Short Thought for the Day: The Heads of Presidents on Money – and Animal Head Trophies … a Link?

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So – just for fun, here’s a short query. The explanation for why the faces of presidents are put on money, apparently has to do with keeping to a recognizable theme that all Americans could acknowledge. But … does everyone know what the Presidents look like or who they were? (Really … I’m sure you just thought about George Washington and told yourself, “yes”, but what about James Buchanan? Huh? Yeah … see?). Then, I saw one of these …

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And, it invoked the question: at what point in all of human history was keeping the head of the victim as a trophy considered a good thing? It exceeds barbaric and goes to downright demented. Spending a lifetime looking into the cold, dead eyes of something you’ve killed (although, in full transparency here, I can’t relate so perhaps I don’t fully understand), seems like something that only a person with some serious emotional issues would enjoy. Yet, a lot of people actually do it and I struggled to find a correlation or other event in history where the decapitation and retention of a head, mounted on one’s own wall (not like pole mounted skulls outside a castle to keep people away), could have any other meaning.

Then, I thought about this:

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And wondered … hmmm … is there a correlation? Well, anyone can make any connection between two completely disconnected elements they want (if they try hard enough … just look at Glen Beck … hahahahaha … just kidding … sort of …). But, to me, when trying to find meaning in anything, it comes down to understanding the core “intent” (getting into those thinking error issues again…).

Supposedly, the point of keeping a dead animal head mounted on a wall is a constant reminder of power, strength over the elements (which otherwise seem beyond the control of normal human beings), and possibly invokes the wonderful memories of hunting and killing. One writer (here) even suggests that the use of animal head decor is an antiquated throw-back to the days of showing off wealth and power (<= maybe there is an even more subtle link to money?).

But, where does the use of President “head” money come in (if something as simple as wide-spread / easy recognition isn’t really the reason since … well … you know … no television or internet would have drastically limited wide-spread recognition!! Not to mention the fact that printing one’s face on currency was something British monarchs would do and America was supposedly trying to get away from that??)? It’s not too far-fetched that America uses President heads since busts of famous people are a world-wide norm. But, why not the whole person? Why not Washington crossing the Delaware or a picture of Lincoln at Gettysburg? Maybe, that was too detailed for printers at the time? The point is: there are plenty of justifications for the use of a President’s head on money – but there’s still room for speculation about many other reasons, too.

Yet, there is only one purpose for money: power. Commerce and trade exist without money. Unlike normal trade, currency provides for the only method of power and influence through hording … although even that is a scam in and of itself. Think about it … some devious dude in a top hot with the curly mustache leans over to buy your vote, raising and lowering his eyebrows, winking, and hands you a worthless piece of paper as the trade off (vs. a deer head)! Yes – it’s worthless. Money has no more value than what is assigned to it. The same paper used for $10’s, $100’s and $1000 dollar bills is the same paper used for $1 bills. It’s just a matter of ink and public acceptance. So … money is power. Just like a dead deer head is not a necessary reminder for a memory of “good times“, but rather, it’s a reminder of strength and power.

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Ever notice that the $1 pyramid is also shaped like the letter “A”, with the eye of the pyramid separated from the base like it is in the letter “A”? Does that mean that whomever is watching you really is an “A-hole”? 😉

Look, I’m not dissing on money or taxidermy. Some people enjoy their power and … so be it. Good for them. Every person is unique and has a different view on the world. I’m just thinking to possibility here … or rather, questioning rationale that otherwise has little justification behind it.

Because, if Presidential taxidermy money is still a part of that somewhat demented show-off power play that some people feel compelled to do … then … there’s something terribly wrong with that. It even lends to the saying: “Money is the root of all evil.” Power is … has been … and always will beinherently evil. There has never (and I do mean never), been a moment in all of history, fact-based, religious-based, or otherwise, that the rise to or use of power, has not come with problems. Even modern America is fraught with problems because of power and money.

Anyway … it’s just a fun thought. There has never been enough of an interest in the world of psychology to pursue this farther (as far as I am aware of … please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). But, the next time you whip out your taxidermy president head paper and are about to hand it off to someone in trade for goods …

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Stop and look at it. Is this a 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 … (and so on) pointed buck deer antler? Or … is it just a worthless piece of paper that’s valued more or less than any other worthless piece of paper just because someone told you so. Perhaps, the way to keep you using money is to keep you feeling powerful – by ensuring that your hard work is rewarded with paper representations of taxidermy trophies and that’s the terrifying reason that people accept currency, horde it, willingly enslave themselves over it, murder over it, and destroy lives over it. Because … the bigger the trophy to hang on your wall … or in your wallet … the more powerful and recognized you’ll be!

After all … when you look in your wallet, pocket, money clip, or wherever and pull out a couple one dollar bills … do you feel as good as when you look through and find a 5, a 10, or even more? Haven’t you ever seen a group of $100 bills together? Because if you have … you know … you’ve been tempted to want to hold it … smell it … and look into those dead eyes of that dead president that now gives you power!

Spooky, isn’t it?

The world may never know ….

Thanks for reading!


Money is power, and rare are the heads that can withstand the possession of great power.” – Benjamin Diraeli

Fiction: “This Week’s Symposium: The H-Virus, Phase 2, a Q&A”

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“Friends, esteemed colleagues, doctors, scientists, and all who have come today, welcome. Over a century ago, our people were plagued with a devastating virus that we could not stop. Tens of millions died. It wasn’t until a team of scientists lead by Dr. Hinsdale, used innovative solutions and adapted technology that allowed us to learn about the virus in all new ways. As the one who discovered the virus, Dr. Hinsdale dubbed it, the ‘H-Virus’. The doctor discovered that the virus wasn’t just a random or simple organism. Instead, he discovered that it was a highly complex and advanced group of cells that had evolved into a sentient intelligence. So intelligent, in fact, that it had developed, in essence, its own culture and society; it was ‘evolving’. This provided the vital information, or the ‘missing link’, if you will, in understanding how the virus constantly overcame all of our previous efforts to stop it.

Yet, stop it, we did. After much hard work and an incalculable amount of time, two decades ago, Dr. Hinsdale discovered a way to destroy the virus. But, even more fantastic, Dr. Hinsdale’s work lead to a new discovery. The very nature of the virus that allowed it to overcome our efforts to stop it also gave it a unique quality that could be manipulated and controlled. Dr. Hinsdale discovered that this very same virus could be used as a cure. Not just a cure for any one, specific problem – but a cure for every problem. The virus could be engineered to work as a tiny organism, living within its host, healing, repairing, and helping it to grow. No longer would we be subject to the uprising of another virus. No longer would we be vulnerable. Dr. Hinsdale’s discovery offered new hope, and new promise, for our future. After decades of work, trial and error, successes and failures, Dr. Hinsdale’s research is ready to move onto the next phase. What comes next will be the most vital and important discovery of our time – an evolutionary advancement of a micronic organism to build the future of our society. You’ve read his research, followed his work, and here today, is Dr. Hinsdale himself, to answer your questions. I present to you an esteemed colleague, an amazing scientist, and a dear friend, Dr. Hinsdale.”

[There is a standing applause for some time. Dr. Hinsdale takes his place and smiles at the crowd, waiting for the applause to die down]

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– “Thank you, all. Your applause fills me with joy. Many have heralded my work as heroic, but I defy that claim. My work was necessary. It was my gift back to all those whom I love and whom they love. We are one. For me, personally, it has also been more than just work. For me, it has been the greatest discovery of my lifetime. As we move forward, I am filled with anticipation. For the first time, we believe that there will be success. Even if it is a failure, what we learn now, will surely guarantee our success on the next trial. For as much as the H-Virus was a curse, it may also be a blessing. What has been bestowed upon us is an opportunity greater than we could have imagined. Of course, you know all this. What I am here for today, is you. The importance of phase 2 of this project cannot be emphasized enough. And, so, it is important to me, and to my staff, that your questions about what has been, and what will be, are answered. So, without taking up more of your time, I now open the floor and rejoice in sharing what knowledge I can.”

“Doctor, thank you for your work. You said in your second publication that during your time with the H-Virus, its so-called ‘culture’ was unstable and you weren’t sure if it would fail like the others. Although I’ve read your other works, can you tell us, in your own words, what changed?”

– “Of course. As you know, after many other failures, we have now learned that the virus, if left to itself, is far too self-destructive during its infancy to survive. Like a spinning top, if you simply leave it to run, eventually, it crashes. By intervening at different points throughout the virus’ evolution, as we learned to do with its predecessors, the H-Virus adapted. One of the unfortunate benefits of trying to destroy the virus, and I say unfortunate for all those who were lost to the virus, was that we saw it adapt, time and time again. No matter our efforts, each planetary cell that was infected died, one after another, after another. Once we learned of its sentience (and how to stop it), it was the viruses ability to adapt to outside interference that inspired me to see if it would also adapt to our efforts to improve it, rather than just destroy it. And, the results speak clearly for themselves. The virus has evolved and grown along the path we have laid out for it. So, the change that made it possible for the H-Virus to evolve, was us being proactive. Destruction is not our way. Although we eventually learned to stop the virus, going back to who we are, as one, using our knowledge to interfere with the virus’ evolution, is what has brought the greatest achievement.”

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“Doctor Hinsdale, in the time you spent with the virus, how did you communicate with it?”

[The doctor laughs a little]

– “Very, very carefully.”

“Doctor, why didn’t you completely wipe out this virus strain and destroy it like the others? What made this one special?”

– “Thank you. An excellent question. In my publications, I have tried to reserve emotional commentary, so it may seem at times that there is a coldness in my actions. But, this is not true. As you noted, several times, we initiated an apocalyptic event for the virus culture to completely wipe it out. However, after the first event, using nearby cells to collide with the planetary cell, we soon realized that the next strain would take just as long to evolve; and, needless to mention, we did more damage to the planetary cell than we had hoped for. We needed a way to carry forward our work. So, after our use of fires to more centrally focus our efforts without causing destructive harm to the planetary cell, we spent more time with the virus, understanding its culture.

It was a slow progression that I was not happy about, but, as my wife keeps telling me, patience paid off. Soon after, we initiated the floods, the ice, and even the Atlantis project. See, our time with the virus allowed us to be more discerning about the application of destruction, selecting groups of viral cells that had been corrupted or failed to evolve, and deleting only those. We moved from planetary cell wide events to more focused systems, trying new and different ways to be successful. One of the first and foremost factors that made this virus special was that it had an incredible capacity for survival. Like any virus, it was a bane on the host organism. It consumed all the resources of the planetary cell, self replicated beyond capacity, was self destructive, and resisted most efforts to stop it. But, widespread treatment was only good for total annihilation. Instead, we focused our efforts on target destruction and the results have been incredible. Would our new methodology of helping the virus evolve have worked on other strains? Perhaps. But, that’s the purpose of trial and error, isn’t it?”

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[The crowd chuckles along with the doctor]

“Doctor, do you have any concerns about the success of phase 2, beyond the success of intervention … or rather clarified, have there been any issues that your team still struggles with?”

