My Top Five Sidekicks Series: Cartoons

Pinky and the BrainJust as in real life the great ones would not have the appeal they have without their trusty companions, the same is true in cartoons. Today, I look at cartoons and the five greatest side kicks in Cartoon history. You are welcome to comment your additions to the list.

  1. Pinky to The Brain – This was easily my favorite of all time. I loved this cartoon and the similarities to one of my all-time favorite duos – Ed Norton and Ralph Kramden of the Honeymooners.
  2. Hadji Singh to Johnny Quest – I’m not so sure Hadji was a great side kick so much as I just loved this cartoon growing up. The truth is, Dr. Race Banner was probably the better sidekick to Johnny, but Hadji was his friend.
  3. Scooby to Shaggy – My love for the supernatural drew me to this cartoon growing up and quite frankly, I don’t know if it were more Shaggy to Scooby than Scooby to Shaggy but either way, one of my all time favorites.
  4. Barney to Fred Flintsone – Another great cartton and tribute to the Honeymooners. Grew up on this one too.
  5. Donkey to Shrek – Perhaps the funniest and really not a cartoon, rather animated. But Eddie Murphy MADE this part and was perfect addition to Mike Myers as Shrek.

PITCHFORK: A Small Town Murder Mystery

pitchfork - small town murder mysteryThe mayor of Pitchfork, SC had been missing for more than a week and the town folks were worried. Not because they liked him, mind you, but because he was also the town pharmacist and people needed their damn drugs. Bennett Hampton II was a sneaky, underhanded son of a bitch. And that is why he was found in the Sun Inn hotel in Greenville, SC with a 9mm bullet hole in the back of his skull on a warm morning in August.

The word “warm” is used loosely here because warm isn’t even close to describing the temperatures. South Carolina, in the summer, sweats like the mother of a bastard child at an Easter dinner. Wind chimes hang lifeless on the wooden slat front porches as the folks sit on their rockers, fanning themselves with the past Sunday’s church bulletin  – and using it to swat at the flies – as the backs of their legs stick to the white paint of the old wooden rocker.  While the deep south, indeed, may be a slice of heaven in terms of the charm of the people, the climate is as close to hell as you’d ever want to be.

A Call For Common Sense

As we move into another week of a government imposed sheltered life, I wanted to, once again, express my thoughts on this entire situation. It is no secret that I’ve been vocal about how I believe we have overdone the “play it safe” with this current health threat. While I will concede that caution is a good thing in dealing with this situation, I will adamantly oppose the depths to which we have gone to under the veil of “protection”.

The restrictions we have imposed and the isolation we have created have and will come with great costs. Calls to suicide call lines are up 300%! THREE HUNDRED percent! I have a friend of mine who is a general manager of a beer/wine distribution company and he tells me their sales are up higher than they’ve been in the last two quarters. So, add to the potential suicide issue the problem of increased alcohol consumption which brings the word “addiction” into play. Small businesses are hurting and many of them may not recover from this. I’ve talked to many who have said they are going to have to shut down. People are fearing for their jobs. I have a friend who worked for a hospital providing a service that the hospitals decided are no longer essential and have fired he and the rest of his staff. There are many in the same boat. It is no wonder that the calls to suicide lines are up..

Think of the people who work at the places that have been deemed “non-essential”. Why? Why cannot those businesses open and operate under the same cautions that others are allowed? If Walmart, Lowes, Academy Sports and the small “dollar” stores are allowed to open and operate with space restrictions, then why can’t stores like Kohls and Rack Rooms and TJ Maxx and Ross? They could open with space restrictions and limiting the number of customers in a store, as well. Why can’t restaurants open with spaced seating and customer limits?

We CAN open our economy back up in a responsible and cautious manner. I understand that death is a terrible and tragic thing. But our media has completely blown this thing out of proportion and entities like the CDC and W.H.O. have created a fear that they have not done in other situations. It makes me, as well as many others, believe that this real health risk/threat has been taken advantage of and used as a political marker. They’ve skewed the numbers and hyped the bad stuff. Why do I say they’ve skewed the numbers? Because they are not telling us the cause of death in a lot of the deaths that are attributed to the COVID-19 virus. There are a multitude of comorbidities that have led to these deaths, yet they are all being attributed to COVID. Guess what? A guy who has a STEMI (ST Segment Myocardial Infarction) heart attack likely is going to die. If he tests positive for COVID guess what? It becomes a COVID casualty when the truth is that is NOT what killed him. yes, the numbers are skewed.

