Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Everything From "D-O-G" To "CANINE LEPTOSPIROSIS"

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RANDOM HOUSE WEBSTER'S UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY

published: 2001
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Reviewed from "A" to "Z" :
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A Bang-up, Crackerjack Dictionary -- Etymologically Fabulous.
Gargantuan -- Heavy!
It's Just Killer, Linguistically.
Material's Nicely Organized.
Paper Quality? Really Sturdy.
Terrific, Unabridged Verbosity.
With "Xeroradiography"? Yep, Zestfully!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

BRYAN PEDUS + BRANDON MEYERS × EDGAR ALLAN POE ÷ BY ROD SERLING – HALF OF STEPHEN KING = ‘THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT’ (Or, ‘MACABRE MATHEMATICS FOR MUMMIES’)

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THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT
by Bryan Pedus & Brandon Meyers
published: 2013
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When I was a kid, my friend Old Weird Eric (he was six feet nine and weighed 50 pounds) and I LOVED the old Horror movies. We used to stay at each other's houses on weekends and watch the scary movies they showed late at night on TV. We lost track of how many times we saw ‘War Of The Worlds’.

As I got older, I mostly lost interest in the Horror genre. Today, there are only a small handful of scary movies that really appeal to me –- but I will say that the ones I still dig, I pretty much LOVE. ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ (1990), the original ‘The Wicker Man’ (1973), John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ (1982), the wrongly maligned ‘Ghost Story’ (1981), and even [*gulp*] ‘The Sentinel’ (1977) all have a common denominator: the horror is more psychological than gruesome. What makes them scary is that the viewer is as confused as the characters in the stories; there’s that constant worry, that constant fear due to the fact that we aren’t really sure what’s happening -- we’re out of our “comfort zone” and into the “twilight zone”.

Movies where some madman is running amok with a chainsaw, or some dude is slicing and dicing with fingers made of knife blades -– those seem more silly than scary to me. (The best parts of ‘The Shining’ are those psychologically disturbing moments that occur before the whole thing culminates in just plain “craziness” and “Here’s Johnny!”)

I did 97% of my fiction reading in my teen years and my early twenties. I’ve remained a book junkie but since that time I have concentrated almost exclusively on nonfiction. However, I recently read the book THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT by BRYAN PEDAS and BRANDON MEYERS. And, coincidentally, I read the book while working “graveyard” shifts at a retirement home where the average resident age is 86 and rarely does a week go by without some resident dying. ‘GRAVEYARD SHIFT’ meet “Graveyard Shift”.

There are some people and some things that seem to complement each other so perfectly that you have to suspect God created them (or made their development possible) so that they would ultimately work together to become something very unique, very special, very popular -– maybe achieving more together than they would have apart from each other. Below is a partial list of classic companions:

SIMON & GARFUNKEL
LAUREL & HARDY
RICHARD & KAREN CARPENTER
ROCKY & BULLWINKLE
ANDY & BARNEY
SALT & PEPPER
PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY
ROY ROGERS & TRIGGER
THE LONE RANGER & TONTO
ROCK & ROLL
RHYTHM & BLUES
CHEECH Y CHONG 
(“We’re just here together and, uh –- I mean, like, we’re not TOGETHER, you know, like, THAT way!” 
~Cheech Marin)
 
TOM SAWYER & HUCK FINN
LEWIS & CLARK
FISH & CHIPS
CHIPS & DIP
PEAS & CARROTS 
(Uhm... nah. Scratch that one off. Yuk!)
 
GIN & TONIC
ROMEO & JULIET
JANE & TARZAN
LADY & THE TRAMP
ME & BOBBY McGEE
ME & MRS. JONES
ME & JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOLYARD
DAVID & DAVID
BATMAN & ROBIN
NICK & NORA CHARLES
BOB & RAY 
(Genius radio comedians well ahead of their time.)
 
YO HO HO & A BOTTLE OF RUM
BASEBALL & BEER
PEANUTS & BEER
PIZZA & BEER
BEER & BEER

To that list I have no hesitation in adding...

BRYAN  &  BRANDON
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they were born and raised in the same area and met each other at a very young age. I believe God had a plan and there is a very specific reason why “they’re here together and, uh -– I mean, like, they’re not TOGETHER, you know, like, THAT way!”

BRYAN & BRANDON make a great writing team, and I was fully convinced of that even before I had finished reading THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT.

Bear in mind that I rarely read fiction to begin with, and I’m not a natural fan of the ‘Horror’ genre on top of that. Nevertheless, I HIGHLY recommend ‘THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT’ -- it’s filled with psychological horror and surprisingly sharp (don’t cut yourself!) plot twists. If these stories could appeal to me -– far from the ideal reader of this sort of book -– then it’s going to knock you right out of your SOCKS & SHOES if you’re a fan of fiction and Horror to begin with.

The book begins on a rainy night when Leonard, a gravedigger with a grave to dig, decides to wait out the storm in the caretaker’s shed. He happens to discover an old, dark brown leather, blood-spattered book on a shelf. Leonard blows a thick layer of dust off the book, cracks the book open and cracks open a can of Hamm’s beer (Hamm’s beer -– in my opinion, that’s where the horror in this book really begins to manifest) and Leonard begins to drink and read.

The ensuing chapters in the book that Leonard reads (and we with him) are separate stories of psychological horror, and if you think you know where these stories are headed... you have clearly lost your head, because there are some fantastic plot twists ahead. You think you’re reading the map correctly and driving down a straight desert floor highway at night and the next thing you know, you’ve come upon a hairpin turn at 75 miles per hour and YOU & YOUR CAR go flying off some Rocky Mountain way.

If I had to name one short story in this collection as my favorite, it might be AN AXE THROUGH BONE. It’s highly imaginative and contains moments of Black Comedy (which I’m a huge fan of). Here are a few selected quotations 
from it:

“Clutching my axe to my chest like a prom queen clutching a bouquet of flowers.”

“The only difference between an axe murderer and a gardener is employment.”

“If people choose to remarry when their spouse dies, fine. I don’t care. But that’s not for me. My wife was not a dog -– one dies, you just buy another. I will wait for her, and I will be with her again.”

Under no circumstances would I wish to spoil it for you, so I will merely state that the last thing Robb says to Officer Brody is absolutely CLASSIC!

The story THESE WALLS lends new meaning to the expression “a haunted house”. It’s positively creepy how Bryan & Brandon, the B-EER BOYS, manage to infiltrate the “mind” of Eastlake Manor, a Victorian mansion, and share with us its increasingly irritated thoughts and emotions.

