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Bitter Blood: Thirty Years Later

The most bizarre crime spree in American history.

Is Priness Leia a Disney Princess?

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Two weeks in Hell

I debated whether to make this post.  No wait, scratch that: I debated whether to make any post ever again on this blog.

In the midst of the madness, a lot of thoughts raced through my mind.  One of them was to give up this blog.  Wondering what was the point of it.  Wondering what was the point of anything.  So faced with the stark meaninglessness of life in this pale shell.  All was vanity, with no redeeming grace.

It's actually been worse than that, these past two weeks.

A lot of things have happened: issues which warrant action that I am unable to take.  Crushed hopes (on more than one front).  Frustrations.

I don't care to relate on these pages the full scope of what these have meant to me.  Maybe God will yet show me that He is listening to me.  That is all that I have to say in that regard.

But since I've made it a mission to document what it is that I go through in the way of manic-depression, it becomes my duty to chronicle these past two weeks regarding that realm.

To put it mildly: I've been in Hell.  Or at least as close to it as can be had in this quarter of the realms of being.

Suicidal ideations.  To some extent, they persist.  For more than two weeks my thoughts have been overwhelmed with the desire to be dead.  Because in death there is no more hurt, no more grief.

It really began three weeks ago.  My medications had begun to lose their potency (a risk with any medication but especially with the treatment of mental illness).  My doctor moved me off of a drug I had been on for six years, and substituted that with another: an antidepressant that is very well known and has been used by millions of people since it first hit the market.

It would take a week or so for the full effects to be felt, but it didn't take that long for the benefits to be apparent.  And for a few brief days I enjoyed some serenity of being.

But then, about two and a half weeks ago, my thoughts began coming completely unhinged.  Became very dark.  Very troubled.

Very loaded with despair.

I began to experience a pain which even in all the time since before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has been excruciating more than any other.  It was an overwhelming desire to be dead.  To be beyond pain.  To never again have all of these hurts.

I prayed for death.  I begged God to let me die, if He was listening at all.

The only reason why I didn't go into the hospital is because the thoughts didn't deviate into full-blown actively plotting to do myself in.

But I think that I did try to commit suicide.  I'm not sure.  I just wanted to be numb to it all, without a care as to how I achieved it.  I took an overload of the medication.  It did nothing.  Nothing at all.

I was desperate to die and I couldn't even do that much.

This is what I've had to go through for the past two weeks.  A never-wavering longing to die.

I still want it.  I still want to die.  Some moments anyway.  That's just the medication, which under my doctor's supervision I stopped five days ago.  It's still in my system.  In the meantime I'm about to begin a new medication.

This had better work.  I want it to.  People aren't meant to live like this.  Living, just to want to die.

I want to hope again.  Hope that there is some life still ahead of me, despite manic-depression.

I pray that God will give me some indication that He really is watching over me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rest in peace James Horner

It was as many feared when the news came that the airplane he owned had crashed: James Horner, one of the most acclaimed composers in film history, died last night.


AliensStar Trek II: The Wrath of KhanBraveheartApollo 13TitanicAvatar.  GloryField of Dreams...

And so much other work too.  His score for Krull is a classic example of the Eighties-era fantasy genre.  If I don't mention his music for The Rocketeer, somebody is going to jump flunky for it.  Animation fans will remember that he scored An American Tail.

Since the first of his works that I can remember listening to was his score for the second Star Trek movie, here now is the complete composition for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Fittingly heroic and triumphant, in remembrance of a life just as much so.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Here's a photo of a Dachshund family

My favorite breed...


Maybe if Tammy the Pup will stand still long enough, I can get her to pose for a picture that sweet :-)

Photo credit goes to @TheDoxieteers (Cindy, Pepsi and Misty) on Instagram.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Happy anniversary to Jaws.  The original blockbuster that set the scene for every big summer movie to come.  Released 40 years ago today.


Reconsidering Hobbits

When he came to visit in early April, my longtime friend/collaborator/partner in crime "Weird" Ed Woody gave me a birthday present.  It was The Lord of the Rings, Extended Edition on Blu-ray.  It's been sitting unopened on my shelf ever since, 'cuz I haven't really availed myself of its beauty (I hadn't actually watched any of it by that point but having seen the DVD version I could readily imagine how splendorous the Blu-ray would be).