– “Ah, yes. In my 16th publication I discussed the culture of the virus, in its current form, in greater detail. On my last visit, I found that even after a decade of work with the H-Virus strain, that it still had one flaw we could not overcome: a lack of empathy. The virus still fed on fear, anger, and hatred. For all our intervention and hard work, the virus’ culture still persists to be self destructive. It wars with itself, consumes resources callously, and treats its own cells just as virulently as it treats planetary cells. The technology we introduced was abused and used by more powerful and destructive cells to encourage the weaker ones to continue to consume and feed on the planetary cell. It even delayed phase 2 to the point we were concerned that it would not happen. A portion of the problem is the physical nature of the virus. It’s design is a unique, carbon and hydrogen based system that, unlike other planetary cells, has a programmatic DNA that governs its behavior in accordance with its physical form. The virus has unique sensory perception that requires it to interact with its environment, making it hyper-sensitive to change. We believe this was the initial reason for the over consumption of resources. Yet, in time, I also found that this could be used to engineer the virus to recognize that it had a dependency on its surrounding for survival. This was the starting point for our work.

Our greatest hope was that the virus could evolve in its culture, learning to heal those cells which were ill, offer forgiveness, and lift them up. Although the virus has shown a propensity to protect the planetary cell on a small scale, it still fails, time and again, to protect its own. When a cell’s DNA, or its behavior fails to be in line with the other cells, they label it, marking it for the life of that cell and exclude it, hate it – and even destroy it. In its culture, the primal, viral destructiveness is quite apparent as cells are constantly segregated from the whole by prejudice based on physical, emotional, and even past-behavioral actions. Perhaps, this is a problem of all virus strains since we’ve seen it happen repeatedly. We couldn’t fathom how any cell, culture, or evolutionary form could develop hatred for one another. One colleague, seeing that this organism had the ability to hate life itself and manipulate one another, how I could ever hope to engineer a cure from an organism that had evolved without the basic capacity for compassion. And, that, is the issue, we still struggle with.”

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“So … how does this affect phase 2? Without that inherently culturally-preserving behavior, wouldn’t the virus just eliminate itself?”

– “Yes, perhaps. This is a concern, but not the primary concern. Right now, our goal is to utilize the virus’ ability to grow and expand to other planetary cells in order to spread the cure and begin healing. In the beginning, if you’ll recall, we destroyed a much larger planetary cell to create smaller ones. Two of those smaller planetary cells were initially set up to support the growth of the virus. One of them died. The planetary cell that fostered the growth of the H-Virus continued to cultivate it to this day. We took advantage of the dead planetary cell, leaving it in place, engineering the virus to focus on that as its point of expansion. When the virus expands to the nearby planetary cell, this will be the most sensitive and most important part of our project. At no other time has any other ‘engineered‘ virus strain expanded to a nearby planetary cell like the original, overly aggressive and solely destructive strains.

What the virus does with that planetary cell is of key importance. If, we can engineer the virus to continue to protect planetary cells, it should, over time, begin to rejuvenate and rehabilitate that nearby planetary cell. Then, we can watch it grow to other cells. If this works, we can eventually use this exact, same strain, injected into live, infected bodies, and watch the healing begin. However, if the virus continues to revert to its primordial, genetic coding and continues to be self destructive, it may wipe itself out before healing begins. Fortunately, the project has reached the point of success so that we can easily reproduce phase 1 again, and in an even shorter amount of time.”

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“Doctor, you claim that the H-Virus developed a sort of ‘culture’ or ‘society’; is there anything from their society that could be beneficial or contribute in some small way to ours?”

– “No.”

[The audience chuckles]

“Doctor Hinsdale, I’m a huge fan of your work. Why is it so difficult to engineer the virus to function the way we want? Can’t you simply alter the DNA?”

– “Ah, yes – an excellent question. DNA mutations at that small of a level continue to be a tricky challenge. In the beginning, most of our mutations died. Even the ones that survived, when we started interacting with them, we found them in only a very primal state. Our initial engineering was to take the strongest features of the viruses and create a more powerful strain that could survive the mutations. Other strains of the virus did survive, but the genetic, virulent primal code that governed their behavior, continued to be a problem. We rebooted the strain on this one, planetary cell more than 5 times, each with catastrophic consequences. With the H-Virus, we abandoned the idea of rapid DNA mutations and decided on a more, long-term cultural engineering to more gradually alter the DNA. And, as you know, even the H-Virus has been a problem for us. Even after slow mutation of their DNA, what did we encounter? Their destructive behavior initially became extremely dangerous to the host planetary cell. Even after the introduction of technological advances, from mass radiation exposure to warfare and even over-consumption of resources, the H-Virus continued to suffer every challenge the other viruses did, and more. When I was with the H-Virus cells though, I noticed something different about them versus the other strains. For example, just before the flood event, we saw that only a portion of the H-Virus cells had resorted to cannibalistic type behavior, having exhausted their resources and failing to evolve. The few who did overcome were our target focus group moving forward. We wiped out the destructive cells and allowed the healthy ones to continue on. While some good came out of it, leaving the cells on their own once again left us with less than pleasing results.

War, famine, and other problems were continuing to be an issue. At one point, we were going to wipe out the H-Virus using the anti-virus-virus through small rodent-like creatures on the planetary cell, causing a plague of epic scale proportions. This was, as you may know, the solution we found in the beginning to completely wipe out the virus. Yet, as we watched the cells die, many of the remaining virus cells struggled to find ways to survive and help one another. So, we stopped what we were doing and watched to see how they reacted. In the face of extinction, the virus found new ways to survive and become stronger. Soon, the virus learned that in order to survive, it must heal its own environment. By doing so, the H-Virus showed the greatest promise we could have hoped for in becoming a solution! And, so, we quickly moved to interject more than just advances in culture, but we also brought science and technology into the virus’ life cycle for the sixth time. Incorporating these elements, the virus quickly progressed toward expansion and is now set for phase 2.

Could we have force manipulated their DNA? No, I don’t think so. Only when we gave the virus time to adapt to the changes over long periods, and actively engineered its evolution along the way, did it begin to show real promise.”

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“Doctor, do you think the virus can ever become more empathetic toward its own and develop that kind of healing relationship with the planetary cells that will create a real effect any time soon?”

– “I am sorry to say that, no, I don’t know. The H-Virus is particularly unique in how it responds to different situations. We gave it fire, and it stared at wood waiting for it to spark on its own, so we engineered it to create its own fire. Yet, conversely, we gave it science, and it misused it, creating its own, unique and yet highly corrupted culture where a few virus cells began poisoning others through food and medicine. We gave it warnings when it began inhaling carcinogens, to which we have yet to fully understand why, but what we do know, fascinating enough, is that it ignored the warnings, further destroying itself. We gave it technology and it constructed weapons. In other words, the primitive side of the virus continues to persist through all of our efforts. After all, it is, just a virus. We can’t expect miracles overnight.”

“Doctor, that brings up a very good point. If the virus is sentient, at what point is our interference, destruction of, our manipulation of it a morally or ethically questionable act?

– “Hmm… I have spent many, many years contemplating this. Even from the very beginning, when I was brought in to destroy the virus, I wondered if we should – when we didn’t even understand where it came from. When I found the virus to be sentient, I again, wondered if we should, not sure of just how advanced it was. And, even now, I contemplate those issues. What I have to remind myself, everyday, is that my work here is vital to the continued existence of our people. These are not sentient beings like you and I. These are primitive, animal-like creatures with an overwhelming propensity for destruction. They may exhibit basic behaviors that we can readily recognize and work with – but they are nothing more than animals; less than that, even. They don’t think like us, feel like us, or even learn like us. They slaughter and consume without thought. And, as I said before, if left to their own, after murdering more of our innocent people, they would eventually destroy themselves. No, young lady, I don’t think there is a single, ethical question to be had. These cells can only serve one purpose moving forward and what we can do to them to improve our life-cycle and health, is too valuable to ignore. Yes – there are consequences for everything we do – but again – these are just cells.”

“Doctor, in your eighth publication, you dubbed this particular strain the ‘H-Virus’. I thought at first it was named after you, but the other strains didn’t follow the same pattern. I was just wondering if you could share with us how you came to that name?”

[The doctor chuckled]

– “Oh, how many times I get asked this question. If I were rewarded for each, I would be a wealthy person. No, you see, the name, ‘H-Virus’, is sort of an inside joke. The virus, named itself. I believe the short name they call themselves is, “human.” We had named the other virus strains by number or sequence. Since the H-Virus became our most important project based on the hope it would begin to make its own, positive decisions, we decided to go with the name the virus gave itself, as if it were somehow qualified. In fact, the project name for phase 2 is ‘Project Mars’, as ‘Mars’, is the name the H-Virus gave to the dead planetary cell. Even though these cells aren’t sentient or aware like us, we are amused by the small amount of intelligence it shows when it is outside its natural, destructive cycle.”

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“Doctor, if the H-Virus doesn’t change, whether or not phase 2 is successful as far as populating and beginning healing on another planetary cell, would there be a reason to destroy it completely, or, if there were a reason to wipe it out, would you do the same as before, and segregate a portion of the cells?”

– “So, this is the dilemma, isn’t it? Here we are, after only 10 years, ready to take the biggest step into the next phase of this project, and yet, uncertainty is still our mistress. The answer is perhaps yes, or … perhaps no? After all the energy we’ve put into evolving this virus strain, we mustn’t lose ourselves emotionally … remembering this is only a viral cell … not a living. thinking, advanced species like us. Political interjection, science, and the oft apocalyptic event – each of which took painstaking years of calculation and planning, have all been focused on the sole exercise of evolving the virus’ DNA. We have considered engineering a new virus strain along an identical path and with the current DNA, just to see how fast we can evolve it, but first, we must ensure the success of Phase 2. On a personal level, I want to emphasize, that this virus has been an integral part of my own growth and exploration as a scientist. It has been difficult spending time with the H-Virus cells, trying to understand why and how they think and behave the way they do and in some small part, I’m sure there is a personal attachment.

I will tell you this. I’m not going to give up on this project knowing that out there, somewhere, is another viral strain that could strike at any time. I will continue to push forward this project until I know that we have successfully engineered a cure that will stop any future virus while simultaneously healing old, dying planetary and other cells within. I believe there’s a possibility that the H-Virus may one day become more. But, until we can find a way to teach it to grow, heal one another, end its prejudices, abandon its fears, and learn to evolve into something greater than a destructive organism, then I will reserve the right to wipe it out and start anew. Maybe a time will come when I have to once again, select a few cells for preservation and let the rest go.

Yet, considering that in only a short period of time we are pushing the next phase where we can further engineer the virus to heal surrounding planetary cells, I am confident that this project will be successful and the H-Virus, whether the final strain or not, will have been the most significant and important contribution to this entire project. I am proud of my team and the work they have done.”