There was only one story in the entire book that I essentially foresaw how it would likely end. I don’t know why I saw this one coming; maybe it wasn’t cloaked enough, or maybe I’ve seen some similar plot in an old ‘Twilight Zone’, ‘Outer Limits’, or ‘Night Gallery’ episode. I don’t know why I knew. But regardless, the writing was still excellent, so I didn’t feel disappointed that the plot twist at the end did not really send me flying off some Rocky Mountain way at 75 miles per hour.

I couldn’t help noticing that a character in one of the stories is named CARMELITA. Hmmm... a nod to Warren “Werewolves Of London” Zevon perhaps? Another one of my favorite artists with a Black Comedy side to him. (‘Carmelita’ also happens to be one of my Top Ten favorite Zevon zongs; I can personally relate to it.)

BRYAN PEDUS & BRANDON MEYERS are extremely imaginative and talented, and they make an exceptional writing team. I suggest you buy and read this book, hitching your wagon to these rising literary stars, so that in the future you will be able to honestly say, “I was a Bryan and Brandon fan even before they were routinely being mentioned in the same sentences with Poe, Serling, Hitchcock, and King.”

THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT ends with gravedigger Leonard closing the old, blood-spattered leather book and leaving the caretaker’s shed, heading out into the wet cemetary to dig that grave after having finished his fourth can of Hamm’s beer. But... this story is not quite finished yet...

Leonard drank FOUR cans of Hamm’s beer?
That might actually be the most 
horrifying thing in the entire book!

“Vow, kids, vasn’t it SKEDY vhen Leonard the gravedigger killed off those four cans of Hamm’s?”
~ Count Floyd
‘Monster Chiller Horror Theater’

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A "NOVEL" ALLEGORY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MID-CENTURY JAZZ

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ON THE ROAD
by Jack Kerouac
published: 1957 

We'll pick up Hazy Davy and Killer Joe
And I'll take you all out to where the gypsy angels go
They're built like light
And they dance like spirits in the night

(all night) in the night (all night)
Oh, you don't know what they can do to you
Spirits in the night

(all night) in the night (all night)
Stand right up now and let them shoot through you

~ 'Spirits In The Night'

by Bruce Springsteen

I happened to spend a night in Lowell, Massachusetts, while on a road trip some years ago. Being back in Jack Kerouac's hometown, I seized the opportunity to pick up a copy of his most famous book, ON THE ROAD, for a young co-worker. When I learned that he was only halfway through the book after 6 weeks of reading, I pulled my old copy from the shelf to see if it was more complex than I remembered it being -- I hadn't read it since the age of 19 or 20. (*No, it's predominantly high school level writing.) 

I intended to read but a page or two, but found myself sucked in, and I went through the entire book as fast as Dean Moriarty drives through "the fatal red afternoon of Illinois". (For those of you who have never read this cult classic, that translates to 110 mph.)

Ostensibly, the story is an existential look at America played out in the form of multiple cross-country road trips conducted by a variety of "beat" characters or "hipsters" from 1947 to 1950. Of course it also captures the hedonism of the original "Lost Generation."

But in a way it also illustrates the development of Jazz in that era -- something that escaped my notice when I first read it. When Sal Paradise (Kerouac's first-person narrative voice) undertakes his first trip to the West Coast, his plans are all mapped-out, nice and orderly: "I'd been poring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months ... on the roadmap was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I'll just stay on 6 all the way to Ely, I said to myself and confidently started." [pg. 10]

It is not long before Sal's plans get scrapped and he's forced to improvise his way West. This mirrors the movement of Jazz at the time. The rigidly structured musical charts (roadmaps) of the Big Bands were gradually giving way to more free-form Jazz, as musicians began to explore greater possibilites within the genre.

By the book's conclusion, Sal, Dean, and various hangers-on are blasting through the nights and days in a wild frenzy of (sometimes illogical) driving, drinking and womanizing with reckless abandon. Just as the Jazz musicians had gone to the outermost edge of melody and then abandoned all musical structure with wild flights of fancy -- the "Bebop" saxophonists and pianists whose musical aspirations were to create wholly personal, improvisational expressions which often became as self-indulgent as the road trips and misadventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. And throughout the story we find the two protagonists in smoke-filled Jazz clubs in the wee hours, nodding their heads, banging on tables and exhorting the players to Go cat, go! 

And "GOING" in the pursuit of the unnamed "IT" is another major component of the story: "We all realized we were ... performing our one and noble function of the time, MOVE. And we moved!" [pg. 134] "Sal, we gotta go and never stop going till we get there." / "Where we going, man?" / "I don't know but we gotta go." [pg. 240] "If you go like him all the time you'll finally get it." / "Get what?" / "IT! IT! I'll tell you -- now no time, we have no time now." [pg. 127] "Man, this will finally take us to IT!" said Dean with definite faith. [pg. 265]

But Dean Moriarty never does define "It" because he can't. I believe that Sal Paradise comes as close as they ever get to the object of their quest when on page 147 he relates that "as the river poured down from mid-America by starlight I knew, I knew like mad that everything I had ever known and would ever know was One." But then he gets distracted by illusory, mirage-like pleasures deceptively promising to lead him to "It", and he subsequently loses the scent in an alcohol haze.

It really doesn't surprise me that the first car I actually loved, I had named SAL, after Kerouac's character who was forever on the road. And many aspects of the story call to mind my own LIQUIDATED YOUTH when I cavorted with the spirits in the night (all night, every night) and friends known collectively as THE LEAGUE OF SOUL CRUSADERS, and individually as Napoleon, Cranium, Twinkie, and Pooh. Yours Truly was sometimes referred to as Mr. Intense. And then there was our red-headed unofficial leader, Yoey O'Dogherty, known by the nickname of Torch, who served as our "Dean Moriarty" with his contagious passion for life and his magnificent acts of magic behind the wheel of Tiburon, his 1963 Cadillac. There was virtually NOTHING that Torch couldn't get Tiburon to do (except obey the rules of the road).

I caught the essence of The League Of Soul Crusaders in a 1983 poem that concluded with the lines, TELLING JOKES AND HOWLING / TO NOWHERE. And that could just as easily describe the exploits of our boys in ON THE ROAD.

