Monday
Mar042019

What Would John Rourke Do?

The final draft for the next book in the Survivalist series, “Operation Phoenix” is almost completed and, as usual, the Rourke gang has a lot of things that need to be taken care of.  Bad aliens, Illuminati, Neo-Nazis, crazy people, and scheming low down rotten politicians all have their fingers in the pot to bring the world and its inhabitants to its knees.  Could it be that John Rourke has finally met his match?

                Personally, John Rourke has suffered the loss of a son he never had the opportunity to hold in his arms, to smell his sweet baby smell, or to gaze into his eyes and begin to plan for his future.  His younger children have been sent far away for their own safety; who knows when and if they will be reunited.  Rourke’s wife, Emma, has become a distant stranger.  Sarah no longer needs him.  He has been thrust into new surroundings where his son, Michael, and his best friend, Paul, have proven themselves capable of running all operations without his participation. 

                The major governments of the world have no real leadership except the dictates of the New World Order.  The military no longer exists to protect the people and the populace, for the most part, carries on unaware or unconcerned of the radical changes occurring around the planet.  The President of the United States has canceled the Bill of Rights and tightened his grip on the news media.  The President as well as puppet leaders elsewhere are taking orders from ones much higher up in the chain of command; those higher up will soon control the world.

                John Rourke has survived and won many battles by his perseverance and sheer willpower.  By now he must feel like he is lacking in both.  We all get tired.  We all get discouraged.  We all want to pull that blanket up over our heads and let the storms pass us by.  There is nothing wrong with being discouraged by life’s happenings; there is a lot of bad stuff going on out there.  But we have to consider the consequences of doing nothing, of saying nothing. 

                We hope John Thomas Rourke will never give up; that he will continue to fight the good fight until the last breath leaves his body.  John Thomas Rourke is a fictional character who relies on the keystrokes of authors who plot his every action, his every emotion.  We, on the other hand, must travel the path that our hearts and minds lead us.  May we always try to follow the right path.  What kind of a world do we want for our children and our children’s children?

                What would John Rourke do?  Will John Rourke give up the fight?  Never!

Sharon

Wednesday
Jan162019

Night of January 16th

Recently I attended a local theatrical production of Ayn Rand’s Night of January 16th.  The performers did a great job of presenting a very young Rand’s emerging philosophy on individualism versus collectivism.  It’s done as a courtroom drama with the murder victim’s secretary/mistress on trial for his murder.    The jury, chosen from the audience, must decide if she threw him from the penthouse apartment to his death or if he committed suicide and she was merely struggling with him to prevent him from jumping. 

                Through courtroom testimony, we must make a decision as to what type of man Bjorn Faulkner was, since it becomes apparent that He is the one on trial.  Was he a man who was ready to change his ways and strive to help make the world a better place for mankind or, a man who set his own rules and was willing to live or die by them. The witnesses called to the stand bring their own biases. The question as to how he died becomes irrelevant; more important is the way he chose to live. Rand’s play forces the jury to decide between conformity and individualism based on their own philosophical leanings. 

                Ayn Rand was only twenty-eight in 1933 when she penned her play and had a long road ahead of her before she honed completely her philosophy of Individualism.  Probably she is most well known for her huge novel, Atlas Shrugged, but a tiny parable of hers written years earlier, Anthem, gets her point across even more clearly.   The society in her story encourages collectivism.  One must think only of what is good for the general public.  Individual thoughts or actions are banned.  Having pride in your accomplishments is a sin.  The word “I” is unspeakable and if uttered is cause for death.

                If we were to live in such a collective society, another word that must be banned is “choice.”  What is best for you may not be best for the masses, therefore limiting your access to achieve that choice is the correct thing to do.  If you wish information on a particular subject that the higher authority does not approve of, the information becomes lost or illegal to acquire.  Soon, this information becomes less real and more of a distant memory.  A typical modern term for this is “dumbing down.”        

    We can see this is today’s society where certain books, regardless of literary value, are banned from classrooms and libraries because they might be offensive to certain people.  Rather than making it known that a book or some other type of media could be offensive to those people, the easier course of action is to make it unavailable to everyone.  It would not take long for the masses living in such a culture to eventually think as one and act as one.  If an individual with an open mind entered the mix chaos would surely follow.

                We all have and will continue to be influenced by others. It’s just human nature.  Listen. Digest. Process.  Live your life free to decide your own path.  Remember what your mother asked you when you were a child?  If Billy jumps off a cliff are you going to jump too?  Think about it.

                Just read a pretty interesting book by NBC Chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel talking about his twenty plus years living in the Middle East and reporting on the people and politics of the region.   Not a casual observer, Engel spent time getting to know the history behind the different factions, learned the language and spent time with the local inhabitants, living in places like Egypt, Israel, and Iraq.  He was quick to travel wherever the action was taking place, at times at great risk of his life. It’s a fast-paced account of what went bad and why in a greatly complicated region.  Check out And Then All Hell Broke Loose.

