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The Curse Of Chief Tenaya”   (2002©)  —   book review
Today’s book review is for a historic fiction novel set in 1800’s.  The author is Craig J. Carrozzi.  It is about an Irish immigrant coming to the United States and making his life through the pre-, actual and post- “Gold Rush” in Northern / Central California.
Full disclosure:  Craig (the author) was a member of the football teams I played on while in high school in San Francisco.  After high school graduation, Craig joined the Peace Corps, returned to San Francisco to get his BA and then subsequently lived a good deal of his life in South America.  Like me, Craig was raised in San Francisco.  He is the author of five published books and numerous articles.  Of his five published books – one is about attending a SF Giants baseball game as a youth;  three are semi-autobiographical fictionalized stories about his time in South America;  and, this book (being reviewed) is about earlier days in Northern California.
The book’s main character is Jeremiah Ignatius McElroy.  He is born in Ireland, starts off as a hard life (potato famine and Yellow Fever), moves to the US (via Canada), travels across the country / continent and ultimately becomes a hunter and tour guide in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  His main geographic expertise is the high-country of Yosemite Valley and it’s “cousin”, the Hetch-Hetchy Valley.  He spends the winters in Oakland, CA with his widowed younger sister and her family.  Jeremiah is hired by a wealthy landowner to track down and destroy a Grizzly bear.
This is basically a “man’s” action book with a couple of interesting twists (interesting to me, anyway).  First, the current day action is interspersed with the growing-up portion of Jeremiah’s life.  The author / publisher uses the “trick” of italicizing the historical narration so the reader can clearly “see” when the author is talking about the past.  The second interesting aspect of the book is an obvious attempt to include “real” famous / historic literary figures in the story.  Hence, Jeremiah reads Ambrose Bierce columns in the daily newspaper;  drinks with Jack London in a bar; and, meets John Muir while up in the hills.
The “action” portion is the life of the growing up, becoming a man and then aging and preparing for old age;  but within the specific confines of the plot, it is the pursuit of a giant Grizzly which has been terrorizing cattle ranches in and around the Hetch-Hetchy area.
So, is this book any good?  Is it realistic in it’s character(s) and / or historic depictions?  Is it entertaining and / or interesting?  And, finally, do I recommend this book?
In short – the answer is YES, to all of these questions.  The book is relatively short (225 pages) and the story is a fast and well paced read.  I read it completely in one sitting and found it hard to put down for my own meals.  (This despite a good deal of delicious sounding meals through-out the book.)
In general, the book seems pretty accurate to very accurate in describing both people and locations.  I must admit, I felt the author let a bit of his own “politics” come into the attitudes and language used in some of the conversations.  One example is when Jeremiah uses the word “deforestation” in an extended dialogue.  I looked the word up.  The word is cited as first used around 1870, so it is possible Jeremiah might know it, but it seems to me, unlikely a hunter / trapper / outdoorsman / tour guide would know the word, let alone use the word.  But, these are very minor flaws in an otherwise well written work.  A brief clarification:  I haven’t spoken with the author in over 50 years, so I really have no idea about his “politics” or if they are reflected in the writing.  It’s just how I felt while reading the book.
And, “the Curse” itself?  Well, it created a “hook” and theme for the book, but I felt it could have been better fleshed out.  I’m not sure why I feel that way or how I might have advised the author to improve the story during development, but it (the “hook”, not the book as a whole) made me feel like I was reading a poor mix of “Dancing With Wolves“, “The Last of the Mohicans” and “The Deer Hunter“.  Very much like those movies, the ending is thought provoking rather than PollyAnn-ish uplifting.  A “Good” or “Bad” ending will then depend on the reader’s individual reaction to the ending.  The “curse” was from the last Native American Chief of the tribe (Chief Tenaya, a non-literary, but “real person” from the period) which lived in the Hetch-Hetchy Valley.  He pledged to haunt those who would despoil the tribes sacred lands (the Valley).
I found the book to be between “hard to put down” and “can’t put down”.  That’s quite a statement from this reviewer.  The descriptions of the skies, mountains, valleys, flowers and animals filled my imagination and reminded me of earlier outdoor travels and adventures from my own youth.
Final recommendation:  Very highly recommended if you are into “masculine” adventure type action stories with a historical setting.  Given I was raised in Northern California, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of “old world” San Francisco, Oakland and the towns from the Bay Area to Hetch-Hetchy.  If you are prudish, be advised there is some minor sexual content, but I felt it was well within the boundary of character and story development.
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book at normal / sale price (for an old / used book) and no compensation has been provided to me by anyone for my opinions in this review.
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On This Day In:
2021 MAGA Choice: Reality Or Lies
You Seem To Be
2020 A Good Reason To Blog
Finally Enjoying The View
2019 Living Free
2018 Relative Imagination
2017 Thank You, Senator McCain (So Far Anyway)
2016 What About Friends?
2015 It Tastes Good To Me
2014 Others’ Footsteps
The Not-So-Modern Samurai
2013 Doin’
2012 A Lover
2011 What Have We Found Here
Words

