Saturday, November 16, 2013

Vol. 180: From the ACA to JFK

Spread the Truth. Spread the Outrage

News from the Front

Ladies and gentlemen, The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been put into effect and much like the hope and promise of Barack Obama’s early years in the office of President, it has been left to deflate into a complicated technical mess of laughter and “I told you so.” To draw a slightly amusing comparison, there is a publicly traded financial company that wheels out old baby boomer male actors as their spokesmen that is located in downtown Minneapolis and that has been trying to implement an operating system for the last year and a half. Ladies and gentlemen they have been having problems for a year and a half; folks, that is just a publicly traded company with clients and employees; it is nowhere near what the United States of Surveillance is attempting to implement with their nation-wide database health insurance exchange; the bottom-line, it is going to take some time; probably a year or more; it sure as hell isn't going to be fixed by the end of November; let’s be honest with ourselves. Health care for everyone is a great idea, but it's not going to happen overnight. 

In another sign of JP Morgan Chase’s guilt and complicity over the financial mortgage meltdown of 2008, Jamie Dimon CEO, has agreed to pay the United States of Surveillance over $13 billion dollars in fines. You know you’re guilty when you pay $13 billion in fines; but how much coverage are the major media outlets giving this story? Surprised? Maybe Dimons’ are forever? With enough money, you can buy yourself out of anything. 
On November 1st Food Stamp benefits decreased. Surprising we didn't see mass riots and outrage at Wal-Mart’s and Dollar Tree’s across this great land.

What the hell is grown up Fes doing dealing drugs?
            Down south there is a bloody drug war of epic proportions continuing in Mexico, throughout other areas of Latin America and beyond. When it snakes its’ way up into the streets of the United States, there is more concern, but not much that isn't responded to with answers of more incarceration and tax payer dollars thrown into the incinerator of stupidity. There are no solutions, only temporary fixes. For instance, in certain locales of Mexico and Latin America, 80% of the population grows drug crops; because when you can make 300 times more money growing something illegally, why would you ever concentrate on growing produce and fruit? In Mexico, where corruption has run free for decades (much like the halls of power in D.C.), where power is handed off in backroom deals and campaign contributions, the Federales hold little sway other than extorting tourists for cash while standing on the side of their narrow roads with loaded rifles upon their shoulders. It is here that El Chapo Guzman still runs free; considered to be the most powerful drug lord of all time, his influence is ubiquitous. The head of the snake still roams free after escaping from prison in what could be believed to be a plot from the television show 24. Where is all of the NSA surveillance when you need it?  
In the last decade 80,000 people have been killed in the “War on Drugs.” Ask yourself, why do we continue fighting a war that can never be won? Is it because the powers that be have money invested in the correctional facility industry throughout North and Latin America? Is it because the alcohol industry would see their profits drop in half? Or is it simply another way of locking up, cornering and controlling minority populations without raising eyebrows? Your guess is as good as mine, but one thing is certain, the continuation of the “War on Drugs” is a futile attempt at controlling a brush fire while the wind increases.

            According to those whispers of the wind and the received messages from the media elites, the reason all rich conservatives protest politically is due to the 16th Amendment and the levy of the income tax. Maybe that’s why they all work so hard to hire lawyers smart enough to hide their money in off-shore tax havens? It makes sense. For example, the telephone service giant Verizon believes it has the 1st Amendment right to edit/censor Internet content based on the subscription price of users creating a tiered level of speed and access. Ladies and gentlemen, keep an eye on Comcast as well. Pretty soon the information superhighway will have by-pass lanes affordable to those that are willing and able to spend more, while the left behind will be breathing the fumes of their discontent. 

Do you agree or disagree that the Internet should be patrolled on a toll-based access?

           According to the former Deputy Director of the CIA, Michael Morell, the most dangerous threat to the national security of the United States of Surveillance is the politicians' in Washington ineptitude in passing a budget based on compromise with one another. According to Morrell, the destabilization of the nation’s economy by uncertainty will be the undoing of America; if it hasn't already started some 50 years ago. Maybe it’s because he knows that since 9/11 there have been only 20 deaths on United States soil due to acts of terrorism (it may be a testament to the surveillance apparatus that is all pervasive); but since that time, there have been 364,000 deaths on United States soil due to privately owned firearms. 
            In the last 45 years alone, 212,994 more Americans have lost their lives to privately owned firearms than all of the wars involving the United States combined since 1776; and we cry about second hand smoke. Then again, what does it matter when it’s not white suburbanites getting shot? We’re all such God-fearing love our neighbor types aren't we? Just so long as they don’t live in our neighborhoods.
Although only 1% of the American population serves in the Armed Forces, it is apparent as to how much power and political influence they wield; although don’t tell that to the veterans that continually deal with less than desirable care and conditions; however, the Military Industrial Complex keeps reaping big profits. (Insert video of Eisenhower’s warning to Americans in farewell address.)