Yesterday I finally cracked it open from the shrink wrap.  I was working on the book and needed something for background noise.  So I popped in Disc 1 of The Fellowship of the Ring.  Every now and then I'd turn to look at the screen and be astounded at the beauty of the film, but mostly I was just listening to it for inspiration as I stared at MS Word open before me.

It wasn't long before the movie was at Bilbo's birthday party.  I've always loved this scene ("I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve").  And then Bilbo slyly puts on the Ring and vanishes and forevermore becomes a Shire legend.

Then we see him in his home, and Gandalf is asking him about "this ring of yours".  Bilbo had intended to part with it, to bequeath it to Frodo.  But he finds that he cannot abandon it.  His eyes look at it lustfully in a way they never have before.  He holds it greedily in his fingers, calling it his "precious", just as Gollum did so many decades earlier.  We see that Bilbo is attached to the Ring.  That he cannot make himself lose his grasp of it, no matter what it is costing him in terms of his spiritual health (his earlier comment about feeling like he's butter scraped over too much bread).

It was like J.R.R. Tolkien was communicating something personally to me, through Peter Jackson's adaptation of his masterpiece.

Because I, too, have had the One Ring.  I have had many such rings throughout the course of my life.  And each one, I have held onto beyond any real sense.  What can I say?  It's one of my character flaws: I have a hard time letting go of things... and especially the past.  And that is what they have collectively been: the One Ring in my possession, but really possessing me.  Keeping me stalled.  Holding me down.  Seizing my mind and my spirit and to an extent my soul.

Like Gollum and the Ring, I both love and hate these things.  I am too enamored by them.

But in the end, we see Bilbo do something that as Gandalf says in the book, is the only time in the Ring's long history that someone has done such a thing: Bilbo lets the Ring drop from the palm of his hand and onto the floor.  He lets go of the Ring.  He lets go of the thing that has held him in its grasp ever since he found it (or was found by it) in Gollum's cave.  He surrenders his control of the Ring and in doing so, he forces the Ring to surrender its control over him.

It hit me hard.  It was Tolkien telling me that I have a ring of my own, and it is destroying me.  I have my own One Ring and it is draining me.  It is a bane, not a boon.  It was Tolkien telling me that I must let go and let it fall to the ground and never think or speak of it again.  That it is not worth being controlled by it.  That like Bilbo, it was spreading me too thin, instead of enjoying life to its fullest.

I wish that it was as easy as having a physical ring to slip off of my palm and onto the floor of my living room, but it's not.  In this, I ask for prayer that my resolve holds true, and that I not be tempted to pick up the ring ever again.

Bilbo lets go of the Ring.  The next thing we see, his heart is merry and he goes off into the night, onto the road that will take him to distant Rivendell and his much-anticipated rest.  He goes off to see the world, to see the mountains and the Elves and the Dwarves.  He has lost the Ring, now the Ring has lost utterly.

I wish it were as simple as that.  Bilbo was lucky, that the Ring was such a tangible item.

I wish that I could be like Bilbo.

I wish that I was a Hobbit.

To have a life of peace, only setting off on an adventure if one felt like it (though it will be thought of as queer by the neighbors).  A life full of cheer and contentment.  A life with friendships that won't be lost.  As well as all that beer and pipeweed, but I digress...

Hobbits don't have to worry about the things that we do.  And manic-depression probably doesn't exist among them.  That alone, makes me envy them.

One can learn a lot from Hobbits.  And I think, in this case, I learned a lot.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why is it that too many Christians are bitter, hateful, resentful and generally mean to others… and especially other Christians?

People shouldn’t be like that anyway, to each other.  But for those of us who are in Christ, our behavior is far more dire.  We aren’t supposed to be like the world.  It’s supposed to be different, among us.  We are meant to be a radiant, shining witness for Christ in this fallen world.

Instead, I see so very often, there is ignorance and un-forgiveness and bitterness toward one another.

How is that being a follower of God, who has called us to be lamps unto His majesty?

A lot of things precipitated me thinking about this.  I guess, my mind was led to contemplate it.

I have no answers.