Sharon 

Tuesday
Dec112018

 GIFTS

 

I can’t remember playing with any special toys.  First of all, we didn’t have a lot of money so I knew better than asking for stuff my parents couldn’t afford, which was most things.  I didn’t care about dolls except for this one I got for Christmas one year that you fed water to from its own little bottle and then squeezed its stomach and the water squirted out of a hole in the doll’s behind.  It became my own special squirt gun. I know now that I was way too annoying, running around the house, filling the doll up with water and then having it pee on everything.  Parents do occasionally make mistakes with toy selections. 

I did like paint by number sets and would occasionally stoop to begging.  I was with my mother and my sister at a Woolworths and my mother was going to let me pick out a paint by number set.  She had this religious picture in mind and I had my heart set on a picture of Superman.  Unfortunately, Superman cost more than Jesus and I was told it was Jesus or a German shepherd.  I didn’t want the dog and I didn’t want Jesus.  I wanted Superman! I stood there holding Superman in my arms and started to wail.  Embarrassed, my sister paid the extra fifty or sixty cents and the four of us left the building. Up. Up and away!

Since there was a limit on the number of these sets available, I eventually gave in and painted the German shepherd and went on to the Last Supper.  Mom decided that I should give the completed Last Supper to our minister.  Even a little kid like me suspected that he had a closet full of the same picture, but he took it from me with a straight face and my mom was happy.  The German shepherd and a Cocker Spaniel hung on the wall in the dining room, next to two pictures portraying kimono-clad ladies on scenic bridges, horses, pink flamingos, parrots, sailing ships, a lighthouse, a Poodle on black velvet, etc.

Another young passion of mine was putting together plastic models.  I started assembling old-timey cars and planes, never really interested in those of the present which by now would be in that old-timey bracket.  The original Aurora plastic models of Frankenstein and his horror buddies adorned my dresser top and a large dinosaur skeleton which I later gave to my nephew.  That was a total mistake as he stepped on it and broke it beyond repair.  Bet you thought I had forgotten that, George!  I worked my way up to large models of sailing ships with intricate rigging and cannons.  Putting it mildly, our home always smelled of paint thinner and glue.

I was still into model making when Jerry and I became friends in high school and one time I bought him a simple car with just a few pieces to put together and paint.  A few days later, he brought it over to show me.  Most of the body was covered in fingerprints embedded in dried, excess glue and one of the axels had been replaced with a toothpick.  The car was painted all over in one color and he had drawn two heads on the windshield, smiling.  He told me that glue and paint were too dangerous and he would rather stick to scotch tape.  I agreed. 

When buying gifts, remember to stay within the skill-level of the recipient.

Sharon

Friday
Nov022018

WHAT DO WE SAY TO OUR CHILDREN?

I’ve been wondering lately what the state of the world will be like in twenty years or fifty years if some things don’t change, such as our rhetoric and mannerisms. 

                Turning on the evening news, we have to remember that the programming is PG-13.  The major headlines so often are ones about bombings, shootings or other acts of violence with maybe two minutes at the end of the program slotted for some sort of “feel good” moment.  Years ago I felt that we had all become desensitized from viewing the atrocities and carnage taking place in far away Viet Nam.  We have gone light years beyond that today.  Now it’s become more personal. 

                 I shudder to think of the human race dragging knuckles through the rubble of civilization, unable to communicate in no way other than by showing force.

                 “You look different than me.”  Bam!  Pow! 

                “You have different religious beliefs.”  Crack!  Slam!

                “You’re in my face.”  Kapow!  Thump!  “I just want to hurt someone and hear them cry as I have                  cried.” 

                We want our children to have a good life.  We send them to school to learn how to read and write and become good citizens of the world.  We send them to houses of worship to learn that if they are good there will be a better place for them someday.  When they turn out less than perfect, we blame what they’ve learned from television or video games or gang influence. 

                But what have we taught them?  Have we taught them that anger rules?  A simple game of baseball or soccer among youngsters can turn ugly when parents lash out at the coaches or referees and a brawl ensues.  A vehicle getting in your way on a highway is reason for road rage, worth endangering the lives of many. Sports and entertainment figures feel that they are above the law and moral decency.  Politicians teach our children that saying untrue or nasty things about their opponents is acceptable if it sways votes.  Too often fear can turn to anger and hate, and for whatever reason, is rationale enough for killing.

                We need to tone down the rhetoric and try to engage brain before action is taken.  Otherwise, I’m afraid civilization will break down into warring tribes that will sooner or later annihilate each other. By then, it will be too late to tell our children; no one will be there to listen.

