PBS American Experience – Aired March 28, 2023

This is just a quickie posting here, folks. I wanted to alert my three readers that there was a very interesting episode of American Experience on PBS last night. You can watch it any time by visiting the American Experience website.

The Movement and the “Madman”

The Movement and the “Madman” shows how two antiwar protests in the fall of 1969 — the largest the country had ever seen — pressured President Nixon to cancel what he called his “madman” plans for a massive escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam, including a threat to use nuclear weapons. At the time, protestors had no idea how influential they could be and how many lives they may have saved.

Any folks out there who, like me, lived through the Vietnam Era or just have an interest in that time period in American History should click the link above and stream this program. You’ll be amazed. You’ll also see parallels to today’s issues.

I’ve always had and always will have extreme respect for that generation of kids who stood up and said, “We’re NOT taking this bullshit anymore!” Their efforts, work, risks, and sorrows/successes will remain in my heart for the rest of my life. We should all be thankful for what they accomplished. Learn from this, you younger folks out there. Learn from it!

Ta-Ta for now…


Image credit – wagingnonviolence.org

Technology and Its Negative Effects on the Psyche

In psychology, the psyche/ˈsaɪki/ is the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious.[1] Many thinkers, including Carl Jung, also include in this definition the overlap and tension between the personal and the collective elements in man.[2]*

Initially I was going to post this on my Nocturnal Slacker v2.0 blog, which is a more general topic blog as opposed to this more “technical” blog here. However, the topic involves technical and non-technical items, so I decided to just post it on both blogs.

I’m sure many of you younger folks out here have heard some old codger (dad, uncle, etc.) make a statement thus: “Yeah, things were a lot simpler back in …” It seems that the older one gets, the more one seems to long for the fondly remembered past. I sat around with my parents, aunts & uncles for years listening to conversations like that. Then one day, I woke up and realized I was an old codger.

So, a little explanation about that longing for the past…

Don’t misunderstand them when they mention their regret about losing those “simpler” times in their youths. The word “simpler” here is meant as “less complicated”; not necessarily easier, though. This is an important distinction that you need to understand, so I’ll explain a bit further.

Yes, times were quite a bit simpler back in my youthful days. They were simpler because they lacked the technologies that have since made the world a much different place. This happens from generation to generation. When I was a young man, everyday things such as telephones, television, modern automobiles, tools & gadgets and such, were “normal” for me, but my parents had none of those things in their youths.

Nowadays, we have the Internet, portable telephone devices, digital cameras, etc. I had none of that in my youth. The world was still out there doing its thing when my parents were young and when I was young, we just weren’t as exposed to it as much as we are currently in 2023. Back in my youth, most “news” was of the “local” variety. There were, of course, stories of worldwide events. I was a child of the Vietnam Era. I’m quite familiar with the effects of watching the “world’s first ever” televised war. I also watched the Watergate hearings, the moon landing, and many other events back then.

However, I was not BARRAGED with this news on a daily basis as I am every morning nowadays when I login to the Internet. It’s splattered constantly on social networks, in my email newsletters, on forums/boards and other sites all over the Internet. It begins to cause sensory overload. In spite of the fact that I’ve been a relatively cynical and jaded individual for most of my life, this constant tsunami of horrendously bad news that I receive each day on the Internet is having a negative effect on my daily life.

So, yes… I long for the simpler days. They weren’t any easier. I still had to struggle for my daily bread. I still had to deal with things I hated… traffic, senseless laws/rules, asshole bosses, illness, heartache, etc. Every generation of mankind deals with similar difficulties every day of their lives. It’s nothing new, folks. However, what is new is the added broadband splatter interference of IN-YOUR-FACE media coverage from all sources. Good news doesn’t sell ad space, folks. The more horrendous the news is the more profitable it becomes for the purveyors of it.

Yesterday morning, I realized something that I had probably realized long ago, but it came to a head yesterday. I realized that my mornings started out pretty wonderful, but shortly after getting online, happiness would degrade. It wasn’t bad everyday, but some days were definitely worse than others. It made me think, “Why am I dealing with this shit?” I don’t have to do it. I can “simplify” my own life a bit.