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook creation, the man with the grey hoodie, not Trayvon Martin, made over $2 billion dollars last year; that is $6 million dollars a day. How’s that for a status update? In the past year, the top earning CEOs took in over $4.7 billion and none earned less than a $100 million last year. Where does all of the money go? Why to job creation and philanthropy of course. Don’t you just see it trickling down the sides of your houses and into the streets? 
He CAN afford better clothes.
When adjusted for inflation, the median household income in 2011 was $51,017; 9% less than what it was in 1999. One thing is for sure, it hasn't gone to the middle class; and a large portion of that demographic hasn't seemed to notice how royally screwed they've been for the past 30 years, because were all too damned busy looking down at our newly purchased distractions; heads up dumb-asses.  No wonder we’ll never see the next big crisis coming. Ohhhhhhh I-Phone 73 is out!!!!
This leads me to the fact that the number of Americans who say they have “no religion” has doubled since 1990. It is obvious that we are worshiping the created and not the creator. But then again, people did really love Steve Jobs didn't they? Too bad he didn't die on a Friday attached to a piece of wood; we could have really used another chosen one.
A 2010 Gallup Poll revealed that 21% of Americans believe in witches. That explains a lot; particularly the hold Kim Kardashian appears to have over the lame-stream media. Another eye popping number is that some 63% of Americans ages 18-29 believe in demonic possession and 57% of Americans between the ages of 47-65 do as well. No wonder horror movies based on Exorcisms do so well at the box-office. There is a built in audience.
I don't carry a Smartphone, I carry a Smart-Cross
In other related news, Pope Francis (Insert Picture of Pope Francis) is making sense (is he possessed?); word out of the Vatican is that he understands the role the Catholic Church needs to play in the 21st Century; changes need to be made and less focus needs to be upon birth control and the subjugation of women and instead upon a more inclusive nature of the Church. Finally, the incense coming out of St. Peter’s is a breath of fresh air.

"I think I ate the baby?"
According to a new poll, 50% of cats and dogs are overweight or obese. It’s not just humans that binge on an excess of available food and resources. Those damn pets are eating us out of our entitlements. Maybe we should cut their welfare programs while we’re at it?

"I almost got the part for Jabba in Return of the Jedi"

Another strange but true story is that the flamboyant Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford (who looks a little like the ghost of Chris Farley) has admitted to smoking crack on more than one occasion. He admitted he may have partaken in the illegal usage of crack cocaine while on a “drunken bender.” However, he promises he will not resign and that he remains steadfast to doing what is right for the great city of Toronto. With credentials like these, he could run and win the office of Mayor for Washington D.C; he’d only have to become a legal citizen first, good luck getting past our mess of a lack of an immigration law now buddy.

"I think I ate David Spade and chased it down with some Jack and Crack."
Should the Washington Redskins football organization change their team name? You’re damn right they should. What if Edina had a football team called the “Whiteys” or North Minneapolis the “Darkies?” You could guarantee that there would be some justifiably upset people protesting and rightfully so. Haven’t we done enough to the poor Native Americans? Just a thought.

Much to my surprise, I have recently discovered that Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is an ingredient in Diet Mt. Dew. It is an endocrine disrupt-er ( it plays Dr. Frankenstein with hormones), which may explain my inability to lose any more weight, although regularly consuming less than 2200 calories a day, walking more than 2.5 miles a day, 6 days a week and eating meals 2-3x a week of nothing more than broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It has come to my attention that BVO is actually used as a flame retardant!!! Is Pepsi afraid that their sodas will catch fire? Maybe they should just attach a fire hose to the bottle just in case. Ladies and gentlemen, never again will I drink anything with Brominated Vegetable Oil as a listed ingredient; educated and Outraged!

It's not just a Movie

Fifty years ago, an act of terrorism so horrific caught the nation and the world’s attention and it was all caught on film. But, to this day, we are no closer to the truth of what really happened and so the day continues to hold a magnetic trance over concerned and disgruntled minds; like moths to a flame, our curiosity, time and money has been spent investigating that fateful day in search of meaning and justice. 

The day is of course 11/22/63, the day our nation changed forever. The day that forever changed our country; when the powers that lay hidden, reached their shadowy claws out from the depths and flipped the switch. Whether it was a cabal of secret society members with a nefarious agenda or a lonely nut in search of attention and purpose, it doesn't ultimately matter who was wholly responsible for the assassination of JFK on that ugly day in November; what we’d really like to know is why?
The who, what, where and when all keeps us from asking the main question, why?
The list of his enemies was endless. From the mob, the CIA, the FBI, the Military Industrial Complex, Cubans and the husbands of his lovers; who didn't want JFK dead? In honor of that horrible day I ask each and every reader of this beloved past time of mine, to watch Oliver Stone’s masterpiece JFK. Whether or not you believe in any of the presented scenarios is not the point; the purpose is that there may be more than one way to view the events of that horrible day and Stone's film is what I hope will be to our generation what Citizen Kane was to the greatest generation; a work of art that only gains more appreciation and importance as time slips by. It is well worth the time.

