Monthly Archives: January 2016

Remember “transcendent” meditation?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with the Beatles in India” – in happier times…


Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  Harry Golden did up that old-time personal newspaper.  And for that he was considered a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Remember Transcendental Meditation?  In case you missed it, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started teaching this method of personal development in 1958.

Prep examples of MadrasIronically, “TM” was said to have launched in Madras, India.  (Now called Chennai.)

In less than a decade after 1958, Madras shirts, shorts and jackets – like those at left – became all the rage.  (“All the rage” for middle school, high school and even college “boys” in the 1960s.)  Getting back to TM:  It also got “more popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as the Maharishi shifted to a more technical presentation and his meditation technique was practiced by celebrities.”

Celebrities like the The Beatles, shown in the top-of-the-page picture

The kicker?  You had to pay through the nose.  (At one point the price for “working folk” was pretty much a full week’s salary.)  For that you got instructed in the technique itself, plus you got your own “personal Sanskrit mantra.”  (Note that a mantra is a word or phrase – said to be of “spiritual power – that you repeat over and over again, for up to 20 minutes.)

One of the goals – of “regular” meditation anyway – is to “bind the mind staff in place.”

File:Picswiss UR-28-18.jpgThat – in a way – brings up that the Maharishi – hereinafter “Mahesh” – did quite well as a result of his teaching.  (The photo at right shows one of his “headquarters;” the one in Seelisberg, Switzerland.)

 On the other hand:  It turns out you could get pretty much the same thing from Lawrence LeShan‘s 1974 book, How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery.  But of course, that would mean you had to do some actual work, to learn the self-discipline on your own.

(An observation that seems to be “redundant redundant…”)

But we digress!  The point is:  LeShan’s How to Meditate was “one of the first practical guides to meditation.”  And it was a whole lot cheaper than TM.  (My first copy cost $1.95.)

And incidentally, LeShan noted that “anyone who gives (or sells) you a mantra designed just for you … is pulling your leg.”  On the other hand, I remember reading somewhere that Mahesh charged Americans so much – for example – because they don’t value “free stuff.”  They – we – arguably figure that if we don’t pay a high price for something, it must not be worth much.

Which does make a certain amount of sense.  (And a telling comment on the American psyche.)

Be that as it may

We mentioned the Beatles being “converted” to Transcendental Meditation.  As Mikal Gilmore noted, George Harrison’s wife Pattie introduced him to Mahesh in 1967.  Harrison was impressed enough to persuade the other Beatles to “attend a sabbatical in Bangor, Wales.”

Later – in 1968 – the group went to Rishikesh, India, for a longer course.  However:

[T]heir relationship with the teacher soured when they heard rumors that he had attempted unwelcome sexual advances on a female devotee.  Lennon and Harrison confronted the yogi, pronounced their disdain and then left him, despite his pleadings that they reconsider…

On a related note, pretty much the same thing seems to have happened to Rajneesh – born Chandra Mohan Jain – also known as “Osho.”

Osho.jpgOSHO” (1931-1990) was yet another “Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following.”  In the fullness of time he got nicknamed “the sex guru.”  (But others said he just had “straightforward attitudes about sex.”)  

All of which may prove no more than that men are scum.

(At least from a female view.)

But again we digress.  Getting back to Mahesh and the Beatles, see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi | The Beatles Bible.  As to the group confronting Mahesh about the allegation, Lennon said he had to do the “dirty work … as usual.”  When he said they were leaving, Mahesh ostensibly said, “‘Why?’  Hee-hee, all that shit.  And I said, ‘Well if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.'”

The article noted as well that despite “the harshness of Lennon’s words about Maharishi, McCartney and Harrison, in particular, remained believers in the power of meditation.”

Which could be another way of saying that the underlying discipline itself was good and valid. (Even if one greedy individual did use it for his own personal gain.)

And the article noted a positive result:  The song “Sexy Sadie,” which Lennon originally wanted to title “Maharishi.”  But again, none of that means the underlying discipline is worthless.  It simply means that – at worst – one or more unscrupulous, misguided or overzealous individuals used a valid spiritual discipline for person gain.

Henny Youngman.jpgWhich is “nothing new under the sun.”  Take martial arts…  Please!