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[Disclaimer:  The following is an editorial / opinion piece I read about dealing with MAGA-RINOs.  I tried to pull out the relevant (IMHO), most important points, but I felt it fell apart as excerpts, so I am offering it in its entirety.  The article is the sole possession of the author (Peter Wehner) and the publisher (The Atlantic) and I am making no claim of ownership and I am seeking no personal or monetary benefit by re-posting the piece on my blog site.  I am offering the piece because it presents an opinion on a significant topic of our time and for our country:  “how should rational American’s deal with irrational Trump followers who have taken over the “name” of the Republican Party (GOP)?”  I will remove this post if I receive an objection from either the author or the publisher.    —    kmab]
That Donald Trump has acted recklessly and lawlessly, without empathy, as if he lives in a world devoid of moral rules, should surprise no one.  Some of us warned back in the summer of 2016 that Trump was erratic, unstable, and temperamentally unfit for office. He had what I referred to then as a “personality disorder.”  I believed then and I believe now that it is the most essential thing to understand about him. Trump in power couldn’t end well.
Trump never found a way to escape the antisocial demons that haunt him.  But here’s what turned a personal tragedy into a national calamity:  He imprinted his moral pathologies, his will-to-power ethic, on the Republican Party.  It is the most important political development of this century.
The GOP once advertised itself as standing for family values and law and order, for moral ideals and integrity in political leaders.  Such claims are now risible.  The Republican Party rallied around Trump and has stuck with him every step of the way.
Republican officials showed fealty to Trump despite his ceaseless lying and dehumanizing rhetoric, his misogyny and appeals to racism, his bullying and conspiracy theories.  No matter the offense, Republicans always found a way to look the other way, to rationalize their support for him, to shift their focus to their progressive enemies.  As Trump got worse, so did they.
Republicans defended Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood tape and alleged hush-money payments to a porn star.  They defended him when he obstructed justice to thwart the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and sided with Russia over U.S. intelligence during a press conference in Helsinki, Finland.  They defended him after learning of his effort to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election.  They defended him despite his effort to overturn the election by pressuring state officials to “find” votes and send fake electors, by wallpapering the country with lies, and by instigating a violent assault on the Capitol.  The ex-president continues to peddle the Big Lie to this day, and any Republican who challenges it is targeted.
Something malicious has occurred since Trump won the nomination in 2016.  Six years ago, Republicans jettisoned their previous moral commitments in order to align themselves with the MAGA movement.  Today, they have inverted them.  Lawmakers, candidates, and those in the right-wing media ecosystem celebrate and imitate Trump’s nihilism, cynicism, and cruelty.  What was once considered a bug is now a feature.
This is the result of individuals’ and institutions’ accommodation of one moral transgression after another after another.  With each moral compromise, the next one — a worse one — becomes easier to accept.  Conduct that would have horrified Republicans in the past now causes them, at best, to shrug their shoulders;  at worst, they delight in it.
How does that change play out in our politics?  Five years ago, leading Republicans were publicly critical of Trump’s statements following the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Now consider that just a few weeks after far more ominous actions by Trump — inspiring and provoking an insurrection — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy flew to Mar-a-Lago to grovel before Trump.  Initially, Republicans accepted the need for a bipartisan commission to find out what had happened on January 6;  since then, they have undermined every effort to uncover that day’s events and how central a role Trump played in them.
The 2016 Republican platform said, “The next president must restore the public’s trust in law enforcement and civil order by first adhering to the rule of law itself.”  Today, Republicans, in response to a lawful search of the home of a lawless ex-president, compare the FBI to the Gestapo and the Stasi.  Trump himself, during a rally, referred to the FBI and the Department of Justice as “vicious monsters.”  And no political party in living memory has done as much as the GOP to undermine civil order and the public’s trust in law enforcement, or to attack the rule of law.
In hindsight, January 6, 2021, was a milestone along not just one path of radicalization, but two.  Of course, it represented an unprecedented assault on democracy by the violent mob on Capitol Hill and the president who incited it.  But it also represented what turned out to be the last moment when Republicans considered repudiating Trump.  For a few days, party leaders seemed, at last, horrified enough to break with him.  But when McCarthy slunk to Mar-a-Lago, hat and apology in hand, and when then – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans backed away from Trump’s impeachment and removal, the moment was over, and a door slammed shut.  There would be no more wavering.  Today, the dominant faction in the GOP is not conservative in the American tradition;  it is authoritarian and revolutionary, like far-right parties in Europe.
Karen Stenner, a political psychologist and the author of the groundbreaking “The Authoritarian Dynamic”, argues that about a third of people across 29 liberal democracies seem to have a psychological predisposition toward authoritarianism.  The tendency exists on both ends of the political spectrum, though it’s more prevalent on the right.
Stenner defines authoritarianism, which she believes is about 50 percent heritable, as a deep-seated psychological predisposition to demand obedience and conformity — what she calls “oneness and sameness” — over freedom and diversity.  Authoritarians have an aversion to complexity and diversity.  They tend to be intolerant on matters of race, politics, and morals;  to glorify the in-group and denigrate the out-group;  and to “reward or punish others according to their conformity to this ‘normative order.’”
The danger, Stenner says, arises when that tendency, which is often latent, is activated by “normative threats,” a deep fear of change, and a loss of trust in our institutions.  She also made this point to my colleague Helen Lewis:  In normal, reassuring, and comforting conditions, people with authoritarian tendencies could be your best neighbor.  But those predispositions “are activated under conditions of threat and produce greater intolerance to differences.”
Donald Trump has made his supporters feel “permanently panicked,” according to Stenner.  He “never got past the constant-rage-and-fear stage.”  And it doesn’t help that modern life’s complexity is overwhelming for many people.
For those with authoritarian tendencies, Stenner says, there’s a need “to reassure them and calm them down.”  Her goal is “to help authoritarians live in peace with liberal democracy.”  We need to reintegrate, rather than triumph over and banish, the authoritarians.  Demeaning and dismissing a significant part of the country won’t turn out well.  And so the focus of her work is to find practical ways to bring “activated authoritarians” back from the brink, including by means of normatively reassuring messages.  The key, she believes, is to reduce the feelings of being threatened and to find the right language — language that is less alienating to those with authoritarian tendencies — to talk about things such as diversity and immigration.  She and the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt point out that moral elevation, the response we have when we witness virtuous acts, can also be helpful.
This approach is commendable;  my guess is that right now it might have sway with the minority of Republicans who are uneasy about Trump.  Perhaps, combined with an indictment of Trump, it might be enough to weaken the ex-president to the point where the Republican Party breaks with him.  But will its members break with the authoritarian tendencies that now define the GOP?
That seems unlikely.  The majority of the party has gotten more radicalized, more aggressive, and more conspiracy-minded, not less, since Trump left office.  The MAGA movement has provided many of its adherents with an identity, a source of personal meaning, and a cause for which to fight.  They have created a narrative in which they are heroic figures fighting malevolent forces.  They find psychological satisfaction in relentless conflict;  their lives seem more vivid and more purposeful within MAGA’s ever-combative frame.  Politics has become, for them, an ersatz religion.  In this activated state, they are not reachable by reason or open to amelioration.  In fact, many in MAGA world are looking for reasons to take offense, to feel victimized, to lash out.
There is an analogy to nature:  When a thunderstorm cloud has sufficient electrostatic charge, it has to discharge toward the ground.  If the lightning bolt doesn’t find one target, it will find another.  So will Trump supporters.
“We have a big faction of one of our two major political parties who wants to unravel our democracy because it no longer serves them,” Barbara Walter, a professor at UC San Diego and the author of “How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them,” recently told CNN.  “The reality is if you don’t say anything, if you stick your head in the ground, this makes it easier for those who do want to create some sort of authoritarian or strongman, minority-rule government — sort of what you have in Hungary — it simply allows them to do that more easily.  They can do it quietly behind the scenes when no one’s looking.”
I’m of two minds about all this.  I admire groups such as Braver Angels, which is attempting to bridge partisan divides, decrease affective polarization, and help Americans understand one another beyond stereotypes.  If we can help those with authoritarian tendencies reintegrate themselves into liberal democracy, we should certainly do so.  It’s important to hear perspectives that differ from our own.  And it’s imperative that we relearn how to talk with one another as fellow citizens instead of as combatants.
I also believe we should continue to stay in relationships whenever possible, including with family members and friends whose authoritarian attitudes have been activated, even as we look for the right moment and the right way to name our differences and express our disappointment with those who have aligned themselves with malignant political figures and movements.  We should speak with candor but not with malice, striving for grace as well as for truth.  It’s an impossible balance to always achieve, at least for me;  my frustrations can sometimes get the better of me, and perhaps they get the better of you too.  But the balance is still worth fighting for.
But even though we shouldn’t give up on individuals, I can’t escape concluding that the time for mollifying grievances is over.  In our political endeavors, the task is now to contain and defeat the MAGA movement, shifting away from a model of psychological amelioration and toward a model of political confrontation.  This is the model that Liz Cheney embraces, and so do I.
It requires defeating Trump Republicans at the polls, but it goes well beyond that.  It also means rallying the forces that must rise up to oppose authoritarianism by speaking honestly about the nature of the threat.  It means telling the truth about not just Trump but many of his supporters, who remain complicit in a corrupt and corrupting enterprise — one that is inflicting grave injury on our nation and its ideals.
MAGA supporters have had countless opportunities to take the exit ramp, and they have always found reasons not to.  At some point, when an enterprise is thoroughly corrupt, staying a part of it, helping it along, refusing to ever speak up, is not just a mistake in judgment;  it is a failure of intellectual and moral integrity.  This doesn’t mean that every area of a MAGA supporter’s life is devoid of rectitude, of course.  But it does mean that one important area is.  And that needs to be said.
So, no, I am not suggesting “giving up” on individual MAGA supporters, writing them off, throwing them out of polite society — even if I were in a position to do any of those things, which I’m not.  I am suggesting that much of MAGA world is authoritarian, that Liz Cheney is right to turn all her political energies to opposing it, and that containing and defeating MAGA — not hoping it will change, not placating its grievances — is now the No. 1 priority for friends of democracy.  Maybe we’ll succeed, maybe we’ll fail, but the mission is unavoidable.  And honorable.
    —     Peter Wehner
From his editorial / opinion piece:  “There’s No Escaping the Truth About Trump:  The former president has imprinted his moral pathologies and will-to-power ethic on the Republican Party.
The editorial appears in:  The Atlantic
Dated:  8 Sept. 2022
The editorial also appears online at:  https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/trump-republicans-authoritarian-tendencies/671366/
(There may be a pay-wall or required subscription to view the entire editorial online.  If you are financially able to support a local or national news source, please do so.  A strong, energized free press is one of the most consistent bulwarks for democracy and against tyranny.  And please make the effort to vote in the coming mid-term elections.    —    kmab)
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On This Day In:
2021 Access Is Good
The Sun Is Shining
No Recall
2020 Give Me A Minute To Think About That…
November 3rd Is Coming!
An Eye For An Eye
2019 Is #45 Warning Alabama Again?
Day 11: 49ers Win
2018 Worry (x2)
2017 Still Working
Gold In The Morning Sun
2016 Power Inside
2015 Sometimes I Feel Small
2014 It Slipped Away
2013 Corollary
2012 Working Retired
2011 The Web Is Not Authoritative! (Really?)

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We Were Soldiers”  —  (2002)  movie review
Today’s movie review is for the film depicting the first major air-mobile battle of American forces in Vietnam in the Ia Drang Valley which occurred in 1965.  The movie stars Mel Gibson as the commanding officer Lt. Colonel Hal Moore and Madeleine Stowe as his wife:  Julia Moore.  Other main actors include:  Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott, Chris Klein and Keri Russell.  Kinnear is a helicopter pilot;  Elliott is the battalion First Sergeant;  Klein is a junior officer (2nd Lieutenant) and Russell is his wife.
The basic plot shows how a “gung-ho” Army leader forms a unit, trains his officers / men to implement a new technology (helicopters and air-cavalry) and then leads them in a “major” engagement with the enemy.  Unfortunately, the engagement shown is Lt. Col. Moore is leading his men into a trap where his men are cut-off from direct (non-airbased) support, surrounded and heavily outnumbered:  roughly 10 to 1.  The bulk of the movie is about their three day battle to survive (“win”).  The essence of the Vietnam conflict is shown as superior American mobility and firepower (air and artillery) versus a dedicated / committed adversary willing to use close engagement (hand-to-hand) to negate the enemies strengths.
There are three “main” secondary plots / story lines:  1)  the effects of military life (death) on the families of the soldiers (limited to officer’s families);  2)  the civil rights / racial issues which were erupting in civilian society and getting carried into the military (depicted mainly on the family side);  and,  3)  combat leadership and how it differs from non-combatant and political leadership.  The first sub-plot is intertwined with the bulk of the combat portion.  The societal issues are mainly presented in the early portion (training) of the film – and, again, by the families / spouses.  The leadership sub-plot is just sprinkled in and is more implied than actually shown.  As it turns out, there were significant portions of this sub-plot which only appear in the “deleted scenes”.  I had to view these on YouTube as my version of the movie does not include the “extras”.
So, what did I think?  Is this a good movie?  Is it an accurate depiction of combat / war / military life?  Is this an “anti-war” movie or is it a glorification of war movie?  Were the sub-plots interesting / accurate?  And, lastly, to paraphrase “Gladiator“:  was I entertained?  In order:  yes;  yes;  more anti-war than I thought it would be;  yes – the sub-plots were interesting, accurate and important to the movie;  and finally, NO!  This isn’t an “entertainment” movie.  The time spent watching it was well spent, but while I can be entertained by over-the-top special effects / Sci-Fi movies, I don’t watch many horror / slasher movies and I don’t find realistic depictions of war “entertaining” – no matter how much I may “like” the film.  To me, it’s similar to reading a book to learn about something, versus reading a book to be entertained.  This is a “learning” film;  it is not an “entertaining” film
If you like(d) any of the more recent “war / combat” movies:  “Saving Private Ryan“, “Fury“, “Hacksaw Ridge” or “Black Hawk Down“, you will almost certainly “like” this film.  I liked all of the above and I liked this movie, too.  This film depicts heroism and personal risk / injury without a glorification backdrop.  The film shows combat:  brutality, chaos and terror.  In a refreshing turn, the movie shows the “enemy” in an almost equally positive light:  they are fighting for their country, on their land, and they have families “back home”, too.  This was one aspect of the film which I really did not expect as “the other side” is rarely shown in a positive light – otherwise, how would you understand you’re supposed to hate them and root for them to lose / die.
Anyway, as an amateur military historian, I found the first section (the character introductions) with the unit formation to be very interesting.  I found the description of the air-mobile infantry (Air-Cav) and the specific references to the unit combat limitations to be both accurate and insightful.  I found the sub-plots also accurate – as far as my limited experience was concerned, but maybe a bit too glossed over.  I was single during the 1970’s when I was on active duty, so all of my “personal” information about family life / support is really second hand.  The racial issues had not gone away between the film’s period (1965) and my service time (mid-70’s).  And, I don’t think there is ANY doubt (IMHO) the “Congressional / military / industrial complex” has only gotten worse since the 1960’s.
The film concludes with a visit by Col. Moore to the Vietnam Memorial “Wall” in Washington, D.C. and a list of the seventy-nine Americans who died in the battle.  It is an emotionally powerful scene on par with the cemetery scene in “Saving Private Ryan“.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended movie.  This is one of the “better” military genre movies I’ve seen in some time.  This is not an anti-war movie, but it also does not extrapolate the personal integrity and heroism of the individual American soldier on to the American government or senior military command structure.  A note of caution:  the combat scenes are brutal, realistic and sometimes horrifying.  This movie is not for the squeamish.
Final comment:  if you’re wondering why I’d never bothered to see this before…  Two reasons:  1)  I’m not an “all-in” / committed Mel Gibson fan.  I’ve enjoyed his directing more than his acting.  Also, 2)  when this movie came out I was not keen on supporting U.S. military adventurism around the world.  At that time, I wanted revenge for “9/11”, not occupation and nation-building in Afghanistan.  I did not support an invasion of Iraq and foreign government toppling.  I may have been wrong, but I viewed movies and TV shows in this genre as propaganda for the Bush Administration and a “war of choice” in Iraq.  Despite the quality of this individual movie (in that time period), I still hold that “propaganda” view / opinion.
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On This Day In:
2021 On Learning To Play Guitar
When You’re Feeling Small
2020 Remember Your Obligation
Smile And Shuffle
2019 If One Is Lucky Enough
Basic Training (In Films)
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

