Saturday, December 30, 2023

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered The Party by Max Blumenthal - Further Consideration Based On Today's Headlines...


Over the last year, award-winning journalist and videographer Max Blumenthal has been behind some of the most sensational (and funniest) exposes of Republican machinations. Whether it was his revelation that Sarah Palin was "anointed" by a Kenyan priest famous for casting out witches, or his confronting Republican congressional leaders and John McCain's family at the GOP convention about the party's opposition to sex education (and hence, the rise in teen pregnancies like that of Palin's daughter), or his expose of the eccentric multimillionaire theocrat behind California's Prop 8 anti- gay marriage initiative, Blumenthal has become one of the most important and most constantly cited journalists on how fringe movements are becoming the Republican Party mainstream.

Republican Gomorrah is a bestiary of dysfunction, scandal and sordidness from the dark heart of the forces that now have a leash on the party. It shows how those forces are the ones that establishment Republicans-like John McCain-have to bow to if they have any hope of running for President. It shows that Sarah Palin was the logical choice of a party in the control of theocrats. But more that just an expose, Republican Gomorrah shows that many of the movement's leading figures have more in common than just the power they command within conservative ranks. Their personal lives have been stained by crisis and scandal: depression, mental illness, extra-marital affairs, struggles with homosexual urges, heavy medication, addiction to pornography, serial domestic abuse, and even murder. Inspired by the work of psychologists Erich Fromm, who asserted that the fear of freedom propels anxiety-ridden people into authoritarian settings, Blumenthal explains in a compelling narrative how a culture of personal crisis has defined the radical right, transforming the nature of the Republican Party for the next generation and setting the stage for the future of American politics.--Amazon


Sodom and Gomorrah, Legendary cities of ancient Palestine. According to the biblical book of Genesis, the notorious cities were destroyed by “brimstone and fire” because of their wickedness. The exact nature of the damning wickedness of the cities has been the subject of debate.--

I wanted to begin sharing this time by beginning with simple facts related to the book and the title. The book obviously caught my attention as I am one who has openly been critical of the actions of this party. This book was written in 2010 and relates to the failed republican presidential race at that time. Upfront, I want to clearly state my belief that if John McCain had been permitted to choose the running mate he wanted, rather than Palin, he just might have had a a better chance in presenting what I would image would have been a much more solid program for his candidacy. And, I believe, be the first time in history that the president and vice-president were from different political parties--what an opportunity that would have been for the nation! The Republican Party would not allow this!
In the chaotic 2008 Republican presidential primary, the Republican base split its vote between Mitt Romney, the economic conservative, and Mike Huckabee, the social conservative, creating space for John McCain, distrusted by all factions, to emerge. McCain wished to have as his running mate an independent-minded politician who could garner votes outside the Republicans’ increasingly narrow sphere of influence. His intention was to name Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who had been the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000. But the movement rejected his appeal to pragmatism, threatened a full-scale revolt, and demanded to vet his running mate as a condition for support. From the Last Frontier of Alaska, a self-proclaimed “hardcore pro-lifer” and “prayer warrior,” Governor Sarah Palin, was summoned to deliver to McCain the political elements he had once labeled “agents of intolerance.” Through Palin, archetype of the right-wing woman, the movement’s influence over the party reached its zenith. As a direct result, however, the party sank to its nadir, suffering crushing defeats in the presidential and congressional races. Palin’s candidacy mobilized the Christian right elements that McCain alienated, but she repelled independents and moderate Republicans in droves, winnowing away the party’s constituency in every region of the country except the Deep South. Palin fatally tarnished McCain’s image while laying the groundwork for her potential resurrection—and that of the movement—in the presidential contest of 2012. The Christian right reached the mountaintop with the presidency of George W. Bush, shrouding science and reason in the shadow of the cross and the flag. But even at the height of Bush’s glory, in his 2004 campaign, a few isolated moderate Republicans warned that the Republican Party was in danger of collapse. Of course their jeremiads were ignored. That year, Christie Todd Whitman published a book titled It’s My Party Too, decrying the takeover by what she called the “social fundamentalists.” A member of a distinguished and wealthy eastern Republican family, with deep ties to the party, she had been governor of New Jersey and head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Bush, only to quit when fundamentalist ideologues substituted right-wing doctrine for science in its studies. After the 2008 Republican debacle, Whitman pointed out that even though McCain was not considered a champion of the religious right, his percentage of so-called “values voters” increased by 3 percent over Bush’s in 2004. McCain, the last Republican moderate on the national stage, had lost among “moderate voters” by 21 points to Obama. As soon as Obama took office, the movement camped in the wilderness prepared to take political advantage of the worst economic troubles since the Great Depression by injecting a renewed sense of anti-government resentment. As most people agonized and even panicked over the sudden economic collapse, the Christian right’s peddlers of crisis lifted their hands to the heavens. They had a whole new world of trauma to exploit, more desperate and embittered followers to manipulate, and maybe—just maybe—another chance at power. Republican Gomorrah is an intimate portrayal of a political, social, and religious movement defined by an “escape from freedom.” As Erich Fromm explained, those who join the ranks of an authoritarian cause to resolve inner turmoil and self-doubt are always its most fervent, rigidly ideological, and loyal members. They are often its most politically influential members as well. President Eisenhower described the “mental stress and burden” that animates such movements. His admonition to beware the danger posed to democracy by those who seek “freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions” should be as memorable in history as his caution about the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address. The characters I have profiled may not represent a majority in terms of sheer numbers, but through their combined power, they reflect the dominant character of the movement—and, by extension, of the Republican Party they have subsumed. That party has ignored Eisenhower’s warning and realized his darkest fears. Brooklyn, New York

Right from the beginning, as we learn in the Introduction, the intent of the Party was to do what they wanted. While agreeing to have McCain as the President, it was Palin who opened the major event!