Many people these days come to the martial arts as if to a sport or, worse, as if seeking an effective instrument of aggression and domination.  And, unhappily, there are studios that cater to this clientele.  Violent and exploitative martial arts movies contribute to the corruption…  (E.A.)

And incidentally, that Henny Youngman one-liner – “Take my wife, please!” – is based on a fundamental principle of both martial arts and magic.  (The principle of dislocation.)

But for a third time, we digress…

Plain old meditation – the kind you don’t pay an arm and a leg for – is a “practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness.”  It’s done for any number of reasons, including to “promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.”

Among the benefits of meditation:  better focus, less anxiety, more creativity, more compassion, better memory, less stress and “more gray matter.”   Or as LeShan said, the real goal is “to help you grow and develop as a total human being.”

The kicker?  You actually have to put in a lot of work.  Or as LeShan said, in its ideal form the “long hard practice” of true meditation “disciplines and strengthens the personality.”  See also Discipline – Wikipedia, with an image captioned:  “To think good thoughts requires effort. This is one of the things that discipline – training – is about.”

All of which may be another way of saying that – when it comes to personal development (a heavy-duty industry in this country) – some people prefer that kind of thing pre-digested:


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The upper image is courtesy of  

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Re:  The Carolina Israelite.  Harry Golden‘s personal newspaper, which he wrote and published back in the 1940s through the 60s.  Harry was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Which is another way of saying he told good stories.)  That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  (For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.)  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, as so many seem to do today.  He still got a kick out of life.

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Note that personal development has “developed” into an industry, with “several business relationship formats of operating.”

The “Madras” image is courtesy of  Madras Guide – How the Shirt, Pants & Jackets Became Popular.

References to LeShan‘s book, How to Meditate, are from the 1975 Bantam Books edition.  The “bind the mind staff” quote is from page 55.  (Along with a note that “we” should “bind ourselves gently and with humor and compassion at our own lack of discipline.”)

On that note too, see page 14, featuring a quote from Teresa of Ávila, describing the mind of man – in the attempt to meditate for example – as an “unbroken horse that would go anywhere except where you wanted it to.”

The quote about “anyone who gives (or sells) you a mantra” is from page 67.

The “Switzerland headquartersphoto is courtesy of Transcendental Meditation – Wikipedia.

Re:  The high price of TM.  For another view, see Why does the Transcendental Meditation course cost so much?  One theory has it that Mahesh wanted TM to be “primarily taught to the wealthy leaders of society in order to enact maximum change in society,” and further that he “made a public address to that effect in the mid 1990’s and immediately T.M centers worldwide raised their prices.”

Re: Mikal Gilmore.  Gilmore – a writer for Rolling Stone magazine – described Mahesh and the Beatles in his 2009 book, Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents, at pages 124, 156, and 164-65 in the 2009 Free Press paperback edition.

As to the Beatles and Mahesh, Gilmore noted that later in their lives, “Harrison and McCartney reconciled with Maharishi, though Lennon never did.”  (124)

The Henny Youngman image is courtesy of Wikipedia.  His classic one-liner – “Take my wife… please  – relied on dislocation.  That principle is used in comedy, and also in magic and the martial arts in general. See, Shinogi –, which mentioned three types of dislocation: positional, temporal, and functional.  See also Magic (illusion) – Wikipedia.  Finally, see The Internet Classics Archive | The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which noted the Chinese philosopher who said, “The fundamental principle of the Art of War is deception.”  (In other words, dislocating an opponent.)

So anyway, in the classic one-liner – literally “a century ago” – the audience was led to expect Youngman to say “for example” when he began.  (As in, “Take my wife… for example.”)  But instead of saying that, Youngman dislocated his audience with, “Take my wife…  Please!

The quote on martial arts as used for “aggression and domination” is from Taisen Deshimaru’s The Zen Way to Martial Arts, translated by Nancy Amphoux, Arkana Books (1991), at page 3.

Re: “Benefits of meditation:”  The actual article-title is What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You.  As to “more gray matter,” the article said that meditation has been shown “to diminish age-related effects on gray matter and reduce the decline of our cognitive functioning.