From the beginning of the film’s processional of “taps,” the film is flawless; it is a military style execution from start to finish. The editing, from visuals to sound is utterly impeccable. Oliver Stone does an excellent job laying out all of the key players, the nuances and the irregularities of the years, months and days leading up to that terrible day. From the open windows to the open roof tops and to the removal of the bubble top on the Lincoln limousine; there is the changed parade route that includes a ridiculous curve of 10mph all to set up a morbidly beautiful triangulated crossfire. As one of the characters in the film states, “It’s a turkey shoot.”
Ladies and gentlemen the strange coincidences and facts are encompassing; before Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly shot the President, he was a US Marine, who in 1959 defected to Russia and then 3 years later returned to the United States with his new wife; all of this happening without prosecution for treason and during the height of the Cold War; how was this possible? Who was pulling the strings?
Within three hours after the assassination, the government had then arrested their possible scapegoat, Lee Harvey Oswald; background information was quickly disseminated all over the world, and all of this happened in an age before the 24 hour multimedia orgy was a common occurrence; how did they have it so quickly and readily on hand? Oswald was then questioned for 12 hours after the assassination and not a word of it was recorded or written down. Why not? What possible explanation can excuse this problematic behavior? 
You can’t make this stuff up.
Ask yourself, who orders a gun to a P.O. Box in Texas when you could walk in to any gun store and give a fake name that could never be traced? But that's what LHO did in the months leading up to 11/22/63. On live television only two days later, the American public witnesses the dispatching of Oswald by the hand of nightclub owner Jack Ruby. The birth of voyeuristic television is released from the static womb of electricity.
The head of the Warren Commission, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren appoints Allen Dulles to investigate the assassination; the same man that Kennedy had relieved of his duties as Chief of the CIA in the fall of 1961.
Call it the fox guarding the hen-house.

Then there is the fact that not one expert could duplicate the supposed shooting that Oswald did from the sixth floor of the book depository and why didn't Oswald shoot Kennedy when he was coming up Houston? That would've been the easiest shot for a single shooter from the book depository window?
Why didn't RFK prosecute a case as Attorney General? Did he not want him and his brother’s affair with Marilyn Monroe to go public and chose instead to save his wife and the country the embarrassment? Did he know that he would then be the next target? Unfortunately he wouldn't have to wait but 5 more years to find out by the gun of Sirhan Sirhan.
Two brothers, both assassinated. Just bad luck?
The powers that be would not be disturbed, no matter what.
I can see you rolling your eyes; Scharber, maybe all “these books have gotten into your mind!!!”
As Kevin Costner's character Jim Garrison retorts to his wife, brilliantly played by Sissy Spacek,“God damn it Liz, I've been sleeping for three years.”
Maybe we've all been sleeping for the past 50?
We all know were highly-caffeinated.

Oliver Stone’s masterpiece captures some of the best acting performances of the many assembled and talented professionals. It is lead actor Kevin Costner’s second best performance to his Oscar winning portrayal in Dances with Wolves; Ed Asner has never been creepier, Gary Oldman once again does his chameleonic best as Lee Harvey Oswald and then there is Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci who since Goodfellas, was never better. The list goes on to include Walter Matthau, John Candy’s best performance since Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, career supporting actor Michael Rooker and the always brilliant Donald Sutherland who was an original “deep throat” who in the film went by the name of “X.” Why would all of these talented individuals sign on to do a film if it were not an excellent script, an excellent story with a chance to work with a director at the height of his creative genius? The film had to be made and the film has to be seen. As an American who values the freedoms we hold so dear, each one of us owes it to our fallen leaders to watch, listen and learn; only then can you decide if things have changed for the worse or for the better. It’s up to you.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate all of your interest and would like to communicate that there will be a 3-4 month hiatus of the Global Outrage of an Educated Man that will allow the editor to focus solely on continuing and finishing writing the rough draft of his 1st novel GIDDEOM. It will also give Theona Donther and Thelonius Ronscpiacy some much needed vacation time. Happy Holidays and as always, spread the Truth. Spread the Outrage. 

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vol. 179: Mama Mia!