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[There is tremendous clapping that takes several moments to die down when a single hand raises up]

“Doctor Hinsdale … I’ve read your work and while I understand it, without knowing fully what gave raise to the first appearance of these viruses, should we continue to engineer it, or start with something less dangerous? I mean, if there’s even the remotest possibility that evolving it could make it too powerful to stop … is it not arrogant of us to continue?”

– “Good sir, that is the perfect question. Do we continue to work on whether or not we ‘can‘ without first considering whether or not … we ‘should‘? These viruses … they have an interesting culture. When they reproduce, the good ones that is, they protect the younger versions until they’re strong enough to go out on their own. Some of the viruses have even developed a sort of, well, spiritual aspect to their being that further fosters and nurtures this healing and positive type of behavior. The majority are more arrogant, self centered, and absorbed in their own, destructive power than anything you could possibly comprehend. First off, let me assure you, that as long as they’re isolated and can’t survive outside of the planetary cells, that in a simulated environment, they pose no threat to anyone. Their ancestor cells became airborne within days and rapidly spread. That’s another reason for our slow progression. We may not know where they came from, but we know the course to follow.

Second, as a virus, these cells are really no different than non-viral cells except that non-viral cells have a set, finite purpose. That’s not to say that non-viral cells are also not destructive, creating, breaking down, and building back up again. The difference is that non-viral cells have a limited programming and limited structure that’s not prone to grow, so it remains somewhat permanently confined in its evolution. The viruses that hit our people possess an increased capacity for intelligence. Again, I use the word “intelligence” loosely in comparison to what we understand it to be. But, when this virus evolved, not only did its destructive nature evolve, but so did its ability to be non-destructive. As much as its primal destructive programming exists, we have witnessed enough to see that we can manipulate and encourage the non-destructive programming to take its place.

I may not have been successful in yet figuring out how to engineer it to stop fighting, stop hating, and stop acting against itself, but I have been successful, thus far, in getting it to recognize the importance of its relationship to other cells. The next step, which I think we will see during phase 2, is getting the virus to recognize the value in overcoming its destructive, controlling, manipulative, and harmful nature. Once it does that, it will become a healer on a scale so epic that I think the small, lengthy steps we take now, will be well worth it.

But, yes, I have considered whether or not we ‘should‘. The only answer I’ve come up with, thus far, is understanding that this virus came to us for a reason, and whatever that reason may be, simply ignoring it, is not in our best interest.”

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[There is a roar of thunderous clapping. Then, the orator rises up and stands next to the Doctor]

“We have time for just one more question.”

“Doctor, you’ve described this virus as both fascinating and deadly. In your books, you continuously emphasize its destructive nature and danger, yet you were able to spend time with it, learn about it, and study it in a way no one else can. And, you’ve said here today that you saw enough to make you believe that the current direction this experiment is taking is the correct one because there’s a chance the H-Virus can somehow evolve into something greater. What would be the most important or valuable event you witnessed to make you believe that?”

[The Doctor smiles and nods at the image…]

“That in the darkness of its existence, it can find compassion enough to set aside what ails it, forget about its agenda to control, stop frivolously and violently consuming its resources, abandon destroying one another, forgive all, and in the most unexpected moments, find a reason … and the right way … to live.”

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[The audience rises to its feet in a deafening applause as the Doctor waves and leaves]

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Thanks for reading. Sorry – I’m not a good “writer”, but hopefully, the point of this came across well enough …


All that ever was, or ever will be, has been, and will be once more …” – me.

Tribute to an Eagle Scout

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Did you know that only 6% of Scouts, in 2014, made it to Eagle Scout? That’s 51,820 kids. Out of 73.6 million children, even if half of them were boys, that is under 0.15% of the entire population of the United States of American children. It’s less than 0.0015% of the entire world’s population of just boys. So, it’s no small thing to say that earning the rank of Eagle Scout is one of extreme challenge and rarity. You’re more likely to be injured by jewelry than become an Eagle Scout! But, what makes an Eagle Scout so different or significant?

  • An Eagle Scout is not wealthy and must work for what they do.
  • An Eagle Scout does not receive public admiration, social media status, or fame.
  • An Eagle Scout is not given instant success or privilege.
  • An Eagle Scout can be healthy – or disabled – and there’s no difference in the love, involvement, or excitement.
  • An Eagle Scout isn’t more loved, more liked, or better off than any other person.
  • An Eagle Scout is not entitled, not protesting, and not creating dissension somewhere in America.
  • An Eagle Scout can come in any color, race, religious preference, background, or upbringing, without discrimination, hatred, or fear.
  • An Eagle Scout isn’t a different type of person – just a person with a heart beat like the rest of the world.

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In 2012, 13.5 million hours of community service was reported with over $300 billion dollars in donated funds for services from the work of Eagle Scouts. What is it that Eagle Scouts, do?

  • Eagle Scouts serve others and their communities.
  • They build play centers for homeless children.
  • They build learning centers for the disabled, veterans, and victims of abuse.
  • They build bridges in your parks.
  • They clean-up trash in your cities, parks, and neighborhoods.
  • And, so much, more …

Every dime provided through the Eagle Scout program potentially offsets billions in taxpayer dollars. When Eagle Scouts rehabilitate public places – you save. When they help the elderly and disabled with food and shelter – you save. When they uplift the life of another human being and inspire them to do better so that person becomes a hard-working, taxpayer in the community: you save.

  • Eagle Scouts don’t look different – they are normal, every-day kids.
  • Eagle Scouts go through every hardship of growing up, puberty, distractions, curiosity, education, learning to drive, and having access to social media as any other child.
  • Eagle Scouts prove that in the face of drugs, peer pressure, a world divided politically, and a culture hell-bent on its own, self-destruction, that it is possible to be strong.
  • Eagle Scouts prove that in a world of non-stop labor, hard work, destruction of families, and a level of sacrifice by parents that is unparalleled in history – that there is time to love, to nurture, and to care … if you make it. (parents … you have no excuse …)

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Eagle Scouts live in every kind of neighborhood, from dumps full of crime, to wealthier neighborhoods where they learn to work harder than their parents before them (and appreciate the struggles of other people).

  • Neil Armstrong, was an Eagle Scout.
  • William Devries, M.D., was an Eagle Scout.
  • Gerald Ford, was an Eagle Scout.
  • Steve Holcomb, was an Eagle Scout.
  • Oswald “Ozzie” Nelson, was an Eagle Scout.
  • Frederick Reines, was an Eagle Scout.
  • Mike Rowe, was an Eagle Scout.
  • Jeff Sessions, was an Eagle Scout.
  • And, even Steven Spielberg, was an Eagle Scout.

Although it may be exciting for young men to see that some of America’s most important contributors to politics, culture, entertainment, national security, and science, (and many, many other fields) – with over two million Eagle Scouts since the beginning, there are many scouts who just live their lives the best they can, as normal human beings, without great accolades, magical prowess, or other supernatural achievement.

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It’s not doubt that the “Scouts” are named that way. After all, “Scouts” are the ones who go ahead of the group, alone, without guidance or help, to face the darkness ahead, and find a path of safety for all those who follow. The whole of Scouting is a great organization – but for those who went the entire distance and became Eagles, no matter what happens in their lives, they can stand a little taller … a little stronger … and a little longer than the rest of the people.

  • When you need help – an Eagle Scout will give it.
  • When you’re lost – an Eagle Scout can guide you home.
  • When your heart is broken – an Eagle Scout will listen.

They are not magical people because they are Eagle Scouts … they are Eagle Scouts because they are magical people.

Not every child will be given the chance to become an Eagle Scout. Even the Girl Scouts are fighting to be allowed into the Boy Scouts (albeit they are wrong and need better guidance), simply because they long for the opportunity to be something greater than the sum of their parts, too (and they deserve a chance, too). Not every child will succeed as an Eagle Scout, distracted by the world and lost in those teenage years. But, one thing is certain:

  • To live a little better …
  • To climb a little higher …
  • To stay strong to your convictions in the face of darkness …
  • And, to learn the value of helping others …

Is something this world really needs right now.

We can’t force our children to be what we want. We can only hope the best for them, try to set a good example of getting back up strong when we fall … (and we will fall) … and going that extra distance. When we …

  • Hold a door open for a stranger …
  • Say “hello”, with sincerity, to someone passing by …
  • Stop to lend a hand when someone is in need …
  • Give of our time, more than our money …
  • Refuse to be part of the nightmarish shopping crowds (like Black Friday) …
  • Honk a little less on the freeway …
  • Don’t jump aboard the Twitter hate machine …
  • Refuse to blog with anger and malevolence …
  • Quit giving the media accolades for hate reporting …
  • And do the things that makes the day better for one person …

Just … one human being …

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The results are profound (the Butterfly Effect). We may not see it directly. It may not come to us in our lifetime. But … it will come. The people of the world will lighten up – even if just a little. And, the amazing qualities that are held by every Eagle Scout, becomes a part of everyone’s lives. Do you want to make America “great”? Wouldn’t a country filled with charity, good will, knowledge, and integrity be a “great” start? If you’ve never considered it, learned about it, or participated, I suggest trying. The Scouts have tons of programs available – in the community and through some Church organizations. The worse case scenario is that you may get to camp somewhere you never thought possible, go somewhere you’ve never been, learn something you didn’t know, and make a friend.

  • Eagle Scouts climb where people stare from a distance in longing.
  • Eagle Scouts learn what most people take for granted.
  • Eagle Scouts do … what others have only wondered about.
  • Eagle Scouts help those that most people shy away from.
  • Eagle Scouts have a stronger faith and testimony in God than most religious leaders.
  • Eagle Scouts soar just a little higher than the rest of the world …

The requirements aren’t easy. Too many kids get to the rank too late, or too soon. Some organizations want kids to get there sooner so they aren’t distracted during their teenage years – but that’s the point of an Eagle Scout. They overcome the distractions of life that lead normal men and women down the primrose path. This may not be a path for everyone. But – it is the path that everyone tries to walk.

Oh – yes … yes it is.

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Humans are curious little things. Scurrying about, wanting to be famous, to sing, to write, to dance, to meet people, to do new things, try new ideas, be heard, be listened to, be admired … and so on and so on. It’s all a part of the hierarchy of behavior and is well proven with the direction the internet has gone! And, of course … there are always exceptions. Forget the exceptions. Forget the one or two “bad” experiences. If bad experiences were to be a reasonable cause for stopping our evolutionary progress … everyone would lay down and die as an infant. If you’re a Girl Scout and want to be more – demand it! (As a Girl Scout). Copy the Eagle path and demand your leaders follow it. If you’re a boy, just ask mom and dad to get you there and the Troop will do the rest. But, just know this:

The world will fight you. Television, music, media, and the culture in general, want to distract you, hurt you, and sell you into the “stuff” generation … a very powerful movement of over 60 years. Some peers will insult you, like bullies, because they’re afraid. Most peers, won’t understand and won’t even ask. This is something you have to do – for YOU.

To the adults, with whom I associate, who will never have known this privilege as a child … sponsor someone (if not your own). It’s time consuming, daunting, and overwhelming – you know … ALL the GREAT things that make life GREAT!