Other benefits of meditation came from LeShan‘s How to Meditate, in the 1975 Bantam Books edition.  (The quote “develop as a total human being” is from page 38.)  LeShan pointed out that true meditation is much like physical exercise.  Both require “repeated hard work,” most of it “basically pretty silly” in appearance.  “What could be more foolish than to repeatedly lift twenty pounds of lead up and down?”  But both forms of exercise aim for “the effect on the person doing it.”  (Page 3.)

LeShan cited two main effects.  The first is greater personal efficiency in everyday life.  The second is “the comprehension of a different view of reality than the one we ordinarily use.”  (Pages 6-7.)  Other effects?  The capacity to transcend the painful, negative aspects of life, and develop a serene “inner peace.”  (Id.)  He said it’s characteristic of a practiced meditator to live with joy and love; “a zest, a fervor and gusto in life.”  And one final effect – for the practiced meditator – “a very deep sense of the union of himself and the All.” (Page 7)

The quote about “long hard practice” is from page 38.

The lower image is courtesy of  Another good image is at, along with good advice on “What To Feed A Baby Bird [Who] Fell Out Of A Nest.”

I originally planned to use the image below, an illustrated quote from “that great Philosopher, Charlie Chan.”  But then I had a brainstorm, figuring an image like that of baby birds – eager mouths wide open – would get the point across better.  

“So anyway,” the image below is courtesy of  See also Charlie Chan (Wikipedia).  The quote is said to have come from Charlie Chan at the Circus, and in the form given.  See Charlie Chan – Wikiquote and Reel Life Wisdom – The Top 10 Wisest Quotes from Charlie Chan.  But I could have sworn that the actual quote was, “Mind like parachute;  work best when open.”


A final note:  This post is a substantially altered update of a post originally published as On the Bible as “transcendent” meditation, at DOR Scribe – Expand your horizons

On spam, today’s “thorn in the side”

 The “Endless Knot,” a great metaphor for spam


I’ve written before about the advantages of blogging.  Advantages over the kind of “delightfully retro” format that Harry Golden had to use in his Carolina Israelite.  (See ABOUT THE BLOG.)

Things like links, along with full-color pictures and “flashy graphics.”

But now it’s time to write about some of the disadvantages.  One of the biggest disadvantages of blogging is spam, masquerading as “comments.” (Along with the possibility of being hacked.)

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It’s a rainy, blustery Friday afternoon here “in the ATL – also known as ‘God’s Country.'”

For one thing, the Metro Area is all in a hubbub about “icy Arctic blasts,” courtesy of the winter storms threatening most of the Eastern seaboard.  On a more personal note, I just tried to log in to my other blog.  But I couldn’t, because it was “temporarily disabled.”

It was temporarily disabled, because someone tried to hack into it.

That led me to work on this blog.  Unfortunately, my personal Muse – exemplified by the one at right – was no help whatsoever.

That led me to this blog’s “comments” link.  (In the “Dashboard.”)

I found 427 comments.  Unfortunately, most of them were spam.

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When I first started my other blog, the first thing I did each day was go to the “Comments” section there.  And there I’d mass-delete the latest batch of spam, most of it having to do with “Babyliss.”

Just as an aside, “Babyliss” is apparently a division of the Conair Corporation.  (See Wikipedia.)

That led me to web articles including We Can’t Get Rid Of Spam – Forbes.  That in turn led me to remember the Apostle Paul’s experience with his own particular “thorn in the side.”

(In the alternative, his “thorn in the flesh.”)

The article thorn in the flesh explained that today the phrase “is a colloquialism used to describe a chronic infirmity, annoyance, or trouble in one’s life.”

The article also noted the phrase is “commonly used by Christians,” and refers to 2 Corinthians 12:7.  This was right after Paul wrote about some his visions and revelations, which led him in turn to talk about his “boasting.”  (“I have plenty to boast about … but I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than he should.”)  Which led to this passage:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of the exceptional nature of these revelations, a thorn was given to me and placed in my body.  It was Satan’s messenger to keep on tormenting me so that I would not become conceited. (E.A.)

Wikipedia noted that Paul – at left – didn’t specify the nature of his physical “thorn in the flesh.”  It also noted that through the centuries, “Christians have speculated about what Paul referred to.”