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It is here that I can concentrate my mind upon the Remembered Earth.  It is here that I am most conscious of being, here that wonder comes upon my blood, here I want to live forever;  and it is no matter that I must die.
    —     N. Scott Momaday
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On This Day In:
2021 Learning Stages
Sometimes It Only Takes A Smile…
2020 Come Laugh With Me
Make Life Be Life To Me
2019 For Your Consideration…
2018 Brown’s Rules
Day 23: Fasting Visualized
2017 Still Trying To Make It
2016 One Lucky Man
2015 Food Change ==> Health Change
2014 10 Commandments Of Logical Arguments (Fallacies)
2013 Sociology Of The Future
2012 1010
There In The Sunshine
2011 Not Enough Time

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Warning:  This is LONG post…  It won’t hurt my feelings if you’re not interested in my guitar reviews and go now…  (LoL)
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturer(s) of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about this / these item(s) because I personally purchased it / them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    kmab]
* Guitar Acquisition Syndrome
Background:  For the last 19 months, I’ve been trying to teach myself about music and playing guitar.  To date I have now purchased nine “inexpensive / cheap” guitars.  This is the review of my latest:  a Fesley “Strat” style Electric Guitar (Sunset color)…  What is a “Strat” style?  If you’ve ever seen a picture of Jimi Hendrix playing guitar, it was probably a “Strat”.  Strat is short for Stratocaster and is one of the two “main” styles of electric guitar.  It is characterized by two “cutaways” (one on either side of the neck where it attaches to the guitar body);  “horn” shapes which are more reminiscent of bulls horns than of devil’s horns;  and, the guitar body is solid (not hollow) with six steel strings.  The “horns” are usually of slightly different shape and are normally slightly offset (not mirror images) with the more forward horn on the base-string side of the guitar.  The “Strat” was created in the 1950’s by the Fender corporation.  The Strat usually comes with three single-coil pickups and may also come with a tremolo bridge.  The “pickup” is what translates the steel string vibration in front of a magnet and converts it to electrical impulses which are amplified into the sounds you hear coming from the amplifier.
Anyway, as stated in several prior reviews, I’m retired and I have a significant price point and life time (mine) limitation when making discretionary purchases.  I haven’t found my music / guitar sound or style (or hero), so I’m playing around at the bottom of the market in search of one, both or all three.  For those of you readers who are unfamiliar with the price of music instruments, a decent quality, name brand guitar “probably” runs near USD $1,000.  (If you are lucky, you can find the same model used for half that.)  At half that price (USD $500), you can also normally find the same name brand (or their subsidiary) selling a new entry-level model of substantially lower quality.  You can also go (quickly) the other direction to many times that price before you even get to custom guitars.  Specific historic guitars sell in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars!
I now have nine “cheap / inexpensive” guitars of various style / types, and, not counting books and accessories (tools, tuners, picks, cables, gig bags, straps, etc), I’m just over the $1,000 “all-in” mark.  My wife believes I’m a hoarder and while she supports my trying to learn music / guitar, she does NOT approve of my continuing guitar purchases.  I (on the other hand) still feel the need for one last guitar before pausing to concentrate on the “right” one – which I may never find / buy.  I will probably get that “last” inexpensive one before the end of next year (2023).  I actually have my eye on two types I don’t already have.  After that, I will be playing them each, and, over time, upgrading the bits and pieces on them until I’m more or less happy with each.  Some, like my three-quarter size acoustic are so minimalist it really can’t have much changed out.  Of course, as my luthier skills improve, there is a seemingly endless pool of tools to spend (my wife would say “waste”) money on.  And, there are also amplifiers.  On the issue of amps, I only have my initial 20-watt amp from the purchase of my first electric guitar.  I’m sure it’s “crap”, but I very rarely use it, so it may be some time before I get a second / replacement amp.  At the moment, I play my acoustic guitars in the day and my electrics sans amp at night.  The main time I use my amp is when I get a new guitar and want to verify the electric bits work.  Because I just starting to gain an ear for electric sound, I still can’t tell if the electric guitars are good or not – only if they play at all.  As an aside, in my prior reviews, I mistakenly said my amp was a 10-watt amp.  It turns out it is a 20-watt.  Not that it matters, as it is NEVER turned up, and still rarely used.
Start of review:
Ordering:  I ordered the guitar on Amazon.com.  The general price on Amazon varies from $169 to $119 (depending on the color chosen), not including tax or shipping.  I have NO idea why the price varies by color!!?!  But, of the colors available, the one I wanted was the least expensive anyway.  I purchased the item via my daughter’s Amazon membership, so shipping was free.  The price ended up:  $131.54 (delivered).  I “earn” $100 gift cards for Amazon about once every six months by answering questions on a marketing / polling / survey site.  Although this is “real” money, it does not come out of my retirement money, and since I’d be answering the surveys anyway – it’s “free” money (to me, but not to the IRS).  The price of a “moderately” decent padded guitar gig bag is $20-$30 on Amazon.  So, basically, I got an electric guitar and gig bag for the price of a gig bag:  $31.54!! (LoL)
Delivery:  I ordered mine on Thursday 28 July 2022 (evening) and it arrived on 4 August, mid-afternoon.  Amazon’s delivery estimate was spot-on.  On delivery, the exterior box was slightly crumpled on several edges;  the interior box had no damage at all.  On opening the interior box, the guitar was inside the padded gig bag and there was no damage at all to the guitar.  This is the first guitar I’ve received “double-boxed”.  My only comment is the interior box was free-floating and slid around inside the larger exterior box.  All-in-all, I am very happy with the delivery.
What you get:  (Specifications)
Brand:  Fesley
Model:  Fesley ST Electric Guitar Morandi Series
Style:  “Strat” with tuners on one side of the headpiece
Price:  $119.85 — my price was $32 including tax (out of pocket).
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Sunset (Front and back)
Weight:  9.73lbs
Number of frets:  20
Number of strings:  6
String Material Type : Nickel Steel
Guitar Pickup Configuration:  H-S-S (humbucker / bridge, single / middle, single / neck)
Guitar Bridge System:  Cold-rolled Steel Block Bridge with tremolo system (push-in “wammy” bar)
Controls:  4 – 1 switch (5 positions), 1 x Volume, 2 x Tone;  the three knobs are black plastic with no numbers
Color – Black:  Zinc Alloy Tuners, a Single String Guide, Cold-rolled Steel Block Bridge, Wammy Bar, Volume and Tone Controls, Inlaid Fret Dots
Body Material:  Poplar
Neck Material Type:  Poplar
Fretboard Material Type:  Hard-maple
Neck Info:  C-shaped neck profile with satin finish;  20 frets, marks (dots) on the neck and top of the fingerboard help guide / play;  430mm radius
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal, Kidney Bean shape
Nut Material:  Unspecified (I think it’s plastic)
Pick Guard:  None
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
1 x Wammy Bar (pop-in style, not screw-in style)
2 x Spanner Tool (for adjusting the neck / truss rod and one for setting intonation)
1 x Padded Gig Bag
Double boxed for delivery
First impression:  right out of the box, the guitar has a beautiful, dark, rich sunset (sunburst) front AND back.  It is thin and feels small and light.  I run my left hand up and down the neck.  The edges of the fret board are smooth and fret sprout is non-existent!  I could NOT feel the frets from the side of the neck.  I had to slightly curl my fingers around the edge.  They are not rounded on the ends – ball-bearing style – so you still have to be a bit careful running your fret hand up and down the neck, but this is among the best fret work I’ve ever gotten on any of my guitars. It remains to be seen if this continues after the guitar has had a chance to acclimate for a couple of weeks.  I don’t think it will be an issue…  The guitar was in a plastic bag with the wammy bar and tools rubber-banded to the neck.  The strings were paper bound for their protection.  There is a little card indicating the guitar was inspected and listing the action height at that time.  I will compare this info later when (if) I do a full complete setup with action and intonation.  It’s also a useful reference for future string changes…  The frets are shiny and smooth and the fretboard looks moist without being shiny.  NO crud comes off the frets on my fingers as I check them (sometimes you can get a bit of blackening on your fingertips) and there is no gritty sound on string bending at a few test points.  (I’m laughing to myself!)  This is the best looking first impression of a fretboard of any of my guitars!!
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – discolored plastic.  Not white, so you almost think it’s bone.  The string groove depth seems fine to great.
• strings – strum… not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs.  It tuned up very easily.
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny (matte NOT high gloss) finish.  I don’t see ANY dents or faults!!
• pickups – are all magnetic.  I can’t tell much else visually.  The “visual test” is to hold something metal near the pickup and feel if it is pulled to the magnetic pickup.  I would say there is an “unsightly” gap around the pickups.  My other guitars’ with single pickup slots are covered by the pick guards, so you don’t see the gaps.
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone(s) both turn smoothly. I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on).  One slightly disconcerting thing is the knobs seem to turn past “0”.  I don’t know what that means.  All of my other guitars fully stop at “0” and “10”…
• tuning pegs – all are smooth and don’t appear to have dead spots.  They are the smallest tuners I have ever felt!  They are functional, but they feel “tiny” between my fingers and thumb.
• action and intonation – the strings seem fine (eyeball test).  I will measure them (for action) in the future.  The intonation is WEIRD!  The intonation is perfect open and at the 5th and at the 12th frets.  All up and down the neck with no dead frets on any strings, but ALL of the other frets are slightly sharp.  To me, this (probably) means Fesley took extra care to get the open, 5th and 12 frets exactly in the right place but were slightly less exact on the remaining frets.  I should point out the difference is similar (if not exact) for all of the other frets and for all of the strings AND I can’t actually hear the difference – but the electronic tuner can.  Just slightly…
Strum… the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tuned “out of the box”.  I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report.  (Except the intonation issue mentioned just above.)  I’m a happy camper…!!!
I plug in the amplifier and plug the cable into it and into the guitar.  Both connections seem solid enough.  I turn on the amp and increase the volume on both the guitar and the amp.  All the knobs on the amp and the guitar seem to work.  The slippage on the knobs doesn’t seem to affect anything.  When the knob gets to zero (unmarked), whatever is supposed to be changing stops changing.
Strum… I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  I spend a few minutes practicing “Ode To Joy“, “Taps” and “God Save the Queen” and then noodle a bit before deciding to pack it in for the evening.  The main thing I notice is the guitar is VERY comfortable to play.  The neck seems short, I don’t have to stretch to play open chords and the body (depth / width) seems to be made just for me.  Mainly the thinner body means it’s easier to hold the guitar body under my strumming arm and against my body.  This guitar has a slightly different cut out angle (from the Glarry) at the elbow which seems to make it even more comfortable for me.  Now, a point of clarification:  This is not a “Full Size” strat style guitar.  At least judging by my Glarry 38.6 / 39in strat style it isn’t.  Just eyeballing it, I’d say the Fesley is almost an inch (maybe only 3/4in) shorter.  FYI:  Glarry says their strat body size (38.6in) doesn’t include the strap button on the bottom of the guitar.  Standing the Glarry and Fesley face to face, the bodies are the same length, yet, the tip of the head-piece is clearly shorter than the Glarry’s.  The difference “seems” to be the bridge on the Fesley is larger than on the Glarry AND it is set farther down the body than the Glarry’s because the Glarry’s pickups are S-S-S while the Fesley’s are H-S-S.  The double thickness of the humbucker requires the bridge to be set down the body.  I also point out the Glarry is a 22 fret guitar.  The Fesley is only 20 frets. Interestingly, this (moving the bridge back) makes it easier to right-hand strum mute the strings on the Fesley than it is on ANY of my other guitars – acoustic or electric!  Go figure…
Next?
Nothing out of the ordinary…  Just tune and noodle.
Check the fret sprout for about a week and do the light maintenance on it for playability.  Then it’s add to the rotation and enjoy!!
Final Recommendation:  LoL!!  Are you kidding me?  Very Highly!  A beautiful, almost perfectly playable instrument for under $35!!!  (Okay, $135 to you…)  I’m laughing all the way to the bank.  (And, still practicing about an hour a day…)
Thanks to anybody who made it all the way through this lengthy post!!
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On This Day In:
2021 Born Again
Begin Writing
2020 Nah… I’m Still Chuckling
Squeaking By With “C’s”
2019 Consider Me A Phony
2018 Last
Day 10: Double Digits
2017 Could You Repeat The Question?
2016 Still Busy?
2015 Why, Just This Morning…
2014 Just Kindness
2013 Now Shaking
2012 Absurdity, n.
2011 Minor Changes
Things I’ve Learned From Life – Nana Carter
Acting Out