And, even WITH the numbers they are giving us, WHY have we been shut down? Sixty-one Thousand (61,000) people in the United States alone died from seasonal flu in 2018, despite a widely used vaccine. The media was virtually silent. There were no shutdowns. There were no stories about children dying, seniors dying, teens dying, 30-somethings dying, or middle aged dying. There were no stories that when you visited grandma at Thanksgiving or Christmas that you killed her with your germs. And they all died as part of that number. Seasonal flu is highly contagious with 45,000,000 US infections and 810,000 US hospitalizations. Yes, 810,000 hospitalizations with 61,000 deaths in just the 2018 flu season, yet no media stories about overstressed medical systems, hospitals or lack of PPE in 2018; no stories about moving 61,000 bodies by forklift to mass graves in 2018. Again, all the silence with all those sick and dead – despite a widely used “vaccine”. Yet we have had all of that with still only 19,000 deaths “attributed” to COVID. I say attributed; the actual wording they’ve used was “related to” COVID.

I’m not saying people should be forced to go to work or back out. If you are one who fears this thing stay home. If you are one who has a comorbidity that puts you at risk, stay home. But don’t force the businesses to completely close and don’t force those who want to live their life normal, albeit with a little more caution than before, to abide by imposed restrictions on our freedoms.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and those of you who know me know that I don’t care if you do or not. But I can tell you this and this is a fact: if we do not get this country and our economy back to at least a sense of some normalcy quickly, we may not have much to return to. I’m not asking for people to ignore this health risk, because it is real. I’m just calling for a little common sense.

Good Friday

christ 2Mark 15: 25 – It was the third hour when they crucified him. (The third hour in Jewish time would have been 9 a.m.)

So, by this time Christ had already been arrested, tried before Pilate, went before Herod, back to Pilate, sentenced to death, beaten, flogged, spit on, and dragged his cross to Calvary, still being mocked, and beaten along the way.

For the next six hours, think about what Christ endured for YOU…for me…and even for those who have and continue to deny him.

At 3PM, it was done.

Remember what today, “Good Friday”, represents.

Of Faith and Genius

JB New 2This COVID-19 has brought life, as we know it, to a near standstill, closing businesses, cancelling large gatherings and keeping people at home, “sheltered” as they call it. And I am sure that every individual is wondering the same thing I am:  When will this thing be over? When will things get back to normal?

I’m afraid the answer brings no satisfaction. It is tied to a percentage of population – a very large percentage – being resistant to the virus. This would thwart the spread from person to person that it has thrived upon. So, to answer the “when” question: we have no way of knowing.

There are two ways that we can get to that desired percentage, which would probably be 60 to 70% desired. One, is that we can develop a vaccine against it. That, as we have read, is currently being done but for that could take a year or more to get it as a viable option. The other way is for the virus to work its way through the population, which would be tragic for many people who contract it. But even that could be a year or more.

I suspect that we, as a nation, won’t wait a year or more. That said, I also believe that while we may lift a lot of the restrictions that have been imposed, we will only return to a varying degree of what we once called “normal” living. I am sure that at some point, possibly early Summer, we will get our dining out back. I’m sure the work force will return to the office. We may even get some bars back open. But the crowded events are not coming back anytime soon. We still won’t get the concerts back right away; the big festivals that some towns thrive on, like the Peach Festival in Gilbert (SC); I’m sure the beaches will open but in what manner will they be monitored? I’m not so sure that if they DO open there won’t be some restrictions on how close people can be to one another. And that will be a nightmare to monitor.

So, for now, we are left with this self-isolation. There was an episode of the original Batman series where everyone was placed in a state of suspended animation. Their life and activity was just “frozen”. That is where we are in a sort of weird, similar way.

I believe that there is no reason that we cannot begin to move back to a degree of normalcy in this country. Some “experts” say that moving back to normalcy to soon could be “disastrous”. What would be too soon? Again, another question that no one can answer.

If most people who are now infected are demonstrating milder signs/symptoms of the disease – more so than when it was first discovered – then we can assume, rightly so, that some sort of immunity is being generated. Exposure to the virus will eventually produce antibodies in people.