Suddenly, the floor of the 2008 Republican National Convention is in rapture, having just heard vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin taunt Barack Obama as an unqualified elitist, assail the liberal media, and bill herself as “an average hockey mom.” The man at the top of the ticket, John McCain, would speak the following night, but Palin, a charismatic culture warrior, was the spark that ignited the party base.
When the chant finally died down, three country music stars stepped to the stage to perform a patriotic musical mash-up. John Rich and Gretchen Wilson stared deeply into one another’s eyes, singing the national anthem, while Cowboy Troy, an African American singer known as the “king of hick-hop,” stood off to the side, reciting lines from the pledge of allegiance. Gales of spontaneous cheers rose from the crowd when Cowboy Troy proclaimed, “One nation under God.” From my position to the immediate left of the stage, standing next to the Pennsylvania delegation, Cowboy Troy was the only African American I could see among a sea of gray hair and white faces. After the pledge of allegiance, as Rich broke into “Raisin’ McCain,” a honky-tonk campaign anthem that extols McCain “goin’ down in Vietnam town,” a handsome middle-aged black man in a suit brushed by me, heading rapidly toward the arena exit. He was Lynn Swann, the Hall of Fame National Football League wide receiver and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania in 2006. “Mr. Swann, where are the rest of the black people?” I asked him. He paused, shrugged his shoulders, and kept walking. Then, before disappearing into the crowd, he turned and blurted out, “We need to do more.” Earlier that day, I milled around the convention floor and walked the arena hallways, chatting with party leaders and delegates. “These are the real people,” Louisiana GOP chairman Roger Villere told me, echoing an emerging theme of the McCain-Palin campaign. “This is real America.” When I asked Villere the whereabouts of his state’s junior senator, David Vitter, he said he did not know. And when I asked about Vitter’s confession to hiring several high-priced prostitutes, Villere shot back, “David is a moral man, a great senator, and we support him totally.” Vitter, still a religious right favorite, was planning to run for reelection in 2010. Near the press box, I ran into Ralph Reed, a Christian right operative once hailed by Time magazine as “God’s Right Hand.” Reed had harbored presidential ambitions, but his campaign for Georgia lieutenant governor ended in humiliating defeat when his role was disclosed in lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s scheme to trick evangelical leaders into pressuring the Bush administration’s Department of Interior to shut down Indian casinos that Abramoff’s clients considered business competitors. I asked Reed whether he still had a political future. “What do you mean? I never left politics!” he chirped, beaming at me with a pearly smile. Reed and Abramoff’s former friend and ally, ex- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, hosted a private party that evening for Republican bigwigs. DeLay, who stood accused by the Texas attorney general of money laundering, had charged McCain with “betraying” the conservative movement. (One of the DeLay party’s high-profile attendees, Representative John Mica, head-butted an ABC cameraman when a reporter asked him if he was happy to see his disgraced friend.) Then I made my way to the far corner of the convention floor to mingle with the Idaho delegation. I asked delegates where the state’s outgoing senior senator, Larry Craig, was. Craig, rated the third most conservative senator in Congress, had barely eluded criminal charges after soliciting sex with an undercover cop in an airport bathroom stall. “We’d rather not go back and revisit all that,” Governor Jim Risch, running to replace Craig, told me. “I’m really here to talk about our party’s plan for keeping the tax rate low.” From the Idaho delegation, I pushed through a gaggle of reporters and cameramen surrounding the Alaska delegation to meet some of Palin’s constituents. When I approached a young man, the only delegate from the state who appeared to be under the age of fifty, he snapped, “You’re not going to ask about Bristol, are you?” referring to Palin’s pregnant sixteen-year-old daughter, who sat nearby with her fiancĂ©, eighteen-year-old self-proclaimed “fuckin’ redneck” Levi Johnston. I asked about Palin’s support for laws banning abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. “There’s no reason to kill a baby, whether you consider him unborn or born,” the delegate replied. Another delegate, a middle-aged woman, explained to me how her husband took their two daughters on “dates” to “talk about keeping themselves pure until marriage.” (Two days later, the same woman, dressed in a construction worker’s outfit like one of the Village People, bellowed on the convention floor in favor of offshore drilling: “Drill, baby, drill!”) This was a portrait of the Republican Party fully in the grip of its right wing: almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly evangelical, fixated on abortion, homosexuality, and abstinence education; resentful and angry; and unable to discuss how and why it had become this way. Noticeably absent from the convention were moderate Republicans. Senator Lincoln Chafee, legatee of the moderate Republican tradition in Rhode Island, was defeated in the 2006 midterms, and he was endorsing Obama. The last Republican House member from New England, Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut, would lose his seat in two months. None of the great Republican families of the past, from the Rockefellers to the Eisenhowers, were there either. Both of Ronald Reagan’s natural children, Ron and Patti, endorsed Obama. President Dwight Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Susan, addressed the Democratic National Convention in Denver just moments before Barack Obama appeared to accept his party’s nomination. How did a party once known for its “big tent” philosophy become a one-ring circus? How did a Republican Party that had dominated American politics for over twenty-five years become so marginalized? During the 1952 presidential campaign, the Republican nominee and former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower silently observed the attacks on the patriotism of a man he knew was a great American, General George C. Marshall, then serving as secretary of state. His assailant was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, as opportunistic and sloppy as he was vicious. Eisenhower seethed while McCarthy smeared Marshall as “a man steeped in falsehood,” who supposedly harbored at least fifty-seven active Communists within the State Department. Eisenhower loathed everything about McCarthy, regarding him as a dangerous and petty demagogue, but he shrank from attacking him or defending Marshall, fearing that McCarthy’s influence among the Republican Party right-wing base might upset his campaign. Only later, when McCarthy initiated a witch hunt of a phantom Communist Fifth Column within the top command of the U.S. Army in 1954, did Eisenhower strike back. He did so by sleight of hand. “I will not get into the gutter with this guy,” he told aides. He instructed his staff to leak damaging information about the senator’s ethical breaches and invoked executive privilege to stifle McCarthy’s request for notes on the president’s meetings with army officers. McCarthy’s show trial quickly degenerated into a farce, leading to his rebuke by the army’s attorney Joseph Welch (“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”) and censure by the Senate for “vulgar and insulting” conduct. Eisenhower had guarded his party against the far right, defended its essentially moderate temper, and ensured the preservation of its national appeal. By the time McCarthy drank himself to death in 1957, what the historian Richard Hofstadter had called “the paranoid style of politics” had spread into new and growing grassroots conservative groups that sought influence within the Republican Party. These groups cohered into the movement that enabled Barry Goldwater to seize the presidential nomination in 1964, would gain genuine power with the administration of President Ronald Reagan, and would reach their apotheosis under President George W. Bush. Eisenhower observed the early development of the modern American right with anxiety. His experience in Europe had taught him that the rise of extreme movements could be explained only by the psychological yearnings and social needs of their supporters. He understood that these movements were not unique to any place or time. Authoritarianism could take root anywhere, even in America. Eisenhower did not believe that an American exceptionalism immunized the country against the spores of extremism. Eisenhower, famous as a golfer and reader of Zane Grey western novels, was criticized for lacking an intellectual framework or even an interest in ideas. But throughout his presidency, Eisenhower clung to a short book that informed his view of the danger of extremist movements. He referred to this book in the first televised presidential press conference ever, distributed it to his friends and top aides, and cited its wisdom to a terminally ill World War II veteran, Robert Biggs, who had written him a letter saying he “felt from your recent speeches the feeling of hedging and a little uncertainty. We wait for someone to speak for us and back him completely if the statement is made in truth.” Eisenhower could have tossed Biggs’s missive in the heap of unread letters his secretary discarded each day, or he could have allowed a perfunctory and canned response, but he was eager for an opportunity to expound on his vision of the open society. “I doubt that citizens like yourself could ever, under our democratic system, be provided with the universal degree of certainty, the confidence in their understanding of our problems, and the clear guidance from higher authority that you believe needed,” Eisenhower wrote Biggs on February 10, 1959. “Such unity is not only logical but indeed indispensable in a successful military organization, but in a democracy debate is the breath of life.” The president then opined that free societies do not necessarily perpetuate freedom; many citizens would be far more comfortable under a structure that provides rigid order and certainty about all aspects of life. “The mental stress and burden which this form of government imposes has been particularly well recognized in a little book about which I have spoken on several occasions,” Eisenhower wrote. “It is ‘The True Believer,’ by Eric Hoffer; you might find it of interest. In it, he points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems—freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.” Eisenhower’s tone was one of humility and responsibility. He blamed himself for “purely an error of an expression” if his purposes were misunderstood. And he pointed out that fears of national security during the Cold War were distorted and exploited for political advantage. “It is difficult indeed to maintain a reasoned and accurately informed understanding of our defense situation on the part of our citizenry when many prominent officials, possessing no standing or expertness except as they themselves claim it, attempt to further their own ideas or interests by resorting to statements more distinguished by stridency than by accuracy.” Eisenhower closed his letter praising the dying man for his “fortitude in pondering these problems despite your deep personal adversity.” He made no reference to God. Hoffer seemed the most unlikely of figures to influence the president. A self-educated itinerant worker, Hoffer toiled on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, earning the nickname “the stevedore-philosopher” for the voracious reading and writing he did away from the job. On the docks, Hoffer encountered droves of tramps drifting in search of work. When the Great Depression set in, some of the most bedraggled misfits he knew morphed suddenly into loyal foot soldiers for strikes led by militant longshoreman union leader Harry Bridges and his allies in the Communist Party. At the same time, when Hoffer looked across the ocean to Germany, he saw a revolution led by failed artists and frustrated intellectuals stirring the rabble with dreams of a transcendent dictatorial order. Hoffer’s experiences at this historical fulcrum provided the basis for his seminal work The True Believer, published in 1951. “A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises,” he wrote, “but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence.” The true believer was at his core an ineffectual man with no capacity for self-fulfillment. Only the drama provided by a mass movement gave him purpose. “Faith in a holy cause,” Hoffer wrote, “is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” Hoffer’s analysis of the political fanatic earned him national cult status, gaining the approval not only of Eisenhower but also of serious intellectuals such as the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Hoffer’s analysis, however, was limited for the same reason it resonated so widely. By positioning himself as a non-ideological voice of the American everyman, the ultimate individual standing alone against a rising tide of extremism, Hoffer conflated the underlying motives of all mass movements together. According to Hoffer, fascists, Communists, black nationalists, fanatical “Mohammedans,” and Southern racists equally shared an extreme sensibility, and therefore he insisted, “All mass movements are interchangeable.” But were they really?