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This post marks the first day of my 14th year of blogging here on WordPress.  A great deal of this post is a repetition of last year’s post…  (And, yes, it’s a long one…)
With almost no change from last year…  The number of countries who’ve visited this site continues to (slowly) grow and the number which haven’t continues to decrease.  North Korea and Cuba are still among them (the latter…)  I’m also still missing a belt across the middle of Africa (but it’s no longer coast-to-coast) and a few spots in Asia.  (Slowly, slowly…  Resistance is futile.)
On reviewing my content over the past year, I’m mostly back to one post a day.  They are almost entirely just quotes with occasional political opinions, infrequent film reviews and rarely book reviews.  I haven’t added near as many posts about learning guitar or music as I thought I would.  I’m not terribly sure why.
My blog is continuing to be part of my “normal” retired life (since 2017).  I routinely receive about 20 to 60 emails (per day) from the roughly 300 blogs I follow.  I say “roughly” because I don’t check how many I follow.  I just looked, and I (still) have fewer than 2,000 followers myself.  Every year there is a trade-off:  you pick up a few steady followers and a few drop off.  Those who actually post about leaving (their own sites) say they are simply moving on to other things.  Most, don’t bother and just stop posting.  A few come back after some period of time.  Many do not.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve stopped blogging.  Some just move to a hosted service to try to monetize their thoughts and don’t provide me a way to follow them.  Or maybe they did and I simply missed the link…
I do have bone to pick with some (many?) of the posts I receive.  Three bones, actually…  First, I receive a large number of posts which don’t contain “Like” options.  This means I have to click to your site and log into WordPress to give you a like.  Most of the time, I will not do this.  I’m just lazy and if you don’t want the feed back, I’m happy to not provide it.  The second is an email with a title and five or six words from your post and then a “read more”.  Again, sorry – PROBABLY 95% of the time, I no longer click through to your site.  If you don’t give me at least a paragraph to hook me, you’ve lost me for that post.  It’s different if you are running a visual / photo site, but not by much.  If you give me one (or two) image(s) per post – fine.  If you regularly have 10 – 15 – 20 images in a single post, I might view one post a week.  And, lastly, in general I only view one post a day from a single source and it’s kind of random…  Sometimes it’s the first.  Sometimes it’s the last.  Sometimes it’s just whatever…
At any rate, I easily spend an hour per day reviewing the posts I get (via email subscription) and sometimes that is simply overwhelming.  It’s not always the average blogger’s fault.  If you post something interesting, I (still) will go off and investigate it further:  authors, artists, locations, books, movies, science / math / history topics – they will all lead me off down the rabbit hole.  And that hole can be DEEP!   There are a few (a handful) of sites which I know are visual and I more frequently click through to the actual site, because I’m interested in the bits which are not offered in the smaller / limited / text based emails I tend to receive.  I apologize if my failure to click-thru affects your view stats negatively…
So, besides this blog, what am I up to?  My health has been mixed.  I’m still morbidly obese and none of my “lifestyle” changes (diets) have stuck.  The problem I have is I’ve had some changes in my meds so I’m not sure if they are affecting me or if I’m just getting older and less motivated – or a combination.  As always, one has to balance the good of the med versus the adverse (potential) effects.  The two which seem the best (for me) are the juicing / blending and the “40hr water fast twice a week”.  The former for losing and the latter for maintaining.  If I can get my meds stable, I’ll probably go on an alternating schedule of these two for a prolonged period.
In January 2021, I purchased my first guitar and I’ve been practicing most every day since. (I miss about one day every other month.)  I “know” my basic (C, A, G, E, D, F, Am, Em, Dm) open / “cowboy” chords and major / minor scales – single string and in first position.  Strumming, finger-picking (Travis style) and chord changes are coming slowly (slower), but they are getting better now that I’m practicing them more consistently.  I now own three acoustic guitars and five electrics, and I have another acoustic on loan from my brother.  I had them on a monthly rotation calendar, but shifted to three weeks at the start of the year (2022).  I’m planning to move to a weekly rotation.  I’m looking into picking up a few (three) more inexpensive guitars and I’ve dropped the idea of basses (for at least a while).  There is no time pressure.  It’s all about my ability to save (here and there) until I can justify a purchase.  [Wife:  How many guitars do you NEED?  Me:  …One more.]  At the moment, the plan is one more strat (type), one more tele (type) and a round-back acoustic.  I didn’t really even think about round-backs before.  I thought they were only over-sized guitars for Mariachi style music, but I’ve learned otherwise.  Anyway, they “tend” to be plastic / fiberglass backs, and I’m interested in what that sounds like.  I have a distinct memory of strumming an “Ovation” (round-back) guitar MANY years ago, but I don’t remember anything about it (sound or feel).  We’ll see…  I am also going to start looking into amps and pedals for the electrics.
The few things I’ve learned (mainly about myself) have truly been amazing (to me).  I do seem to have a smidgen of musical ability (although it’s still buried under layers of doubt).  I’m (still) finding the ability to concentrate on practice to be as relaxing as zoning out in computer programming used to be (in my youth).  Sixty to ninety minutes can easily seem like five or ten minutes.  There is also the complete exhaustion which results from prolonged concentration – however “relaxing” it may feel at the time.  In a strange way, it feels good to be mentally tired at the end of a practice session.
But, am I getting any better at playing?  An objective opinion would be:  Yes!  Am I any “good”?  An objective opinion would be:  No!  Does it matter a whit?  No.  Why not?  Because, like blogging, I’m doing it for the enjoyment of doing it and not for the expectation (mine or anyone else’s) of being any good at playing guitar.  Again, like blogging, as long as it’s fun and interesting and fulfilling, I’ll just keep doing it…  My not so secret goal remains to write a song (lyrics and music) for my wife.  (LoL)
I posted a while back about my guitar goals for the remainder of 2022, but I can easily see them (the goals) extending into 2023.  If I have ANY disappointments over guitars it’s that developing my luthier skills has definitely fallen by the wayside.  I’m happy being able to change strings, round fret ends and play with action and intonation, but it turns out, if you buy inexpensive instruments, the decent quality luthier tools and better quality parts are almost as (or more) expensive as (than) a new instrument.
So, it’s guitar playing and blogging to keep me occupied (and mostly out of trouble).  LoL!!
Other than that, we got one of our bathrooms remodeled back in February 2022 and we’re hoping to get our other one done in early fall.  All things in their time (LoL – and with available funds!)
Once again…  “Excelsior!!
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On This Day In:
2021 Happy 12th Anniversary Of Blogging
We ARE…
2020 Happy 11th Anniversary Of Blogging
2019 Happy 10th Anniversary — Thoughts On My First Decade Of Blogging
2018 Happy 9th Anniversary — Three Thoughts
Day 2 – Notes On Progress
2017 Happy 8th Anniversary
2016 Happy 7th Anniversary
2015 Happy 6th Anniversary
2014 Happy 5th Anniversary
2013 I Resemble That Remark!
2012 Happy 3rd Anniversary
2011 Is America Safe Tonight?
2009 Hello world! (See how it all began…)

