Distractions

Magicians are adept at distraction, as are card sharks, pickpockets and politicians.

And when you throw in the main stream media as a partner in crime, you have the perfect storm for a misinformed and malleable public.

It goes without saying that Americans are constantly bombarded with stories and images provoking fear. Just in the past couple months, we’ve had ISIS sleeper cells, the certainty that Ebola would be spreading like a plague across the land, a cyber attack by North Korea on our sacrosanct movie industry and our freedom of speech, last but not least, the threat of a reconstituted Soviet Union under the rule of that barbarian Vladimir Putin, raining nuclear-tipped ICBMs down on us.

These are what I would call the “pro-active” distractions, ones which disable our ability to think rationally and turn us into trembling bowls of paralyzed Jello.

But I’ve decided that perhaps the most insidious distractions are the “passive” variant, the on-the-surface innocent ones that monopolize our attention with crises which are beyond trivial, drain us of energy and focus better directed to important issues that makes a real difference, make a mockery of anything resembling meaningful conversation, and upend and distort both our personal and national priorities.

I could go on for months on these distractions. We all know what they are. They include everything from celebrity gossip, to scandals involving iconic figures in sports, politics, business, and so on.

Just last week, there was a “scandal” which monopolized huge swaths of American media. Everyone had to weigh in, even allegedly serious journalists like Ed Schultz. Frankly, I was tempted to throw my hands up in the air, throw my hat in the ring, maybe throw up.

This was the whole business about the amount of air in the footballs thrown by all-star Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots. I don’t have to explain this “crisis” in technical detail, because if you had your television on at any point, you already know that America demanded to know whether there was the legal minimum amount of air pressure in the footballs Mr. Brady used in his glorious ascent to football stardom.

While one third of America’s school children are now officially living in poverty . . .

While despite the rosy figures spewed by our government, the truth is America’s economy is in decline and a major economic crash is coming, probably sooner than later . . .

While we as ordinary citizens are being treated as the enemy, with constant surveillance and spying, and a militarized police presence which is often brutal and not adverse to killing innocent people, especially people of color . . .

While the planet is heating up at rates far beyond the most pessimistic predictions, boding unparalleled depletion of food resources, displacement of millions of people, setting the stage for massive global conflict over water and arable land . . .

While the banksters and Wall Street criminals go unprosecuted for their prior malfeasance and fraud __ e.g. the crash of 2008 __ and continue to loot the national treasury . . .

While TTP and TTIP, so-called “free trade agreements” which will be the nail in the coffin for an economy which serves the needs of the majority of citizens in our country, are being rammed down the throats of good, decent, hard-working people to serve the interests of the oligarchy . . .

While the neocon lunatics now in control of America’s foreign policy are busy rallying the nation for an unnecessary, unjustified, lethal confrontation with Russia __ a major war, folks, as in World War III! . . .

We are wringing our hands over the amount of air in a football?

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perspective

President Obama __ bless his heart __ recently proposed making junior colleges free for anyone who wants to attend. Of course, this won’t happen. The callous, largely deranged Republican-controlled Congress we now have will never pass such a law.

But let’s put Mr. Obama’s magnanimous suggestion in perspective.

To make communities colleges free would cost $60 billion over the next ten years.

Contrast this with the largest boondoggle in America’s history __ the F-35 Program.

Here’s a defense project, folks, that can’t get DE-FUNDED, no matter how many setbacks, cost overruns, and failures it racks up. Or how much criticism and outrage it arouses.

The projected cost of the F-35 program?

$1.5 trillion!

No, that was not a typo. It’s $1.5 trillion!

$60 billion for free community college education.

$1.5 trillion for an unnecessary and ineffective military program.

$60 billion for education which won’t get approved by Congress.

$1.5 trillion which will go into the bloated vaults of the military-industrial complex and its fat-cat executives.

The $1.5 trillion for the F-35 program could provide free community college education for the next 250 years!

Does this tell you something about the twisted priorities of our country?

Does this put things in perspective?

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Long live the mob!

If my neighbor calls my wife a whore and I go over and punch him in the face, I am not stifling his free speech. I am violently paying him back for his crude, slanderous insult.

Free speech is curtailed by governmental action, not by individuals acting sometimes imprudently or illegally. The right to free speech is not absolute and is rightfully and hopefully judiciously curtailed by legal instruments enforced by the state, hate speech being the best example of properly restricted expression which does not deserve the protection of constitutional imprimatur.

Individuals may not feel the state has done its job and either challenge within the legal framework the perceived oversight, or take matters into their own hands. The deplorable killing of the journalists of Charlie Hebdo is a heinous example of  extralegal overreaction __ of violently taking matters into ones own hands.

