art, music, YouTube

*Sigh*… don’t they know it’s the end of the world?

Welcome to Friday, y’all. Ordinarily, I’d be delighted that it’s Friday, but this week it means that Bill will be gone in 48 hours. He has to go on another business trip to Bavaria. But the good news is, next week, we’re outta here for a little over a week. Granted, part of that trip will involve seeing our dentist, and that’s not always a good time. I suspect the dentist will give Bill a ration of shit because he’s got one less tooth than the last time they saw each other. Bill is going to have to explain to our regular dentist that a more local dentist will be installing an implant. But– hey– our dentist wasn’t available when the molar bit the dust. Something had to be done immediately.

I also got a message from the first hotel we’re going to. They said they don’t have enough staff to be open during the second and third nights of our three night stays. However, because I booked an apartment, it’s still possible to stay there. We’ll just be “self catering” guests. They said they’d be giving us a 20 percent discount for the inconvenience. That’s cool. We know the town pretty well, anyway, because when we lived near Stuttgart, we used to visit there all the time. Plus, during our first Germany stint, we lived very close.

I know I could be writing about the state of the world today. There’s actually a lot going on right now that is worthy of commentary… but I just don’t feel like going there right now. As much as I’d like to speculate about what’s going to happen to Donald Trump and his merry band of buffoons, I’m just not in the mood. Ditto to pontificating about Ex, complaining about people on the Internet with extreme cognitive dissonance, or upbraiding religious people. Today, I want to write about something I did on a whim yesterday.

As some of you know, I’ve been learning to play guitar. Because I’m using the Internet instead of a live teacher, it’s been kind of slow going. But I have gotten competent enough to play somewhat decent rhythm guitar on simple songs with open chords. I’m slowly getting the hang of barre chords, and I’ve been learning some less frequently used chords. My exploration has led to learning new songs and exploring different artists.

This week, I discovered Skeeter Davis. Actually, I didn’t really “discover” her per se. I had heard of her before. She had a hit song called “The End of the World”, which she didn’t write. However, she was also a good songwriter in her own right, and wrote a lot of hits in the 60s and 70s. That was a bit before my time.

I’ve been using Chordify to learn new songs, and one of the songs Chordify suggested was Skeeter Davis’s version of the old classic, “Smile”.

I’ve gotten somewhat good at playing this song.

As I’ve been learning this song on guitar, I’ve also been watching a lot of YouTube videos. The other day, I was bored and found myself watching the 1989 made for TV movie, The Karen Carpenter Story, for the umpteenth time. It’s kind of a lame movie, but I actually watched it the day it premiered on television on January 1, 1989. I like The Carpenters’ music, sure– but I was also a fan of Cynthia Gibb’s. She played Karen, albeit while wearing really horrible and unconvincing wigs. But the wardrobe was legit. She actually wore Karen’s clothes and lost a lot of weight to be able to fit into them!

In that movie, Cynthia Gibb– who also played Holly Laird on the Fame TV show– sang “The End of the World”. It was one of the few songs she didn’t lip sync in that movie. Karen Carpenter was evidently a fan of Skeeter Davis’s version of that song, and her rendition of “The End of the World”, so Gibb was singing the song as teenaged Karen Carpenter.

I guess the combination of playing Skeeter Davis’s version of “Smile” on guitar, and watching The Karen Carpenter Story, complete with a rendition of a song Skeeter Davis made famous, made me feel like trying “The End of the World” myself. I did so yesterday, completely on a whim. I hadn’t expected to record anything yesterday and just tried the song to see what it would sound like. Before I knew it, I was committed to making a video… and below is the end result.

No makeup… and I had just gotten out of the shower, hence the wet look.

The interesting thing about this video is that originally, I was going to try to do The Carpenters’ version. But I decided I didn’t like their arrangement for myself. So I downloaded three other arrangements– Skeeter Davis’s, Vonda Shepard’s, and Susan Boyle’s! I didn’t like Skeeter’s version so much, because she talks in the song, which I don’t like doing. Vonda’s version is very lush and complex, and not really fitting in with the right mood for that song, in my opinion. “The End of the World” is a plaintive song, after all. I ended up doing Susan Boyle’s much simpler version, even though I have never heard her version with her singing it. I just have a recreated karaoke track. I thought of adding harmonies, but then pictured the singer alone and heartbroken. So I didn’t add anything other than my vocals.

I ended up changing the key, doing it in “A”, which is what Karen Carpenter did it in years ago. I was going to do it in a much higher key, but decided that it made me sound too girlish. Even though this is kind of a dramatic song that might echo the sentiments of a teenager, I’m a middle aged woman… and I think there’s something to be said for a middle aged woman singing the blues about no longer having the love she used to have. So that’s what I did… and it seems to be pretty well received.