I found myself almost gagging at what I was reading, at least as I saw what was described at the RNC event... Why? It was back in the 1970s, when I got to know David Temple, who was chair of the West Virginia University Department of Political Science at that time. During a discussion about candidates for an upcoming election, Temple was critical of someone--who is no longer important--but, for me, I learned something that day. He said that, if somebody chooses to run for public office, we should expect that individual to be above what the normal individual is about. In character, expertise and experience... Now, my mind reflected on what was happening in this present time when the same party is trying to erase/change the history of America... As recently as this week, one of the candidates for the presidency fumbled, trying to explain away the truth of slavery!

You know folks, I have a hard time understanding the, seemingly, bureaucratic nonsense of the legal system these days. There is only one way to see what is happening in America. First, one party planned for and executed an insurrection against the government of the United States. Anybody who wanted to know about it can see video after video of what happened and, further, the investigation held by Congress in which they verified all that had happened. But that is not enough...

As long as individuals are able to lie, attempt to reframe reality, based upon "Free Speech," then the public is forced to deal with the mountain of lies and disinformation that is spewed by the republican party and, specifically, the former president. Yet, everybody claims that it will have to take the "highest court" to settle the same time that at least two of the Supreme Court Justices are being investigated and have been found to be not following procedure in reporting income (from rich benefactors)!!

Blumenthal begins his historical analysis by going back to 1915 when a man named Rushdoony entered the clergy as a minister in the ultraconservative Orthodox Presbyterian Church and immediately began mapping out a system to restore purity and order to the fallen world Rushdoony invoked the apostle Paul’s defiance of civil court authority. “Don’t go to the civil courts,” Rushdoony said. “They’re ungodly. Create your own courts...”

Moving on to the 1950s when McCarthy created the "red scare" where politicians in the opposing party were accused of being communists... By 1961, the John Birch Society had taken over parts of the party... using tactics such as "Cells were deployed for acts of harassment and disruption that included sending to members of Congress postcards detailing a supposed Communist plot to erect a “Negro Soviet Republic” in the South, infiltrating ACLU meetings to shout down perceived Communist sympathizers..."

In the 1960s we learn of Francis Schaeffer who realized too late that a monster had been created... His son, Frank Schaeffer, a prolific speaker against the acts of the republicans today, found his father sobbing, a young man openly gay had together with his work converted to Christianity. That man had been murdered by "homophobic thugs." Schaeffer lamented to his son that he wished he had been there and that the man would have been saved from the monsters who hated--hated anybody who was different... hated, rather than loved... as Christ, himself requested that we do as his followers...

As you are seeing, the tone of what was found by the writer is stark, dismal, and certainly not about God's Love... I'll leave you with a quote:
The Politics of Guilt and Pity, in which the theologian mocked wealthy liberals. “The guilty rich will indulge in philanthropy, and the guilty white men will show ‘love’ and ‘concern’ for Negroes and other such persons who are in actuality repulsive and intolerable to them,” Rushdoony wrote. Ahmanson read avidly, as though Rushdoony were describing his own life. Still, Ahmanson did not yet convert to Reconstructionist theology, and he gave no indication that he shared Rushdoony’s racism. But through Rushdoony’s scathing critique of “the guilty rich,” he began to release himself from the burden of responsibility to carry on his father’s legacy. 

The book proceeds on covering many of the issues that have been covered in other books; e.g., the control placed on families by James Dobson and the Family Research Council during the 2007 election... From the point of time first investigated by Blumenthal in 1915, we are forced to watch and wonder what is next as each year the level of fear and violence that is both instigated and then commended moves higher than it has ever been. Blumenthal speaks of one of our most respected presidents, Dwight Eisenhower, who saw what was happening. Even then, sleight-of-hand tactics were used to publicly correct the problem at that time... What happened to the ability to disagree, speak truthfully, negotiate, and then come to a consensus for the good of our country?

Bottom line is the fact that the book is a well-researched documentary regarding the behind the scenes evolution of the Republican Party that has come to use religion and stories from ancient times well before the coming of Christ, as religious people worked behind the scenes to have him killed...