On the other hand, if Paul had lived in modern times and tried to advance his message through a blog like this, he may very well have been referring to that *&%*@% spam that keeps coming back like a bad case of [fill in the blank with the expletive of your choice]!!!

See also Paul’s Thorn In The Flesh – Article – Andrew Wommack Ministries, which began:

This thorn in the flesh that Paul mentioned has been used and misused by Christians to justify submitting to nearly any problem that comes along.  Satan has twisted this passage of Scripture to deceive many, many people into believing that God would not heal Paul, so how can they expect to be healed?  Let us examine this closely and find out exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was.

That phrase – “Satan has twisted this passage of Scripture” – brought up the subject of how “the Devil can cite Scripture for his use.”  (See The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose | EnglishClub, quoting Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Act 1, scene 3.)

But that’s a whole ‘nother subject entirely.

More to the point is the concept of Karma.  See Wikipedia, which defined it as the action, work or deed of an individual, or “the principle of causality where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual.”  (In the alternative, “the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.”)

All that led me to think maybe all that spam was some strange punishment for my past sins.  In the alternative I had the good Christian thought that  maybe some of this spam presented an opportunity to “entertain angels unaware.”  But these days – having been victimized by thousands upon thousands of unsolicited “spams” – my attitude has hardened.

I now I fully agree with the words of Mister Kurtz, in the novel Heart of Darkness:

“The horror, the horror…   Exterminate all the brutes!!”


The upper image is courtesy of Endless knot – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “One common form of the Endless Knot.”  On the matter of spam, see also Unsolicited Bulk Email: Definitions and Problems.  

Re: “God’s Country.”  See Introduction to “Ashley Wilkes.”

The “muse” image is courtesy of Muse – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Polyhymnia, the Muse of sacred poetry, sacred hymn and eloquence as well as agriculture and pantomime.”

Re: “Angels unaware.”  That’s from the King James translation of Hebrews 13:2.

The “Paul” image is courtesy of the Paul the Apostle link in the “thorn” article.  The caption:  “Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn c. 1657.”

The lower image is courtesy of “”  See also Kurtz (Heart of Darkness) – Wikipedia, and In Heart of Darkness, what does Kurtz mean by his final words …    (Mister Kurtz was a central character in Joseph Conrad’s novel.)

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Note that this post is an updated version of one originally published on my other blog, in September 2014, On “babyliss,” a thorn in the side – and maybe karma.

On “THE Revenant”

Man [against] the Wilderness…”   That’s pretty much the theme of The Revenant


Here’s a review of The Revenant, the 2015 “frontier revenge film.”  It’s set in 1823, in what later became the states of Montana and South Dakota.  The film – with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role – was “inspired by the experiences of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass.”

Revenant reviewIn a word, the film is intense.  But perhaps the best summary came from the first line of the Rolling Stone review.  (Which you’ll have to look up, on account of “we” are trying to be a class act here.  And a BTW:  “Brutal” is another good one-word description.)

Suffice it to say the film features breath-taking winter photography of the American West, “before the coming of the White Man.”  (In the words of The Hollywood Reporter, “brutal realism and extravagant visual poetry.”)  But that Ode To Beauty is interspersed with graphic images of the savagery it took to actually survive in that wilderness.  

And in what could be a related note:  “In European folklore, a revenant is a corpse that has returned from the grave to terrorize the living.” (See Revenant (disambiguation) – Wikipedia.)

That’s another good way to sum up the movie.

More to the point, the real-life Hugh Glass was called the revenant “from the 19th century French verb revenant, meaning someone who returns from a long absence, or a person or thing reborn.”  The nickname came after his epic 200-mile journey – in the dead of winter, down the Cheyenne River to Ft. Kiowa, shown at left – after being mauied by a momma Grizzly.

And speaking of a Man in the Wilderness, that was the 1971 film with a variation on the theme of basically the same story.