Anyway – here’s to you, Eagle Scout. You’ve kept alive the hopes and dreams of future generations that one day … maybe … with a little luck and a lot of faith … can walk in your path! I salute you! (Just don’t ask me to tie a knot … I struggle with my own shoe laces!!!)

Thanks for Reading!


Growing up doing those Kiwanis Clubs, doing those Cub Scout banquets, doing those church shows, I learned to find that sensibility that most people could laugh at – that all ages and demographics could laugh at.” – Jeff Dunham

I actually like snakes! When I was young, I was a boy scout nature camp counselor, and one of our projects was collecting snakes and creating an environment for them, so I’m quite familiar with snakes and think they’re fantastic creatures.” – Harrison Ford

My father was a very good Boy Scout. He was very skilled with knots, and he showed me how to tie a bow tie.” – Bill Nye the Science Guy

Throughout my life and career, I have continually been impressed with the importance of integrity – whether it was growing up as a Boy Scout, working in one of my first jobs as a university janitor, or being a leader in a Fortune 500 company.” – Rex Tillerson

 

Does the Bermuda Triangle Effect Work Both Ways?

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This is a short look into the oddity that is the Bermuda Triangle, and a few ‘supposedly’ disassociated events that may not be so separate. Of course, the Bermuda Triangle is not the only place with strange electromagnetic anomalies and associated disappearances. And, disappearances are not limited to “key” locations as several cities, towns, and individuals have all disappeared. Of course, there are always ‘explanations’ that stand alone, especially the mysterious inter-dimensional phenomenon and aliens. But, that’s for another day. Today, we’re going to combine a variant of String Theory I dubbed the Liquid Space theory, that still works on the premise of everything in the universe being connected and how this could be a significantly contributing factor to the Bermuda Triangle type phenomenon.

Of course, if the only thing that happened at the Bermuda Triangle was the spinning compasses and malfunctioning equipment, the totality of any discussion would be limited to the build-up of electromagnetic interference (from a potential multitude of sources). However, the disappearances, downed ships, and other strange happenings have created an entirely separate conundrum – where do they go? Like everyone else, we can spend all day speculating that a group of World War II airplane pilots are busy having lunch with some seafaring captains on a beach in an alternate dimension (even as you read this), but I’m far less interested in the ‘where’ – since without proof – that’s a completely moot argument. What’s more intriguing is the ‘how’.

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Here’s the interesting part: not all strange phenomenon of extremely unusual events in our world has been based on disappearances. Some of it includes ‘appearances,’ of a particularly unsettling nature. Sure, there are those individual people that have claimed that they don’t belong in this dimension or on this Earth because everything’s different – but at 6 am in the morning, I am pretty sure I don’t belong in my life either, getting ready for work, when I’m supposed to be living in a mansion being catered to like an omnipotent being! But, not to be derogatory toward things I cannot be 100% sure about, there have been out of place objects throughout all of history. And, I’m not talking about the Mayan carving of an individual who “could” be interpreted to be wearing a space suit – but actual artistic tapestries, paintings, stories, photographs, and other such solid data of possible unidentifiable objects (flying or not!).

This is not a conspiracy theorist argument and I am not interested (in this article) in debating whether or not these things are aliens trying to suck out our brains or the gods bringing down fire to mankind. No – I’m only interested (for this article), in the fact that the inexplicable has occurred. Why does it occur?

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It’s awfully challenging to believe that aliens have visited the Earth, having to clearly traverse unfathomable distances (as the Solar System is significantly far from everything else in the Universe), only to shack up with Russians and Area 51 so they can sneak around and never say, “hello!” It’s possible – but not overly realistic. Likewise, it’s challenging to accept that the Blair Witch wished the entire village of Roanoke into the corn fields (thank you to those who got the reference … 🙂 ) or that the ancient Sumerians (the same ones who gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls aka Old Testament), had a map of a 9 planet solar system and still believed the Earth was flat! Some things disappear – some appear – and neither has a good background story.

But, what if we’re looking at this wrong. Sure – there is almost an infinite number of possible explanations for every occurrence; but many of them may be more closely related than they seem.

What if … you know, just “what if”, the phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle worked both ways? A sort of, “wormhole” type of effect?

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Well – it’s not really that far off the radar. Like String Theory, Liquid Space Theory also justifies that two points in space separated by billions and trillions of light years can be connected like they are next to each other (well … not “that” far, but you get the idea). And, like the Butterfly effect, one small shift in events at one location can have minor, or epic-scale consequences at another. Also, if we consider that the effects of concentrated electromagnetic radiation under specific wavelengths can have odd results that defy explanation, then there is a possibility that the Bermuda Triangle effect is only part of a series of interconnections between one point in space, and the Earth. (Okay – maybe multiple points in space, but I’m going to simplify it for a simple blog … unless some university wants to fund me writing a novel … you know … just saying!!! HAHAHAHA).

If the Spec particles (the basic “god particles” from Liquid Space Theory that govern all shape, movement, and function in the universe), can be aligned in such a way that they create a super-conducting effect and the specific frequency of electromagnetic radiation (now spread throughout the length of interconnected particles based on the same slipstream effect and superconducting energies) matches the quantum frequency of an object to which it comes in contact with, then that object’s movement through space and time is no longer bound by the ordinary mechanics of String Theory or Liquid Space. It’s like walking from dry land onto a hill covered in the slickest ice in existence. The second the circumstances are right – you can slip through space and time in the blink of an eye. And, with the unique effects of radiation to separate particles without additional energy, an object can be converted into energy so that it slips along that slope even faster. As it reaches the end of the aligned particles, faster than time itself, the Spec particles realign the shape, matter, and energy into what they were before and you have a wormhole effect.

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What supports this? At CERN, where they’re literally trying to see if they can suck the Earth into an alternate dimension (okay … maybe I exaggerate a little … they’re just trying to open a door to another dimension … not suck us in … sort of), they’ve witnessed the microsecond formation and dissipation of black hole-like forces. If the amount of force needed to create the devastating power of a black hole can be created and released in only a matter of microseconds without nuclear reactive consequences (especially since all it took was simply smashing a couple subatomic particles together), then it is possible for much larger occurrences, too (based on a culmination of small occurrences that can form and last for short periods of time due to small, specific energy-type bursts).

In this 2-way door theory of the Bermuda Triangle effect, we have a series of events that all have to take place in just the right sequence and order. They’re not overly rare and may be, to some extent, controllable. Between the electromagnetic and gravitational forces of the sun, planets, and the universe itself, let’s say that a giant nebula gets close enough to a magnetic source that spreads it out more laterally (or dark matter, or other particles), and that these particles are pretty evenly spread throughout space. As heavenly bodies shift around, and under specific radioactive circumstances where high concentrations of active energy and radiation are close enough to link (such as the Van Allen belts, a massive electromagnetic storm over a large magnetic substrate like the Bermuda Triangle, etc.), those nebula particles, thanks to the String Theory / Liquid Space theory, can be interacted on from one end to the other (aligning the particles and spreading them, and the radiation out so that it accelerates toward the center and slingshots out toward the end).

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The door goes both ways!

Normally – nothing happens. It’s just a long chain of uniquely aligned energies.

But, what if, at the other end, there’s a significant source of power, identical in almost every possible way to the originating source. Maybe it’s another planet, a star, or even the edge of a black hole. Regardless, if the two energies align, the “slipstream” effect occurs. The two points of similar energy become “anchors”, in essence. And, in doing so, whatever happens to enter into that radioactive field is affected at the quantum level so that the specific target frequencies align with the Spec particles, get converted to energy, and then slip stream along … “slip … whooooosh!” “DANG IT, SCOTTY!

If this is possible, it would have an incredible number of interference factors that could be used to give it some further validation. For example, where two planets may align within their star system could be impeded by the star itself. Perhaps a solar flare is a contributing factor. Maybe other planets or large objects also have to be out of the way or the rotation of two objects sharing the same inter-dimensional space would have such a near-perfect constant rate of rotation that one could measure when the two points would cross again. Either way, looking for these consistencies would quickly reveal that possibility. And, in a superconducting state, there’s no left or right. The door opens both ways. So, maybe things that don’t belong on this side of the gate visit, and unwitting sailors participate the other way. And, so on and so on.

Of course – without the theoretical scientist to do the math, that’s about all I can offer. But, the premise is there and the possibility makes a lot more sense out of the overwhelming number of oddities that occur in appearances and disappearances by linking those events. Not everyone of them is associated – but I’d wager that quite a few are. These events could be so significant as to even explain paranormal activity. The other thing to consider is this doesn’t have to be limited to distance. Depending on the reality of time energy manipulation and a multiverse, it is possible that the frequency of occurrences are based on two objects existing in the same space that are more readily aligned! (But … that’s way out of my spectrum for this short presentation).

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So … next time the planets are aligned, the stars are in order, and the conditions are right, put on yer’ space suit, ’cause you could be going for a ride!

(Well … let’s hope not, unless you want to go, and then I say, good luck and bring me back a souvenir … you know… like a snow globe … nothing that bites!!).

Thanks for reading!


To Boldly Go Where No One has Gone Before …” – Gene Roddenberry

A Misguided Commercial by the University of Phoenix – We Did It … But what did ‘we’ do?

The University of Phoenix has added a commercial to its growing list of annoying, repetitive Youtube commercial interruptions called, “We did it”:

While this is a very touching ad that creeps deeply into the heart of sensitive folks (like myself) and is supposed to encourage women to feel empowered, it falls so terribly short of having any value that it’s almost a cynical and nasty commentary on America and capitalism.

The commercial starts out in an industrial factory where workers are being slowly replaced by machines. One by one they leave until all that’s left is the single mom of two. In the background is the old, World War II poster with Rosie the Riveter promoting industrial labor equality with the words, “We Can Do It”. Inevitably, the big, bad boss who has determined that he doesn’t have to outsource jobs thanks to the growing trend of computerized automatons, eventually pink slips mom and sends her home, heart broken, scared, and feeling helpless. Suddenly, a computer ad from the University of Phoenix promoting a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Information Technology promises hope! From there, mom gets her online degree, bakes a poorly made cake to celebrate, and is suddenly directly involved with the network administration of a very large company (presumably, based on the gigantic servers in a specialized server room that she was interfacing with).

Now for reality …

Yes, it’s a beautiful commercial – superficially. In reality, it’s a terrible commercial. Why?