It is not difficult to merge the reported findings from Blumenthal, Shaeffer, or the author of The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory. Each of these individuals see through what is being manipulated by public and religious leaders alike who have one purpose only. The claim is that they want to have religious freedom for Christians??? I already have that as do many others, right? See, the key thing is that they want to, as did those who created The Inquisition hundreds of years ago...and the Crusades even further back... and, of course, the Holocaust, even though that was more of an overt political action as opposed to the previous two. When those who claim to be acting on behalf of God lie, cheat, incite violence, and more...then, we must begin to speak out even more than is being done by writers... We need to share documentation, videos and present the facts, as appropriate. Certainly not in some attempt to force Christianity as a national religion. What we see now happening is no different that what has been tried in the past. It will not succeed... The question is, just how much damage to the faith in Jesus will be done for we who know the Truth, yet see Truth being ignored?

God Bless


Friday, December 29, 2023

Metal by J. F. Lawrence - How Do We Survive Without Metals? - A Fantastic Apocalyptic Thriller!

“Do you know the cure for suffering?” she asked after laying down next to him, rolling onto her side to see him better. He took off his helmet and wiped his sweaty brow on his sleeve. “I’m sure you’re gonna tell me.”
She nudged him in his rusting arm. “Death.” He slow clapped. “Funny.” It would have been humorous if dying wasn’t so likely and narrowly escaped of late. 
So far, they’d survived three close encounters with death, fire, crash, and shotgun. The question was, how many more close calls would he get? Nine lives like a cat?

Such a load of BS. Some things were best left in the past, like today. He couldn’t resurrect the dead, so why should he resurrect his memories of them? Ueskev wouldn’t come back. The pilots sacrificed themselves, dead, irrevocably done and gone. The countless who burned in Portland wouldn’t rise again. “It’s all about the future,” he told himself. “About survival.”

“This is the universal law of man: blood spilled cries out for more.”

“Have you heard the phrase, ‘Two is one, and one is none?’ We need redundancy and a backup plan.” “Of course,” he said, “but, Nellibi is our number two.” “You are a survivor,” she said, something other than professional concern on her face. “I can’t say the same for them. You are the backup plan.” 

Relying on his sensitivity training as a professor, he said, “I respect your tactical perspective. Please respect my scientific viewpoint. It would take me a decade or more to replace either of them.” “Funny, Wall. You said it might take years for someone skilled anyway, so what’s the difference? And what if they aren’t resilient enough to survive the new world order? If they can’t survive, then all we have is you.” “They’re fine.” “For now.” 

“Then we agree to disagree.” She cracked her neck and sighed. “The damage is done. You might as well finish the job. Give her here.” She took one of the batteries. After connecting the new equipment, she gave him a thick strip of beef jerky as a peace offering. “The jerky gods are bountiful this day!” he said reverently, kissing it and holding it to the sky. Then he lifted her in a spinning hug and bounced up and down on one leg as she laughed. When he let her down, he swayed side to side, dizzy but still smiling. “Wall, regarding this jerky infatuation…the first step is admitting you have a problem.” He slid a sliver of salty heaven between his molars and gently mashed the gold standard of all food and moaned. “For some men, it’s liquor. For others, it’s gambling. Jerky is my vice of choice.” For the next half hour, he regaled her with all things jerky. “The food of the gods. Ambrosia. Love in food form.” He described how it was prepared, from cow to grocery store, and waxed on about his numerous experiences with making jerky in the backyard with his dad. He lamented that since he moved to Eugene, he had lived in a condo without a space to home smoke his own. “But,” he said happily. “Without refrigerators, smoked meats will make a return.” 

Substitute Jerky! 
On the other hand, later he trades bullets for meat patties!

“Hey!” someone yelled from somewhere behind the building. With terrifying speed, Plink ran toward the voice, her M4 rising on the way. “Hey, you up there!” “What’s up, Kayla?” Plink called down as she planted her foot on the short rim around the building, looking like a female Captain Morgan. The scientist still wore white coveralls, goggles, and mask, her head barely sticking out the back door. “Stop stomping around. It’s hard to concentrate.” “Come on up,” Plink said. “We have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” “No,” the scientist said. “I drink soylent.” Plink looked at Wall, who shrugged and said, “It’s an efficiency thing.” “Coming down.” Plink waved him to follow before sliding down the vertical supports like a fireman on a double pole, but with disinfectant-laden rags in each hand to buffer the friction against the old and crusty iron. He, on the other hand, took the slow way down, prepared to be the bureaucratic translator between Kayla the lead scientist/engineer, and Plink the lead of all things deadly. It wasn’t a role he would have chosen, but it was the one he had to play. Down below, the only thing he could see about Kayla, who only stuck her goggles and nose through the door, was that her eyes were even more sunken and rimmed with darker circles. Plink offered her a water bottle, but the scientist shook her head. “I have a drinking tube.” The ultimate in efficiency, he thought. Plink held out a strip of jerky, only for Kayla to shudder. “I can’t eat that.” “Why not?” Plink asked. “I told you, ‘I only eat soylent.’” 

The Delta Force operator shrugged, “Nope. Not anymore, honey. You have a new diet. You eat what you can when you can.” “No,” Kayla yelped as if Plink drew a knife, retreating by a couple of inches. “I have enough soylent for a month.” He’d checked, and this wasn’t even close to true. Their virus expert was rationing too much, but Wall needed to build trust, so he didn’t press the issue. “Besides, my gut isn’t used to other food.” Plink shrugged again. “Suit yourself. You’ll run out eventually. Then your tune will change.” When Plink took a healthy bite of the jerky, Wall practically slobbered, then cheered up when she handed the rest to him. The two ladies watched him descend into euphoria. Plink turned back to Kayla and said, “So, Doc. What’s the good news?” “Good news?” she scoffed. He rephrased the question. “What results have you observed through experimentation since this morning?” Kayla’s eyes reflected joy, almost as reverent as Wall with jerky. “Towning’s work was impeccable, absolutely masterful.” Wall visualized the explosion that swallowed Towning’s house and basement lab, a trap meant for him, and barely withheld an outburst filled with the sentiment of all the curses in all the languages that ever existed throughout time. “Anything we don’t know?” Plink asked. Kayla squinted. “I presume you do not know–” She cut herself off. With the joy of jerky in his mouth, he took a different tact. “What observations suggest Towning’s level of skill?” “He interwove sections of DNA from each virus into the others, thereby minimizing competitive interactions. Of note, he subtly altered my HIV’s morphology for aerosol transmission.” While such a feat must have been insanely challenging, Wall didn’t like the admiration with which she spoke. He swallowed his distaste and interpreted for Plink. “She says the diseases work together and he gave wings to the HIV variant.” Kayla’s expression of adoration faded as she heard Wall’s simplification. “A crude and insufficient interpretation.” 