So, I decided to remove myself from my social networks, email newsletters, some forums/boards, etc. Is this a viable solution? Probably not. We have all become addicted to modern technologies like the Internet, cell phones, streaming TV, etc. It’s going to be a hard habit to break, I believe.

Which leads me to the main point of this article…

Is this detrimental to humans? Is it causing undo stress, strife, belligerence, passivity, etc. in our psyches? Think about this, as you’ve been reading here, do you experience this overload? Does it sometimes change your outlook or demeanor throughout your day? If it is having this effect on many of us, how is that going to turn out? How, more importantly, is it affecting our children? What warpage in their understanding and image of the world will this cause for them? Is our technology creating tomorrow’s psychopathic killers? Think about it for a while.

What are the solutions to today’s information overload?

The creators of the modern technologies, particularly the Internet, that we all “enjoy” on a daily basis mostly had wondrous and stupendously beautiful dreams of what their technology would do for mankind. Sadly, though, the big-brained monkeys (H. sapiens) have an extremely well-developed talent for corrupting beauty in this world.

I have no solutions.

PEACE & Keep on Rockin’, friends!


Image credits:

s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com (image 1)

technofaq.org (image 2)

iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu (image 3)

*from THIS Wikipedia article

Death and Mr. Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis – a review

Death and Mr. Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A 5-Star rating is something I try not to give too often. However, in the case of this book, I’m going to have to do just that; mostly because of the time and effort the author must have put into the writing of this tome. The content, of course, is also an important aspect of my rating.

A funny little story about this book…

Quite a few years ago, a group of friends were having an ongoing discussion about Dickens and his books/stories. We had a specific thread going just for The Pickwick Papers, formerly known as The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, written in series fashion by Charles Dickens starting in March of 1836. The first two monthly serials were illustrated by Robert Seymour.

A fellow (the author – Stephen Jarvis) contacted me after seeing our Pickwick discussion. He introduced himself and explained to me that he was in the process of writing a book that would be following the history of Seymour’s involvement along with Dickens’ input in the publication of this serial. He asked me to take a look at his forthcoming book once it was published. He may have even reminded me of this when the book actually did come out in the stores. I don’t remember.

Anyway, I always remembered this fellow and the conversation we had back and forth a couple times regarding Dickens, Seymour, and this fellow’s upcoming book. When the book finally did come out back in 2015, I think, I jotted a note to give it a go, but Life, as it often does, butted in. I had forgotten this book until scrolling through my ebook library on my Nook and remembered acquiring the book a few years previous to now.

Well, I’ve read this book… and am thoroughly impressed, and slightly awed by what I know must have been a MAJOR research and writing effort for Mr. Jarvis. I’m also quite sure this was a long, long time labor of love for him; possibly a bit of an obsession. That’s a good thing because regardless of his motivation, the book was completed and published so that we could read and enjoy it.

The story is a fictionalized (or is it?) very detailed accounting of the history of the initial idea and development of the Pickwick characters and themes. For those of you who don’t know about this, there has been a long running debate on who/when/how Pickwick got its start. Did the illustrator Seymour come up with the idea first or did Dickens? Personally, from my own bits of research over the years, I’ve always leaned toward Seymour. What Mr. Jarvis does in this book, is create a story (or is it just a story?) to explain this longstanding debate.

Any of you out there interested in Dickens, Pickwick, early 19th century England and its literary and other histories will very much enjoy reading this book. It’s an intriguing, detailed, and somewhat sad story. Pick up a copy and give it a go. You may enjoy it as much as I did.

View all my reviews

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – a review

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had been meaning to read this book since about 2005 when I saw it on the shelf at my local public library. I looked it over at that time and decided against it, but with thoughts of reading at some future time. A few years later, the movie with Tom Hanks came out and I again thought about reading this book, but didn’t. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes you just have to wait till you’re “ready” for a book. I was ready for it this time.

All books are unique in their own ways, of course, but some are just exceptionally unique. This book is one of those. I’ve been a life-long reader and have read thousands of books; some memorable, some not-so-much. Cloud Atlas will stay with me for many years to come. I’ll not summarize the plot for you in this review. It’s actually not possible to do so, as far as I’m concerned.

This book has layer upon layer of meaning. It’s a history book, a suspense novel, a tragi-comic yarn, etc. What it really is, though, is a philosophical thesis disguised as a fiction novel. Mitchell has something to say here. He employees an interesting means of saying it. There’s a moral to the story, folks. I should hope you would see that by the time you’ve reached that last page.