One Hot Scary Mess of a Halloween Mama         by. The Rolling Bone

     I’m generally leery of PG-13 horror movies.  In an attempt to attract the widest possible audience they usually have to water down the project; images that are too graphic, nudity or language that is too profane all wind up on the cutting room floor in an attempt to pass the censors, oftentimes leaving behind a toothless movie.  Mama, (2013) directed by Andres’ Muschietti and produced by Guillermo Del Toro tells a story that wouldn’t require a stiffer rating, but it disappoints for what it decides to show.  A modern ghost story with a very creepy premise, Mama ultimately becomes more of a CGI driven “creature flick” with an ending that underwhelms.  Muschietti shows promise, and Del Toro’s fingerprints are evident, as the film does many things right.  Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) leads a decent cast including Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game Of Thrones), but it isn’t poor acting that undoes the film.  Despite a scary premise and some really disturbing visuals, the chills just don’t add up in this film but, the movie does entertain enough to mildly recommend it.
     The first scenes in the movie are shot using a color filter that renders the images a dull and lifeless gray, and the first color we see is the red of a child’s hat.  This technique has become a Hollywood staple since Schindler’s List, but it works to lend an almost fairy-tale like feel to the films earliest scenes. The movie begins with a frantic Father (Coster-Waldau) loading his two frightened daughters into a car, and speeding away from a horrible crime into snowy wilderness.  Driving too fast for the conditions, the man sends the car over a cliff where it plummets into a snowy ravine.  The trio wanders the wilderness before finding a decrepit cabin that appears abandoned.  Unfortunately for his daughters, the refuge they have found will not shield them from the violence their father wishes to commit against them; luckily, “Mama” will.
      Five years after that horrible day, two hunters stumble across the cabin and discover the girls still alive.  They have become feral, and their odd mannerisms and movement indicate they have modeled their behavior after “something.”  What exactly that “something” is becomes the focus of a psychologist (Daniel Kash) who is assigned joint custody of the girls along with their Uncle Lukas (Coster-Waldau again) and his rocker girlfriend Annabel (Chastain.)   The Uncle just happens to be the twin brother of their father, but Muschietti wastes the opportunity to explore why that would be especially painful for the girls.  Muschietti misses the boat by not showing many of the sessions that Dr. Dreyfuss (Kash) has with Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse) and Victoria (Megan Charpentier) as the disturbed girls are the most genuinely scary element of the movie.  Instead the viewer is given most of the girls back story through the dialogue of other characters, and we come to find that a caretaker watched over the girls for the five years they spent in the cabin. Dreyfuss becomes convinced that an actual woman, the “Mama” the girls speak of, must have fostered the girls and enlists his secretary to look for clues to her identity.  When strange things begin to happen in the house however, signs point to a less human kind of caretaker.   
      Muschietti makes great use of shadow in the film, and while flickering lights and bumps in the night are horror movie cliché, he does a good job building the suspense.  A memorable scene occurs as we watch the younger daughter Lilly playing in a room down a long hallway while an off-screen Annabel carries on a conversation with Victoria.  The scene is shot in such a way that we assume that Victoria is in the room playing with her younger sister, but as a door opens at the end of the hall revealing Victoria we realize something more sinister is adrift. The scene was probably among the least expensive to shoot for the film, and yet it stands out more than the later CGI effects the director employs.  Movies like Jaws, Blair Witch Project, and Paranormal Activity have proven that the story and the evil unseen are what truly terrify, and yet it is disappointing because Hollywood keeps throwing big money trying to scare up big chills.  “Mama” the supernatural entity is a much scarier bitch when we hear her off-camera or see the spider-like shadows she casts on dimly lit walls. 
      As the movie progresses we are given the story behind “Mama” through Annabel’s dreams, old news clippings, and the secretary’s conversations with Dr. Dreyfuss.  The story is pretty compelling, and clues us into “Mama’s” maternal instinct for the girls.  What doesn’t work is Mama’s jealousy over the character of Annabel.  We are supposed to believe that the girls have built a bond with Annabel, a reluctant Mother thrust into the role of protector.  The three actors just don’t spend that much time together until the last third of the movie, and by that time the movie has become a CGI “chase scene.” The movie wastes time with the side story of Uncle Lukas, when it could have concentrated on the more compelling story lines. The few spare scenes we see which are supposed to highlight the reluctant mother angle just aren’t that effective, but the movie does have a few scenes with great dialogue.  Explaining “Mama” to Dr. Dreyfuss the secretary tells him that “a ghost is an emotion bent out of shape.”  She goes on to explain Mother’s hideous form, explaining that corpses left to the elements begin to twist and change, but are “doomed to repeat until wrong is right.”  It’s the essence of the movie, but Muschietti decides it’s not scary enough and tries to “special effect” it the rest of the way.
     Muschietti does shoot many scenes right.  The opening credits roll as we see crayon drawings the girls have made while in the cabin with “Mama,” and the pictures are definitely not right.  In another scene the camera winds through a darkened dollhouse, the tiny figures inside posed in menacing ways before panning out to reveal the girl’s bedroom and an opening closet door.  These scenes really build the suspense, and with the masterful shadow work of “Mama,” Muschietti sets the bar rather high for her actual appearance.  He doesn’t reach it, and hence deflates the entire movie in the process.  The movie doesn’t have the worst CGI in the world, but the director had a better movie on his hands before he went digital.  It’s worth a watch but, better movies with similar themes are out there and for the record I’ll take “Ripley” and the Aliens bitch anytime. 

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Vol. 178: Happy Halloween: Room 237, Pearl Jam & The Mist

Spread the Outrage. Spread the Truth.
“When you Change the way you look at Things, the Things you look at Change.” Dr. Wayne Dyer

Explain it to Me    by. Jack Scharber

            It begins with a helicopter camera shot of a yellow Volkswagen bug driving along a windy road through the Rocky Mountains. Inside the tired old vehicle is a relatively normal family man, husband, father heading north to a resort hotel for a job interview. The eerie music of a funeral march accompanies the unfolding scene; is it there possibly alerting the viewer that you will have to own up to pay for what humanity has done? Who or what has died? Suddenly you are no longer following the vehicle but have gone right off the road and over the cliff into your subconscious. 
The film is the cult classic Stanley Kubrick version of Stephen King’s name making novel, The Shining. What the brilliant documentary Room 237 attempts to do is pull in a variety of theories about the overall central theme of the film into a narrative of a disruptive mind-bending nature. Unsettling, puzzling, outlandish and interesting, these scenarios make the film that much more confusing, coupled with the fact that Kubrick was a notorious recluse who often times played the Svengali with the audiences’ imagination; his intentions are hard to find. However, these film theories have some credence, that if like the believers, you too have viewed the film over a half a dozen times and are willing to go off the main road in search of answers.     
The documentary Room 237 touches upon the belief by Bill Blackmore that the film was Kubrick’s attempt to discuss cinematically and allegorically the genocide of the American Indians by the white European settlers of incursion and the resulting bloodbath and slow goodbyes that followed; this theory is reinforced by the subtle product placement of Calumet Baking Powder cans in the storeroom (Calumet is a traditional Native American smoking pipe, used to signify a treaty or pact),  there are also the multitude of Native American motifs that hang throughout the hotel and the fact that the Overlook Hotel was built upon a large Native American burial ground.