“What else have you learned?” Plink asked. As Kayla twisted her face as if physically wounded by Plink’s words, Wall interjected. “Have you observed any other aberrant deviations from the samples?” She whispered, “Towning removed my kill switch from his HIV strain. Further, he made the pathogens immune to my variant.” A series of curses flooded Wall’s mind. After an awkward pause, he asked, “Are you saying you can’t kill it?” “I can achieve the desired outcome. However, I require silence to concentrate, and it will take time.” “Get some shut-eye, Kayla,” Plink said. “You’ll feel better with–” The scientist drew her face back into the dark office, and the door closed behind her without so much as a wave. “Back up top, old man,” Plink said, shooing Wall to the ladder. He didn’t point out that they were probably about the same age. “You damaged my sleep by going off base, so I need to start over.” While she conked out, breathing easily as soon as her head met the rucksack. He considered doing some yoga, which reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, Talia, the one who cheated on him with another instructor. Instead, he sat on the cement block crown around the rooftop for a beat, dangling his feet over the front of the building. “Living on the edge,” he quietly sang in a bad approximation of Steven Tyler’s unique vocals. After his legs went numb, he leaned back on his backpack and watched the fog swirl, lift, then fall. It gave him time to ruminate on the past twenty-four hours. He didn’t think he was traumatized yet, but there was plenty to unpack, and there would be an abundance of time for the downfall to change that. Therapists, a breed that might go extinct, would have a field day helping unload his “emotional wounds.” The last twenty-four hours were like the worst stints in Ethiopia, a series of irrevocable consequences he needed to learn from. He regretted that some of his army buddies struggled with PTSD, and in most cases, strained themselves to adapt back to the “civilized” requirements of a peaceful society. Wall? Not so much. He considered himself lucky to transition back without suffering the way that all too many did. Things like starving kids and mass burial sites were enough to screw with anyone’s head, and he wasn’t immune to it, but he had a series of meaningful goals that saw him through. He could have given up after failing to adapt bacteria to consume landmines, but that mission transferred into a goal of healing the planet. Now, he had a different mission, to aid the healing of metal and man in any way he could.


Sometimes I get curious about the people I become acquainted with online... J. F. Lawrence was one I had met on "X" which, apparently,  found me finally after the turnover and realized that I was, normally, only talking about books... and reinstated my earlier account on Twitter. You know, I often wondered what that saying meant when they say, "You can't judge a book by its cover..." Well, the literal words are easy... but each of us has a book and I'm a reader. I learned a lot from books...and, sometimes, adapt my own life in even small ways, from what I read... Metal is one of those books...

When I consider the word metal, I think of cars, first, but once you start reading Metal, the full impact of our lives affected by it, will, perhaps, astound you!.

You know, folks, I had been staying away from reading apocalyptic novels for nearly a decade now, you know, around 2015 when I saw what was going on in America... But there are a number of references that might indicate that the time period is somewhat futuristic but that, we seem to be still dealing with the same problems of today. Bummer!

This was even better. A stupid leader was a unit’s most life-threatening attribute. The central guy yelled, “Come out! This is your reckoning day.” “He’s an idiot,” Plink whispered before she crawled like a giant spider on hands and toes to the back side of the building, gone to take care of Carlos and Mateo. Announcing himself was a strategic error, a great way to win the state championship contest for the Kazinski Award. The two roly-poly guys with the ARs backed up a pace, probably aware of their leader’s blunder. “They’re the smarter ones.” Watch out for them. Four quick pops, which carried the clack-thud of suppressed rounds, announced Carlos’s and Mateo’s ill-matched encounter with Plink. No yells or return fire ensued, a testament to Plink’s marksmanship. Kill shots. Out front, their leader reacted by pulling the triggers of his pistols with impacts climbing from the ground, up the building, and into the sky. Successive recoil in the hands of an untrained fool tended to raise each shot higher than the last. The guy would have been better served by holding one pistol with both hands and slowing himself down. All the same, Wall ducked behind the short ledge as a bullet whizzed just overhead, the classic high-pitch to low-pitch zeeoow caused by doppler shift as it passed. Shot at twice in one day and three times in twenty-four hours exceeded Wall’s quota by precisely three times. He had to wonder if there was something about him that attracted gunfire. When the pistol fire stopped, Wall pumped up his confidence by saying, “Now,” then propped himself on the short rampart and aimed his suppressed M4 at the leader. With as much self-control as he could muster, he let off two shots. The first bullet landed with that low thunk of a bullet on flesh. The second ricocheted off the pavement with a crack, a miss. He switched targets before seeing what happened to his first pin cushion and released another two rounds, forcing himself to pause longer between shots to recover from the recoil. The first shot battered the new target. A secondary boom synchronized with his follow-up shot, accompanied by a very close impact on the cinder blocks less than a meter away. With the speed of a groundhog, he retreated behind the safety of the roof’s crown. Someone shouted, “Run!” More rounds clapped, impacting randomly and flying wildly overhead, suppressive fire. The shots stopped, replaced by the patter of running feet. Wall popped back up with his rifle at the ready. Both of his previous targets laid on the ground, the leader rasping and writhing, holding his chest with shallow breaths. The other was still and silent. The last two men ran for the road. Wall aimed at the slow, portly guy, followed him with the scope’s red dot, and shot. The rotund thug stumbled as his shoulder lurched forward and screamed, “Puta!” Wall aimed at the fallen man, placing the crosshairs on his back, relaxed into the shot, and fired as he’d done so many times while hunting and practicing, earning the desired effect; the attacker stopped moving. The remaining runner vanished down the road behind the trees before Wall could take aim. “Gah!” he whisper-yelled, angry that he let one get away. No good could come of the guy escaping. He could come back after regrouping with a larger cohort of his gang and attack with overwhelming numbers, and if they went up in the chain of command, they might have intelligence and strategy on their side. Contrary to how people say time slows with hyper-focus in high-stress situations, this encounter sped by so quickly that Wall barely had time to register what happened, most of his response and thoughts coming as a result of training and instincts. The proof of the quick skirmish splayed out on the ground in the parking lot in the form of two men, one gasping for air, soon to die. He was strangely upbeat about the outcome. Any conflict you came out of alive was a good one. Not better than no fight at all, but a win nonetheless. At the front of the building, three down, two of which were kills, the last of which would die soon. He imagined Plink’s donations to the Grim Reaper out back. Five out of six dead, and no casualties on the side of Alpha Bravo. 

After the fact, he contemplated the deed of shooting a fleeing man in the back. Honorable men didn’t do such things, considered completely immoral by Americans. But, in the moment, he hadn’t cared a spark’s ass. These guys weren’t civilized men who came to engage in a lengthy and polite discourse about the finer details of dick size. They chose to walk into his domain, guns blazing, and threaten his lab. “Screw ‘em.” They no longer lived in a moral world. Anyone who judged him wouldn’t be worth their weight in rust during or after the fall... 

(Think January 6th!)