I also did a version of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. I am not a big Streisand fan, even though she has an incredible voice. I like her better as an actress than a singer. But her famous 1978 duet with Neil Diamond is heartbreaking… So I gave it a whirl, using the generic Ukrainian male staff singer at Karaoke Version to provide the male vocals. He did a good job, in spite of his heavy accent! I could have tried it as a solo song, too. Maybe I’ll do it that way at some point in time.

Anyway, below is my version of that song…

This video is actually running ads, which means it must be somewhat successful, even though I won’t make any money.

I picked up five new subscribers this week, too. One of them was my husband, Bill. I asked him to subscribe so I could have 150 subscribers– a nice round number, like my ass. But then I got two more when I posted yesterday’s song.

It’s recently dawned on me that I seem to be more popular as a YouTuber than as a blogger, although I can’t say I’m really that popular in either realm. But my videos seem to do significantly better– in terms of hits– than most of my blog posts. They are also less contentious. Maybe I should just stick to recording cover songs from the 70s and 80s and bag my “writing career”. Former tenant thought I was a hack, after all. πŸ˜‰

I think “The End of the World” turned out pretty well. It’s probably one of my better performances. I don’t actually like listening to myself sing, most of the time. I like to perform– and don’t mind hearing myself as I sing, especially on a mic. But I don’t like listening to my own recordings. I guess it’s like hearing yourself speak on a recording. It sounds weird when it’s not in your head. However, the act of singing is relaxing and helps alleviate depression. I focus on the music instead of things that are downers in the world. Some people needlepoint, take dance classes, or create paintings. I sing… and I write. I used to cook, but Bill took over that chore.

Speaking of painting… Yesterday, I stumbled across a video made by a YouTuber named Sue Sloan. She has a channel dedicated to painting Dot Mandala, something I’d never heard of until yesterday, when I found her channel and Bill explained the concept to me. Sue Sloan recently changed the name of her channel to her husband’s name, because she’s dying of cancer. Her goodbye video is the first one I’d ever seen by her.

Cancer sucks! This is her most recent video. It was posted a month ago.

I was curious about her channel, so I checked it out… and I can see why she had a lot of subscribers. I watched her video on how to paint Dot Mandala and it made me want to go buy some art supplies. But I’m really NOT good at this kind of thing. I have trouble deciding on colors, and I’m not very neat or precise. I watch her using a compass and a ruler to make precise designs and it stresses me out. My parents were both very good at this kind of thing– Mom is a master at needle crafts, and my dad framed pictures for a living after he left the Air Force. I did NOT inherit that gene at all. I’m too much of a slob.

I do admire Sue Sloan’s artistic talents, though… Wow. I’d love to have one of these hanging in my office.

Beautiful! My sister got the art gene, though. I’m terrible at this kind of thing.

Here’s another one she did.

I really like how this looks, and I’d like to think I could do one of these without completely messing it up. She makes it look pretty easy. But visual arts aren’t my thing. I am more of a musical person.

Well, I suppose that about does it for the Friday edition of my blog. It’s already 10:00 AM. I don’t have any big chores planned for today, but I have a habit of being too long-winded. So I’m going to bring today’s post to a close… maybe watch more YouTube videos and see what inspires me. Maybe I’ll do another song today… or watch another movie… or get outraged by news about Trump and the rest of the GOP idiots who don’t seem to think the rules apply to them (I’m looking at YOU, Lauren “Hoebert”, theater crotch groper…).

Perhaps I’ll be back tomorrow with something new.

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animals, family, nostalgia, YouTube

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Mmm’kay… now that the drama of the past few days has passed, it’s time to get back to “work”. I know not everyone considers what I do “work”, but what do they know? Maybe I’m just one of those people whose true worth won’t be known until after I’m dead. πŸ˜‰

It’s just after 9:00 AM, here in the land of Beer, Brats, and Broetchen. I’ve already gotten a few things done. I washed the sheets, cleaned Noyzi’s food and water bowls and refilled the water, did some more work on migrating and organizing my massive music collection to the newer computer, and paid a bill. And now I’m sitting here wondering if I want to upset my stomach by thinking about the news of the world.

I know I haven’t been writing as much about current events lately, but trust me, I’ve been watching what’s going on. I suppose it depresses me too much to comment on the epic political shitshow that is projected for 2024. I hate the idea of DeSantis or Trump in the White House. I’m not overly excited about another four years with Biden, either, mainly because he is so elderly and people say such awful things about him. I know it probably wouldn’t be any different with another candidate in power, but at least someone younger and more dynamic would seem more like a fair target. I have respect for Joe Biden. He truly inherited a circus when he entered the White House. It can’t be easy cleaning up Donald Trump’s messes… especially give his penchant for Big Macs and Whoppers.

I was never a fan of politics. Today’s political scene is especially heartbreaking to me, when I see idiots like Lauren Boebert holding court. I’m not proud of it, but whenever I hear her speak, I have a tendency to hurl insults at the TV. I respond to her much like I respond to hearing Trump speak. It’s safe to say that I despise her, and her ilk. But I didn’t used to be anti-conservative at all. In fact, for well over half my life, I identified as a Republican. Not anymore.

