KingMidget's Ramblings

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When Will The Hate End

Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies

right-wingers dance on her grave.

Rush Limbaugh dies

left-wingers dance on his grave

California burns, power fades

red states cheer

Texas freezes, power fades

blue states cheer

How did we get here

When will it end

The loss of compassion

The disappearance of empathy

It is no longer human suffering

if I’m blue and you’re red

Loss and pain is instead celebrated

if I’m red and you’re blue

Let’s end the war

Let’s end the hate

Let’s end the rage

Hold out a hand to help

Those who suffer

Your brothers and sisters

Their blood the same as yours

They feel the same as you

They hurt as much as you

Stop

End

Begin anew

Or we will all hurt

We will all lose

We will all die

A Different Kind Of Rush

Lifelong fan of the band Rush. But my readers already know that.

Back in the late 1980s, I graduated from college with a useless degree and no discernible talent or skill except that I could type really fast. I got a job working in the Faculty Office at a law school in Sacramento. I was the receptionist/word processor/do a little bit of everything person. Until a couple of years later when I became an Executive Assistant for one of the Deans at the law school, and eventually went on to enroll at said law school. It was my work as a receiptionist/word processor/executive assistant that convinced me I needed to do something else.

When I worked in the Faculty Office, I would listen to the radio at my desk. For some reason back then, I listened to talk radio. On KFBK. And what was the morning show? Rush Limbaugh. I didn’t listen to him because I agreed with him. No, far from it. I listened to him because I couldn’t stand him and disagreed with almost everything he said. I remember one professor in particular couldn’t stand that I listened to him. But he never stopped me from doing so. I have this feeling that if I were to work in that office today and try to listen to the equivalent, I’d be banned from doing so.

Today, we learned that Rush Limbaugh has passed away. In response, there is the expected celebrations of his life and accomplishments on the right, and those on the left who are classless enough to be dancing on Limbaugh’s grave before it is even dug.

Rabbi Michael Adam Latz had this to say on Twitter today: I do not celebrate anyone’s death. But there are those for whom I cannot weep.

I think that’s exactly where I am at. I won’t ever celebrate anyone’s death. Although I’m thinking that if we had a Hitler today, I’d be celebrating that individual’s death, as would Rabbi Latz. But I also am not sad one single bit that Limbaugh has passed away.

As far as I’m concerned, Limbaugh is suspect #1 in terms of identifying who is ultimately responsible for the coarsening of our political debate, the use of constant and ever larger lies for political purposes, the propagandization of our politics, and the hyperpartisan divide fueled by demand for absolute fealty to the orthodoxy of the right (or of the left). Limbaugh’s success on a national level predates Fox News. He provided the ideas and the fuel for Newt Gingrich and the young Republicans of the 1990s, and he never stopped breathing his personalized toxic fire, trying as hard as he could to whip up the masses. He filled the air with lies and half-truths and he didn’t care, as long as he had fans and made his millions.

So no. I won’t celebrate his death, but I also will certainly not weep.

A Weekend Walk

A few weeks ago, I posted some pictures from a walk in the Cosumnes River Preserve. I stated then that I was going to do that walk every weekend. As with all such promises, things came up and I didn’t make it there the last couple of weekends. I made it there this morning and offer to you today’s special … the trails of the Cosumnes River Preserve.

Towards the end of the walk, a huge flock of what appear to be Canadian geese approached the preserve. It’s impossible to do the size and scope of the block with pictures, but here are a few as they circled and gathered and landed.

And finally … I think I’ve found my calling. I’m going to become a wildlife butt photographer. Four weeks ago, it was a duck butt. Three weeks ago, a Canadian goose butt. Today, a special treat. A duck butt party.

Why Star Trek Is Like The Rolling Stones

At least for me.

I’ve written occasionally about my dislike for the Rolling Stones. I may have even said once or twice, or maybe 227 times, that the Rolling Stones are the most over-rated rock band in the history of over-rated rock bands. There’s a reason for this.