While they say that they don’t know how this virus will respond to the Summer, it has been suggested that it does not like heat. If that true, its ass is about to die in South Carolina. Anyone who lives in or visits the Palmetto State from May to September in any given year knows that this state, while beautiful, is like living just outside the gates of hell in terms of temperatures.

My own personal opinion is that this has been completely blown out of proportion by the media. Before you burn me at the stake for saying that, I am NOT saying that the virus is not a serious health risk, particularly to those with co-morbidities. It is deadly to some people. But to those same people, the flu can be deadly, as well. I fear that we have set a precedent by shutting down, sheltering and social distancing. Will the media-generated fear that’s been created here be the cause of future shutdowns, sheltering and social distancing when another strain of a virus or flue comes upon our population? THAT is concerning. We are going to struggle financially as a population with THIS incident. Imagine THIS scenario every year or every other year.

Finally, I have faith that we will find a treatment for this virus. I know that everyone has seen the videos and suggestions that HCQ (an anti-malaria drug also used in Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis), along with azithromycin (Z-pack) demonstrate good results with those infected. Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a small-village doctor in New York has been using it in his community with good results. It was also reported that the French used the same treatment with success. There are epidemiologists out there who are screaming that this is false hope and information and we need to be doing clinical trials. I have been in medicine for 30 years. I have two advanced science degrees, so I understand that clinical trials are important. But I also understand that clinical trials take time and that is a luxury we do not have now.

Anyway, my ADD is taking over and I am beginning to idea hop so I will end this now. I just wanted to vent a little, I suppose. I miss going to a restaurant and sitting down and eating. I miss my waitresses and hearing about how their school is going and how their kids are doing. I miss the library, though I have found use of the “hoopla” app in that regard. I miss hearing the baseball hit the aluminum bat at the little league field near my house and hearing the cheer of the parents as their little ones make their way around the bases. If one thing comes from this it will be that we realize there are a lot of little things that we take for granted, such as those things I just mentioned.

I pray you all stay safe and healthy through this ordeal. I posted the other day that no answers, produces faith. And we all know that necessity births genius. Faith and Genius. We could use a little of both of those right now.

Series To Watch During Quarentine

The Following
The Following

With the quarantine and everyone trying to pass time, watching series has become a thing. I’ve seen some very good series over the years so I thought I would compile my Top Five series…obviously, they may differ from yours and that’s fine. But reply with your favorite series or list of series.
1. The Following (3 seasons) – This was by far my favorite. I’m a big Kevin Bacon fan anyway, but this series, especially through season 2, kicked ass. Bacon was phenomenal as Special Agent Ryan Hardy and James Purefoy was fantastic as serial killer Joe Carroll. I highly recommend this series. The third season wasn’t as strong but it ended well and I’ve actually written a backstory for what happens beyond the third season.

2. Ozark (3 seasons) – Kick ass crime/drama series and Jason Bateman kills it. I was already a fan of Bateman but what he’s done in Ozark has put him in my Top Ten favorite actors. Julia Garner as Ruth (his assistant) steals a lot of scenes.
3. The Exorcist (Fox) – This is probably not a popular one on everyone’s list but because of what I write, this was great for me. I felt like season one was as good as any season 1 of any series but they got a little weak after that. The content, however, kept it going for me. Great acting job by Gena Davis and, in my opinion, Ben Daniels stole the freaking show as Father Marcus.

4. Invasion (ABC 2005) – A one hit wonder, this series was excellent as a sci-fi/horror series. Great cast with William Fichtner, Lisa Sheridan, Keri Matchett and Eddie Cibrian. This was really good production by Shaun Cassidy but it got canned by the networks because it “didn’t do as good as Lost”, which nothing did back then, AND it was set in Florida and was released in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Since the show began with the devastation of South Florida after a fictional hurricane, the timing just wasn’t good. I recommend watching a couple of episodes though on VUDU.

5. Walking Dead (AMC) – Still running, this has been a roller coaster ride for me as far as how good the series is or isn’t in any given season. The first couple of seasons were fantastic but it got bogged down just before the Neegan character appeared and really went “soap opera” on us. Only in recent weeks has it gotten back to the gruesomeness that made the show appealing to horror/sci fi fans originally. Incredible cast, especially in the early seasons. Jefferey Dean Morgan as Neegan has been my all-time favorite character in this series.