This morning, as Bill and I were having breakfast, we talked a bit more about what went down over the past few days. I wrote down my honest and candid thoughts in my blog, as if I were writing in a diary. I upset someone in my family, who in fairness, upset me first. It’s regrettable when people are negatively impacted by the things I do. However, I think I can glean some good stuff from my posts… and if I can, I’ll bet others can, too.

For instance, yesterday I wrote about the “Bless your heart” mentality so prevalent in the South, and how it leads to excessive bullshitting. Some years ago, I remember hearing an interesting metaphor about the different types of people one encounters in life. I don’t remember exactly where I heard this concept, but it’s stuck with me. And, forgive me, but I’ve also written about this previously. In the interest of full disclosure, here’s a link.

Some people are like “peaches”. They are soft, fleshy, fuzzy, and sweet on the outside. They look and smell delicious, and they attract everyone with their mainstream appeal. But, deep down, they have hearts of stone. I picture the stereotypical mean Queen Bee bitch who’s all “honey lippin'” sweetness and light to everyone to their faces, but then stabs them in the back. I think some southern people are kind of like this by nature– or by virtue of that whole “Bless your heart” mentality that we have down there. Be “nice”, no matter what… even if you’re being profoundly disingenuous.

Other people are more like coconuts. They have rough, tough, hard outer shells that are abrasive to the touch. They aren’t easy to crack, nor are they easy to enjoy, but beneath that rough exterior, there’s exotic sweetness that can be very refreshing. I picture the weird, grouchy, eccentric old lady on the corner who is a wonderful, sensitive artist or talented musician… or tells wonderful, vivid stories to enchanted children. The lady who collects homeless cats or dogs and lovingly cares for them as she screams at people to get off her lawn might be more of a “coconut”. I think of certain northern folks as coconuts– the people who are very gruff in the subway station as they help you validate your ticket.

And then there are people who are just plain nuts, like me… πŸ˜‰ Crunchy, salty, and occasionally oily, maybe? I don’t know. Or maybe I’m more like a crab… or a lobster, like Leon, the lucky crustacean who was rescued from a grocery store by an enterprising YouTuber who makes educational videos about him.

The latest on Leon…

I like peaches, and I like coconuts and nuts in moderation… I’m not a fan of eating crabs, although it’s fun to catch them in rivers. It’s probably fun to catch them from certain sexual partners, too, but the aftermath isn’t much fun. I suppose I could say that I enjoy people who resemble those types, too. I have some friends who are like peaches, and a few who are like coconuts. Having a hard “stone pit like” heart doesn’t always mean someone is inherently evil. And being sweet and fluffy on the inside doesn’t always a person is easy to love, once you break the shell.

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in Gloucester, Virginia, which is a small, conservative, southern town in Virginia. I didn’t like Gloucester when we first moved there. Even though I was born in Hampton, which isn’t that far away from there, moving to Gloucester in 1980 was a big culture shock to me. It took a long time for me to appreciate Gloucester. I don’t think I ever really liked it when I lived there, although I did eventually fit in better, and other kids finally stopped bullying me. Now that I’m an adult, I appreciate it a whole lot more. Not enough to move back there, mind you… but more than I did when I was a child. It is a beautiful place with really good people… many of whom are very religious and politically conservative, and like to catch and eat crabs.

Unlike my sisters, I had the experience of mostly growing up in one town. I lived in Gloucester from the age of eight until I went to college at age 18. Then I boomeranged there back a couple of times before I finally left for good at age 27. Like it or not, that place had a huge effect on me. Even today, there are still a lot of people there who know me. One of them left me a comment on my link to yesterday’s post. She and I have probably known each other since 1981 or so… Her mom and my dad used to sing duets in church. We are the same age, and graduated in the same class. She also went to Longwood for awhile, although she didn’t graduate from there.

My old friend had kind words for me yesterday, which I really appreciated. Another friend also had kind words, even though we have never met offline. I think both of those ladies, who are living in the South, might understand the whole “bless your heart” thing… where you are expected to be nice, even if it means being dishonest. The weird thing is, I was always proud of being southern… but now, I feel divorced from the culture.

In fact, I feel divorced from my family, too. It would be easy for me to blow off what happened the other day, with my cousin’s wife. But it’s not the first online altercation I’ve had with people in my family, and I’m feeling pretty estranged now… like, most of them are now strangers and don’t care about me. It makes me glad there’s an ocean between us… even though there are lots of times when I wish I could live in my own country. I don’t know when, or even if, we’re going to move back there. Situations like this make staying abroad more appealing. I don’t want to fly eight hours on a plane to go home to people who are shitty to me because of petty Facebook dramas. But, like I wrote yesterday, most of them don’t understand me anyway… and seem unwilling to try. The bright side is, I don’t feel guilty when I plan lavish Nordic vacations instead of not having gone home to see my mom for the past 8 years. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing my mom. She’s got common sense, and a sense of humor.