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I Am Number Four” (2011)   —   movie review
In this Sci-Fi action movie, Alex Pettyfer stars as John Smith (aka:  Number Four), Dianna Agron as Sarah Hart (the love interest), Teresa Palmer as Number Six (another good alien), Timothy Olyphant as Henri (an alien without super-powers who is supposed to raise / protect “Four”), Callan McAuliffe as Sam Goode (a human who’s dad was somehow tied to the good aliens), Kevin Durand as Setrakus Ra, the Mogadorian commander (the bad / evil aliens), and Jake Abel as Mark James (a human who is just in the movie to add “earth” drama – high school bully / Sarah’s ex-boyfriend).
Basically, a race of good aliens (Lorians) is attacked and conquered by a race of bad aliens (Mogadorians).  Just before being destroyed, they send nine kids with latent super-powers to another planet (Earth) to grow until they are strong enough to come back and destroy the bad guys.  The kids are each provided with a pair of guardians – one humanoid appearing warrior (Henri) and one a “chimera” – a shape-shifting creature.  “Four’s” chimera is a small lizard when he is in Florida and it becomes a dog (beagle) when Four and Henri move to a small town in Ohio.
Anyway, the bad aliens are pursuing the kids to kill them.  For some unexplained reason, they must be killed in numerical order.  The movie starts with the death (trap and execution) of “Three”.  There is also no explanation of where “Five” is in while “Six” is looking for and helping “Four”.
There is a lot of blah, blah, blah about high school cliques, growing up angst, “ex’s”, love, pre-digital photography, etc.  Somehow Henri is lured to, and then captured by some humans who are working with the bad aliens.  (The humans are killed and Henri and John are blamed as terrorists.)  Like I said:  blah, blah, blah.
And, then, FINALLY there is a big battle at – wait for it – the high school football field!!
Good guys win, kisses and good-bye’s:  sequel to be announced soon…  Well, maybe not so soon.  Despite being “ok”, the film cost $60M to make and made just under $150M.  Sequels cancelled…
I saw this movie on original release with my daughter.  My review from Feb. 2011 is still pretty accurate:  “Not a MUST see movie, but a very enjoyable way to while away a couple of hours with your daughter in harmless entertainment.”  Olyphant was the only recognizable actor (to me) at that time, but I have since seen Palmer in at least one other film (the live-action remake of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice“) and Durand has made the rounds as a bad guy in other films.
My daughter did not participate in this second viewing.  I still enjoyed it on second viewing.  This is simple entertainment.  It does NOT bear up to much afterthought.  It is a “Disney” movie (“simple entertainment”), but not up to the better “Marvel” / Disney standards.  The movie is periodically available on my cable for free, but it IS Sci-Fi with decent FX, so I spent the $5 to add it to my VUDU film library.  The bummer is there are no extras.  (Oh, well…)  And, yes, this viewing is me falling for another memory tug by YouTube.  Final recommendation:  moderate to good.
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On This Day In:
2021 Truthfully
Average It Up
2020 Demonstrably Proven To Yield No Benefits
But When You Must, Stand
2019 Paint-By-Numbers
2018 #45: Still Trying To
Oh, Well…
2017 Two Views Of The Starting Line
2016 Never Had It, Never Will (Donald Trump)
2015 20/20
2014 All Of My Best Ideas Come While Walking…
2013 Learn To Learn
2012 I Remind You
2011 Respect And Prestige
2010 Living Legends (Willie Nelson) and the Gettysburg Address

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Today’s review is for the war / military / combat movie:  “Black Hawk Down” (2001) directed and produced by Ridley Scott.  The movie is based on the 1999 non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Mark Bowden, about the U.S. military’s 1993 raid in Mogadishu, Somalia.  Being a “war” genre movie, the film features a large male cast, including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Jason Isaacs, Sam Shepard, Jeremy Piven, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom, Ty Burrell, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Background:
Basically, Somalia (a country on the eastern tip / horn of Africa) has descended into a civil war and the United Nations has assigned “peace-keepers” to the area – presumably to protect aid workers in the distribution of donated food.  The local warlord declares war on the peace-keepers and some U.S. forces (Delta and Rangers) are assigned a mission of capturing two of the warlord’s top aides to gather information to be used to capture / kill the warlord.
The military command severely underestimates the resources required to complete the mission and the assigned forces do the same at their level.  They (the soldiers) believe the mission will be an “in and out” in a half hour and some fail to take standard operational gear (body vest / chest protectors and night vision head-sets).  The mission starts to go wrong almost immediately with the hostiles gaining warning of the action (although there is no indication they are aware of the mission objectives).
One of the “Black Hawk” helicopters is shot down by the Somalis and the objective becomes one of rescue as well as capture.  Unfortunately, the downed copter is not “near” the mission objective area, so the U.S. forces end up separated and then have to fight to rejoin forces, too.  Anyway, a mission which was supposed to take 30-60 minutes ends up lasting about 18 hours.  Of the 150+ U.S. soldiers involved, 19 are killed and 73 were injured / wounded.
Review:
So, is this a “good” movie?  Is it accurate?  Is it entertaining?  And, do I recommend it?  Yes;  I’m not sure;  too intense to call entertaining;  and, yes, I’d recommend this movie (with qualifications).
Is it any good?  As depicted “war” genre movies go, I think its a pretty good movie.  There is a definite sense of the “fog of war” – particularly in the relaying of information up and down the chain of command.  The action is continuous and slows only to increase the emotional tension of injuries or to high-light the significance of command decisions.  Every time there is a pause for a decision, you can (virtually) be assured there is going to be a problem later in the film.  In a real sense, this is a VERY accurate situation in combat – sometimes there are no (few) good options and you simply have to make a decision and live with (and react to) the consequences.
It the movie accurate?  Apparently shortly after its release there were a number of complaints about the film representations of the Somali people – not just the hostiles, but the people also.  No “real” Somalis were involved in the film.  There was also the complaint that although the film was putatively an “anti-war” film, it “supposedly” made combat out to be a heroic activity.  I didn’t come away with that particular reaction, but I could understand how some might.
I did not find the combat scenes to be particularly accurate.  I had two issues:  1)  Most explosives have a blast radius which kills or severely disables.  This film shows guys nearly hit by RPG (rocket propelled grenades) and they shrug it off and keep on fighting.  I don’t doubt they were “near” explosions (in real life);  just nowhere near as depicted in the movie.  2)  The men are repeatedly shown using their weapons on automatic fire.  I believe the standard issue for a infantryman is seven(7) clips (of 30 rounds).  Even if you managed to carry a double load, it would be VERY difficult to be engaged in an 18-hour battle and NOT run out of ammunition in the first two hours of constant enemy contact.  (And I’m being very generous with that time estimate.)
Entertainment value?  As stated above, I found it more “interesting” than “entertaining”.  I remember seeing this movie years ago and I found it unrealistic (then).  I recently got a few clips on YouTube, which prompted me to re-watch the film.  It was definitely better on this second viewing.  I don’t remember when I had the initial viewing and I was very hostile to “beat the drum” war movies in the aftermath to the invasion of Iraq.  My initial viewing was on DVD, not at a theater, so even then, there was some delay between the film’s release and my viewing.
Final Recommendation:
To paraphrase President Lincoln:  For those who like this kind of film, this is the kind of film they will like.
I would say as a purely action-based movie, it is strong to highly recommended.  If it was really meant to be an anti-war movie, it’s moderate to fail.  It simply doesn’t emphasize the mistakes / decision failures enough.  If it was meant to be a rah-rah military movie, it’s only moderate at best.  Heroic action doesn’t really sell when you are also showing comrades getting blown in half and bleeding out while someone is doing field-surgery under fire.  I don’t care how heroic the portrayals are…
Still, I give this movie a moderate to strong recommendation as a “war” genre movie.  If you liked “Fury“, “Saving Private Ryan“, “Zulu“, “The Longest Day” or “A Bridge Too Far“, you will also “like” this film.  If you are not into the genre, you probably won’t enjoy this film at all.
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On This Day In:
2021 Families
Every Now And Then
2020 A Message To Optional Trump Supporters (Basically Everyone)
2019 Bigger Jaws
On The Other
2018 Hoping For A Blue Wave In November
2017 Garden Dreaming
2016 Well, Maybe Not “No” Talent
2015 An Appetite For Life
A Trip To The Library
Great Expectations
2014 Pass The Soul
2013 Zapping Music And Art
2012 Not Quite Fantastic
That Kid Is Back
2011 Wolves At The Door
2010 I’m Feeling Patriotic… (Well, more than usual, anyway.)
Beating the Heat…