Lawrence puts his fantastically creative talents in providing some of the most incredible characters I've seen in both similar and other novels I read. Wall is and probably will be your favorite. I'll just say he gets his nickname honestly and leave it at that... Wall is a professor at a local university, but he is also a scientist who has conducted experiments until he has discovered something that is of value to a very rich man... Enter "alert" signals for me. I have, as many of you may have, been influenced greatly to beware of rich men--and what harm they can do...

See the key for this book is that we find a charismatic man who befriended Wall, encouraged a friendship and loyalty of supposed concerns, in this case, the environment, and provides support to Wall to work diligently for that "cause." Only to then have it backfire! Of course, I am sure you can guess that Wall was manipulated, lied to, and told a story for so long that he really believed what was stated was true... Sound familiar?

The goal was to create a process by which all of the junked cars, appliances, etc., would rust quickly so that landfills could be reclaimed, for instance... Instead, manipulation of the truth resulted in world-wide...rusting...of...all... metal!

We meet Wall as he is coming out of a large forest area where he has been vacationing as suggested by his new mentor. He has been gone for just two weeks, during which the whole world has been infected! He, of course, doesn't know anything about what has happened, even though he had noticed that his phone was giving him trouble...

At that point we meet my other two favorite characters, one of which is a female "badass" of a superwoman. No, she's not a fictional character like those in graphic novels... She's in Delta Force and leads the team who was sent out to find the professor! I could start telling you about her, but you wouldn't believe me. Yes, she's that special a character and Wall likes...her...a...lot! In the meantime, Rhino is one of her team, who sticks with the trio after the initial hunt is over. Rhino is special for his memory. Ask him anything and he will not only answer but give the history of it! He's fun, sure of himself, even with a macho female leader...and cool enough to be willing to tell Wall that he needs to improve his shooting skills!

On the other hand, Wall calls many of the others in the book he meets "zombies." Even though, apparently, the time period is beyond the point where zombie apocalypse was just one of the movies featuring that brand of human... LOL

Rolling on his side, Wall couldn’t believe his turn of luck. He was practically underneath a classic VW bus covered by a canvas tarp. The orange and white siding was barely visible in the dark. He awkwardly gained his feet, turned on the M4’s light, and pulled the car cover off. Working out the kinks in his body, he walked around the old-school minibus. If not for the state of his leg and head, he would have done his happy dance. It hadn’t been infected yet. “Thank you, universe.” Adding to his excitement, he didn’t have to learn how to pick the lock. The door swung open with a loud creak, but then the nasty smell inside made him wince. Someone tried to mask the scent of rot with incense, patchouli, and the skunk-like stench of marijuana. He flipped the driver’s side visor down in hopes of finding a key. “Nobody’s that lucky.” Having no idea what he was doing, he hopped out and looked under the driver’s column, wishing he’d watched an instructional video on how to hotwire a car. “It can’t be that hard, can it?” he asked, craning his neck. “Holy!” Someone already hotwired it. Holding his breath, he connected the two red wires that hung loose, and the little bus chugged to life with an extra few clicks and a whine from a dying alternator or battery. At full blast, Willy Nelson sang “On the Road Again,” which nearly scared the piss out of him. Wall cranked the volume dial to no avail. Willy belted out in his uniquely chill voice. “Goin' places that I've never been…” He tried to eject the tape cassette. No good. “…get on the road again…” “Damn.” Sure that he drew attention, either from the owners of the house or someone outside, he sprang out of the VW, hopped to the old garage door, and heaved it open. Just as quickly, he hopped back into the driver’s seat and slammed it into gear. In junior high and high school, he hated the manual transmission tractors on his dad’s farm. He used to wish that Mister Mathison floated the cost of a new automatic transmission, to which his dad always said, “If it ain’t dead, why put it out to pasture?” Now, he appreciated the dying skill. The old thing stuttered forward with a dozen putts and gasps, then bucked and revved its way up the steep driveway. “On the road again!” he belted out with Willy. It was like the VW had called to him in his time of need. The road was completely blocked to the south, so he turned north. A few seconds later, the old gal bobbed down the road through the park. Afraid to abuse her too much and preserve the nearly empty fuel tank, he kept it in first and second gear. Without Plink’s ability to drag race a vintage vehicle, winding around abandoned cars was slow going, nearly flipping him down the slope on his left. When he reached the larger road of Cheshire Avenue, having driven on the walkway for the last hundred meters, Wall cursed. The way to the west was completely blocked off. On the other side of the road, all varieties of tents and lean-tos filled the dead-grass field. Hundreds of homeless, some new and some old, counted this area as their new landing pad. The orange slug drew all of their attention as one, reminiscent of a zombie hoard, hungry and slow-moving. Panicked, he hit the gas and weaved east between abandoned cars in his best approximation of Plink. In a game of one-sided chicken, he nearly hit a desperate soccer mom with three little ones following her. A man in a business suit managed to chase him down but misjudged the speed and bounced off like a rubber ball. As Wall jumped the curb, something or someone shrieked behind him. Drawn to the sound, he looked into the rear-view mirror. Completely distracted, he ground the right side of the bus against a rock retaining wall, which bumped the orange machine into a glancing blow with an SUV, knocking the left-side mirror off. A shrill noise from the back pierced his ears with every bump. Having outpaced the hoard, he slowed up, worried that the antique bus might fall apart. Then, he cursed as he drove into another clearing with an even larger crowd of rust zombies. Gunning it into third gear, he sped down the walking path, running over the corner of a tent and glancingly hitting a twenty-something runner who attempted to block his way. “Get out of the way!” he screamed a second too late. “Damn. Never bring a body to a car fight.” With so many cars clogging the road and desperate masses blocking his way along the path, he set off through the grass field on the south side, weaving between tents and all sorts of trash. He knocked off the passenger’s side mirror on a big yellow Bronco, an SUV that he secretly loved despite its horrible gas milage, an environmental nightmare. He bounced off the curb into a parking lot that dumped him onto a road, and that road let out into the street next to the Goburg Road Bridge. He’d come full circle when he nearly hit the mound of corpses next to the blue “W” he saw with Emma. Preferring the mostly empty bike paths to the backed-up roads, he swerved left downhill. The brakes protested as he pulled the wheel east under the main bridge with the fastest of the rust zombies still chasing him. Then, the entrance to the walking bridge came into view overhead. He cranked the wheel hard while keeping up the leaning bus’s speed and sputtered uphill to the entrance of the footbridge. The bus started to wobble as it rounded the last curve before lining up for a clear shot over the Willamette. Ahead, a pair of shotgun-wielding guys dressed in black blocked the onramp. Wall leaned down toward the passenger’s seat while one of them shot, shattering his windshield. The terrified wailing from the back seat took on a new pitch. The bridge keeper on the left bounced off the rounded corner of the bus. Then Wall was past them, flinching as he scraped the bus on the bridge’s corroded handrail, unable to control the wobbling wheels. The VW crashed into the right suspension cables, where it slid into a precarious tilt...