A couple of years ago, Bill and I met a German woman at a Christmas market. It turned out she had lived in the United States for some time, working for Seagrams in Tennessee. We traded a couple of stories about our experiences living in different countries from our origins. She looked at us with empathy and said, “The United States will never be the same for you again. You have now become Europeanized.”

She’s right. I don’t see the USA the way I did when I was younger. I don’t see “home” in the same way, either. Germany’s not quite “home”, but it’s been where I’ve lived for over half my marriage. I don’t even speak the language, but it’s become a familiar and comfortable place to me… and in many ways, it’s more welcoming than home is. At least here, no one knows that much about me, or where I came from. And no one cares that much, either, except they usually do want to know what state we’re from. Germans, by and large, seem to love Florida… but I’m sure it’s strictly because of the beaches and beautiful (hot and sunny) weather. If they had to live there under Ron DeSantis and religious wackos, I suspect a lot of them would hate the place.

Well, it’s now getting close to 11:30 AM. My work on this post has been interrupted a few times by music migration breaks. I think I’ll end this entry and get on with the other activities of the day. Noyzi needs a walk, and my guitar is calling me for a quick practice session. Hopefully, I won’t alienate anyone with today’s musings… but if I do alienate anyone, I suspect they’ll just shitcan me without a second thought, too. Oh well.

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blog news, music, politicians, politics, YouTube

A boring post about my Saturday chores… Nothing much to see here.

Happy Saturday, everyone. It’s kind of a warm, but cloudy and windy day here in Germany. I always hope we can go out and do something fun on the weekends, but we often seem to get waylaid by chores and bad weather. The battery in my car died while Bill was away, and he hasn’t had time to charge it. I think he’s planning to do that today. I might go oil the patio furniture again, too, or maybe do a load of laundry.

Bill has already shaved his beard, which is kind of a relief to me. I do like how he looks with the beard, but I don’t like kissing it. And he says it’s kind of itchy, and makes his lips chap. I don’t know how that happens, but I’ll take his word for it. He’s making good use of the clippers I bought him back when the pandemic was in full swing, and I had to cut his hair. πŸ˜‰

I did just open the window, because it was getting a bit stuffy in my office. The breeze and the smell of ozone are nice. I wouldn’t mind if it stayed like this for more of the summer, but I know hot weather is on the way… perhaps even as soon as tomorrow.

This morning, I’ve been watching videos and moving more of my music catalog from my old computer to the new one. It’s a pain in the ass, but it needs to be done before the old computer completely gives up the ghost. Once the hard drive dies, all of that old content will be lost forever. So, even though it’s frustrating and annoying to have to manually move files, I continue to do it, and clean up the library, too. I probably shouldn’t use Apple so much, since iTunes (which is actually defunct), pretty much sucks. But so much of my stuff is on Apple, than I kind of can’t help it. I refuse to use Apple or Amazon Music, either.

This has also been an unusually expensive month, since we’ve been planning our very pricey vacation. Most of it is paid for, except for dog boarding, hotels, taxis, entertainment, and food when we’re not on the ship. It might be just as well if we don’t go out today, although I have been finding some places I’d like to visit on day trips. Bill is taking a few days off at the end of the month, and we’re planning to do some local excursions then, if we don’t get waylaid by chores again. πŸ˜€

Of course I’ve been paying attention to the crazy shenanigans going on in the United States right now. Ron DeSantis grows ever bolder, and Trump mocks him. I suspect their political fights will be a total shitshow. I sure wish we could get someone normal and decent to be our leader. Personally, I don’t mind Joe Biden as president, but he’s getting quite elderly. I think we need someone much more dynamic to keep some of these crazy MAGA extremists in check.

Trump and DeSantis both SUCK and need to go far away.

I also heard about Lauren Boebert’s divorce, from her husband, Jayson. I don’t know why she’s splitting from her husband, whom I’ve heard is quite the asshole (like she is). If I were to speculate, my guess would be that she found someone slightly classier, with more money, with whom to form a marital bond. But I don’t know the real reason… I just think it’s interesting that she and the loathsome Marjorie Taylor Greene both split from their husbands this year, as they tout traditional family values. What a couple of hypocritical hags they are. I hope they both fall out of favor soon and get out of my life. Again, we are in real need of decent people in the government.

Yesterday, I got a new microphone, a Shure Beta 58A. I decided to try it out on a couple of songs, just to see if it’s that different from my trusty Shure SM58. I bought another mic from a different manufacturer a couple of months ago, but was disappointed when it didn’t work at all. The new mic works fine and I think it sounds pretty good. Here are a couple of videos I did yesterday afternoon. Two very different songs…

I just learned this song yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve ever sung this version… which is based on a Renee Olstead cover.
And here’s a fun Amy Winehouse song… I tried it just because it was different.

It’s always fun to get new musical gear! But then, if I had saved the money on the mic, we could go out and have a nice lunch somewhere. We could do that anyway… Maybe we will.

