Friday, November 9, 2018

Do you believe in magic?

When I sent this topic to Ramana for our weekly blog, I neglected to mention what its inspiration was. John Sebastian, a superb artist, songwriter and musician, was playing with the band in a club in New York when he noticed a young lady  dancing. This was early in the bands history and he said it was like magic watching how she reacted to the music. Now, considering the time frame there could possibly have been some chemicals involved, but this song was the result. 

Do you believe in magic in a young girl's heart

How the music can free her whenever it starts 
And it's magic, if the music is groovy 
It makes you feel lovely like an old time movie 
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul 
But it's like tryin' to tell a stranger 'bout rock and

My readers know how important music is to me. Do I believe in the magic of music? Absolutely.

Image result for last supper

Artists have been painting and drawing throughout recorded history. In fact cave drawings are the earliest form of recorded history available. From cave paintings to Dali and all others, art is purely magical.I suspect most people have an artist or two that cast a spell over them with their work.Here are a couple of my faves.There are art styles and artists sufficient to appeal to almost anyone.

Image result for van gogh

You say you like to read about magic? J.K. Rowling's best selling Harry Potter series of books inspired millions of kids to read a fairly complex series of books. But you re an adult you say? Might I suggest  Jim Fishers Harry Dresden series which I was inspired to read thanks to an email from best selling author Dana Stabenow - author of one of my favorite mystery series featuring Alaskan investigator Kate Shugak.

Image result for harry dresden

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I'd say that qualifies as a sort of magic on the printed page.

Have you ever listened to radio dramas? Stepped back in time to those thrilling days of yesteryear? Give this a listen - and   while listening imagine stumbling across this on the radio dial one day in the 1930s and missing the intro.             

Magic? Considering the wide spread panic this broadcast caused, I would say this qualifies as magic.

Movie magic shows itself in many forms. There is the story - a well thought out story can enchant an audience, Then there is the most obvious form of movie magic - special effects. That form of  magic has grown in leaps and bounds since the early days and frankly often the effects detract from a film. Not this one though.

When special effects are combined with a fun story the resulting movie itself is magical - like Jurassic Park, my choice for the greatest popcorn movie (my term for a movie that is just plain fun to watch) of all time,  although Jaws will always be right up there.

Magicians have been around for centuries, These days they typically call themselves illusionists,, although those purveyors of close up tricks call themselves magicians. I prefer Penn and Teller for magic.

Penn and Teller have a summer TV show called Fool Us where magicians try to fool Penn and Teller with techniques and tricks - in other words, How did you do that? If you enjoy magic, coin and  card tricks, mentalism and even some classic magician stuff.  Here is a sample.

Magic. It takes many shapes and forms, and is not necessarily the same for everybody.. There are the wonders of nature, numerology,tarot, ouija boards, and what a good friend says is the magical way life unfolds before us. So when asked "Do you believe in magic? My answer is a resounding yes.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings for his take on today's subject. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The politics of blogging

Blogging can be extremely frustrating for myriad reasons. In every blogging group I have participated there are times that it feels like a 13-year old gossip session with people ganging up on a single blogger to complain about what or how that blogger says things on their blog.

If a particular blogger offends your sensibilities I say make an attempt to work it out with that blogger one on one. Problem solved? Everyone lives to blog another day in a civil manner. Problem not resolved? Try ignoring  that bloggers blog and comments on blogs you both read. Both parties live to blog another day and skip the frustration of dealing with each other. 

If you simply cannot ignore that blogger's writing then deal with it and quit complaining.- clearly you relish the disagreement more than you are willing to admit and like a good fight. That is fair/fine. Just be honest  about it. Dunno about all y'all, but I loved debate class- put me on either side of the topic  and let the fun begin. I enjoy the battle.

The single caveat I suggest is be civil. It isn't that hard. If you cannot be civil, stay away from here. If the civility of any comment is in question, when you engage on my blog you follow my rules. If that us a problem there are lots of places to read blogs that I am sure you will find more rewarding than Shackman speaks. And, if you feel you cannot participate here because someone who regularly does so offends your sensibility then Happy Trails.