By no stretch of the imagination is ON THE ROAD truly great literature. It's one of those books that found its niche by coming along at just the right time with a new "language." What makes it interesting is its ability to convey the unharnessed energy of youth and to portray an exuberance for experience that resonates with primarily young readers (and old hippies).

While there are far better and more important books for you to spend your limited time with (and although I always preferred Kerouac's, 'The Dharma Bums'), ON THE ROAD is a somewhat worthwhile read and I can generally recommend the "trip", though I would caution you against emulating the immoral self-centeredness of its principal characters. (And I can tell you from many years of experience that you're never going to find "It" at insane parties and wild bars, nor while crossing the country at 110 miles per hour in a tequila or chemical-induced stupor.)

I'd sum it all up like this: 

They raced madly, wildly, chasing after IT. Looking here, looking there; tracking IT through the loud neon-painted nights and always seemingly one step behind IT. I've got IT now! I can feel IT -- the heat, and hear ITS breathing. I can sense ITS powerful presence here. And yet... IT is gone again; ever elusive, never materializing. And Sal and Dean never realized that IT dwelled within them. The one place they never thought to look. They toted IT with them in their crazy, frenzied and futile attempt to find IT. And with Kerouac's poor body utterly wasted from drugs and alcohol, he died a sad, bloated death in 1969 at the age of forty-seven, never having located IT. And IT died with him.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

BLACK AND WHITE AND COOL

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JAMES DEAN: FIFTY YEARS AGO
by Dennis Stock
published: 2005
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My good friend Carole sent me a copy of an official publication from a JAMES DEAN fan club. Inside was a lengthy story she had written recounting the 1988 trip that she and six other “die-hard Dean fans” (including Jimmy’s boyhood friend, Bob Pulley) made to California, during which I escorted the group to several of the prominent Dean-related sites in Los Angeles. Happily reliving those days through Carole’s recollections, I was inspired to lose myself in my copy of Dennis Stock’s JAMES DEAN REVISITED. His JAMES DEAN: FIFTY YEARS AGO is essentially a special, retitled hardcover reissue with the photographs beautifully enlarged, and a few splendid ones previously unpublished now included.
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My copy of the original –- a gift from my employer in 1993 -– is inscribed, “To a fellow alien who straddles two worlds. …the art is in the living.” My magazine-publishing boss bought me the book, but being a major fan, naturally, this essential book for Dean fans was already in my bookcase. I subsequently gave away my older copy and kept his gift.
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As a wannabe actor fresh out of high school in 1977 (Santa Monica High, coincidentally also known as Dawson High in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE), I discovered Dean at a Fox Venice Theater showing of what I consider Dean’s greatest film, EAST OF EDEN. This was before movies were available for purchase and home viewing. I was mesmerized, then knocked out of my boots; everything struck a chord of harmony within me: the sense of youthful alienation; the brooding intensity; the moodiness; the frustration; the quest for meaning. I was hooked, and James Dean became my idol.
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In September of 1980, I took my first extensive solo trip, flying into Indianapolis and then driving to Dean’s hometown, Fairmount, for the festival honoring the 25th anniversary of his death.
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Through happenstance (?), I met Carole and her friend Russ (both would remain my very good friends). I’d heard that Martin Sheen was to attend the festival, and when Russ asked if I wanted to accompany them to the Indianapolis airport to pick up “Martin”, I said, “Sure” –- assuming that the “first name only” implied that this Martin was famous and a last name was unnecessary.
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It turned out to be Martin, hard-core fan flying in from England. (I’m still in touch with this non-Sheen “Martin”, too.) Well, in the days that followed, my disappointment from the “Martin Mix-up” turned to elation when I discovered how well-connected my new friends were, and I found myself meeting Adeline Nall, Jimmy’s high school drama teacher, and then getting a private tour of his boyhood farmhouse conducted by the aunt who raised him, Ortense Dean Winslow. I saw his motorcycle and leather motorcycle jacket, his bongo drum sitting quietly in the corner, and his childhood artwork hanging on his old bedroom walls. Very heady stuff for a young fan! (I’ve experienced so many strange “coincidences” in my 47 years [*now 57 years*] that I’m not at all convinced this life is “real.”)
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Well, as the years wore on, I surprisingly lost interest in acting, and a series of Spiritual episodes completely changed me and my world-view. I no longer idolize human beings, but I still recognize that James Dean was (and remains) the most imaginative, most innately gifted American actor. The direction hinted at in GIANT gives an indication of where he was pointed as an artist, and ultimately he would have emerged as a “giant” of a film director. He may have started life as a hayseed, ending it with a Turnupseed and with life’s promising highway left unexplored before him, but JAMES DEAN LIVES, both in his three films and in these beautiful black and white photographs by the fine lensman, Dennis Stock.
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Do you wish to see why the name James Dean turns up in the songs of Rock stars? (David Essex, Lou Reed, John Mellencamp, Ian Hunter, and The Eagles, to name but five.) Want to see why all the boys wanted to BE him, and all the girls wanted to BE WITH him? (As a female friend recently wrote regarding his performance in East Of Eden: “I think Dean also aroused a lot of maternal feelings with that performance. You're attracted to him, but you also want to mother him. What's a girl to do?”) Well, it’s all in these pages:
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The Offbeat Humor: Encircled by calves and pigs, Jim sits with his bongo drum on a patch of ground on the family’s farm and bangs out a “rhythm to moo and oink to.”
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The Bizarre Morbidity: Jimmy posing in a coffin at a Fairmount funeral home just 7 months before his corpse would be taken there.
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More Bizarre Morbidity: Jim examining the chicken head held by a small, joyful girl loitering on a New York sidewalk, while the girl’s older sister holds onto the leash of their disinterested dog.
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The Eerily Mysterious: He sits dressed in coat and tie, reading a book in the farm’s hayloft while light filtering in reveals him to be surrounded by spider web-sealed old trunks. (A dynamite piece of photography! Absolutely first-rate.)
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The Classic Cool: James Dean marches through the city streets, cigarette dangling and shoulders hunched in his overcoat against a Times Square rain.
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The Ultimate Rebellion: An edgy Dean holding a gun point-blank on future president Ronald Reagan on the Hollywood set of the television play THE DARK, DARK HOUSE.
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These and so many more stellar shots -- some posed and some candid -- await the James Dean fan on these pages. The decades have whittled down my once massive Dean collection to just a few portrait reproduction post cards sent to me by the late artist Kenneth Kendall, who sculpted the actor’s bust on display at The Griffith Park Observatory in L.A., and to the book of 1955 photographs by Dennis Stock. This should tell you plenty about the quality of these photos.
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Come and “see” the original Voice of teen angst, the red-jacketed rebel "In Glorious Black & White".
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Will We Wake Up Now, Or Wait Until The MOURNING?

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[Written and originally posted at Amazon.com on 2004, July 9.]
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NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON ...25 YEARS LATER
by John Stormer
published: 1990
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I attempt to season some of my reviews with a pinch of levity, but that will not be the case in this instance because I find nothing even remotely amusing about this subject!
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NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON ...25 YEARS LATER is John Stormer's 1990 update of his original 1964 classic which documents Communist infiltration of the United States government as well as many other public opinion-molding sectors of American life. Mr. Stormer conclusively shows how our long-cherished American Principles have been subverted by Communistic methodology which utilizes the press, court rulings, the labor movements, the education system, tax-exempt foundation grants, government influence, and (believe it or not) even religious publications to exert pressure from above and below in order to reconfigure our framework and adapt existing structures to accomodate Socialistic goals.
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The person who tells you that this is all just paranoid delusion and innuendo unsupported by any verifiable documentation is DELIBERATELY misleading you! NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON ...25 YEARS LATER is one of the most thoroughly researched books I have ever encountered during my lifelong reading addiction! The exhaustive reference section spans a full 25 pages of minuscule print that cites countless books, textbooks, articles, Congressional records, administrative reports, official bulletins, treaty protocols, sworn testimony from government hearings, and most significantly, myriad Communist publications and reviews. It's not that there is just a "mountain of evidence" to support every one of Stormer's charges -- that mountain is the size of Everest!
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Let me assure you that the scenario presented in this magnificent masterpiece of research is as relevant to us today as the day it was first published -- this despite the "appearance" of Communism's collapse in the Soviet Union. (You should know that this democratic "false front" and even the demolition of the Berlin Wall was foretold as far back as 1982 by the top-level KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn in his book NEW LIES FOR OLD. This book is still in print and so you can verify for yourself his accuracy in revealing the Communist ploy years in advance.)
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Why has the United States government made a pretense of fighting Communism all the while giving aid to Socialist States; securing their infrastructure and feeding their people at American tax-payer expense? As Stormer so accurately points out on page 66: "EVERY COMMUNIST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD LITERALLY HAS A 'MADE IN THE USA' STAMP."
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Think about this: Isn't just the idea that the world's great superpower could not manage to emerge victorious from the "police actions" in Korea and Vietnam simply ridiculous on its face? "Winning" was never the objective of our "leaders", and Stormer proves this beyond all doubt!
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Reading this book for the first time many years ago and thinking about all of our service men killed overseas and their families torn apart and scarred forever, there were many times that I slammed it down in rage -- really not sure that I could bear to read on. Although it's a moot point for me, if I had a son who was contemplating enlisting in the armed forces (or facing conscription), I would consider it my obligation as a responsible parent to insist that he read John Stormer's book before making any decision. What I would give to have been able to get this book into the hands of Pat Tillman before he sacrificed his NFL career and then his life in Afghanistan! God bless and keep that noble man.
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You can be sure that there are many individuals out there who DO NOT want you to read NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON ...25 YEARS LATER. They are hoping that the American People will continue to sit lobotomized before the boob tube and let sleeping dogs lie. Except these dogs aren't really asleep; it is we who snooze while they plot our demise!
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A self-professed Communist [at Amazon.com] frantically insisted that "Nobody should read this book! ... Do not buy this book!" And that is all the confirmation that you should need in order to ascertain that, in fact, EVERYBODY should read this book, and that YOU should buy this book. I urge you to do that NOW!
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To summarize: NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON ...25 YEARS LATER is the heartbreaking and nauseating truth about our government's love affair with Communism. For those who lost loved ones in the Korean or Vietnam "police actions" this book will be particularly disturbing. Without a trace of hyperbole I tell you that Five Stars does not come remotely close to doing justice to the merits of this great work. It is of nearly singular distinction and unquestionably one of the most important books I have ever read!
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NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON ...25 YEARS LATER would still be standing if I were forced to clear my bookshelves of every political tome save three. A highlighted and well-worn copy of it should be found in the personal library of virtually EVERY true American patriot, right alongside G. Edward Griffin's THE CREATURE FROM JEKYLL ISLAND.
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We The People we had better wake up pretty darn quick, otherwise the MOURNING will soon be upon us!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A LOST "CLASSIC" AND A "FINE MEMORY"

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BEAUTIFUL LOSER
Bob Seger
1975
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Late last November, my Bro and I drove down to Tombstone ("The Town Too Tough To Die") to get out of Phoenix for the weekend. Bro doesn't have a CD or tape player in his car, and since Airheadzona is too uncultured to have a real Jazz radio station, we had to settle for "Classic" Rock. (There's nothing like seeing the rebellious Rock of a man's youth labeled "CLASSIC" and played in grocery stores to make him feel geriatric!)
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Driving out of the uncultured metropolis and into the unyielding desert wasteland, our talk turned to tunes of our ancient personal history. While Bob Seger's 'Turn The Page' played (thanks to "The Real Deal, Rockin' Steele" at KDOG), Bro mentioned how much he used to like Seger, a rocker I had turned him onto back in '75. Before we even reached Tombstone's Boot Hill (final resting place of Billy Clanton and the McLaury Bros. after that nasty little bit of business near the OK Corral), I had decided that I was gonna get Bro a copy of Seger's 1975, ‘BEAUTIFUL LOSER’ for Christmas -- you know, exhume that body from the graveyard of his buried past for him.

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So, on Christmas morning, while y'all were in slippers and knotting those new ties around the collars of your pajama tops, Bro and I -- two Beautiful Losers -- were re-experiencing our Black Nights, discussing Momma, and sharing a Fine Memory or two. It was astounding to me -- a Rock 'N' Roll deserter who took up arms for the Jazz camp about 20 years ago -- to find just how good this album sounds today.
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‘BEAUTIFUL LOSER’ was released at the time Bob Seger was just starting to get national recognition. Some might call this a minor breakout album, but I'd call it the "Lost Classic Rock" recording. My Bro also got Mr. Seger's 'Greatest Hits' from me last Christmas, but ‘BEAUTIFUL LOSER’ was the winner.
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Bob sings like a REAL man (a rare occurrence in those androgynous days and an even greater rarity in this era of wimpy, pseudo-tough poseurs trying to convince every hormone-overdosed, pimply suburbanite that they've seen bad times). Seger strikes an ideal balance between catchy hard rockers and sensitive (but most certainly not saccharine) ballads, perfectly expressed through that Jim Beam and barbed wire-raked voice of his. The man sure knew how to write an intelligent Rock song. (Yeah, I know that's nearly an oxymoron. And was this really the same guy who 5 years LATER would pen the sophomoric and regrettable 'Horizontal Bop'?)
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The song BEAUTIFUL LOSER always did (and still does) remind me of a beautiful friend who one night in 1986 decided to voluntarily find out what's on "the other side". KATMANDU is driven by Bob's Motor City mania. JODY GIRL is not just one of the most tender ballads ever written, it's one of the saddest -- damn near activates my tear ducts! MOMMA brings to my mind that tortured and misunderstood, yet loving relationship between my Ma and my Bro back in those days contemporaneous to this album.

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The biggest surprise was NUTBUSH CITY LIMITS, which I never much cared for back "in the day". Don't know what I was thinkin' -- this bad boy REALLY ROCKS; it nearly blows the grey hair right off of my head! And this collection closes with a beautiful and introspective ballad about a FINE MEMORY, which the entire album is for me.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

ALIEN (C)RAPTURE !

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[This review was written and published at Amazon.com in February or early March of 2005. I'm re-publishing it here today as an extra little birthday gift for Nitro Wilbury. Who's your Santa, Nitro?]
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ALIEN RAPTURE: The Chosen
by Edgar Rothschild Fourche & Brad Steiger
published: 1998
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Hokey-Smoke and Hoo-Wee, this was B-A-D!
How bad was it? It read like the screenplay of an Ed Wood movie! It could just as easily have been titled PLAN NINE AND A HALF FROM OUTER SPACE. In my entire adulthood, I have encountered only one other book this poorly written.
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In ALIEN RAPTURE by Fouche & Steiger, the characters are underdeveloped mouthpieces for the authors, with the vocabulary and verbal style of each character virtually identical. The dialogue often exists only as an excuse to relate expository information to the reader, and as such, it is stilted and unbelievable. Imagine one member of an Ultra-Top Secret Committee reminding the Committee Foreman: "SHOULDN'T WE BRING THE PRESIDENT IN ON THIS? I MEAN, PRESIDENT TRUMAN SET UP THE ORIGINAL ... COMMITTEE IN SEPTEMBER OF 1947, RIGHT AFTER THE ALIEN BODIES WERE RECOVERED FROM ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO." (--page 22)
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The book is riddled with trite phrases: "I KNOW THAT YOU MUST ALL BE WONDERING WHY I CALLED AN EMERGENCY MEETING..." (--page 20) // HE "WAS A PROFESSIONAL KILLER WITH ICE WATER IN HIS VEINS." (--page 265)
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Not to be outdone, there are typographical errors galore: "WHAT APPEARED TO BE BITS OF SKULL OF BRAIN WERE SPLATTERED ON HIS COLLAR." (--page 248) *Yeah, that skull of brain does tend to get messy, doesn't it?
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You will also enjoy the unique sentence structure and keen insight: "DOZENS OF TINY EQUIPMENT LIGHTS SPARKLED IN THE DARKNESS OF THE ROOM THEY ENTERED AS THEY STEPPED INSIDE." (--page 230) // "HE KNEW THAT HIS HANDS WERE SHAKING." (--page 2) *It goes without saying that a person knows if their hands are shaking!
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And then of course, there are multiple instances of utter nonsense: The senior member of the Government's most elite Committee bemoans the fact that he couldn't convince NBC to cancel a program on UFOs that the network intended to broadcast in order to inform the public of nefarious government coverups. Ha!-Ha! Like our mainstream media consists of renegade watchdogs looking out for the well-being of the general populace and operating beyond the reach of coercion from the highest levels of Government. Right!
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Here's my favorite: On page 28 we meet COLONEL TY TRENT, a decorated Marine Special Operations and Intelligence Officer. In chapter 16, COLONEL TY TRENT enters an office for a closed-door meeting. This meeting continues through chapter 17, but suddenly we find that Colonel Ty TRENT is being called Colonel Ty TREAT! No, I don't mean that this occurs just once. If that were the case, I would consider it a mere typographical error. No! Throughout chapter 17 the Colonel is named TREAT! Thereafter, he resumes his original name, TRENT. In other words, for an entire chapter, the author forgot the name of his character. And nobody caught this in proofreading? INCREDIBLE! That's how much care and thought went into ALIEN (C)RAPTURE.
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I won't say that the book is entirely devoid of truth, but the conclusion that it draws is not only in error, but downright dangerous to accept. If you are the least bit inclined to embrace the dubious analysis presented here, then I strongly urge you to first read ALIEN ENCOUNTERS by Chuck Missler, ENCOUNTERS WITH UFOs by Weldon & Levitt, and ALIEN INTERVENTION by Paul Christopher.
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Before ordering ALIEN RAPTURE from Amazon.com, I read all of the negative reviews, but being the Idiot from my Village, I ignored them and bought it anyway. Don't be as big a fool as I was.
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In his Foreword to this book, Brad Steiger wrote: "ALIEN RAPTURE is presenting many facts with a little fiction to protect the guilty and shield the innocent." If Mr. Steiger had REALLY wanted to "shield the innocent" (that's you and me), he wouldn't have published this mess in the first place!
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Sincerely,
Stephen T. McCartney
(Oh, McCarthy, McCartney -- what does it matter? Like Colonel TREAT, I was close enough!)
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Hitting It Right On "THE SWEET SPOT"

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[This review was published at Amazon.com on March 17, 2005. I was so pleased with the results that, for the first time in my life, I began to consider myself a genuine writer. I celebrated by taking my Ma -- the greatest lover of baseball I've ever known -- to her favorite Thai restaurant for dinner. A few days ago, I had an enjoyable discussion about Old School baseball with John Holton HERE, and felt inspired to re-publish this review here and now.]
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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER:
Artists And Writers On Baseball
edited by Peter H. Gordon
published: 1987