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About a month and a half ago I started playing a daily word / search / complete game:  “Wordle“.  It is a once a day game hosted on the New York Times news website.  Basically, you have six chances to figure out the five letter word of the day.  Incorrect letters appear as grey;  correct letters in the wrong location as yellow;  and, correct in the right location, as green.
As of today, I have only missed twice.  I have found it EXTREMELY addictive and also a great vocabulary refresher.  Highly recommended!
Here’s the link to the NYT site’s version:  Wordle – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
[Disclaimer:  I have nothing to do with the New York Times or the producers of the Wordle game.  I am merely offering this link / game as a suggestion of something I’ve enjoyed playing.    —    kmab]
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On This Day In:
2021 The Principal Difference
Picture Perfect
2020 So Sad, Faux Crowd
The Spirit Is Willing
2019 And The Same For Blogs And Posts
2018 The End Of Asgard (For Now)
I Learn The Hard Way Every Time
2017 For Some
2016 Fragile And Explosive, Provocation And Privacy
2015 Bound Up
2014 Economic Engines
2013 Weren’t You Supposed To Be Reading?
Absent Friends
Where I Stand
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

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Back in the 1980’s I developed a “repetitive stress injury” to my wrist(s) – mainly my right wrist, as I am right handed.  It happened due to overuse of a mouse while working on computers.  Back then it was more “popularly” starting to be called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Of course, back then, there was no significant use of either term in the general populace.  The closest we (the public) came to it was “tennis elbow” and its cousin “golfer’s elbow / wrist”.
I was lucky and mostly got over it (RSI) by playing Aikido for a few years – where you do a number of wrist flexing exercises during warm-ups / before practice.  When I stopped Aikido, the symptoms began coming back and I went to a sports doctor (specialist) who gave me a sheet with wrist exercises to do several times a day.  He said it is more important to do a few repetitions several times during the day than it is to do a massive number in one long session.  He said he normally suggests using 1lb to 3lbs weights, but as I was muscular (back then), I should use 5lbs weights.  He added if a weight is not available, just use a book.  I’m in the process of going through some of the stuff I used to have in my work cubicle and found the exercise sheet so I’m offering the image of the exercise instructions to anyone who may have similar wrist issues.  (Click on the image for a larger and more readable version.)

Wrist Exercises for RSI Relief

[Disclaimer:  Please remember I am NOT a medical professional and the “tips” in this post are based on my positive anecdotal result(s) from a therapy recommended by a certified physician.  Consult your personal physician before starting any diet or exercise regime.
I recently drove by the location of his storefront office and it is no longer there.  He was older than me, so he’s probably long retired.  As such, I have removed his office information from the image.  I did a quick browse around the web to see if there were similar instructions / exercises available from a website I could provide attribution to.  I was not able to locate anything similar.  I am making no claim to ownership of the image and I am merely offering it up to help others in need.   —    kmab]
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On This Day In:
2021 It Doesn’t Stop
I Feel Like I’m Winning
2020 #45: 14.81 Lies Per Day
2019 Less Miserable Now
So Near And Yet So Far
2018 I Doubt #45 Is Listening?
2017 Life’s Oddity
2016 Just Asking…
2015 Two Thoughts On Thinking
2014 From The Top, Please…
2013 You Are The Stars
2012 Just One??
2011 Anything But

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How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.
    —     Spanish Proverb
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On This Day In:
2021 Still Learning (And Practicing) Guitar
Still Ain’t Quite Right
More Changes…
2020 Remembering…
You KNEW That Man Was Trippin’
2019 Kingslanding
2018 I’d Bet On Taxes
Ooops! I Spoke Too Soon
2017 A Cautionary Wish
2016 Slogging
It’s About…
Man / Man
2015 Memorial Day – 2015
Content People Love To Share
2014 I Resemble That Remark
2013 Long Range Exploration
2012 UBI
2011 Opportunity