Like the Vaughn Meter line in his old JFK comedy album goes, "When you play with my ball you play by my rules.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Reason for Being

When I first saw Ramana's choice for this weeks topic I immediately thought great - I will just find  a tube of lipstick, slap some on this pig and be done with it. Then I thought what the hell - I will just be honest and let it all hang out. Please know that I am in no way feeling sorry for myself - I accept full responsibility for everything that has gone on in my 69 years here on the third rock from the sun - good, bad and indifferent.

Truth be told life has not been particularly pleasant for several years. In fact I'd have to say it has sucked. Nothing leaps to mind that qualifies as a reason for being. I have discussed the tale of Lynn's passing and we are now dealing with my daughter Jamie's HD diagnosis. Then of course there is the 50/50 chance each of her three kids has HD. And Sean, my middle thirties aged son refuses to have the diagnostic test as he is afraid it will ruin his attitude for life. And, of course he has two children who may well inherit the disease if he does in fact have it. I can understand his reticence - we all saw  Lynn essentially give up and sit around and wait until she  as died. Of course there were the bouts of violence directed at Jamie and I - Sean not so much because he was rarely around because of the strained relationship with his sister and girl friend and the fact that Jamie and I do not get along at all for reasons I will not get into here. And the relationship has grown more strained since Jamie's diagnosis as she blames me for everything. Why did we have kids? Why do I not have a large insurance policy to take care of her? Who is going to take care of her? Dysfunction junction - otherwise known as my family - is never a dull moment.  The mountains of stress it heaps upon one are immeasurable. 

The simple fact of the matter is that a reliable HD test was not devised until the early 1990s. When the entire topic of HD was revealed to us by Lynn's mother, there was nothing reliable. Lynn went through the protocol and was judged HD free. Her mother lied and never mentioned Lynn's father had HD until his brother died from HD many years after Lynn's father passed. It was not until we had been in Texas several years when circumstances arose that led to Lynn's being tested again and this time testing positive for HD. To this day I remember the call from the Dr's office passing on the fact that Lynn's remaining time was limited and a good percentage of it would not be pleasant.

So now Jamie has essentially seen what her life will be like and she resents it. Can't say that I blame her, She appears to be on a similar trajectory to Lynn's - time wise. It is too early to tell if she will have the exact same symptoms as Lynn. That not only stamps Jamie's sell by date on her forehead it does the same with mine - with the caveat I live that long. That is something I highly doubt will happen as I have health issues that will likely prevent my lasting that long. 

Then there was the pipe dream, that was a reason to hope for a better outcome. An old friend and I agreed to play the lottery and if one of us won, we'd establish a base in a place called Nevada City, CA and use it as a base for an extended road trip, just hanging out and having a good time. We are great friends, we have known each other about 50 years and thought that would be a great end to things. Silly - I know but like I said, it was something to hope for and laugh about. She has been diagnosed with cancer - a dream crusher. Another reason life sucks.

I cannot count the number of times some well meaning Christian friend posts feel good little sayings about how when god closes a door he opens another one or some such nonsense. My experience shows that god waits until my hand is on the door and then she slams it on me. There must be something about me that just pisses her off but that is fine. It is what it is. And now my favorite baseball player of all time has died. A soul  crusher for me. RIP Willie McCovey.

So, you will forgive me if I say at the moment I do not see a reason for being nor will I waste my time looking. I am just gonna lay low and see what happens. The country is in jeopardy because the person we elected President is a self-serving  liar, narcissist and amoral sociopath. None of that bodes well for our future. The hatred that permeates our politics shows no hope of letting up. 45 continues to insult our allies and cozy up to authoritarian figures around the world. He is strapping future generations with unmanageable debt. 

So, my friends,  that is my take on  A Reason for Being. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see whet he has to say.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


This weeks topic is History. Let's take a look at what is written about the past. 

I suspect most of us take history for  granted when we are in school. Many are even bored by history. That is a pity because most people are not even aware of real history. History is written by the winners. It includes the built-in bias of the winners and so most history is spun to reflect the winners point of view. I'd wager it is safe to say there is as much unsaid as is logged and labeled history. 
It has become fashionable these days to speak in glowing terms of the people who drove the engine of industry that grew the USA into the titan it is today. We have conveniently forgotten they were called Robber Barons for  reason. Robber baron - a person who has become rich through ruthless and unscrupulous business practices (originally with reference to prominent US businessmen in the late 19th century). These days the current version typically runs a large investment fund. But little is said about our robber baron history.