 

                I recently read a memoir of a woman who survived the Holocaust in Budapest.  Her mother, who deserves to be on the lists of super moms, was able to keep the author, a teenage girl, and her younger sister and brother alive through the horrors of Nazi occupation.  They survived twelve-hour marches across Hungary in the cold and snow, sleeping on the hard ground or in the mud, with little or nothing to eat or drink.  Those who couldn’t keep up were rewarded with a bullet. They suffered in the death camps but survived there as well until liberated by American forces.  What seemed to be the worst atrocity in the author’s recollection was the sight of their non-Jewish neighbors standing on both sides of the road jeering, calling them names or just doing nothing as she and her fellow Jews were marched away from their homes.  TO SEE YOU AGAIN by Betty Schimmel is a story of courage and love set against the horrors of war. 

Sharon

Monday
Oct012018

SEPTEMBER MORN

             Sunday mornings at my place usually consist of staying out of the office for a while and picking up stuff and straightening up of the house.   The couch cushions are checked for hidden treasures such as tennis balls.  Shelby’s bones and toys go into her basket and the rug gets vacuumed.  As I leave the room I can hear her emptying the basket and throwing everything back where it belongs.  Wash get done and put away and the sink emptied. 

                I’ve mentioned before that Sunday mornings always include music.  There’s no real rhyme or reason as to what goes into the mix.  Sometimes the list may go from Andrea Bocelli to Rod Stewart to Rod McKuen to Sarah Brightman.  Queen makes the list frequently as does Charles Aznavour and the Bee Gees.  Another favorite is Neil Diamond who takes up a lot of shelf space in my record collection. Seeing as how this is being written on September 30, Neil’s “September Morn” album is on the turntable.

                I have been a Neil Diamond fan since the late 1960s and Jerry always made sure to keep me supplied with any new album that came out.  He appreciated the fact that I had a few favorite singers, such as Neil, that he thought that could actually carry a tune.  It also helped that his slow songs were perfect for dancing to in our living room. 

                We moved from the Chicago area to Northeast Georgia late in the 70s and soon afterward were able to bring down my parents, thus forming our own mob-like enclosure.  Small town life suited us just fine and we busied ourselves with family and writing.  Then came August of 1984!  Neil Diamond was coming to Atlanta!!!

                Jerry not only got tickets for us but for our two kids and for my mother.  The kids had listened to his songs since they were babies. I’m sure my mother didn’t have a clue as to who he was or where we were going but it sounded like an adventure, for sure.  Boy, was she right.

                Having avoided actually going into the downtown Atlanta area up to this point, we suffered the consequences.  We had planned on leaving in plenty of time to get to the Omni, find our seats and settle in before the concert but… The interstate was a mess and there was nothing we could do except inch forward along with the rest of the traffic.  We were finally able to get off at what we thought was the correct downtown exit only to find out that we were wrong.

                 By this time Jerry was losing that thin veneer of adult confidence and cool we try to maintain in front of our children, right before we blow up and become the primal savages we really are.  Mapquest directions are not easy to follow when the vehicle is going really fast on unfamiliar streets while looking for a large building you’ve never seen before.  The kids were loving the roller coaster ride and my mother sat quietly with her eyes tightly shut, probably thinking that this was a big mistake.  I was already in the “It’s ok if we get there a little late mode,” and Jerry wasn’t buying it.  He knew this concert was important to me and he wasn’t going to let me down. 

                We eventually found the Omni, memorized the location and then spent more time circling the area to find a parking lot that still had space.  After paying almost the cost of a concert ticket for a little piece of real estate, we trekked back to the venue, dragging the kids and grandma.  We presented our tickets and walked into this humongous auditorium. Our seats were in the nosebleed section and the lights were already dimmed.  We never saw Neil walk on stage or actually see him sing his opening selection because we spent that time trying to get to our seats without falling.  Jerry had to contend with a night blind wife who lost all sense of balance in the dark, two young children who were too busy looking around to keep up and a seventy-eight-year-old mother-in-law.

                Grandma was a trooper and didn’t have a heart attack that night, thank goodness.  She did live until just shy of one-hundred years old.  The concert was great and we all had a wonderful time.  The kids didn’t lean forward and fall out of their seats onto the heads of those tiny people way down below and, we almost forgot that we still had to get everyone back down to the main level when it was over.

I was gifted with a concert tee shirt, which I still have, and the memory that Jerry always tried to keep his promises, even if meant endangering our lives to do so.  We found our car parked where we left it and drove at a much more comfortable speed on the long drive home.

Although Neil Diamond continues to write songs and to record, he has had to retire from touring because of Parkinson’s Disease.  His music has spoken to us for over fifty years and I hope for many more to come.  Thank you for all you have done to sing the words we all have in our hearts and for all the fond memories you have given us.

I remain,

Forever in Blue Jeans

Sharon