Oh, yeah, there's one other character I quickly became attached to... She's a 13-year-old "woman" who grew up fast in the foster system, living on the road and now refuses to share any of it...but, almost immediately, reminded me of Plink... Plink, by the way, is the name used by that Delta Force team leader, who almost immediately began to practice various martial arts with her new, but much younger partner!

This is not an easy book to read, even though you will find it fast-paced, as the writer promised. Think slasher movies, but somehow soon it is the entire world that is affected, it's more real. You see, one metal, steel, for instance, as well as others, are part of most of our living facilities. All of them are almost completely destroyed and those that aren't, could fail just at the point when you are climbing the steps...

Oh, and one other thing, think Covid Regs! If you didn't follow the regulations created for our own good and follow them, like I did, well you may already be dead...and surely will be during the rust rush, because you will soon be dead from starvation, killed by a building or your car falling apart... well you get the idea...

Wall talks about it a lot! He's been losing time because of a concussion which has not gone away, so he is forever wiping anything and everything that has been potentially infected--especially from blood which is really bad...

So, here's the situation. there are only two scientists that have been found to work to try to correct what has happened. One was traumatized when her wife was killed and the other is a nerd with some crazy nutritional issues. Which, by the way, for you meat eaters, apparently it is at a time when killing animals is considered...murder... 

So, what would you be doing in a crisis that is far worse than Covid... In fact there are a number of different diseases that have been pulled together into this latest catastrophe created by a rich and famous man out to rule the world as he wants...

Seriously, this book is outstanding, close enough to possible reality to make it more scary than a slasher movie, yet so character-driven that readers will wind up on the edge of our seats, wondering what will happen next and will it make a small leap forward? Or, is it already too late? I'll tell you one thing, this book got me so involved I've "almost" stopped worrying about what is presently happening in today's world! Kudos to the author for a fantastic, though not easily readable apocalyptic masterpiece!


And the real world is scarier than any movie. People actually did those things.”

 “Why? What’s wrong now?” “Nothing yet,” she reassured him. “We need redundancy. Two is one. One is none. Standard operating procedure.”

 “Humanity is not for the likes of us. We are the uncivilized instruments of a civilized society, not members of it. It has always been so for warriors.” Now it was his turn to say, “Yet…” She smiled with tears on her lashes. “As the blade and bullet, we are responsible for safeguarding those who will herald tomorrow.”

He’d take an astute smart-ass over an ignorant dumbass any day.

A Final Note:

Some books write their own reviews--this is one of them... The story came easily to share and the tiny gems of wisdom were to important not to include as more quotes than normal... That's all thanks to this extraordinary author, J. F. Lawrence

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Resident Agent by David A. Charters - Became Personal Favorite in 2023


Semaskis Island, afternoon 

As planned, Carol was upstairs when Slim and his handler arrived. She didn’t see them but could hear them loud and clear through her earbuds, tuned to the Febreze recording device. Bud had placed it on a shelf in the living room when no one was looking. Slim’s voice was a slightly high-pitched wheeze. His handler, clearly the man who referred to himself as Karl, spoke tersely, with a heavy Eastern European accent. She could also hear Bud distinctly, chatting casually as he brought in the sandwiches, fruit, and drinks. Jon was near Karl but said little. Voices were muffled as they ate and made small talk. 

Carol glanced into her makeup bag; the two flashing lights indicated the recorder was catching everything: audio and video. Good. She dropped an extra pair of panties over it to make sure it remained hidden in case one of the goons came by to check on her. With that in mind, she had also transferred her pistol from the makeup bag to her purse, unzipped beside her on the couch. And if the goons decided to check, she could switch her earbuds instantly to a playlist:

 Michael BublĂ©, Jimmy Buffett, and Shania Twain. “So. Mr. Hayes, please lock the door when you leave,” Karl instructed. “Dr. Endell and I have business to discuss. Harrison, you stay here and run my video camera.” Endell. So that’s his name. Carol heard the door close and the lock click into place. Bud’s footsteps then faded into the kitchen. Osbert opened the discussion. “I promised something earthshaking. Shall I proceed?” “By all means,” Karl replied in a neutral tone. “As you may know, up to now the US has used its satellites only as collectors—for photos, missile detection, ELINT, SIGINT, et cetera. But that is about to change in a big way. ...

“But surely this is impossible!” Karl exclaimed. “One satellite alone would do all of this? For the whole world?” “Oh, no. There would be a constellation of them in geosynchronous orbit, covering the entire globe. And they can be slaved to each other. If the original primary is knocked out, any one of them can take over as primary. We—the US—would need only this one class of satellites, not the dozen or so different types we employ now. The cost savings—from construction to launch vehicles—will be immense. The US could probably cut its overhead reconnaissance budget in half, while gaining capacity it could only dream of a few years ago. Project High Diamond is the future of spying from space, and my company created it!” Holy crap! thought Carol. This is even bigger than we thought. 

Karl responded with as much enthusiasm as his voice allowed. “Thank you. This is obviously of interest to my people, since it has grave implications for our security. So we are grateful that you have brought it to our attention. It serves the interests of peace.” “For a price, of course,” Endell interjected hastily. “Remember?” “Of course, of course. We always honor such arrangements. The funds you requested are being transferred to a bank overseas as we speak. The deposit is inaccessible except by you.” “Good, good. And the girl?” 

“She is waiting for you upstairs. You will be thoroughly entertained, I am sure.” Not if I can help it, Carol thought. Karl spoke again. “But before pleasure comes business. I am impressed by your survey. But of course I am not an expert. Can you provide some additional technical detail on the record that would allow our scientists to test and verify the potential you describe?” “Certainly.” Osbert then launched into an extended monologue that Carol found too complex to follow. It started with AI and autonomous systems, then moved on to multispectral collection, quantum computing and nano-circuitry, self-correcting algorithmics, geomatics, and signal security. Along the way, he described equations and diagrams that he wrote on a flip chart. Carol took a quick look at the video recording as he spoke and got her first glimpse of Slim and Karl. 

She was stunned by Endell’s girth, but even more by the fact that he was speaking without any notes or documents—not even a laptop or tablet. Everything was coming out of his brain. Karl, by contrast, looked like a central casting Rambo wannabe. And from his facial expression and the few questions he posed, it was clear that Karl was well out of his comfort zone... 


Dare I hint at the climax when I am just beginning to talk about this book, which, in the end, became one of my favorite books... You see, it wasn't the climax, although it definitely was an exciting event, that, in the end, was what swayed my attention... Indeed, it was the rest of the book after that fantastic scene from which I found the real story... One that Carol had been asking about since they had first come together... again...

Weaving in and out of the past and present, readers will hear of the first meeting of the two main characters, Carol, who is now a FBI Special Agent, and a friend she had met very early in her life. He was a friend of her one-time male relationship that ended when she was raped... Bud had cared for Carol, even then, but after what happened, he couldn't bring himself to even contact her. 