  1. Mom loses her job to computerized robots. How are they run? Computers … duh! What does mom see as her hope for progressing forward? A job in … computers! Yay! Now, while she can feed her family, she’ll simultaneously be contributing to the mass automation of other companies where thousands of other moms get to go home without a job and watch their families starve. Awesome.
  2. Rosie the Riveter was not only “not” famous during World War 2 as a “motivational” poster, it was a sad statement on abusive commercial tactics and manipulation. Companies needed workers because they had screwed up and sent too many men to war and in exchange they took women from their homes, starting the detrimental trend to home and family life that continues to this day – and underpaid them. Wow. I guess if you’re dumb and don’t mind being lied to – it’s a great poster! Maybe that sounds mean – but I think people are smarter than Corporate America likes to treat them and if given a chance, they don’t appreciate those who condescend to them.
  3. Mom got a “Bachelor’s” in computers. A “Bachelors” in computers is the equivalent of just not having much skill at all and that’s why it’s an easy “online” course (that’s my opinion only – being in the field). Sure, there are those companies that care. Most companies will hire people based on proven skill and if college is the preference – they’ll give it to people who have a Masters. On the other hand – there’s no way mom would be working in a secured server room or as a network administrator making much more than she did before with the Bachelors. But, hey, it’s a job, right? Boo.
  4. Mom has two children. She wasn’t going to be able to live well off of unemployment while paying some *still* pretty high prices for her online education (and a grant or a loan for a single mom with two kids, high rent, etc. etc. … yeah … right). So … while those kids are a tear-jerk addition – it really wasn’t appropriate to “use” children to sell a product – at all. Maybe mom wanted to get an education just because she’s smart, or capable, or wanted something better? Hmmm? Maybe give her some credit computer animation people!!
  5. Apparently – mom can work well with her hands, is good with precision, and intelligent enough to get an online degree … but can’t bake a cake?! I may not be mom, but as a single parent, baking a cake is not hard. It’s customary for commercials to make dad look stupid – but not mom. And, this commercial kind of brings home the truth as to why. Mom is proud of her work – and she should be. So … it wasn’t as ‘funny’ as it seems when you really give it that second look.
  6. Finally … mom scratches out “We can do it”, for “We can do IT”, where “IT” now stands for information technology. Ever worked in the computer field? I’m a systems analyst and very good at my job. Women have been doing IT for quite some time and are just as good as men – and the same holds true for any other job in any other industry. But, there’s a strange inference there …. by replacing the “it”, it almost implies that mom’s ability to be an industrial worker is dead … that industrial work is dead in general (thanks to automation and outsourcing) – and moms (and others) can now be successful as part of that outsourcing team that just tears down America. Fan … tas … tic.

Anyway – I’m sure many people will disagree with this analysis and I welcome it. Maybe I’ve read too much into the commercial. But, frankly, the imagery is pretty clear. I don’t know if it was just hastily crafted by the University of Phoenix without much care as to the content (other than to manipulate single women by demonstrating that they’re helpless against the system and if they really loved their kids they’d pay U of P for an online education), or if all the other imagery was intentional.

However, for those people who do care, we have to take a long, hard look at this type of advertising and ask ourselves whether or not promoting this type of advancement is good or not. Sure, single parents need jobs and opportunity to compete in the workplace. But, not everyone can be in the top, white collar jobs (and the industry is swamped with people – regardless of what you may have heard). Are the people working in lower end jobs any less? They really do matter, too. Perhaps it’s not about raising the lower end income that makes things better, but dropping the higher end income and not driving companies into automation and outsourcing.

Unfortunately – the real trend is that businesses have been increasingly pushing for college degrees in lower end / lower wage jobs and that is continuing to crush the human spirit in America to the point it may not be able to return …

Sorry – starting to rant. … Anyway – that’s all. Hope you enjoyed.

Thanks for reading.


If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.” – Stephen Hawking.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Deadmen Tell No Tales, Review – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (spoilers!!)

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The lead character that loved himself … waaayyyy too much!

As you hear that fantastic, original Pirates of the Caribbean movie uplift you and fill you with thrill and excitement, you can’t help but think … again, really? Yes! The 5th installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean (a movie loosely based on the funtastic ride at Disneyland), is back with all the favorites for another adventure (even if some of them only show up for 30 seconds …?!?!). So, I give this movie a 5.5 out of 10 (and my reasons, scoring, and review – are below)! It’s worth the watch if you like Pirates of the Caribbean – but not a great movie by any means. Still, this movie has it all! Live pirates, dead pirates, drunk pirates, destined lovers, people from different lifestyles, rum, a monkey … um … ocean … evil pirates? Okay … well … actually this movie has everything that every other Pirates movie had … even witches, curses, bumbling English soldiers and everything else that if you liked it before … here’s more!

The Good

Well, as expected, this is a hilarious movie. The script isn’t great, but there is plenty of action, lots of high quality production, and Johnny Depp (and crew), are back on board, as funny as ever. In fact, I probably laughed a little harder during this movie than I have at the others. Of course … that only works if you quit thinking about the story line and just enjoy it on a more superficial level!

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The story starts out on an island, where the exposition is blatantly brutal explaining that the English bank has never been robbed for what is a almost a pointless narrative. So … set your expectations low, because when you hear that the bank’s never been robbed, what happens next? Exactly. The bank is robbed by Depp and crew … along with a building, a wife, and a few other funnies. The background of the story is another deviation from the traditional ride at Disneyland and tries to introduce us to a new character (which I’ll discuss further on), but does, in some small part, stand alone. Depp is giving all of the quality and worthwhile lines … and I do mean all of them, and he does his usual, excellent job of bringing a highly animated character (Captain Jack Sparrow), to life. From being constantly intoxicated and yet able to leap tall buildings in a single flop to his terror dealing with the spider monkey, he’s as funny as expected.

The production quality is well done. I can’t speak for 3D because I refused to pay the 3D or IMax prices for this movie since it rendered beautifully on a Sony 4k screen (assuming that it really was one in a Regal Cinemas), with Dolby 7.0. Every sound was incredible … even the highly incomprehensible, liquidy-slurred speech from Salazar (Javier Bardem) was audible thanks entirely to Dolby (and I can’t imagine trying to watch it at home or on any other sound system and still understanding half of what that character says otherwise). The outrageous scenes from the Black Pearl magically growing in “half” size to the sinister and very beautifully crafted Poseidon’s trident, were all rendered with incredibly clear quality. Many of the scenes were dark – so if you do watch it at home, you’re gonna need a really bright screen to fully enjoy it!

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I don’t speak often, but when I do, I slur my words!

Speaking of everyone’s favorite Sea God (Poseidon … or um … well .. probably really the only main Sea God), his Trident was an excellent side story that deserved its own movie. That aside, the Trident was exceptionally well crafted and thanks to one of the very, very few excellent directing moments by Joachin Ronning and Espen Sandberg, both of whom I am very unfamiliar with (and after this have no desire to see anything else they do), the camera angles clearly captured the sinister face and demeanor of the Trident and told an entire story all by themselves. Plus, I have to give it up for the island – that was kind of cool (an island that reflected the stars!). Just a personal like.

The movie sets and costumes were incredibly well done. Everything was placed well (other than a few *whoopses* here there and … well … in a LOT of places), and generally looked great. The use of a spinning guillotine was exceptionally hilarious and while I’m not sure that it would work in real life … who cares!? That was outrageously funny and I appreciated the unique “save-the-day” approach. And, of course, everyone except the CGI characters really had a well done outfit and were enjoyable to watch. In fact, Carina’s strength as a main female character in the beginning of the movie was not only funny, but I was actually rooting for her! It was like, “Yeah! Down with the man! You go, girl!” And, those are just some of the moments that made this movie fun to watch.

The Bad

So … um – the directing. Wow. Like I said before, these guys had their moments. And, I’m assuming that every other director turned this movie down knowing that by number 5, it was getting ridiculous … but these guys are the kings of cut and paste. Every action sequence was ridiculously so cut up that it was sometimes difficult to know which part of the movie we were watching or what was ‘supposed’ to be going on. For example, when Sparrow and Salazar were leaping across the cannons, the cameras could NOT stop jumping around because, what? They couldn’t take the already CGI’d back screen and create a larger jumping area? Dang. Be prepared to be bedazzled, dazed, and spun around 3 or 4 times during every fight scene, action scene, and cut scene that eventually you give up trying to figure out what’s going on. The best work they did was the bank heist with the entire building. Even with the cut scenes, they managed to put in two separate (and converging) story lines to make it more linear. Argh!

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Again? Wow. He even comes out of the water looking this dirty!

Johnny Depp is good … but … um … well …. He’s also getting a bit … redundant. Wait, guess what? He’s drunk on rum! No … forget it, that’s been the premise of his “funny” in every movie. He’s … having lucid affairs with married women and is broke? Nope … repeat. He’s in jail and being executed? Wrong again … same old …. old …. REALLY old story. He’s tied up and captured … or suddenly a badass and tying up other people? *Sigh* And, so on, and so on, and so on. Mind you – he was funny. The writers gave him a LOT of good lines (except for that TERRIBLE jail scene with his supposed “Uncle Sparrow” and the skeleton and mop joke in which the guards just stood there???). But … dang … did anyone notice just how boring everyone else’s lines were (for those who had lines since Swann didn’t even get to speak)? Especially, Carina Smyth: the funniest thing that came out of her mouth was that she was a horologist. (Which – for as funny as that was, it was best served for stupid male 10-year old humor … you know … the same age for loving pirates!!!)

Sadly, Depp wasn’t at his best. In fact, the addition of a ‘tribute’ just added to the character’s arrogance that came through via lazy acting. While some of his work was good, often times it felt as if he really didn’t try. Of course, considering how badly Bloom and Knightley were treated (as cameos), it must be hard for Depp to not have a big head. Perhaps age is his problem, but either way, he takes ‘drunken’ to an exaggerated level and goes way overboard. Eventually, it even begins to get boring and drag on way too long.

The island where the secret to Poseidon’s Trident was so poorly underutilized and done that it was a damned shame! First off … no PIRATE in their right mind would not have leapt face first onto the ground and started pocketing every diamond they could find! Second … the missing piece of the star was with Barbossa and then his daughter the whole time? What? Then … at one time, it was whole and someone just broke off a piece? Umm …. what? And … if that wasn’t enough, just to ad ex machina convenience, the Trident was in the ocean … a REALLY long way from the island so the sea could split in two and they could have a tragic ending. *sigh*. It was good … yes … but too much in too small of a REALLY rushed space of time (and, yes – from the moment they discovered the island … the clock was ticking and everything was slammed in).

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Bad Halloween prop …

Ending all curses without considering the consequences! Yes … this was a terribly stupid turn of events in the movie. Whilst the curse brought back Salazar and his crew to life, it also restored Will Turner and the Flying Dutchman (and its crew). The catch? It was daytime. During the day, the Dutchman was under water (or we’re lead to believe as young Henry Turner could supposedly only visit dad by night). Which, based on the death of Salazar’s crew meant that … bum bum bummm…. dead Dutchmen! But … that would just suck. So … movie convenience! Everyone’s okay! Wouldn’t that mean all the dead shark and birds and other creatures were brought back to life, too? And … what about Salazar’s ship? What pirate wouldn’t have hijacked that bad boy? It was the baddest ship in the sea! But … nope. It’s sitting in the middle of the ocean in premiere condition … or … not? Of course … now the treasure Barbossa was after in the first movie is no longer cursed and even though he’s dead … it’s a free for all (since everyone now knows where it is!).

