Cornell abstained from drug use for a time following an adverse reaction to the hallucinogenic PCP, but the frightening, dissociative experience, coupled with the trauma of his parent’s divorce, plunged him into a severe depression. “I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not having any friends until the time I was 16. There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn’t deal with anybody, didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t have any friends at all.”
And clearly showing that he also struggled with suicidal ideation, Cornell foreshadowed his own end in an interview with Guitar.com, saying, “You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope." 

Writer Kate Paulk wrote about the black dog of depression recently and offered up an apt metaphor lifted from pop culture:
Let’s start by clearing up one thing. Sadness, grieving in response to a loss… that is not depression. It’s sadness. Grief. It passes with time, and even at its worst there are moments of joy and hope. Depression is not like that. Everything is poisoned. 
J. K. Rowling is describing depression when she describes the Dementors and their impact. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. 
This is precisely what depression does. There is an absence of hope, an inability to believe that there can ever be anything positive in your life again. That isn’t sadness or grief, and it isn’t necessarily expressed by tears.
Cornell was also a substance abuser and dove headlong into an opioid addiction after Soundgarden split in 1997. It may well have come from a chronic pain issue, closely related to chronic depression: 
People with depression show abnormalities in the body’s release of its own, endogenous, opioid chemicals. Depression tends to exacerbate pain—it makes chronic pain last longer and hurts the recovery process after surgery. 
“Depressed people are in a state of alarm,” said Mark Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. “They’re fearful, or frozen in place. There’s a heightened sense of threat.” That increased threat sensitivity might also be what heightens sensations of pain. 
Opioids certainly aren't very effective painkillers in the long term but they are very effective anesthetics when you're struggling with chronic depression. 
Opioids treat pain, but depression and pain are often comorbid, and some antidepressants relieve neuropathic pain even in the absence of depression. Depression involves dysfunction in monoamine systems, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and hippocampal neurogenesis, but could it also be rooted in a deficit of endorphins, or even an endopharmacological withdrawal state? 
Before the modern antidepressant era, depression was often treated with opiates—with a sometimes heavy price of addiction.  
The real hell of opioids is that they rewire your brain, causing the natural processes that regulate depression and euphoria to atrophy. Depression can skyrocket when you stop taking them, since your brain basically forgot how to produce sufficient amounts of the neurotransmitters that manage your moods.
u-agonists relieve depression-like behavior acutely, but tolerance develops, and depression is worse on withdrawal from long-term administration. Delta-agonists appear to improve mood, while kappa-agonists worsen it. There is evidence that opioid dysfunction accounts for lack of pleasure in depression, while problems with dopamine impair motivation. Opioid systems, then, participate in many mood-related functions. They are examples of evolutionary repurposing of neurotransmitters that originally evolved for one purpose to meet a variety of other needs.


Cornell's family is understandably shocked by his death. His widow blames an elevated dose of the tranquilizer Ativan for the somewhat disturbing performance he put on in Detroit and his resulting suicide. 
Cornell died on the evening May 17th, 2017, shortly after performing a concert with Soundgarden in Detroit, MI. His death was met with shock by many; his representative described it as "sudden and unexpected," adding that the singer's family will be "working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause." 
Hours after his death was reported, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office ruled Chris' death a suicide by hanging. According to Us Weekly, a family friend had found Cornell on the bathroom floor of his MGM Grand hotel room. ABC News also reported that two Detroit papers claimed that Cornell was found with "a band around his neck," though Detroit Police spokesman Michael Woody could not confirm that information. 
Cornell's wife, Vicky, released a statement on his death on Friday, May 19th, 2017, in which she cast doubts that his suicide was intentional. In fact, on the day of his death, Vicky claimed they had "discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do." "When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him," she said. 
"What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details," she continued. "I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."
I think the fact that Cornell ad-libbed verses from "In My Time of Dying" over a rendition of "Slaves and Bulldozers" during the closing encore in Detroit  gives a fairly compelling signal that he had resolved himself to a course of action that night. Despite an incredibly shaky performance he seemed in good spirits to some, all too common with depressives resolved to suicide. But others noticed he seemed irritable and unfocused, forgetting the lyrics. He complimented the Detroit audience and then said, "I feel sorry for the next city."

An extra Ativan or two is unlikely to induce suicide. But long-term use of it (it's recommended that lorezepam-- a member of the highly-problematic benzodiazepene family-- be used only a short term basis) might. And it's very possible he took an extra dose of the drug to gird his loins for a decision he had already made:
Suicidality: Benzodiazepines may sometimes unmask suicidal ideation in depressed patients, possibly through disinhibition or fear reduction. The concern is that benzodiazepines may inadvertently become facilitators of suicidal behavior. Therefore, lorazepam should not be prescribed in high doses or as the sole treatment in depression, but only with an appropriate antidepressant.
Depression and suicidal ideation go hand in glove. And there are all kinds of psychiatric drugs that tell you upfront that suicidal ideation is a major side effect. How that doesn't keep them off the market is a mystery to me. 

The other problem is that people who obsess on suicide usually don't talk about it with people close to them since they realize that confessing to it will very likely act to derail what they have been planning. And again, professionals will tell you that very often when a depressive has resolved themselves to suicide they can often seem very cheerful and upbeat, since they believe that their suffering will soon end. 

So the question becomes if a rich, celebrated and handsome rock star can't find a reason to stay alive, what hope is there for the rest of us? Well, it's a lot more complicated than that. Aside from his struggles with clinical depression, Cornell was also beset by tragedy, losing people closest to him to early death. 

The first of these was his roommate Andrew Wood, the flamboyant singer for legendary Seattle band Mother Love Bone who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that he formed a defacto supergroup with members of MLB and recorded the now-legendary Temple of the Dog album as a tribute, which produced the grunge anthem "Hunger Strike" (featuring a duet between Cornell and future Pearl Jam star Eddie Vedder).

Temple of the Dog in fact led to the formation of Pearl Jam, facilitated by the introduction of Vedder to the Seattle scenesters by drummer Jack Irons, a member of the original Red Hot Chili Peppers who also played with Pearl Jam and Joe Strummer, among an army of others. Strangely enough, Irons has his own struggles with depression. As did Joe Strummer, for that matter. 

The Muses choose broken vessels. It's a Secret Sun truism. 

Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that it would haunt Soundgarden songs as well.
The song you workshopped the most was "Like Suicide." In the liner notes, you say it kind of became a metaphor for how you were feeling at the time about late Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood. 
Yeah, the lyrics were actually this simple moment that happened to me. I don't know that I ever directly related it to Andy, though there are a lot of songs that people probably don't know where there were references to him or how I was feeling about what happened with him. I just think that that was something that happened to me that was a traumatic thing and that I had a difficult time resolving it. I still never really have. I still live with it, and that's one of the moments where maybe in some ways it could have shown up, but I'm not really sure specifically where.
Another body blow was the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, another friend who died in time to cast a pall of existential darkness over Soundgarden's epochal Superunknown album, released a month before Cobain's death. So even as Soundgarden were enjoying their moment, death and tragedy revisited Cornell. (Cobain had his own issues, exacerbated by years of opioid abuse, but there are those of us who don't buy the suicide angle in this particular case).

It had to hurt, especially since Cobain had told Cornell that Soundgarden has inspired him to form Nirvana in the first place. 

Superunknown was an instant classic, easily one of the top 10 Hard Rock albums ever recorded, hammering you with one killer track after another. Along with Stone Temple Pilots' Purple album, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy and several others it established 1994 as the watershed for Alernative Rock, despite Cobain's death and Nirvana's dissolution. 

Soundgarden's 1996 follow-up Down on the Upside, failed to capitalize on its predecessor's momentum, and seem to showcase a band uncertain of direction and sense of purpose. No one was really surprised when Soundgarden broke up the following year. Oddly enough the breakup seemed to go down almost exactly three years after Kurt Cobain's death. 



But Tragedy wasn't finished with Cornell yet. Shortly after Soundgarden broke up Cornell would lose another soulmate.
He lost two friends within the space of a few years. Cobain died in 1994 and, three years later, singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, practically a brother to Cornell, drowned while swimming in a tributary of the Mississippi in Tennessee.

"Kurt was fairly quiet and introverted most of the time. Jeff was the opposite. He was very much full of life and had a lot to say. He was somebody in love with experiencing everything. Within a very short time, he had all these famous old rock stars coming to his shows. Which put a a lot of pressure on him. People talked about his concerts the way they used to talk about Hendrix: they'd sit there, wide-eyed, telling you stories about him. He definitely had an aura. It's impossible to say what it is exactly a guy like that has, that is so attractive to other people. But he had more of it than anyone I had ever met."
Of course, this brings all this squarely into the Secret Sun wheelhouse. Cornell would be haunted by Buckley's death, writing the aching "Wave Goodbye" (in which he seems to channel Buckley's ghost) for his first solo album and acting as a de facto executor-slash-curator for Buckley's posthumous releases.



This tells us a lot, since the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death is coming up fast and furious. Cornell showed he was clearly still haunted by Buckley's passing when he brought the late singer's old landline phone onstage with him during his 2011 acoustic solo tour.
KALAMAZOO — I've had several people ask about the red phone that was on stage during Chris Cornell's 130-minute set at the Kalamazoo State Theatre last week. Cornell never addressed it during the show and it never rang, so I didn't think much of it. After another reader asked Monday, I looked into it. 
According to a representative with the New York-based Press Here Publicity, which handled promotion for Cornell's solo tour, the phone belonged to singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley.
As Secret Sun readers will remember, the last song Jeff Buckley sang before his death was "Whole Lotta Love", a blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into what one critic called "a themonuclear rape."

And it would be "In My Time of Dying," another old blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into a jackhammering stomper that acted as Cornell's own self-elegy. This, along with the timing of Ian Curtis's own death by hanging in 1980 seems a bit too synchronized for Cornell's death to be some kind of mad whim because he took too much Ativan.  As painful as it might be to admit, it seems as if this was probably a very long time coming. After all, this is the man who wrote "Pretty Noose."

So it seems apparent that it wasn't the Illuminati but in fact the demon possession of depression that took Chris Cornell away from his family. With many of his closest friends gone and the glory days of the 90s more and more a fading memory in a world itself gripped by chronic depression, I can't say I'm surprised by the suicide ruling.  

The life of the rock star in 2017 is a galaxy away from the golden age of the rock star in 1977. It's become a grueling job in the age of streaming and piracy, since you need to make all your money on the road now. Spending your life traveling from one brutalist concrete box to another when you're fifty-two is surely a lot less appealing than when you're twenty-two.

If there's any good to come of this tragedy it's to understand that depression isn't some kind of scarlet letter, it's an inevitable result of what one scientist called "the greatest blind experiment in history," the bombardment of our brains and bodies with every manner of stimulus and stress imaginable, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and then some.

Having spend my teenage years in the white-hot cauldron of hardcore punk I can tell you that that kind of hyperstimulation had -- how do I put this? --less than a salutary effect on a lot of people I knew. Seeing that same formula translated into the mainstream culture goes a long way in explaining why depression has become the great mass epidemic of our time. Now it's claimed another trophy and we're all the poorer for it.

But as the Greeks and Romans once said, vita brevis ars longa

French philosophers once said that the invention of motion pictures had conquered death, that people would now live on forever once they were recorded. I guess the same goes for recorded music as well. So I think it's safe to say that after three decades of music, Chris Cornell has earned his place among the immortals. Let's hope someone learns something from his story.


          Covenant and the Cargo Cult, Part 2: Hollywood Babylon   



Several years ago I blogged on the Oscars and the enigma of the Hollywood and Highland complex they're held in, specifically the very odd presence of the Babylon Gate, recreated from DW Griffith's epic flop, Intolerance. As I wrote back in 2008:
The rear entrance to the theatre is a massive recreation of the Babylon Gate from D.W. Griffiths’s Intolerance (Griffith was yet another Hollywood Freemason)... Near the top rim of the gate is a border design made of 17 keyhole-shaped objects. It seems only appropriate that behind the Babylon Gate stands the Renaissance Hotel, located on the 1700 block of Highland Ave. 
All well and good, right? Now ask yourself- what in Heaven's name is this doing in the courtyard of the venue where the World's most prominent awards ceremony is held every year? What connection is this alleged to have to the Oscars? I mean, the symbolism is obvious but what's the cover story?
Well, apparently the cover story is that the legendary writer Ray Bradbury- the poet laureate of science fiction-- insisted that the Gate be installed at the plaza. Why exactly and exactly how he had such pull with the H&H developers is a real brain-teaser. Bradbury is quoted thusly:
"I told them that somewhere in the city, they had to build the set from the 1916 film Intolerance by D. W. Griffith. The set, with its massive, wonderful pillars and beautiful white elephants on top, now stands at the corner of Hollywood and Highland avenues. People from all over the world come to visit, all because I told them to build it. I hope at some time in the future, they will call it the Bradbury Pavilion." 
Well, that's all well and good but the fact remains that the planners probably wouldn't have gone to the trouble and expense of recreating the Gate simply to humor a writer, no matter how respected he may be. And there's the blindingly obvious symbolism to be unpacked here.

Because what we're talking about here is the literalizing of "Hollywood Babylon," which you have to admit is kind of a ballsy, in-your-face kind of move. Note you don't see any other pseudo-cyclopean artifacts from any other ancient culture there. Of course, what it also does is make a very specific and definitive statement as to what Tinseltown holds most sacred. 

I mean, Babylon. Think about it for a moment. 

Did I mention that they hold the Oscars here, the 800-pound gorilla of all award ceremonies?

As you may already know, Babylon is a Greek rendering of the Akkadian bav-ilim, which means "Gate of the Gods." So the H&H gate is in fact a symbolic representation of a portal to the world of the gods, or a stargate if you prefer.

What's more, Babylon was founded by the great usurper Sargon of Akkad, who we discussed last year not only for his conquest of Sumer-- and all that implies-- but for the possible fingerprints he might have left on several Bible stories as well as the Prometheus mythologies.
Now, pay close attention to what happened next- the devil, as always, is in the details: A Lugal- a giant- bound in chains to appease a sky god: why does that sound so familiar?  
Oh yeah, because that's Prometheus' story as well.
 Lugal-zagesi marched his army from Kish to meet Sargon in battle and was defeated. Sargon then put Zagesi in chains, tied a rope around his neck, and took him to the city of Nippur, sacred to the god Enlil upon whom Lugalzagesi had relied, and forced him to march in humiliation through the Enlil's gate. 
Again with the gates.

So the Babylon Gate doesn't just connect back to Sumer and the foundation of Western civilization and the monotheistic religions (Abraham was actually Sumerian), it also ties into-- you guessed it-- Ancient Astronaut Theory, specifically through the influential work of Zecharia Sitchin. 

For whatever problems Sitchin's work may have, no one did more to identify Sumer with ancient astronauts in the public imagination. 



Did I mention that many of the biggest SF movie/TV franchises coming out of Hollywood have Ancient Astronaut Theory as the basis of their mythology? I did? Good. 

I would argue that the Gate also ties into the Lucifer archetype through the Zagesi-Prometheus link, not to mention through the fascinating constellation of mysterious yet crucially important Sumero-Akkadian fire gods, variously known as Gibil (Gilgamesh is a rendering of Gi-bil-aga-mis, which literally means "Gibil is commander"), Girra (which literally means "Light-Bringer"), Nusku (the guardian of dreams and lord of the night) and others. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was described in language anyone raised Christian would recognize (such as "first-born son of God," for starters) two-thousand years before Jesus walked the Earth. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was also a binary god. He Incarnated the elemental power of fire, so over the years there were both benevolent and malevolent fire gods. The badass fire god was Nergal, god of the underworld (also known as Lugalgirra, Erra, etc). Like Osiris (immortalized in the Oscar statuette itself) Nergal was believed to represent the Sun in the underworld.

This of course re-emerged in the form of the much-later innovation of Satan and Lucifer representing the dark and light natures of the Princes of Hell. How exactly that little arrangement arose in the Middle Ages, when the original Akkadian/Babylonian texts were believed to have been long lost, is another puzzler altogether.

The Babylonian Lucifer not only surfed his way along the waves of cultural displacement,  the Assyrians saw him as a bulwark against black magic and witchcraft, as recorded so famously in the astonishing Maqlu grimoire (which Necromonicon fans should really take the time to read).

So I should probably insert the fact that Gordon referred to Alien: Covenant as a "Space Lucifer" movie, for reasons I get even though I haven't seen the movie yet. Well, I should say that haven't seen the last third of the movie that hasn't been previewed or clipped on YouTube.

PERSISTENCE

I have to admit it blows my mind  how the Sumerian religion-- which existed for millennia before the Sumerians were displaced from the roll of history-- was adopted with only superficial innovations by their conquerors. And their conquerors. And their conqueror's conqueror's conquerors. 

You're looking at a tradition that arose out of Neolithic times-- at the least-- and persisted up until the time of the Muslim conquests (albeit in a relatively-reduced form as "Chaldean Magic"). And of course it had a major influence on the Biblical tradition as well as on Zoroastrianism (which seems to be very heavily informed by Girra/Nusku temple practices brought back to Iran after the Achaemenid conquest of Babylon).

And in a way the Sumerian religion endures to this day. Not only in the influence it had on the Abrahamic religions but also in its Space Age makeover as the backbone of AAT and alien conspiracy theory, which themselves are slowing evolving into (neo-Gnostic) religions of their own. 

Don't believe me? Go to YouTube and run a search on Anunaki. I just did and it coughed up a whopping 399,00o results.

But the Anunaki aren't the only Sumerian gods in town these days. There are also the Igigi, who some have compared to the Greys of UFO lore fame. And more recently, there seems to be a rediscovery of the Seven Sages, aka the Apkallu.

It is noted, “The Apkallu were seven demigods created by Enki, one of the chief Sumerian gods…Enki referred to as ‘Ea,’ which is the name he was later given in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology.” As a styled sidenote, see Seven gods of chaos. Also, you may recall the reference to Enkin in Is the Bible an Anunnaki control mechanism? 
(A)s per the Sumerian mythology “These beings were sent by Enki to teach human beings the arts of civilization: agriculture, writing, building, and so on.” Which correlates to the Book of Enoch noting that various Angels called “Watchers” taught humanity various skills.
Indeed they do. The Apkallu are practically a godsend to any Ancient Astronaut theorist worth his aluminum. Note that Apkallu are usually depicted with wings, being the origin of  the association of angels and wings. Well, the ones that aren't depicted as fish like our old friend Adapa, better known as Oannes.

What's more, the Apkallu are yet another example of what Gordon White calls the "civilizing trickster gods." Maybe one of the first, actually.

Gee, kind of like what's-his-name. You know, Prometheus:

(T)he origin of Watchers derives from the Mesopotamian mythology of the antediluvian sages (apkallus). More precisely, it is proposed that the mythology of Watchers and their sons the giants derived from inverted versions of various Mesopotamian myths and beliefs about apkallus. On some layers of Mesopotamian mythology and ritual practices, the sages were already regarded as dangerous and potentially malicious creatures, upon which the Jewish authors could build their parody.  
Among other associations, the apkallus had strong ties to Mesopotamian demonology, and they were occasionally counted as evil beings, capable of witchcraft. This shows that the wickedness of antediluvian teachers of humankind in Jewish sources was not wholly an inversion of the Mesopotamian traditions by Jewish scholars, but was partly taken from already existing trends in Mesopotamian demonology.

So it's probably here that I should mention that the figures on the Hollywood Babylon Gate are actually Apkallu. Yeah, how about that, huh?

Then I should mention that this very oddly-specific bit of product placement ties back to a very ancient practice indeed:
Figurines of apkallus were buried in boxes as foundationdeposits in Mesopotamian buildings in order to avert evil fromthe house. The term massar, ‘watchers’, is used of these setsof gurines in Akkadian incantations according to ritual texts.This appellation matches the Aramaic term yryn, ‘the wakefulones’, for both good angels and the Watchers.
So the more you look at it, the more significant that gate looks. And the less likely it was put there on Ray Bradbury's suggestion. Unless he too was part of the cult.

Which cult am I referring to here? Well, indulge me for a moment.

Take all the major franchises, minor franchises, movies, cartoons and TV shows (not to mention video games) that center around Ancient Astronaut Theory, then factor the Hollywood & Highland Babylon Gate into the equation. 


Thanks to Reader Brooke

You'll probably see why I strongly suspect there may be a secret cargo cult at the very heart of the entertainment industry. I'm not alone in this. A lot of Christian conspiracy theorists believe AAT is the "Great Deception" the Bible warns of.

I should also remind everyone that AAT made a big, bad splash into the entertainment racket mere weeks after Kenneth Arnold and Roswell, in the form of "Son of the Sun," written by occultist Millen Cooke.