I experienced many emotions while reading Cloud Atlas; ultimately, though, realities of life reminded me of many things in this world that could stand some improvement. Don’t let this scare you away. Read this book! It’s not going to be for everyone, though. Mitchell intertwines much actual history and philosophy mixed with some laugh-out-loud moments and sadness. Some readers may miss much of this as they’re reading the book, though.

I initially rated this book with 4-stars leaning toward 4.5; however, upon writing this review, I decided that 5-stars is just necessary. The only drawback I can truly claim as bothersome to me is also one of the unique aspects of the book itself. The first person accounts written using the actual idiom of the storytellers was difficult to read at times; particularly the dialect of the character Zachry, a Hawaiian islander.

Try this book, folks. You may be pleasantly surprised. As with all good books, it should make you think. It should wrangle some emotions for you. It should cause regret when you’ve turned over that last page in the back of the book. It could possibly entice you to read it again one day.

View all my reviews

Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons – a review

Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a slew of adjectives to use to describe my experience of cramming this 900+ page book down in just 8 days of reading. The very first one that comes to mind, though, even as I was only about 100 pages into this book (not counting the excellent 20th Anniversary 50+ pages of introduction by the author), is DISTURBING. The others that come to mind: raw, excellent, intricate, horrific, detailed, well-researched, interesting, unnecessarily long-ish, etc.

I’ve read many of Simmons’ books over the years. This one was pure Dan Simmons, yet you can also tell (introduction aside) that Carrion Comfort was a bit of an obsession for the author. It took so long and so much wrangling for it to actually get published and put on the shelves at the bookstores and libraries; it had to have been frustrating for Simmons. We all have our windmills; Don Quixote was not that unique in that regard.

I do definitely recommend this book. However, there are some caveats… it’s going to disturb you. It’s going to make you think. It’s going to possibly resemble current events (politics, religion, racism, antisemitism, wars, bloodshed, suffering of innocents, and so on…) in some ways, even though it was written quite a few decades ago. It’s probably going to cause you some discomfort while you’re reading it. All these things are the thoughts and emotions that a talented writer should elicit from his/her readers. Last warning, though… this book is NOT for everyone. Many of you will be horrified and turned away within the first few chapters. Still, if you’re up for it, it is one HELLUVA book!

View all my reviews

Revival by Stephen King – a review

Revival by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DAYUM! This was a wonderful story! Of course, it’s what we always expect from Mr. King. I try to not use 5-Star ratings too excessively because it devalues the rating process. However, some books just must have all five of those stars. This is one of them.

In the intro portion of this book S.K. thanks some folks…

This book is for some of the people who built my house:

Mary Shelley
Bram Stoker
H. P. Lovecraft
Clark Ashton Smith
Donald Wandrei
Fritz Leiber
August Derleth
Shirley Jackson
Robert Bloch
Peter Straub

And ARTHUR MACHEN, whose short novel The Great God Pan has haunted me all my life.

I’ve always known and seen the influence of these authors in all of King’s works… and appreciated it greatly due to the fact that each one of those folks he mentions have been lifelong favorites of mine.

It takes a modicum of intellect, talent, ambition, life experiences, and luck to be a successful writer. For exceptional writers, such as Mr. King, those items above must be present in abundance!

This is a tidy little book, just 300 or so pages; smallish by King standards. However, the really awesome writers in this world can still twist up a plot and flesh out believable characters even in short stories. King does an amazing job of both in this story.

While I’ll not give you a synopsis here of the book’s plot, I will say that in it you will clearly see the influences of every one of those authors in King’s list above; most particularly H. P. Lovecraft. I found this book to be the closest King has ever come to a Lovecraftian story line and imagery.

If you’re a fan of any of the authors on the above list, you will most definitely want to give this S.K. book a spin. It will wring you out like an old washcloth by the time you turn that last page.

View all my reviews

A Stained White Radiance by James Lee Burke – a review

A Stained White Radiance by James Lee Burke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, as always, Burke does not disappoint. The man has that talent of superior writers to place you personally in every scene of a story. Often, with Dave Robicheaux stories, the places you go to are quite ugly and gritty. This book was no exception. Dave deals with some seriously not-so-nice folks in this one.