That film too was “loosely based on the life of Hugh Glass.”  It featured Richard Harris as “Zachary Bass” – not “Hugh Glass” – and John Huston as Captain Henry.  (See also Man in the Wilderness – Wikipedia.)  Captain Henry – the “hunting party leader” – showed up in both films. But Huston’s portrayal – of Henry as demented nemesis – was more like his role as Noah Cross in Chinatown.  In Revenant, the Captain is good-hearted but much too willing to trust…

Which is another way of saying the bad guys in Revenant are “Thomas Fitzgerald” and a youthful Jim Bridger.  Bridger went on to become one of the “foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the Western United States.”  But in the 1823 expedition he was an “unwitting dupe” to Fitzgerald’s scheming and treachery.

Tom Hardy was admirable as Fitzgerald. (Shown at right.)  He’s the type of loudmouth, self-seeking blowhard who seems to plague every all-male gathering. (Or “hunting party” for that matter.)

Another note:  In various reviews there seemed to be some confusion between Thomas Fitzgerald and Thomas Fitzpatrick.  (The latter was known as (the) “Broken Hand,” from a firearms accident that mangled his left hand.)

So anyway, throughout the movie Fitzgerald constantly complains, badmouths, and is a general – and genuine – “PITA.”  For example, he’s the first to suggest killing Glass outright.  (After Glass was graphically mauled by a mother Grizzly Bear protecting her cubs.)

That’s because the company of hunter-trappers got ambushed by Arikara warriors to start the film.  As a result, some 16 of the 24 men in the hunting party got killed and/or scalped.  (Also shown graphically in the film.  The survivors’ escape is shown below left.)  

In turn, Glass’s injuries threatened to slow down the whole group, trying to escape further death at the hands of the Arikara.  And by the way, the film-Fitzgerald wore that bandana-like thing on his head because he’d been partially scalped.  (In an earlier run-in with another band of Indians.  And in an ode to karma, the job gets finished at the end of the film, “and deservedly so.”)  

 And speaking of gore, the film goes to great lengths to illustrate what Glass actually had to put himself through in order to survive.  (From both the harsh winter conditions and his injuries.)

For example, in one scene, “Glass” slits open a just-dead Indian pony, pulls out the entrails and crawls inside – naked – to keep from freezing.  (After yet another near-escape from death.)  In another sequence, Glass has to cauterize a still-open bleeding wound in his throat.  He applied gunpowder to the wound, then lit-it-to-explosion with some burning brush.  Which brings up the fact that for much of the movie, DiCaprio‘s dialog consisted of grunts and screams.  (And deservedly so…)

And aside from having to deal with:  1) the “Momma Grizzly,”  2) the Arikara,  3) big-mouth Tom Fitzgerald, and of course  4) the brutal winter conditions, Glass has another set of “villains” to deal with:  A party of horny French hunters and trappers.  But they’re not just direct competitors of the American fur trappers.  They also instigated the Arikara ambush in the first place.  (As a way of “stealing business away from [their] competition.”)

And aside from all that, they kidnapped the daughter of the Arikara chief.

Which brings up another gory scene.  Glass sneaks up behind one of the Frenchmen – raping the Ree maiden from behind – and slits his throat.  (“And deservedly so.”)  The girl ran one way through the snow, and Glass – on a stolen horse – galloped away in another direction.  But of course “we” knew she’d reappear in a later scene, and so she did.  (At the end of the movie, on variations of:  1) The enemy of my enemy is my friend;  2) Karma; and  3) Poetic justice.)

The long and short of it is that the story of Hugh Glass is a timeless classic, as shown by the 1922 newspaper feature shown below.  (Illustrated by Charles M. Russell.)  But unfortunately it’s not for everyone.  On the other hand, it provides a much-needed message to all the whiners, complainers, back-stabbers, badmouths, and blowhards who seem so prevalent today:

Walk it offNancy!”


A 1922 Milwaukee Journal article on “Hugh Glass’ exploits,” illustrated by Charles M. Russell… 

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The upper image is courtesy of The Revenant (2015) Movie Photos and Stills – Fandango.  (As are the images of Tom Fitzgerald – Tom Hardy – and the hunter-trappers escaping across a creek, with DiCaprio in the middle, carrying a wounded man in a Fireman’s carry.)

The second-down (DeCaprio) image is courtesy of  ‘The Revenant’ Movie Review | Rolling Stone.  The caption:  “Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Revenant.’ (Kimberly French).”