So what you're probably asking yourself is what difference does all this make in the Age of Trump and 'the Resistance' and all the rest of it? Well, Trump will probably be gone soon (my guess at least*) and so too will the endless shitstorm he's kicked up in his wake.  

And all of this Anunaki stuff will still be there, waiting patiently. It's had thousands of years to practice. It's seen quite a few Trumps and 'Resistances' come and go. It all seems to be following a very specific arc and moving towards a very specific destination.




TO BE CONTINUED


* As I wrote in the FB group, "The Praetorians engineered Trump's election precisely because they planned to remove him. They would have done the same with Hillary but figured Trump was a softer target." History teaches us that's the way Praetorians roll.

          Reel Paganism::The "Folk Horror" Revival    

Ah, those Years of Seven. We looked at the significant anniversaries in the World of Weird this Year of Seven is marking, from Heaven's Gate and the Phoenix Lights to the Harmonic Convergence to the releases of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the First Kind. As it happens, there's another major anniversary on the docket this year and that's the birth of the modern "NeoPagan" movement.
Fifty years ago, in 1967, three organizations were formed which would have a profound impact on the shape of contemporary Paganism: Frederick Adams founded Feraferia, a wilderness mystery religion; Aidan Kelly and others formed the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn, an eclectic witchcraft tradition; and Tim (Oberon) Zell filed for incorporation of the Church of All Worlds, which was based on the fictional religion described in Robert Heinlein’s novel, Stranger in a Strange Land.
As the Church of All Worlds shows, the NeoPagan movement was born out of the rising Geek insurgency, out of a fermenting sub-subculture in which Dune, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings had well and colonized the imaginations of the young and dateless.

The crossover would become so successful that the strict atheism and naturalism that had once been de rigeur in sci-fi (and fandom in general) would soon be put on its back foot by this new Mysticism, a current that would revolutionize pop culture with the runaway success of Star Wars.

NeoPaganism occupied a fair bit of real estate in the collective mind of Fandom but has never been the upstart mass movement its adherents might have you believe. It probably peaked as a movement in the 1990s (with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) and, if the current alarm bells being rung in the NeoPaganism blogosphere are any indication, has been receding ever since. So much so that many NeoPagans believe the jig is finally up.

Contemporary Paganism isn’t an institution, but we do have institutions, and many of them are  struggling to survive.  Cherry Hill Seminary announced last year that it might not be able to continue its programming.  CUUPS is hardly thriving.  The Pagan Community Statement on the Environment, which is quite possibly the single largest expression of Pagan voices ever, has not yet collected a mere 10,000 signatures in the two years since it was published.  And, as far as I can tell, none of the organizers of Pagan festivals and conferences have reported significant growth in recent years. These are just a few examples of Pagan institutions that I have been involved with to one degree or another over the years.
In Britain, where so much of the Wicca and NeoPaganism we recognize today was born, the situation seems pretty much the same. NeoPaganism is struggling there too, ironically as the current Chaos Magick revival is picking up steam.
 I’ve been told that the number of registered members of the Pagan Federation has gone down for the first time. At the Harvest Moon Conference in 2016, Melissa Harrington confessed that she felt that this decline in active participation was indicative of Paganism “going underground” again. Most of the Pagan Federation events I’ve been to recently have shown a similar demographic spread to OBOD ones. 
My concern is that the declining number of young participants in the Pagan community in Britain, and the general diminution of those taking an active role in the community as a whole, indicates that that growth has stalled. British Paganism—as a subculture and as a movement—is in trouble.
I'm not at all surprised by this. I'd wager that most NeoPagans had some kind of traditional religious upbringing, which made them at least casually familiar with the basics of ritual and theology. With traditional religion a fading memory among NeoPaganism's mission field, it becomes harder than ever to attract people to the surrogate community that NeoPaganism promises. 

But there's also the problem of the movement failing to deliver what it promises:
What is in decline, then, is something quite specific—the Pagan Movement; a collection of organisations, publications, ceremonial genres, training courses. That collection is no longer feeding the appetite of the general public for the magical.
Then there's the prickly issue of sectarianism. NeoPaganism bears only a glancing resemblance to the ancient variety, but it's chock full of the kind of perpetual fragmentation that a Pagan in ancient Alexandria might have been sick of. One blogger is even pushing an atheist strand of NeoPaganism:
Atheopaganism is post-Belief religion. It is evidence-based spirituality rooted in real-world, positive, life-affirming values. It gives us what religion is good at giving us, and avoids trying to do what science can clearly do better. 
I believe it is in broad strokes what succeeding generations will practice in growing numbers. It is what will give meaning and build community for people who have left behind the ideas of gods and magic.
Yeah, good luck with that. After all, discarding your traditional core tenets has worked out so well for the so-called Mainline denominations. 

Like the churches that so many NeoPagans grew out of, the movement is looking to political activism to "stay relevant." But people interested in activism now have a endless buffet of NGOs and pressure groups to choose from, and most activists today tend to see any flavor of spirituality as regressive and impolite. Which may be why most Mainline Christian denominations are now fading into history.

But a strong argument could be made that NeoPaganism is fading because the overall culture has been so effectively paganized. If that's true, then where do you go from there?



 Scarlet Imprint publisher Peter Gray was a bit ahead of the curve when he announced the impending death of NeoPaganism three years back. And he sees the same trends at work- Neopaganism is fading because it's no longer needed:
There is no halting the decline of the initiatic witchcraft traditions of Gardner or Sanders, nor the collapse of neo-paganism. The reason? To use the correct mimetic formula: Because Internet. People are having their needs met by the online simulacra of witchcraft. Those who are seeking witchcraft simply do not have to hunt out lineages, everything is before them in the digital form that has socialised them while their parents paid more attention to their smartphones.
Gray calls for the "rewilding"of Witchcraft, for the art to return to its outlaw roots. He wants to recapture the danger of Witchcraft, which he believes- rightly- has been traded away by Wiccans and their fellow travelers. 

But the question then becomes how wild are you willing to be? Witches are killed on on a fairly regular basis in developing countries because they're seen as dangerous and taboo. In our anything-goes culture what exactly do you have to do to recapture that outlaw sheen? It's no small question. Why?
Well, because the Gardnerian Book of Shadows tells us exactly how dark ancient witchcraft and Paganism could get: 
Priests know this well; and by their auto-da-fé, with the victims' pain and terror (the fires acting much the same as circles), obtained much power. Of old the Flagellants certainly evoked power, but through not being confined in a circle much was lost. The amount of power raised was so great and continuous that anyone with knowledge could direct and use it; and it is most probable that the classical and heathen sacrifices were used in the same way. There are whispers that when the human victim was a willing sacrifice, with his mind directed on the Great Work and with highly skilled assistants, wonders ensued but of this I would not speak.”  
Which brings us to the Folk Horror revival.

Back to the recent Beltane Fire Festival.
The event, first organised in the mid-1980s, marks the ending of winter and is a revival of the ancient Celtic and Pagan festival of Beltane, the Gaelic name for the month of May.
Thousands of spectators gathered on Calton Hill in the Scottish capital to watch drummers, fire dancers, physical theatre and a large bonfire.
During the event, the Green Man is killed as god of winter and reborn as spring to consort with the May Queen.
This is a big deal in Scotland. And other types of ancient festival revivals have been popping up in Britain over the past several years as well, particularly in provincial towns looking to drum up tourism. 

But do note that in the ancient Beltane festivals the Green Man was actually killed as a sacrifice to the gods of the crops. The Edinburgh festival obviously stops short of this, but this is like trading out wine for grape juice at communion. The real McCoy is baked into the rite itself and soaks through to the surface. It can't help but.
So what does this all have to do with the so-called Folk Horror revival? Well, the folk component of the genre doesn't refer to old Joan Baez records. It draws upon the idea of ancient folkways- often those centering on human sacrifice- bubbling back up to the surface and violently intruding on the lives of unwitting cosmopolitans.
Unlike other sub-genres, folk horror’s very form is difficult to convey. Despite what its simplistic description implies – from the emphasis on the horrific side of folklore to a very literal horror of people – the term’s fluctuating emphasis makes it difficult to pin down outside of a handful of popular examples. 
The term first came to prominence in 2010 when Mark Gatiss used it as an umbrella theme to describe a number of films in his A History of Horror documentary for BBC4. Yet the term was used in the programme in reference to an earlier interview with the director Piers Haggard for Fangoria magazine in 2004, in which Haggard suggests of his own film The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) that he “was trying to make a folk horror film”.
The revival encompasses a number of films and novels but regards three British films as the sacred texts of the genre:
The trilogy, now often known under the banner of the ‘Unholy Trinity’, consist of Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard’s The Blood on Satan’s Claw and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973). Though their imagery has since defined all things “olde” and “wyrd” about Britain (see the cover of Sight & Sound, August 2010), it is in their narratives where folk horror becomes defined.  
All three films work through an emphasis on landscape which subsequently isolates its communities and individuals, skewing the dominant moral and theological systems enough to cause violence, human sacrifices, torture and even demonic and supernatural summonings.  
The Witchfinder General traumatized me when I watched it on Creature Double Feature way back in the day. Unlike most of the other Folk Horror landmarks it's based on real-life events.
HP Lovecraft's shadow looms over the genre, whether he likes it or not. There are obviously significant differences but a lot of his stories seem to center on city-slickers dealing with hideous eruptions of the primeval in decaying rural outposts. Lovecraft is often criticized for his racism but the truth is he didn't seem to like much of anybody outside his perceived social set.

From "The Call of Cthulhu" to "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" to "The Festival" it's pretty obvious exactly where Lovecraft was coming from. Lovecraft was terrified that modern civilization was nothing more than a fragile veneer, ready to flake away under the slightest existential pressure. And cults and cultic practices were like the monster under Lovecraft's bed, always ready to pounce once the lights went out.

(In this context, Stuart Gordon's fever-dream film version of Dagon could be seen as an outlier within the Folk Horror genre).
Lovecraft enjoyed his own revival in the 1960s and one can't help but wonder what kind of effect he had on the emerging Folk Horror genre. The Wicker Man is often seen today as a kind of one-off but in fact it was following very closely in the footsteps of earlier films. 



The Witches, partly written by Nigel Kneale, is an early example of the type as is Eye of the Devil, which made a star of Sharon Tate. In the kind of hideous synchronicity that follows all potent art like a lost puppy,   Tate would become a sacrifice to the kind of cult that probably haunted Lovecraft's nightmares.  

Both films, released in 1966 and 1967 respectively, worked the theme of an outsider to a rural community discovering grisly ancient practices lurking beneath a placid rustic surface. Eye of the Devil, like The Wicker Man, centers on crop failure and the need of the community to kill its ritual king to appease the gods of the fields. So the fields were already well-furrowed by the time Anthony Shaffer and Robin Hardy had their brainstorm.


Thomas Tryon's 1973 novel Harvest Home was adapted into a TV miniseries in the late 70s and taps in the same vein: in this case a New York family moves to a small town and discovers that their new neighbors still practice the ancient Celtic folkways. Since it's based on an American novel it's usually overlooked by Folk Horror revivalists, but it's a solid example of the type. Maybe one of the more potent examples, actually. Shame it's not better known.
There are variations on the theme to be found during this same Golden Age (the late 60s to the early 70s). The Shuttered Room, based on a story HP Lovecraft cowrote with August Derleth is a variation on the type, as is Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, which starred Dustin Hoffman as an American married to a British woman played by Susan George. They move to the rural English village where the George character grew up and are menaced by a gang of local thugs. Straw Dogs was remade in 2011 and moved to the rural South. Of course.



A more recent example of the type is Kill List, an absolutely extraordinary film that has you believing you're watching one kind of British drama before pulling the rug out from under your feet and landing you in quite another altogether. I'm not going to say too much more about it since you really should see it for yourself.
But The Wicker Man (also remade, badly, in 2006) remains the King of the Folk Horror Crop. The film hardly seems like a horror movie for most of its running time, more like a quirky musical comedy, kind of a warped Brigadoon. And it's based in ancient Celtic rituals, or at least legends of ancient Celtic rituals.
The idea of a “wickerman” is reminiscent of references in both Irish legend and the second branch of the WelshMabinogi to men being inveigled into a specially built house, which is then set fire, immolating them. There is also a reference by Lucan, and the comments by later scholars as part of the Lucan scholia, in the Pharsalia,to three Celtic deities; Taranis said to have been propitiated by burning, Teutates by drowning, and Esus by hanging. Esus is mythologically similar to the Nordic deity Odin, also associated with hanging from a tree. 
But it wasn't only the Celts who practiced human sacrifice. The Normans, who conquered England in the 11th Century, were huge fans of human sacrifice before giving in to Christian convention. Warlord Rollo was a exemplar of the Norman split-personality when it came honoring the ancient Viking folkways.
Adémar of Chabannes, however, writing about 100 years after Rollo’s death, described his last days as a time of religious madness, in which the Heathen ‘Rollo’ rose up against the Christian ‘Robert’ and in a desperate attempt to atone for the betrayal of Odin and Thor ordered the beheading of 100 Christians as sacrifices to them. This was followed by a frenzied attempt to balance the books yet again when he distributed ‘one hundred pounds of gold round the churches in honour of the true god in whose name he had accepted baptism’. 
Is Rollo the spiritual founding father of Folk Horror? Sounds like it to me. There's an inherent schizophrenia at work in the genre, building on the paranoid truism that things are never what they seem, that ancient horrors are always lurking beneath respectable surfaces, looking for a way out.

So what is the driving impulse behind Folk Horror? It's an inherently Pagan form, an immersion into the dark mysteries of the countryside. It feels deeply atavistic, like a twisted celebration of the premodern. The genre often seems to address a very human desire to belong to a tribe that's both nurturing and absolutely fearless, even if that tribe are presented as villains.

But there's also that repressed impulse to bask in somebody else's sacrifice, to exercise that kind of complete control over life and death. Post-Enlightenment culture has worked around the clock to erase all this from our firmware but only seems to have moved the pieces around the board.

By contrast, NeoPaganism was always going to be a nonstarter because it pretended it could recapture the positive aspects of the old folkways and discard all those it found problematic. It also believed it could recreate the bonds of blood and soil in a urban- or more accurately, suburban- setting. That it could soak up all the richness and drama of ancient Paganism without getting its hands dirty. Or more accurately again, bloody.

Sorry, but that's not the way it works.

Folk Horror dispenses with all that and reminds everyone that life and death were barely a whisper apart in the old times. That bloodshed was a daily fact of life back then. It's just the way things worked. After all, it wasn't so long ago that housewives killed their own chickens. No one blinked at the sacrifice of a lamb or a piglet at even the swankiest Mystery cults. Bacchanalias often ended up with Maenads ripping wild animals limb from limb (Maenad actually means "raving one"). 

Sacrifice was absolutely inseparable from belief. By contrast NeoPaganism feels more like a slightly more exotic form of Unitarianism. Sort on spectacle and sacrifice and long on sanctimony. 

So my guess is that the Edinburgh Beltane Festival is so popular not only for the nudity and the LARPing but also for serving up a vicarious echo from those olden days, when these dramas were all played for keeps.

Not all Folk Horror is based in Pagan human sacrifice but the death and horror that people once took for granted are tightly wound into its weave. So it will be worth watching to see where this genre goes in response to the hyper-acceleration of Globalism and technocracy. For now it serves as a way to soak up the olde dramas without making much of a mess. It could go eventually go in another direction entirely, kind of like how The Wicker Man led to the Burning Man Festival. 

It could even lead to a neo-NeoPaganism. Stranger things have happened, right?

          Chaos Magic vs The Robot Revolution    


There are two divergent streams at work in the Idea-o-Sphere, currents that are not only divergent in size, strength and assumption, but are in fact antithetical. 

The most dominant, of course, is the imminent AI-Robot Revolution, which threatens to bring a very real apocalypse into our world if in fact it flowers as predicted (and isn't just a big scare to keep the peons from asking for raises). 

So we're hearing that not only truck drivers, widget drillers and burger flippers are at risk of imminent penury, so too are lawyers, doctors, accountants and all manner of other professionals whose livelihood is based in their capacity to process huge chunks of complicated data and subsequently make decisions and judgments that are useful to others who can't. 

Programmers- and AIs themselves- are currently working around the clock to fill the shoes of these well-paid professionals with cheap, off-the-shelf software programs that will reliably get that same cognitive work done at a tiny fraction of the cost.

Elon Musk is (ostensibly) so terrified of the AI Revolution he is planning to colonize Mars as a life-raft for the human race, who presumably will have to flee a Skynet/Terminator type scenario. That Mars is utterly incapable of supporting human life- at least at present- seems to be besides the point.

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire behind social media giant Alibaba, has suddenly turned Cassandra as well. Long a reliable source for corporate technohappytalk, Ma is suddenly warning of dark days ahead.
"In the next three decades, the world will experience far more pain than happiness," the billionaire said, adding that education systems must raise children to be more creative and curious or they will be ill-prepared for the future. 
Robots are quicker and more rational than humans, Ma said, and they don't get bogged down in emotions -- like getting angry at competitors.
Terrific. I was just thinking what the world needs now is more pain than happiness. But given his position as a Techno-Celestial, Ma couldn't serve up the medicine without at least a tiny spoonful of sugar:
But he expressed optimism that robots will make life better for humans in the long run. 
"Machines will do what human beings are incapable of doing," Ma said. "Machines will partner and cooperate with humans, rather than become mankind's biggest enemy."
"Make life better for humans in the long run," he says. Well, what exactly is "the long run?" Three decades is a long time- maybe even a lifetime- for that 99.99999999999% of the human race who aren't tech billionaires. Halfway through that painful three decades most of us aren't going to be thinking much about "the long run." 

And what exactly does "far more pain" imply? I'm not sure I want to know what Jack Ma's definition of pain actually means, given our disparate cultural contexts. 

It's here I begin to think back on last year's Lucifer's Technologies series (more accurately, Satan's Technologies) and wonder about where our modern electronic superstructure actually came from. Because that goes a long way in gleaning where it's actually going. 
Many have claimed that our present technology arose from contact with alien intelligences. Whether you believe that or not, one thing is certain; the rate of technological progress shot up like a rocket shortly after the end of World War II. 
And it must be said that technology seems more and more like an invasive-- or alien-- contagion, disrupting entire industries, economies, and communities.  
Now techno-utopians like Jaron Lanier and Douglas Rushkoff are techno-cassandaras, preaching a message of dislocation and social collapse.  
Look at it this way; steam engines had been known for almost 2000 years by the time the Industrial Revolution took hold, longer still if you consider prototypes. The Ancient Greeks knew them, they just didn't have any use for them. 
But the evolution from a computer that was was essentially the size of a suburban house and boasted the power of a pocket calculator to the working prototypes of the desktop, the Internet, computer animation, teleconferencing and nearly everything else we take for granted today took just a little more than two decades. 
An eyeblink of history.
For at least 5000 years-- five-hundred decades-- horse-drawn carriages and wooden ships with cloth or leather sails were the state of art in transportation technology. By contrast, we go from aeroplanes made of wood and canvas to the SR-71 Blackbird, a machine so advanced our best engineers today seem unable to match it*, in the space of four decades. 
In historical terms, this is as if your three year-old were in nursery school one day and then graduated from Harvard at the top of her class as soon as she turned four. There's simply no precedent for the high-tech explosion that began in the late 1940s... 
Yet no one stops to question how such a technology would arise so instantly, in historical terms. Go look at a book from the late 19th Century- hell, look at a children's book from that period- and tell me people weren't a hell of a lot smarter than they are today. Maybe even smarter than they were in the 1940s... 
Yet even the best and the very brightest were stymied by problems for decades, problems that seemed to solve themselves, literally overnight, shortly after World War II.
We take it all for granted now, especially if you were born at a time when a Commodore 64 and an Atari console were part of your natural landscape. But in fact all of this technology is so anomalous, so disruptive, so improbable in the entirety of human history (never mind natural history) that it is in a very real sense alien, even if (on the offhand chance) it's not actually "alien."

Well, we've been over all of that before, haven't we? What about that other current?



In Our Gods Wear Spandex I argued that Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult Revival were reactions to the massive dislocations- physical, spiritual, psychic- incurred by the Industrial Revolution. It wasn't unusual for the sensitives of the time- see Blake, William, to see the rise of large-scale factories  as an invasion of Hell onto Earth. 

There was very good reason to do so; these were black, belching, smogpits filled with hazardous machinery and/or chemicals that ripped the folk up from communion with the Earth and into virtual (sometimes actual) prisons, in which their humanity was stripped away in service of industrial manufacturing.