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The Real Frank Zappa Book” (1989©)   —   book review
Today’s review is for the autobiography:  “The Real Frank Zappa Book“;  written by:  Frank Zappa and co-written by / with:  Peter Occhiogrosso.
Background:  a network system admin colleague was listening to some music when I approached him for assistance.  I asked about what he was listening to and he said it was Frank Zappa and the “Mother’s of Invention”.  He then proceeded to tell me how great Zappa was and that he listened to a Zappa show on the radio every Friday night where this little station ran a two hour program on Zappa’s music.  My friend said there was nothing more relaxing than sitting in an easy chair with a tumbler of Jägermeister and listening to Zappa to kick off a weekend.  I was familiar with the “name” but (honestly) could not recall a single song or album, but I said I’d check it out based on his (my friend’s) recommendation.
Well, I still haven’t gotten around to listening to the radio and I don’t know if the broadcast is still happening every Friday evening, but I was in the used book store (several years ago) and I saw this book and picked it up to add to my reading list.  I keep seeing Zappa’s name referred to in my guitar studies, so I finally made a point of opening (and reading) it.
Who is Frank Zappa and why should we care about him or his views (on anything)?  Zappa is / was (died 1993) an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader.  He self-produced over 50 albums and his estate had published another 30+ albums of “new” material since his death.  He was a self-taught musician and composer.  He claims to not be a very great guitarist, but that is the only instrument I ever knew him to play and he’s said to be one of the top 100 guitarists in history.  His book says he originally learned music on a drum set and picked up guitar later.  He was also reasonably well known for his libertarian political views particularly about free speech and the separation of church and state.  Zappa is in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has an album in the Library of Congress preserved for its historical significance.  Zappa’s music is a blend of rock, jazz, fusion, concert / symphonic music with a heavy dose of political / social satire – comedy.  He poked fun at both the left and the right.
What’s in this book and is it any good?  The book is really several parts:  1)  a personal biography;  2)  a discussion of his career and production thoughts about the music industry;  and,  3)  Zappa’s views on various political and social / societal trends.  I didn’t find his biography interesting.  I thought his comments on music and the industry were very insightful.  I was only mildly amused by his political stances and societal observations.  While I might personally agree with much of his stances and observations, I found his sarcasm / humor tiring long before the end of the book.
Part 1)  I grew up poor and we moved around a lot.  My escape was music.  I learned about it on my own by listening to an unfiltered variety of sound(s).  I got ripped off constantly by almost everyone else in the music business.  (Pgs 1 – 137)
Part 2)  Everybody is out to screw the composer / artist.  Including, but not limited to:  all production companies, all music unions, all venue owners, all governments (local and national), most fellow musicians, and, most hangers-on / groupies.  (Pgs 139 – 209)
Part 3)  Small, efficient government is the best.  Taxation should be limited to sales and should not include income – to have some hope of charging taxes on the wealthy as well as the workers.  All organized religion(s) and “church” institutions are corrupt (themselves) and corrupting to governments which allow them to have political influence.  There should be a full separation of Church and State.  Public education is a “mostly” a waste of money.  Education post-high school should be paid for by the individual only.  Special interest groups (guns and religion lobbies) have too much influence in America.  You cannot legislate morality and you should not be allowed to use morality to limit freedom of speech (particularly in the arts and music industries).  (Pgs 211 – 352 / end)
Final recommendation:  moderate to strong.  As stated previously, I didn’t find Zappa’s personal life (growing up or music performing) very interesting.  I found his thoughts about the concept of music (and art in general) VERY interesting.  This section was the strength of the book.  I would have been over the moon if he had devoted the rest of the book to elaborating on his theories of sound / art / artistry / and music production.  Unfortunately, he didn’t.  The final chunk of the book was “really” only moderately interesting.  My impression was:  “this is filler to add 80 extra pages”.  Again, just because I agree with an authors’ statements, doesn’t mean I like / enjoy how they choose to express the statements.  The book was worth the time invested in reading it , if only to gain an appreciation of a historic music figure.  I will be offering up some quotes from it in the future.  – BUT – except for the discussion on music / art, I can’t say the book inspired much after-thought / reflection.  (Actually, I’ve already posted a few of Zappa’s quotes, but didn’t know they were from this book.  I will probably get around to updating those prior posts at some point.)
Afterwords:  I have made an effort to go to YouTube and sample some of Zappa’s performances.  I’ve yet to be impressed.  Mostly, what I’ve heard has been ok.  JUST ok.  They remind me of what you’d hear at a county / state fair.  If anyone reading this can provide specific suggestions, I’d be more than happy to check them out.  I will say, I have found the video’s of his interviews to be much more interesting than the music I’ve listened to.
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On This Day In:
2021 Every Time It Gets Better
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2020 I’m Persuaded
2019 Hungry For Trust
2018 Mutual Assistance
2017 The Toughest Job
2016 Congratulations!!
Better Yet, Read!
2015 Even If It Kills Us Slowly
2014 Fun To Play God
Of Anything
2013 Legal (Almost)
2012 Great Scots!
2011 The GI Bill – A Simple History Lesson
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[Yes, this is another looonnnggg post!  You’ve been warned…    —    KMAB]
Background:
Today’s review(s) are for a TV series and movie based on a science-fiction / western style premise.  The show is titled:  “Firefly” (2002).  The movie is titled:  “Serenity” (2005).  Both star:  Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds, Gina Torres as Zoë Washburne (second in command / wife), Alan Tudyk as Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne (ship’s pilot / husband), Morena Baccarin as Inara Serra (a liscensed “companion”), Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb (soldier / weapons expert), Jewel Staite as Kaylee Frye (ship’s engineer / mechanic), Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam (ship’s doctor / brother), Summer Glau as River Tam (telepath / enhanced warrior / sister), Ron Glass as Shepherd Derrial Book (ship’s preacher / retired government agent), with Chiwetel Ejiofor (a government “operative”) and David Krumholtz (a futuristic hacker) appearing in the movie (but not in the series).
The basic story-line for both the series and the movie is the same:  Earth has become uninhabitable, so humanity has colonized a new solar system (in the TV series it’s continuously referred to as a new galaxy).  The setting is roughly 500 years in the future.  The planets and moons in the new system have been “Terra-formed” so they support human life.  The planets / moons nearest the sun (the closest together) form an “Alliance” government.  The outer planets revolted and the war ended with the rebels losing.  ‘Mal’ Reynolds was a sergeant in the rebel army and after the war he purchases a spaceship so he is “mostly” beyond the reach of any government.  The ship / crew take any job they can to stay afloat in space.  The ship is an unarmed transport vessel:  “Firefly” class.  (It looks vaguely like an Earth firefly bug who’s rear-end glows.)  The crew is armed with small caliber personal firearms (and some small explosives).
The series runs 14 episodes with the pilot being the longest at roughly 90 minutes and the remaining “hourly” episodes running about 42-45 minutes.
I remember watching a couple of episodes during the original run (back in 2005-6), but I never caught them all before it was cancelled and pulled from broadcast.  A work friend picked up the DVD’s when they came out and as he knew I was a “Trekkie”, he loaned them to me.  I thoroughly enjoyed the series and he said they also had a movie – which he loaned me, too.  I made a mental note to pick up both and I have.  (Side note:  the series DVD’s come with “extras” which your streaming service may or may not include with the series purchase.)
Anyway, I just finished watching both (again).
Firefly”  —  TV series review
If you’ve ever spent ANY time watching American western TV series from the 50s / 60s, the formula is pretty standard.  Weekly episode of the crew doing their transporting of goods around space with occasional petty larceny thrown in.  Like all of the better series, there is an on-going / over-arching story-line to allow for the personal growth of each of the characters.  There is also a surprising amount of well written dialog and humor in the series (and the movie).
The TV series was never a broadcast hit (and as I recall was re-slotted for live sporting events, which almost always hurts a new show’s numbers).  The series was cancelled but has achieved a cult following over the last 20 years.  There was initial talk of restarting the series, but it was reformatted into a movie instead.
Final recommendation:  very highly recommended!!  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this series (and movie) several times over the years.  Come for the action and special effects and get hooked on the characters and story arcs.  One caution:  There are multiple instances of drinking, swearing and the occasional sex scene (although you never “really” see anything but sweaty arms and backs).
Serenity”  —  movie review
This is a follow-up to the TV series and takes up shortly after the last episode.  The “preacher” and the “companion” have left the ship and the government / Alliance is still trying to recover River Tam.  Chiwetel Ejiofor is the government “operative” sent to bring her back.  He is “licenced-to-kill” and he does – repeatedly – to achieve the objective.
River Tam knows something the Alliance wants kept secret and they are willing to do most anything to get her back / silence her.  The movie is a long series of chases and fights.
Now, both the movie and the TV series are simple entertainment…  They are “Sci-Fi’d” westerns with enough action to keep you entertained and enough plot / character dialog – development to keep you interested.  That’s it…  Don’t expect anything to make sense (scientifically).  Just get your popcorn and get ready to be entertained (not educated).
By the way, the movie doesn’t explain it very well (the series does), so I will:  “Serenity” is the name of the ship – a Firefly-class transport vessel.  The name comes from the famous final battle in the revolt which both ‘Mal’ and Zoë fought in:  “the Battle of Serenity Valley“.
Another point:  in both the series and the movie, it sounds like the cast are speaking some form of Chinese.  They are not.  Some of the individual words are, but much of it is made up to get around the (rating agencies) censorship of cursing / cussing in broadcast TV.
Final recommendation:  (Again) Very Highly recommended!  The movie can stand on it’s own, but you’ll enjoy it more if you watch the full TV series first.  A last note:  the movie was not a BOMB!  It did make back its production cost – but just barely.  The fan base for both versions continues to grow (slowly), and there is “some” talk of Disney doing a re-boot for their streaming service.  Disney bought out FOX movies and now has rights to the IP (“intellectual property”).  Obviously, the original cast are all too old to reappear in their roles (20 years flies by!)
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On This Day In:
2021 Facing Life
70’s Sunshine Sound
2020 #IncompetentTrump And His Pandemic Briefings
#IncompetentTrump
2019 I Hope So
2018 Painted Into
2017 Prayers, Miracles And Lottery Tickets
Roman View
2016 Dignity And Grace
2015 Is It Warm Enough For You
2014 What The Right STILL Wants
2013 Embrace Serendipity
2012 Your Order, Please
2011 Well Enough Anyway

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Indio (by Monoprice) Retro Classic Solid Body (“tele”-style) Electric Guitar w/ Gig Bag  —  guitar review  (Images follow the review)
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturer(s) of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about this / these item(s) because I personally purchased it / them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    KMAB]
Background:  I am a rank beginner guitar player (particularly when it comes to electric guitars), so please take all of my advice / opinions with a healthy grain of salt…  This is another in a series of reviews of guitars and kit I am writing as I learn how to play guitar.  All of my purchases have been at the bottom end / inexpensive side of the market.  (Obviously, this is not really a box-opening / initial receipt review like my prior ones.  I just procrastinated…)
Start of review:
Ordering / Delivery:  I ordered on a Saturday evening (11 Dec 2021), and received the guitar the following Tuesday (14 Dec 2021).  I consider this pretty phenomenal service!
Price:  $79.99  (Yes!!  This is NOT a mis-type!)  My son asked what I wanted for X-mas and agreed to go half with me.  He gave me $40, and I paid the difference (just under $90, w/ taxes, but free shipping).  So, I was all-in less than $50!  (My wife is [was] still not happy as this is [was] my sixth guitar purchase in less than 12 months.  LoL!!)
Buyer’s caution:  Indio / Monoprice sells another “tele” style model which – at first glance – looks exactly like this model.  However, it has no “through-body” strings and it has the three post / two string bridge (traditional) as opposed to a post for each string (non-traditional).  I specifically wanted the individual posts because I want to be able to set intonation on each string, not balance between two strings per post.  Does it matter?  Probably not, I’m just OCD.  (images below)
What you get:
(Specifications)
Guitar Brand:  Indio (by Monoprice)
Model:  610264
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Blue (Dark Royal)
Number of frets:  22
Nut width:  42mm.
Scale length:  24.75″ (“full size”)
Number of strings:  6
Pick-up Style:  Single (lipstick);  Single (standard / exposed / ceramic)
Guitar Bridge System:  tele-style modified ash-tray
Controls:  3 – 1 x switch (3 positions), 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone;  the switch and knobs are metal and mounted on a metal oval backing plate (traditional “tele” style.
Body Material:  Basswood;  NO pits, gaps or faults.  A surprisingly beautiful instrument for the price!
Neck Material:  Basswood
Fingerboard Material:  Maple
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal, Kidney Bean shape
Nut Material:  Plastic (well cut and trimmed)
Bridge Material:  Metal
Bridge Type:  Through body stringing with a modified “ash-tray” style metal piece
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
1 x Gig Bag
2 – 1 x Allen wrench (for adjusting the neck / truss rod);  1 x small Allen wrench (for adjusting the bridge intonation / action)
First impression:
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – Plastic.  Looks perfect.  Well cut and rounded
• strings – strum…  not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs.  It tuned up very easily.
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny finish.
• pickups – both magnetic.  I can’t tell much else visually.  My “visual test” is to hold something metal near the pickup and feel if it is pulled to the magnetic pickup.
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone both turn smoothly.  I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on)
• tuning pegs – no loose spots on turning (tightening or loosening)
• pick (“plectrum”) – none – a missed opportunity for marketing.
• strap – none – another missed opportunity
• action and intonation – the strings are high-“ish” and the intonation is off.  Neither are “bad”, just not spot on.  The guitar did not come tuned, but this is not unexpected.
Strum…  the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tuned “out of the box”.  I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report.  I’m actually loving this at first touch…!!!  Despite the neck looking pretty unvarnished, the slide is very smooth and comfortable.  It is described as “fast satin”.  I’ve no idea what that means.  Okay, “nothing significant” ONLY means everything seems normal.  There is “normal” fret sprout and the fret ends are not rounded (“BB” style).  Both of these conditions ARE “normal” – particularly at a price point under $100.  The sharp edges are much worse than the sprout.
I plug in the amplifier and plug the cable into it and into the guitar.  Both connections are solid enough.  I turn on the amp and increase the volume on both the guitar and the amp.  Both switch and the knobs on the guitar seem to work.  As always, the tone kind of changes the sound, but I still don’t know what I’m doing or what it should sound like, so I set both back to “0”.  The volume is MORE than enough (perfect) for me to play in my bedroom or living room after everyone else goes to bed.  It is quieter than an acoustic, but no louder than any of my other electrics.  Maybe just a little “twangier” in the base strings.  Not buzzy, but not like clean strings.
Strum…  I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  I spend a few minutes “playing” Ode To Joy and then decide to pack it in for now.  The guitar is very comfortable to play.  The neck and the body seem to be made just for me.  It is lighter than my Donner “LP” style, but heavier than the Glarry “strat” style.  Also, the single cut top end of the body does make the higher frets more comfortable to reach (compared to full / acoustic bodies).
What’s happened since then?
Mostly, I played with the action and the intonation.  I’ve set the action very low and the intonation is as close as I can get it to perfection – at least to my Snark.  I waited a week or so and then filed of a bit of the fret sprout and rounded them, too.  I also ended up raising the action back a little bit and then re-adjusting the intonation.
Next?
Check the fret sprout periodically and do the light maintenance on it / them for safe play-ability.  The guitar has (since) been added to my rotation and I’m still enjoying it.
Final Recommendation:  This is a beautiful guitar and once I sorted out the fret ends and added a strap, it’s been a pleasure to practice with.  I still don’t know enough about electric guitars to comment about that aspect (using with amps).  I am starting to tell differences in sound, but only on head to head comparison.  If I separate the instruments by any length of time (even more than a few minutes), I don’t have enough perception / memory to say if one is “better” than any other.  Please recall:  I have a VERY inexpensive ($30) starter amp.  I’m hoping to experiment more with this later in 2022 or get another “inexpensive” amp in 2023, to use for comparisons.  I am VERY grateful to my son for going half on this with me (for my X-mas present).