I don’t condone violence. But whether I condone it or not is irrelevant. Ugly shit has been happening for thousands of years. A lot of people oppose it and it keeps going on. Some of it is sponsored and promoted by the very state that we depend on to maintain some sanity in society and the world at large. Humans are a very violent species, the only one to inflict pain and death on its own purely for amusement and pleasure.

But with the latest relatively minor incident in Paris __ I contrast the handful of deaths there with the tens of thousands the enlightened West inflicts on other countries as a matter of policy, day after day, month after month, year after year __ we see the epic confrontation between two vast cultures shaping up.

Isn’t that just what they wanted? __ a “good reason” for the world to erupt in total war. Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, North Korea, Ukraine, Russia, and China aren’t quite enough kindle to get the conflagration going. But now, yes NOW we’ve got some serious shit going down! NOW we’ve got millions of people in the streets doing the dirty work that our presstitute media and propaganda machines couldn’t quite get right. Finally, the people will demand total war!

The mob has spoken.

Long live the mob!

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Happy New Year!

1st Verse:

It’s a very special time of year
Family and friends holiday cheer
For those no longer with us
We shed a tear
A time to share
A time of feast
A time to care
And pray for peace
A time to give to those
Who have the least

Chorus:

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with us
Happy New Year

2nd Verse:

This is the time to start anew
Atheist Christian Muslim Jew
To reach within
And find the love inside of you
Discard the old seek out the new
Reject the false embrace the true
To look ahead decide
To bring out the best in you

Choruses:

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with us
Happy New Year

Akemashite
Omedetoo
Peace be with you
Happy New Year

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Peace be with you
Happy New Year

© Copyright 2014 – Words and music by John Rachel
Dancing Needles Music – ASCAP (All rights reserved.)

Posted in Creativity, Music, Spiritual, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When You Wish Upon A Star

Wow!

Very grateful!

Humble . . . flattered!

As of today . . . all 5-star reviews!

No, I didn’t buy them!

The Man Who Loved Too Much – Book 1: Archipelago is available at fine book stores everywhere and of course online . . .

Apple (iBook) . . . bit.ly/1ycltFD
Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1tyIRiw
Amazon (Paperback) . . . amzn.to/1z8F8aD
Barnes & Noble . . . bit.ly/ZDnQVO
Smashwords . . . bit.ly/1w62HOX
Direct from printer . . . bit.ly/1r6qWYQ

Here are excerpts from the reviews (read them in their entirety on Amazon) . . .

“I really liked it! Very quirky and clever writing! The characters grab you right away, take hold and you can’t wait to see what happens next. The only problem is that the book ended and I have to wait until March to find out what happens next!”

“Young Billy Green is one of the unforgettable characters in literature, the kind that comes around, moves in, stays, and occupies a place in your life. Is it Billy Green, or is it John Rachel’s ability to tell a good story? It is both. The story is epic in its scope. . . A wonderful, unforgettable read.”

“I read this book in an afternoon and then pondered it for several days. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint, but there is an incredible level of intelligence in the development of the main character Billy. He seems naive in some ways, yet in other ways you see that he is anything but! It’s this rich complexity that keeps me still analyzing Billy long after I read the last page. I am anxiously awaiting the second book.”

“Billy Green stole my heart. From his earliest days his dear mother loved him with a love so deep you could put your arms around it.”

“I laughed uproariously, and then I cried. You will be begging for more. Voila! Your wish has been granted. This is the first part of a trilogy which follows Billy until he’s twenty-eight. Part Two is coming soon.” 

“This is written by someone who uses words so masterfully; who employs satire at its finest, can get downright dirty if life dictates it, and appears to have fun with it all.”

“John Rachel’s characters are awesome! I am an avid reader. Sometimes it takes awhile for a book to “lure” me in. Not with this novel though. I was “hooked” from the very beginning. I can’t wait for the next two installments to find out where it takes Billy.” 

“John Rachel delivers another masterpiece with the style and insight only John Rachel can deliver!”

“This is a wonderful coming-of-age story that will grab you and charm you. Just read the first few pages and it’ll pull you right in. If you like Salinger, you’ll love this. It’s that great theme of a kid who knows too much for his own good in world populated by so-called adults who control the machinery. GREAT STUFF! A real pleasure to read.”

“A friend of mine who knows that I read science fiction an adventure books, suggested I read this book. At first I wondered why. This is the life story of some kid named Billy growing up through Catholic school, getting his first blowjob, Life love parents, all the usual problems we all have. What was different though is the author . . . because the author is an exceptionally good writer that creates a witty, clever and imaginative world for Billy to grow up in. You will be charmed with Billy and his bold and sassy way of dealing with the bumps and grinds of life. And you will wonder why this book only cost $.99, because it is written as well as any bestseller out there.”