My Next Five
6. Dexter
7. Friday Night Lights
8. The Blacklist
9. Game of Thrones (I finally watched it – terrible in the later seasons)
10. Star Trek (original series – had to have it in there)

Forever Evil

Monsters hide in the damnedest places. They lurk in the most unlikely of shadows with a patience that is unmatched and can span years, decades and even centuries. Evil is timeless and defies age. Cunning and quiet obscurity are the rules of the game. Little did I know how well these monsters play the game; how real and palpable they can become given the right circumstance and opportunity. It can happen in the blink of an eye in a split-second action to stir a sleeping monster whether it is accidental or purposeful. It matters not how care free ones life is, there can come a time when all of it can change so dramatically that it doesn’t even feel like you’re living the same life any longer. The burning of life can be a slow one, but a burning, none the less. For me, in hindsight, this ember reared its ugly head from time to time until it eventually manifested into a burning flame. It refused to be snuffed out and grew right under my nose. That quiet evil first revealed itself to me on a warm summer night in my grandparents home in 1971. I was but nine years old and my mind was not in a place to understand it all, and I just wanted to forget. That would prove to be more difficult than it should have. This is a story of monsters and rituals; of graves and faces forgotten. But most of all, it is about evil. And it is my story.

***I will eventually get my notes together and write this. It is a true story and the story about some dark family secrets. Unfortunately, it is behind a line of other projects I want to get done. I’m not sure if it is because I simply don’t like revisiting these memories or what…but it will be written…one day. 

Blood of Angels blurb and thoughts

“When you’re eighteen years old, the world is a terrifying place. Life rests in an awkward doldrum between adolescence and adulthood. It is difficult enough being a teen in this world and facing all the bullshit that comes with normal living. For Elijah and Isabella Knight, Eli and Izzy for short, however, the difficulty was magnified by the strange lifestyle they lived. There were times when they could hear the whispers, or perhaps screams, of childhood innocence fade away and life spread out before their eyes as they went out into a cruel, dangerous wilderness to face hideous monsters that most only see on movie screens and in their nightmares. Eli and Izzy were not now, nor had never been “normal”. At eighteen years old, the things about them that their parents, Jacob and Sarah Knight, had held secret, began to manifest and their lives changed forever. Elijah and Isabella Knight are the products of two realms…two dimensions merging; they are monster hunters. These are their stories.”

This is my first venture into the world of YA Fiction, but I’m very excited about this project. The characters are so unique and interesting and the exploration of the realms of good and evil with a foundation on theology and mythology makes this and adventure in what I call a “theological thriller.”

“I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night…” John Milton – Paradise Lost


Just Thinking Out Loud

jb 3The realization of one’s mortality is a transforming event.

Things change.

Those things that were important to you…financial success…status…pride…fear of failing; they all bow down to the face of death.

We live our mortal human lives every single day thinking we have something to lose…fighting to protect those things mentioned above but the truth is it is all just an illusion. We really don’t have anything to lose because there is nothing from this world we will be taking with us.

And THAT is what makes you understand the things that are really important.

I reflect and have to say the important things to me are love and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a tough one; it not only takes us back to a wound but it also takes us back to the source of that wound. But it is truly an act of compassion, a product of love while unforgiveness is toxic to love. We aren’t forgiving in order to forget; we are forgiving so that we may love.

Love, well, it is the single most important thing. We need to love others and care about them. Tell the people you love that you love them. And don’t text it or message it. Pick up the damn phone and call them. Or better yet, go see them. Tell them how important they are to you. Hug them. The simplicity of a soft human touch can say more than thousands of words ever can.

There are a few other things I’ve thought of that I think are important to me: going outside at night just to look at the moon; hearing the laughter of children; watching the fluttering wings of a butterfly; watching my dog chase bees; sitting in the grove of my yard and listening to the rustling of the leafs as the wind dances through the trees. There are thousands of things like this that are important to you when you think about not ever seeing them again.
No one wants to die. I can guarantee you that even those who are strongest in their belief they are going to heaven do not want to die to get there. But as for our mortal bodies, death is the final destination. No one escapes it.

So, spend more time with the people you love; don’t worry about anything; forgive; apologize; accomplish some things for you; work less; don’t care what others think; face your fears; and most importantly…

Live and Love in this moment; because honestly, this moment is all we are guaranteed.