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Does this drug stop hay fever?

One blogger's medical report.

Bitter Blood: Thirty Years Later

The most bizarre crime spree in American history.

Is Priness Leia a Disney Princess?

We go looking for answers!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Listen to church bells ringing "Space Oddity"

This may be the most amazing tribute to David Bowie that has been done in the past few days: Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, built in 1382 and with bells dating back to 1505, tolling out "Space Oddity".

I've grown ever more fascinated with Bowie since it was announced that he had passed. Having listened to his final album and watched the last two videos he made ("Blackstar" and especially "Lazarus"), one most certainly gets the sense that Bowie was not only fully aware of his mortality, but that he was accepting it with a mighty grace.  I can't help but think that there is also a sublime acknowledgement toward God in some of the lyrics and images, and that Bowie was surrendering to that.

When I posted about his passing a few days ago, I wrote that perhaps the most amazing thing of David Bowie was how he was not afraid to grow and change as he grew older.  That went for him as a showman.  But even more importantly, it went for him as a man.  The David Bowie of 2016 was not the David Bowie of 1976, and he never pretended to be.

There is a good philosophy in there somewhere.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

And now, Alan Rickman is gone

We are losing an unfortunate amount of truly extraordinary talent this week...

Hans Gruber. The Sheriff of Nottingham. Rasputin. Marvin the Paranoid Android. The Metatron. So many roles that Alan Rickman had in his amazing career.

But for me, there is really only one that best exemplifies Rickman's profound ability. The role he had throughout eight films for more than a decade. A character who has come to be considered one of the most complex in all of modern fiction.

There was really only one person who could have ever brought Severus Snape alive on the big screen. And from the moment I first saw him in Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, it's been Rickman who I've seen whenever I've re-read those books.

So in his memory, here are all of the scenes of Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films, in the character's chronological order:

Monday, January 11, 2016

"And the stars look very different today..."

Very sadly, they certainly do.

A true artist in every possible sense. I think what fascinated me most about David Bowie, other than his musical and acting talent, is that he was never afraid to grow and change as he got older. He had the strength to adapt, and become even better. Too many performers try to cling to their younger days. Bowie didn't flee from his age, he embraced it and made it his own. A lot of artists would do well to emulate Bowie. And some might still be with us had they done so to begin with.

When I think of Bowie as an actor, what will always come first to mind for me is his brief but electrifying (pun horribly intended) portrayal of Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. I can't really think of anyone else who would have possibly done the role any justice.

David Bowie
1947 ~ 2016

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL aired 37 years ago tonight

It was on this night in 1978 that The Star Wars Holiday Special - arguably the WORST two-hours of television in history - aired on CBS.

Y'all won't buh-LEEEVE what is going on here.

So in honor of this misauspicious occasion and thanks to some poor tortured soul on YouTube, here it is (absent some music for copyright purposes):

It's all here: Chewbacca's son Lumpy, Mark Hamill's make-up overkill, Princess Leia's singing, Boba Fett's first-ever appearance (the special's one redeeming feature), Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur (?!), lots of unused B footage from A New Hope, what can only be described as a porno machine... and about twenty-seven minutes of incomprehensible Wookiee grunting.

One viewing and you'll see why George Lucas has said he would take a sledgehammer to every copy if he could.  But what about you?  Can you endure to the end?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"When the skies of November turn gloomy..."

Forty years ago tonight. Here's the post that I composed on this evening in 2005.  But YouTube wasn't as pervasive as it is today.

So here is Gordon Lightfoot's forever haunting ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".

The tradition will continue today.  The church bell at Mariner's Church will ring thirty times: one for each man on the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, and once more in memory of all who have perished on the Great Lakes.

As I wrote ten years ago tonight: Here's to a good ship and crew.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The state of things


It's been awhile.  Maybe the longest that I've gone between making posts.  I'm making this one because a lot of readers have asked if I was okay (alive, semi-comatose, joined the French Foreign Legion or what have you).  Neither have I been active on Facebook and that led to family insisting that I make some indication there that I was still among the living.

So many of you are asking how things are.  And things have come to a point where I'm more than compelled to offer up an answer.

So here it is:

Things are not okay.

Some very bad things have happened in my life.  If there is any aspect of it that can be named, chances are it has happened.  Including some physical situations which are rather considerable.  I have had to take time to address these.

So far as the book goes: it's on indefinite hiatus, for a few reasons.  Among them, I have reached a place where I cannot write past a certain block and it requires some things falling into place to break through that.  Things which, I doubt will ever happen.  I can't see past it.  I was able to surpass an earlier, similar block but this one has proven to be much worse.  So for now, the book is stalled and I would give anything to get past that.

I don't know what else to say at this juncture, apart from asking that you keep me in your thoughts.  I am past the point of being at the end of the rope.  Thing are now at the shreds of the end of the rope.  My own prayers haven't worked.  Maybe those of others will.

Wishing you all well.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Almost there."

"Almost there..."

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.