An anchor with an escort! Yes! For no apparent reason, swinging the anchor down to save the crew wasn’t enough. Barbassa decided to ride the anchor down to save the folks below. Why? No particularly good reason except to yell at them to catch the anchor because, hey, realizing that the ocean was about to collapse on them wasn’t enough motivation! But, of course, in traditional, movie-convenience ending, the bad guy (Salazar), grabs hold of the anchor with everyone else and begins to climb. Set aside the fact that it’s slime covered, wet steel that’s almost literally impossible to climb … and the girl was at the bottom … and no one thought to climb down to grab her … or help her … and … *sheesh* this was an excessively ridiculous scene. It was so bad that it stole from the tragic ending when Carina realized that Barbossa was her father.

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The young … Jack Sparrow? Just take away rum and funny and add in a long-haired kid and … instant young Johnny? Too bad they let him talk!

And … with that … what the heck was up with the deaths at the end? Sure, I get it – Salazar and crew needed to die. Salazar was a self-indulgent, temper-tantrum throwing child who decided to go on a murderous rampage to kill every pirate because his father died. Bad kid. Yet, while his crew were drowned immediately upon the restoration of their lives (a horrible … HORRIBLE death that was karma appropriate), Salazar was stabbed in the back and then fell into the ocean. Wow … a lost opportunity. So … let’s replace it with a crappy Han Solo-like ending! Yes! Father falls to his doom trying to save his child in an epic, slow motion and sad music scene. No … we really don’t get the full scale sadness of this because so much was thrown at us in a matter of 10 minutes that we can barely wrap our heads around what’s happened and Carina is too busy staring into nothingness trying to piece together the most obvious puzzle of all time instead of crying that … whew … it sucked (regardless of the fact she’s supposedly super smart??). Same as seeing Han Solo die. Stupid … misused moment in a movie that could have been handled a thousand different (and better) ways!

The “middle-man” island scene, where Depp and friends make their escape from Salazar and crew, was really … really dumb. So … you’re on a ship, being chased by a crew of dead sailors that want to kill you, you can’t outrun them, and you’re within rowing distance of an island that they can’t approach and … what? Wait? Why not turn off there in the first place? And … what was with Salazar being the one who was on sand when *poof* – instant dust! So … is he dead, now? Dead he violate his curse and stay punished? Nope. He pulled a classic cartoon-style off-frame sequence where apparently, once off-screen, he was just fine again. Um, what? That was … oh, I dunno … STUPID. Movie convenience is one thing – going off frame and back into frame to be instantly healed is really … really painful to watch. Not to mention that the sharks we’re so attentive on tearing apart a dress that they couldn’t pull themselves away long enough to hunt down Sparrow? WTF?!?

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The only clever part about this scene was Carina having the sense to scream, “Ahhh, ghosts” and run away … although somehow … the tattered sails and living monster ship had not made it obvious to her before?!?

Minor mistakes. Of course, this movie was filled with editing mistakes galore. That’s what happens when you have directors who use preschool cut and paste tactics rather than good directing to accomplish their tasks (sorry – insulting, I know – and I don’t mean to pick on these guys since they were given a big task with little experience … but it’s getting more and more common in Hollywood and REALLY old). Case in point, Carina strips off her dress to her body-covering underalls (which were appropriate for the era), so she can jump in the water and swim for shore. The diary? Well … that was in her dress, and unless you were looking at her soaked under clothing heavily … there was nowhere for the book. I know … I know … small things, right? Enough of them though … add up quickly. For instance, leaving the map to the island on a wall for the guards to read … who does that? Guards that know she’s a nun in disguise but only after they leave Turner locked up on a bed (and not in a jail cell?) – what?? The English army that left LONG after everyone else catching up to even the Pearl? C’mon … dumb! The Assassin’s Creed escape scene when Depp shoves Carina off a roof so she can land cleanly on her back, on a pile of hard … HARD .. hay, sitting conveniently below in a wagon attached to horses (which I thought was something only done in video games … who knew, right?), and have the horses instantly carry her away so the guards (who are apparently the ancestors of Storm Troopers), could shoot at her at close range and miss. Again … WTF? And so on. This list is really long – but I’ll leave it at that!

The Ugly

For starters … number 5? Really, Disney? OFF OF ONE RIDE? And then … to MAKE MATTERS WORSE … they DID NOT END IT! Noooo … that would have been a highly successful conclusion to this “epically” long series that was designed to tie up all the loose ends (“sort of”). They had to throw in a very last second, “after the credits” showing of a pirate (whose apparently dropping barnacles anytime he stands in one place … by someone’s bed), or … at least his arm … to take the finale of Will Turner’s story and …. extend it. C’mon! I’ve been screaming for years about the crap Hollywood is putting out in the form of remakes and sequels instead of doing anything new or original and even after giving Pirates #5 a one-last-shot in theaters (having waited at home for numbers 3 & 4), they want to do it again?! Man … Disney just doesn’t know when to quit. Of course … should I be surprised? They sequel the heck out of everything they touch … and have since … I don’t know … the beginning of movies! Well … no more. Sorry. This was a good end and I’m afraid that unless it hits Netflix and is already covered under my already paid subscription – I’m not paying for another one! I’ll just consider this a great ending – and hopefully Disney does, too. (Of course, since we’re on the topic, the “Indiana Jones doesn’t lose his hat rip off” was poorly back-storied with a young Jack getting “tribute” … argh).

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A beautiful island scene … with a ship that just hit shore but apparently is fine … and not a single pirate interested in the fact it’s a treasure trove?

The ships that could not sink … or tip over … or drown … or … what? Whether it was the tiny pearl thrown into the ocean (so water could make it grow … which was stupid funny … okay … but stupid funny) and then popped up and tipped upright (*stupid*ahem*cough*stupid*), or the fact that the Pearl was run hard into a rocky island and seemingly had no consequences … that really pushed the boundaries of acceptable. Of course, as I said before, as long as you don’t think about it – it’s great! And … when the ocean splits in two and you hang an anchor over the edge … don’t worry – you can ride the ship on the edge of the abyss without any problems. Oh, sure, it may be a little hard to keep the wheel straight and the anchor can apparently be held just above the bottom (which was … neat … but dumb), don’t worry – everyone will escape … including the monkey! After all – it illogically escaped from a whirlpool, turned upside down to the land of the dead, and withstood being magically bottled … why not an abyss? Sure. Heck. If we’re going ‘stupid’ with it – next movie: Pirates of the Caribbean … in SPACE! Yeah … I could see the Pearl magically flying through space …

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Two minutes of Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) and Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swann). This was the dumbest inclusion/exclusion of characters – ever (almost). The ENTIRE premise of the movie was young Henry wanting to save his father, right? His father was captain of the Flying Dutchman, right? So … was Will just sitting at the bottom of the ocean feeling sorry for himself while his crew wandered around lost on one side of the ship (just saying that last part since it took them 4 minutes to not even show up once they had noticed Henry was aboard the Dutchman)? Could Will have … oh … I don’t know … done some epic ship stopping battle of the dead vs. the dead with Salazar? Yeah … awesome, right? But, at least we had an older, crappy looking (and I mean … she looked terrible), Elizabeth Swann run onto an open field, with no words, to kiss Will. Yay! Happy ending. Wait? What? She knew the Flying Dutchman was back and her son was gone – but wanted no part of this movie? Wow. Pathetic.

There was a wasted scene on an island SO bad, that included a scabies-ridden overweight whore who was to marry Captain Sparrow that for 10 seconds it was funny, and then just became exceedingly uncomfortable. Apparently … there was a back story line to that – but no matter (writing’s difficult! Forget the 10 thousand other open-ended story lines in the other 4 movies that would have fit better). The crew of men and women that were apparently trapped on the island were so worried about forcing Sparrow to marry an ugly woman than realize there was obviously a ship nearby (by which they could escape), that they attended the wedding like some crazed cult instead of escape. Yes … that’s right! Jack’s repayment was to be married to a diseased woman because … what? Was the totally not memorable bad guy who wanted revenge and just died quickly anyway (another 2 minute cameo) going to keep a gun to his head while they had sex, too? *sigh*

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How … What … Why … and Who? We’re only missing 3 of the remaining dwarves!

Of course, we’re back in England where the entirety of the English army is too weak to accomplish … anything. Not only is Barbossa a well-to-do-pirate (who shoots at his violin players???), but when chasing down multiple pirates, a witch, and an ancient artifact of power, they send only one ship … you know … the one that gets eaten. Well … that was … anti-climatic (kind of like the bald witch that Barbossa owed a favor to … for reasons we’ll never get to know … or care about!). But, the bumbling doesn’t stop there. Young Henry Turner apparently couldn’t hold Carina Smyth by her legs and instead had his thumb somewhere it didn’t belong – port or stern side I’m still not sure – but either way – what was supposed to be a quick, one-time funny joke was not only drug out WAY too long – they re-referenced it later on as if it was some amazing moment in the movie for everyone to remember. Not really the best use of screen time and dialogue. Kind of like a mass execution where they were going to kill multiple prisoners at a time with multiple methods for the same crowd … er … um … really? Were there literally dozens of people sitting on death row on that tiny island? Wow. The English have issues!

And – the WORST mistake in this entire movie was Salazar stepping onto land in between the ocean waters. Why did all of the other Devil’s triangle cursed pirates remain in the ocean walls? Because, they couldn’t walk on land. But, now, Salazar can? If it was because it wasn’t “technically” dry land, then why did his entire, murderous crew not help? After all – the Trident is real and now they could all be cured! So – it goes like this: Salazar’s crew can see the sun – but they’d rather run around continuing to murder pirates which is what screwed them in the first place. And, rather than enjoy their newfound freedom or break the curse and THEN get revenge on Sparrow (whose last name is supposedly not Sparrow?) – they focus on randomly murdering pirate ships hoping they get the right one. But, it doesn’t stop there. Clearly, the Trident had to be at the bottom of the ocean for Salazar to be able to step out of the water, right? Like his ship – if the ground was wet, he could walk on it (or so we assume?). But, the pirates who sacrificed breaking the curse to get revenge on Sparrow didn’t step out with Salazar … so … um … because … reasons? But, Salazar can apparently possess a human body… although he gets stuck, that is, of course, unless the human is the lead Turner and the possessor grabs hold of the Trident, which then magically releases him from the possessee and suddenly… blam… he can walk on dry land. But, right after the trident is broken, the curses end and even though it takes 30 seconds for Salazar to transform…. he still gets a free ticket on land? That was one of the poorest attempts at trying to write something that fit within an already, self-destructive story line.

The Conclusion.

Well … ’nuff said … let’s see how the movie ranks up, shall we?

Story Line: 5 (A 2 for number FIVE sequel, a 1 for poorly integrating old characters and pointless ‘quickie’ cameos, an 8 for the semi-good use of the trident story, a 5 for the bad Salazar shortened version story, and a 9 for making me laugh – a lot).

Visuals: 9 (Like all the other Pirate movies … aside from the impossible and the terrible CGI that I can ignore … it was really good).

