Archive for November, 2019

Ghosts in your mind

Fight the voices, beat them down
They want you to go and act a clown.
Intrusions into your private space
a disembodied man, no longer part of the race.

Separate the real from the emotion you feel.
Do you have the capacity to visualize
to see, to grasp and sense
that which can’t be bought, no dollars no cents.

It’s a strange game, a dance with no delight.
A thrust, a parry, a woe begotten fight.
No partner in this twirl
There ain’t no more an ”I’m your girl.”

Just you and your voices, the ones you can’t silence.
They don’t ask permission, nothing you can find.
Unannounced, uninvited,
they’re ghosts in your mind.

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I saw two completely different movies in the last couple days. The first was Bong Joon-ho’s genre bending masterpiece “Parasite” and the other Roland Emmerich’s CGI epic “Midway”. Both are quite entertaining and well crafted. Parasite follows two Korean families as their lives intersect and come together. The families are poles apart in socio-economic status. One family are skilled long game grifters who gradually weave their devious plot to take over the lives of an innocently naive uber wealthy family. The film moves thru comedy, tragedy and horror with impressive ease. Bong Joon-ho has framed the movie in a tight and orderly linear fashion and each scene could stand alone as a vignette outside the main script. The movie is superbly cast, with no one character dominating. They all work seamlessly and imbue their characters with believability that will impress and at times shock you. It is a masterful piece of movie making, well deserving its Palme D’or award.

Contrast this with Midway. This epic about the famous WW II naval battle between Japan and USA is a techie’s dream. The real star is the computer generated imagery, with battle scenes and explosions and wide angle shots of naval fleets churning thru the ocean or burning out of control. I found myself amazed at how far we have progressed in our command of computers and even flinched on occasion as airplane parts came flying at me. The battle is told thru the eyes of the actors, each with a unique and honest perspective of their place in the bigger scheme of macro war. The Japanese are not painted as ogres or comic book characters such as those that smeared Hollywood Western movie making years ago. Midway is a pure unadulterated Hollywood escape movie, crafted to entertain you while still providing a relatively unbiased view of history.

I don’t prefer one over the other. It really depends on your frame of mind as you enter the movie theatre. If you want a shocking thinkers movie that showcases a director’s grasp of script writing then go see Parasite. If you want to be entertained and just escape for a couple hours but still walk away satisfied then go see Midway.

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This is a chapter from my book “Alphabet Animals”. If you enjoy it and want to read more, there are 26 in total. One for each letter of the alphabet, ergo “Alphabet Animals”. Order a copy from Amazon or Lulu or BN and look for it by entering “Alphabet Animals Hilary”. Happy reading!

Diana was getting tired of just following rules all the time. She was not a radical dolphin by any stretch. Diana was just a teenage dolphin who had only recently turned thirteen. It’s not as if she had spent a whole lot of time on her own. Her mom and dad would leave her for a few hours at a time when they went fishing, but they would always return and Diana was with the pod for the times mom and dad were away. So in fact, she had never been alone. As she swam around in lazy circles she thought

“Why not? Why shouldn’t I explore a little? What could go wrong?”

She was so bored with her routine. And being a teenager, she compared herself to the other teens in the pod. But they were all 15 and older. She was the youngest of the group.
“It’s not fair that I can’t go fishing on my own when all the others do.”
But Diana failed to recognize that those two years made a big difference. Sure the other teens went away on their own, but never totally alone. There were always two or three who went fishing together. Diana was determined on this particular day. So when the adults were distracted by a huge grey whale, she zipped into overdrive and swam away from the pod.

“I’ll always know where they are from all that sonar pinging and clicking. Sometimes that noise drives me crazy!”

Well, considering how strong dolphins are, it took but a mere minute before she was totally on her own, zipping thru the water. She pinged with delight, delighted in hearing her own pings, but then caught herself and said “I better be quiet or everybody will know I’ve gone.”
Diana swam further than she had ever gone before. In fact, she swam directly into the path of a pack of marauding sharks! They could not see her, but her super dolphin sonar gave her the heads up before they clued in.

“Oh no, I have to hide, what am I going to do?” she said to herself. “If those sharks see me I’m for sure going to die. Oh me oh my!”