I came of age when it comes to rock music in the late 70s and early 80s. At the time, the Rolling Stones were putting out absolute crap music. A sound that to me was pretty damn close to fingernails on a chalkboard. And then there was Mick with his pouty lips and his swagger. His whole persona was just too much.

That for me was the Rolling Stones. Yes, in their earlier years, they had a few incredible songs. But, for me the Rolling Stones will always be the schlock they were when I first heard them on the radio. Nothing will ever change that. As a result, I go out of my way not to listen to them.

If you like the Rolling Stones, good for you. I won’t take that away from you. Even if you like the Rolling Stones of the late 70s and early 80s, and ever since then. You got your thing going. Go for it. I’ll never be able to like them.

So, how is Star Trek like the Rolling Stones? The original TV show aired from 1966-1969. I doubt that I ever saw it during its original run. But there was a time during my childhood when reruns of the show were a daily occurrence on one of the local TV stations. (For all you kids out there, this was before the internet, before streaming, before even cable or satellite TV. Back then, we had six TV stations to watch, and one of them was PBS.)

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

We didn’t get to watch a lot of TV when we were kids. Our parents preferred that we do useful things like playing outside, reading books, playing games, and socializing with each other and our friends. I know … ugh! But … when we were sick, we were tucked away in our rooms with a small black and white TV. (For all you kids out there, this was before 55″ screens were the norm. A big TV back then was 19″. And color. That little black and white TV was, I think, 13 inches. You plugged it in, played with the antenna on it and hoped you could get a clear picture.)

But those days were golden. Sitting in my bed, using three boxes of kleenex a day, coughing up my lungs, and watching TV the whole time. Game shows like The Price is Right, the original Jeopardy, and Let’s Make a Deal. And reruns of Dick Van Dyke, other bygone sitcoms, and … yes … Star Trek.

The first Star Trek movie arrived in 1979. I was 15 then and had years of sick day Star Trek reruns under my belt. The updated, new edition of Star Trek on TV didn’t arrive until 1987.

But by 1979, none of it really mattered. The original Star Trek was campy, low tech, horribly acted schlock. Even at that early age, I had an aversion to schlock and campy. (Unless it was and is Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Then I’m all about the camp and th schlock.) I remember all these years later wondering why anybody would make a Star Trek movie and, even more importantly, why anybody would actually pay money to see said movie. I thought the franchise was long buried. That it came back just proves that whatever was old will one day be new again. Bell botoms anybody?

Since then, I’ve never seen a Star Trek movie. I’ve never even considered it. I can’t get past my concept of what Star Trek is — based entirely on that 1960s TV show. I never watched any of the new TV iterations of Star Trek either. It’s just a no go for me. Much like the Rolling Stones. Sometimes first impressions become life-long aversions.

Meanwhile, in case you think I’m completely without hope on these types of things… As a kid I watched the original Batman TV show. Now … talk about camp and schlock. Family lore suggests that as a four-year-old kid I would run the house like I was Batman, singing “na-na-na-na-na, Batman!!” And although that show was just as bad as Star Trek was in the camp and schlock department, it didn’t stop me from a life-long love of the Batman character. Batman movies are the only superhero movies I’ll pay money to see these days. I don’t know, maybe a bat bit me once.

What are your entertainment no-gos and why?

This And That

I occasionally make a more serious attempt to put a halt to my daily beer habit. Sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I’m not. A few years ago, I stopped for a few months. Occasionally, I stop for a few days or a week or two. Last summer, I didn’t drink any beer for the month of July. At one point, I decided to try a non-alcoholic beer for the first time. It was an IPA from Surreal Brewing Company, and it was the worst thing I’d ever put into my mouth. Worse even than the Greek lasagna my mom made when I was a kid and we ended up all having McDonald’s for dinner.

After that NA IPA experience, I swore off all NA beers. And after July came and went, I resumed my nightly beer habit. Until this month. At the beginning of the year, I developed my 21 for 21 list. At #11 on the list is a commitment to go beer-free for three months. I started January 1. Today is the end of my first month. Except for one beer I had the first week of January while waiting for some pizza, I’ve had no alcohol this month. But I did return to exploring NA beers and here’s what I’ve discovered. The hoppier the beer, the worse it is. Some pilsners and lagers are remarkably close to the “real thing.” But those IPAs and similarly hopped beers are just ghastly. Horrible. There are no words that really describe just how bad they are. I also found a stout that was a reasonable facsimile of the real thing. My favorite so far — Bitburger’s NA Pilsner. I really can’t tell the difference.