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Self-Loathing

More news. And it’s bad.

We have the Senate report on torture.

What can we expect now?

Nothing.

What happened after the Wall Street banks blew up the economy?

Nothing.

What happened after Sandy Hook?

Nothing.

What happened after the NSA got caught spying on innocent citizens?

Nothing.

Just look around at what is happening at the same time as this report.

The House of Representatives, based on fabrications and unfathomably simple-minded propaganda, just passed HR 758. It declares Russia the source of evil in the world and deems it an enemy. It is effectively a declaration of war.

What did we learn from Vietnam?

Nothing.

What did we learn from the gross deceptions leading to Iraq?

Nothing.

America is now a domestic abuser, a man who beats his wife to a bloody pulp, then comes crying and pleading for understanding and forgiveness __ refer to the Senate report __ and finally tops it all off by beating his wife again to within a breath of delivering her lifeless corpse to the morgue.

When self-criticism __ which can be constructive __ becomes self-loathing, it becomes a pathological addiction, a sadomasochistic descent into the writhing depths of agony.

I’ve never understood self-loathing.

But I’ve never understood cockfighting either.

I just know it when I see it.

Tonight on your favorite TV station: Hand wringing. Despair. Teeth clenching. Nausea. Self-inflicted pain.

Lots and lots of pain.

Don’t miss it!

Posted in Deconstruction, Nihilism, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hillary’s Secret Campaign Strategy

We have learned from a deep source at Hillary Clinton presidential campaign headquarters, of a highly controversial, certainly mind-boggling, but sure-fire plan which will clinch the 2016 election for her. When it finally becomes public, this secret strategy will consign all the nay-saying skeptics about her viability as the first female president in American history, to eating vast quantities of humble pie.

Right now, of course, since no one knows of the plan, there’s a wide range of opinion and speculation in the media on her chances. Will she run? Will she make the same mistakes she made against Obama? Can she walk the fine line between appealing to the traditional Democratic base and raising the money she will need from Wall Street and corporate America? Is the country ready for a female president? Is the country ready for Hillary?

But her innovative new approach undercuts all of this.

The idea is as revolutionary as it is simple.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton will be running for president on both the Democratic and the Republican tickets.

Yes! I know it sounds unbelievable.

But it’s true.

She will make appearances at both conventions. A special secret poll of select campaign consultants and political scientists predicts she will easily garner delegate majorities at both events __ probably on the first round of balloting __ to secure the nominations.

My source further explains that to make this a viable strategy, the canny Ms. Clinton will have two different vice-presidential running mates, probably Kirsten Gillibrand for the Democratic ticket, and Megyn Kelly for the Republican.

Just think about that! All-female tickets running for president and vice-president via both major political parties.

Talk about a watershed moment in American history!

Stepping back and thinking about it, Hillary’s running as both Democratic and Republican candidates goes a long ways towards explaining some interesting recent developments.

While her sewing up the Democratic nomination has for quite some time been a foregone conclusion, Ms. Clinton has, to the surprise of many observers, been wooing and gaining the support of many wealthy conservatives as well. Her openly coming out as a bona fide member of their “team” as the Republican nominee just makes sense.

Let me add that beyond being a brilliant tactical maneuver just in terms of sewing up her future role as president, this unprecedented move is also a tremendous leap forward for democracy itself, which has come under a lot of attack in recent years.

Voters complain they’ve had a great deal of difficulty trying to figure out the differences between the policies and positions of candidates during the long campaign season. Despite the rigorous scrutiny and tortured analysis by experts across the entire political spectrum, quite often it’s hard to figure out what anyone stands for. This uncertainty has evidenced itself as voter apathy. Confused voters stay home on election day.

By running on both tickets, Ms. Clinton will eliminate the petty bickering and political posturing, and more importantly the contentious nitpicking by the media, which has only served to undermine candidate credibility among voters and erode their confidence in our electoral system.

Another enormous benefit of Ms. Clinton’s strategy is that with the election in the bag, she won’t have her time and energy squandered by all of the distractions and foolishness that goes into presidential election campaigning __ like interviews and televised debates.