Re: “Coming of the White Men.”  See Coming of the White Man – Wikipedia, about a sculpture in Portland, Oregon, depicting “two Native American men, including Chief Multnomah, looking towards the Columbia River upon the arrival of Lewis and Clark.”  See also, Coming of the White Men[:]  Geronimo His own story, for a Native American point of view.

Re:  “Brutal realism and extravagant visual poetry.”  Those were Todd McCarthy’s words, in his Hollywood Reporter review.  See The Revenant Reviews |

Re:  Jim Bridger.  As noted, Hugh Glass ultimately forgave Bridger for his part in the 1823 matter, largely because he was so young.   In the winter of 1824-1825, Bridger went on to gain fame as the first European American to see the Great Salt Lake.  He was also “among the first white men to see the geysers and other natural wonders of the Yellowstone region.”  And in 1830, Bridger and some other trappers “established the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, competing with the Hudson’s Bay Company and John Jacob Astor‘s American Fur Company for the lucrative beaver pelt trade.”  He remained active – serving as Army scout and guide – until 1865.

Re: The estimate of men killed in the initial film-ambush.  The sentence as originally written said “some two-thirds of the ‘white men’ were killed and/or scalped.”  But I felt that “neutral” phrasing didn’t do justice to the actual situation.  (Of a great number of American men killed.)  So I searched the Internet for the actual number of men in the hunting party, to no avail.  As an alternative, I counted the number of men in the “survivors’ escape” photo, added two, and multiplied by three.

 Re: “Walk it offNancy!”  A variation on that theme is “Get off your pity potNancy!”  Walk it off generally means to deal with a “negative emotional event without complaint; to take it like a man.” According to the Urban Dictionary, “pity potis a euphemism for generally “feeling really sorry for oneself.”  As to “Nancy,” that term is used “as a disparaging term for an effeminate man.”  (In other words, a man who couldn’t have done what Hugh Glass did.)  See also “nancy boy,” and “negative Nancy,” for similar disparaging terms apropos to a review of The Revenant.

The lower image is courtesy of the Hugh Glass link in the article, The Revenant (2015 film) – Wikipedia.

Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) was a noted “artist of the Old American West.”  Known as “the cowboy artist,”  he created “more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in the Western United States.”  An example:  The 1908 oil-on-canvas painting at right, “Smoke of a .45.” 

And incidentally, the director of The Revenant – Alejandro González Iñárritu  – won three Oscars in 2014, for directing, writing, and producing “Birdman.”  See my review at On “Birdman,” the movie.

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For another good review see Hugh Glass, the Real Man of “The Revenant” Movie.  It identified Glass’s nemesis as “John Fitzgerald,” but also asked the rhetorical question, “Have we become a nation of wusses?”  I.e., some of the film crew walked off the set because of the difficult conditions: 

Behind the scenes, DiCaprio has told media outlets the remote locations and frigid temperatures – the movie was film only in natural light during winter – was one of the most difficult films he has done.  Those same factors led some crewmembers to walk off the set. Which begs the questions: have we modern-day Americans lost our ability to rough it in the wild?

I took the liberty of translating “our ability to rough it in the wild” to the more-direct question: “Have we become a nation of wusses?”  For one answer see Canoeing 12 miles offshore.

A look back at 2015

Baby New Year 1905 chases old 1904 into the history books…”


The image above shows Baby New Year 1905 as “personification of the start of the New Year.”

(Personification is giving “human form and characteristics to abstract concepts such as nations and natural forces likes seasons and the weather.”  Or of a whole new blank slate.)

So this personification of New-Year-as-baby symbolizes a rebirth.  (Spiritual or otherwise.)  In turn the birth of that New Year can only come with the passing – the “dying” – of the Old Year.

But before thinking too much on the possibilities presented by “Baby 2016” – like the personified Baby 1908 at right – it helps to look back at the year just past.  (I.e., 2015.)

That is, the end of an old year – and birth of a new year – is a time to “take stock and review the outgoing year.”  It’s a time to look back at the “wins, the challenges, the mistakes” of the old year.  And it’s a time to identify areas for improvement.