The sharks were getting closer and closer. If Diana did not act right away, she was a goner. “Oh my, what was I thinking going off on my own?” But this was no time to panic. She had to act. Diana dove down, deeper and deeper. She was losing light, but that was no matter to a dolphin. Her sonar told her that she was near a shelf. If she could make it to that, she could hide underneath it as the sharks passed overhead. She picked up her pace and did a sharp nose dive to the right. Diana ducked under a rock outcropping that was about 20 ft deep. “It should be enough” she nervously muttered. And then she waited. And waited. With the rock above her she could not determine if the sharks were there or not. She knew that if they had caught sound of her she would never see her pod again. And still she waited. Diana lay there as quietly as she could, not moving a muscle. Several minutes went by and still she waited. Diana knew that she better give the sharks as long as she could hold her breath. Her life depended on it. They were definitely the longest minutes of her life. Lucky for her, there were no other sea creatures to give away her position. Finally, she decided it must be OK. So she peeked out from the rock but only to look. She understood that to make any ping at this time would be a sure give away. No sign of the sharks!

“Oh thank you sea lord, for watching over me” she said, and then as slowly and quietly as she could (dolphins are very good at swimming without making any noise) she headed for the surface.

You would have thought that was enough excitement for one day. But no. Diana now felt empowered and wanted to see more of this forbidden world. Well, not really forbidden, just undiscovered. So she swam away in the opposite direction of the sharks. More amazing sights beheld her. She dipped her way through a massive bed of kelp, the red/green strands dipping and dancing like some orchestra of streamers.

A school of jelly fish were also bobbing and weaving up ahead. Diana knew to avoid those. She had learned in dolphin school that one bite from them and you could find yourself paralyzed.

As she was marveling at the sight, a strange kathump, kathump sound beat out from behind the jelly fish.

“Now that sounds a lot like those boats that we were told in school to avoid at all costs. But why on earth should we not be allowed to see new things?” she mused. So without giving it too much additional thought (Diana as you can see was being led by her desire to explore, and ignoring a lot of the rules she had learned) she gave the jelly fish a wide berth and headed for the sound. “Oh, it is so good to be free and on my own” she chirped in delight, having so soon forgotten the almost disastrous experience with the sharks.

Bang! She was stopped dead in her tracks. Could not move forward, could not move backward. “What is going on?” she said. Diana tried to do a power dive, but to no avail. She could not make any movement at all, aside from a little waggle of her tail fin. And the more she tried, the less she could move. Diana had swum right into the fishing trawler’s net! She was caught tight. Locked in place by miles of mesh.

“Oh me, oh my!” she cried. But the more she thrashed and moved, the tighter the net grabbed at her. “Could this be my end? After beating those sharks could I be caught in this net forever?”

Well, not forever. As fate would have it, this entire process was being watched by a wise old sea turtle. This was a massive leather-back, probably about 400 years old. And it patiently watched as Diana continued her thrashing. It glided over to her, careful to avoid the net movement. This turtle had not got to be centuries old without having learned about sea dangers, trawler nets being at the top of its list of things to avoid. Diana noticed the turtle and gasped. “Help me Mr. Turtle, please help me.” The turtle said nothing just floated along and watched. “Oh please Mr. Turtle, can you not help me?”

The turtle looked her right in the eyes and said “So how is it that you, a young dolphin if I may say so, has found yourself alone in such a predicament?” Diana responded. “Oh wise turtle, I decided to go see the world on my own. I was so tired of following rules, and now look at me.”

“Well, first of all stop your thrashing about; it is only making things worse. The more you panic, the tighter the net gets” said Mr. Turtle. And so Diana stopped her thrashing about.

“There, now maybe we can take a closer look and see what we have here” said Mr. Turtle. He carefully moved to within a few meters of Diana and did a closer inspection. Diana started to wiggle again. The turtle moved back. “Now see here Missy, if you don’t stop your panicking, you will be in a dearly awful mess.” So Diana stopped and listened.

“Now” said the turtle “I can probably get you out of this mess, but you have to promise me something.” “Anything” said Diana “Anything you say, I just want to get back to my pod”.
“OK then” said Mr. Turtle. “Here is how we’re going to do this. You have to promise me that you will not make any movement while I work. Because if you do you put us both in danger. Second, I will guide you back to your pod. I know where they are. And you young lady, will promise to never again, at least until you are much older, to go gallivanting about on your own. Is that a deal?”

“Oh yes, wise old turtle, I will gladly do this. I’ve seen quite enough of the sea world on my own today. It can be a dangerous place if one is not prepared.”