Instead she can devote the entire time right up to taking the oath of office, honing items which will be the hallmarks of her presidency: bombing Iran and Syria; nuclear wars with both China and Russia; tripling of the size of America’s military contributions to Israel so that they can finally put the wily Palestinians in concentration camps where they belong; wiping North Korea off the map; building at least 1,000 more American military bases around the world to protect everyone on the planet from ISIS, Ebola, socialism, Putin and whatever other apocalyptic threats might come along; mounting a Special Ops invasion of Moscow __ ala the Osama bin Laden assassination __ to capture Edward Snowden; and burning down the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to flush out Julian Assange.

She should be able __ as they say __ to really hit the ground running in January 2017.

Posted in Democracy, Nihilism, Political Rant, Satire, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

U.S. Promoting An Agricultural Revolution!

While many criticize the American government’s support globally for Monsanto’s products __ e.g. their genetically modified Roundup Ready crops like soybeans and corn __ and the promotion of large-scale farming based on monoculture and extensive use of pesticides and other chemicals, concurrently there is another whole category of agricultural enterprise underway. It’s a U.S. sponsored initiative that has markedly boosted the economy of Afghanistan, and has not gotten near the attention it deserves.

This is the enormously profitable cultivation of poppies and the skyrocketing production of opium and heroin.

What a success story!

The American military presence in Afghanistan has been a phenomenal boon to poppy farming. Though under the Taliban, poppy production had been all but completely shut down, it has substantially increased for the third year in a row. The 2013 poppy crop jumped 36% from the previous year. Predictions for next year are more optimistic.

This means that Afghanistan by a huge margin is the global leader, providing up to 90% of the raw opium for the entire world’s heroin trade.

This is so brilliant!

Not only does this help out Afghanistan but it’s a unique win-win strategy for creating jobs and fostering economic growth right here at home:  Promote heroin production, then hire people to fight the War On Drugs.

And what a terrific shot in the arm for underemployed morticians and gravediggers, who get to take care of all of the victims of drug overdoses.

Is this ingenious or what?!

It seems to me that this sort of “closed loop” approach could be applied to other areas.

For example, to help our idle construction industry, we could bomb other countries into smoking piles of rubble, then using tax payer money, hire corporations with expertise in infrastructure construction and repair to rebuild everything we destroyed.

Oh . . . we’re already doing that.


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Creativity: Writing Poetry

"Such torment and bitter angst is my lot!"

Folks, I am deeply saddened __  perhaps a bit shocked.

I received several thousand complaints about my previous two “creativity” blogs, all objecting that they were rather light on actual technique.

I’ve gotten the message loud and clear. This time I will be very specific about the process of creating a poem.

Before we get started, I confess I’m having difficulty recalling why I started writing poetry.

Frankly, I hate poetry. I find it tedious and incomprehensible.

Aah! Now I remember.

It was an ad I saw a few years ago.

That sure didn’t pan out.

But I did manage to crank out a few poems and at least got the hang of it. So here we go.

Writing a poem . . .

Rhythm is very important in poetry. So when I write poems I always wear headphones with either Eminem or Lil John blasting away at 125 db. That tunes me in to the naturally occurring “beats” of the English language.

I wait for a word or phrase to pop into my head.

Tabula rasa.

Cool.

Now I think of pop singers and movie stars.

Crystal Gayle . . . The Artist Formerly Known As Prince . . . Tom Cruise . . . Brooke Shields.

Excellent! A veritable goldmine.

I chop them up and throw them together, trying to sound deep and intellectual.

A gale reels topsy turvy / Unknown be the blind enigma / Who shield the arrogant prince / Art shan’t brook the prayers / Cruise lightly the tabula rasa / Crystal now keens the water goddess / Hear the rumbling tom tom / Why dost thou feed the feral beast?

Admittedly this makes no sense. So we’re on the right track.

Now we find rhyming words for the first, third, fifth and seventh lines.

nervy / rinse / pasta / condom

Next we create lines ending in these words.

Conscience writhes a hollow nervy / Invisible angels fear the rinse / Yet twirl the Hades voidal pasta / Time warps he who pricks the condom

Notice that I made up a word. This is an excellent technique for putting your readers on the defensive, playing on the fear that their vocabulary is embarrassingly wanting.

Recognizing that rhyming, perhaps once the delight of long dead poets, is now among the heady and hyper-cerebral denizens of modern literary excellence laughably passé __ more the tinker toys of vapid pop songsters __ it’s time to dig out our good old Thesaurus, either analog or digital will do just fine, and make some tasteful substitutions.

Conscience writhe a hollow pluck / Invisible angels fear the cleanse / Yet twirl the Hades voidal spaghetti / Time warps he who pricks the sheath

Insert these in the initial set of lines.

Okay. Almost done. Now we need a title.

Tabula Rasa #???

Always choose a prime number. Let’s see. ’11′ is such a cliche. ’13′ was ruined by horror flicks. Bob Dylan screwed up ’12′ and ’35′. They’re not prime numbers anyway.