In response to the dehumanizing effect of these hells, the sensitives of the time reached back into humanity's childhood (in the case of Spiritualism) or its adolescence (as with the Classically-oriented secret societies). And it could be argued that it worked- that we didn't entirely surrender to the regimented reality of the factory writ large, that Industrial political systems like Nazism and Communism were held at bay (at least in their original incarnation) and that individuality was held up as a social good. 

Well, at least until it was subverted as a tool for political atomization.

The counter-Industrial spiritual movements of the 19th Century weren't shy about co-opting the means of mass-production (in this case, industrial-scale publishing) to pursue their aims. And so it is with the new breed of Chaos magicians and their fellow travelers (I'm not sure if meme magic counts here), some of whom are themselves well-paid Skynet employees, many of whom are tech-savvy and nearly all of whom are plugged deep into the Grid. Becoming the ghost in the machine is the basic idea.

Magic, in this context, acts kind of like Jacques Vallee's "Control System." Things get too hot (or cold, depending on your own worldview) with technology and regimentation and Magic comes in and turns on the AC (or cranks up the woodstove, again according to your POV). 

Magic and its cousin Psi are erratic and unreliable for most people at most times but when the pressure comes down they become attractive alternatives to the crushing predictability of the Black Iron Prison. It may also, in the form of collective ritual, grow in popularity as a tonic against the  the paradoxical effect of social media to grow loneliness in Meatspace.
While it offers an easy way to keep in contact with friends — and meet new people through dating and friendship apps — technology's omnipresence encourages shallow conversations that can distract us from meaningful, real-life, interactions. 
Researchers at the University of Essex found that having a phone nearby, even if we don't check it, can be detrimental to our attempts at connecting with others. Smartphones have transformed post office lines from a chance for some small-talk with the neighbors to an exercise in email-checking, and sealed the fate of coffee shops as nothing more than places of mutual isolation. And technology will only become more ingrained in our lives.
The isolating, dehumanizing effect of technology may once again find its match in the ancient power of ritual, everything from lighting candles at a Catholic shrine to meth-fueled fuck-a-thons while drenched in pig's blood. The collapse of conventional social mores and the now-standard presumption that anything you do that isn't harming anyone else is your lifestyle choice will certainly push all this forward. 

Remember too that this same impulse popped up as a reaction to the hyper-rationalism of Classical Greece with the rise of the Mystery Cults.

Magic almost seems like Nature asserting herself in the face of an outside intervention. Its like the doggedly-persistent vines rising out of toxic soil and strangling the rusted girders of an abandoned factory. Or a stubborn strain of virus slashing its way through some futuristic megalopolis somewhere in the Pacific Rim. 

Or a solar flare frying all of our electronics for good in the blink of an eye.



Now I know it's extremely unfashionable these days to discuss such things, especially with most Chaos magicians, but you have to ask yourself, if computer technology is not an alien virus why does it behave exactly like one?  I don't know about you but it sure as hell sounds to me like Elon Musk believes it is, though he'd never say so publicly. 

Computer technology has already destroyed entire industries, disrupted entire societies, and changed every aspect of our lives in 70 short years? And now we're being told that it threatens to create an entire infrastructure that will make most of us obsolete? I don't know about you but it sure as Hell sounds an awful lot like Borg-assimilation, only on a frog-boiling schedule.

The question becomes if the host can fight off the infection, or at least learn to manage it and coexist with it. I can't begin to pretend I know the answer but it seems to me that reasserting our messy, chaotic humanity is probably a good place to start.

          The Cold War Kabuki   



Well, you all know what the big story was this past week. I wasn't going to post on it but enough people have asked and it seems germane to the ongoing Reality Show we're all unwitting (and unwilling) extras in. In case you've been on media blackout or a vision quest, here's a brief thumbnail sketch:
The United States launched a military strike Thursday on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier in the week. 
On President Donald Trump's orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the airbase that was home to the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks, US officials said.
As it happens, the airstrikes apparently didn't even seem to have the desired deterrent effect. The air base was up and running soon after the strikes:
Syrian warplanes took off from the air base hit by US cruise missiles yesterday to carry out bombing raids on rebel-held areas, in a defiant show of strength. 
Just hours after the al-Shayrat airfield was bombed with 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from warships in the Mediterranean, aircraft struck targets in the eastern Homs countryside, according to a monitoring group. 
The airstrikes were carried out on Khan Sheikhoun - the same town Bashar al-Assad’s regime is accused of attacking with chemicals - and seven other towns around eastern Homs, some of which controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
This rebound seemed to catch the War Party off guard, since CNN reported on the same story but appeared to ascribe the airstrikes to phantom warplanes. I mean, it couldn't be the Syrians or the Russians, right?:
(CNN) New airstrikes targeted a town in Syria that was hit by a chemical attack earlier this week, activists said, less than a day after the US bombarded a Syrian air base to "send a message" to the Assad regime. 
It wasn't immediately clear who conducted the strikes on Khan Sheikhoun, which was hit on Friday and Saturday, though only Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have been bombing that area of rebel-held Idlib province.
CNN, who've been hammering Trump around the clock since he humiliated their network head in a post-election tantrum, suddenly changed their tune when he started raining bombs on Syria. Sam Kriss reports:
The media was kind to Trump’s attack on Syria. Every pompous outlet that has spent the last five months screaming incessantly about the threat to democracy, the inevitable deaths and the terror of wars, had nothing but applause as soon as the wars and the deaths actually got going. 
 A fleshy and dangerous idiot, a vulgarian, an imbecile – until those first perfect screaming shots of Tomahawk missiles being fired were broadcast – that’s our guy, you show them Donny! This is when, as Fareed Zakaria put it on CNN, Trump ‘became the president.’
The same mainstream media, which has become a hornet's hive of conspiracy theorizing since the election, was quick to shoot down any conspiracy theories about the Syria Bombshow.
A volley of US cruise missiles had barely been launched into Syria before the internet filled up with fact-free theories about the real reason for the international crisis.
A popular one on the right-most fringes: the US government actually carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria last week - a "false flag" to trick President Donald Trump into retaliating, thus entangling himself in a foreign war. 
A slightly more convoluted strain on the left: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia by provoking the missile strike.
Alt-left conspiracy theorists prefer the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump - distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump's campaign ties to Russia.
Ron Paul, whose son Rand is now a rising star in the Senate, was perhaps the most prominent public figure to cast shade on the Syria op:
“Before this episode of possible gas exposure and who did what, things were going along reasonably well for the conditions,” the former Texas congressman stated. “Trump said let the Syrians decide who should run their country, and peace talks were making out, and Al Qaeda and ISIS were on the run.” 
“It looks like, maybe, somebody didn’t like that so there had to be an episode, and the blame now is we can’t let that happen because it looks like it might benefit Assad.”
For his part, Doctor Bones speculates that the real mark for a possible elaborate sting wasn't Assad or Putin, but in fact another player altogether. The timing seems hard to argue with:
A gas attack launched by the fleeing Syrian rebels, a side quickly losing it’s CIA-sponsorship and well aware it’s continued health depends on American funds, sure has a shit-ton more to gain from wide swathes of civilians dying on camera. Even better if they die particularly gruesomely and in a way the rebels claim they couldn’t be responsible for despite being photographed with all the tech to do so. 
How does Trump’s seemingly pointless explosion-show play into this? The answer: perfectly...
Consider also that the Chinese President was in Mar-a-Largo when the strike was underway, that Trump not only told him it was going to happen but actually ate dinner with him as it went on and the event spirals into even greater significance. A show of force full of technical prowess in a contested warzone while the Russians stood back and watched sends a powerful message to a foreign leader currently dining in enemy territory.
Is this just swivel-eyed speculation? Is there any reason to believe this wasn't all some improbable coincidence, that Xi Jinping was indeed dining with Trump while the Bombshow began? Because if it's not a coincidence then it's one hell of a psyop; running a mindfuck on your most dangerous frenemy during a state visit. What's this all about then? Joseph Farrell reports:
While there have been a spate of articles recently about growing Russo-Chinese defense and security ties, matching their growing financial and economic ties, this one left me stunned, for there was a statement within it that caught my eye, and Mr. B's as well, and I'm sure the reader saw it as well. As one can imagine, this one fueled my "high octane speculation" mode to the nth degree. Here's the statement, and a bit of surrounding context:
Russia and China are tired of Washington's "defensive" military installations in their backyards — and they're already taking action. 
According to the Atlantic Council and other responsible thinkers, the Untied States reserves the right to park its missile shields anywhere it wants, whether it be in Europe, East Asia, or the dark side of the Moon.  
I guess we should have seen all this coming, no? Shortly before the Bombshow, Trump's top Praetorian removed Trump's assumed consigliere from the NSC:
President Trump on Wednesday removed controversial White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon from the National Security Council, part of a sweeping staff reshuffling that elevated military, intelligence and Cabinet officials to greater roles on the council and left Bannon less directly involved in shaping the administration’s day-to-day national security policy. 
The restructuring reflects the growing influence of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army three-star general who took over the post after retired general Michael Flynn was ousted in February and who is increasingly asserting himself over the flow of national security information in the White House. 
Do yourself a favor and set a news alert for "McMaster." That's a name you're going to be hearing more of in the days ahead. Or you won't. Which is probably the more troubling scenario.

And with Bannon off the NSC there's apparently an effort to shuffle him off to some fat-salaried thinktank glue factory.  The not-news of Bannon's interest in The Fourth Coming was dragged out yet again, this time by The New York Times. But the article planted a helpful hint of why Bannon is on the elbow list and might be giving us a grim preview of the year ahead:
Bannon’s Views Can Be Traced to a Book That Warns, ‘Winter Is Coming’

WASHINGTON — Stephen K. Bannon has read the book three times. He still keeps a copy of it — one that’s creased and copiously underlined — in a library with the rest of his favorites at his father’s house in Richmond, Va. 
The book, “The Fourth Turning,” a 1997 work by two amateur historians, Neil Howe and William Strauss, lays out a theory that American history unfurls in predictable, 80-year cycles of prosperity and catastrophe. And it foresees catastrophe right around the corner. 
It also leads to unavoidable questions about war and whether Mr. Bannon, who has recommended the book to countless friends and made a film about it in 2010, is resigned to catastrophic global conflict. He says he is not. 
And he remains unconvinced that the United States can effectively intervene in overseas conflicts like the one unfolding in Syria. As one of the voices in the administration who expressed skepticism about a military strike in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack on its own citizens, Mr. Bannon insists he is no warmonger.
Well, there you have it.

Is the Syria proxy war threatening to heat up again, or is this all just another dance in the Cold War Kabuki? Have actions like the Bombshow  become like sacrificial actions in ongoing magical actions? Or is the real war is for your mind and is playing out in thousands of manufactured headlines, blizzards of 30 second videos with deceptive text crawls and the endless babbling of overpaid talking heads?

I feel stupid even asking the question.

Just in case you're worried that this is all leading to nukes raining down on American cities,  the cognitive warriors seem to be trying to defuse any expectations of impending Armageddon: 
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster says that while the U.S. would push for regime change in Syria, “We’re not the ones who are going to effect that change.” 
“What we’re saying is, other countries have to ask themselves some hard questions,” McMaster said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." “Russia should ask themselves, ‘What are we doing here?’ Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available?’”
Translation: No way in Hell we have the readiness needed for a hot war with a military superpower.

And since the mindfuck is the mother's milk of Cog-War, the careful inoculation of mixed messages into the mediafeed becomes just as vital a weapon as a cruise missile. Scratch that- much, much more so.
Trump Administration Is Contradicting Itself On Regime Change In Syria 
The Trump administration appears divided on whether the U.S. is pursuing a policy of regime change in Syria, days after the first direct American military attack against the Syrian government. 
Thursday’s strike “was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. The goal of the attack was to send a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad and its ally Russia that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate the use of chemical weapons, he continued. “Other than that, there is no change to our military posture.”
But United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said there can be no peace in Syria with Assad in power. “There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.​”​
Though Haley stopped short of indicating the U.S. would take military action to overthrow the Syrian dictator, her comments reflect a sharp change from the administration’s previous position.
The difference here, of course, is that Tillerson sets and executes policy and Haley sits in a glorified debating society and blows smoke and fairy dust for a bunch of bored bureaucrats wishing they had their real government jobs back, the ones they enjoyed before being pushed upstairs to their present posts. The media only pays attention when bombs are falling.

It's all black magic, make no mistake about it. There are different terms and epithets for it all now,  but when you strip all the twenty-dollar words and the credentials and the technology away the intent and the effect is no different than a witch doctor's curse. 

William S. Burroughs understood this, since his uncle Ivy Lee was the creator of one of these modern strains of black magic, so-called "public relations." Burroughs considered his uncle a bonafide "evil genius." And Lee was a piker compared to the algorithm-fired masters of the dark arts striding the globe today.

Here's a story that probably won't pop up on your Facebook feed. Anyone paying attention to the Russia hacking story probably knows how incredibly weak the hacking evidence actually is,* but now Wikileaks is teasing out the Seth Rich mystery again.
‘Guccifer 2.0’ Chat With Nude Model Sparks New Conspiracy Theories About Murder of DNC’s Seth Rich 
New chat logs between alleged Democratic National Committee hacker Guccifer 2.0 and a Playboy centerfold model surfaced today via Wikileaks on Twitter, throwing more fuel on the conspiracy theories surrounding murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. The Twitter conversation, conducted via direct messages, purports to reveal Rich as the primary leaker of the DNC e-mails that proved highly disruptive during the 2016 presidential election. 
In direct messages dated August 25, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 mentioned having a whistleblower at the DNC, and said he was looking for a “person of trust who can be a guarantee in case anything happens.”
When Young suggested trusting Julian Assange, Guccifer 2.0 called him “unsafe” and that he “may be connected with Russians” despite being his hero. 
“I’d like to find a journalist who can do an investigation and teel [sic] the real story of his life and death,” he said, and revealed that the whistleblower he was referring to was none other than a person named “Seth.” 
“I suppose u know who I’m talking about,” he said, adding that he felt sorry about the murdered DNC staffer’s parents and that he wished for journalists to uncover the truth of his murder.
  
Seth Rich, a 27-year-old mid-level DNC staffer, was shot and killed in the early morning of July 2016 in Washington DC, while he was walking home from a bar and talking with his girlfriend on his mobile phone. Rich’s killers left his watch and wallet untouched on his body. 
This wasn't floated by Alex Jones or David Icke, it popped up on Heat Street, which is owned by the Dow Jones Company and Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. This story looks like it's going to grow some legs yet.

So are you sick of the Cog-War and the Cold War Kabuki yet? Tired of your social media hijacked by proxy warriors fighting battles for cliques within the Intelligence community? Burnt out on the whole Reality Show Presidency and its discontents altogether?

Start looking into ashrams in Sri Lanka, then. This machine is just getting warmed up. 




*Maybe some bright young spark should see if maybe the hacking an inside job by intel people who correctly judged a Trump White House would be easier to dominate than a bloated, top-heavy Clinton one. Just throwing that out there for giggles and grins.


          Twin Peaks: Can You Go Home Again?   


Back in 1990, the Boston Phoenix ran a review of the first few episodes of Twin Peaks along with the plot of the sitcom Wings. 

It was an odd juxtaposition, intentionally so, contrasting David Lynch's highly-anticipated boutique series against a paint-by-numbers half-hour comedy. But the reviewer was a cynical bastard, and cast a jaundiced eye on the potential of a quirky auteur like Lynch to appeal to a mainstream television audience. 

The verdict was that Wings would stick around but Twin Peaks would not, its tone and style too idiosyncratic for a medium that, at the time, counted its audience in the tens of millions.

I tuned into the first season of Twin Peaks-- a miniseries, really-- but found it to be a bit too much of a compromise between Lynch's surrealist vision and the narrative demands of mainstream television. There was also a creeping absurdism that sometimes threatened to undermine the grim procedural drama that framed it.

I had high hopes for the project, having been brain-seared four years earlier by Blue Velvet. The first time I saw it I almost had an out of body experience- and not the pleasant kind- since it seemed so disturbingly familiar to me. Frank Booth was like any number of dangerous men that floated through the edges of my world, strange presences in bars in Weymouth Landing or Quincy Center. 

Frank Booth also reminded me all too much of a recently-released ex-convict my friend's mother had taken in as a boarder; a volatile alcoholic who drove a big old Cadillac and who, presciently, believed that cable TV was being used to spy on people.

A few years after seeing Blue Velvet I'd work for a woman who was close friends with Dennis Hopper's daughter Marin, who I'd later meet. I was told that Hopper wasn't actually acting in Blue Velvet, that that was basically his behavior on any given night before he rehabbed. Hopper told Lynch as much while auditioning for the part, insisting that he was Frank Booth.

Frank Booth was the black hole of Blue Velvet, the irrestible center of gravity around which the rest of the film revolved. I saw Blue Velvet twice at the Waverly Theater on Sixth Ave in Greenwich Village, and once Hopper blasted off you could feel the physical pressure descend upon the room. People walked out, not just a few, that's how intense it was. I brought two friends the second viewing and their knuckles were white the whole time. 

They were from Braintree, so they knew.

Twin Peaks didn't have nearly as compelling a focus, not Leland Palmer, not Bob, not anyone. Given the strictures of early 90s broadcast television it couldn't have. Instead the show went for mood and atmosphere and slowly-building tension. That, the lush scenery, appealing cast and seductive Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack were enough to sustain the series at first. 

But it failed to answer the central question ("Who killed Laura Palmer?") in its initial miniseries run and subsequently lost a lot of the curious and more besides. (AMC's remake of The Killing would make the same mistake more recently).

Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost distanced themselves from the series in the second season, for a number of varying reasons, including Lynch's work on Wild at Heart, which would star Nicholas Cage and Lynch muse Laura Dern. 

Even so, Lynch would direct episodes at the beginning and end of the season. But the spell the series had cast had been broken. The new production team didn't quite get a handle on Lynch's mix of darkness and whimsy (as if anyone else really could) and the new episodes seemed to lapse into self-parody without the author's oblique ability to square the contradictions.

But there were glimpses of a deeper magic, including cryptic subplots dealing with an alien satellite, demonic possession, doubles of dead characters and scenes inside the mysterious extradimensional portal, the Black Lodge. In short, the second series had a ton of potential on the conceptual end but a lot less so execution-wise. Plus, it was all a bit too challenging for network drama then. It would probably be just as much so today, which is why it's being revived on Showtime.

By the time it was cancelled Twin Peaks had been moved to the Saturday night death-slot and had slumped badly in the ratings. Lynch wanted another crack at it, however, so a spinoff film was planned. But Kyle MacLachlan felt betrayed that Lynch and Frost had bailed out on the show's second season (and by its resultant quality slippage), so after initially turning the picture down he agreed to a limited role. Chris Isaak, then a hot property, stepped in to play a ringer. Lara Flynn Boyle opted out for the same reasons as MacLachlan, forcing Lynch to recast the role with a non-lookalike replacement.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is one of those special kinds of films that has garnered a type of cult audience that tends to overlook what a total catastrophe it was in its initial release. Fire was outright butchered by the critics and didn't even earn back half its production budget in the US. Twin Peaks Fever had long since, uh, peaked, and the movie doesn't even try to meet a mainstream audience halfway. 

There's no wondering why: it's an incredibly dark and polarizing film and can be as hard to watch as Blue Velvet, if not for different reasons.

But it certainly follows a vision; it's not a cash-in on any level. It may not be light entertainment but in the long run it didn't hurt Twin Peaks' rep, in fact it undid most of the damage inflicted on the franchise by the frivolity of the second season. 

Even so, it would five years before Lynch would release another feature, 1997's Lost Highway. That too would be a deeply polarizing commercial disappointment.



It's been 11 years since Lynch released a feature film, 2006's masterpiece, Inland Empire. That in turn came five years after another masterpiece, 2001's Mulholland Dr. Both films are deeply informed by the vision Lynch cultivated on Twin Peaks, even if they bear little resemblance thematically, or even stylistically. It's more a feeling.

Mulholland Dr -- which Inland Empire models itself on in many important ways-- also began life as a TV pilot for ABC and was only morphed into a feature after the network passed. 

For my money, Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire remain Lynch's best, most fully-realized works. Like all of his creations they mine dream reality to a level of numinosity that most film-makers are incapable of reaching. It's both telling and damning that he's either been unable to secure financing or unwilling to jump through the requisite hoops needed to have followed up on them. 

I really don't know if Lynch felt a burning desire to return to Twin Peaks but I do know he's a better artist now than he was when he worked on the series. However, the power of a brand name trumps artistic vision in this environment. In that Mulholland and Inland are just as much elegies as films.