So having come to that agreement, the turtle proceeded to carefully gnaw its way through the mesh. One by one, it released the nasty trawler net, chewing away and all the while being very careful to not get caught in any drift. This process took about 45 minutes to accomplish, and Diana was finally released. She chirped in joy, and swam happy circles around the turtle. “Thank you, thank you thank you, thank you!” And with that, she followed Mr. Turtle along. “Can’t you swim any faster please? I do want to get back to my pod.” The turtle looked at her and said, “Missy, remember our deal. You follow me and I will get you safely back.” And so they wound their way thru the deep blue sea, arriving at her pod some 2 hours later where Dianna was greeted with chirps of joy from her pod, and where thanks were offered to the wise sea turtle.

Don’t leave home before you are ready and never go somewhere without telling your mom and dad. And never panic, think the situation through and you will find a solution.

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Retrospective analysis of history is invading our current thinking like a virus that is immune to all antibiotics. There is a relentless march to reexamine events from 150 years ago as if this somehow will make amends and atone for injustices suffered by peoples who lived in those times. In the community where I live, there now simmers a discussion about the appropriateness of reinstalling a beautiful bronze sculpture of our country’s founding father Sir John A. Macdonald. Apparently Sir John said some disparaging things, in the context of today’s interpretation of those times, about indigenous peoples. This is the man who forged a united nation out of disparate and widely dispersed cultures and peoples. He made this country. Without Sir John A. Macdonald’s heroic efforts who knows if we would today even have such a beautiful nation called Canada. And the sculpture depicts a period in his life when he was a student at law, a teenager, defending a client. We are celebrating his connection to this community. It is an absolute abomination called political correctness that threatens to usurp our independent thinking. I’m sick of it. Move on. Live in today. Make a better world from this day forward but don’t engage in revisionist interpretation of history. Sir John A. Macdonald lived in a completely different time with entirely different standards than we enjoy today. Celebrate this great man for the incredible work he did in uniting us, in creating our nation. Yes, everybody has the right to express themselves, to publish their grievances. But to try and eliminate the first Prime Minister of this country from the history books smacks of totalitarianism, communism and all other philosophies that have attempted to deny and rewrite history. That is not the country he forged. Recognize his faults, yes. But celebrate the incredible amalgamation of peoples that he directed. Canada.

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USA in decline

I’ve watched some of the recent public hearings addressing impeachment fact finding re President Trump. One of the witnesses, a decorated war veteran, wore his formal dress military uniform to the hearings. This decision was actually mocked by the President and others. They had the audacity to question motive behind this soldier’s decision. This is truly astonishing in its ignorance. That anybody’s clothing, especially a war hero, should have to justify one’s visual appearance while providing testimony under oath. Is it not the content that is under scrutiny at such proceedings? America’s political leaders have sunk to such a low in their actions, that even embarrassment no longer captures how the rest of the world perceives this country. What was once the pillar of democracy, the undisputed leader of the free world, is quickly degenerating into another autocratic dictatorship led by buffoons and persons of questionable moral and ethical authority. Instead of being celebrated, sacrifice and service to one’s country are now met with mockery and derision. Even though the US economy is booming, what value is money and material prosperity when the moral compass is spinning out of control? Thank God there are still countries in the world (Estonia for example) that place a premium on people who serve in the military. Soldiers defend not only our physical terrain but they uphold morality and values of a society. We must never lose respect for those who put their lives at risk so we can live comfortably and peacefully.

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Changing Seasons

There is a mist hanging over the lake
A harbinger of season’s change
Winter and its relentless cold is coming
Unavoidable bone chilling cold.

The weather transition mirrors my thoughts
I visualize warmth and sunshine.
Concepts that nature hides from me now
How can I bridge that gap?

Magazines advertising hedonistic escapes
Commercials throwing laughter and heat.
There is an explosion of get away ideas
Like movie trailers and doors wide open.

Teasers for your emotions
Come sit and enjoy or step on thru
Behold the wonders that await you
We’ll attend to every need, you need do nothing.

But like the mist that morning sunshine scatters
the promise of escape recedes.
It was only illusion, a two dimensional presentation
leaving you alone. Cold. Again.