I’m not sure how I missed this older book (1993). I’ve read most of Burke’s Robicheaux series. I found this one sitting on my shelf with some of the newer ones. I read it because I usually try to read an author’s output by publication date (older first).


The above was my brief write up about this book on GoodReads. However, I’d like to add to this review because something about this book struck me profoundly; actually a few things did.

First off, the story takes place, as with all Robicheaux series books, in southern Louisiana… Iberia Parish, to be precise. As I said above, it’s an ugly and gritty story involving some folks from the wrong side of the law whom you would never want to meet up close and personal. This is typical of a Burke story. However, the character in this story that really caught my eye was a fellow named “Bobby Earl”.

Mr. Earl is an aspiring politician campaigning for some major seat in government. He’s also an ex KKK leader and ex member of AB (Aryan Brotherhood). He’s flashy, suave, vociferous, and, quite obviously, a pure narcissistic sociopath. Burke wrote this story back in the early 90s, but it’s amazing how history just keeps repeating and repeating.

If you read this book, you’ll be amazed at the parallels you will see between Bobby Earl and a recent U.S. President. Of course, folks with this mental disorder (narcissistic sociopathy) are all quite similar in their behavior patterns. Burke must have recognized a little of Bobby Earl in the last 6 or 8 years of U.S. politics; his character of Bobby Earl was a tale of the past and a prophecy of the future.

Read this book. You’ll learn a few things.

View all my reviews

News You Don’t Need

Dateline: 16-17 August, 2022

Lead story in today’s issue of…

The Bacchanalian Times

Was a HOT time in the ol’ house with the ol’ folks last night. Witnesses describe an elderly man and woman dancing around from room to room whilst playing air guitars and screaming out lyrics to old 1970s Rock & Roll songs. A cat, who did not seem too impressed with this display of human idiocy, was also seen on the premises. Fun was had by all (except, possibly, the cat) it seems. Memories were made; and just as quickly forgotten. Authorities suspect excessive amounts of alcohol and other things may have been involved.

This reporter, upon initial interview with the elderly man this morning, gleaned some interesting wisdom from said man regarding those two ancient oft-asked questions, “Why not?” and “What fuckin’ bus hit me?” The man states that he now comprehends the true meaning of these questions and has concluded that he’s getting too old for this shit. However, as he also confessed, these lessons seem have the same shelf life as the “memories”.

And that’s all for today, gentle readers. Have a wonderful day!

The Drunken Couple by Jan Steen | Wikioo.org – The Encyclopedia of Fine Arts

Dear… Part II (an Update)

A few years back, I was sitting here at this desk listening to some mellow music and reminiscing about an old friend whom I hadn’t talked to in a few years. I occasionally used to send her an email or, in this case, write a blog post. I never got any replies from the emails and I doubted she ever saw anything that I posted here. I was just writing to the void, as I’ve been known to do from time to time. This was what I wrote that night (Dear…). We had drifted apart due to nothing specific that either of us could have actually pinpointed as a reason. It just happened.

Nine years ago, I had a thought going through my mind whilst writing “Dear…” that night. It was a lyric from a favorite Bob Seger song…

“I remember, I remember, I remember...”

Well, fast forward to about two months ago (5 June, 2022). It was a Sunday evening. I was sitting here drinking some bourbon and relaxing. I was also listening to my Mellowness Playlist on YouTube and I heard the first few notes of one of the songs on that list. It was The Righteous Brothers singing Unchained Melody. I immediately thought, “I ought to send her an email.” So, I did; not for one minute thinking that she’d see it or reply… ever.

This is all I sent to her in that email:

I figure if I keep sending these messages, one day… one day, I might get a reply.

So, the next day, I get up and do the usual morning baloney. Afterwards, I turn this on “soul-sucking box” to check emails and surf around here and there for a while. As the email program is downloading messages, I happen to see an email pop up in the Inbox; it’s from her! I almost fell out of the chair. I clicked on it…

Wow, I rarely check this email, usually just have junk sent here. I was just thinking about you last night….believe it or not…..at about 6p (my time).

This is the first email I’ve seen from you since 1829, lol.