Judging from the press releases for the revival it seems Lynch's absence from longform film-making hasn't been for lack of energy. He directed all 18 episodes, wrote a 400 page screenplay (whether this was for the first episode or the series itself is unclear) and cast 217 actors. So both the spirit and the flesh seem to be willing in this case.

But is his mind in that space? This is the danger of the revival syndrome. 

It's been 27 very long years since the series first aired and we're living in an entirely different world now. The 1950s world that informed Lynch's vision isn't even a memory anymore. And the actors are no longer young, hot unknowns; many are more than twice as old as they were back then and some have come out the wrong end of Hollywood's merciless grinder. 

The inherent promise of the revival (or the reunion) is that the intervening years will melt away and we can vicariously return to the Garden, back to our innocence. It's not only the promise but the danger; woe betide you if you don't fire up that time machine for your audience. With an artist as quirky and unpredictable as David Lynch that danger only multiplies. Exponentially.

Lynch has already proven himself unwilling to pander with the Twin Peaks franchise, having unleashed a film as caustic and uncompromising as Fire Walk with Me. You get the sense he bores very easily, and might well use this opportunity to unleash all kinds of ideas he's been warehousing for other projects. That's both exciting and worrying. Exciting creatively and artistically, worrying critically and audience-wise.

Last year we saw Chris Carter use the X-Files revival as a soapbox for some truly confrontational storytelling, and the similar hype parade we're seeing now for Twin Peaks is giving me a bit of deja vu. But The X-Files was a bonafide cultural phenomenon, a game-changer. It's part of the common lexicon, worldwide. 

Twin Peaks is more a cult thing, an artifact of the Curator Era. Lynch could bring his absolute A-game and still confuse the hell out most of his new audience. And in the Internet Age that could go south very quickly.

Twin Peaks may have been a high point for Lynch as far as visibility but it also presaged a difficult stretch for him creatively, commercially and critically, with Wild at Heart and Lost Highway-- as well as Fire Walk with Me-- damaging his rep as an auteur. He restored his glimmer starting with The Straight Story but, frankly, he's a weird guy and you never know where his muses will carry him.  

The story of Twin Peaks, the franchise, is one about a boatload of potential that was never fully realized. Here's hoping Lynch closes the deal this time around. That will make it a story for the ages.

People.com has a documentary on the revival here.


          Spy vs Spy: Stuck in the Funhouse   

Funhouses are only fun when you can leave them. When the distorting mirror images become your new, day-to-day reality construct, then it's not so much fun anymore. 

I dreaded the 2016 Election because I had a very strong feeling that no matter who won we'd be plunged into a dystopian paradigm in which major power blocs would erupt into all-out warfare. And I sensed that neither Trump nor Clinton possessed the political skills or the communicative powers to keep the carnage fully out of our view. Or our path.


And I was right.


Trump's only been in office for a little over two months and I'm exhausted already. I'm certainly not alone in this. It all feels like a TV sitcom in its seventh season, well after the writers ran out of story ideas. The shark has been good and jumped. And the ratings (the approval ratings, in this case) are plunging too.


What is truly demoralizing though is the utter transparency of the secret war playing out, the seemingly endless spy vs spy thrust and counter-thrust, and the obvious deceptions. Even more so is the Animal Farm-like metamorphosis of the Democratic Party into a full-blown, funhouse mirror of McCarthy-era Republicans, but with Glenn Beck-worthy conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure.


I don't know about you but all of a sudden the world seems especially cold, hard, gray, harsh. Masks are coming off, velvet gloves tossed into wastebins. It doesn't seem to matter who wins the scorpion fight, you're still stuck with a scorpion.  

We can't call out the play-by-play because it's largely being acted out behind closed doors. But we can look at the collateral damage and make certain speculations. There's no doubt that it would all be just as bad-- probably worse-- if Hillary won. Even so, this all feels especially grating.

You've probably seen this story:
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Friday apologized to the owner of a Washington pizzeria that became the subject of a conspiracy theory about human trafficking last year. 
Pizza shop Comet Ping Pong was thrust into the spotlight last year after a gunman allegedly fired a shot inside the restaurant. The suspect said he was investigating the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were operating a child sex trafficking ring out of the restaurant. 
The theory, which became known as Pizzagate, had circulated among far-right conspiracy theory websites and social media accounts. 
“In our commentary about what had become known as Pizzagate, I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him,” Jones, who runs Infowars, said in a video. James Alefantis is the owner of Comet Ping Pong. 
Jones said his website relied on reporters who are no longer employed by Infowars and that video reports about Pizzagate were removed from the website. He also invited Alefantis onto the show to discuss the incident.
It was preceded by this story:
FBI’S RUSSIA PROBE EXPANDS TO INCLUDE ‘PIZZAGATE’ THREATS 
According to McClatchy News, the FBI’s Russian-influence probe agents are exploring whether far-right news operations, including the pro-Donald Trump sites Breitbart News and Infowars, “took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives.”  Trump’s ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son, a member of the Trump transition team, were among those who boosted the so-called “PizzaGate” pedophile conspiracy theory.
I doubt this will quell the fervor among the Pizzagaters on sites like 4chan and Voat. Given the suspicion many on the fringes regard Jones with it may in fact give the flagging movement a fresh jolt. Jones' apology may also have to do with the drive to purge YouTube of "extremist" content and the controversy over the use of advertising on videos corporate clients find objectionable. A World without Sin, as our Gordon might put it. 


Washington Post headline, pre-election.

So much for theories that the FBI was ready to make mass arrests of prominent Washington figures related to Pizzagate.  Has any "mass arrest" Internet story ever panned out?  

Maybe it has:
Donald Trump became president on Jan. 20. And in one short month, there were more than 1,500 arrests for sex crimes ranging from trafficking to pedophilia.  
Big deal? You bet. In all of 2014, there were fewer than 400 sex trafficking-related arrests, according to FBI crime statistics. Liz Crokin at TownHall.com has put together a great piece on the push by the Trump administration to crack down on sex crimes. And she notes that while "this should be one of the biggest stories in the national news... the mainstream media has barely, if at all, covered any of these mass pedophile arrests. This begs the question – why?
This may have nothing to do with Trump-- in fact, it's likely it doesn't-- since these kinds of actions are planned out months in advance. The arrests continue, in case you were wondering, with major busts going down on a near-weekly basis. Someone's cleaning house. 

For what it's worth, I always reckoned that Pizzagate was in fact cover/distraction for a more hidden struggle, one that would take place under the radar*. As I noted back in November:

No one is saying as much but this very much feels connected to a deeper, more covert war. 
Why would I say such a thing? Because at the same time the Pizzagate story went dark we've seen major strikes taken against international pedophilia, which actually is a global conspiracy, with its own networks, secret codes and moles within established centers of power such as schools, police departments and governments.  
With such combustible accusations-- and such potential for a scandal that could quickly spread out of control (ie., involve political figures you're not trying to destroy)-- you'd naturally expect the action to go dark and the fall guys to be placed pretty far down the foodchain. (Remember that a prior investigation bagged one of the most powerful people in Washington at one time, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert).†


"EVER WONDER WHAT IT'D BE LIKE TO DIE IN A PLANE CRASH?" 



It may be sheer coincidence, but James Alefantis' former partner suffered a major heart attack this week
Media Matters for America founder David Brock was rushed to a hospital on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack. 
According to a press release from MMA, the founder of the liberal media watchdog and analysis website was rushed to the hospital early Tuesday afternoon and received treatment.
Sure, it may be coincidence. But I couldn't help but remember this story, published soon after the election
Dems to David Brock: Stop Helping, You Are Killing Us 
Democrats know they need someone to lead them out of the wilderness. But, they say, that someone is not David Brock.

As David Brock attempts to position himself as a leader in rebuilding ademoralized Democratic Party in the age of Trump, many leading Democratic organizers and operatives are wishing the man would simply disappear.
 
"Disappear." Huh. 
Many in the party—Clinton loyalists, Obama veterans, and Bernie supporters alike—talk about the man not as a sought-after ally in the fight against Trumpism, but as a nuisance and a hanger-on, overseeing a colossal waste of cash. And former employees say that he has hurt the cause.
It's worth remembering that Breitbart.com Andrew Breitbart died of a heart attack at the age of 43. A year before he'd posted a cryptic tweet that some have since linked to the Pizzagate imbroglio.  Just before his death he hyped some revelation about Barack Obama's past. 

A coroner in the office handling Breitbart's body subsequently died of arsenic poisoning. The day Breitbart's autopsy results were revealed, in fact.

COME BACK ROY COHN, ALL IS FORGIVEN


We also saw James Comey revive Russiagate, which had been flatlining after Vault 7. Any illusions among Trump fans that the FBI was secretly on their side were ground into powder, between this revelation and the Pizzagate conspiracy investigations. 

One can't help but wonder if the New Praetorians (I've noticed that the Praetorian meme has been picked up by more prominent commentators, but you heard it here first) are losing their last shred of patience with Donald Trump's shenanigans and are planning imminent regime change: 
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election, Director James Comey said Monday in an extraordinary public confirmation of a probe the president has refused to acknowledge, dismissed as fake news and blamed on Democrats. 
In a bruising five-hour session, the FBI director also knocked down Trump’s claim that his predecessor had wiretapped his New York skyscraper, an assertion that has distracted White House officials and frustrated fellow Republicans who acknowledge they’ve seen no evidence to support it.
How surreal is the world in which you know live in? So much so that mainstream political site The Hill is comparing the action in Washington to a Stanley Kubrick film, one which has become notorious for the conspiracy theories that have been projected onto it (and is well familiar to Synchronauts):
On the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Shining, Stephen King must be wondering if Washington is working on its own sequel. For the last couple months, Washington has been on edge, like we are all trapped in Overlook Hotel with every day bringing a new “jump scare,” often preceded by a telltale tweet. Indeed, a Twitter whistle has replaced suspenseful music to put the entire city on the edge of their seats. 
In this Shining sequel, however, people are sharply divided on who is the deranged ax-wielding villain in this lodge, the president or the press. Ironically, with the recent disclosure that some of the Trump campaign may indeed have been subject to surveillance, the president is looking more like Danny Torrence, a character dismissed for constantly muttering “redrum, redrum” until someone finally looked in a mirror at the reverse image to see the true message.
Yeah, I'm not really feeling that metaphor there, but whatever. It's been that kind of year.

Now the Internet is burning up with theories that disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has "turned" and is going to testify against the Trump Administration, or at least figures attached to it. 


It's hard to imagine a three-star general can be stupid enough to be guilty of things Flynn's been accused of but that may speak to a culture of impunity in Washington, in which your misdeeds are only punished if you get on the wrong side of the wrong people.

LIKE A BAD CYBERPUNK NOVEL


One wonders if the secret war has spread outside Washington. Car service giant Uber seems to be having a major run of rotten luck lately: 
Uber Technologies Inc. is suspending its self-driving car program after one of its autonomous vehicles was involved in a high-impact crash in Tempe, Arizona, the latest incident for a company reeling from multiple crises. 
In a photo posted on Twitter, one of Uber’s Volvo self-driving SUVs is pictured on its side next to another car with dents and smashed windows. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the incident, and the veracity of the photo, and added that the ride-hailing company is suspending its autonomous tests in Arizona until it completes its investigation and pausing its Pittsburgh operations.

The incident also comes as Uber, and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, are currently under scrutiny because of a series of scandals. The ride-hailing company has been accused of operating a sexist workplace. This month, the New York Times reported that Uber used a tool called Greyball to help drivers evade government regulators and enforcement officials. Kalanick said he needed "leadership help" after Bloomberg published a video showing him arguing with an Uber driver.
So who did Kalanick piss off? 

Coincidentally- there's that word again- the crash comes soon after Wikileaks revealed that CIA hackers had the ability to override the computer systems in automobiles. From Mashable:

WikiLeaks has published a trove of files it says are linked to the CIA's hacking operations — which apparently includes efforts to hack into cars.  
The first in a series called "Vault 7," "Year Zero" supposedly comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.  
"Year Zero" details the CIA's malware arsenal and "zero day" exploits against Apple iPhones, Google's Android operating system, Microsoft Windows and even Samsung TVs.  
 According to a document from 2014, the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. 
Oh, that's reassuring. Speaking of control systems, apparently pimps are controlling prostitutes with RFID chips:
It turns out this 20-something woman was being pimped out by her boyfriend, forced to sell herself for sex and hand him the money. 
 “It was a small glass capsule with a little almost like a circuit board inside of it,” he said. “It's an RFID chip. It's used to tag cats and dogs. And someone had tagged her like an animal, like she was somebody's pet that they owned.” 
This is human trafficking. It’s a marginal issue here in the U.S. for most of us. Part of that is because the average person isn’t sure what human trafficking – or modern day slavery – actually means.
Technology is our friend, right? And now this: 
Turkish Hackers Threaten To Wipe Millions Of iPhones; Demand Ransom From Apple 
Today, courtesy of CIO, we learn that a group of hackers referring to themselves as the "Turkish Crime Family", has been in direct contact with Apple and is demanding a $150,000 ransom by April 7th or they will proceed to wipe as many as 600 million apple devices for which they allegedly have passwords. 
The group said via email that it has had a database of about 519 million iCloud credentials for some time, but did not attempt to sell it until now. The interest for such accounts on the black market has been low due to security measures Apple has put in place in recent years, it said.

Since announcing its plan to wipe devices associated with iCloud accounts, the group claimed that other hackers have stepped forward and shared additional account credentials with them, putting the current number it holds at over 627 million.

According to the hackers, over 220 million of these credentials have been verified to work and provide access to iCloud accounts that don't have security measures like two-factor authentication turned on.
 
Of course, if credible, with an ask of just $150k, this is the most modest group of hackers we've ever come across.
Given the war that's erupted between the increasingly aggressive Turkish government and the EU, money may clearly not be the object here. Turkish PM Erdogan is clearly set on reconstructing the old Ottoman Empire and shivving Apple might just be part of the march.

Besides, Turkey is taking that recent coup attempt-- which is almost universally blamed on the CIA-- very personally.


Speaking of the EU, we've seen stories that Trump advisor Steve Bannon wants to dissolve the union. Which may be why Trump-adversary John McCain announced his unalloyed support for it- and the "New World Order" (his words, not mine):
The world "cries out for American and European leadership" through the EU and Nato, US senator John McCain said on Friday (24 March). 
In a "new world order under enormous strain" and in "the titanic struggle with forces of radicalism … we can't stand by and lament, we've got to be involved," said McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate who is now chairman of the armed services committee in the US Senate. 
Speaking at the Brussels Forum, a conference organised by the German Marshall Fund, a transatlantic think tank, he said that the EU and the US needed to develop "more cooperation, more connectivity". 
"I trust the EU," he said, defending an opposite view from that of US president Donald Trump, who said in January that the UK "was so smart in getting out" of the EU and that Nato was "obsolete". 
He said that the EU was "one of the most important alliances" for the US and that the EU and Nato were "the best two sums in history", which have maintained peace for the last 70 years. "We need to rely on Nato and have a Nato that adjusts to new challenges," he said.
Would McCain speak this way to a domestic audience? Of course not. Or maybe he would- I can't tell which way is up anymore. But either way it's good to know where he really stands.

Like McCain, China continues to sound a similar note of support for globalization, on which its very economic survival so desperately depends:
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli told a gathering of Asian leaders that the world must commit to multilateral free trade under the World Trade Organization and needs to reform global economic governance. 
“The river of globalization and free trade will always move forward with unstoppable momentum to the vast ocean of the global economy,” Zhang said. China will remain a strong force in the world economy and for peace and stability, he said, adding that countries must respect one another’s core interests and refrain from undermining regional stability. 
I suppose this is why China is off the target list for our new Cold (?) Warriors.

I've resisted posting on all this because it's all so depressing. I've actually written a few pieces on this chicanery that I ended up roundfiling. But I suppose I just wanted to go on the record about all this skullduggery, for posterity's sake.



UPDATE: Sex trafficking arrests and trials continue to proliferate. Most recent bust, an international ring in Minnesota. There is way too much activity going down in too short a time for this to be spontaneous.


* Which is exactly why I refrained from commenting on it here for the most part, instead noting that it had become a kind of memetic virus in much the same way that the Franklin/Boy's Town scandal had in the 90s. (Note that prior to the election-- and Pizzagate-- Trump nemesis the Washington Post was all over the issue of sex trafficking in the nation's capital). 

† The ongoing legal and police actions coinciding with the moves to shut down the Pizzagate fringes on the Web seem like the exact kind of action one would expect if there were a serious operation at work. Shutting down the Internet chatter makes perfect sense in this context because it can only complicate cases made by prosecutors. 
          Allen Ginsberg: Naked Poet   
...all before the mind wakes, behind shades and closed doors in a darkened house
where the inhabitants roam unsatisfied in the night,
nude ghosts seeking each other out in the silence.
Love Poem on a Theme by Whitman, Allen Ginsberg

Never heckle a nonconformist.
A drunk started to heckle Allen Ginsberg during a reading of his poem Howlin Los Angeles in 1956.
“Allen politely asked him to hear out the reading and said he would be pleased to hear his opinions afterward,” biographer Barry Miles noted. “That stopped the heckler for a bit, but when Gregory (Corso) got up to read, the drunk interrupted. ‘What are you guys trying to prove?’ he demanded.
“Allen immediately yelled out, ‘Nakedness!’
“ ‘What do you mean, nakedness?” asked the drunk.
“ ‘I meant spiritual nakedness,’ Ginsberg explained later. ‘Poetic nakedness — candor. Then I suddenly realized what I had said. Inspired, I started taking off my clothes.’
“‘All right,’ Allen challenged the drunk. ‘You want to do something brave, don’t you? Something brave? Well, go on, do something really brave. Take off your clothes!’
The man was speechless. Allen advanced on him, tearing off his shirt. ‘Come on and stand here, stand naked before the people. I dare you! The poet always stands naked before the world.’ Allen threw his shirt and undershirt at the man’s feet, and he began to back away. ‘You’re scared, aren’t you?’ asked Allen. ‘You’re afraid.’ Allen kicked off his shoes and socks and pulled down his pants. Doing a little hopping dance, he kicked them off... He was now completely naked. The drunk had by now retreated to the back of the room. The audience sat in stunned silence.
“Suddenly the room exploded in cheers, jeers, applause and angry argument. The drunk was booed and hissed until he left. Anaïs Nin was impressed and wrote in her journal; ‘The way he did it was so violent and direct, it had so much meaning in terms of all our fears of unveiling ourselves.’”
---
Miles’ bio of the poet and his fellow Beat musketeers documents their intellectual insights and/or pretensions, drugs and more drugs, petty crime, sex of all sorts, doomed love affairs, cross-country wanderings, abandoned wives, automobile and mental breakdowns, jails, colleges, psychiatric hospitals, poetry, novels, a murder and various other accidental, if predictable, deaths: one when a drunk happily leaned out a train window, and another when a guy decided to “William Tell” a water glass off his wife’s head with a Star .380 automatic.
All the panoramic stupidity of young midcentury Americans, as fascinating as the rhythmic sway of a cobra.
Over all, I found Ginsberg and his self-absorbed comrades to be at least as exasperating as they were intriguing. People who’ve had experience with mental illness, as I have, may fail to see the charm in drug-induced psychosis.
And yet Ginsberg shares my birthday, June 3, and the insights it took him decades to discover — an appreciation of the deep psychological well of Buddhism, a suspicion of the tyranny of self — were the same ones I found, after a long search. My feelings about him are almost as complex as my feelings about myself.
On the plus side of the ledger, Ginsberg became a courageous voice against the deep-rooted hypocrisies of his time, a gay pioneer and a reflexively honest man who did much to popularize Buddhist thought in America.
---
The 17-year-old Allen Ginsberg had fallen for an 18-year-old cerebral charmer, his fellow Columbia University student Lucien Carr, at once.
Ginsberg’s infatuation with 21-year-old Jack Kerouac, a sensitive and articulate merchant seaman, was equally instant.
All three were also in the giddy early stages of a love affair with intellectual enlightenment. Carr later called it the rebellious students’ search for valid values.
“Their walk had taken them to the Union Theological Seminary; they stood on the corner of West 122ndStreet and Broadway and looked down the hill to the gray spread of Harlem,” wrote Miles. “Allen was moving out of the seminary and still had a few things to collect. He and Jack had discussed their admiration of Lucien, so there was a mutual understanding when Allen pointed out the door where he had first heard the Brahms Quintet (that had introduced him to Carr) six months earlier.”
“Allen collected the few books and belongings he had come for, and as he turned from the dormitory suite he bowed to it, made a gesture of farewell, and said, ‘Goodbye, door.’ He continued down the stairs, saying goodbye to each step as he went. He bade farewell to the seventh-floor landing, the sixth-floor landing and all the rest, like a poem, all the way down.
“Kerouac was struck by this: ‘Ah, I do that when I say goodbye to a place.’ They had a long, excited conversation about the recognition of each of the stairs as the final stair and about Allen’s realization of the changes in himself since he first climbed them six months before.
“‘That struck him as an awareness of a soul in space and time, which was his nature,’ Ginsberg said later. Jack asked him if he knew any other people with the same awareness. Was it awareness? Was it poetry? They decided that everyone had it who was in any way conscious or sensitive.
‘Everyone has the same soul. We’re all here together at once in the same place. Temporarily, with a totally poignant tearful awareness that we’re together,’ they decided. This recognition became the basis of their deep and lasting understanding of each other.”
Ginsberg was a tireless promoter of his fellow beat writers — Kerouac, Burroughs, Corso and others. “I wasn’t just plugging and promoting my friends,” he explained. “I had a larger agenda.”
He saw the literary establishment — Partisan Review, Kenyon Review, and so forth — as finally reactionary. “They were liberal but in the long run they would go along with a police state if it happened — they wouldn’t go to jail.”
Ginsberg wanted to promote writers made of sterner stuff, namely “philosophical anarchism.”
---
In 1965, jazz musician Jack Martin was arrested for marijuana possession in New York, and four narcotics agents had a little talk with him.
“(T)hey told him that his bail would be raised from five to ten thousand dollars and that additional charges would be added to his indictment unless he helped them out,” Miles wrote.
“Agent Bruce Jensen acted as their spokesman. ‘We want Ginsberg,’ he said. ‘How would you like to see your wife in jail? … We don’t want you, we want the guy you get it from … Do you know Ginsberg? … Can you get him for us? … Can you set up Allen Ginsberg?’
“To the enforcers, it was inconceivable that Ginsberg would advocate for marijuana (legalization) unless he was somehow involved in its sale and trafficking.”
In fact, Martin had never met Ginsberg, who was in California and knew nothing of these events.
Later, at a benefit for a friend, Martin rose and made a speech describing how Jensen had tried to force him to entrap Ginsberg. Three undercover agents in the crowd jumped him, and others — thinking the agents were mere thugs — scuffled with them.
It all ended up in court later, and by then Ginsberg had learned of the matter and appeared there, telling the New York Times: “I feel like the noose of the police state is closing in on me. I’ve had experience of police states in Prague and it’s very similar here.”
---
The accomplishment of which Ginsberg became proudest was helping to spread the knowledge of Buddhism in America.
About taking his Bodhisattva Vows, Ginsberg said he admired, “…the notion of relating to any situation and not boycotting any situations. Not avoiding, but trying to alchemize every situation, by skillful means to turn to advantage … To turn it from shit to roses.”
“It is easy to see why Ginsberg should be attracted to the Bodhisattva ideal, since one of his great strengths was always his willingness to take a difficult or painful situation and try to salvage something from it, whether it was dealing with his mother’s madness, becoming involved with the lepers and dying beggars in India, or taking amiably with street people and bag ladies,” Miles wrote.
“He would intervene in street arguments, talk to belligerent drunks and spaced-out junkies. If someone had a bad skin condition or disfigurement, Ginsberg would immediately ask about rather than pretend it was not there. His enormous inquisitiveness and almost complete lack of embarrassment sometimes led him to quiz complete strangers about their income or sex life and volunteer the same, uncalled-for information about himself.”
I can understand and appreciate that kind of honesty. Ginsberg once pointed toward the need for it in talking to the Washington Post: “The condition of society is one of homogeneity and hyper-industrialism, so the individual perceptions of body and mind are not valued. Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”

          Walt Whitman: Singer of the Body Electric   
The fire, the sweet hell within,
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
— Walt Whitman
---
“By the time he was 12 years old, an apprentice printer in Brooklyn, Walt had lived in about a dozen different houses, each one more cramped than the last. Of the eight Whitman children who survived infancy, one was a mental defective and three were psychic disasters; three were normal, and one became the chief celebrant of what William James called ‘the religion of healthy-mindedness,’” wrote Justin Kaplan in Walt Whitman: A Life.
“Walt’s father … owned a copy of The Ruins, a celebrated attack on Christianity and supernaturalism by the French savant Count Constantin de Volney. Like others who grew up on such literature, Walt believed that a long, dark tyranny over man’s mind and body was at last coming to an end; the Children of Adam would be able to walk in their parents’ garden. Leaves of Grass borrowed the insurgent and questioning spirit of these mentors along with literal quotations from their writings.”
---
“Words, when he acquired language, became life itself, links to the external world and to his unconscious,” Kaplan wrote, quoting Whitman: “ ‘A perfect writer would make words sing, dance, kiss, do the male and female act, bear children, weep, bleed, rage, stab, steal, fire cannon, steer ships, sack cities, charge with cavalry or infantry, or do any thing that man or woman or the natural powers can do.’ Words were instruments of command and of relationship to a world waiting to be named for the first time.”
---
Whitman had the dubious benefit of a “…thrifty and national scheme of education devised by an English Quaker, Joseph Lancaster,” Kaplan noted. “Assisted by hierarchies of student monitors, one teacher was able to distribute rote learning, together with fundamental social values and strict notions of the good and the useful, to 200 and more pupils.
“Sometimes he invoked muscular Christianity and resorted to the birch rod, the cowhide strap and, in Whitman’s words, ‘other ingenious methods of child torture,’ mental as well as physical. He demanded unison, unquestioning obedience to regulations, undivided attention and a physical discipline that dictated the precise way to hold and close a book during recitations and the position of hands when students stood at parade rest.
“The Lancaster method was designed to separate children from their ignorance as cleanly and impersonally as Eli Whitney’s cotton gin separated fibers from seeds. It proved to be stupefying even for pupils less jealous of their emotional freedom than Walt.”
---
Whitman said that the first time he wanted to write anything was “…when I saw a ship under full sail, and had the desire to describe it exactly as it seemed to me.”
---
Whitman loved swimming with other young men, nude in the fashion of the 19th century, their bodies electric.

Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sun-burnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in and out…

“The young men ran dancing and laughing along the sand, bathed in the surf, fished, dug clams, speared messes of fat, sweet-meated eel,” wrote biographer Kaplan. “He loved swimming, of a passive sort — ‘I was a first-rate aquatic loafer,’ he recalled. ‘I possessed almost unlimited capacity for floating on my back.’ Cradled, rocked and drowsing, his body rolling ‘silently to and fro in the heave of the water,’ he lay suspended between the depths and the light, between the unconscious and the world of necessity.”
---
As a young man, Whitman wrote a bad didactic novel about the evils of drink, and edited a newspaper attacking Catholics and the Irish. For solutions, like other Americans, he looked West.
“Continentalism and Union were to shape Whitman’s poetic vision (‘I am large. I contain multitudes’),” Kaplan wrote. “ ‘California’s shores’ were not only the western boundaries of the Union — they were the boundaries of the found and the ‘yet unfound,’ the measure of his psychic growth. (‘Eastward I go only by force,’ Thoreau said, ‘but westward I go free.’)”
Unfortunately, Whitman’s enthusiasm for freedom only went so far. While sympathetic to the plight of individual black people, Whitman regarded their race as unfit for freedom and decried the “ranting” and “abominable fanaticism” of the abolitionists.
---
“Sylvester Graham, temperance reformer, physiological guru and eponym of the delicious cracker, joined in the battle against dyspepsia, or indigestion, a malady of epidemic proportions for Americans,” wrote Kaplan. “The “Peristaltic Persuader,” as he was called, favored internal and external applications of cold water and repasts of boiled vegetables and bread made from unsifted whole-wheat flour. Alcohol, tea, coffee and red meat were proscribed, on the grounds that they stimulated the lower nature.
“In a celebrated lecture on chastity, Graham argued that there had to be something amiss with any organ that sent priority messages to the brain — an erect penis was no more wholesome than a bloated stomach or an infected finger. According to him and other popular theorists of the day, the seminal loss for a man in one act of sexual intercourse was the equivalent of 40 ounces of blood, a fifth of the body’s supply. This appalling figure was a warning against sexual overindulgence — meaning more than once a month — could cause tuberculosis, convulsions, indigestion and even imbecilism; sex — especially masturbation — withered the thinking organs of men, just as thinking withered the reproductive organs of women. Sex was a major disorder, even a catastrophe; it was a wonder the species had lasted as long as it had.”
And then came Whitman. “By 1855, when Whitman presented himself coatless and bare-necked, his pelvis thrust forward, in his Leaves of Glass frontispiece, men of fashion were dressed from head to toe like black tubes,” Kaplan wrote. “No other poet of his century wrote about the body with such explicitness and joy, anatomizing it at rest and cataloguing its parts, celebrating it as an instrument of love:

“Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
“Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

“No other poet of his century paid such a continuing high price for his boldness, ostracism, ostentatious neglect, ridicule, censorship, suppression.”
---
“…Whitman saw few encouraging signs in 1850. Democratic hope was at an ebb tide. Two years earlier, the overthrow of Louis Phillipe in France had touched off a wave of revolutions all over Europe. Americans rejoiced in the expectation that soon no throne would be left standing anywhere.

“‘God, ‘twas delicious,’ Whitman wrote,
‘That brief, tight, glorious grip
‘Upon the throats of kings.

“But the forces of liberal nationalism — Emerson’s ‘party of the Future,’ ‘the Movement’ — were crushed with appalling ferocity. The revolutionaries of 1848 died on the battlefields, at the barricades and before firing squads, or they fled into exile. Karl Marx spent the rest of his life in London writing Das Kapital in the reading room of the British Museum. Mazzini and Carl Schurz also took shelter in London; Giuseppe Garibaldi dipped candles on Staten Island. Whitman was to see the Hungarian patriot Louis Kossuth riding up Broadway. Reaction, repression and militarism prevailed once again.”
And then came the Civil War.
---
Whitman poured his love of young men onto the emotional desert of war, soothing its victims at great cost to himself.
“(H)e dedicated all his resources of physical and emotional strength into service to wounded soldiers, the maimed, the sick and the dying, for well nigh three years — until his strength broke down and he was prostrated for six months, probably the start of his later paralysis,” wrote A.L. Rowse in Homosexuals in History.
“He did an extraordinary job as a nurse-missionary-almoner all on his own; the doctors said that his services in the Washington war-hospitals and camps were more valuable than their own. Today he would be described as a psychotherapist; he was healer, father-confessor, dispenser of consolation and gifts he collected for the men. But his outpouring of love was the most important. A good lady-worker told him that the men were unresponsive. Little did she know: with limbs shattered, sick or dying, they longed to be kissed. Here was one young wounded New Yorker among thousands. ‘He behaved very manly and affectionate. The kiss I gave him as I was about leaving he returned fourfold. I had several such interviews with him. He died just after the one described.
“One cannot go into all that Walt did for these men, writing their letters, always bringing presents, spending all he could collect on them to keep their spirits going, consoling, hearing their prayers, taking their last messages.”
---
Neil McKenna, in his The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, reported that in his trip to America in 1882, “Oscar desperately wanted to meet Walt Whitman, whom he and many others considered to be America’s living poet… Whitman’s poetry spoke of the potency of friendship and love between men, particularly between working-class men, and positively oozed homoeroticism. Indeed, the Calamus section of Whitman’s great poetic cycle Leaves of Grass was so intensely homoerotic that it gave rise to the short-lived term ‘calamite’ to denote a man who loved men.”
They spent hours together, drinking elderberry wine. “One of the first things I said was that I should call him ‘Oscar,’” Whitman reported. “‘I like that so much,’ he answered, laying his hand on my knee. He seemed to me like a great big, splendid boy. He is so frank, and outspoken, and manly. I don’t see why such mocking things are written of him.”
And Wilde’s reaction? David Friedman wrote that, “A Philadelphian joked that it must have been hard for Wilde to swallow the homemade wine Whitman had offered. For once Wilde rejected an invitation to snobbery. ‘If it had been vinegar, I should have drunk it all the same,’ he said. ‘I have an admiration for that man which I can hardly express.’”
---
Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, was present when Whitman met Henry David Thoreau in 1856.
“Observing the edgy traffic between them, Alcott was reminded of ‘two beasts, each wondering what the other would do, whether to snap or run,”” Kaplan noted.
“He decided that either Henry was afraid Walt would steal his woods or Walt had recognized that for once he had met his match in Henry, ‘a sagacity potent, penetrating and peerless as his own,; an ego as unbiddable, an eye as hawklike. (Emerson surmised that perhaps Henry’s ‘fancy for Walt Whitman grew out of his taste for wild nature, for an otter, a woodchuck or a loon.’)… Each had his own vector of self-willed resistance to a trade- and conformity-minded society.”
Thoreau became an evangelical booster of Leaves of Grass.
---
Ralph Waldo Emerson urged Whitman to cut some of the more physically vivid passages from the expanding editions of Leaves of Grass. No more “love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching” or “limitless limpid jets of loves hot and enormous.” And please no more references to…

…The young man that wakes, deep at night, the hot hand seeking to repress what would master him;        
The mystic amorous night — the strange half-welcome pangs, visions, sweats,        
The pulse pounding through palms and trembling encircling fingers — the young man all color’d, red, ashamed, angry;

Whitman asked Emerson if the book would be as good without such passages. Emerson paused, then replied, “I did not say as good a book. I said a good book.”
Years later, Whitman said, “Expurgation is apology — yes, surrender — yes, an admission that something or other was wrong. Emerson said expurgate — I said no, no... I have not lived to regret my Emerson no.”
---
Whitman’s optimism was hard-pressed during the Civil War. In a single year, 1864, Whitman’s brother George became a prisoner of war and Whitman had his violent brother Jesse committed to the Kings County Lunatic Asylum. His alcoholic, widowed sister-in-law Nancy became a prostitute and gave birth to a son who was run over and killed by a brewery wagon in 1868. And Whitman’s nursing of all those shattered and dying soldiers he loved finally brought him to the verge of physical and mental collapse.
Yet, faced with calamity, Whitman determined “…to be self-balanced for contingencies,
“To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.”
---
Kaplan wrote: “Somehow I seem’d to get identity with each and every thing around me, in its condition,” (Whitman) said at Timber Creek. “Nature was naked, and I was also.” Earth rocks, trees and small living beings were lessons in imperturbability, concreteness and strength. “Being” was superior to “the human trait of mere seeming,” The human habit of “persistent strayings and sickly abstractions.”
---
Ironically, while Whitman could identify with small living beings, apparently he couldn’t do so with large ones who happened to be black.
Although opposed to slavery, Whitman remained a racist. Watching five black regiments of Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s army march in review, Whitman remarked, “It looked funny to see the president standing with his hat off to them just the same as the rest.”
---
The following is from a Bill Moyers essay: “American democracy grew a soul, as it were -- given voice by one of our greatest poets, Walt Whitman, with his all-inclusive embrace in Song of Myself:

“Whoever degrades another degrades me,
and whatever is done or said returns at last to me...
I speak the pass-word primeval — I give the sign of democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms...
(I am large -- I contain multitudes.)”

Author Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has vividly described Whitman seeing himself in whomever he met in America. As he wrote in I Sing the Body Electric:
“-- the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child — the farmer’s daughter in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn --”
…Whitman saw something else in the soul of the country: Americans at work, the laboring people whose toil and sweat built this nation.  Townsend contrasts his attitude with the way politicians and the media today — in their endless debates about wealth creation, capital gains reduction and high corporate taxes — seem to have forgotten working people. “But Whitman wouldn’t have forgotten them.” She writes, “He celebrates a nation where everyone is worthy, not where a few do well.”
---
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers.
And I become the other dreamers….
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake.
— Walt Whitman

Whitman was apparently subject to kenshō, that spontaneous mental state described by Dumoulin as “… an insight into the identity of one’s own nature with all of reality in an eternal now, as a vision that removes all distinctions.”
“He had shared the experience of countless people, irreligious by common standards, who had flashes of illumination or ecstasy — even Caliban saw the clouds open and ‘cried to dream again,’” Whiteman biographer Justin Kaplan wrote. “These experiences have a remembered correlative or ‘trigger.’ With Whitman it was the sea, music, the grass, the green world of summer. The rhythm of these experiences is sexual and urgent — tumescence, climax, detumescence — but the ‘afterglow’ may last a lifetime, as it did with him, and he invited it an prolonged it through poetry; the poet was the shaman of modern society — a master of ‘the techniques of ecstasy.’"

          Mary Wickes: A Suspected Treasure   
Mary Wickes was the original Mary Poppins on American television in 1949
From the start, like Bette Davis in Now Voyager, Paul Beals and I suspected that Mary Wickes might be a treasure.
We met her in the summer of 1976 when she was at the Hyatt-Regency in downtown Chicago promoting her short-lived CBS TV show, Doc.
What we didn’t know then is that Wickes, always marching to the beat of her own drummer, would get herself fired from that MTM Productions show by demanding the right to change dialogue she found distasteful.
Affable and chatty, the homely, beloved character actress seemed to be as direct, wisecracking and approachable as the maids and nurses she’d always played. Never a star, she was nevertheless a central figure in Hollywood since the 1930s. It was strange to hear her rattle off names like “Lucy,” “Orson” and “Bette,” seemingly not as an affectation, but simply because these were ordinary friends and colleagues of hers.
Like actor Lyle Talbot, whom I interviewed later, Wickes was one of those fascinating people who had almost literally been everywhere and known everyone.
“Whether nurse, nun or housekeeper, she was always the wry observer peering into a world that she did not entirely belong to,” wrote Steve Taravella in his biography Mary Wickes: I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before. “Intimately a part of whatever was taking place on screen or stage, she was at the same time an outsider — and it was clear to everyone that she had made her peace with this status. Although she was never the lead, she was the one who held my attention. Her persona resonated with me.”
Wickes was the beleaguered nurse in The Man Who Came to Dinner on stage and screen and the housekeeper inWhite Christmas. She was the original Mary Poppins on live television, and the animators’ model for Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians.
Her long experience in comedy left her with a considerable bag of tricks. For example, she developed five variations on the “double take:” the Regular Double Take, the Pigeon Double Take (with neck stretched), the Butterfly Double Take (with multiple quick glances), the Triple Take (each growing in intensity) and the One Where You’re Caught (pretending you didn’t just do a double take).
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Born in St. Louis in 1910, Wickes had a quasi-19th century horse-and-buggy childhood, taking family excursions on Mississippi riverboats. “Everybody took their own lunch in baskets,” she recalled. “If you got thirsty, you got a big, wonderful, cold stein if A&W root beer with a big head on it, a lot of foam. And that was lovely, oh my. That hurrying down to the levy to make the boat before it left was lovely.”
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Beyond a curse or a blessing, Wickes’ homely looks were finally just a fact she used to her advantage.
“Some time or other, it always gets around to boys, and there was no boy in Mary’s life,” recalled family friend Mary Vahle. “She was always tall, and that’s a drawback. And Mary had a receding chin and a big nose. Boys that age don’t look beyond the surface.”
Taravella noted, “For decades, Mary withstood — as few others could — harsh public mockery regarding her appearance. Callous descriptions — ‘the wrinkle with lips’ is how one character refers to her in a 1990s sitcom — became so routine that they limited Mary’s career in ways she found hard to accept… (But) Mary’s appearance more than enhanced her career; in some ways, it allowed her to have one. Together, her height, her pronounced nose, her receding chin and her attention-grabbing bark drew the notice of casting directors. Such was true from the very beginning.”
Writer and actor Peter Walker said, “I don’t know if Mary ever realized that she was such a homely woman. But it was that homely thing that obviously got her the work. She knew that (her appearance and voice) was where her money was coming from, that she was never going to be the Claire Trevor or the pretty second leading lady. As a businesswoman she was very wise, and she kept her mother and herself very well.”
Never married, Wickes lived with her widowed mother Isabella, and they made a lively and devoted pair.
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Though notoriously frugal, Wickes did not stint when it came to entertaining at home.
“Be it lunch, dinner or the afternoon teas she liked to arrange, she was a lavish, generous host who offered liquor and hearty amounts of food, most of which she prepared herself,” Taravella wrote.
“She served with family crystal and silver, and she went out of her way to make her guests comfortable. The food she served was distinctly Midwestern. No matter how famous the guest, Mary’s meals were likely to include chicken salad or chili, homemade brownies and Jell-O. She liked to prepare an appetizer that she called actor’s pâté made of liverwurst, cream cheese, chives, Worcester sauce and dry mustard.”
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Wickes was a long-time professional colleague of Bette Davis, a good friend of Doris Day and Vivian Vance and a really close friend of Lucille Ball (who somewhat exploited that friendship by underpaying Mary for appearances on her sitcoms).
Though disappointed that she didn’t land the role of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, Wickes became something of a real-life Ethel in occasional antics with Lucy. After Lucy bought a Rolls-Royce that had been owned by her late neighbor Hedda Hopper, the pair had a misadventure while out for a drive when they realized, as darkness fell, that they didn’t know how to turn on the headlights.
Then there was the time Lucy took Wickes shopping for sheets and pillowcases along with a baby chimpanzee Lucy adored. Recalling how Lucy refused to take her own children out in public for fear of being mobbed, her daughter Lucie Arnaz said, “She wouldn’t take me to the market, but she’d take a chimpanzee and a six-foot-tall woman in a long plaid skirt because God forbid she should draw any attention to herself.”
The affection between Lucy and Wickes ran deep, and is evident in the tone of the many letters they exchanged.
In 1973, while caring for Wickes’ plants while she was away, Lucy wrote, “Your plants are thriving, but they ask for you and wonder why you don’t drop by. I think one of them is pregnant if you have any instructions concerning same.”
“If you don’t want to come yourself, Mary, take pity on poor Isabell and let her get drunk once in a while,” Lucy wrote in 1958, inviting Wickes to a party. “You’re much too hard on her. I understand you have ruined her sex life.”
The quip was one few but Lucy could have gotten away with, because Wickes’ moral views were frequently described as Victorian. “In the old days, people who had character didn’t change it with every person they met,” Lucie Arnaz said. “They didn’t change to fit the style or the clothes or to fit the mood, to be hip or whatever. They were who they were. Mary had that in her own character. She had it all her life.”
Wickes caused herself no end of trouble rejecting what she regarded as “blue” material in scripts. But her tolerance could also surprise. Many of her escorts were gay men. “Her notes reveal that — at least with regard to gifts — Mary treated her friends in same-sex relationships the same as her friends in heterosexual relationships,” Taravella wrote.
Perhaps that’s because one of Wickes’ enduring principles was loyalty. Stefan Kanfer, in his biography Ball of Fire, noted how Wickes always looked out for Lucy. “(Wickes) was acting in summer stock in 1979 when she persuaded Lucy to fly to San Francisco for a sentimental journey,” he wrote. “Together the two old friends called on a bedridden Vivian Vance. Most of the day was spent in happy reminiscence between Lucy and Vivian, with Mary off in a corner. The laughter lasted for two hours; afterward the visitors cried all the way to the airport. Vance died that August.”
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For all that, Wickes remained a guarded figure, in some ways unknowable.
“Mary lived behind walls, not merely walls against unpleasantness … but also walls of secrecy about her health; walls of fear about her (right-wing) political leanings being discovered; walls of lies about her age; walls, certainly, against physical intimacy,” Taravella wrote.
“These were walls of privacy so great that when friends wrote her apartment number on mail addressed to her, she was angered, fearing others might learn the precise location of her apartment.
“Most notably, she erected walls against any emotional closeness. Mary laughed and joked and told stories, but never really opened up — not even with her closest friends. In virtually every context, Mary placed limits on the warmth she would extend, so much so that emotional reticence is one of the first qualities friends mention when asked about her.”

Whatever Wickes had went straight into her work. She prided herself on her professionalism, badgered other theatrical professionals for assignments and was known to walk into rehearsal halls proclaiming, “It’s Mary Wickes, grand old lady of stage, screen and shortwave radio!”

          Kingsley Amis: A Wit, and a Bit of a Shit   
For Kingsley Amis lionized novelist, acclaimed wit, English sophisticate — one of the happiest moments of his life arrived while he was in Champaign-Urbana, IL, just a few miles north of here.
In March 1959, while spending a year at Princeton, the novelist traveled to the University of Illinois to lecture on the topic The Angry Young Men and After. Amis was often an anxious traveler and a heavy drinker, but not this time.
“On the afternoon of his lecture, after a single drink at lunchtime, ‘I reached a state of dazzling euphoria, as has happened to me only three or four other times in my life, and never since,’” his biographer Zachary Leader wrote in The Life of Kingsley Amis.
“At the lecture itself, and the party afterwards, ‘I was at the apex of my form.’ As the party finished, Amis overheard one faculty wife ask another, ‘How much do you think there is in national character. Have you ever met a reserved Englishman?”
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Pleasure seemed to be the point of the Amises’ year in Princeton.
“As a couple, the Amises ‘inspired a whole year of husband- and wife-swapping,’” Leader wrote. “Amis made passes at every attractive woman he saw, regardless of marital status. He propositioned Betty Fussell while she stood in the bathroom washing out a nappy. He made a pass at Mary Keeley, at Gene Davis, at Liz Moynahan, at Jan Richardson, at Phil Fraser, all married to friends. ‘It was compulsive,’ remembers Keeley, but ‘if you said no it was all right … he wouldn’t press it with people who would have a problem, but otherwise he never gave up.’
“‘You had to look to your wife,’ Russell Fraser remembers. ‘What he said to me when I bristled at him was ‘Nothing personal, Old Man,’ and in a very extraordinary way that must have been so.’
“A number of the passes led to affairs, several of them serious. ‘There was no scandal left in who had slept with Kingsley,’ Betty Fussell wrote. ‘Who hadn’t?’”
Amis wrote a poem about a fairly typical day in which his narrator returns home after a “fearsome thrash with Mrs. No-Holds-Barred” to find that his wife has kept his dinner warm.

Nice bit of haddock with poached egg, Dundee,
Buckets of tea, a light ale or two,
And ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Danger Man,’ the Late Night Movie
Who’s Doing Better, then? What about you?
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In Leader’s biography, Amis comes off as talented and honest but repellently selfish, something like his character Roger Micheldene in One Fat Englishman: “Of the seven deadly sins, Roger considered himself qualified in gluttony, sloth and lust but distinguished in anger.” Amis displayed something of an only child’s greed, saying more than once that he wanted “more than his share” and that before anybody else got served any.” His childhood also left him a legacy of fears. He wouldn’t fly, and he had an absolute horror of the dark, and of being left alone. 
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In Leader’s book, George Orwell is quoted as saying, “It is probable that many people who could consider themselves extremely sophisticated and ‘advanced’ are actually carrying through life an imaginative background which they acquired in childhood.” Amis had a flair not only for comic literary invention but also for recognizing the good qualities of popular culture. To that end, Amis wrote the first and best of the James Bond novels not penned by Ian Fleming himself, Colonel Sun.
This sophisticated novelist also wrote a book-long analysis of Bond, and had a lifelong affection for jazz and science fiction.
“Leader begins by asserting that Amis ‘was not only the finest British comic novelist of the second half of the 20th century but a dominant force in the writing of the age,’ wrote Andrew Motion in the Guardian. ‘He then outlines the six themes that shape his book: the influence of Amis’s early upbringing, ‘the aggression which is so marked a feature of his character and writings,’ his ‘astonishing energy,’ his sense of ‘writing as a craft or profession,’ his ‘hostility to distinctions between high culture and low,’ and his ‘lifelong obsession with egotism, selfishness [and] inconsiderateness.’’
No wonder he became a right winger.
“It’s easy to think of other lives that have turned to comedy as a means of coping with anxiety, but in Amis’s case the solution was remarkably bold,” Motion said. “To start with, he took his cue from jokey relatives, relishing extravagant stories and turning himself into a brilliant mimic: it was an effective way of making friends and influencing people. Soon, though, he sharpened his wit into a device for cutting people down to size, and for characterizing an entire epoch’s hypocrisies and silly self-deceptions.”
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Amis had a rigorous early 20thcentury education at the City of London School, a day school for boys on the banks of the Thames near the Millennium Bridge. And he excelled at it.
“When Martin Amis became a writer, he and his father often talked late into the night about literature and other matters,” Leader wrote. “The son would marvel at the father’s memory: ‘My God, he knows all English poetry.’ Ten lines here, twenty lines there, of Shakespeare, Milton, Marvell, Rochester, Pope, Gray, Keats, Wordsworth, Byron, Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Housman, Owen, Kipling, Auden, Graves and of course (Philip) Larkin.”
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Here’s an example of the kind of teaching novelist Kingsley Amis got, in this case from the Rev. C.J. Ellingham at the City of London School, who said: “Vigorous English is not merely to be used when you are excited or angry. Any English which does its work well, and shows exactly what the writer means, is vigorous. Feeble writing leaves the reader to do all the work.”
Ellingham went on to say: “Do not try to bluff the reader. It is your work to describe, and if your words are inadequate, no verbal device will make the reader do your work for you. If you are describing a sunset, and feel that ‘the sunset was beautiful’ is not enough, it is a bluff to write ‘the sunset was amazingly beautiful.’ You have not avoided the duty of describing the sunset. You have made your task harder, for now you must show that it was amazing as well as beautiful.”
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“‘All Old English and nearly all Middle English works produced hatred and weariness in nearly everybody who studied them,’ Amis recalls. ‘The former carried the redoubled impediment of having Tolkien, incoherent and often inaudible, lecturing on it.’ (Tolkien, he wrote elsewhere ‘spoke unclearly and slurred the important words, and then he’d write them on the blackboard but keep standing between them and us, then wipe them off before he turned around.’)”
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In a poem, Amis described the qualities that attracted him to Hilary Bardwell, the girl who would become his first wife.

In ’46 when I was twenty-four
I met someone harmless, someone defenceless
But till then whole, unadapted within;
Awkward, gentle, healthy, straight-backed,
Who spoke to say something, laughed when amused…

It helped that she was unintimidated by him and that she understood his fears, for example of walking home alone at night. She also recognized his adolescent streak of selfishness, apparent in what Leader calls his “….ambivalences, the sort that led him to argue Hilly first into and then out of bed, then to be angry with himself for having done so. ‘Women appear to me as basically dull, but as basically pathetic too,’ he writes… ‘and while this makes us annoyed, it still doesn’t allow us to say rude things to them, about them, It is one’s very indifference to their feelings that turns one’s anger into pity a-bim a-bom a-bem-bammy-bum.’”
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Amis and Hilly were hurried into marriage by a pregnancy, after strongly considering an abortion. Philip Amis (named for Amis best friend Philip Larkin) Aug. 15, 1948, and Amis wrote this to Larkin: “My little son has very fair hair and a conical head (it will not stay conical, they said), and a face like that of an aging railway porter who is beginning to realize his untidiness had meant he’ll never get that ticket collector’s job he’s been after for 20 years. His weight, they said, would be about eight pounds. I don’t know what this business is supposed to make you feel; I feel just the same as before. Hilly is very happy and glad, as I am, to have something to name after you.”
Larkin and his girlfriend Ruth Bowman visited the Amises a couple of months later, and Ruth noted that while they seemed happy together, she cast a cold eye on Amis’s “detached viewed of marriage and fatherhood.”
“Amis and Larkin spent most of the visit closeted together ‘playing jazz records, drinking and having a thoroughly and exclusively masculine good time,’” Leader wrote. “Ruth liked and admired Hilly but felt sorry for her. She seemed ‘permanently tired out,’ yet ‘accepted her new life placidly enough, and put me to shame with her even temper and unfailing good humor.’
“Only once did Ruth see Hilly angry. On a fine afternoon she and Hilly set out to walk to Witney, leaving the baby in Amis’s care. The sleeping infant was put in his pram in the garden and Amis was instructed to bring him in immediately if the weather turned. In the middle of the walk, there was a sudden, heavy thunderstorm and Hilly, worried, insisted they return home straight away. On opening the front door, the two women were hit by the sound of jazz at full volume, ‘but of pram and baby there were no sign. Poor Hilly dashed outside to find a very wet baby lying in sodden blankets. Kingsley was mildly surprised at his wife’s rage. He assured her he had no knowledge of rain.’”
“Kingsley Amis was a lenient father,” his other son, novelist Martin Amis, later reported. “His paternal style, in the early years, can best be described as amiably minimalist — in other words, my mother did it all.”
At age 20, pregnant with Martin, Hilly found and read Amis’s journal. “She was bored and couldn’t stop herself,” Leader wrote. “It contained explicit references not only to other women but to how he hadn’t wanted a child. There was detailed description of a pass he made at Hilly’s best friend, which she resisted at first but finally succumbed to. There were pornographic passages. There were also passages about Hilly, including tender and tormented passages. ‘Why is Hilly crying as if her heart would break? I can’t bear to hear somebody break her heart like this.’
“Hilly knew told Amis she’d read the journal and never said anything to the best friend, but she half suspected Amis knew. ‘He’d leave it around with private written on it,’ she recalled; ‘he quite liked torturing me in a funny way.’”
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Amis wouldn’t fly, but traveled extensively by land and sea. “Jane remembers the train journey from St. Louis as ‘splendid;’ it took three days and two nights to reach Mexico City,” Leader wrote. “Here Amis experienced his first earthquake, a 40-second tremor. ‘No damage,’ he reported to the Conquests on 5 February (1968), ‘but by Christ I thought the old coronary was upon me.’
“The touring began with a trip to Acapulco, which everyone hated and where Amis’s suitcase was stolen from the car roof-rack within 30 seconds of arrival (the suitcase contained nothing important to Amis, only every item of expensive tailoring he possessed). The one good thing Amis had to say about Acapulco was that it supplied him with a possible opening sentence for a James Bond story: ‘Bond had never liked Acapulco.’”
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“Sex is a momentary itch, love never lets you go.”
— Kingsley Amis

“It is no wonder that people are so horrible when they start their life as children.”
— Kingsley Amis

“Self-criticism must be my guide to action, and the first rule for its employment is that in itself it is not a virtue, only a procedure.”
— Kingsley Amis

“Outside every fat man there was an even fatter man trying to close in.”

— Kingsley Amis

          Neil Simon: A Life in Stages   
Neil Simon — a boy made pathologically self-reliant by his parents’ shaky-as-a-quake marriage — quoted Heraclitus to describe his journey.
“If character is fate, as the Greeks tell us, then it was my character to become a playwright, not my destiny,” Simon observed in his memoir Rewrites. “Destiny seems to be preordained by the gods. Fate comes to those who continue on the path they started on when all other possible roads were closed to them. Fate is both your liability and your hope.
“For a man who wants to be his own master, to depend on no one else, to make life conform to his own visions rather than to follow the blueprints of others, playwriting is the perfect occupation. To sit in a room alone for six or seven or ten hours, sharing the time with characters that you created, is sheer heaven. And if not heaven, it’s at least an escape from hell.
“After ten years of writing with my brother or with other staff writers, together in one room, screaming for my own voice to be heard, or whispering it to another writer with a voice more commanding than my own, the day I typed the title page of that first play in the unlikely environs of Coldwater Canyon I knew I had found not only the one thing I was certain would make me happy but I also knew I was about to enter the only world in which I could possibly exist.”
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Simon wrote his first play about his only and older brother, Danny, and his second play about his first wife, the vital and compassionate dancer Joan Baim. She became Corie Bratter in Barefoot in the Park. “I learned early on, from all the plays I had seen or read, that every play must be about an event,” Simon wrote. “The first time that ‘something’ has ever happened. The first time the ghost of his father appears to Hamlet. The first time that Blanche DuBois comes to New Orleans to live with her sister, Stella; the first time Blanche meets Stanley Kowalski. The event doesn’t always have to be major as far as the audience is concerned, but it has to be a major event in the lives of the leading characters. In the case of Barefoot, it was the very first day of the newlywed couple, Paul and Corie Bratter, in their new Greenwich Village apartment.
“I have always tried to put up stumbling blocks for my characters, something they’re not prepared for, something that will interfere with their plans: obstacles, hurdles, conflicts that not only make their lives more difficult, but which afford me the opportunity to put them in a humorous situation.
“In the case of Barefoot, I made it an empty apartment The furniture had not yet arrived, the telephone had not been installed. Granted not the problems Medea faced, but comedy is another ball game.”
The Village apartment was the very one he and Joan had lived in, right down to the hole in the skylight, when they had married in 1953. Ten years after that, in 1963, he made her famous, at one remove, in a Broadway comedy that ran for 1,530 performances. And 10 years after that, in 1973, Joan died of bone cancer at age 41.
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Simon, who never attended college, always had a touching respect for higher education. In Boston for tryouts of The Odd Couple, he recalled that, “Cambridge was just across the river, and I went immediately to the Harvard bookstore and bought half a dozen spiral notebooks with narrow lined pages. I have filled notebooks with my plays from every college and university I ever visited, from Harvard to Yale, Duke, UCLA, Stanford, Loyola, Georgetown all the way to Oxford in England and Trinity in Dublin. In a sense, I think this made me feel I had finally earned a college degree, majoring in Drama and Hotel Rooms.”
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Simon learned something from Jack Lemmon, whose range as an actor impressed him. “He is equally as funny in one of the greatest farces ever made, Some Like It Hot, as he is moving in Days of Wine and Roses, or as touching as he is in Glengarry Glen Ross,” Simon recalled. “The other important quality Jack has in something an actor can neither learn, be directed to do, nor buy for all the money in the world: you can’t help but like him.
“He is also appreciative and complimentary to the written word, and if he doesn’t like it, he will play it full out anyway and let you pick up that it doesn’t work. He once said in an interview, ‘Neil writes in definite rhythms and as in music, you can’t skip any of the notes. If his prepositions and conjunctions, such as but, if, and, or and it are left out, the music is wrong.’
“When I heard this, I was taken aback for a moment,” Simon said. “I was unaware that this was true.”
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Simon’s Willy Loman-like father had no understanding of books, plays or even fatherhood, really. He thought that the actors might have helped Neil write his first Broadway hit, Come Blow Your Horn. Irving Simon liked the father played by Lou Jacobi, telling Neil he knew so many men like that. He never recognized the character as himself.
But Irving Simon had his pride, and refused to eat in his sons’ homes, afraid he might somehow impoverish them. One day he asked Neil not to bring his beloved granddaughter Ellen along to their meeting in Central Park.
“I sat on the bench where we always met, and as I saw him approaching, I could see he walked gingerly, not with the usual sprightly gait I was accustomed to,” Neil recalled. “He looked pounds thinner and when he reached me, he sat and looked away, tears in his eyes. I sat quietly, waiting for him to gather himself. He asked how Joan and Ellen were and was I feeling well, all questions meant to delay what he really had to say. His lips were trembling as he started to speak, and the stifled sob was even more distressing than if he had just let the tears flow.
“ ‘What is it, Dad? Tell me. Are you all right?’
“Every time he tried to speak; he fumbled, he took out a handkerchief to blow his nose and hide his face when anyone passed within earshot. ‘I don’t know how to say this. I’ve never taken anything from you or Danny. You know that. Am I lying?’
“ ‘No, Dad. You never let us give you anything. What is it? Money? Just tell me. I’ll give you whatever you need.’
“He covered his eyes with his hands and this time the sobs came uncontrollably. He told me what he needed and swore it was only a loan. He would pay me back one day. ‘As God is my judge.’ I told him I would send him a check in the morning.
“I knew he was never a strong man, never a fighter, or even a self-sufficient man, despite the fact that he always worked hard. He depended on the love and sympathy of his sisters, his nieces and his nephews, who I think knew his faults but loved him. I knew and saw both sides.
“We hugged and he got up to leave; he was hardly able to look at me as he went. For a man who wouldn’t even share a Sunday breakfast with me, this had to be the hardest day of his life. I never told my mother what happened but I think somehow she knew. I grew up seeing the torment of broken families, broken lives and broken hearts. I always looked for the pain when I wrote about it.
“Writing about it in a play or on this page doesn’t lessen the pain, but it allows you to look at it from a distance, objectively instead of subjectively, and you begin to see a common truth that connects us all.”
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One might think that being the most popular playwright in America, with hit after hit on stage and screen, would make one feel secure. And one would, of course, be wrong.
“I’d had an enormous run from 1961 through 1968, and I felt, if not quite on top of the world, at least that I was living on one of the higher floors,” Simon recalled.
“But the thought was always there that they could take it away as fast as it came, a symptom all too familiar to almost everyone I knew or read about in show business who rose quickly to the top. In my insecurity I wondered when I would be accepted as having ‘arrived.’ And I constantly thought maybe one more play would do it. It never happens, of course. No shadowy figure appears in the middle of the night to deliver a letter that says, ‘You’ve arrived.’ Success is not something you can hold in your hand. Joan was something I could hold. And Ellen and Nancy — I could hold them.”
Simon met one source of his insecurities outside Sardi’s one rainy night. “For as many people out there who applaud your work, there’re an equal number who dismiss it out of hand. I once met Pauline Kael, the former film critic for the New Yorker, who was held in very high esteem — except by anyone I ever spoke to. There was no denying she was a brilliant writer who seemed to prefer Polish or Czech films made on a budget of twelve dollars with stories somewhat on the lines of ‘How a Greek sailor wakes up on a beach one morning with a woman’s brown shoe in his pocket. The rest of the picture traces his search.’ Fortunately the picture invariably ends before you ever find out.
“That was Art. I didn’t write Art.
“We met one evening as we were leaving Sardi’s restaurant, where the New York Film Critics Awards were being handed out,” Simon said. “Ms. Kael and I were both standing under a canopy as the rain pelted New York, and I had very little sympathy for the fact that her new shoes were getting wet, since she had stepped on my own feet every time I had something to show the public.
“As we both waited silently for a cab, we glanced at each other, knowing someone had to say something first. She made a halfhearted attempt at a smile, and said, ‘I haven’t been awfully nice to you over the years, have I?’ I made a full-hearted attempt not to smile, and said, ‘No, you haven’t.’ She said, ‘Well, it’s hard not to knock you. You keep coming around too often.’ Then she got in her cab and quite surprisingly flew up into the night sky, as I thought I heard a cackle in the distance.”
Critics and playwrights can be both natural allies and natural enemies.
Maybe the trouble was something as simple as Kael’s nagging awareness that nobody needed her to explain to them that Simon’s films and plays were enjoyable.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that she thought she was paying Simon a compliment.
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Simon generally didn’t want comedians in his comedies. He wanted accomplished dramatic actors, so that the laughter would ring true.
“What George C. Scott did for Plaza Suite, Mike (Nichols) and I thought Peter (Falk) could do for Prisoner (of Second Avenue),” Simon observed.
“To play his long-suffering wife, our first and only choice was Lee Grant. An actress out of the Actors Studio, she was equally at home with Chekhov or with Sidney Kingsley, the latter having brought her to prominence in his dramatic hit Detective Story. None of this prevented her from being hilariously funny as the script sometimes needed her to be. Once again the basic rule of comedy was proven. Never try to make comedy funny. Honesty will do nicely, thank you.”
---
Simon turned 40 in 1967, and became aware of a change creeping up on him through his writing. “I don’t think one just decides to write more serious plays,” he observed. “Life dictates where your pen will move. It starts taking on your own inner fears, your responsibilities, your new, mature awareness that life isn’t just about you, about your own needs and your own self-importance. You suddenly become aware that the old people you know weren’t always old. It was not their occupation in life, as we supposed. They were once the way you are now, and inevitably you will eventually be like them, with others thinking you were always old. You will have to make the same journey, taking on the same pains, the same aches and anxieties, the same sorrows, the same losses. Your insight into the world becomes much larger, more objective and unavoidably clearer. I still wanted to write comedy, but I wanted to add darker chords, where happiness can turn on a dime to anguish, as fast as a phone call can disrupt a peaceful night’s sleep at two in the morning with desperate or calamitous news. I wanted to write about the unpredictable, the sudden surprises, the things we always thought happened to someone else, not to us. I wanted to write for a single person in a single seat in the theater, man of woman, young or old, and have them quietly say to themselves, ‘He’s writing about me.’”

          Charles Addams: Family Man   
Gomez, not Charles, Addams
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis once dated the cartoonist Charles Addams, a pairing that seems just about as strange and anything Addams ever created for his “Addams family” panel cartoons in the New Yorker.
According to the biography Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life by Linda H. Davis, they got along wonderfully together. The former first lady played with his crossbows, rode with Addams in his Bentley at 110 mph and was a real fan.
“I love Pugsley and Lurch, but my favorite in Morticia,” Jackie said. “She and I have a lot more in common than you might think.”
Addams may have harbored hopes of marrying her, but Jackie killed those in one single chilly sentence. “Well, I couldn’t get married to you,” she said. “What would we talk about at the end of the say — cartoons?”

Morticia, indeed.

          William Manchester: The Reasonable Warrior   
“War is literally unreasonable,” wrote the author, biographer and historian William Manchester in his 1979 Pacific combat memoir Goodbye, Darkness.
“Today’s youth cannot understand it; mine, I suppose, was the last generation to believe audacity in combat is a virtue. And I don’t know why we believed it. The mystery troubled me and baffled me, for some of my actions in the early 1940s make no sense to me now.
“On Okinawa, on Saturday, June 2, 1945, I suffered a superficial gunshot wound just above my right kneecap and was ship back to a field hospital. Mine was what we called a ‘million-dollar wound.’ Although I could hear the Long Toms in the distance, I was warm, dry and safe. My machismo was intact; I was simply hors de combat.
“The next day I heard that my regiment was going to land behind enemy lines on Oroku Penisula. I left my cot, jumped hospital, hitchhiked to the front and made the landing on Monday.
“Why had I returned to terror? To be sure, I had been gung ho at the outbreak of war. But I had quickly become a summer soldier and a sunshine patriot. I was indifferent toward rank, and I certainly sought no glory. ‘We owe God a death,” wrote Shakespeare. So we do, but I hoped God would extend my line of credit indefinitely. I was very young. I hadn’t published a short story, fathered a child or even slept with a girl. And because I am possessed, like most writers, by an intense curiosity, I wanted to stick around until, at the very least, I knew which side had won the war.
“So, craftily, I became the least intrepid of warriors, a survivor, not a hero, more terrier than lion. If there was a coward’s way, I took it. The word hero, to me, is redolent of Nelson Eddy in his Smokey Bear hat, with Jeanette McDonald shrieking in his ear, or of John Wayne being booed in a Hawaiian hospital by an audience of wounded Marines from Iwo Jima and Okinawa, men who had macho acts, in a phrase of the day, up their asses to their armpits.
“To be sure, I was not an inept fighter. I was lean and hard and tough and proud. I had tremendous reserves of stamina. I never bolted. I was a crack shot. I had a shifty, shambling run, and a lovely eye for defilade — for what the Duke of Wellington called ‘dead ground,’ that is, a spot shielded from flat-trajectory enemy fire by a natural obstacle, like a tree or a rock — coupled with a good sense of direction and a better sense of ground. To this day, I check emergency exits immediately after registering in a hotel, and in bars you will find me occupying a corner table, with my flanks secure.
“But that was the sum of my military skills. I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death and had been terribly frightened. Afterward, those few of us in my unit who had survived received a document from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal citing us for ‘gallantry,’ ‘valor,’ ‘tenacity’ and ‘extraordinary heroism against enemy Japanese forces,’ but those shining words didn’t really apply to me. Indeed, at times it seemed that they applied to no one except the dead. I agreed with Hemingway: ‘Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the number of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.’
“For us, they had been Buna and Suribachi; the Kokoda Trail and Tarawa; the First Marine Division and the Eleventh Airborne; the Kumusi and the Asa Kawa; December 7, 1941, and V-J Day. I honored them while hating the whole red and ragged business of war.”
---
Manchester, who had harrowing experiences as a Marine in World War II, was an eloquent and even compassionate writer with a determined honesty, and yet a blind spot.
Reading his memoir, you find it easy to spot a theme that constantly reappears. It’s that the concerns and fates and white male warriors are the only things that really matter, and that their extreme sacrifices somehow sanctified that principle. Only his band of brothers and their fathers were fully real existentially. All others were somewhat shadowy figures who owed them gratitude.
By 1979, Manchester felt himself to be someone whom time was passing by. And he was right. It was and it has. A growing awareness of justice has entirely swept his worldview away, leaving the reader to admire him, yes, but also to feel a little embarrassed for him. But how few of us manage not to embarrass our descendants.
---
“War monuments have never stirred me,” Manchester wrote. “They are like the reconstructed buildings at Colonial Williamsburg, or elaborate reproductions of great paintings; no matter how deft the execution, they are essentially counterfeit.
“In addition, they are usually beautiful and in good taste, whereas combat is neither. Before the war I thought that Hemingway, by stripping battle narratives of their ripe prose, was describing the real thing. Afterward I realized that he had simply replaced traditional overstatement with romantic understatement.
“War is never understated. Combat as I saw it was exorbitant, outrageous, excruciating and above all tasteless, perhaps because the number of fighting men who had read Hemingway or Remarque was a fraction of those who had seen B movies about bloodshed. If a platoon leader had watched Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Errol Flynn, Victor McLaglen, John Wayne or Gary Cooper leap recklessly about, he was likely to follow his role model.
“In crises, most people are imitative. Soldiers received ‘Dear John’ letters copied from those quoted in the press. The minority who avoid Hollywood paradigms were, like me, people who watched fewer B movies than we had read books. That does not mean we were better soldiers and citizens. We certainly weren’t braver. I do think that our optics were clearer, however — that what we saw was closer to the truth because we weren’t looking through MGM or RKO prisms.”
---
Manchester’s already passé notions about gender roles mixed with melancholy about humanity’s fate when he visited Tinian, the island from which, on the late afternoon of Aug. 6, 1945, the B-29 named Enola Gay took off to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
“There is an air of forbidding stillness on the isle, a desolation unmatched in, say, rebuilt Hiroshima,” Manchester wrote. “This is where the nuclear shadow first appeared. I feel forlorn, alienated, wholly without empathy for the men who did what they did. This was not my war. In my war, a single fighter with one rifle could make a difference, however infinitesimal, in the struggle against the Axis. It was here that the role of men as protectors began to fade until women, seeing how much it had diminished, left their own traditional roleas behind and shouldered their way upward.”
---
The bored Marines stood at attention, listening to Buck Rogers describe homosexual sex acts.
Manchester recalled that his captain, “Buck” Rogers, would read aloud from Navy courts-martial arising from sexual indiscretions.
“As unsubtly as possible, we were being warned that no matter how horny we got, we couldn’t go down on each other,” Manchester wrote. “It mystified us. Youth is more sophisticated today, but in our innocence we knew almost nothing about homosexuality.”
“There was so much excitement (and apocrypha about) heterosexuality that we seldom gave homosexuality a second thought. Had we been told that practitioners of oral sodomy wanted to live together openly, with the approval of society, and insisted on being called ‘gay,’ we would have guffawed. That just wasn’t one of the rights we were fighting to protect. We weren’t exactly prejudiced. It was, literally, mindlessness. We hadn’t thought about it. That didn’t make it unique. We weren’t fighting for the emancipation of housewives, either, or for the right of blacks, who performed menial, if safe, tasks far behind the lines, to bleed alongside us. Like most soldiers in most wars, we were fighting for status quo ante bellum. And like the others, we were doomed to disappointment.”
All those bored Marines knew were that perverts were guys who lisped and longed to put on a dress. “Therefore the other NCOs and I laughed when our sergeant major told us, in a drunken moment (and an unusual one, because liquor was generally reserved for officers; enlisted men, including sergeants, got beer), that he had slept with men. Mike Powers was in the regular Marine Corps, a professional soldier; he had served in Nicaragua, Haiti and on Gibraltar. It was on Gibraltar that he had, by his soused account, violated Chapter Two Specification Seventeen almost nightly. His lovers had been civilians, he said, some of them distinguished European civilians.”
Powers told them that when he retired, he planned to write a book calledFamous Cocks I Have Sucked.
“We didn’t take him seriously, partly because in the Marine Corps there was a constant rivalry to see who could be coarsest,” Manchester wrote. “His behavior was in many ways regrettable, but always in macho ways which, we thought, were the exact opposite of homosexuality. Six feet two, blond and virile, he was heavily muscled and deep voiced.”
Powers was tough and brave, but he had a flaw in combat. “Our strutting, bullying, powerfully built sergeant major just couldn’t stand the strain of concentrated enemy shellfire,” Manchester said. “He could take small-arms fire, and once he demolished a Nambu light-machine-gun nest with a hand grenade. But artillery turned his bowels to water.”
And so one night, when the firing stopped after a sustained attack from 81-millimeter mortar shells, Powers cracked up. The Marines knew that the silence was a tactic to draw them out in the open so they could relieve themselves, at which point they’d be caught in a fresh fusillade. Powers began ranting and yelling and ordering a charge that would have gotten them all killed, so Manchester was forced to relieve Powers and get him to a battalion aid station.
Manchester never saw Powers again, but he learned Powers’ fate much later, when Manchester, bedridden in a naval hospital, heard the officer of the day describe the court martial of one Michael J. Powers. Powers had been caught having oral sex with the young medical corpsman who had soothed and befriended him when Manchester left him at the aid station. And he’d been sentenced to 85 years in Portsmouth Naval Prison for it.
---
One perverse irony of war, Manchester found, is how it sanctifies bloody disasters while underrating undramatic military victories.
“Time (magazine) trumpeted the defense of the American tactics: ‘Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of … the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa,’” Manchester wrote. As a sergeant, he’d been in the middle of that 76-hour battle in which roughly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died, mostly on and around the small coral island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll.
“That made everyone on Betio stand tall, but it deserves second thoughts. The Alamo and Little Big Horn were massacres for Americans, and the Fifth and Sixth Marines had been cut to pieces in Belleau Wood. Time’s comment may be attributed to a curious principle which seems to guide those who write of titanic battles. The longer the casualty lists — the vaster the investment in blood — the greater the need to justify the slain. Thus the fallen are honored by hallowing the names of the places were they fell, thus writers enshrine in memory the Verduns, the Passchendaeles, the Dunkirks and the Iwo Jimas, while neglecting decisive struggles in which the loss of life was small.
“At the turn of the 18thcentury, the Duke of Marlborough led 10 successful, relatively bloodless campaigns on the Continent, after which he was hounded into exile by his political enemies. In World War I, Douglas Haig butchered the flower of England’s youth on the Somme and in Flanders without winning a single victory. He was raised to the peerage and awarded 100,000 pounds by a grateful Parliament...”
“Similarly, in World War II, Anzio and Peleliu are apotheosized, though neither contributed to the defeat of Germany and Japan, while the capture of Ulithi, one of the Pacific’s finest anchorages, is unsung since the enemy had evacuated it, and Hollandia, (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur’s greatest triumph in that war, is forgotten because the general’s genius outfoxed the Japanese and limited his losses to a handful of GIs.
“In the Pacific, we received ‘pony’ editions — reduced in size, with no ads — of Time and the New Yorker. The comparison of Tarawa with great battles of the past didn’t impress most of us; we saw it for what it was: wartime propaganda designed to boost the morale of subscribers, a sophisticated version of the rhapsodies about the Glorious Dead who had Given Their All, making the Supreme Sacrifice. Our sympathies were with those who protested the high casualties.”
From his vantage point on the battlefield, Manchester immediately saw through military myth-making, but years would pass before he could bring himself to cast a cold eye on other hypocrisies of war. “At the time it was impolitic to pay the slightest tribute to the enemy, and Nip determination, their refusal to say die, was commonly attributed to ‘fanaticism,’” he recalled. “In retrospect, it is indistinguishable from heroism. To call it anything less cheapens the victory, for American valor was necessary to defeat it.”
---
Memory was Manchester’s thing. He remembered sights like this: “You could always tell whether men were moving up or coming off the line. Usually those coming off had samurai swords jutting from their packs. And they had a different look — dull, sightless eyes showing the strain, misery, shock, sleeplessness and, in veteran fighters, the supreme indifference of young men who have lost their youth and will never recover it. The Spanish poet Frederico Garcio Lorca caught their expressions. They had ‘sad infinite eyes, like those of a newborn beast of burden.’”
Manchester remembered, even as he watched others forget. “When a man reaches his late fifties almost any change empties him a little,” he wrote. “It is disconcerting to feel quaint.”
---
Thirty-five years after the war, Manchester ticked off the Marines he had known well and seen killed.
“Shiloh Davidson II, Williams ’44, a strong candidate for his family’s stock exchange seat, crawled out on a one-man twilight patrol up Sugar Loaf. He had just cleared our wire when a Nambu burst eviscerated him. Thrown back, he was caught on improvised wire. The only natural light came from the palest wash of moon, but the Japs illuminated that side of the hill all night with their green flares. There was no way that any of us could reach Shiloh, so he hung there, screaming for his mother, until about 4:30 in the morning, when he died.
“After the war, I visited his mother. She had heard, on a Gabriel Heatter broadcast, that the Twenty-ninth was assaulting Sugar Loaf. She had spent the night on her knees, praying for her son. She said to me, ‘God didn’t answer my prayers.’ I said, ‘He didn’t answer any of mine.’’
Recalling Okinawa, Manchester wrote, “I was in the midst of satanic madness: I knew it. I wanted to return to sanity: I couldn’t. All one could do, it seemed to me, was to stop combat from breaking you in half, to keep going until you reached the other side of your immediate objective, hoping it would be different from this side while knowing all the time, with the weary cynicism of the veteran, that it would be exactly the same. It was in this mood that we scapegoated all cases of combat fatigue — my father’s generation of infantrymen had called it ‘shell shock’ — because we felt that those so diagnosed were taking the dishonorable way out. We were all psychotic, inmates of the greatest madhouse in history, but staying on the line was a matter of pride. Pride was important to young men then. Today it is derided as machismo. But without that macho spirit, California and Australia would have been invaded long before this final battle.”

          Jean-Paul Sartre: Visionary of Violence   
Jean-Paul Sartre

Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote about learning to love music in the child’s dark refuge of the silent cinema during the 20th century’s second decade.
“Above all, I liked the incurable muteness of my heroes,” he wrote in his memoir The Words. “But no, they weren’t mute, since they knew how to make themselves understood.
“We communicated by means of music; it was the sound of their inner life. Persecuted innocence did better than merely show or speak of suffering: it permeated me with its pain by means of the melody that issued from it.
“I would read the conversation, but I heard the hope and bitterness; I would perceive by ear the proud grief that remains silent.
“I was compromised; the young widow who wept on the screen was not I, and yet she and I had only one soul: Chopin’s funeral march; no more was needed for her tears to wet my eyes. I felt I was a prophet without being able to foresee anything: even before the traitor betrayed, his crime entered me; when all seemed peaceful in the castle, sinister chords exposed the murderer’s presence.
“How happy were those cowboys, those musketeers, those detectives: their future was there, in that premonitory music, and governed the present. An unbroken song blended with their lives, led them on to victory or death by moving toward its own end. They were expected: by the girl in danger, by the general, by the traitor lurking in the forest, by the friend who was tied up near a powder-keg and who sadly watched the flame run along the fuse.
“The course of that flame, the virgin’s desperate struggle against her abductor, the hero’s gallop across the plain, the interlacing of all those images, of all those speeds, and, beneath it all, the demonic movement of the “Race to the Abyss,” an orchestral selection taken from The Damnation of Faust and adapted for the piano, all of this was one and the same: it was Destiny.
“The hero dismounted, put out the fuse, the traitor sprang at him, a duel with knives began: but the accidents of the duel likewise partook of the rigor of the musical development; they were fake accidents which ill concealed the universal order. What joy when the last knife stork coincided with the last chord! I was utterly content, I had found the world in which I wanted to live, I touched the absolute. What an uneasy feeling when the lights went on: I had been wracked with love for the characters and they had disappeared, carrying their world with them. I had felt their victory in my bones; yet it was theirs and not mine. In the street I found myself superfluous.”
---
“Assured of living in the best of all possible worlds, I made it my business to purge it of its monsters,” wrote Sartre, recalling his childhood fantasies in The Words.
“As cop and lyncher, I sacrificed a gang of bandits every evening. I killed without pleasure or anger, in order to save young ladies from death. Those frail creatures were indispensable to me; they called out for me. Obviously they could not have counted on my help since they did not know me. But I thrust them into such great perils that nobody could have rescued them unless he were I.
“When the janissaries brandished their curved scimitars, a moan went through the desert and the rocks said in the sand: ‘Someone’s missing here. It’s Sartre.’ At that very moment I pushed aside the screen. I struck out with my sabre and sent heads flying. I was being born in a river of blood. Oh, blessed steel. I was where I belonged…
“I would hurry to bed, reel off my prayers and slip between the sheets. I was eager to get back to my mad recklessness. I grew older in the darkness, I became a lonely adult, without father or mother, without home or hearth, almost without a name.
“I would walk on a flaming roof, carrying in my arms an unconscious woman. The crowd was screaming below me.  At that moment, I would utter the fateful words: ‘Continued in the next installment.’
“‘What did you say?’ my mother would ask. I would answer cautiously: ‘I’m leaving myself in suspense.’ And the fact is that I would fall asleep, amidst those perils, in a state of thrilling insecurity.”
---
As Sartre matured, his fantasies of violence were replaced by an analysis of the realities of violence.
In the 1940s, the conquered French were tortured by their German occupiers. By the 1950s, the freed French were torturing the Arab natives in colonized Algeria. That irony was not lost on philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
“Sartre wrote a sensational review, published in L’Express, of Henri Alleg’s book The Question, an account of being tortured by paratroopers in Algiers,” wrote Ronald Aronson in his book Camus & Sartre.
“Beginning with the memory of the Germans torturing the French at Gestapo headquarters in 1943, Sartre recalled that the French had declared it to be impossible that ‘one day men should be made to scream by those acting in our name. There is no such word as impossible: in 1958, in Algiers, people are tortured regularly and systematically… Appalled, the French are discovering this terrible truth: that if nothing can protect a nation against itself, neither its traditions nor its loyalties nor its laws, and if 15 years are enough to transform victims into executioners, then its behavior is no more than a matter of opportunity and occasion. Anybody, at any time, may equally find himself victim or executioner.’”
The French government inadvertently underlined the truth of Sartre’s words by immediately trying to censor them.
“His powerful denunciation caused L’Express to be confiscated by the authorities on March 6, 1959, and during the next several weeks the article became famous by being published in a pamphlet, confiscated, then appearing in a scroll that could only be read with a magnifying glass, and finally being published in Switzerland,” Aronson noted.
Writing in 1961, Sartre eloquently examined the full extent of what the tortured felt prepared to do once they turned torturer.
“Violence in the colonies does not only have for its aim the keeping of these enslaved men at arm’s length; it seeks to dehumanize them,” Sartre wrote. “Everything will be done to wipe out their traditions, to substitute our language for theirs and to destroy their culture without giving them ours. Sheer physical fatigue will stupefy them. Starved and ill, if they have any spirit left, fear will finish the job; guns are leveled at the peasant; civilians come to take over his land and force him by dint of flogging to till the land for them. If he shows fight, the soldiers fire and he’s a dead man; if he gives in, he degrades himself and he is no longer a man at all; shame and fear will split up his character and make his inmost self fall to pieces.”
Before Bush and Cheney’s regime, I too thought it impossible that men should be made to scream by those who were acting in the name of my nation. During and since Bush and Cheney’s regime, I too discovered that nothing can protect a nation against itself, least of all rebranding it a “homeland” to justify the use of torture.
Sartre wrote, “We are living at the moment when the match is put to the fuse.” And I know just how he felt.

          Benito Mussolini: Ended by Ego   

I’ve been reading a biography of Benito Mussolini, “Duce!” by Richard Collier, and I’ve been surprised to find that he was finally just pathetic. A jumped-up peasant with a bully-boy know-nothing’s disdain for human rights and the rule of law, he owed his early successes, such the draining of the Pontine marshes, to the fact that he turned the problems over entirely to experts. Once his own personality cult began to convince Mussolini that he was in fact a superman, the “Duce” repeatedly tripped over his own ego, proved himself to be a military joke and finished hanging upside down on a meat hook at an Esso gas station in the Piazzale Loreto. 
Poet Giuseppe Bottai described Mussolini as "a self-taught man who had a bad teacher and was a worse pupil."
"One Fascist official, Giovanni Balella, never forgot a committee meeting over which the Duce presided in June 1943," Collier wrote. "On this hot oppressive afternoon, a dozen delegates were listening in silence as Minister for Agriculture Carlo Pareschi explained why that summer's harvest had fallen short of expectations. Suddenly Mussolini held up a lordly hand. 'Do you now what the birds do?' he asked them in a conspiratorial whisper.
"Mystified, vaguely uneasy, each man shook his head. 'Days ago,' Mussolini confided, 'I was out in the country — and I saw what the birds do. They alight on the wheat stems so that their weight bends them over and they can't be seen. Then they eat the grain!'
"Suddenly, with almost manic intensity, he ordered: 'Kill the birds — kill them all!'"
Now there's a gibbering, instinctively murderous fascist for you.

I was astonished to learn that German commandos rescued Mussolini from a mountaintop fortress — By using GLIDERS. Just like in a James Bond movie. Not that it finally did Mussolini any good after Italian partisans recaptured him.
I’d almost feel sorry for the strutting little sociopath if he had not, like all fascist dictators, left such ruin and suffering in his wake. The moral of the story is, I suppose, that you should never believe your own propaganda.

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          PERPECAHAN BANGSA?   

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Assalamualaikum…..
Salam 1Malaysia.
Terima Kasih kepada semua yang sudi singgah ke Ruangan Senam Otak aku ini.
AKU….. membicarakan perihal kehidupan kita untuk sama-sama kita fikir dan sama-sama kita laksanakan. Demi kebaikan dan kemajuan bersama Insya Allah…..
Hari ini aku lebih berminat untuk membicarakan tentang perpecahan bangsa (kaum). Untung atau rugi dan pentingkah perpaduan dari skop keamanan dan kekuatan bangsa itu sendiri. Jika kita kaji dan perhatikan sendiri perpecahan yang wujud sekarang berpunca dari mana? Adakah hanya kerana fahaman politik semata-mata? Atau ada factor-faktor lain yang menyumbang kepada perpecahan tersebut?..... Aku cuba lontarkan pandangan dari skop kacamata aku dan dari pergaulan seharian untuk sama-sama kita bincangkan. Mungkin ini juga salah satu penyebab perpecahan yang berlaku dikala ini
~ FANATIK KEPADA PARTI POLITIK.
Banyak pecahan berlaku apabila wujud parti-parti di Malaysia yang berasaskan kaum, fahaman agama, perbagai kaum dan juga ideologi yang berbeza. Terdapat 30 buah parti yang berdaftar dengan Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya Malaysia . Dari 30buah parti itu terbahagi kepada 2 kumpulan besar iaitu Barisan Nasional yang memerintah terdiri dari gabungan Parti yang bersekutu untuk menubuhkan kerajaan setelah memenangi jumlah majoriti di dalam Parlimen dan satu lagi adalah gabungan parti-parti yang menjadi pakatan pembangkang di dalam Parlimen. Setelah wujud banyak parti-parti yang berbeza ideology dan berbeza dasar perjuangan bermakna ahli-ahli dan pengikutnya mempunyai kata-kata dan pemahaman yang tidak sama. Agen kepada pepecahan.
~ FANATIK KEPADA PEMIMPIN ATAU INDIVIDU YANG MENGETUAI SATU-SATU KUMPULAN (PARTI POLITIK MAHUPUN KUMPULAN LAIN)
Kebiasaanya jika ada parti atau kumpulan maka adalah pemimpin atau ketua yang mengetuai parti atau kumpulan tersebut. Sekiranya parti, pertubuhan, kelab atau persatuan yang berdaftar dengan Pendaftar Pertubuhan (ROS) aka nada pemilihan untuk memilih pucuk pimpinan sama ada setahun atau beberapa tahun sekali. Ianya akan berlaku melibatkan sama ada di peringkat Cawangan, Ranting, Bahagian atau peringkat Pusat atau Kebangsaan. Jika ada pertandingan, pastinya akan wujud team atau kem-kem yang menyokong mana-mana calon yang bertanding. Kebiasaannya yang akan menjadi penyakit utama yang menyebabkan pepecahan ini adalah apabila team atau kem-kem dari calon yang kalah terus beroperasi selepas pemilihan hanya untuk memastikan calon yang menang jatuh dan kalah di Pemilihan yang akan datang.
Apa yang menjadikan ianya bertambah parah apabila kumpulan yang kalah akan memburuk-burukan pemenang dan juga pengikut-pengikutnya dan kaedahnya tidak terhad dari mulut ke mulut. Sebaliknya mereka akan mengunakan Media Baru (ICT), Surat Layang atau mengupah penulis-penulis buku politik dan mereka cerita yang boleh memburukkan dan menjatuhkan reputasi musuh politik mereka. Hal ini secara tidak langsung akan mempengaruhi pengikut mereka untuk membenci pihak lawan. Agen kepada perpecahan.
~ KECEWA ATAU TIDAK BERPUASHATI KEPADA PEMIMPIN ATAU PARTI.
Perasaan ini hampir sama seperti kudis yang tidak dirawat dan akhirnya menjadi tokak atau cabuk. Kumpulan ini akan sentiasa melahirkan ayat-ayat tidak bersetuju dengan dasar dan keputusan yang dibuat oleh pemimpin atau parti. Ianya juga akan menjadi lebih bahaya jika mereka sentiasa bercakap ayat-ayat berunsur protes dan tidak mustahil akan meracuni pemikiran pihak ketiga yang hanya menerima kata-kata kumpulan ini. Agen kepada perpecahan.
~ PIHAK ATAS PAGAR
Kebiasaannya terdiri pada mereka yang rutin sehariannya sibuk dengan urusan sendiri tanpa mengambil tahu tentang senario politik atau perjalanan politik seharian. Mungkin pada sesetengah orang politik mengatakan kelompok ini tidak merbahaya dan mungkin seperti pelakon tambahan di dalam drama atau filem. Tetapi mereka juga adalah sebahagiaan daripada kumpulan pepecahan.
Pepecahan bangsa ini wujub bukan hanya dikalangan bangsa melayu sahaja. Tetapi melibatkan semua bangsa di Malaysia. Apa yang jelas keadaan ini merupakan gambaran kepada kekuatan parti politik yang tidak stabil diantara yang memerintah mahupun yang membangkang. Ianya boleh menyumbang kepada penjajahan dan pencerobohan pihak asing jika pepecahan sesama kita kian ketara. Jika tidak dijajah secara kuasa memerintah, penjajahan minda juga amat membahayakan kita dan generasi akan datang.
Kenapa ianya akan mudah berlaku? Jika ada perpecahan maka terhakislah kesetiaan dan akan wujudlah pengkhianatan. Percayalah jika masalah ini tidak dibendung atau tidak dirawat, satu hari nanti generasi akan membenci dan tidak menghargai hasil kerja kita. Fikir-fikirkan lah…….

~BERSATULAH DAN KEMBALILAH KITA DALAM SATU KATA SATU HATI DEMI KESTABILAN AGAMA BANGSA DAN NEGARA.~



          PROGRAM JELAJAH ONE MALAYSIA PEMUDA BARISAN NASIONAL BUKTI PEMUDA TIDAK LESU   



Assalamualaikum
Sahabat, Kawan-kawan, Baru nak kenal dan juga Musuh yang sudi membaca dan menjelajah ruang pemikiran aku seorang GURKHA

Pemuda Barisan Nasional (BN) mensasarkan 500 buah rumah untuk dibaik pulih pada fasa pertama menerusi program Jelajah One Malaysia (JOM) dalam usaha membantu mereka yang tidak berkemampuan.Pegerusinya, Khairy Jamaluddin berkata program berkenaan yang akan dilaksanakan menerusi kerjasama Giat Mara memberi ruang kepada pemilik rumah yang usang dan daif untuk diperbaiki sekaligus menjana kehidupan yang selesa kepada penghuni berkenaan.
Menurut beliau pergerakan itu tidak akan memilih bulu dan tidak terhad kepada batasan agama serta kaum sebaliknya dilaksanakan berdasarkan kepada mereka yang layak dan benar-benar tidak mampu untuk membaik pulih rumah yang didiami.“Program JOM ini antara intipati utamanya adalah baik pulih rumah dan kita bekerjasama dengan Giat Mara sebagai agensi pelaksana bersama Pemuda BN di mana kita akan kenalpasti rumah yang paling usang di seluruh Malaysia tidak kira kaum serta agama dan kita akan pergi dengan bas JOM untuk baik pulih rumah yang telah dikenalpasti itu.


gambaran gotong royong JOM Pemuda BN


“Untuk fasa pertama yang akan mengambil masa tiga hingga enam bulan, kita telah membuat sasaran iaitu sebanyak 500 rumah akan dibaik pulih. Seterusnya kita akan laksanakan fasa kedua dengan tambahan bilangan rumah yang kita boleh baiki,” katanya. Ini jelas usaha Pemuda BN untuk mendekatkan diri dengan masyarakat tanpa mengira bangsa diseluruh Malaysia. Selain itu untuk merealisasikan slogan “rakyat didahulukan, pencapaian diutamakan” yang dilaungkan oleh PM akan tercapai. Dengan terlaksana program ini, rakyat akan lebih memahami matlamat Kerajaan BN dengan usaha sayap Pemudanya melaksanakan kerja-kerja kebajikan seperti ini.
Program julungkali dengan kerjasama Giat Mara akan meninggalkan kesan lebih mendalam ke hati peserta dan masyarakat setempat. Kerjasama agensi Kerajaan yang lain untuk merancang program-program lain yang menjurus kepada kerja-kerja kebajikan dengan kerjasama Pemuda BN akan menunjukkan kepada masyarakat setempat bahawa Agensi Kerajaan dan Parti memerintah mempunyai satu matlamat yang sama.

Berat sama dipikul ringan sama dijinjing,
Jika yang berat tidak dipikul alamat bertahun
Dijunjung ke destinasi manapun ianya takkan sampai.






          Viena e KULA   

Viena
Sorrow Tattoo Unissex




[KULA] Diva Lavien Lips

THE DARKNESS EVENT
The Event will Open Round 5 July
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Brimstone/49/61/22


Store





          Into The Light DEMO is here!!   
After a couple of months of hard work, I'm finally able to release a DEMO for "Into The Light", an indie game I'm developing and I plan to publish around August! :D




Explore a Sci-Fi world full of puzzles

Wake up into a strange world, everything around you is completely dark, looks like an empty place, but, is it really?
Travel around this world, exploring a series of mazes, avoiding the dangers the mazes have, while you try to solve the different puzzles using a diverse sets of mechanics that your flare (the only resource you have) provides you.



“Into The Light”, is an upcoming indie game for PC, Mac and Linux. The worlds are full of mystery and suspense, with only an anonymous entity that speak to you from an unidentified place. Those questions and messages from that strange voice are the only clues you have about why are you in this place, and even more, who you really are.

What is this thing that the voice keeps asking about? Why is it so important for you to remember?


Into The Light, tries to take the player into a journey of wondering, letting the player discover the meaning and importance behind the words of this strange voice.

Would you be able to find your way out?

Try it out: Download "Into The Light" DEMO!
          "zapruder" by Robert Fernandez   
I like this poem right here" Zap Ruder"! Because its awesome.. it really does make sense to me even though i had to read it twice to understand what the author was trying to say. I see that he was really focus taking a picture somewhere in the poem. They were really focused on doing it and not paying attention to anything else. So its like if you think you focus on your goal or dream in life and you don't pay attention to nothing else you know? That's what it meant to me. " That moment when everything begins to wave.."  Got me thinking about a group of people like the army or the marines. The poem starts off weird though like its a mystery. "day off in a dark suit and hat" Then goes on in more detail like there doing some FBI stuff. Sounds like there trying to find clues to get to the bottom of it.
          Christian Bale Visits Memorial for the "The Dark Knight Rises" Screening Massacre   

Explore Talent releases new article about Christian Bale's visit to the "The Dark Knight Rises" memorial in Colorado on ExploreTalent.com

(PRWeb July 27, 2012)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/modelagency/nexttopmodel/prweb9734989.htm


          President Barack Obama Responds to the "The Dark Knight Rises" Screening Shooting   

Explore Talent releases new article about President Obama's statement about "The Dark Knight Rises" shooting on http://www.ExploreTalent.com

(PRWeb July 22, 2012)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/acting/movieauditions/prweb9721467.htm


          Comment on Don’t Date A Man Who Reads by 1 Simple Way To Tell If A Relationship Is Right For You   
[…] There was a little girl in a black dress with a matching black pillbox hat sitting in the corner of the Shangri-la hotel on a cold winter evening. She enjoyed the moment while sipping her Jasmin tea. A tall, dark and handsome man walked in. He stole her heart from the first sight. […]
          Where's My Cat?!?   
by Anonymous

My cat has disappeared. Possibly maybe it is dead and gone. There's a lot of things that can befall an outdoor cat. But I have a hunch you catnapped my little buddy. He's super cute and friendly... long white and grey hair, dark face, paws and tail, beautiful blue eyes. He likes to approach people. He always found a way to get his collar off so I eventually stopped trying... though he is microchipped. Maybe you thought he was a stray and was just so goddamn cute that you had to have him for yourself. Well, if you recently "adopted" a "stray" cat from the neighborhood behind the Kennedy School within the last week, please return him to his neighborhood. We miss him.

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          Thursday, June 29, 2017 - The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.   
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 12:1-11; Ps 34:2-9; 2 Tm4:6-8, 17-18; Mt 16:13-19

There is an old story about the death of St. Peter in Rome during the persecution of Nero. Peter heard about Nero's plan to burn the city and blame the Christians. He figured as the one who presided over the church in the city he would be arrested and put to death. So he did the sensible thing - Peter was always a sensible man - he got out of town, and at night. The Appian Way was dark for awhile as Peter snuck down it. However, as the night wore on the sky was illuminated by the flames rising from the city. Peter hurried on and eventually was far enough away from the city that it was dark again. Then he saw someone coming in the opposite direction, someone who even at night seemed familiar. It was the Lord himself. What was he doing out at night and walking towards Rome? “Where are you going, Lord?” Peter asked him. “To Rome”, Jesus replied, “to be crucified again in your place”. Peter turned around and returned to Rome and according to tradition was crucified there.

Though this story does not agree with what is narrated in the first reading of today from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we are told that Peter was imprisoned, it does agree with what the Gospels narrate about Peter’s denials, and brings out an important facet of the meaning of the feast: Jesus did not choose strong, brave and courageous individuals to continue the work that he had begun. He chose weak, frail and cowardly humans. He chose individuals who would falter and fail. This is the Peter who confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and to whom Jesus handed over the “keys” of the Church, knowing full well that there would be times when the lofty confession would turn into a base denial.

Paul’s conversion story is narrated twice in the Acts of the Apostles and Paul himself speaks of it in some of his letters. His commission as an apostle of Christ began with a divine revelation of the identity of the Lord Jesus. He reports the events surrounding his recognition of Jesus as the Lord of glory and his appointment as apostle to the gentiles. Felled to the ground by a brilliant light from heaven and hearing a reproachful voice addressing him by name his first need was to know who it was who broke into his life with such awe-inspiring power. Just as Jesus told Peter that he would assign to him the charge of leading his Church once Peter recognized his master's true identity, so also Paul's task was given to him only after Jesus revealed himself as the glorified Lord.

The apostles' mission thus grew out of their loving knowledge of the person of Jesus, the Son of the living God. Their work, indeed their whole life, was to follow from this surpassing knowledge of Christ which became the basis of all their dealing with others. They were given to the whole Church to teach us not only what Christ revealed and taught but also how to live as he himself had put into practice the things willed by the Father.

Today we marvel at the transformation of these previously weak human leaders. Peter’s newfound passionate commitment to his Lord and to the fledgling church resulted in his imprisonment. Paul too was jailed. He did not see this as failure, but as the destiny that was his in consequence of his commitment to the Gospel. He had fought the good fight, he had run the race, and he had kept the faith. He faced death, and he knew it. That was the price they had to pay for their commitment and fidelity to the Lord.

Their personalities were very different, their approaches to spreading the Faith were very different, and their relationships with Christ were very different. Although the two were both Apostles, there were moments of disagreement and conflict between them. And yet, they are bound together on this single feast, as they were bound together by the one Faith, confessing the one Lord, shedding their blood for him and his mission of peace, justice and love.

Within the recent past, the church has been tossed to and fro in storms of controversy. Not one storm, but many storms, and not in one country, but in many countries. It has been the target of fierce persecution from without, and it has also allowed evil to corrupt it from within. Whether in circumstances of harassment or scandal, the lives of many have been diminished, their confidence undermined and their faith tested.

Without minimizing the suffering in our current situations, we should remember that dire trials are really not new to the church. From its very beginning it has faced opposition. The first reading for today’s feast describes one such situation.

Despite its trials, however, the church has survived and even flourished. This is not due to the strength and holiness of its members. Though Jesus told Peter that the church would be built upon him, the church’s real foundation was and continues to be Jesus Christ its Lord. He is the one who commissioned Peter; he is the one who assures the church of protection. He is the one who stood by Paul and gave him strength to bring the Gospel to the broader world. The church may have been built on Peter the former denier and spread by Paul the former persecutor, but it is the church of Jesus Christ, and it will endure because of his promise.


Today we celebrate the fidelity of Peter and Paul, sinners like us all. Initially, they were both found wanting. When they eventually repented, they were forgiven by God in Christ. Though they were victims of persecution, their commitment to Christ and to the church made them heroes. Their victory is evidence that the gates of hell shall not prevail. Their victory is evidence that we shall indeed overcome.

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          Ebook Download A Very Courageous Decision: The Inside Story of Yes Minister Free PDF Online   

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          Rośnie potencjał strefy przygranicznej. Przybywa firm zajmujących się handlem   
W ostatnich latach odnotowano systematyczny wzrost liczby podmiotów gospodarki narodowej w strefie przygran