So for starters, I did my first post here last March 12.

On “Birdman,” the movie reviewed the “2014 American black comedydrama film” starring Michael Keaton.  (An actor playing a “faded Hollywood actor.”)

And just as an aside, I started this blog as a spin-off of my first blog, DOR Scribe.  (This one let me work on more “secular” issues, like weird movies with “farce and morbid humor … on subject matter usually considered taboo.”)   But unfortunately, it took awhile to translate the lessons learned from that other blog.  As a result, Birdman looks a bit “blog-primitive…”

At least to me and in hindsight.

But Birdman also reminded me why I started this blog.  In large part it was and is an homage to Harry Golden and his style of writing.  For years he published and wrote the Israelite, “a pre-Internet blog of sorts.”  And eventually – in 1958 – his book Only in America came out.  A collection of what today would be called his “blog posts.”

Harry’s book Only in America has been “an inspiration [to me] ever since…”

Birdman also explained the blog’s nom de plume, “Georgia Wasp.”  Then there was this:

Apparently there’s a website, “dating psychos…”  One of the bulletins tells of a crazy guy – “Alias ‘Georgia Wasp’” – who is said to be a “pathological liar” who’s been “married many times and has cheated on each wife with multiple partners!”

So here’s a heads up:  I’m not that guy!!!

Exodus: Of Gods and Kings, out on December 12 in U.S. theaters tells the story of Moses (played by Christian Bale, left) rising up against the Egyptian pharaoh Rhamses (played by Joel Edgerton, right)So anyway, on March 28 I moved on to review “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”  (Complete with images of Moses – Christian Bale, at left – and Ramses – Joel Edgerton, at right.)  

One thing I liked about the movie was how it showed Moses growing ever more senescent.  (Thanks largely to his having to metaphorically herd cats or “shovel fleas.”)  I noted that something like that happened to Abraham Lincoln, after four years as president:

He arrived at the White House as a sinewy 6-foot-4, 180-pound strongman.  In the course of four years, he dropped 30 pounds.  “He was sunken-eyed and grizzled, nothing like that bright-eyed lawyer of Springfield [and] looks 75 years old, but he’s 56.”

That led to some lessons including this:  To “the icons that we choose to throw our cares and responsibilities on – like Moses – we followers are pretty much a pain in the neck.”

Which seems especially apropos as the 2016 election season heats up.

SwampWaterPoster.jpgOther post-highlights from 2015 included Operation Pogo – “Into the Okefenokee,” and The mysterious death of Ashley Wilkes.

Pogo” – told in three parts – was about fulfilling a life-long dream. The dream involved and led to an overnight camping trip deep into the sinister and mysterious “Swamp Water” locale.  (The Okefenokee Swamp, as illustrated by the 1941 movie poster at left.)

Ashley Wilkes detailed the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of Leslie Howard.  (Best known for playing Wilkes in 1939’s Gone with the Wind.)  

Briefly, the commercial airliner in which he was flying got shot down by eight German fighter-bombers in 1943.  It happened over the Bay of Biscay – west of France – on a flight from ostensibly-neutral Lisbon and London.

The shoot-down spawned a number of conspiracy theories.  One said German spies mistook Howard’s friend and bodyguard for Winston Churchill.  Another noted Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels calling Howard “Britain’s most dangerous propagandist.”  A third said Howard really was a British spy, on a secret mission with the help of the beautiful Conchita Montenegro.  (One of many women with whom he’d ostensibly had a “torrid love affair.”)

That post ended:  “And some people think those were better and simpler times…”

And speaking of politics…  On April 2, I posted On Blue Dogs and the “Via Media.”  It addressed the dearth of moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats.  One point the post made was that the Political Middle [Seems To Have] Disappeared.  But the good news seems to that our political system was “specifically designed to keep moving back to the middle, even though it’s clumsy at times.”