But next up … no NA beer in February and March. And then we’ll see where I want to go with this.

* * * * *

GameStop and the hullabaloo of the last week. I find this whole thing fascinating. The “masters of the universe” have engaged in legalized gambling on the stock market for decades. They have strategies and tactics that guarantee that they will make money no matter what direction the market goes in. Hedge funds are some of the most vile of these people. They are opaque, control billions and billions of dollars, and manipulate the market however they can to ensure their profit.

Investing is a zero sum game. So, if those guys win, the rest of us lose. And that’s basically what happens over and over and over again.

That some nobodies, guys in their basements, ladies on their phones, and all sorts of common folk found a hole and leapt into it to knock the “masters” down a peg is a thing of beauty. I do have a small worry that this is kind of like Pandora’s Box, and the people behind this may have opened up something that will spread and create much larger problems for all investeors. But I’m still thrilled, at this moment, with what they did. Here’s my prediction. The regulators will figure out a way to outlaw what they did, while continuing to allow the legalized gambling and manipulation the big guys engage in every single day.

* * * * *

I had a bit of an epiphany a couple of days ago. Why do I write stories? Why do I keep plugging away at novels, novellas, and short stories? Well, I can’t really say that I’m plugging away a lot as I still struggle with it, but I do keep trying. The question is … why? Because I want to make people feel.

There are a couple of recent situations that have reinforced this. First, Trent Lewin read The Irrepairable Past and wrote a wonderful review about how it made him feel. Whenever I read that review, I am reminded of what it is I’m trying to do when I write. Which ties into the second thing…

A friend asked me for some book recommendations. He is a relentless reader, easily reading more books in a year than I probably read in three. He is a history teacher so a lot of what he reads is non-fiction to fuel his interest in that topic. He also reads a lot of Eastern European and Russian novelists. Because of his typical reading, I was reluctant to go where I wanted to with my recommendations, but I did anyway.

I offered to him my holy trinity of books: Everything Matters, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and The Book Thief. I also offered him a few books about the Iraq War, and also The Final Salute, an absolute gut punch of a book that tells the story of a couple of officers who are responsible for notifying the next of kin about a combat death. And finally, I recalled another book I wanted to recommend to him. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

He recently finished Everything Matters and The Art of Racing in the Rain, and is now on to The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. While he has read these books, he has texted me his thoughts and feelings, and it’s clear that these books have moved him just as they moved me. These are the books that have left me in tears, the books that have left me spoiled when it comes to reading fiction. I want that feeling every time I read a book now and, unfortunately, that kind of feeling doesn’t come often enough when I read.

But … this is why I write. I want to write something that helps or makes readers feel something. The thing is that even though the parts of those books that made me cry were the “sad” moments, the sadness was sweetened by something in the way the writer told the story. There was more there than just the sadness of a death or some other trauma. These stories go into things much deeper than just a death. They left me, amidst my tears, feeling such a sense of hope and renewed purpose in my life.

This is why I write these days. I want that feeling for my readers. I only hope that I achieve it every now and then. Trent’s review gives me hope that I might be able to.

Here is the quote from Everything Matters that I’ve shared on this blog before. It is my favorite from any book I’ve ever read. It says everything that needs to be said about life.

Everything matters not in spite of the end of you and all that you love, but because of it. Everything is all you’ve got — your wife’s lips, your daughter’s eyes, your brother’s heart, your father’s bones and your own grief — and after Everything is nothing. So you were wise to welcome Everything, the good and the bad alike, and cling to it all. Gather it in. Seek the meaning in sorrow and don’t ever turn away, not once, from here until the end. Because it is all the same, it is all unfathomable, and it is all infinitely preferable to the one dreadful alternative.

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