Carol had come to care about him, mainly because her boyfriend would be doing something else and Carol would spend time...waiting for him... But it was decades before the time when a case--a murder case--brought the two together again. Bud had been put in as acting detective in the small town law office when a body had been found in nearby New Castle, Maine... When it was determined that the body had apparently been dropped from an airplane, it became an FBI matter... And the two worked the case separately and together.

I wanted to highlight the location because I noticed that the author had worked to enhance the locale through the language of the area's residents. Even though I'd never been there, I'm fairly certain that the writer had achieved the colloquial life in the state. It was fun and interesting to watch the changes, especially as the main character moved into the area.

Also, this book had a scene very similar to one of mine, and, which, I will be writing about next...

Carol Evans was on her way to what she considered was the next step forward in her career. Working in Boston. However, coincidentally, the resident agent for Portland Maine had died, and Carol, having once lived in the state, was being side-tracked (her word, not mine). She was not happy...

Until she realized that she still had feelings for Bud, with whom she would be working the case...

The individual who had been found murdered was a news blogger and he had been investigating how the land was being sold in the area. In fact, he even recorded what happened when he attempted to determine who bought a lone island off the coast of the state. One where he was met by arm guards... Of course, all of this was discovered during the investigation. An investigation whose scope was getting bigger and bigger as more people were identified... 

So…” The band had reassembled, lead guitarist Steve Somers picked out the melody, and their frontman, Vern Zwicker, started to croon Neil Diamond’s Play Me. Bud and Carol listened through the first verse before he said, “So, Special Agent Evans, would you care to dance?” She stood and took his hand. “Thought you’d never ask.” 

* * *

Great mystery, great dialogue, cool romance...and an emotional, memorable ending with a look at an American soldier, captured and tortured while in Afghanistan... Thank you David Charters for not stopping at the usual climatic ending... It was and is important for all of us to realize exactly what each soldier may be forced to endure as a result of working to save our Freedom--Our Democracy, like no other!


Tuesday, December 26, 2023



When I thought, as I always do, how to begin sharing my thoughts about Bandersnatch, the song, "Mary, Did you Know?" came to my mind as I considered just how this young woman would have continuously wondered, watched, and tried to find answers to the "Why?" of it all. For, surely, no mother would ever want to have foreseen exactly what would be the life of her first child...

Then I turned to my own days, when about her age, when we would be in Sunday School/Church, where we would be working to memorize The Books of the Bible, or selected scripture verses that would prove to be those we would often pull from our minds as we sought for answers to the many questions and concerns we would have...

Then I remembered that I had once read a book like Bandersnatch--it was a fiction story. While I read it, I did not find it, finally, of interest to me. I want to sink into a story, and slowly learn the story and then build upon each page, moving forward, always, toward the end, the climax, or, perhaps, a joyous ending... I did not want to participate in writing a book...

But, in this case, I soon realized just how great this type of book could be for someone wishing to learn--or test their own memory. Indeed, it also could be used in Sunday School, or in a group of children who are learning about an important life--the life of Jesus. In fact, this book is an excellent way to not only garner interest of today's children, but for those who seem to want a little more than "the usual..." 

In my opinion, the book could be both a learning tool as well as a memory tool... For, each reader, no matter what, will be reading only to the point where a question is answered. The reader can either provide an answer, correctly, or, not, and then find the answer...

Ok, bottom line, I missed just one answer, so I read the book quite quickly. When I thought about the answer, I realized that my mind was set on the present as opposed to the overall story. In this situation, I think you will agree, that is an important consideration... This is the question I answered incorrectly... Watch carefully what happens as you read...

The Wisemen lean in closer and as they do they fall to their knees and worship the baby Jesus. They give the holy family their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But then the Wisemen remembered that Herod, the petty king installed in Judea by the Romans was jealous of baby Jesus and wanted to kill him. So instead of going back to Herod and telling him where they found Jesus, they fled back to their own countries. Later that night, Joseph had a dream that he should also take his family and flee. But where did he go? 

Jerusalem (page 19)  India (page 20) Egypt (page 22) America (page 21)

I missed this selection, the first in the book. But I'm going to select, now, the most unlikely, in my opinion. Then, you can see how the author takes advantage of each possible selection to teach readers more!

As patriotic as it might be to think Jesus and his family hid away in the USA, you realize it wasn’t even officially “discovered” until 1492. Yes, yes there is dispute about that too. There is never an end to debates. Fortunately this is supposed to be a book where you can have a bit of fun while learning stuff. Carry on. Jesus and his family went to Egypt. There, I gave you a free one. Don’t expect any more. LOL Continue (page 22)...

This is a fun book! I enjoyed reading it and, for me, "almost" always knew the answers... So, if you want to test yourself, Fine... This is an interesting story told of Jesus, based upon just the facts! But, I think the book is easily one that could be read for memory or to learn--be sure to emphasize to those who may not know the facts of the Bible regarding Jesus' life--that this book is fun and an easy way to start learning/remembering about the, in my opinion, most important individual in our world... Jesus!


Monday, December 25, 2023

Happy Birthday Jesus! Featuring Happy Birthday, Christmas Child!: A Counting Nativity Book by Laura Sassi... Dedicated to Brandon Eberthart Who Is With Jesus Now...


A wonderful way to begin to bring Jesus into your child's life is telling His story and including a way to begin counting! Illustrator Gabi Murphy uses the traditional nativity scene setting, along with the animals gathered there... So, plan on beginning counting as you read! Brandon was such a beautiful child and, as he grew, we realized just how intelligent he was! I remember, most of all, when I was taking him somewhere and he started talking about electricity! Yes, electricity! I listened, having no idea what he was talking about, yet knew he understood! I asked him how he learned about all of that. His answer was simply, I read about it... Later, his mother Tracey, asked me to read the Harry Potter books to "ok" them for Brandon and other young readers... Brandon was a reader--how I loved to hear him talk about the latest book he was reading. 
This Christmas, dear Brandon, as always, we miss you so very much...

We know you're probably sharing Christmas Day with Jesus now... Say Hi to Him from all of us until we, too, shall meet Him face to face... Loving you Each and Every Day...

1 - One stable on a busy hill with only ox and donkey 'til...

2 - Tap, tap, "Hello?" Two heads appear. "The Inn is full. Can we stay here?" 

3 -"Yes, of course!" squeak three small mice. It's rustic, but the view is nice."

4 - As Mary walks across the straw, she's filled with happy thanks, and awe. Joseph, too, is feeling blessed, and grabs four bales so they can rest."

This is the first book for Avi's library that is an ebook. I'm going to see if he sees how my Fire works, since he's already playing different children's activities on Mommy's phone... 

Rachel, who is Avi's mother, is Brandon's sister and I am amazed constantly of just how much they look alike...


May the Spirit of Christ Jesus Cover Your Christmas with Joy and Love

From Book Readers Heaven to All My Family and Friends