Anyway, I don’t know what the rest of the day will consist of. Maybe we’ll go out, so I can add a post to my “lame” travel blog. But maybe we won’t… It probably doesn’t matter. My allergies are acting up, and my stomach is bugging me again. It’s probably time to visit a doctor, but I can’t be bothered. Did I mention how much I HATE dealing with medical people? Well, I really, really do. I’m sure it will become necessary at some point, or I’ll wind up seeing one under emergency circumstances. Glad I don’t have any children depending on me.

Well… I wish this were a more engaging post, but I’m afraid the well is dry. So I hope you enjoy your Saturday… I’ll go see if I can find something engaging to write about later.

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bad TV, good tv, modern problems, nostalgia, politicians, politics, Russia, Trump, YouTube

TDY weeks are made for made for TV movies…

As I mentioned in today’s first post, my husband, Bill, is gone this week on a business trip in Bavaria. I don’t have any local buddies to hang out with, so that means I have a lot of empty time on my hands. When Bill was deployed to Iraq back in 2007, I spent a lot of time watching reality TV. At that time, we lived in the States on Fort Belvoir, and we had FiOS (fiber optic cable TV and Internet– which is just becoming a “thing” here in Germany). This was before Apple TV, so I couldn’t spend my time watching relics from my childhood, the way I do today. I’m glad for Apple TV and YouTube, because now I can watch stuff I missed back in the day.

Back in February 1987, I was fifteen years old, and very busy with school and taking care of my horse. I wasn’t at all interested in politics, religion, or current events. I was kind of “dumb” then, as we didn’t have all of the news and information sources we have now. In those days, the Soviet Union was still very much a thing. People worried about nuclear war to the extent that it was a topic on sitcoms, like The Golden Girls. There were a number of Soviet themed films that were released for the big screen. I remember the movie, Red Dawn, came out in 1984, when I was 12 years old. It was the very first PG-13 rated movie, mainly because it was, and still is, a very violent film about Soviets invading the United States. I remember being very “fired up” when I saw that movie the first time. I was young and impressionable, and thought the height of patriotism would be to join the military and fight for my country. Hell, when I was 12, I might have even made the military’s weight standards. πŸ˜‰ Actually, I’m kidding. As a teenager, I thought I was fat, but I really wasn’t. Like I said… I was kind of dumb in those days… dumber than I am today. But today, I am fatter than I was in the 80s.

Since the Soviet Union was still so threatening, the American Broadcasting Company, otherwise known as ABC, made the mother of all miniseries. It was a seven night EVENT, which even in the era of network TV, was a big production for a miniseries. Most miniseries lasted two or three nights. I was interested in very few of them, because like I said, I was BUSY then… and not interested in politics, religion, or current events. But other people were interested, so ABC made this miniseries called Amerika. It was set in 1997, in a fictional midwestern town called Milford in Nebraska. It starred, Kris Kristofferson, Mariel Hemingway, Cindy Pickett (“Ferris Beuller’s mom”), Christine Lahti, Robert Ulrich, and a very young Lara Flynn Boyle, among other people who are now either dead, or more or less famous than they were in 1987.

The premise of Amerika was that the Soviet Union’s leaders had messed with our elections and that had led to a “bloodless” coup. The United States was no longer. Instead, it was broken up into smaller areas. The flag and national anthem were changed, and the idea of communism was introduced to our capitalistic society. The miniseries was about how the country changed. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and it was obviously based on the propaganda of the time. Remember, the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991, so a lot of today’s adults weren’t around when it was still in existence. But some of us old farts remember it very well.

Well, I completely missed seeing Amerika when it originally aired. It only aired once, because it caused a lot of issues with leaders in the Soviet Union, who were outraged by it. It was also a really long television event that was probably expensive and disruptive to air. In the 80s, we had our “must see TV”, and these kinds of special shows would usurp our old favorites. And then, after just a few years, Amerika seemed over the top and ridiculous, as the Soviet Union literally fell apart, and formerly closed borders started opening. Hell, the movie was set in 1997, but I was actually finishing up my Peace Corps assignment in Armenia, a former Soviet country, in 1997. So, as you can see, it didn’t make a lot of sense to air the program again. It was later released on video, but it doesn’t look like a DVD set was ever released. However… someone did upload the entire series to YouTube. I watched the whole thing in several sittings, as the program is over fourteen hours in length. Even couch potatoes like me need to get up and move sometimes.

A trailer for Amerika.

I don’t want to get too much into the specific plot of this series, because frankly, it seems like an overwhelming task. As I mentioned up post, the series was set in a fictional town of Milford, which was named after the enterprising American family that helped build it. Some of them still lived in Milford, only to watch their town being overrun by Soviets and American politicians who figuratively “got in bed” with them in a bid to seize power. We watch as people with private businesses can no longer offer what they used to have. A woman who ran a cafe for over thirty years was forced to serve soy products instead of the comfort food she used to offer. Later, everyone is forced into a curfew and heavily armed Soviet soldiers bust the woman’s neon sign, which had been lit for decades. She cries as she’s forced into the back of a truck to be driven off to God knows where.