Take a look at Native Americans - without doubt one of the most repressed groups in history. Take a look at the term genocide - the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. What  happened to Native Americans at  the direction of the US government was genocide but rarely is the term used. Now we grumble about the gambling facilities built on tribal lands. Giving the tribes sovereignty over the land we so graciously gave up in treaty after treaty was fine as long as the land was useless but when the tribes found a way to get something of value, many were not pleased. Our treatment of Native Americans is nothing short of blatant racism.

Winston Churchill - the great statesman from the UK is looked upon as a racist war criminal to people in India. Blogger Aman Spandan says "Churchill was a staunch imperialist who never wanted India to be independent. He had expressed his disgust at 'a half naked fakir parleying with the British' when Mahatma Gandhi attended the Round Table Conference. Again, as the British PM, he refused to talk about granting India independence, saying he had not 'become His Majesty's first minister to preside over the liquidation of the British empire'. So, his other qualities apart, Churchill was no friend of India and it is natural for Indians to have no love for him.

During the devastating Bengal famine, it was the abominable Churchill who refused to divert food grain produced by Indians to save starving Indians.

By 1943 hordes of starving people were flooding into Calcutta, most  dying on the streets." 

That is a significant chunk of history to gloss over when discussing Churchill.

History you probably were not taught in school ............

  • Did you know that Joe Kennedy Sr - patriarch of the Kennedy clan was an anti Semite and Nazi sympathizer? 
  • After Pope Gregory IX associated cats with devil worship, cats throughout Europe were exterminated in droves. This sudden lack of cats led to the spread of disease because infected rats ran free. The most devastating of these diseases, the Bubonic Plague, killed 100 million people. Karma
  • Beginning in 1909 (and continuing into the 1970s), the Australian government instituted a policy of removing Aboriginal children from their parents and teaching them to reject their Aboriginality.
  • In 1917, Margaret Sanger was jailed for one month for establishing the first birth control clinic.
  • African-American men were not deemed equal members of the Mormon Church until 1978.  This was not a pure "color" issue as there were Polynesians who were never excluded, but interestingly enough BYU developed a nationally ranked football team shortly after the Mormon church president spoke to God and this change happened. Coincidence? Probably. Read about this "revelation" in Wikipedia here.
  • After finding a 36,000 year old steppe bison preserved in the ice, Alaskan zoology professor R. Dale Guthrie and his team ate some of its flesh. Guthrie said "the meat was well aged but still a little tough." They should have cooked it low and slow. 
  • The Spanish Inquisition issued a death sentence to all of the residents of the Netherlands. 
  • BeforeAbraham Lincoln became a politician, he was a champion wrestler. With more than 300 bouts under his belt, Lincoln only lost  one match in his career and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall Of Fame in 1992.
  • Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima when the first atom bomb was dropped. He then traveled home to Nagasaki the day before the second atom bomb was dropped. He survived both and lived to be 93.
  • During the 1800s in the United States, it was considered a cruel and unusual punishment to feed lobster to prisoners and convicts.
  • When the American Civil War started, Confederate Robert E. Lee owned no slaves. Union general U.S. Grant did.
  • When famed scientist Nikola Tesla passed away, many of his private documents, possibly including a blueprint for a hypothetical time machine, were viewed by scientist John G. Trump, who happens to be the uncle of President Donald Trump.
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson held many important meetings, including press briefings, from the White House toilet. In fact, he even had a phone installed in the bathroom so he could regularly save time and kill two birds with one stone
One cannot help but wonder how historians will view POTUS 45 when his story is written. Clearly the mainstream media has chronicled his continual lies and in spite Trump's protestations,  he should go down in history as the greatest liar of all time. That is going to blow these lists up and make for some sad, fun reading.

That concludes this weeks fun with history post. I must admit my original intent was to do a heavier piece focusing on the dark side of history. Maybe some other time. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what his take on history is. See ya next week,  same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Before Abraham Lincoln became a politician, he was a champion wrestler. With more than 300 bouts under his belt, Lincoln only lost one match in his career and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall Of Fame in 1997 of 5Until the early 20th century in Mongolia, criminals could be locked up in a wooden box as punishment, sometimes left to die of starvation8 of 56