Audio: 8 (Thanks to Dolby Digital for saving this since Salazar’s ghost words were slurred almost as bad as Johnny’s rum talk).

Directing: 7 (a sympathy higher number for the newbie directors since it felt like neither one knew how to do much of the filming and I’m assuming a LOT of glue was used on this reel!)

Characters: 6 (An 8 for Depp, a 6 for Henry and Corina – combined, a 5 for Barbossa, a 7 for the primary cast and crew, and a 3 for all the pointless extras … and rounding up!).

And, a -1.5 for the amount of bad stuffs. Sure, sure, if I don’t think about it, I can live with it. Of course, that’s not the point of the movie … especially by number 5. They should have it down well enough by now and have a crew experienced enough by now to fix the mistakes of the past. But … nooooo…. cruddy fighting scenes (most of which were just heard and missing in action), the dumb placement of objects like the trident, a ship eating ship, and so on and so on … hurt what could have been a great, final film in the series.

So … this movie scores a 5.5 out of 10. Yes, it’s worth it to watch – at home (if you have great audio and a bright television screen). It’s a movie that most of the teenage and up family can watch (because you don’t want to explain why everyone’s laughing about a man whose never had a woman touch his long, hard, scope before to a 10 year old). And, of course, the Pirates theme and genre has been pretty popular. But, if you want to see a good movie, sorry – this isn’t it.

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But, apparently, they do make a lot of requests to pass along messages while holding really, really long grudges!

(On a particularly sad side note – Wonder Woman skipped opening on Memorial Day Weekend so as to not compete with Pirates. That tells you that they knew Wonder Woman was potentially SO bad – that they dared not compete with a FIFTH sequel in what could have been the best weekend to open, ever, and try their luck opening the next weekend right after everyone’s spent their money to go to the movies … hoping Pirates will have been good enough, that people will give Princess Diana a shot! EMBARRASSING!!!)

Thanks for Reading!


Ahhh … Monkey.” – Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?

The Magicians Season 2 Review – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (spoilers)!

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At the end of Season 1 of Syfy Network’s, “The Magicians,” I posted a highly unfavorable review that basically stated that if Syfy wasn’t going to get it straight – this show was a bust. But, somehow, someway, Syfy got on board and actually changed up the second season, and now that it’s over, here are my reviews and follow up thoughts for Season 3. Overall, I give Season 2 an 8.6 and HIGHLY recommend it to adult science fiction fans. If Season 3 cleans it up a little – it may even be for a wider range of audience. But, for now, for the grown ups:

The Good:

Well, damn: there’s actually a story and it’s actually pretty cool. Best of all, it actually has “magic” in the show. While the premise of the Magicians wasn’t “really” designed by the Season 1 directors to be about magic, this season is a whole new deal. So, what’s changed? Last season was an overtly, gratuitous and pointless smothering in sex, bisexuality, cheating relationships, and college students running around drunk or stoned (or both), at all times (oh … and some by-story about some magicians … kind of). It was the bleakest outlook on life and had little to do with the actual series. Again, I’ve said my peace on that in a previous post and won’t delve too far, here. Instead, Season 2 of the series offered a fresh new look into the world of magic, its challenges, and it finally gave the story, and the characters, room to grow.

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Here’s the worse written protagonist in all of history (in Season 1). This guy was wimpy, fragile, broken, and it was impossible to know if he was going left or right at any given time (until they had him go bi, which really screwed up the series). Instead of stumbling forward – he was 1 dimensional and just fell flat. This actor had so much more to offer in Season 1 than the writers crippled him with. Enter Season 2: Quentin becomes a protagonist! He’s the literal hero who is forced into a dilemma of decision making, not fully equipped for the journey yet, but who has an opportunity to get himself straight – and he does. By the end of the series, Quentin casts the final blow to save magic. Instead, he screws up the entire realm of magic and non-magic in an epic “I saw that coming but wasn’t fully prepared for it moment”, that was quintessential for a true hero’s struggle. Wow! To the Season 2 directors – kudos. You have taken this story and transformed it well. Now – will we see Quentin deal with the things that lead him into darkness mentally in the first place as he begins to emerge as a person, or will he still fall short? Frankly, I’m counting on Quentin, thanks to the push by Eliot – to finally grow up and accept his place in the universe – as an unsolicited and somewhat unwitting, hero. (Not to mention – it would be nice for he and Alice to get things fixed – IF – they can keep control of the sex and focus on a healthy relationship where BOTH children finally grow up! After all, the creativity behind their names is pretty cool … Quentin and Alice … the quintessential “Q&A” / Yin and Yang :P). And – with a Lamprey on the loose (and some other invisible creatures – Quentin possibly has a much larger role to play in Alice’s future …)

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Here was another character that Season 1 butchered – and I mean literally, through extended and needless brutal rape scenes that left me turning off the television, sick to my stomach and vomiting, butchered. Her character could not have been more disconnected and torn than in Season 1. From the strong, “don’t tear off my buttons with magic in a bathroom and try to rape me because I’m too strong,”, to the easy floozy ready to sell herself for sex, back to the traumatized rape victim, it was impossible to like, or hate, or dislike and like and hate – or um – ANYTHING! In comes Season 2: Julia’s still messed up, but they quickly get her character under control and in doing so, give this actress a chance to shine. Best part is, at the end of the series – BLAM! An awesome moment of suspense at the last minute of Season 2 that will guarantee you want to see the next season (a spark of magic against the plumbers! Down with Ben 10 … wait … sorry .. crossing series here…). Director Chris Fisher, took a great story and brought his styling to it in a way that brought out all the characters’ greatest traits – especially Julia’s! Now – will we see Julia finally come to terms with who she is? She is a hedge witch who, during one of her 39 loops, was so incredible at magic that she was ready to break the rules of what was possible as only a first level student. Is her tie into magic a result of her shade coming back through Persephone? Will she have to deal with the Fox again? When Persephone said there were consequences to killing a god, (we saw that with the death of Ember and Umber and the “god’s” reactions), did this stop Julia – or what she said to Persephone’s portrait in Hell (especially still disconnected from her Shade and not having Kady to be the jiminy in her cricket)?. Imagine if Hades had found out his son, the Fox (and I’m speculating given that it’s also Persephone’s son), had his son killed (how about his grandson)? Dang. How will Julia fit in with this new story and is Dean Fogg ready to bring her into Breakbills?

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There is not enough I can say as to the transition of this character from season 1 to 2. Being so much more skilled than the role of a drug abusing tramp with an emo complex, Hale Appleman was very poorly used in the first season as nothing more than a poorly written comic sidekick. By Season 2, he is the King of Filory and his genius in a variety of acting skills comes out. While the directors maintain his bisexuality, they don’t include grotesquely overdone and in bad taste scenes to get the point across. Through some good filming and story telling – we get the point. While still a little too much to be a show for “the whole family”, his role has vastly improved. I’m not sure how far to take Eliot – except as part of the group trying to save magic. His role has transformed so well into that of a king that he’s matured and become something of a hero himself. Is he ready to face his past? Is he ready to walk away from it all? And … as we know, his child is still with the Faeries – and that opens up a new opportunity altogether (well … it will have to, since the Faeries are clearly ticked off about magic being lost and ready to seize/kill all of Filory to fix everything)!

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And, as I said before, the most important ‘fix’ in season 2 is that “the Magicians”, actually has “magic” in it, and the story line centers around “magic.” If we wanted a show about out of control college students, USA Networks, Fox, and others have plenty of room to offer that. Meanwhile, the story line for the magicians is face-paced, inventive, and crosses so many genres of mythology, fairy tales, legend, and so on that it became more fun to watch as the season moved along. I attribute a LOT this success to the return of director James Conway and addition of Chris Fisher.

The additional character transitions and inclusions were phenomenal. Penny, Margo, and Kady were all given as much leeway with acting as before, but with better dialogue and story. Alice Quinn was a huge change – and I mean huge. They took the self-indulgent princess who was impossible to sympathize with as a ‘shy girl’, and instead of toying with which direction her character should go, threw her completely into the realm of uber-nasty neffin-sims! This brought resolve to the character that leaves room for growth! And, we got a lot of almost everyone else. Some were missing, new characters were brought in, and the story line was simplified. No longer was it the main story + breakbills + julia + hedge witches + renegade gods + everything else … it was condensed to the main story where julia’s sideline finally became integrated (and all the subset stories could more easily be tossed in without confusion). Season 1 cliffhangers (like Penny losing his hands), were not just well resolved, they were brilliantly carried throughout the entire second season as a vital part of the story (which, if I were to analyze this, I would take Mayakovsky’s work that he was having Penny doing as a Mr. Miagi wax-on / wax-off Danielson training that Penny wouldn’t have realized until he finally confronted Mayakovsky). Marlee Matlin (Harriet), was a great actress to bring in as she was funny and helped drive the story well. That’s the kind of pop-in expose I’d expect from a series that wants to run a long time, (like Star Trek, Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, and other long-running science fiction series).

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The importance of the library and the “Master Magicians” has been further expanded. We also know that Mayakovsky plays a bigger role in everything – and is probably one of those ‘Master Magicians.’ What is still open is the contract the librarians somewhat ‘tricked’ Penny into. We learned at the very end that Ember “played” the river guardian to get him to screw with Penny. The librarians, who have been keeping Penny’s book moving around with the time loops (and would therefore be keeping a close eye on its contents), would know this. So … they played Penny, too – unless the idea is that he is on his way to being a master magician and season 3 will be the start of him, “growing up”, and there’s more to it? Of course, the library played another important role. At the beginning of Season 1, Professor Sunderland told Dean Fogg that he knew what was coming and had to get everyone prepared. It was assumed that meant the Beast. But, with all 20 pages missing in everyone’s book – that more likely meant the end of magic (aka, the library was no longer recording and didn’t know how anyone’s story ended, thus the blank pages that everyone in any high position would have known). Dean Fogg was also aware of all 39 time loops, and was preparing the school for the return of magic. He is clearly a master magician – and there is clearly a book that goes beyond those blank, 20 pages. There are still magicians in Filory, in the library, and in some of the hidden dimensions we haven’t seen yet!

And, even though the poison room’s poisonous, we know that ‘authorized’ persons can enter – so there’s an easy way to heal Penny in Season 3. What we don’t know is why the librarian lied about killing a god. Were they trying to stop the 20 pages from going blank, or were they okay with moving their books into the poison room and keeping themselves in the library dimension and letting everyone else get screwed? Hmmm .. .intrigue!

And, finally, what about the mobster girl? Does her story end in the poison room? I highly doubt it. David Reed wrote that episode and has been involved in some of the best episodes in the series – so I think there’s more to it; a lot more.

The ‘Beast’s’ story was also well written out. While a continued nuisance, a lighter side of his persona, still as dark as ever, was brought out. The beast was given depth and meaning in a whole new way. By the end of the series, it left you wondering if, even though his methods were insane and flawed (which we knew to be a result of the abuse he underwent as a child), he had the right idea given Ember was a loon! In fact, I would not be opposed to seeing Anthony Marble return as the Beast to further expand the story. We know the “Fox” isn’t done – because his son is dead and Kady was really upset at Julia because not killing the Fox left her in a bad, bad place for potential vengeance.