He's not talking about ObamaCare
In addition there is the “far-out” theory by Jay Wiedner that the film was nothing more than Kubrick’s attempt to tell the general public that he helped NASA fake the Apollo 11 moon landing; the evidence of course being that Danny wears an Apollo 11 sweater in the film, the fact that the moon is roughly 237,000 miles away from earth (Room 237) and the deal with the devil or witch that Nicholson’s character makes in the film is all an allusion to Kubrick’s own deal with a shadow government and all of which takes place in room 237 (Moon Room); take into account Jack’s speech to Wendy about obligations and contracts???  Head scratching questions abound. 
Film theorist Geoffrey Cocks believes that the film is about the holocaust of the Jews by the hands of Nazis in WWII because Jack’s character uses an old Eagle typewriter (which is a German company) with a large 42 on it (1942 being the year of Hitler’s final solution). The documentary also discusses the fact that there are unmanageable scenes within the Overlook Hotel that deal with the “impossible window” of the Overlook manager’s office, where no feat of architectural engineering could result in what is shown on screen. This is coupled with the fact that the young boy Danny’s big-wheel rides throughout the hotel often make no sense at all; he goes from the main level of the hotel on the first ride to one level higher on his second ride and then somewhere in between for his third and final ride (could this be symbolism for his subconscious?) and all of this from a director who was known in the business as a perfectionist.  What was Kubrick trying to tell us?
            Note the amazing use of colors throughout the film (the Gold Room, the Red, Black and White bathrooms, the walls of blood coming from closed elevator doors) all of which supports the belief that it could be a brilliant director’s alchemical formula for messing with the viewer’s mind and subconscious. It is a little known fact that Kubrick had studied subliminal images at the offices of Madison Avenue advertising executives before filming the movie. Why? Rattle your brains with the realization of asking this strange question: why is Jack reading a Playgirl magazine in the lobby of the hotel before he meets with the hotel manager for his job interview?  What the hell does an issue of Playgirl have any business in a lobby anywhere? Is this the dentist episode from Seinfeld? Why does it appear that people are turned into suitcases through the use of a lap-dissolve? Could that be a reference to the extermination of the Jews, the Native Americans or both?
Is the film Stanley Kubrick’s solution how to escape the nightmare of the past by retracing your steps and erasing the past footprints as we navigate the labyrinth that is this mortal coil? There is also the fact that a labyrinth never existed in the King novel. Why did Kubrick incorporate one into his film? Then there is the enigmatic character of Bill Watson in the film; a minor character that speaks only 2 lines, but why was he there at all to begin with? Was he a metaphor for the real shadow government that is in charge? Is he the silent manager of a job interview who never speaks but only takes notes? Are we supposed to view the film as one theorist suggests, forwards and backwards, through the process of superimposed film projections; are you kidding me? All of these theories take host in the excellent documentary Room 237; because like the film, its’ fans and theorists, insanity is The Shining on film. However, you must always realize that you can get out of the maze. You simply have to trust your own instincts and you might go a little mad in the process, but it is well worth it; consider it a contract you've made with the director.

Malaise into Middle Aged Family Man   by. The Rolling Bone

Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam’s 10th studio release, certainly has a thunderous opening.  The first three songs on the album, “Getaway,” “Mind Your Manners,” and “My Father’s Son” belong firmly in the “hard rock” end of the spectrum of Pearl Jam’s 22 years of music.  The album however makes a departure as the remaining nine songs find the band taking the foot off the gas pedal and exploring a more diverse musical landscape. “Pendulum” showcases an atmospheric sound more reminiscent of a Pink Floyd album, while “Sleeping By Myself” has a country feel and features Eddie Vedder on the ukulele.  It’s an odd mix of songs sonically, but while the musical vehicle changes throughout the album, Vedder stays on point thematically with love and mortality as his favorite subjects.  Like Lennon once imagined a world without Heaven or Hell, Vedder opines on our stubborn insistence in Faith, and Love as our ultimate salvation.
            “Getaway,” the album’s opening track begins with a riff eerily similar to Weezer’s “Hash Pipe,” and puts the listener on notice; this is going to be a rock album. The lyrics to the song find Vedder visiting a topic he will touch on throughout the album. “But I found my place and it’s all right/we’re all searching for a better way/get this off my plate it’s all right/I’ve got my own way to believe.” He is stating a case for personal Spirituality over formal Religion: “And if you want to have to pray it’s all right/ we all be thinking with our different brain.” It’s not the message that Vedder disapproves of, it’s the messenger that gets under his skin. Like a man who’s dinner has been interrupted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses at his door for the last time he intones, “For God’s sake, mine is mine and yours won’t take its place/ Now, make your getaway.” Vedder continues down this path on the album’s second track, “Mind Your Manners.” The song opens with a riff that would make you think you shuffled to a Rage Against The Machine track by mistake.  Gritty opening aside, the song ultimately reminds of “Spin the Black Circle” or “Blood” from the band’s own back catalog by its conclusion.  It’s as angry as we find Vedder and company on the album, from the staccato opening riff to its punk rock sing-along ending: “Go to Heaven/That’s swell/How do you like it/Living in Hell?” The song questions our willingness to wage war for a God that ultimately might not exist: “May not live another life/May not solve a mystery.”  Vedder completes his theological treatise in the song “Infallible” by concluding that society is missing the entire point of religion: “Keep on locking your doors/keep on just as before/Pay disasters no mind/didn’t get you this time.”  It’s not that God chooses to spare some, he is saying, but rather we are choosing not to help one another: “Of everything that’s possible/in the hearts and minds of man/somehow it’s the biggest thing/that keeps slipping through our hands.”
            On an album as diverse as Lightning Bolt, the song “Pendulum” stands apart from the other 11 songs as the band’s boldest experiment. It begins with an echoed organ effect that swims out of the speakers like a Cold war submarine on the ocean floor before picking up a guitar line reminiscent of Urge Overkill’s “Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon” amidst some interesting percussion. It’s a sparse arrangement, hearkening back to earlier work on Ten, most notably “Oceans” and the intro/outro of “Release” and “Once.” The lyrics are pretty depressing, as Vedder’s trademark baritone paints a portrait of true melancholia that shows the band has come full circle from his days as surfer turned rock star. The difference being that these more accomplished musicians have achieved an organic sound on “Pendulum” they only previously scratched the surface of. The ocean muse he frequently sings to is fully realized with this track. It’s the albums low point philosophically as Vedder tells us “We are here then we go.”  The song only speaks to only one half of the pendulum swing however; the rest of the album finds Vedder rising above his usual “dust in the wind” sentimentality. Mortality be damned, he is saying elsewhere, it’s who we spend our precious time with that really matters. 
This idea is expressed most vividly on the song “Sirens,” which also happens to be the first single from the album.  Musically, the track sounds similar to the songs on Pearl Jam’s last album Backspacer.  It’s a mid-tempo number without a truly memorable chorus, but the words seem to be among Vedder’s most confessional and it has a great guitar solo that sounds like Prince and the Revolution are sitting in for thirty seconds.  The song finds Vedder once again pondering his own mortality: “Hear the sirens/hear the circus so profound/I hear the sirens more and more in this here town.” A Rock musician approaching middle-age, Vedder has become acutely aware that the end can come at any time, but having outlived some of his contemporaries, he’s learned that Death is the easy part.  It’s the lives we leave behind, the grief that is sure to come and how we ultimately are remembered by those we’ve loved that’s the struggle. “Want you to know that should I go/ I always loved you, held you high too.”  The line borders on the edge of Hallmark territory, but Vedder sings it so earnestly it comes across as genuine; the dysfunctional love he so brilliantly captured early in his career.  Who would believe the Voice of Grunge has become a family man? “Just to know we’re safe, I am a grateful man,” he sings, adding “I didn’t care before you were here” and “All things change, let this remain.” It’s a powerful song and an obvious song to lead with as a single but not very indicative of the album as a whole.
            Lightning Bolt is said to have been recorded at two different intervals by the band, and that may in part explain the album’s lack of cohesiveness. “Sirens,” “Let the Records Play,” “Swallowed Whole” and “Future Days” all sound similar to the material on Backspacer.  “Let The Records Play” has the band celebrating Vinyl once again, this time in the guise of a man who does his spiritual healing by drinking and listening to records. The lyrics are largely forgettable, but the song does catch Mike McReady and Stone Gossard in prime form and what may best be described as a Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute. “Future Days” reminds somewhat of “Just Breathe” from the last album, and has the singer once again optimistic about love, “I believe, cuz I can see/our future days, days of you and me.” The song lacks the power of “Sirens” or “Just Breathe” however, and as an acoustic ballad; it leaves the album on a much lighter note than it began; perhaps that’s the point.  Pearl Jam have a catalog full of greatest hits and those looking to find one here are sure to be disappointed, but that’s not to say the album is disappointing. It offers a world-wearied look, and perhaps a realization that while rock music has changed lives it hasn’t changed the world.  

Something in the Mist by. Jack Scharber

Frank Darabont’s 2007 bleak, disturbing and entertaining horror film adaptation of Stephen King’s novella The Mist confounds all Hollywood and mainstream expectations. The film gives viewers’ hints at what was to come in his smash television series The Walking Dead.  It had come after The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, both of which were Stephen King adaptations as well; the film was saddled with the embodiment of post 9/11 fear that featured an ensemble cast that would become a trademark of Darabont’s style. The film defied all of the happy-ever-after endings that had become the Hollywood trademark; it was a breath of fresh air and it was released on Thanksgiving weekend. Remember, we too have much to be thankful for.
            The film took on both the religious right and the dovish left. There were race relations between a strong black man and the characteristically strong white leading man. Spooky whispered government research was being conducted on a mountain nearby the small New England town, when after a natural storm, a strange supernatural mist began coming down the slope. Army trucks raced to the shore, but to combat what? The power lines were dead, the phones were down and the town’s only grocery store had become the town hall. Chaos abounded. One thing was clear; there was something in the mist.
            Marcia Gay Harden believed, “It’s death.”
            We the viewers, first got our sneak peek into the mist through the backdoor of the grocery store, the backdoor being a metaphor for one’s subconscious. However, there were still some things you had to take on faith. We began to ask like Thomas Jane’s lead character, “What they hell were those tentacles even attached to?” 
            Ladies and gentlemen, the weird had been let loose; get prepared.
            “Now do you see? Now do you believe?”
            “You scare people badly enough, you can get’em to do anything.”
            Politics and religion, but what about big business?            
     At the end of the film, after a group of five made a bold run for it in an old 4x4 escaping both radiation acid spewing spiders and dinosaur large Mantises, the truck ran out of gas. They’d gone as far as they could go. With one gun left and only four bullets, decisions had to be made. What if the mist was worldwide? What if there was nothing left to run to? What would you do then? So, Thomas Jane’s character made the only sane choice he had left, but he like all of us had to live with it; live with all of his or her, yours or mine past actions and choices, despite the awful consequences. Because believe me, often times, the monsters of our own creation.  Happy Halloween.

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Vol. 177: As Disgruntled as We ever Were

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Greetings ladies and gentlemen of the ever expanding disgruntled consciousness within the tethered ball that is the Earth to the moon; this is long-time shadow navigator Thelonius Ronscpiacy, back from the front lines of the ongoing global war against the oppressors (who come in the guise of corporatocracy, oligarchy and plutocracy); where the battle lines of the ends justify the means and the bottom lines are always for the almighty dollar. To be bluntly honest, it feels quite uplifting to be back among the attention deficient masses. I am therefore once again back to bring more political fuel to the fire, being that there isn't enough global warming to raise the critical mass to a boiling point just yet; we are still frogs, simmering in the bubbling gelatinous stew of our own filth.  I've witnessed some pretty horrifying things in my years, from the birth of the sickening phenomenon of the  Jersey Shore to the running of the Minnesota Vikings organization and their arm twisting of state legislators and smoking taxpayers held hostage in the threat that they would ever leave town (looking at their track record, it's fortunate you won in London, because you may just have had to stay there); current owners accused of fraud (where you and I would be serving time and since when can you get almost a billion dollars’ worth of financing without a credit or background check?), but there are things that are taking shape in Syria that are equal parts horror and equal parts, "I told you so."

Ladies and gentlemen, for the many who have no idea that this is happening, they are raising severed heads and dancing around like strung-out meth addicts throughout the Al-Qaeda held rubble reduced town squares of Syria (that’s right, severed heads).
It's not the conch from Lord of the Flies
They are the severed heads of those who helped the Assad regime in its ever growing list of acts of medieval barbarity, reminiscent of a season of Game of Thrones; but at least they don’t have to suffer through Joffrey.  Hundreds of miles away in their command posts within Tel-Aviv, Israeli generals must be wearing smiles of mixed pride and growing fear.  
All of this is happening under the watchful and supposedly reproachful eyes of the UN Security Council; isn't that threatening, shame on you, shame on you 100k dead, stop that, quit that. Assad, you should be ashamed of yourself. 
Poor kid is gonna be typecast for life.
Where the meek UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced on September 16th, that there was “no doubt” Sarin nerve gas was used in Syria. But I ask, used by whom? As I continue to dig, there is the gnawing impression (like a dog with a chew toy) that the rebels themselves, led by numerous Al-Qaeda members may have been behind the nerve gas attack; nerve gas attached crudely to warhead components. Do they sell warhead launchers on the black market version of Craigslist and why would the Assad regime use chemical weapons when it would only bring military intervention? What would the regime currently with the military upper-hand have to gain by doing something as reprehensible as that? Stay tuned; details continue to emerge as the world spins slowly out of control and the terrorism of the 21st century continues to spread like a zombie apocalypse as the shift in the global economies that have been opened up via free trade have left a growing majority without opportunities for employment and thus young people throughout the world, especially those living in third world countries, where they currently see no future or just the omnipresent military presence of global superpowers and as a result are easily led down the path into destruction and chaos. This scenario has now been played out in a shopping mall in Kenya the past week through the acts of a small group of Somali terrorists who had taken hostages in protest against the Kenyan government's military intervention in Somalia. Threats of more continued bloodshed abound if Kenya doesn't stop meddling, and unless Somalia can get their economy up and running in a hurry, more violence and life taking is sure to follow.

In the United States of Surveillance we call it the long goodbye, turned disgruntled employee, turned spurned ex-lover into the crazy lone gunman, so back to home grown messes of our own; another week goes by and another mass shooting, same as it ever was. This time, the mass shooting took place only four miles away from the White House in a Navy Yard. The alleged shooter, mentally disturbed Aaron Alexis, killed thirteen people with a sawed off shotgun and an automatic weapon. Was he just yet another in a long line of disgruntled former employees? A disgruntled former lover of someone who is currently employed at the naval yard? Or someone under the mind-control activities of a nefarious shadow government network group of plutocrats who was triggered by a key word or was it simply something that Kanye West said and how did he get weapons into a highly secure area? Many questions are yet to be answered.

During the past few months of my ongoing investigation into the degenerate dealings of the shadow governments apparatus of its' many antennae reach into every aspect of our lives, I stumbled upon a mind blowing, possibly only coincidental truth. For instance, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran all remain holdouts to joining the WTO (World Trade Organization); can it be that is why we are involved or threatening to involve ourselves militarily into their civil wars? These primarily strict (considered stone-age by western standards) Islamic countries do not practice Usury as a result of Islamic law. Could it be, that it isn't a Jihadist war against the Western world, but a struggle to remain independent and outside of the reach of the WTO and IMF? If they're not within the WTO, then the banksters cannot get their greedy hands on their money; it's as simple as that. All of this happens under the umbrella of the watchful eye of the BIS of Switzerland (Bank for International Settlements) which in and of itself could be nothing more than a front for what were formerly known as the Knights Templar, morphing into the Freemasons and operating behind the hidden hands of the Illuminati. But then again, this is all just speculation; but it sure is damn interesting isn't it?
Full Definition of USURY
1 : archaicinterest
2:  the lending of money with an interest charge for its use; especially:  the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates
3:  an unconscionable or exorbitant rate or amount of interest; specifically:  interest in excess of a legal rate charged to a borrower for the use of money 
In the months and days ahead, keep your eyes and ears open for more news about the TPP (Transpacific Partnership) which is nothing more than another in the long line of free-trade agreements (NAFTA, CAFTA, etc., etc…) that sound good in title, but do nothing more but open up slave wages for corporations to make more money. How long until social media is used to unite the workers of the world to demand and get living wages? Imagine what Karl Marx would've done with Twitter. Proletariat beware.