How about? . . .

Tabula Rasa #23

Perfect! Okay, now formatting is of paramount importance. Modern poetry really shows its inherent rebellious character here. Total non-conformity! Left alignment is boorishly 17th and 18th Century, right alignment hackneyed 20th Century, and centering is for symmetry fetishists with terminal OCD.

Same goes for punctuation. Not that poets know how to punctuate in the first place. But the point is why waste such a terrific opportunity for abstruseness? Randomly scattering punctuation throughout the poem is the perfect method for adding a tasteful dose of sheer madness and syntactic chaos!

Alright! Let’s put it all together. Behold our new masterpiece . . .

Notice how I slipped a near-rhyme in at the end. That should stir up some controversy!

Okay. That was easy, eh?

If you feel the need to verify my credentials, just click here and look at the several poems I’ve had published over the past few years.

Scribo ergo sum.


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Creativity: Creating Memorable Characters

With the incredible success of my new novel, The Man Who Loved Too Much – Book 1: Archipelago, released only two weeks ago but already peaking at #11,496 on Amazon’s Fiction/Coming of Age/Fantasy/Zombies /High School Cheerleader/Romance best-seller list, people often ask me:

“John, how do you come up with your characters?”

First, I drive my Mercedes to a local ramen restaurant, where not only do they have great meals, but I can get my kitchen knives sharpened.

I walk in and sit down. I say something in Japanese. They just roll their eyes.

An eighty-five-year-old lady is across from me, slumped over at her table. She might be breathing but I don’t see how, with her face immersed in the bowl of noodles.

I picture her as a twenty-year-old university student, dressed in either sexy lingerie from Fredericks of Hollywood, or a Lycra fetish costume purchased from an online store in the West Village. There’s a tennis ball strapped in her mouth.

Now . . . what is she feeling?

Suddenly, an off-duty Japanese police officer drives through the front of the restaurant on a Harley Davidson. There is broken glass and disposable chopsticks everywhere!

Inspiration!

And the plot thickens.

I thought the police officer had tattoos on his arms but they are just temporary removable sheer hosiery tattoos he picked up in Thailand, while on his police precinct’s annual sex tourism holiday.

He orders the lunch special, Salty Miso Beef Ramen with Deep-Fried Pork Dumplings on the side. Of course, all the rice you can eat is included . . . and it’s free!

Now I hear the sound of a helicopter hovering overhead. Understandably, my first instinct is that it must be Navy Seals either conducting exercises or mounting a raid. There are so many suspicious people everywhere you look these days. Especially here in Japan!

But no, it’s a medical rescue team. Four paramedics tethered to long nylon ropes drop down onto the street out front. They rush into the restaurant. The first medic through the door grabs the old lady’s hair. He violently yanks her head out of the bowl of ramen, then gagging, gives her mouth-to-mouth. But it’s too late. Her wind pipe is clogged with congealed noodles. She is dead.

While they drag her body out of the restaurant to hoist it into the helicopter, some young boys, probably elementary school age, are passing. Several of them are taunting a pathetic little guy, who unfortunately is cross-eyed and suffers acute lymphedema. His legs look like pontoons, very unusual for someone his age. The other boys are mocking him by chanting: “Dalai Lama! Dalai Lama!”

Hmm. I don’t get this. Dalai Lama? But I can use it! Sometimes you need something a little off the wall to keep a reader’s attention.

All this time I’ve been slurping away. The food here is truly amazing! My bowl is just about empty, when a huge stabbing pain shoots through my gut. I feel like someone has stuck a samurai sword in my belly button, twisting it like they’re wrapping pasta around a fork.

Food poisoning!

I don’t know why I keep coming here. Every time I eat here __ I mean every time! __ it’s the same thing. I get food poisoning and spend the next six hours . . . well, you know.

My only excuse for this habitual self-sabotage is that this place has been so good for my writing. This is where it all starts. The huge cast of misfits and miscreants that populate my stories are all denizens of the social tapestry of this little hole-in-the-wall soup shop.

I’ll tell you something else. No way am I giving away my secret.

You can try Googling “ramen shops Japan” if you like.

Ha! Good luck finding it.

______________________________________________________________

The Man Who Loved Too Much – Book 1: Archipelago

Apple (iBook) . . . bit.ly/1ycltFD
Amazon (Kindle) . . . amzn.to/1tyIRiw
Barnes & Noble . . . bit.ly/ZDnQVO
Smashwords . . . bit.ly/1w62HOX
Direct from printer . . . bit.ly/1r6qWYQ

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