We see a talented young dancer (Boyle’s character, Jackie Bradford) being ignored when she auditions for a show because she’s too good and would ruin the uniformity of mediocrity of the others. By the way, while I can see where the writers were going with this point, years of watching Soviet athletes and listening to Soviet trained musicians tells me that the culture certainly embraced the talented. They were showcased! Just watch any 70s or 80s era Olympics or a Russian ballet! But the point is, communists didn’t give anyone an incentive to excel, since everyone was “treated equally”. Except they actually weren’t. There were certainly people in communist countries who had it better than others did, due to their stations in life.

We see dissidents being forced into “re-education” camps. Kristofferson’s character, a former politician and 1988 presidential candidate named Devin Milford, had been imprisoned in Texas for trying to fight against the regime and speaking out against corruption. At the beginning of the series, we see him being released and sent into exile in Milford, where he is to stay within 25 miles of his property or risk being jailed or shot. He watches as families lose their homes as Soviet squatters are not recognizing the former Americans’ rights to own land. Children in school are being propagandized with communist principles, which they spout off by rote.

Devin’s eldest son is sent to a psychiatric hospital to be “treated” for thought crimes. He and his fellow patients are shown propaganda while hooked up to electrodes, drugged, and kept in cells. His middle and youngest sons are kept from him. The middle child is bright enough to see through what is happening, but the youngest child becomes very indoctrinated, to the point at which he turns on his father, with a literal gun. Devin’s ex wife, Marion Andrews (Wendy Hughes), is becoming a government leader who wants her ex husband killed.

Fellow Milfordite, Peter Bradford (Robert Ulrich) becomes president, with his wife Amanda (Cindy Pickett) as his first lady. Amanda is very disturbed by all she sees, and tells Bradford that she can be his wife, but not his first lady. Sounds kind of like Melania Trump! Except Amanda is nowhere near as narcissistic and vacuous as Melania is. πŸ˜‰

And then there’s Kimberly Ballard (Mariel Hemingway), who was very young and beautiful in 1987. She plays a musical theater actress whose work is affected because of censorship. She also gets involved with a Soviet military leader– well… she falls in love with him, and he falls in love with her. But their love can’t survive, because she’s an American through and through, and he’s a Soviet. And politics always take precedence over love.

Mariel Hemingway “sings” as Kimberly Ballard… or does she? This is disturbing.

Like I said, this is a very long series, and to be honest, it was a bit of a plod to get through it. It starts off rather slowly, but then gets more interesting. The musical score may be familiar to some people, too, as the composer of much of the music was Basil Poledouris, the same guy who did the music for the original Red Dawn. In some ways, this film reminded me a bit of Red Dawn, minus most of the violence… at least at first. As Americans start waking up to the reality of communism, a la a frog in slowly heated water, there’s more violent action. Some of it was kind of chilling to see, even by today’s bloodthirsty standards. There are a lot of “dead” people shown– eyes frozen open in shock and horror, as fake blood runs down their faces. In 1987, it was still uncommon for Americans to see mass shooting events.

In some ways, Amerika still seems far fetched and ridiculous. It’s now 2022, and 1997 was a long time ago– 25 years! But realizing that this movie was made in 1987, it’s kind of interesting to see what we had in 1997 that wasn’t yet conceived of in 1987. So, for 1997, Amerika seems pretty quaint and antiquated. However, I moved to Armenia in 1995, which was only about 3.5 years after the Soviet Union fell apart. Things were still very antiquated there in 1995, and things were still pretty much run like they were in the Soviet era. In fact, conditions were worse there at that time, because they were on their own. We had no electricity most of the time; some places had no running water; and almost no one had hot water from a tap. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia in 1995, I took bucket baths with water heated on my kerosene heaters or propane stove. I read books at night by kerosene lamp light. Anything I wanted to buy was behind a counter. And I lived in a series of ugly Soviet era cookie cutter apartments.

But, in other ways, Amerika is scarily prescient. The miniseries was probably conceived of by right wing political conservatives, as it has a very anti-communism message. BUT… as we all know, in 2016, the Russians fucked with our presidential elections. We had a “Republican” leader in Donald Trump, who doesn’t really resemble an old style Republican at all and, in fact, isn’t one. Trump is a fascist, dictator wannabe, and he’s spawned a bunch of power hungry acolytes who would love to follow in his footsteps, even though he’s clearly against freedom and outwardly said the Constitution needs to be “suspended” so he can be put back in power.

This bitch needs to be voted out… but Georgians are too wedded to being “Republicans”. She says that if she and Steve Bannon had been “in charge” of January 6th, they would have “won”. What a fucking loser she is. How DARE she?!

Yesterday, there was news about how, on January 17, 2021, South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman sent a text message to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, calling for Trump to institute “Marshall law”. He means “martial law”, of course. But he was actually calling for Trump to use military force to overturn the legal and fair 2020 presidential election, to prevent Joe Biden from taking his rightful place as the US President. Can you fucking believe it? These are Republicans! Aren’t they supposed to be about smaller government, the Constitution, and freedom for everyone (except women of childbearing age)?