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Can it really be that no one has posted a review of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER before now? Wow! "WHO'S ON FIRST?" It looks like I am!
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The recent pennant-clinching victory of the Boston Red Sox (hate 'em) over their arch nemesis the New York Yankees (hate 'em) and curse-busting Series sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals (hate 'em now -- the chokers!) inspired me to revisit my copy of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.
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"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball", Jacques Barzun tells us on page 138. But I think Foghorn Leghorn said it best: "There's something - ah say - there's something kind of eew about a kid that's never played baseball."
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And although Football has now overtaken Baseball as America's favorite sport, the game played out on a green diamond is so ingrained in the American psyche that its idioms are commonly accepted facets of our lexicon. This is illustrated by Lesley Hazleton. Moving to the U.S., she was surprised to find that much of the English she had learned in Israel originated with our National Pastime: "I could touch base, give a ballpark figure, strike out and reach first base long before I realized that these were baseball terms." (page 15)
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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER is a "gem" of a compendium celebrating the sport with baseball-themed art, photographs and excerpts from a variety of books, essays and poems. It truly reflects the mythology, the emotions, the poetry, and the mystique of the game. I like very little of the featured art, but the writing, being "uniformly" top-notch, more than compensates, and each of the smattering of photographs are worth a thousand top-notch words. This book really does get to "the heart of the hide"; a double-delicious dose of "Doubleday".
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Although free agency and the record-skewing, steroid-laden hulks like Barry Bonds with the 'Frisco Giants (REALLY hate 'em!) have killed off much of my interest, Baseball will forever be a part of who I am. Twice I witnessed perfection while in a Baseball stadium: Kirk Gibson's Game One-winning World Series homer in 1988, and the 1991 mound mastery of Dennis Martinez -- Major League Baseball's 13th Perfect Game. (Of course the combination of grilled Dodger Dogs and cold, tap beer was yet another type of "perfection" I often experienced at the old ballpark.)
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And if you're like me, then you learned some of life's most important lessons while on the green fields of Summer:
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* I once got drilled between the eyes by a hardball thrown by Craig Richardson, our team's strongest (and most erratic) arm. LESSON: Never sit on the grass behind the "Hot Corner" when Richardson is playing First Base.
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* After that, I always had one foot "in the bucket" at the plate. This was responsible for me striking out 21 times that season -- a team high that I was never able to quite match again, but leading to another LESSON: the importance of setting and trying to achieve personal goals.
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* The kid slid into second base on a steal attempt. I took the throw down from the catcher and applied the tag. And even as the umpire was signaling "Safe" I saw that no part of the boy's body was touching the bag, but the ball in my glove pressed against his calf. LESSON: Sometimes the "authorities" are wrong!
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* Called to "the hill" to pitch the Little League Yankees out of a jam, I saw that girl I had a crush on, Yolanda, was watching the game from behind the fence near our dugout. In my haste to get over there and talk to her, I fanned 3 consecutive batters. My Grandfather (the manager) came out to meet me. "You just struck out the side in order!" he excitedly informed me. I didn't know what that meant at the time and furthermore I couldn't have cared less -- I had nothing but that little cutie on my mind. LESSON: A man's love for a woman will supersede his love for the "diamond", but conversely, the diamond is a girl's best friend.
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* Growing up po' (not Third World po', of course, but American po'), one Summer my Brother and I played for a team in the "economically challenged" part of town. One day our Ma asked, "Do you realize that you're the only White guys on the team? Everyone else is Black." We both had to pause for several moments to contemplate that before answering, "Oh yeah, that's right, huh?" She later confessed that it was the proudest she ever felt of us. And she realized then and there that she had raised us well! LESSON: It don't matter what color your skin is, because when your team loses a ballgame, every player is BLUE!
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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER really captures the magic of Baseball on several levels, but best perhaps in the photo on page 63: There's Wally Joyner, a California Angel in 1986, leaning against a thigh-high stadium fence, hand on hip, one leg casually cocked over the other, gazing off into the distant outfields -- oblivious -- flawless -- looking like a Greek god. There next to him on the other side of the fence, two blonde brothers, maybe ten years old, their heads tilted upward, mouths ajar, awe radiating from their eyes, and with their bodies leaning slightly away from Joyner -- one does not crowd a god!
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If you are a literate person and a true aficionado of the game of Baseball, but my review has failed to convince you that you need DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER in your bookcase, then there is no joy in DotComville -- mighty Stephen has struck out... again.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SAINT PETER SEZ . . .

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LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS
by Dr. Chuck Missler
published: 2000
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. . . "BE READY TO GIVE AN ANSWER IN MEEKNESS AND REVERENCE TO EVERYONE WHO SEEKS FROM YOU A WORD CONCERNING THE HOPE OF YOUR FAITH." (1 Peter 3:15) Chuck Missler's LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS will go a long way in assisting you to do just that! Here is the concept: 24 chapters (each of which can be read in an hour -- and usually less) cover the major themes of The Holy Bible from Genesis through Revelation. This ingenious, but impossibly ambitious idea has been impressively executed, and I highly recommend it to BOTH neophytes AND experienced Bible students.
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I have intently and daily studied The Bible for more than two decades. The margins of my Bible pages contain copious notes representing Holy Spirit-inspired insight, idiomatic notations, and cross-referencing. And still, new truths were revealed to me through Mr. Missler's publication.
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Bear in mind that other than Christ Himself, there is no such thing as a Bible "expert." I even reject the term "scholar." The Bible is the deepest, most mystical, most Spiritually transforming object on the face of the Earth. We can learn about it, but we cannot thoroughly "KNOW" it.

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Missler concedes, "The Scripture is inexhaustible -- you can never get to the bottom of its depth. And that's what you would expect from the Word of God ... Bible study is not an intellectual exercise; it is a SPIRITUAL exercise." (Pages 25 & 309) He is so right! And yet, this book is an excellent resource to give you a start and the inspiration to initiate a personal exploration into the mother lode of Spiritual Truth. You will finish with an understanding of the major themes of the "books" of The Bible, and you will be in possession of a lot of fascinating facts that prove The Bible's Divine Authorship.
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You may already be familiar with SOME of this material if you are currently a devoted student of Scripture and/or you have read some of Missler's previous titles such as COSMIC CODES and ALIEN ENCOUNTERS. Still, it is nice to have it in this novel format along with some of the more obscure but nonetheless penetrating and edifying details.
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The problems with the book are relatively minor: I had to charge demerits because Mr. Missler tends to repeat information too frequently. Also, there was one instance of blatant theological hypocrisy, and a number of typographical errors.
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I do not consider myself a "Christian" in the contemporary sense, as I hold some beliefs that I find to be Biblically sound but unacceptable to the modern "Church." Therefore, I am not in agreement with the totality of Missler's exegesis. Even so, LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS has value for every type and degree of student. Let it inspire you to undertake a more thorough examination of the Word of God, but let The Holy Spirit dictate its deepest meaning to you.
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Have you ever wondered whether there was really any valid reason to put your Faith in The Bible? Wonder no more! "The Bible is the only book that hangs its entire credibility on its ability to write history in advance, without error." (Page 14)

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Do you know someone who is honestly desirous of The Truth but who doesn't currently own a Bible? Here's my prediction: If you buy a copy of LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS for that person, they will have gone out and purchased their very own Bible long before they have even finished reading Missler's study. Yes, it will be THAT eye-opening for a lot of people!
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PROVERBS 26:11 graphically observes that "As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." Be forewarned that this book will convict you of Truth which demands a new Way of living. You will not be able to return to your old patterns. Because knowledge not lived is sin, you should avoid this publication unless you are truly willing to answer a call from God. But do you hear your inner phone ringing? LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS is not a wrong number. Pick it up and say hello to The Father who loves you and to His Son who proved it!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, February 6, 2017

ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A BRAINWASHED AMERICAN?

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GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
directed by George Clooney; starring David Strathairn
2005
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George Clooney’s GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is a beautiful looking movie. It employs sharp, aesthetically appropriate black and white photography in order to capture the 1950s black and white television era, and to imaginatively incorporate period footage of Senator Joseph McCarthy and people related to the events for which he was famous. The cinematography and editing is first-rate, a real feast for the eyes, and I enjoyed the Ella-esque mid-century Jazz score.
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Clooney’s movie is essentially a hagiography of the nearly humorless newsman EDWARD R. MURROW, played so woodenly by David Strathairn as to make Pinocchio seem like Gumby by comparison. (It may have been an accurate portrayal of his personality, but it doesn’t exactly make for captivating viewing.) There were a couple of nice performances in the movie, most notable is Frank Langella in the role of William Paley -- he had some real charisma.
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Speaking strictly visually, the movie’s a winner. But GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK opens in 1958 at a banquet given to honor the television news commentator, MURROW. (It’s one of those types of affairs that my dear departed friend, Marty, once referred to as “a bunch of assholes patting themselves on the back.”) Of the many singularly wondrous works of Murrow that we’re informed of, one is that “He threw stones at giants ... not the least of which, his historical fight with Senator McCarthy.”

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So, Murrow was David versus Goliath, eh? As McCarthy’s chief counsel, Roy Cohn, wrote in his fine book, McCARTHY: “All we had against us was the White House, the administration, the Democratic party, and the Republican party.” Wanna talk David and Goliath? So, enough about the movie’s artistic attributes, let’s talk FACTS since this is a one-sided demagogic attack on the dead Senator who was himself often labeled a demagogue by the print and broadcast media:
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Our 1958 honoree tells his audience we need to get off our collective rear end and “recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us.” Well, guess what. It was, and still is! And so are magazines and movies ... just like THIS one. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (GN&GL) is simply more of Hollywood’s Socialistic brainwashing of Americonned citizens. (We are told in this movie that in the 1950s, Kent cigarettes filtered best; Liberace was giving thought to marriage; and McCarthy was slandering completely innocent people and ruining their reputations and their lives. Each one of those statements is only as true as the next.)
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GN&GL touches on the most famous moments in the McCarthy “Communist Hunt.” (He was looking for Communists who had infiltrated sensitive departments of our government and who were being protected from exposure and removal by highly-placed government officials. Contrary to popular belief, he was NOT hunting witches.) But unless the viewer is familiar with the history, he or she will not likely grasp the relevance of certain details.
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Murrow insists that “ninety-nine percent of the time”, McCarthy is wrong about the people he names as being security risks. Do you know what became of the 110 people in the State Department whom McCarthy named before the Tydings Committee -- but did not name publicly -- as possible security risks? (Pardon me, I forgot that you’re an Americonned citizen. Here’s an easer question for you: Who got kicked off SURVIVOR last week?) Well, 81 of those people were eventually dismissed or resigned from government service due to their Communist affiliations. Mr. Murrow, that’s nearly 74% proven right, not 99% wrong! (And here I thought I was bad at math.)
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Watching GN&GL, the Americonned viewer will come away with the idea that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was falsely accused by McCarthy of being a subversive Communist front organization. Yes, the same ACLU founded by Roger Baldwin, who served as its executive director for 30 years, and who wrote 12 years after founding the organization: “I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.” (Book: THE ACLU VS. AMERICA) You may not have known this fact, but I’ll bet you know who won the last American Idol competition.
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In one scene, we see McCarthy’s Investigating Committee questioning the poor, old Black woman, ANNIE LEE MOSS, who was employed in the Pentagon’s Code Room. She denies ever having been a dues-paying Communist party member. The Great Murrow makes a heroine of the poor beleaguered woman, insisting that it’s a case of mistaken identity and irresponsible McCarthy charges. What you WON’T learn in GN&GL is that it was later proven using the Communist party’s own records that THIS “persecuted” woman (who lived on R Street in Washington D.C.) had indeed been a dues-paying Communist. Yes! Watch GN&GL, watch her lie, and watch Team Murrow defend her!
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The scene that nearly made me laugh out loud has Team Murrow fretting, anxiously awaiting with bated breath the morning edition of the New York Times to see whether or not their television attack on McCarthy the night before will meet with the approval of the ultra-liberal but influential newspaper. Yes, the stridently anti-McCarthy New York Times -– THAT newspaper. That’s fairly analogous to tossing a bag of T-bone steaks into a kennel and then worrying that the dogs might resent it!