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The visuals and directing were well done and creative. The audio was emotionally driving and the humor was very well placed. Whether it’s a dragon who hates millennials (the single best use of a dragon on screen that I’ve ever seen, including the collection of a button for treasure and sarcasm about eating people left around after 24 hours: outstanding work by David Reed, Chris Fisher, and Christina Strain (and please, quote this to Syfy because they deserve this))., or a tooth extraction spell that doesn’t come with pain relief, the story keeps on rolling with the punches. The emotional drama is also well placed. For Julia to see the face of her rapist victimizer on the soul of someone who saved her emotionally was a moment of discomfort and discontent, that for only a brief moment and with only minimal visuals and excellent acting, was very revealing. It took little videography to tell an enormous amount of detail and that is the sign of an excellent artist.

Another kudos – Ember’s narrating the opening of Season 2 and putting himself at the center of all that has happened. It reveals a lot of tie-ins, but also gives us something more – things that Ember could not have foreseen or expected (like the beast’s drinking from the wellspring). A very subtle, if not outstanding, addition to this series and what is possible in a world of magic!

Finally – one more important credit to Season 2 over Season 1 was the cutback of gratuitous violence although – it was a little bit of a wash. While Julia’s rape went on and on and on and on and we got to relive some of those unpleasant flashbacks in Season 2, the murder of the Senator was so fast that a little blood on Kady’s hands was not as effective as say, the Senator’s wife’s ear in a box. No – I don’t want them to go back to Season 1 (which was as bad as the “Epic Movie” mockery of the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe with the lion raping the kids … and yeah – Season 1 felt EXACTLY that uncomfortable) – but that’s a balance that needs some work. Maybe with time – the directors and writers, having done so much this season, can go the extra distance?

The Bad:

Well, there always has to be a bad – and The Magicians still has a ways to go. Syfy has been trying to up the ante with sexier, adult television to draw in new crowds. Sadly, the network just lost sight of what made it popular in the first place: “science fiction.” From an unparalleled failure in programming (movie repeats, difficult to follow seasons, etc.), to some really stupid shows (izombie, wynona earp, etc.), Syfy threw itself to the wolves. Shows like Eureka were nowhere to be seen and the BBC took Dr. Who and star trek fans. No wonder Syfy has been struggling?! But, its new advertising pushes for being a more family friendly network trying to attract children, families, and multi-cultural values. Yet, the Magicians goes too far with its implications in sex still (again, I’m not offended or opposed – but it is what it is). It toned it down enough that it was easy to watch, but I wouldn’t put a kid in front of it – not yet. Season 3 may have potential – but that has yet to be seen.

The pot smoking magician: “Josh”. It was okay at first, then drug on (no pun intended), and then got stupid. Sure, they integrated it into “seeing other worlds”, which helped with some of the important transitions in the story, but was only funny when trying to escape from Lorians. Otherwise, the scene with the hardcore rap and throwing down the chairs was just – dumb. *sigh* I guess they’re still trying to fill everyone’s tastes. At least it was only one episode.

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The shade story was weak. There were some unspoken elements you could understand/infer and it required a higher level of quality viewer to get it, but even then, it felt more like a filler story to “piece” Alice back together again (which spoofs on the wonderland story and all the king’s men).  Now, if the shade story is expanded with Julia and why she has magic – and a way to keep the Fox at bay from Kady – that has potential!

The Lorians were also pretty weakly thrown in there. I’m not saying it wasn’t managed okay overall, but suddenly, wands and alchemic symbology was introduced, new magics brought up and … *poof* Eliot’s gay attractions, a goofy joke made on Prince “Es” (although funny and well done), and a chance for Margot to just be slutty. It did more to hinder what could be vs. what was. A huge amount of potential with no follow through. Season 3, maybe?

Umber’s “cuba” was funny at first – but integrating it into the story as a way to cross-trap Umber was rushed and could have been handled a lot better. I think for everything they were trying to accomplish, this, and killing Umber and Ember, was a huge mistake. Ember had so much more to offer. And, the end of Season 1 was about questioning if the little cakes had been brought, and the end of Season 2 delivered them (an ingenious handling of multiple season tie-ins). The end of Season 3 could keep that theme running in a unique and innovative way that hasn’t been done in a series and would be an innovative and fun approach.  Besides, it was a disaster to the story where mommy and daddy gods throw universal scale temper tantrums if their kids are killed vs. Ember not figuring out Umber wasn’t dead because mommy and daddy didn’t unleash their fury on the beast! Although – this would still work if mommy and daddy ‘assumed’ things and those two weren’t dead and magic could be saved, because it would explain persephone not getting the death of her grandchild and the ignorance of umber’s parents not getting his ‘faked’ death?

The Magicians - Season 2

The “trap” in Quentin’s back, that remained an open portal, left too many questions. Since the others didn’t fill their traps with a neffin, do they still have their super powered monsters? What’s the deal with a permanent tattoo and empty trap if no one uses them (which could still be salvaged as a very interesting twist on the death of umber and ember if it so happens that they are trapped vs. dead – or a way to deal with the lamprey, etc.!!).

The bank heist. Don’t misunderstand – funny stuff. I loved them being able to start over again against the battle mage and the conspiracy that banks have battle mages. However, the wall of weapons was cool, yet sorely underutilized. The entire episode was funny and I’d watch it again, but it was really unnecessary. They could have done more to either 1. follow it up, or 2. drag out ramifications, or 3, fill in other story gaps.

The Ugly:

I’m sorry to say this, and I really mean it – but not bringing back Amanda Tapping as a director was one of the best decisions they could have made. I was hugely disappointed in her rape scene handling in the first season. She might be good for USA Networks, Lifetime channel, or as a science fiction actor – but as a director, she is not ready. The same holds true for writer Leah Fong. Leaving her off the credits brought much needed class back to the series. So – ugly enough to have to bring it back up here, in Season 2, I’m afraid.

The audience! Whoa! This is the second time I’ll attack the audience. While Season 1’s audience remained low, it’s drop off in Season 2 was evidentiary of the type of crappy crowds that the first season drew. Once the Magician’s stopped broadcasting itself as a drugs, sex, and rock and roll story to an actual fantasy with real story and meaning – the idiots dropped out. And, while I’m sure that hurt ratings – yay for the actual “science fiction” fans who expect more! Now, if Syfy stays strong – they’ll keep the idiots out. If they get desperate, we’ll go back to crap. This season was not just a band-aid to Season 1, but the healing transition that could make Season 3, great. The question is, will Syfy hang in there with this series to attract the right crowd?

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For those who haven’t seen Season 1 – Season 2 could stand alone – but not to the effectiveness it ‘should’ have. You’d have to watch Season 1 (available on Netflix), but I forewarn you – it was just a really bad experiment in Harry Potter meets MTV’s jackass. So – that aside – if you can either ignore Season 1, or endure it – Season 2 is otherwise, worth the wait.

Professor Fogg being blind isn’t the end of the world – but it’s dragging this story along in the wrong way. He has huge potential and could be more intricately involved (and should be given all the knowledge and intricacies of his character), but so far, isn’t. I do think this is a shame in what the story could really explore!

The muggle slip conundrum! Okay, did anyone else hear that during the bank heist? Margot called non magic users “muggles.” Here’s the issue: Muggles belong to Harry Potter, and assuredly, Harry Potter fans tuned in during season 1 and tuned right back out after the butcher job they did. According to Wikipedia (and who knows if it’s all true or not), but muggles has been used in other shows now. So – are we going to see more of the magical world in a magical world context ‘like’ potter? More familiar characters? Or, was this just a writer’s slip while beating themselves over the head with a thesaurus regarding the word, “non magic users”, like they foolishly said a thousand times in Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them, to the detriment of that movie? Of course … this isn’t the only Harry Potter reference … so … what ARE they doing? Hmmm … Maybe I’m overthinking it?

The Senator (Fox’s son). Here was a great opportunity to do more – and so much was missed. They brought in a major character and then, without so much as a goodbye, just flashed him away in a scene where we were supposed to believe that Kady did the work Julia would have been better suited to do without the guilt and suffering. It was a little messy in the writing and in the long term ramifications. It was almost just a ‘convenience’ to give Kady something more interesting than being Penny’s “friend with benefits.” Sorry to say – but this was a lost opportunity, too (not to mention that it also conflicts with the whole ‘ramifications’ for killing a God, when the Senator was also Persephone’s grandson).

The Conclusion:

So, I can think of a lot more to say – but I’ll leave it there for now. I wanted to do a follow up review after Season 1 since Season 2 deserved recognition for where it went – and left us with some cool possibilities. I would rate Season 2 as follows:

Character Development: Excellent. 8.5 (Not perfect – lots of open holes to be filled)

Graphics: Visually well done. 9.5 (Not perfect, yet … but dang close)

Music/Audio: Good. 8 (some of the audio was in need of work, but excellent soundtrack  especially the hardcore 4 getting together to fight the baddies – awesome).

Story Line: Finally – getting better. 7.5 (a little lower for still going too fast and not seeing some story lines through and missing a few opportunities – like bringing up that Julia was seen kidnapping the Congressman and then the sudden “oh, he told the media some excuse and fixed it”, which was a crappy way to write it out. Not sure if this was the writers, directors, or miscommunication – but it was bad – and I think the show’s producers knew it, too.). Now, if they can keep steering this story along like they are and keep some of the hardcore sex down until it reaches HBO / Game of Thrones crap level – I’ll keep watching.

Action, Magic, Directing! Well done. 8.5 (Not that it didn’t deserve higher. So many different directors and a continuity between episodes that didn’t feel segregated was pretty impressive. Yet, some of the overuse of the college dorm was monotonous (while little or nothing important happened there, the only valuable scene was the “Tada” being the same place that Julia’s shade found herself in hell (for those who noticed), but then was dropped without any further follow through). More high quality directing that integrates with a more complex story line and this series has me forever.

The audience! +1 back for Syfy (averaging a 9 into the score). While it was Syfy’s fault for screwing this up in the first place, putting what they did on the air in Season 1, in Season 2, it sounds like they listened to their REAL viewers (not that I know that actually happened – but it feels that way).

The comeback! +1 back for Syfy (averaging another 9 into the score)! Although Syfy doesn’t “necessarily” deserve this – it’s more NBC Universal’s fault for trying to please the Millennial group than Syfy’s. The lost touch with their real audience / fan base during Season 1 was restored during Season 2. If they can learn from this – maybe Syfy can be great again! (wait … where else have we heard that lately? … hmmm ….).

Overall: 8.6. And, that’s not a bad score – especially from me. Next season, I’ll be much harder on them because I’m going to expect more – but again – only time will tell!

Thanks for Reading.


You have 24 hours to return to the portal.” “Or …?” “I sit patiently; waiting for you to come back. No. I eat you. I’m a f*cking dragon, what do you expect?” – The Magicians.