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Writer’s block

Writing is hard work. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. The discipline it takes to sit every day and try to punch out some new words is exhausting. There are moments of lucidity and brilliance when things just seem to flow naturally. But a lot of the time, at least for this writer, it is a tiring slog thru the mud. Some days I stare at my monitor and cannot even put a word down. I do my “Artist’s Way” word exercises each morning. Not convinced that it helps the ‘real’ writing, but if for no other reason it feels good to simply tap a stream of consciousness onto paper. Figuratively paper, I am eco conscious and don’t print unless I absolutely need a hard copy. I digress. I looked at the archive of material I have posted to this blog and am thankful I still have things to say. The need to express oneself is powerful. Why do I write? Because I have to! It is an effective tool for uncluttering the brain as well. Especially these days when personal drama is near to overwhelming. So I sit and write. Pondering the monetizing of this site. Forgive me dear readers if you start seeing pop up ads. But it does appear to be a tool for generating some revenue. And let’s not kid ourselves. We could all use extra coin! But for today’s post it seems you are stuck with this meandering stream. Hasta manana!

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When a marriage collapses, the multitude of emotions that explode and reveal themselves is quite extraordinary. Things that were buried for years and hidden under layers of defenses become manifest. Your periods of self recrimination and self worth can quickly erode to the blackness of self loathing. It’s a dangerous jump that is all too easy to make. One moment you are questioning your worth and before you know it the self flagellation begins. And the longer you wallow in this pit of despair the more valid and real become those retrospective memories. Things that before seemed neutral and inconsequential acquire meaning. Validity. They serve to reinforce the reasons your partner has presented. The why. You never did this. You stopped doing that. You never listened. It can go on and on if you are not careful to snuff it out. You become what you think. And being alone during these periods is a sword that cuts the wound deeper. Get out. Go into town. Be around others. It’s never as bad as it seems to you. After a while it is no longer your partner who severed the connection. The one who stole your joy. You are the one who is plunging that blade deeper into your heart. And you are the one who must remove it. Reflecting on these things in isolation will drive you to a point where eventually there is no return. So if you keep thinking darkness, then darkness will envelop you . You will become darkness. It’s up to you. Is your day going to be a giant abyss or are you going to force shafts of light into the nooks and openings that are there. It is impossible to find the light if walls surround you. Nothing can penetrate a physical shield. You really do need to seek company. You don’t have to engage with others. Just be around others. Your life awaits your choice. It’s up to you. Seek the light.

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Lost in my reflections I try to find a seed
something to hold onto
germinate a need.

Emptiness overtakes me
and drives me further down
a pit of self reflection
a well in which I drown.

Overwhelming darkness cloaks my very being.
I can’t escape the shadows
that rush into my mind.

Doubt, despair, brooding introspection
rotate in my skull
a vortex of depression.

Vision disappears as light fades away
even though it is the height of day.
The brightness that was so profound
has sunk away, buried in the ground.

Hope and gladness, joy and life
gone to places I can’t reach
like my wife.

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Cancel Culture

I’m enjoying a coffee in The Barley Room on a brisk Autumn night . Reading the NY Times Sunday edition. Fascinating and often informative essays. There was a lengthy piece about a disturbing concept, nay, a phenomenon called ‘cancel culture’ which has apparently recently sprung forth. This phenomenon is a kind of social and cultural shunning. Sometimes taken by wide swaths of people and often based on wrong and insidiously malicious information. It involves the ‘canceling’ of one’s social media contacts. Hitting the unfollow button. Or the cancel symbol. You become locked out of all social media interaction. Your so-called friends may have read something about you which is contrary to their ethical and moral and other guiding principles and they shut you out of their lives. Even to the point of not engaging in personal contact, let alone cyber contact in the nebulously murky world of the internet. But the interesting thing about this new reality was to learn about the liberating impact such a seemingly radical and hurtful slap in the face has had on many whose culture has been canceled. Liberating. I read that and thought Wow! That little tool we all carry around with us, often 24/7, is an enslaving thing. So being liberated from its clutches made a lot of sense. Those canceled culturites were presented with a new portal, an opening to a world of warmth and engagement. Personal contact. Personal discussion. With other people who had been similarly canceled. Wild! An entirely new social sub culture created from collateral damage of the internet. A circle of friendship that understands nuance. Patience. Color. Diversity. One of the interviewees said the cancellation had made him more empathetic. Now there’s a quality of character that could be added to many of us. With nothing but positive result. Cancel culture eh? I think I might embrace that! Cancel me. Please.

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