We’re supposed to be better than this.  This world isn’t our real home, but that doesn’t mean we have to behave in a manner reflecting how broken it is while we are here.

That’s something else I wonder about: why do some Christians harbor these kinds of feelings toward one another, when we are going to be sharing the same place one day?

I can’t understand that.

But what do I know.  I’m just a guy with a blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

O Lord,
how long will you forget me? Forever?
      How long will you look the other way?
 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
      with sorrow in my heart every day?
      How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
      Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will
die.

Monday, June 15, 2015

FALLOUT 4 gets a release date and a REAL Pip-Boy!

Game studio Bethesda unloaded the big guns last night at their first-ever E3 presentation.  Since its announcement months ago the hype had been stoked about Fallout 4.  Then two weeks ago Bethesda lifted the cover on that mega-anticipated title with this toad-strangling doozie of a trailer.  So what else could Bethesda bring before us at this point?

By the time Bethesda execs got to Fallout 4 last night the keynote was being watched by at least a million viewers over gaming broadcast site Twitch and probably just as many on Twitter.  After going over some other games (including the new Doom, due next spring) it was time to enter the Vault.  Because war... war never changes.

Okay so, Fallout 4 is getting released this coming November 10!  It's available for pre-order now.

And look!  If you wanna spend $119 for the Collector's Edition you get a real-working Pip-boy!


 From the "Don't Really Need But Are Lusting For Badly" files.  Wearable and functional.  Usable with your iPhone or just about any other smartphone on the market today.  Interactive with your game via an app.

A whole lotta cosplayers are swabbing up drool looking at that thing this morning.

I'm not ashamed to admit that Fallout 3 devoured about 120-140 hours of my life.  That wasn't a game.  That was a life-impacting experience on par with a Star Wars movie or having tickets to the Super Bowl.  With Fallout 4, I'm expecting no less.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pistol-packin' President: Reagan had a .38

The greatest president of the past half-century - at least - and he kept a sidearm during his time in the Oval Office.

I don't care what your political persuasion, you gotta admit: that is severely hardcore.

The New York Daily News has an eye-opening story revealing something that until now only members of the Secret Service were aware of: that Ronald Reagan not only believed in the Second Amendment, he actively practiced it.  Specifically, he had a .38 pistol nearby as a personal firearm during his time as President of the United States.  He especially hid it in a briefcase as he traveled on Air Force One.

The article by Brad Meltzer goes into detail about what other presidents have carried with them.  George H.W. Bush toted his driver's license around, and Clinton had a photo of Hillary and Chelsea (no comment).  Obama carries a Blackberry but no wallet and no money which is why he's sometimes asked to borrow some (again, no comment).

But no one among the occupants of the White House during the past thirty years or so has done it as bad-a$$ as Reagan did.

Anyhoo, it's a very neat article if you're at all interested in presidential history.  Kinda makes you wonder what else is still out there waiting to be discovered.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Magna Carta: 800 and counting!

Worth noting that we are currently in the midst of the eighth-hundred anniversary of Magna Carta: the founding document of English law and a cornerstone of liberty for many nations down through the ages.  Including the United States.

"Sign HERE, Johnny-boy."
Ahhh yes: John, King of England.  A monarch so disastrously bad that not once since and never again has England put a king named "John" on the throne.  He spent years wrecking havoc on the country he was supposed to be leading (sort-of like the past three or four presidential administrations here), wasting money and manpower and countless lives on wars in France and such.

Finally, enough was enough.  A bunch of the barons of England decided that the time had come to lay the smack down on King John.  So they showed up in force, arrayed in their armor and finest weaponry and, ahem... "invited" John to come down to a meadow at Runnymede near Windsor.  Because they had a list of demands and if he knew what was good for him, he was going to read it and sign it.

The document which would come to be called Magna Carta ("Great Charter" in Latin, because of its large size compared to other documents of the era) curtailed the powers of the king so as to assert the rights of the barons, delineated individual rights such as jury trial and fair justice, and laid down the groundwork for what would become parliamentary law.

John looked around at all of those armored barons and their retainers and quickly arrived at the conclusion that Runnymede was not the place to get all uppity.  With all the barons witnessing, he signed the Magna Carta on June 10th, 1215.  A few days later on June 15th the barons pledged fealty, which is kind of a way of saying that the Magna Carta was officially ratified.

