Best wishes for the New Year to anyone with enough time to waste reading my garbage...
I hope that all can enjoy contentment, success at whatever--big or small, important or insignificant--that he or she attempts, good health, and fulfilment of some wishes (all would be over-reaching and a bit piggish!). As Germans say: have "a good slide" into the New Year.
I expect 2015 to offer more of the same. I have never made a New Year's Resolution and do not plan to start. As in the past, I will take things as they come and make choices that need to be made. I might or might not finish two of the four novels I have written, because that takes times and discipline: the former I usually have; the latter becomes more difficult.
Because there is a bar/club in the family, which I financed, we will forego our usual quiet night at home for a loud night amongst wild revellers. This is not my ideal way to spend New Year's Eve, but one does have to make sacrifices and compromises. If I make it through the night, I will provide a cynical review tomorrow.
I prefer humor in television programming, so was pleased when I have discovered another sitcom that I like: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I learned about this program in a New Yorker article about Tina Fey. I watched a few episodes of 30 Rock, but was not a devoted follower: some parts were clever, some fell flat. I decided to give Tina another chance and am I glad I did. Her newest sitcom is clever, making fun of all the things in American life that need to be pilloried and ridiculed. I appreciate irony, which is not a common trait of most Americans. This program makes fun of bigots, racists, homophobes, misogynists, evangelicals, climate change deniers, rich people, teenagers, whites, blacks, Asians, etc.: you name it, it gets done. Sadly, there is much to be ridiculed...
I believe that I have posted this before, but could not resist spreading the word to all who might have missed the clever message...especially as one crazy year comes to an end and new one provides plenty of opportunity for the idiots to screw up the world!
If anyone does not know that a bunch of crooks is ruling Turkey, then watching RT—the Russian 24-hour news channel—will give them an idea. If one has not heard the saying about a fish beginning to stink at the head, then this will also provide that lesson.
Of course, it helps to know that Russia and Turkey are not the best of friends and that the Russian government tends to get what it wants from RT. In this case, Russia wants to dig up as much dirt as possible and spread the word as widely as it can, in hopes of embarrassing the Turkish emperor and his gang of thieves.
Turkey is attempting to woo European leaders, in hopes of joining the European Union. At the same time the government is arresting journalists critical of the government. The two approaches do not fit together, but the Turks do not seem to understand.
This three ring circus is interesting to watch. One can only hope that nothing more serious than squabbles in the media are the end result.
Oh, and there’s the bit about Syria, ISIS, and the Kurds…
Some outlets like to exaggerate things, in hope of attracting buyers/viewers; others like to rest upon their reputation for serious reporting. I tend to view stories differently, depending upon the source.
Some media reports are difficult to believe…or understand. This is especially true for this story found in “serious” as well as the boulevard press.
People believe in some crazy tales and have even stranger beliefs, but one does wonder at the stupidity and/or gullibility of humans.
After reading this headline and viewing the accompanying images, I had a few questions (besides wtf?). Have these people read the bible? Are they aware of history? Would the “son of god”—a man(?) of humble origins—want to live in such a place? The people erecting this monstrosity must have taken their references from the lifestyle of Catholic cardinals.
I found an interesting passage in Graham Greene’s The End Of An Affair.
The narrator is an author, which gives him time for an affair. (This is the reason I chose this occupation for the “hero” of my novel, Hell Is Other People.) In one scene, he is meeting a journalist, who wants to write about his work. The author has proven to be cynical about his own books and wonders if he should even bother with the interview because he fears losing the “exclusiveness of unsuccess.” He has “come to the end of interest in my work now: no one can please me much with praise or hurt my with blame.”
I have the good fortune of not having to deal with success. Being a private person, I would shun any limelight that might (unlikely) come my way. I would never hold a public reading, because I cannot understand why anyone would want to hear an author read a book out loud. Reading is a silent pleasure; most authors I have heard do not have the voice of a fine actor.
I will continue to pursue “unsuccess” and spin simple stories in the privacy of my mind. No one knows what goes on in closed minds…unless one is foolish enough to put pen to paper and then share the words with an unsuspecting world.
I don’t often read an article my college magazine, but something caught my attention and surprised me. I noticed that a graduate from Maldives had written something. I would expect that some young people from a tiny nation of scattered atolls would go to university, but I never would have guessed that one would end up in Vermont.
I know that the Maldives is a muslim nation, which must turn a blind eye to the decadent habits of westerners to make money to survive. Arriving visitors are searched for alcohol, pork products, and religious material. But, hotels are allowed to sell alcohol and pork products, which local residents are forbidden to sample. Natives work at hotel resorts to make life pleasant for rich foreigners and are forced to observe things forbidden under Sharia law.
I have not heard of discord, beyond domestic political strife, which can happen anywhere. I am not so naive as to believe that all natives are happy about the situation and that many resent wealthy foreigners enjoying a life they cannot afford or are not permitted by their religion.
So, the article in the magazine from a distant college surprised me, because it proved that violence is possible. The young graduate returned to his home and became a journalist. He reports in the article that a colleague was abducted after critizing the government and that he was threatened born investigating. I have since learned that many young men have left to join the fighting in the Middle East. Some will surely return to foment dissent against a government so generous to foreign tourists. Guess who will become targets.
Sadly, such thoughts will stay with me when I plan our trips to warmer climes….
I discovered an interesting passage in a Vanity Fair article by Michael Kinsley, The Axis of ISIS. If you understand the following, you will understand why it is impossible to understand what is happening in the Middle East, especially if you rely upon traditional media sources and traditional education.
ISIS is merely the most recent in a parade of horrible groups. Shiite and Sunni, religious and secular, murderous and even more murderous, to which we have been introduced through the years. They sometimes are our friends, though secretly helping the other side, or they are sworn enemies of the imperialist aggressor (that is, us), but still secretly taking bribes from the CIA. They are often splinters from some larger tree, either “brand extension” by the original group or sworn enemy due to ideological or religious differences that are impossible to fathom.
Someone wise once wrote that the secret to survival in Asia is "to know that you'll never know", no matter how long you live there or how friendly they natives might act to your face. The Middle East is worse....
Despite occasionally humming a familiar Christmas song, I do not dream of a white Christmas. Snow might be pretty, but it screws up traffic, causes work, and suggested cold. That said, I do not hate snow at Christmas, because I tend to take whatever weather prevails outside my window.
I recall one Christmas with snow in the past decades, and this year has been no different. Instead of white blanketing the lawn, rain and mild temperatures have delivered something unseasonal: mushrooms. Instead, we have a traditional fir tree, nicely trimmed by me, while outside, we have a Christmas toadstool.
Christmas, which started as a pagan celebration long before Christians appropriated some of the aspects, has some confusing terms in German. Christmas is called Weihnacten, which is directly translated as holy night. But, Christmas day or days are celebrated—there are two, just like in England, where the second one is called Boxing Day. Christmas Eve is known as Heilige Abend, which is also holy night/evening. The night before Christmas is when churches are most-visited; the rest of the year are plagued by sparse attendance. Most families open presents on Christmas Eve, which I like: once one is a parent, early rising of Christmas morning is a pain. Two days of Christmas mean two days without work (shops also close early on Christmas Eve, so it’s almost 2 ½ days off). This works out well for families, who can visit one set of parents on one day and another set on the second day. Days are often rotated each year, because many feel that the 25th is more important.
As in all first world nations, gifts are the most important aspect of Christmas, followed by gluttony. One nice thing about Germany is lack of anything as stupid as Fox News. No one imagines a war on Christmas.
Merry Christmas. Frohe Weihnachten.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.