How dare he? These MAGA motherfuckers need to be run out of power. Especially Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is among the worst of the lot.

I saw a lot of comments on the Amerika videos. Many people were trashing Biden, and saying that America is headed for the scary communist dystopian reality presented in Amerika. And yet, I lived in a former Soviet country, and I learned that the people living there weren’t bad people. They really weren’t that different than I was. They just came from a poorer country in need of assistance. In the 25 years since I left Armenia, I have been really heartened to see how far the country has come. It’s truly become a cool place to be, in terms of the incredible culture and the insane talents of its citizenry. Meanwhile, the United States is starting to look more like it could go the way of the old Soviet Union, as Trump and his minions try to take over and force us to accept his “leadership”. I’m actually not that afraid of Trump anymore, because he’s old and has been revealed for what he is. BUT… I am afraid of the younger, smarter, more polished, power hungry types in his wake who claim to be patriots and fans of the Constitution, but want to do away with fundamental American principles like separation of church and state, the right to privacy, and not having the military running the government so that the overall unpopular extremist, dictatorial types like Trump can stay in charge.

Peru and Germany DID something about their dictator wannabes. Let’s get with it, America, and put these dangerous people away, before they ruin the country.

This week, there was a coup stopped in Germany, which is where I live right now. The people involved in that are now in massive legal trouble. They have been arrested. In the United States, Donald Trump is still a free man, in spite of showing us who he is, and what he wants to do. For some reason, Republicans think their party is still what it was years ago, when it was about keeping government out of people’s private business and keeping taxes low. Do these folks really believe that Trump and his deplorable minions won’t be trying their best to take what’s yours? Trump just wants money and power. But there are people inspired by him who want more. They have shown us… and there are a lot of awful people in public office who care more about being re-elected than doing what is right for the citizens of the United States and running free and FAIR elections, without corruption.

One thing that I did learn, having lived in Armenia, is that abortion wasn’t really a big deal in the Soviet Union. I met many women who’d had them, mainly because birth control wasn’t freely available, and their men didn’t want to bother with condoms. And when you’re making the US equivalent of $10 a month, it’s hard to have enough money to raise children. But, it hasn’t escaped my attention that a lot of Republican business owners who don’t want to pay a living wage, nor do they want to offer birth control coverage on health insurance policies provided through work, are very much against allowing abortion. At least for now. πŸ˜‰ Some of those folks might eventually realize that religion makes it harder for them to control the masses, as people have a power higher than the state. I think with time, religion and the so-called morals espoused because of “God” will become much less fashionable among Republicans, just as the Constitution apparently has.

Yeah… she’s all for church, until she realizes that people are giving money to churches that they could be giving to government officials, like her. What an un American idiot she is. And no, the church is NOT supposed to direct the US government.
It’s UNBELIEVABLE to me that people are so blind to WHO these MAGAts are!!!!

Anyway… just like I was in 1987, a lot of Americans are concerned about other things. And they aren’t paying attention, even though we have a lot more ways to pay attention now, than we ever had in the past. I hope some people wake up before we start seeing America turn into Amerika. I don’t even want to say that all Republicans are bad, per se. It’s just that the old school ones are being replaced like MAGAts… like cancer cells, they are taking over.

So, although Amerika was a “plod” to get through, I am glad I took the time to watch it. It made me think. If I had taken more time, I probably could have written a much better blog post about it. But if I manage to inspire someone to watch it and draw their own conclusions, maybe I will have done my good deed for the day. It was eye opening for me, but not in the way that other viewers saw it, apparently. This is the type of thing conservatives would tend to watch, because of that dirty word– communism– and Soviet Union style politics. They don’t see the similarities between Soviet Union style communism and Trump style fascism that I see, like the Trump style desire to suppress the mediaβ€” something very much in the Soviet playbook. As someone who has experienced life over there, and has voted on either side of the spectrum, I see other, more frightening things. We, as a nation, need to collectively wake up and do something about these deranged, fascist, violent people before it’s too late.

WHEW… I meant for this to be about two movies. Guess I’ll be writing another post, which seems fair enough, since it’s snowing outside right now.

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Bill, narcissists, politicians, politics, social media

Yesterday was tough, and not just because of the elections…

In all of the excitement of Election Day, I forgot to mention that yesterday was significant for other reasons. Last night, Bill reminded me that it was the second anniversary of his father’s death. Because November 2020 was during the height of the COVID pandemic, we were not able to go back to the States for his funeral. Consequently, I think there’s a lot of “processing” that never got done, especially in Bill’s case. Yes, we were keeping an eye on the elections, but last night was more about remembering Bill’s dad, whom Bill loved dearly, but never got the chance to know as well as he should have.