This woman and I have known each other for 44 years. We were 16 years old when we first met. We’ve had a very special friendship over those years. It’s been an off and on kind of thing, but serendipity, synchronicity, or the fates have always conspired to get us back together somehow and some time down the road.

But wait… it gets weirder. It turns out that while she was sitting at her house that Sunday evening five hundred or so miles away from me, she was thinking about me and listening to Unchained Melody.

Click-Clack! Bam!

It was like this fine mesh of gears in some universal clock just snicked into place and it all came together. When we talked on the phone shortly after the email exchange on Monday, we realized how sync’d we were at that moment on Sunday evening. It was literally breathtaking.

Since that day two months ago, she and I have talked nearly every day. It’s like not a minute was lost from our friendship. We just prattled on like we’d seen each other a couple days before instead of the nearly 20 years that it has actually been. We’ve both very much enjoyed this time we’ve spent laughing, reminiscing, and sniffling a bit… but mostly laughing!

I’ve been so blessed with good friends in this life. This lady is most assuredly one of them. I’m hoping for many, many more years of conversation and laughter with her!

And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?


What’s the Strangest Thing You Ever Found in a Book?

Here’s my story…

About 20 years ago or so, I was at a Salvation Army auction one morning. They were selling of tons (literally) of junk they’d had donated to them over the last few years or so; stuff that wasn’t easily sold in their actual stores. A lot of it was good stuff, too.

One thing that immediately caught my eye was a pallet (6′ high, 4′ wide X 4′ wide) of nothing but boxed up hardcover books. I looked through some of the books in the top boxes and realized that there were some very old, and often valuable, books in this boxes. I decided I’d bid on it a bit and see where it goes.

The auctioneer kept bringing up lot after lot, but not the pallet of books. I was getting impatient by the time the morning wore on. Finally, when he’d pretty much sold everything that was in the yard back there that morning, he brought up the pallet of books. There was only a small crowd of folks left by then (about 20 or so). He described the contents of the pallet briefly by saying, “Here you go, folks… a bunch of books”.

He looked around at the faces in the crowd and said, “I’m opening the bidding at one dollar.” I about shit myself. I bid the $1 immediately to get things rolling. Well, after I bid, he looked around and said, “Once, twice, sold that man there for $1.” I just laughed… and wondered how the Hell I was going to get this pallet home and what I was going to do with all those books.

When I asked the auctioneer afterwards why he’d let it go so cheaply, he said, “Did you see anyone trampling you to get in a bid?” I said no, I didn’t. His reply, with a smirk on his face, was, “Gotta’ know your audience in this job.”

Well, needless to say, I got the books home and spent a few years going through them and selling some, giving some away, etc. However, that’s not the point of this story. The point was finding things in books. So, with that in mind…

There were quite a few books in this collection that had the name of a fellow in them. His name was Charles Lounsbury. He was evidently a well-educated man; many of his books were text books from Cornell University. Anyway, whilst thumbing through one of them one day, a small business card fell out into my lap. It was a dentist’s appointment card for Mr. Lounsbury. It also had his address and phone number on it.

Just for grins and giggles, I called the number on the card. An older-sounding man answered on the first ring. I said “Hello” and gave my name. I then asked the fellow if he was Charles Lounsbury. He said he was indeed. I told him about all the books I’d bought and how I had found this dentist appointment card in one of them. He was BLOWN AWAY immediately upon hearing about the books.

He told me that his sister had possession of his personal library at the time of her death, but he had not spoken with her in many years. When she died, it seems that someone cleaning out her house had donated all her possessions, including Charles’ books, to the Salvation Army. Mr Lounsbury was very interested in possibly seeing his books again. He was wanting to leave some of them to his grandchildren upon his demise.

I made a date for him to drive from Sarasota, FL up to my home in Tampa and take whichever of his books he wanted back. The following Saturday he showed up. He was absolutely amazed to find all his books in the middle of my living room (huge stack of books, here’s a sampling):

Anyway, he picked out 10 of 15 of his prized books and asked if he could take them. I, of course, said yes… for sure. After that we sat and had some coffee and he told me his life story. It was a wonderful afternoon! Charles and I became pretty good friends after that for about 10 or so years, until his death at age 88.

It’s amazing, sometimes, the things you find in books. 🙂