Kick’em When They’re Up, Kick’em When They’re Down

Here's Bachmann!!!!
Now onto another, some may say "mentally disturbed" individual, and no, I'm not talking about myself.  It appears that there are echoes through the chambers of Congress that Minnesota's own Representative Michelle Bachmann  may have fired a staffer who had seven children with an eighth on the way on Christmas Eve, all during the height of her campaign for President in 12'.  How’s that for Christian family values? Then again, we don’t know what that staffer allegedly did either. However, there is also the rumor that she used the Stuart Smalley technique of self-affirmation on the advice of her limp wrist-ed husband Marcus to decide on whether or not she should run for President. All of these details are just tidbits of allegations stemming from a disgruntled former staffer's tell-all e-book, which should be evidence enough of its fringe benefits. But I will let all of you decide upon that and all of this is occurring while the House Ethics Committee and the FBI slowly plod along with an investigation into her campaign finance irregularities. Once again, the reality sometimes trumps the make believe. 

Sincerely, until next time,
Thelonius Ronscpiacy

To end on a cultural note and one of much less dire circumstances and to that which fits more easily into the purview of what it means to be a media addicted mind of the 21st century; editor and blog creator, yours truly Jack Scharber, has viewed a couple of films recently, one not so good, the other not too bad and in the process been turned on to a relatively new cable television show as well, imagine that and I don’t even have cable.

Let me begin with the television show, the HBO breakout controversial hit, GIRLS. It is an everyday Halloween circus filled with tricks and treats and a decent enough soundtrack set in hipster-ville New York City, with this age group's more realistic Sex in the City young ladies trying to make ends meet. They navigate their young careers and manage to maintain healthy sexual relations with whomever they feel pulled to like an aphrodisiac magnet at that particular moment; like last call at a bar on a Saturday night. Cheers to creator Lena Dunham for showing the world those real looking women can be just as crass as young men on a construction site; but didn’t Bridesmaids do that already?  

Get this movie off me!!!
The most recently viewed film was 2011's Apollo 18. Consider it a lesser version of Paranormal Activity/Blair Witch Project, but only this time, it takes place on the moon. I reasoned that it would be little more than slightly amusing and for the first thirty minutes it was without the slightest hint of being watchable but I remained ever vigilant; thank you War on Terror. The plot centers around the premise that there is recently uploaded footage of a mission to the moon that supposedly didn't exist, i.e., what was once classified as a Department of Defense mission had leaked onto the Internet and only this time, Julian Assange wasn't named as the perpetrator. The viewer and the astronauts themselves are led to ask the question, "Why is the Defense department interested in the moon?" Once on the moon, you begin to hear strange noises, get static feedback from ground control (insert David Bowie reference here) apparently poor reception due to lack of coverage through the space dust, you continue to witness rock-like formations moving in the middle of the night; ohhhh, spooky moon rocks. Look out! The astronauts then stumble upon an abandoned Russian lunar module and its' accompanying dead cosmonaut. Why do we call them cosmonauts anyway?  The American astronauts are subsequently attacked by what look like extraterrestrial looking things that are hiding underneath moon rocks spider/crabs, the apparent results if a seedy strip club ever opened up on the moon. What started out as a horrible movie slowly progressed into a relatively decent waste of time. It’s  perfect for a Halloween in space with the classic science fiction clichés of alien life forms burrowing into the skin and space buddies left behind to drift aimlessly, much like the consumers of the world.

Of the last film, it was 2002's relatively disappointing The Sum of All Fears; the film came after the game changer to end all game changers, 9/11. It starred Ben Affleck  (watching the film, who would've thought he'd go on to a successful career directing; it’s hard to erase the image of him as O’Bannon in Dazed and Confused; proof once again of perseverance and hard work; then again who would've thought Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies would be an award winning actor/producer? i.e., look for Captain Phillips) and the always entertaining, seemingly typecast Morgan Freeman (if only they could get his voice for GPS navigation devices). The film was pre-Snowden, pre-Assange, pre-Chelsea Manning and pre-Argo. The scenario was that of a Neo-Nazi Xenophobic Eastern European plutocrat of the 21st century, who feared headscarves and Jewish ghettos as much as the current residents of the EU (in that way it is sort of prophetic) got his slithering anti-Semitic hands upon a nuclear weapon, all of which ironically fell into his lap via Israel's Yom Kippur war of 73’ with their eternal enemies in Lebanon and the surrounding area. The bomb was then put into a cigarette vending machine (smoking truly does kill) placed in the parking ramp of a sports stadium where the President was to be watching America's love affair with unintelligent athletes making way too much money fumbling over a piece of leather; putting Bane of the Dark Knight Rises to shame for only detonating the field of a football stadium (what a wuss). The whole film spiraled out of control into a "B" movie with a modestly large budget and once again Jack Ryan saved the world; all in a day's work for a low level CIA analyst.  Now, if only Edward Snowden could say the same thing; can you say disgruntled?

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