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But what of EDWARD R. MURROW? Along with William Paley, he was a member of the COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS (CFR), an organization whose principal founder, Edward Mandell House, wrote that he essentially favored “Socialism as dreamed of by Karl Marx.” House further wrote, “For a long time it had seemed to me that our government was too complicated in its machinery and that we had outgrown our Constitution.” (Book: PHILIP DRU: ADMINISTRATOR) According to 16-year CFR member, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Chester Ward, the primary goal of the CFR is “to bring about the surrender of the sovereignty and national independence of the United States ... to a one-world all-powerful global government.” This will be global, totalitarian Socialism. (Book: KISSINGER ON THE COUCH) Today, the CFR even offers an “Edward R. Murrow Fellowship Award” and the Time-Warner company, distributor of GN&GL, happens to be a CFR corporate member.
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What did MURROW do besides fight McCarthy’s attempts to expose Communists hidden in our government? He defended J. Robert Oppenheimer who was fired as a security risk after it was shown that he had lied about his significant monetary donations to the Communist party. MURROW produced a highly complimentary “documentary” on Fidel Castro which aided the Communist dictator in his coming to power in Cuba. MURROW was an ardent defender of convicted Soviet agent Alger Hiss, and of Owen Lattimore, determined by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee to have been “a conscious articulate agent of the Soviet conspiracy.” MURROW also was a board member of the Institute of International Education, which encouraged young American school teachers to train at the University of Moscow. (Book: NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON: 25 YEARS LATER) Of course, you Americonned citizens wouldn’t know any of this because you’ve been busy watching C.S.I. Miami.
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Shakespeare’s Juliet said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” Well, if it looks like a red rose, smells like a red rose, and is growing amongst red roses, I don’t care if it’s called a “courageous newsman” or a David who “threw stones at giants”, I say it’s a red rose. (And I gotta believe that GN&GL’s writer / director is planted in that same damned garden!) I’ve seen raw meat less “red” than Edward R. Murrow was.
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If you wish to wake up and throw off the shackles that have brainwashed you about Senator Joseph McCarthy, read James J. Drummey's excellent overview of McCarthy's political career, 'The Real McCarthy Record', by clicking HERE. If, on the other hand, you wish to remain an Americonned citizen, then just go back to your episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

CAP'N BOB IS LED TO THE SEA TO SEE THE LEAD!

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THE LOST SHIPWRECK OF PAUL
by Robert Cornuke
pulished: 2003

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All hands on deck for the reading of Robert Cornuke's, THE LOST SHIPWRECK OF PAUL, a seaworthy tale of Biblical proportions!
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This book should appeal to you if: A) You are a crusty old, armchair sea dog. B) A Christian interested in Biblical archaeology. Or, C) Simply a reader looking for a good story. But you will especially love the book if you happen to be all three: A crusty old, Christian armchair sea dog looking for a good story related to Biblical archaeology. Now we're talkin'!
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This latest installment in Robert Cornuke's series of adventures that take him in search of evidence to support the Bible's historicity, sets sail for the island of Malta, seeking the ancient lead anchors from the shipwreck of Saint Paul.
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Using the words of Luke recorded in the 27th chapter of Acts as his first mate, Cornuke calculates where these long lost lead treasures are apt to be found. It turns out that the objects of our hero's quest had already been located and raised from the sea floor by Maltese divers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Although the island natives had no inkling of the tremendous importance of their discoveries since the traditional site of Paul's wreck is a cove considerably further North.) Unfortunately, this fact tends to let the wind out of the sails in Cap'n Bob's adventure just a little bit.
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Nevertheless, it's a slightly padded, but worthwhile story that proves beyond all reasonable doubt that these recovered artifacts, which meet all of the demanding criteria, are indeed remnants of Saint Paul's misadventure at sea. And once again we come face to face with the prospect that, despite the hysterical ranting to the contrary by society's willfully ignorant atheistic and unthinking agnostic bilge rats, the Bible is a reliable historical document! So there! Let 'em stick this in their dinghy and smoke it!
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This title is certainly superior to Cornuke's disappointing In Search Of The Lost Mountains Of Noah, but not nearly as suspenseful as his most important book, IN SEARCH OF THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD: The Discovery Of The Real Mount Sinai. But all in all, THE LOST SHIPWRECK OF PAUL manages to stay afloat while both enlightening and entertaining. It's a quick read, making it an ideal companion on a plane flight or for a weekend at the beach. Although I doubt that I would pack it along on a pleasure cruise, not even on a mere three-hour tour, if you catch my "drift."
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

DOESN’T CUT THE MUSTARD!

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[As I recall, I originally posted this review on Christmas Eve in 2005 or 2006. Remember that, you'll need it later.]
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MXZ POCKET SAW
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The MXZ SAW is advertised as “The Only Saw You Will Use To Cut Everything You Can Think Of.” To the advertising “genius” who dreamed up that slogan, I have THIS to say: “CUT THE CRAP!” This thing is so useless that I’ll bet the feds would let you carry it onto an airplane!
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My Brother, Napoleon, recently purchased the MXZ SAW because he has a thang for mechanical gadgets and because he’s one of those suckers “born every minute.” Well, immediately that sucker “saw” that he’d been snookered by this saw. He showed it to me, and after experimenting with it briefly, I realized quickly that the MXZ SAW is so ineffective that it certainly will NOT “cut everything you can think of”. For example:
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It couldn’t cut in line.
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It couldn’t cut into your action.
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It couldn’t even cut the cheese!
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It’s not as sharp as a sharp-dressed man.
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It couldn’t cut the deck at a poker tournament.
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A drug dealer couldn’t use it to cut his cocaine.
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Gaylord Perry couldn’t use it to doctor a baseball.
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It’s not as sharp as your village idiot.
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Santa Claus couldn’t use it to cut down on his Christmas list.
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It couldn’t cut hard water.
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Heck, you can’t even use it to cut corners!

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In all seriousness, the MXZ SAW went through a cardboard box easily enough, but any reasonably sharp knife would have done just as well. I tried it out on a wooden mop handle -- after all, Napoleon and I are bachelors, what need do we have for a mop? It was effective, but a wood saw would have done the same in maybe half the time.
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I had less success on a metal chain link and an aluminum curtain rod. (Well, I thought it was too dark in Napoleon’s bedroom with that curtain up anyway.) After much back-n-forth action, the MXZ SAW did manage to make slight indentations in the chain link and curtain rod. But so what? Given enough time, drops of water will eventually wear down a river rock, too! I probably could have sawn through those metal objects if I'd been willing to keep sawing until Christmas Eve 2007. My bolt cutter, however, would have gone through them both in under two seconds.
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The good news is that you could probably let your little boy play with the MXZ SAW because I don’t think it poses any genuine threat to “snails and puppy dog tails”. And while a person probably could use this saw to commit suicide, unless that person was extremely young, chances are they would die of natural causes before the deed was done.
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I’d say that what you really have here is the world’s largest nail file. And speaking of “file”, someone probably should file a lawsuit against this company for misleading advertising. I’m sorry, but I can’t even cut the MXZ SAW a little slack using the MXZ SAW.
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Well, listen, I’m going to cut this review short now (with my Ginsu knife), and simply suggest that you get yourself a wood saw and bolt cutter and forget about the MXZ SAW. We threw ours into the trash because it just doesn't cut it!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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