For that reason, it was probably a good thing we weren’t able to see James Taylor. Bill got triggered, because he saw an email from Dignity– the bereavement service where people post obituaries– reminding him about his dad. He got very flustered and scatterbrained after seeing that reminder. Last night, he needed to debrief somewhat. If we’d been at the concert, that wouldn’t have happened. We still don’t know when the show will go on. ETA: November 19th…. So we will come home from France a day early.

We were also pretty tired last night, because Arran was restless on Tuesday morning and kept getting up in the wee hours of the morning for various reasons. He was not so bad last night. I think we only roused once during the night, although I was wide awake at 5:00am. Arran is now napping in his bed in my office, while I wait for the bed sheets to dry. Wednesdays are the days I usually wash them. It’s a pain to wash the sheets, but I always enjoy the rewards of clean, crisp linens on the bed. I look forward to an afternoon nap. πŸ˜‰

Seriously, y’all… Women in Texas voted for a man who wants to pit neighbor against neighbor over abortion…

I am disappointed that Greg Abbott won another term as Texas governor, although I am not at all surprised. Although there are many bright people who voted blue in the big Texas cities, there are lots of very rigid people living in rural areas who are so very sure that abortions are akin to murder. They don’t seem to care about the already born children of Uvalde who cowered in fear as their classmates and two teachers were slaughtered in front of them. It always amazes me that people want to demonize anyone who needs an abortion for ANY reason– including when they are going to lose their babies due to catastrophic medical events–but they still promote gun rights, even as CHILDREN are murdered in schools.

Ah well… Maybe it’s time I stopped caring about what happens in Texas, even though it’s my “home” state for now. I don’t live there, and at 50, I won’t be bleeding out because I need an abortion for medical reasons. I read three different horror stories within 24 hours about this happening to Texas women. They need medical help, and wind up in New York or Seattle or almost DEAD in Texas hospitals, because the vile and abhorrent Greg Abbott has made abortion pretty much illegal across the board.

I really think what’s going to have to happen to change things is that women are going to have to suffer and die to the extent that the public demands changes. That’s what it took to change things in Ireland, so that women were allowed to make choices about their own bodies. But maybe it’s not my fight. I’m tired of engaging with brain dead, uneducated idiots on this issue, who REFUSE to understand why completely banning abortion is so dangerous and wrong. Like I said, I’m 50… and I don’t have any children. And now, I’m glad about that.

I did try, yesterday, to remind people about this scary and important issue, as they were blaming Democrats for inflation (which isn’t controlled by specific government administrations). One woman accused me of “murdering” 63 million babies (uh… no), totally ignoring that I specifically addressed women who need abortion for HEALTH care reasons. The other accused me of “spreading misinformation”, because Planned Parenthood takes care of women in Texas (uh… no). I turned off notifications for that post and blocked the two idiots, as well as several others who were reminding me of why I’ve been so glad to live in Germany for eight years.

It saddens me that people in America are so rigid and blind, and they can’t even entertain an alternative viewpoint. But– here in our little Wiesbaden suburb, we have community events, complete with wine and lacking in firearms… and I don’t get treated badly for being “foreign”. In fact, Germans have been very welcoming to us, on the whole. Too bad people in the so-called “land of the free” aren’t like that toward people who aren’t citizens.

In other news, Peter Gabriel is going on tour. I almost ordered tickets yesterday, but the Frankfurt show is happening on June 13, a week before my birthday. Bill says he might have to be on a TDY that week. I don’t know that I want to shell out over 900 euros if there’s a chance he can’t go. Peter Gabriel is playing other venues in Europe, of course. It might be a good excuse to visit Cologne again, which is a very nice city and not too far from us. We had a great time there in 2019, when we went there to see the Eagles. Or we could go to Amsterdam and I can have some space cakes, like I did when I turned 43. Germany is now talking about legalizing marijuana, too… which would be great, as far as I’m concerned.

It would have been really nice to see Beto beat Abbott. I didn’t expect it to happen, though. And I see Ron DeSadist won in Florida, which also isn’t a surprise. But now, Trump is threatening him against running for president, because Trump is dying to get back in power so he can become a dictator. I hope the two of them eat each other alive. They are both dirty. And hey, although we’re still stuck with the disgusting Marjorie Taylor Greene, at least the repugnant Lauren Boebert was (probably) defeated. And so was Dr. Oz… so that’s a great thing. The news isn’t all bad…

Anyway, it’s Wednesday, so that means I can watch The Handmaid’s Tale season finale and The Crown. And since it’s a wet, rainy day, it may be perfect for finishing my book and binge watching Netflix… if I don’t fall asleep, that is. So I think I’ll end here, practice guitar, and maybe take a short walk with the dogs… and get on with rotting what’s left of my brain with some television.

A screen grab from the better video of Weird Wilbur’s hit song…

Oh, and before I forget… I dedicate this song to Greg Abbott and every Texan who voted for him… (even though I bet Weird Wilbur voted red, if he managed to stagger to the polls…)

It bears repeating… over and over again.
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