It’s Not Just Covid-19

Corona Virus

In February, I was hospitalized for several days due to a Transient Ischemic Attack (mini-stroke). Discharged with an implanted heart monitor, follow-up testing and consultation with a Neurologist and a Cardiologist were to follow. Of course, in the wake of the pandemic, these were all cancelled, postponed to some date in the future as all hands are on deck dealing with the clear and present danger of Covid-19; this is a truly understandable situation. I am certainly not angry about this; in fact, my heart goes out to the medical professionals dealing with this deadly enemy.

In one sense, I was fortunate to have had this attack prior to the full force of the outbreak given the current and hampered state of medical care in this country, and really throughout the world. It meant having to take it easy and being cautious to do everything possible to prevent a recurrence, kind of like steering a car with your knees on a busy highway knowing that if I have an accident, there won’t be any help coming.

However, here is what DOES make me angry: the plethora of politicians and people rallying to have a cessation to the stay-at-home precautions because they’re tired of being cooped up. Yes, I understand and fully appreciate the difficulty of insufficient resources to pay for food and other necessities, but that should be a concurrent focal point for the government, to create a safety net for those without the means to see this through. The stimulus bill, which basically offers $1,200, is merely a drop in the bucket and doesn’t work equally across all demographics. While it covers nearly two months’ rent for my son in Texas, it’s less than one months’ rent for my other son in Queens, New York.

Reopening the country to appease those who claim that shelter-in-place provisions violate their rights to freedom is the epitome of self-entitlement. Opening too early, a situation that may either extend or exacerbate the pandemic, puts more people at risk that just those who contract the virus. It affects everyone with a significant underlying health issue not related to Covid-19 because the health care system can’t deal with virus victims and other issues at the same time. Full and adequate response is simply beyond its capabilities. I just read yesterday that EMT responders are being given do-not-resuscitate instructions. The death toll results of Covid-19 doesn’t account for the ancillary deaths attributed to non-related crises.

Someone recently posted what I think is a smart response to the protestors. If you’re so willing to reopen everything, then post the names of your family and friends who you’re willing to let die just so you can go walking about in exercise of your freedom.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Apache Tears

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Apache Tears

 

Rock in the dirt

‘mid cigarettes and weeds,

recalls Apache Tears of childhood

and forgotten dreams.

 

Soft stones at ten

blackness yet to feel

but life’s full range of motion

tires spun in mud it seems.

 

You can’t reclaim the promise,

only feel its strength within;

the drive to seek a fortune

too hard to start again.

 

But close your eyes and wander

to time and place long gone,

the sweetest taste of memory

is the bridge to walk upon.

Thank you Rocketman!

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For the past couple of years I’ve spent so much time feeling nothing that when I finally did, it meant something. I recently saw Rocketman, the biopic about Elton John. The film reconnected me to his music in ways I’d never experienced. My attraction to music has always been more about the sound, its harmonies and melodies, a to-die-for guitar riff, or a head-banging beat more than the content of its lyrics. That changed with Rocketman.

Essentially, the film is a Broadway musical captured on film. The scenes of his life are tethered to the poetry – words and music welded together – that infuse a non-reader of poetry with an appreciation of its power. I will never take lyrics for granted again. Of course, this paring of music and narrative have been done for a hundred years, but it took this movie to bring it home for me.

Rocketman, written by Lee Hall and directed by Dexter Fletcher, offered a road map as to how life’s experiences – in this case, those of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, were and are translated into lyrics and melodies. For example, my personal favorite, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, became so much clearer once you understand the point of view is mostly Bernie’s and displayed against the arc of Elton’s life. The emotional impact of Someone Saved My Life Tonight becomes an anthem to those moments that, in retrospect, are life altering.

I know I’m late to the game in terms of appreciating all this which is why I’m grateful for having seen the film. As writers, we are thankful for opportunities that offer inspiration and teach us new ways and means of expressing our own thoughts and ideas. I’ve never been adept at reading and understanding poetry, and certainly talent-less at writing it, but I found if I set my thoughts down as if destined for transformation into a piece of music, they flowed readily.

I just might have to torture my friends and family with my nascent attempts to try out this new (to me) art form.

 

 

Game of Thrones: Some Final Thoughts and Questions…

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Spoiler Alerts

It was only this past March that I started binge-watching Game of Thrones in preparation for the launch of Season 8. My hat goes off to the legion of fans who tenaciously worked their way through the show over the better part of a decade. I don’t think I would have weathered all the waiting in-between. The good thing is that all the story and character arcs were still fresh in my mind as the series wound down.

That being said, I was able to buy into many of the developments that most fans seemed to hate. Yes, Daenerys went bad all of a sudden in reaction to the brutal loss of people closest to her, but the seeds of her destructive nature took root little by little over many years. She was the daughter of an insane king and as they say, the apple falls close to the base of its tree, just as Jon reflected the benevolent nature of who his father truly was.

I think Cersei’s death was metaphorically satisfying with the weight of her transgressions raining down on her. It also saved any other character from being labeled a baby killer. I can even buy Jaime holding true to his warped sense of love and going against all the years’ worth of hard earned redemption. People do that sort of thing, it’s human nature.

A couple of the things I had hoped to see in the end were the knowledge of Jon’s true identity becoming common knowledge. Who was Varys sending those letters to? Had all the other kingdoms’ representatives understood Jon had the clearest claim to the throne (Gendry Baratheon notwithstanding), it might have ended differently? And then there is “Chekov’s Gun” principle. Why did they concentrate on Varys removing his rings and placing them in a cup, what was that all about?

I have to concur with so many fans in my disappointment that Bran became king of the now six kingdoms. Brava to Sansa for withholding her consent to remain part of the larger realm. The thing is, I don’t see how Bran as a character earned the right to be elected. To my mind, Tyrion would have been the correct choice. The roles should have been reversed. Bran would have made an excellent hand given his vast knowledge of the past and his ability to warg his way into seeing what everyone else was up to. Also, I think the collective voices voted in the affirmative for Bran way too easily – most of the time, these people can’t agree what day of the week it is.

It was difficult to swallow Jon’s banishment to Castle Black. What purpose does the Night’s Watch even have at this point? Surely they could have found a better way to deal with him. Regardless of his true parentage, Ned Stark’s sense of honor shines through Jon and you would hope he might pass that along to his own children. Jon did the world a favor and is being punished for it, why, because a newly insane leader of the unsullied needs justice? Grey Worm’s uncompromising devotion to follow madness, up to and including slitting the throats of prisoners, should deny him the right to call for anyone else to pay a price.

And Drogon, how do you not love that beast? I had hoped in some way the one remaining dragon and Jon would develop a relationship in the end. They’re first cousins after all. I know Jon killed his mother, but I think Drogon understood. It’s why he melted the Iron Throne and left Jon uncrispy.

Regardless of the pitfalls faced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in concluding this body of work, I must applaud them for creating the stunning visual representation of George R.R. Martin’s incredible stories. As a writer of fantasy, I am inspired and further educated in the art of good storytelling. Yes, there are areas that might have been better written. I think HBO should have allowed for a couple more episodes to flesh out the events taking place in the final season. Looking back, however, we have 73 episodes of jaw-dropping production quality and sublime acting from one of the largest casts of any show in the history of television. I’m pretty sure I’ll never see anything quite like this again.