As Advertised…

…Delivered in Gig Bag

…Still Wrapped

Unwrapped

More traditional three post bridge

My preference… Six post bridge

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On This Day In:
2021 Allowing For Compromise
Whoa-whoa
2020 Why #LyingDonald Hurts The US
2019 Blow Between Your Ears
2018 Thinking Ahead
2017 I’d Like To Try
2016 Or Blog (And Bound)
2015 Welcome The Virtuous
2014 Closing The Gap?
2013 On Parenting
2012 What Knowledge Is
2011 The Indefinite Accumulation Of Property

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[Another LONG post…  You’ve been warned!  (LoL)    —    KMAB]
The Third World War:  August 1985  (1978©)   —   book review
This review is for the fictional portrayal (as a “future history”) of a “realistic” invasion of NATO allied European countries by the Warsaw Pact in August of 1985.  The book was “written” primarily (et al) by (Ret.) British General John W. Hackett in consultation with a number of experts gathered to discuss how such an invasion might occur, what might lead up to it and what might be the end-of-war results.  The “advisors” were listed as:  John Barraclough (Air Chief Marshal), Kenneth Hunt (Brigadier), Ian McGeoch (Vice-Admiral), Norman Macrae (a deputy editor at “The Economist“), John Strawson (Major-General), and, Bernard Burrows (British Diplomatic Service).
The book was a best-seller in England back in 1978.  It was published in the U.S. in early 1979 as a hardback and then released as a paperback in 1980.  I initially read the paperback version.  I believe it was shortly after I was released from the Active Reserves, but my memory isn’t that precise anymore.  In any case, this review is of a re-reading of the book after my reading of “2034: A Novel of the Next World War” earlier this year.  (review here:  A Novel War).  The author of that book, (ret) Admiral James Stavridis, cited this book as a primary inspiration for his work.  This prompted my re-interest in the original…
During my (almost) two years in the Reserves I was assigned to a unit which tested and evaluated the readiness of National Guard units from California, Arizona and New Mexico.  The officers would establish “war-game” scenarios for the Guard officers and I (as an NCO) would embed with the line units to evaluate actual field performance.  We were artillery evaluators, so I watched Guard batteries fire cannons / howitzers, but I gained an understanding of scenario development and large scale tactical war-gaming.  This led to a post-service interest in military style board games which carried on for most of the ’80s.  I lost interest when gaming shifted to computers and became “mostly” shoot-em-up’s instead of (IMHO) about strategy.
Basically, the plot of this book is the leaders of the USSR feel their position as a superpower is being threatened by political and economic factors which are worsening (for them).  They feel there has been a significant / progressive decrease in NATO’s readiness over the last decade and this may be their last / best opportunity to remove a potential military threat (NATO) and further subjugate the buffer countries of Eastern Europe who are members of the Warsaw Pact.  The plan is a crushing invasion of Western Europe (West Germany and the low-lands) which leaves the USSR in command up to the border of France.  The invasion fails because in the years between the book’s publishing (1978) and the date of the “future-history” event (August 1985), Europe (specifically Great Britain) comes to its senses and reverses the general military decline of the late ’60s to ’70s.  The NATO forces are able to slow the advance of invasion (without the use of tactical nuclear weapons) and allows reinforcements to arrive from the U.S. just in the nick of time.
In a striking foreboding of the current (2022) invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the invasion portrayed fails because of (in no particular order of importance):
1)  an inability to dominate the air despite superior numerical assets;
2)  a failure of logistics (fuel and ammunition) by the Warsaw Pact, (it is believed the invasion will take less than two weeks AND there will not be enough time for the U.S. to resupply NATO forces);
3)  resistance by the native forces (in this case, the West German army / reserves) is surprisingly effective;  and,
4)  the centralized command and control characteristic of authoritarian political systems, does not promote the flexibility / initiative of junior officers (and NCOs) to seize military opportunities when they arise, so opportunities for significant breakouts are lost.
When the war quickly (the “war” lasts weeks) devolves into a war of attrition, failure is viewed as inevitable and hard-liners in the Politburo decide to consolidate their gains for future armistice negotiations by the use of a limited (against only one city) nuclear strike.  The result, however, is not fear and negotiation, but instead, fury and retaliation via a similar limited nuclear strike by Great Britain and the U.S. against a Russian city;  (and like falling dominoes) the Warsaw Pact allies turn on the USSR to avoid nuclear annihilation;  the Soviet military / security services stage a coup, over-throw the hardliners, and cease further combat;  the non-Russian border states (the “-stans”) declare independence from the USSR;  and, the rest of the world struggles with the effects of a new world order.  The “war” is barely a month old before it is over.  Because the book is written as a “recent” history of past events, it does not attempt to forecast / describe long term results of the war except to relate the world has to deal with unaccounted for Soviet nuclear weapons / warheads and large stocks of conventional weapons scattered around the global (mainly Africa).
Is this a “good” book?  Is it realistic as a predictor of future conflict (lethality, if not participants)?  Is it entertaining or interesting?  Do I recommend this book?  With the exception of the final question, the answer to all of these is (are):  yes to so-so…
The book is not a “good” novel.  There are no specified individual characters driving the action, so you cannot (as a reader) identify and grow with anyone.  In this sense, although fictional, the book is written with more of an academic or journalistic feel.  It is very much an military style “after-action” report.  If you are comfortable with this writing style, you will enjoy the writing / book.  If you are not, you will not.  I did.  Was the book able to realistically describe combat and the results (devastation) of war?  Yes!  Although, saying this, there was an obvious Western bias of vivid description of the destruction of the British city and virtually nothing about the similar (or much worse) destruction of the Russian city.  (Very much:  “Yeah, we took out one of theirs as payback…”)  Is the book entertaining or interesting?  This is the toughest question because every reader’s tastes varies so much… I was not “entertained”;  but, I did find the book interesting.  I particularly “enjoyed” the parts the authors get terribly wrong, because as a reader I (we) have 40+ years of hind-sight.  There is no China – Japan alliance;  the Shah is no longer in charge of Iran (or, rather, wasn’t in 1985);  South Africa did not fall to external forces;  and, East Germany did not resist consolidation with West Germany after the fall of the USSR.
Final recommendation:  strong recommendation.  I think most veterans (particularly my age group) will find this book relatable.  I think most civilian “military” readers / historians – and quite a few regular historians – will, too.  For political science readers, the “states” interests, goals, and stances will seem Machiavellian / Kissinger-ian (is that a real word?).  Yet, they ring true – even 40 years later.  It is entirely obvious why this book could seem as an inspiration for a future – updated version (a la “2034“), and I believe (I read) this book served as a similar inspiration for several of Tom Clancy’s works which followed.  At any rate, I do remember “enjoying” the initial read from “way-back-when”, and don’t feel the re-read was less so.  My reaction to “2034” was reinforced:  this version is much better than the more recent book.  If you have read “2034“, I recommend you read “WW3:1985” for the comparison value, if nothing else.
Final disclaimer:  I purchased this book at normal / sale price (for an old / used book) and no compensation has been provided to me by anyone for my opinions in this review.
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On This Day In:
2021 I’m An Optimist
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2020 Works For Me
Rivers Versus Waterfalls
2019 Better To Do
News: Drunken Party Girl Saves Seoul
2018 Keep Moving
2017 Fighting Good
2016 Size Matters
2015 Maybe The Best Thing
2014 Ready To Be Fried?
2013 A Real Lover
2012 Winning Wars
2011 A Different Lesson

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