It was all well and good, but pretty soon neither party really upheld their terms of the agreement.  Magna Carta went for awhile annulled by the pope, but after a bit of a civil war and the coming to the throne of Henry III it became the consensus of most that the treaty was a pretty good idea after all.  From that point on, it's remained one of the basic elements of English law.  And consequently, a progenitor of the Declaration of Independence in the United States.

So, happy birthday to Magna Carta!  Looking not too shabby for something eight centuries old.

Book update... and it's a good one

YYYYAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Well, this section of the book is now finished.  The first draft of Chapter 25 was completed a short while ago.  It follows the one that had stumped me since February, up until a week and a half or so ago.  The one that took me so long to crack and I couldn't have done it without a dear friend being here to give support and encouragement.

So the complete draft of Chapter 24 was done, but 25, well... I could see the shape of it, the general form, but the particulars were eluding me.  So I thought "maybe I should write the next chapter while waiting for 25 to really present itself".  And that's what I did.  So there was 24, followed by 26, with 25 in between still to be written.

This past hour, Chapter 25 was done.  I wound up waking up for some vague reason, and decided for the heck of it that I'd see if I could write anything.

And I did.  But man, that was tough.

Chapters 24 through 26 are somewhat a "triptych", in that they are a block of chapters complementing each other, and if this book gets published you'll see how that is.  This was THE hardest little part of the book to get through, but now it's done.  This was the end of Part 3 of the book, and apart from editing and polishing up it is more or less completed.

(Still a lot of work to do so far as editing goes, but I'm not really worried about that.)

Now comes the next section, which will be a collection of essays about bipolar disorder, and a lot of those have already been written.  Some as early as last summer.  There is at least one chapter which is darkly hilarious and had two friends cracking up laughing when they read it.  I don't mind that at all: you have to be able to laugh if you have a condition like this.

So that part is the next to be tackled.  And then the final section.  Which, I think will go much easier than the just-finished one was.

Who knows?  It's possible that this book might be finished by the end of June.  If so, it will have only taken 13 months to complete it.  Seems like a long time.  But be kind: this is my first time writing a book after all :-)

(The first.  Lord willing, not the last...)

Friday, June 12, 2015

End of a journey

A journey that began in late 2001, finally ended a few minutes ago.

Tomorrow my DirecTV account ends (I'm relocating soon) so this week I've been watching all the stuff on my DVR that I hadn't seen yet. Among those were the last three Harry Potter movies.

Since yesterday afternoon I've been watching, as time allowed for it, Part 1 and Part 2 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I just finished it.

And watching Harry stand there, with Ron and Hermione and Ginny, it hit me hard: these were the final moments of something that began what seemed like a lifetime ago, for me personally.

I saw Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone on the day it came out, on November 16th 2001. It was a cold, dreary and raining day. My girlfriend had come to Asheville for the weekend. The next day we were going to a wedding. We saw the movie in a theater not far from my apartment, and we really enjoyed ourselves.

She had no idea that a few feet from where she was sleeping, was a diamond ring.

That was the day I saw the first Harry Potter movie.  And whenever a new Harry Potter movie came out, I saw it on its opening day.

Except for the past number of years.  I hadn't been able to bring myself to watch the films that came after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I didn't know if I could do it. 

Order of the Phoenix was the last Harry Potter movie I saw during what was one of the happiest periods of my life.  I suppose, I just didn't have the heart to want to watch any more after that.

But here I am, this morning. Thirteen and a half years later, this cinematic journey has drawn to a close for me.

Thirteen and a half years ago, I was working at a Best Buy. Until everything in the economy took a hit along with those two towers. I had just begun writing the script for my first movie, with no idea how I was going to make it. The bipolar disorder had yet to erupt with all its fury (I still struggled with depression, but nowhere as bad as it would eventually get).

Most of all, I was in love with someone who I was going to spend the rest of my life serving.

I saw the first Harry Potter movie on the afternoon of November 16th in 2001. I watched the ending of the last Harry Potter movie on the morning of June 12th, 2015.

So much that happened in that little dash between those two dates.

And I don't know what to really think of that.