In other words, “Don’t Forget That Politics is Cyclical.”  That – I wrote – could be “the best political news ‘we’ve’ heard in a long time…” came “Great politicians sell hope” on June 12.  (Featuring the shot at right, of Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy “supping” with a political enemy.)  That post led off with the Peanuts cartoon below.  That in turn was a kind of spin-off from a quote from Chris Matthew’s 2007 book, Life’s a Campaign.  I then wrote:  “When I [first] heard that a few days ago I thought, ‘What rock have you  been living under?‘”

But then I noted that Matthews’ book – after actually reading it – gave me a sense that our presidents have been mostly “decent, honorable and capable.”  And it gave me a sense “that the same applies to politicians in general.  (Gasp!)”  Then a third thought: Maybe politicians today are especially nasty because too many voters they’re trying to woo are just plain nasty.

But the 1950s and ’60s – when Harry Golden did most of his writing – weren’t any bed of roses either.  (They featured McCarthyism Vietnam War protests, and the Civil Rights Movement.)   Yet through all those dark years, Harry Golden exuded hope.

All of which brings us back to the old saying noted in the Peanuts cartoon [below], that in “bad times or hopelessness, it is more worthwhile to do some good, however small … than to [just] complain about the situation.”  See also Better to light a single candle.  And that great bloggers – like great politicians – should work harder on “selling hope.”

Which is exactly what this blog will try to do.  In 2016 … and Beyond!

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The upper image is courtesy of New Year – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The full caption:  “Baby New Year 1905 chases old 1904 into the history books in this cartoon by John T. McCutcheon.”  See also ‘Ringing’ Or ‘Bringing In The New Year:’ A History.

 The full “take stock” quote is courtesy of The Year in Review (Huffington Post):

Before we start to talk about the plans, goals and resolutions for the new year.  It is important to take stock and review the outgoing year.  This includes looking at the wins, the challenges, the mistakes, the areas for improvement and just appreciate how are you feeling at this time of the year.  When you take the time to take stock of the past year’s experiences you will achieve 2 things[:]   1) Ability to count your blessings[; and]  2) Identify the areas for improvement.

Re:  “Life’s a Campaign.”  (“What Politics Has Taught Me about Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success.”)  My first exposure to the book was listening to the six hour book-on-CD version.  

The Reagan-Kennedy image is courtesy of

The lower “stupid darkness” cartoon is courtesy of You Stupid Darkness! | Kurtis Scaletta’s Site, which in turn links to, “one of the most amazing but little-known Internet resources.”  See also lightasinglecandle.wordpress, and The 5 Greatest (newspaper) Comic Strips Of All Time.

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Other notable 2015 posts included On American History, “patched and piebald,” the Mid-summer Travelog series, and On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30,” Parts I and Part II.

“Piebald” talked about history as it actually happens – and is lived through – compared to how we learned in schools.  In “school-taught” history, the Founding Fathers – for example – knew exactly what they were doing.  They were “carried [on] by a sure and steady tide.”  But the more-real version – history actually lived through – was “improvised, patched together, made up from one moment to the next.”  That thought was exemplified by John Adams, a Founding Father himself:

I’ll not be in the history books.  Only Franklin.  Franklin did this, and Franklin did that, and Franklin did some other damn thing.  Franklin smote the ground, and out sprang General Washington, fully grown and on his horse…

The Mid-summer Travelogs were on a two-week early-July road trip to Atlantic City and New York City. Modeled on Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, they spoke of pilgrimages in general, driving pilgrimages especially, and had a nod to a canoe trip 12 miles offshore.  Part II added this:

Maybe understanding is only possible after.  Years ago when I used to work in the woods it was said of lumber men that they did their logging in the whorehouse and their sex in the woods.  (E.A.)

Which was another way of saying it seems we can’t truly enjoy our “road trips” until they’re over; “Now that my trip is over … I can look back and relish the memories just lived through.”

And finally, RABBIT [and] “the new 30” talked about the series of books by John Updike centered on Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom.  They started with Rabbit as a new father in 1960.  Then:

Updike revisited his hero toward the end of each of the following decades in the second half of this American century; and in each of the subsequent novels … Updike has chronicled the frustrations and ambiguous triumphs … the loves and frenzies, the betrayals and reconciliations of our era.

Part II led off remembering when you could buy a beer at a bar for 40 cents and leave a dime tip.  But at the same time, turning 65 back then meant you looked and felt old, with “liverish scoops” below your eyes and broken veins on the sides of your nose.  But these days a 60-year-old looks like this: