Sunday, February 19, 2017

Some really important things to talk about...

I've been writing this blog now, off and on, for several years now. In spite of being a novelist, I write action thriller stories, when I sit down to write this blog my interests turn to the political scene in the U.S. I write about my observations, opinions, and just my general take on things going on in the world of politics. After all, this is pretty important stuff.
Now and then I'll indulge in Facebook. I think it's pretty cool to catch up with friends from the past that I haven't heard from for a long time and to keep touch with good friends that I don't get to see much anymore. But Facebook is, just well, Facebook. It's the small talk of life that just happens to take place on the internet.
Until recently that is.  I have a good friend that I know from high school that a couple of months ago started some posts on Facebook. He has been posting about his father's wartime experiences during World War II in the Pacific. These are not ordinary posts about ordinary experiences. He was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese and was held with thousands of other servicemen for years under the most cruel and horrible conditions imaginable. What he endured and experienced was so far from our ordinary lives it's difficult to comprehend the depth of the atrocities. Yet at the same time it is so well written and the story is told so well that you cant help but feel involved. You cannot help but feel indebted to this man and his comrades, all of whom suffered terribly and many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice. This is one of the best examples of a beautiful story about a horrible chapter in history of what some great men, American men have done so that we can live free. We must not and cannot ever take this for granted and this story clearly shows us why.
The true irony comes in that this is not some unknown writer recounting historical events. This is a friend, that I know well, writing about his dad. I've known this friend for a pretty long time but I never knew he was a writer. Not just a writer but a pretty darn good one at that. Up till now his story has come in posts on Facebook. Due to the impact of his story and the quality with which it is written I've encouraged him to start his own blog. He could reach a lot more people who, like me I'm sure would be grateful to share this fascinating story.
If ever in my life I've read a story about heroes, real, true heroes, it's your story Jimmie of your Dad and his fellow soldiers.
Until his blog is published, please go to Facebook and search for Jimmie Brock. Read this story about American Heroes, his father, and leave a message and let him know what you think. For those of you from Alvin, you may know him as well. Thanks for sharing your story, Jimmie. And for your friendship.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Skipping the Inauguration?

I wouldn't recommend it if you're a member of Congress. If you're an entertainer, knock yourself out. Bottom line is no one cares or will remember that you skipped it anyway. All you little pretty faces whose mugs have been on the news lately regarding your decision to not attend the inauguration, we.dont.care. Stay home, smoke crack or whatever you do, don't go. All you people who get on Facebook or attend rallies and carry placards saying "Not my President", yeah, it's a free country and you have a right to say whatever you want. But, you also have a responsibility as an American to respect the rule of law. I know this is going to hurt some of your ears but Trump won the election. And according to the law he will become the next President. So you don't like his politics, you don't like his personality, you think he's weird, whatever it is you don't like, get the f*** over it.
You know, eight years ago when Obama was elected most conservatives had the same 'oh crap' feelings you're having. But we lived with it for eight years. And I have news for you, you're going to live with it too.
These issues go a little deeper than this though. As I said, this is a free country and we all have the right to express our opinion. But not one single person has the right to disrespect the rule of law or to refuse to follow it. The recent report of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem was a show of his opinion that the treatment of blacks was oppressive and discriminatory. But expressing that opinion by being disrespectful of a tradition that honors our country was petulant and dishonorable. If you have an opinion and you feel strongly about it do you want to express it by being petulant and dishonorable? I don't and I doubt most people do.
If you are a congressperson and you don't accept Trump's presidency as 'legitimate' then you have no business being a congressperson. You have a responsibility to this nation and the people you represent. And that does not include promoting separatism. Obama spent eight years creating and promoting divisiveness and racial discord. We all thought a black man could and indeed would improve race relations like no one before him could. We were wrong. He not only didn't improve them he created the biggest chasm in race relations that we've had in this country since the civil war.
And for you, Mr. Obama, to refuse to support and stand behind your successor is nothing short of un-American yet it is consistent with your behavior of leaving dissent in your wake. Since the day you came to office whenever a situation arose that was not to your liking and you did not possess the intelligence or power to change it you simply created dissent between the parties involved. Period.
The one thing, most important thing that you were short of, devoid of, Mr. President, was humility. Which in that position with the power and responsibility to influence so many lives, was unforgiveable...

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas to everyone. From my family to yours, we wish you a truly  happy holiday season. May it be filled with good times spent with your family and friends. And may your new year bring you happiness, good health and prosperity.
Christmas is a wonderful time. We get to spend time with our families and enjoy some down time. Our lives become so busy we often get in the habit of not thinking about ourselves and taking care of ourselves. And unfortunately, Christmas usually is no exception. We immerse ourselves in shopping, buying gifts, keeping track of budgets (which often get overextended...) planning parties and meals, if anything Christmas piles on more stress to what we were already dealing with. For most, it doesn't bring down time. It brings more stress time. Just what we didn't need.
It's a shame, it really is. Around this time of year people and companies who sell 'stuff' step up their game. Advertisements come at us from all directions and literally fill our days. And do not kid yourself, marketers are very smart people. The have perfected the art of convincing us that we need what they are making. Think about this for a moment, how much stuff have you bought that you really could do without? Ask yourself this question for everything you have that cost more than fifty dollars, did I need that or did I merely want it? Now there's nothing wrong with having something for no other reason than you wanted it. By golly if you work hard and want something just for the fun of it then by all means you should have it. The problem is, it adds up. We accumulate. And we saturate ourselves with stuff. The fact is most of it we didn't need and could easily have lived without it.

So take some time to reflect after Christmas. Look back on the year and think about what you can do to make next year better. What can you do to make life better? What can you do to make YOU better? Maybe some of that 'stuff' you got that you really don't need (or want), give it away. Donate it to charity so someone less fortunate can enjoy it. I promise you'll feel good about it. And do some other things that make you feel good. Exercise. Lay in the sun. Take deep breaths with your eyes closed. Take up yoga. Tell your spouse you love them, every day. Meditate.
The cost of all those things and others like them? Nothing. The benefit? They all have the potential to make you a better, happier person. What better gift could you possibly give yourself?

Monday, December 5, 2016

You know, I was thinking the other day. And yes, I was thinking about something in particular. My life. Don't switch channels yet, I'm not going to get spacy and philosophical and poetic on you. In fact depending on your age, what I say just might be relevant in some way to your life. I didn't just sit down and tell myself, I am going to think about life here for awhile. Something made me do it. I was compelled, even coerced into thinking about it. And once I was into it, it was a serious session. Very serious.
I have thought about life as being analogous to baseball in a lot of ways. In the past when I put life situations in terms of baseball, it just seemed to make sense. A lot of sense. While it may be true that to be able to make this analogy you must be a die-hard baseball fan. Actually, maybe fan isn't even good enough. You have to really understand baseball. You have to have some real connection to it. Like maybe you played baseball at some time in your life. Maybe you coached little league. Lots of people think baseball is a boring game. That it doesn't move fast enough, like football. They just don't understand what they're looking at. There is so much going on in a baseball game that if you don't know what you're looking for you wont see it.
See what I mean? I've just described baseball and if you replaced the word baseball in the paragraph above with life, it would have made sense. Here's another example. In life there's going to be successes and there will be failures. Just as in baseball, you aren't going to win every game. You're not going to hit it out of the park every time you get up to the plate. We all know that, even if you don't know baseball. That's kind of a no-shit-Sherlock fact. Life's the same way only sometimes it doesn't seem so obvious as it does in baseball. Here's a really good one, to be good in baseball you can't just say I'm going to play baseball and be a great baseball player. For starters, if you're not athletic, fuggidaboutit. It ain't happening. You need to choose something else to excel at. If you are athletic, then you're going to have to work hard to be good. You have to want it. You have to want it bad. You have to have grit in your gut wanting it bad. That means your level of desire to play baseball well has to break the desire needle. The same could be said of people who excel at something else in life. Only it may not be as obvious as it is in baseball.
Are you getting my drift? Baseball mirrors life situations and simplifies them. Makes them easier to understand. Read those last two sentences again. Makes life situations easier to understand. If life consisted of one human being, our self, it would be pretty simple. It wouldn't take long before we knew what we liked, didn't like, how we reacted to certain things, and so on. But life isn't just 'me'. There are family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, bosses, coworkers, teammates... Life is a series of interactions with other people. Sometimes, maybe even often, things go well. Sometimes they don't. People are very complicated. What you see is rarely what you get when it comes to people. Life with other people is not black and white. It's a million shades of gray and some of them are really freaking ugly. I've lost my analogy with baseball, but stay with me.
So where am I going with this? This is where I'm going, life is hard. It's damn hard. Oh, I know there are silver spooners out there who have a good, easy life but what kind of life is that? What are they contributing? Nothing. You have to get off your ass and do something and contribute to the world for your life to have any meaning. That's my second no-shit-Sherlock fact. Life can and does have many gratifying times for most of us. But we have to work for it and often make sacrifices. Very difficult choices. And who amongst us has not lost a loved one? Not one single living being can say they have never lost a loved one. Is that not hard? And who amongst us has not loved and lost, as Mr. Shakespeare put it? Well if you haven't, you're part of a very small group. If you have you know well how hard that is.
It's hard alright. And for most of my life I had this misguided notion that when I got older life would get easier. I could retire, not have to get up early and go to work and put up with a bunch of pricks that annoyed me, it would be great. And you know what, not having to get up early and go to work and deal with a bunch of pricks is great. But getting older is not. And the worst part about it, life stares you in the face, grabs you by the throat, sits you down, humbles the shit out of you, and makes you think. And the first thing it makes you think about, your mortality. It looks right into your big wide eyes and says you're not going to live forever. And you want to ask, so how much time do I have left? And life replies, with a shrug of the shoulders, don't know. Meekly, hoping not to offend this badass monster called Your Life, you ask, so what's left? What do I need to do? What can I do?
Notice that one of the questions wasn't what's life all about? That's a question for amateurs, young amateurs. Since most of your life is behind you, you already know what life is all about. You've been there and done it already. If you didn't get it right, too  late. Next question?
There's just a very sobering, jolting, face-slapping reality to knowing that due to the nature of life on earth your time on earth is limited. Very limited. So your natural inclination is to think, what's important? Aha! That's what you should have been thinking about all along. Not what's its all about. You cant know what it's all about until you know what's important. That's what you focus on.
And what's really sobering is the answers to that will probably be obvious. Just like baseball. Who's on first?...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

LIsten up, journalists...

Reading the news this morning I see that Ellen Degenerate (sic, intentionally...) has won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Congratulations Ellen. When you have your own daytime talk show and you have glamorous Hollywood types on to talk about 'stuff' you are indeed changing the world. Underprivileged kids are being fed hot meals, kids with cancer are being cured, etc, etc. Kinda like Obama winning the Nobel prize at the beginning of his first term. For what? If you're a TV watcher then you know how fond Hollywood is of giving themselves awards. When they're not filming something they're giving themselves awards. What's the difference if Obama gives one of them an award.  This award is supposed to recognize those people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". Well, forget about national security, if that were left to Ellen we'd all be in a cage being tortured by towelheads. World peace, why yes, of course! Shooting the shit with Amy Schumer has calmed down entire cities. Indeed, congratulations Ellen.
Once again, our wonderful leader has done something that deserves a bitch-slap. But after eight very long years we've come to expect such.
I digress.What I signed on to talk about is the media in our country. Let me start by pointing out something really important that probably seems innocuous to most people. How often have you been reading something whether it was a magazine article or a breaking news article about an important world event and you notice misspelled words? Now that you stop and think about it, pretty often, huh? Editors, journalists and reporters, some of whom are reputedly major names in the business. To top it off, these guys have proofreaders and editors who are checking their work before it is published. Supposedly. Allegedly. And every couple of weeks they are paid for writing this sloppy, unchecked garbage. I know I'm not the only one who notices this and is bothered by it. I'm just so thankful that the surgeon who did my hip replacement doesn't take his work so lightly and pays attention to the details.
OK, picture this. You have the press room at the White House full of the country's elite journalists and reporters waiting for the president. I walk in and walk down the rows, stand behind each one and administer a good hard bitch slap to the back of the head to each one of them. After the last one has received his admonishment, I walk to the podium and say, "If you want to be a plumber learn how to stop leaks, if you want to be a carpenter learn how to use a saw without cutting yourself, if you want to be soldier, learn how to shoot a gun. If you want to be a journalist, LEARN HOW TO FUCKING SPELL!" Then Obama walks up and I look at him and say, "Whatever."
As far as I'm concerned if you wrote an article, especially one of import and you misspell words in the process your credibility evaporates. You're supposed to be a professional and the expectations of all who read your work are that it is professional grade work. If you are capable of high level, rational reasoning and analysis of complex events, then you should be able to spell.
There are other expectations of your vocation. I want everyone of you sunsabitches that make a living writing news to listen closely. Do not use your station in life as a member of any kind in the media to further your own interests, especially those of a political bent. Just as you were taught in school, journalism is to be unbiased and objective. Report the facts. Back them up. If you want to push your political agenda, fine. You are free to do that. Join a PAC. Become a lobbyist. Join a protest. Paint slogans on railroad trestles. But keep your drivel out of the media. America doesn't only not care, we don't want to hear it. It's irritating. We buy newspapers, online subscriptions, turn on cable news to get (get ready!) NEWS.
Oh yeah, and learn how to spell. Ask your eight your old. They can help you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On to bigger and better things.

I suppose you could say things are settling down a little. Granted, there have been protests in several major cities, even some violence. But in the context of the times is that really surprising? It will fade away, I think that's pretty much a given. What are the chances the protesters will prevail and congress will say, "You know, you people are right. He's not the right guy for the job. We're giving him the boot and he's outta here. We're going to hold another election and keep on having them until we get a bonafide liberal in there." I mean , it would have to be a liberal, how many conservatives do you think are in those protest crowds? What are the odds of that happening? Well, let's see. Let me grab a calculator here, hmmm, as soon as I turned it on the answer is right there. Zero, zip, zilch, nada.
Once again I say, thank God we have a constitution and someone is paying attention to it.
The good news is all the white noise from the rancor of the campaigns is gone. All is quiet on that front. Now we can all go back to our regularly scheduled lives and get on with life. At this point it is what it is and all the protesting in the world won't change a thing. If you want to prognosticate and predict, knock yourself out. Frankly, I'm tired and I want to move on to bigger and better things. I've been offering my opinion on subjects politic on here for awhile and I know you're probably getting tired of hearing them. Even if you're not I'm growing tired if talking about it.

Following politics I think is like watching TV. There are myriad programs on, many of them during prime time that include lots of drama, suspense, ruthless characters who try to ruin other people's lives, power-hungry dirtbags, scheming and dishonest politicians, and people love to watch them. During a presidential election they can watch the same but this time the characters are playing themselves. It's salacious skullduggery at it's best. And it's for real. Many people prepare to vote, i.e. learn about the candidate's backgrounds, their platforms, intentions and so on the same way they prepare to watch TV. By doing nothing. Then they get in a voting booth, (let me qualify that so you'll know I'm not just blowing smoke. Some of them get in a voting booth. Only 40% of qualified voters actually voted in the election. Sad and quite pathetic, but true) and this is what happens. He said he's going to build a wall, click. She said she was going to make college free. Click. And that's just the ones that actually voted. When you look at it that way, maybe the electoral college system isn't such a bad idea after all...

At the risk of putting my veracity in doubt, let me move on to bigger and better things as I said I would. I started writing a novel back in 2011. Five long years ago. I was so excited about finishing my first one, I went right into the second one. My first novel was a pure action, suspense thriller because that's my favorite genre. I love to read them. To me there's nothing better than a good, well-written thriller. I've read countless thrillers by all the journeymen in the field. It's like any other craft, you learn from the pros. I wrote the first one and right out of the chute I had some success. It didn't make the NY Times bestseller list, but hey, give me time. The second one is a thriller as well, but it takes a little turn. It's what I call a 'historical thriller'. The main characters are all fictitious but it takes place actual locations and involves some actual people and events. Which of course means there is a lot of research that has to be done. If you're going to talk about real people and places you have to be, well, real. And I'll be honest, research isn't one of my favorite things to do. I'm no James Michener. I like to sit down, crank up the imagination and ride. When I'm doing that I feel like I'm in the wheelhouse. But I chose to do this for personal reasons. The story involves some Choctaw Indians who grow up in a very difficult time in history and go on to change the world for the better. I'm having a helluva lot of fun writing it and I'm doing my due diligence, historically. My wife is a Choctaw Indian and the setting is her ancestor's home place. Some of them thankfully survived the Trail of Tears and settled in this area. It was a monumental time in history and I must do it justice.

Hence, the reason it has been five years and counting. Well, there have been a few other reasons. Life happens. And it can be damn distracting at times. But I have refilled my fountain pen and I'm back on the job. And when I'm done, you're going to love the story. Or your money back.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Can you believe this?

I have to admit it. The pundits and pollsters missed it, and so did I. He won. He actually won. I didn't realize it until the next day that Hillary actually won the  popular vote but it doesn't matter. Trump won and is in the drivers seat.

Now, a little sidebar. I just read an article that some professor (I know, when it comes to political mouths, 'professor' is like a used car salesman. It's just an opinion and we all know opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink.) Anyway, this guy who predicted a Trump win now says he will be impeached.  Bravo Bitch! You're a genius! You know, when it comes to prognosticating, we can all do it. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. Now if Trump actually does get impeached this guy will be labeled a genius. I'm sorry folks, he ain't no genius. Trump has a lot of business interests. Running into a conflict of interest, well, it would be hard  NOT to. Making a brash decision that could put national security at risk, well, based on what we have seen, you have to say yeah, that could happen. Is impeachment a possibility? Duh, does a bear have a hairy ass? Standing right behind him is Mike Pence. A red, white and blue conservative who has no record of upsetting the establishment. If there is a genius in all of this it has to be Mike Pence.
I think it's pretty much a given that Trump could be impeached and Mike Pence could take over.
Then we could be back to sort of, business as usual, sort of, you know? Fucking Democrats. Fucking Republicans. You know, the stuff we're used to. I would put the odds of that happening at 50% or better, really.

I truly believe in my heart that Americans like strong, decisive, consistent leadership. Someone with a clear mind that can make decisions and make sense. Is that Trump? As Ronald Reagan would say, "Weeelll," maybe, maybe not. We need to give him the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove himself. You never know, he might just surprise us. We'll see.

This election was an anomaly. A 'one off' kind of situation. At least let's hope so. I certainly hope we don't face something like this again. At least not during my lifetime. I like it when the nomination process produces some smart people that don't go around pissing off credible groups of people. Except for Muslim terrorists. Fuck them, I like to piss them off every chance I get. If I were Rosie O'Donnell and I were famous, I could do it more often! But this time, it was different. It didn't produce anyone smart and certainly anyone who didn't routinely piss off somebody. If Trump gets impeached and Pence take over, who is going to say "Aww shit?"  No one. Let's face it, no one.

Now, if that happens, please, don't email me and call me a genius. It could just as easily turn out that Trump could line 'em up and knock 'em down. He could get it all right. You bet it could. And I hope that's the way it happens. We shall see.

I'm still happy we don't have to go through four years of Hillary. And I am enormously happy we are done with Barry. Good riddance. I think he sucked. Best of luck to us all...